The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered the unexpected to communities across the country and around the world, from lockdowns to toilet paper shortages. Now, we’re facing another phenomena unforeseen by most: The Great Resignation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4.4 million American workers voluntarily quit their jobs in September.
That may seem counterintuitive. Many households struggled to make ends meet when strict restrictions were in place and relied on unemployment assistance to get by. When businesses reopened, it seemed natural that the employees would return, too.
However, that hasn’t been the case across the board, and many factors have influenced this dramatic shift. For example, a significant number of hospitality workers decided to look for work in new industries when employers were forced to close temporarily. Some were relieved to get out of jobs that required them to come face-to-face with customers who were on edge and forgetting their manners.
After having time to hit pause during the height of the pandemic, workers across a range of industries had time to evaluate what was important to them, too. In a recent SCORE study, many say they quit because their jobs didn’t offer childcare, paid low wages, required a long commute or put them at an increased risk of catching COVID-19.
“For some, their values simply changed,” explains Francine Blume, PhD, assistant vice president of career development at UMGC. “After getting a taste of a healthier work-life balance, many workers are moving on to jobs that offer greater flexibility so they can spend more time with their families or enjoying other personal pursuits.”
Making a transition? Do these five things.
You may be one of the workers across the country moving on from your pre-pandemic career path. Whether you’re completely rebooting your career or looking to advance in your current position, here are five tips to help you make your move.
1. Do your research
Is the grass greener? You won’t know until you take a deep dive into your options.
“Research is the first thing you should do, whatever your career aspirations,” Blume says. “Read as much as you can about any industry, field or company you are considering so you are going in with your eyes open.”
That includes industry trends, what credentials you may need for the type of position you seek and how well a company is performing. Don’t forget to find out about the culture in an organization so you can determine if it is a good fit for your professional style and values.
2. Refresh your personal branding
It’s a good idea to revisit your resume a couple of times a year to ensure it is ready to go if you are presented with an unexpected career opportunity. However, if you are shifting gears, it’s more important than ever.
“Your resume and LinkedIn profile—and personal website, if you have one—are important tools when it comes to marketing yourself to prospective employers,” says Blume. “Make sure they reflect not only your past experience but where you envision yourself in the future.”
If you’ve done your research, you know which skills you have that are transferrable and add value everywhere. Be sure to highlight this relevant information on all your touchpoints so everyone else knows it, too.
3. Get out there and network
This tried-and-true career-boosting tactic is your secret weapon as you break into a new industry or field. As you explore possible professional moves, get out there and talk to everyone you can. Attend networking events and industry meetings—in person or virtually—and ask contacts for informational interviews so you can ask questions in a one-on-one setting.
“You never know what can happen,” says Blume. “Opportunities are everywhere, and the more you put yourself out there and connect with people, the greater your chances are of stumbling upon a position that aligns with your aspirations.”
Networking is a two-way street. Don’t forget to give back, too, and help make meaningful connections for others, when possible, to help them along the way.
4. Reflect on the value you offer
As you learn more, it’s important to pause and reflect on what skills you have to offer and which ones you may need to add to your repertoire, so you are more marketable in your desired field or industry.
“That could mean anything from participating in webinars to pursuing a degree,” notes Blume. “Find out the minimum requirements for the job you want and create an action plan to acquire that expertise.”
5. Tap into the career resources at CareerQuest
With CareerQuest, UMGC students and alumni have access to an entire suite of tools and resources to help improve their resumes, upgrade their LinkedIn profiles, practice interview skills, research companies and find contacts in their industries.
National hiring managers also come to CareerQuest to find qualified and motivated candidates, so be sure to add your resume to UMGC's online database so they can find you.
“The best part is that CareerQuest is available around the clock from anywhere with an internet connection, so you can access it wherever you are,” Blume explains.
By following these proven career management techniques, you increase your chances of success as you transition to the next stage of your professional life.