Using Your Layoff to Change Careers

If you’re among the 40 million-plus people in the U.S. who have been laid off or furloughed by your employer, you may be thinking that if ever there was a good time to change careers, this might be it.

Cerritos careers

And you could be right.

Could be, because deciding to change careers is such a big, life-altering move that it’s definitely not something you should undertake impulsively. This is especially so if the main reason you’re making the switch is because of the trauma of your job loss.

However, if you’ve been deeply unhappy with your career choice for months or years, this time could be the push you’ve needed to take a new plunge.

Career-change strategies during a pandemic

If you’ve looked deeply into your reasons for wanting a change and have decided to go for it, here’s a step-by-step plan to help you successfully transform your life.

  1. If you haven’t yet decided what career you want to pursue, do some soul-searching.

What do you dislike about your current career? We don’t mean about your current (past) job, but the career itself. For example, perhaps you don’t like your co-workers. You will have unlikeable co-workers wherever you work so you need to take a deep dive into why you don’t like them: perhaps the career tends to attract people with whom you just don’t click. This is unlikely, but it’s good to do a gut-check.

What aspects of the career drive you bonkers? Perhaps it’s one that requires long hours and you want to have more time for your personal life? Perhaps it doesn’t pay much and you’re tired of a “ramen noodle” lifestyle.

  1. Will you need to learn new skills to pursue the new career you choose?

For example, perhaps you love practicing law, but you don’t like corporate law and you’d rather work in a human rights organization. (Note: this type of career change will be easier than most because the skills you use in both are the same.)

But if you’re moving from say, human resources to healthcare, you’re going to need to learn new skills (unless you wish to look for HR work in a healthcare setting).

  1. How will your current skills help the new profession?

Remember, employers hire people to solve problems. To make the change you’re going to need to convince a hiring manager that the skills you’ve used in your previous career will transfer easily – and provide value – to your new career.

As an easy example: let’s say you’re a journalist looking to move into marketing. Your writing skills should be relatively easy to transfer to marketing. Still, journalistic writing is different than marketing writing and you may want to put together some marketing writing samples to showcase your skills.

Another example: you’ve worked as a restaurant manager for several years and you’re hoping to move to non-profit advocacy. Come up with examples of how your management skills could help a non-profit. Could you use those skills in volunteer management, for example?

  1. Start networking with people in the new industry.

And now that the pandemic has made in-person networking almost impossible, the place to start networking is on LinkedIn.

A great way to start your networking/job search is to identify companies in the new career at which you’d like to work. Check a business’ company page (and website) and see if you can identify people who might be in a position to hire someone with your skills.

If these people are second connections, you can ask for a connection (mention the person who connects you). Once a connection is accepted, you can then message the person about your interest in changing careers and if they’d be willing to speak with you about opportunities. (Note: we’re not advising at this point that you send a resume unasked or ask if you can send it. Wait until asked yourself.)

When people do agree to chat with you – and at least a few will – ask for information about the career, what they love and hate about it, etc. And then ask them if there is anyone else they could recommend you speak with.

(They may ask for your resume; if so, send it. However – and once again – don’t ask if you can send it).

Continuing doing this and over time you will have people asking for your resume, telling you about job openings, even telling you they would like to interview you for an opening.

  1. Understand that you may need to take a step down the career ladder as well as a pay cut.

Unless your skills transfer perfectly to the new career, you may have to take a position one or two levels “below” your role in your previous career, as well as a pay cut (due to the “lesser” position).

Aim to look at this as the price you pay for a happier work life (and possibly personal life). As you prove yourself in the new career, the promotions and pay raises will come along.

If your job/career has been upended due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, Helpmates has many temporary, temp-to-hire and even direct-hire opportunities available right now. Take a look at our current openings and, if one or more appear to be a good fit, follow directions for applying.

 

You Got the Job Offer! Should You Take It?

You applied for a job opportunity. You were called in for an interview. You aced it. You were called in for another interview. Ditto. The hiring manager tells you she’ll make her decision in a week and in that week you hear from her and she offers you the job!

You’re excited, naturally. Flattered, of course! Proud of yourself, natch!

But just because you’re offered a job in no way means you should actually take it.

careers in cerritos

Take a look below at four things you should consider before accepting any job offer.

  1. Do you know what constitutes success in the job?

In other words, has your potential new boss spelled out clearly what she expects of you? If in doubt, take a look at the job description and go over it with her, asking her for clarification and – more importantly – asking if there’s anything she expects that’s not in the description.

Taking a job with ill-defined expectations can be a prescription for disaster. If your boss says “I’ll know when you’re doing a great job when I see it” also could end up meaning “Your idea of what  ‘doing a great job’ means is not mine.”

  1. Do you think you and your boss and new coworkers will have a respectful, friendly relationship?

If you think you can be respectful but not head over heels in “like” with your boss/coworkers, that’s OK. Respect is far more important than liking each other because if your boss/coworkers don’t respect you, chances are great they won’t “like” you much either.  A lack of respect means they won’t trust you, won’t have your back, will second guess you, etc.

Still, having respect for and liking each other will make your working relationship much more enjoyable and will go far in helping you succeed in the job. But if there’s no respect, your working life will be miserable.

Another important aspect of respect/like: do you think you’ll fit in with your department’s/company’s culture? It’s probably best to go with your gut on this one: what was the vibe of the department when you visited/met with colleagues? If your intuition is saying there are red – or even yellow – flags ahead, it may be best to turn the job down.

  1. Does the position fit in with your overall goals?

Many of us see our career going in a certain direction. While it’s sometimes necessary to go sideways or even move “down” a bit in order to get ahead, if the new position isn’t going to at least teach you new skills or put you in front of new challenges – especially if they can help you move to the next step upwards – it may not be a good idea to take the job.

For example, let’s say you’ve been working in as an account executive in finance but want to move into marketing. It may be a good idea to take a “step down” and work as a marketing assistant in a finance firm that has a marketing department. But if it’s a lateral move with a salary increase to another finance company – but one that has no marketing department and no chance to learn marketing skills – you may want to turn it down.

Which brings us to the last thing to consider when deciding whether to take a job offer…

  1. Money isn’t everything, but it definitely IS something!

We put the salary question last because while money is an important consideration when mulling a job offer, it’s not the most important thing.

As mentioned above, it may not be worth it to take a job that offers no new challenges even if it pays more. It also may be advantageous to your career to take a job that pays a bit less so long as you the new position challenges you and helps you get where you want to go.

Still, you do want to feel that you’re being fairly compensated and you also want to look forward to the benefits package offered. (Remember: if you’re not happy with salary/benefits, the only time you can easily negotiate them is before you accept the job offer.)

If you’re looking for new opportunities – whether temporary, part-time or direct-hire – check out our job openings here with Helpmates. See one or two you like? Follow the instructions on the posting and/or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

Acing the Phone or Video Interview

Many companies conduct preliminary screening interview with a phone or video interview before asking candidates in for an in-person interview. Such calls are real interviews and should be treated as such. (You won’t get a chance to shine in person if you don’t “pass” the screening interview.)

In addition, because many jobs are done remotely today, a face-to-face interview may take place via video/Skype conferencing software.

Cerritos careers

So it’s vital that you understand how “real” these interviews are in a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s eyes. It’s also important that you feel comfortable interviewing over the phone or via a screen, so depending on your familiarity speaking on the phone and/or talking to people via video, we’re here to help you ace these types of job interviews. Take a look below at our tips.

  • Whether on the phone or via video, make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

Most in-person interviews take place in an office without interruptions. You need to find a place where you won’t be interrupted during the phone call/Skype session. (After all, you don’t want this to happen.)

If a recruiter calls and asks if you have a few minutes to talk, it’s OK to ask if you could set a time to talk later or ask to call back in a few minutes. Truly! You really should make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. (We know a woman who was on vacation with her daughter when called by a recruiter for a screening call. The woman asked if she could call back in a few minutes, drove to a park, asked her 10-year-old daughter to go play where she could see her for a few minutes and then called the interviewer back. She did well and was called in for an in-person interview and eventually was offered the position.)

  • Dress as you would for an in-person meeting.

Even if the interview is by phone only, it’s still wise to dress well, even in the same clothes you would wear for an in-person meeting. Doing so puts you in the right frame of mind: it’s a job interview and it needs to be taken seriously so serious clothes are called for!

Dressing job-interview appropriate is even more important in a video interview because, well, the interviewer will see your face, shoulders, possibly even your torso. You could dress as some newscasters do – in a jacket/shirt/tie/blouse and wear jeans because only your top half will be visible. But, seriously: dress for the part completely. You’re going to be “on,” and just as actors dress according to their roles, you should dress correctly for this important role: that of job candidate.

  • Additional pointers.

In many ways, a phone or video interview is much like an in-person interview: the rules still apply.

  1. Be on time.
  2. Make sure you know the exact number to call, or if the interviewer will call you.
  3. Be ready for some introductory chit-chat.
  4. Speak clearly. This is even more important via phone/video. You also want to be sure to smile. The interviewer may not see your smile on the phone, but your tone of voice does change when smiling and it makes you come across as friendly.
  5. If on a Skype chat, make sure you look into the camera, not “into” your screen. (You may need to practice this with a friend.)
  6. Be careful of answering “Uh-huh.” “Hmm,” and so on. These may be fine in an-in-person setting where the interview can see you but they may be lost in a phone/video interview and, especially over the phone, may not be heard at all. In addition, if on a phone interview, remember that you and the interviewer can’t see each other and therefore can’t pick up on visual clues. So it’s even more important that you speak clearly and even ask if the interviewer understood what you meant.

If you’re thinking of how to best come across in a job interview, you’re probably looking for work. If so, check out Helpmates’ current job opportunities. If you find a few that interest you, follow the instructions on the job description and/or contact the office listing it.

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