COVID-19: What to do if you're considering a job change

Looking for a job is tough right now, but a career coach gives tips for those looking to jump ship.

COVID-19: What to do if you're considering a job change

TechRepublic's Karen Roby talked with Allison McLean, a career coach with Springboard, a career education and jobs site, about the challenges job seekers are facing during the coronavirus pandemic. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Allison McLean: When you're faced with a lot of unknowns, like any job search, I think even when you're not dealing with the job search in the middle of a (COVID-19) pandemic, there's a lot of things that are out of your control and unknowns. There are a lot of things that you can take advantage of at this time. One of the things that's at our fingertips are so many opportunities for networking, and a lot of people are at home. So this is a great way for you to be able to build your network and spend more time kind of developing those things that are actually what pay off in a job search.

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Whether or not you're maybe actively looking to apply at the moment, this is still an awesome time to be building your network in those foundational things in order to have an effective job search, whether it's now or later on down the road. Whether that's a transition, you can learn a lot through networking and also just kind of seeing who's hiring and who's not. Great way for you to be more strategic in terms of maybe just doing more of that kind of emotional reaction of maybe starting to apply to a bunch of jobs and maybe potentially even making kind of short steps or even stepping back by applying to something that maybe isn't a good fit. It's a great time to network, really focus on being more strategic with your time.

Karen Roby: With some extra time on our hands, this is a good time to reach out to connections.

Allison McLean: There are so many more places than just LinkedIn and Facebook. I think Facebook, you do want to make sure, especially if maybe you were laid off or you've been furloughed or things like that, really make sure you've made those updates so that your skills are clear, especially if you added new skills or maybe you didn't update it with that promotion you got a few months ago. It's really important just to make sure that those things are super polished. In terms of other resources, Slack communities are great. It's an easy way to get on your phone and get connected with people throughout all different industries. A lot of recruiters are on there now, so it's a great way to find networking opportunities and job opportunities.

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Maybe you're thinking, "Oh, I shouldn't apply now." A lot of companies are still filling key roles, even if they're not posting things or maybe they're a little hesitant. Great opportunity. If you're the person out there talking to people and communicating, you're more likely to find out about those positions that aren't listed and you're just showing a lot more initiative maybe than other people that have, or are just kind of just waiting for things to happen.

Karen Roby: Specifically in the tech sector, how are things looking?

Allison McLean: What I would do with students at Springboard is during the courses, we have them create company lists. I think that's a great way to kind of identify who in the market is hiring, what are they looking for? Especially if you have a particular discipline, whether it's coding, cybersecurity, data science, data analytics, digital marketing, or just if you're a programmer or a software developer, highlighting those companies that are hiring in those. But the main thing is looking at the supply chain of who's doing well right now, right? H ealthcare industries are doing well, financial institutions have been hiring, a lot more people on the tech side. I saw posted the other day, Fidelity was hiring thousands of people, and most of them were tech roles.

There's lots of different opportunities there. I've seen, in terms of companies, they're really starting to notice that the tech side, the virtual aspects of their companies are so important. I think it's really just that those companies are having this huge realization and moment where they're realizing how all of this is so important, especially in terms of the technical resources and services that they provide. It's a great opportunity within the tech sector to kind of look at those opportunities. And I think most companies are really starting to move more of their key hires onto the tech side versus maybe sales or marketing.

Karen Roby: What about those looking to transition altogether from one industry to another … how do things look there?

Allison McLean: I think it can be a great time to look. It should always be something that's smart for your career, and it's strategic. If at the moment maybe you're finding that your career, you're not feeling that it's as stable and you'd like it to be, maybe build up some technical skills so you might be thinking of more of a career transition. This can be a great time to be doing that research, doing informational calls through your networking, learn what skills you should be building so that you can make that transition.

If you're already in a technical role, and you're looking to make that transition, there are still companies that are looking to bring people on. I would say the biggest thing I would recommend is just not making kind of those accommodations in terms of maybe taking a step back. Definitely, if you feel like you're on the track of getting promoted, maybe at your current company, I would maybe stay there. But if you are still looking for those types of opportunities, I would say a lot of those positions, the market hasn't changed too much for those.

Karen Roby: In general when it comes to the job market, what would you say to people who just naturally feeling very nervous right now about everything?

Allison McLean: I would say there are a lot of great things that have come out of this. Many more companies are open to virtual work, which I know when I talk to students with Springboard, a lot of them, one of their dream things is to be able to work remotely, right? Often, I would say, many more companies are open to that. And then like you had mentioned, so many more people are home, right? And the opportunity for people to be more responsive in your networking is so exciting. I could tell you a lot of the students that I work with, with Springboard, say that they're able to get way more informational interviews just because more people are online and open to responding. I'd say take advantage of people being home, and then also, I think you're going to notice a lot more companies being open to virtual work too, which I think if you're wanting to still work virtual after this, it would be a great opportunity as well.

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Karen Roby spoke with Allison McLean of Springboard about the challenges of looking for a job in the middle of a pandemic. 

Image: Mackenzie Burke