Is a pandemic ever a good time for a temporary or permanent career switch?

The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on America's labor market, destroying tens of thousands of small businesses and leaving millions of employees out of work. Today, many of those workers remain sidelined, struggling to locate employment in their chosen fields. Still others have remained employed but are actively considering a change in career. If you find yourself in either of those categories, you may wonder whether you should pursue a job outside your industry during a pandemic.

In this post, we will examine that question and offer the insight you need to decide your best career course of action during these unprecedented times. We will also look at some strategies and tips that can help you successfully transition to a new industry. 

Reasons to take a job outside your industry during a pandemic

You should never switch jobs on a whim since your choice of career path can have a dramatic impact on your present and future quality of life. It is even more important to carefully consider your options during times of economic upheaval of the type that we are seeing during the current pandemic. 

With that noted, however, there are many reasons why it might make sense for you to consider either a temporary or permanent career change right now. For example:

Remote work opportunities

If your experience with the pandemic has left you with an appreciation for remote work opportunities that your current employer cannot provide, it may be time for a change. Since the onset, many workers have come to realize that their skills can be utilized just as effectively from home. As a result, more of those employees are questioning the need for daily commutes, office distractions, and other features associated with working on-site.

Employers who are desperate for help

Some employers are so desperate for workers that they are rethinking their expectations when it comes to candidate qualifications. That could provide an opportunity for you to get hired in another job sector even if you may not meet all the usual qualifications. Just make sure that you have enough transferable skills to meet the company's minimum requirements for the position. 

While employers certainly need workers, they still need to believe that you can add value to their operations.

A desire for change

If the pandemic has made you question your career choices, now may be the time to act on any desire for a change. Was your employer supportive during the pandemic, or did it neglect your well-being and monetary interests? A careful examination of that question may help you to decide whether you need to seek a change, and whether that change should involve moving to a different company in your industry or switching to a different industry altogether.

Greater job security

In areas where governments ordered mandatory business shutdowns, officials justified those moves by labeling certain jobs and companies as nonessential. If your current job fell into that arbitrary category, chances are that you spent at least some time unemployed in 2021. You may have even lost your job altogether. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that future pandemics and emergencies will not result in similar lockdowns and employment disruptions. You may want to consider a move to an industry that escaped those disruptions during the Covid-19 shutdowns.

Increased compensation

Many of the companies that are currently seeking workers are offering greater compensation to new hires. Hiring bonuses, new benefits, and hybrid work options are all apparently on the table, as businesses do their best to attract the talent they need to move forward. If your wages and benefits have not kept pace with rising inflation or the demands of your job, you have probably already considered a change.

A need to make ends meet

If you are one of the many Americans whose job permanently disappeared during the pandemic, you may just need to switch industries to make ends meet. That too is a very understandable reason for altering your career goals, especially if your current industry has continued to struggle.

Looking for safe harbor during the storm

For many employees caught up in pandemic uncertainty, any of these reasons can justify at least a temporary career change. Even if you are passionate about your current career path, you may feel that you need to take a new job in a different industry just to get by. That is especially true if you are one of the many Americans who are still looking for work more than a year after 2020's business lockdowns.

If you are thinking about a temporary change, the one thing that may be holding you back is the fear that employers in your industry may judge you for temporarily exiting your industry. Set that fear aside and do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Your ten years of valuable work as an accountant will not be ignored by potential future employers if you need to work retail for six months or a year to make ends meet during a pandemic. Very few employers will be critical of that kind of temporary change during an economic or health emergency.

Reasons to stay with your current job

According to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently around 10 million open positions in the United States. Meanwhile, the labor market remains tight as companies continue to report difficulty in obtaining the help they need. Those facts might make it seem as though this is the perfect time to switch careers and take advantage of companies' unprecedented need for employees. However, there may be valid reasons to stay in your current position, including:

  • Job security. Many of the firms that are now looking for help belong to industries that saw massive layoffs during 2020's business shutdowns. If your job was considered essential during the pandemic, it is likely that it will also be secure in any potential future lockdowns.

  • Overall economic uncertainty. Job and economic growth have fallen below expectations in recent months, and the economic forecast is anything but certain. In times of uncertainty, it is entirely reasonable to forgo any big career changes.

  • Your company is already implementing positive change. To retain talent, some companies are adopting new work strategies to better accommodate their employees' work needs. It may be worthwhile to see how your employer adapts before considering a move.

Tips to help you temporarily switch careers during a pandemic

Switching careers can be difficult if you approach the process without a sound strategy. The following tips can help you begin your temporary transition in a more orderly way.

Examine your career and make a list of priorities

Before you do anything, take a moment to review your career and examine each step you have already taken on your career path. Which jobs did you enjoy the most? Which parts of those jobs ignited your passion and interest? If you can identify tasks or projects that brought you fulfillment and happiness, chances are that you already know where your talents are leading you.

You should also examine all of the reasons why you want to make a change and what type of change is needed.

  • Do you have a family member who is immunocompromised and you need to work from home to reduce the odds of catching and passing on a viral infection?

  • Have you been working in the nonprofit sector but now need more money to meet your family's needs?

  • Are you looking for a better work-life balance? For example, are you interested in reducing your work week to allow for more time with family? Would it be worth it to you to spend more time commuting to a job that allowed you to work four ten-hour days rather than five eight-hour days?

  • How temporary is the change you are seeking? Do you plan to return to your current industry when the pandemic recedes, or will this be a permanent career transition?

Identify your relevant skills, especially transferable skills

It is vital to understand your own skill set, both in terms of hard skills and soft skills. While your hard skills may not all be transferable to new industries, it is likely that at least some will. Meanwhile, you probably possess many soft skills that can transfer to a wide variety of industries and positions. Once you identify those skills, it will be easier to highlight their value to prospective employers outside your industry.

Look for opportunities

Obviously, you will need to identify job opportunities that will enable you to use your skill set in an effective and meaningful way. LinkedIn's Career Explorer tool can be a fantastic way to begin that process. This new tool can help you find new career paths and positions by matching your current position to jobs that require similar and overlapping skills.

After you identify potential new jobs and industries, you can begin to use your network and online resources to find open positions. Create a list of companies and jobs that spark your interest (or meet your current requirements), and research them to ensure that they are the right fit for you.

Revamp your resume

Naturally, you will want to revise your resume prior to beginning the application process. You may need to reorient your job descriptions and skill listings to focus on the talents and abilities your potential employers will want to see. Your overall message may need to be refocused as well. Remember that you will need to convince hiring managers that your background and skills can make you an asset to their company, even though your prior experience was in a different industry. For professional assistance with your resume, be sure to obtain a free expert resume review at our website.

Be flexible and persistent

Finally, make sure that you are flexible and ready to recognize opportunities when you see them. Breaking into a new industry can sometimes take time, and you may not find the exact position that you are seeking right away. By being flexible and persistent, however, you will eventually locate the opportunity you need to get started down your new career path.


Depending on your circumstances and goals, this could be a perfect time to locate a job in a different industry. The good news is most hiring professionals are very understanding of extenuating circumstances during the pandemic, so you shouldn't let the fear of leaving your industry prevent you from taking care of your needs.

 If you are seriously considering a job outside your industry during a pandemic, then these tips and resources may provide the edge you need to make that transition -- and get you in a better position to transition back if your priorities change. 

 Do you need help transitioning from one career path to another? Our resume writing services will connect you with an expert resume writer trained in career change resumes.

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