How a pandemic is spurring many to consider career change
After more than a year of managing work, ZOOM sessions and staying connected from home, one in four employees are considering a leap to a new career, Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey says.
The shift comes as many workers enjoy a new work-life balance, with less time spent on long commutes and in-person meetings. To keep workers happy, 82% of company leaders surveyed by Gartner say they’ll allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic, while 47% say they will allow employees to work from home full-time.
Amid all of this newfound freedom are those who have re-examined their current careers and are looking to move on, either to a job in the same field or something totally different.
“The demand for talent has never been higher,” says Rod McDermott. McDermott is the CEO and founder of Activate 180, an Irvine-based company that helps people who may be feeling stuck, hesitant — or even conflicted — about making the leap. We asked McDermott to offer his observations on the current job market. His answers have been edited for space considerations.
Q: Why are so many people looking to leave their current jobs?
A: Part of the reason employees are looking to leave is pent-up demand to try something new. If someone had a safe and secure job during the pandemic, they kept their job. If they were thinking about leaving their job before the pandemic hit, that desire for change is even more pronounced now for two reasons. First, they stayed a year longer than they planned and, second, there’s huge demand right now for candidates.
Q: Some employees may want to remain in their current industry while others might be ready to do a 180 and go for something completely different. Is that tough to do in this environment?
A: Moving to a different industry always has its challenges. It’s easier in this market because the demand for talent has never been higher. But hiring managers can sometimes be risk-averse and stuck in the mindset of wanting to only find people who have “been there, done that” in that specific industry and role. It’s common that people become typecast.
The longer you’ve been in an industry, the more of a story you’re going to have to tell as to why your background and experience make sense for the new industry you’re attempting to break into. Experience can be learned, but passion is something that is very hard to fake! Companies know the value of finding someone who is passionate about their way of changing the world for their customers – whatever that vision is.
Q: Are employers receptive to hiring workers who have switched careers to pursue something totally different?
A: Absolutely, but it’s got to be the right employers – companies that are open-minded and seeking to be industry leaders, not just industry followers – and it’s got to be the right role. You need to effectively communicate to the hiring manager how you can be a solution to a challenge they may or may not know they are having. If you do this, you can bring value to that company that they would not get from hiring someone that has just come out of their own industry. For example, if I go out and recruit the best people from my best competitor, the best day I’ll have is just to be as good as them. On the other hand, if I go out and recruit people from outside of my industry, I can now disrupt my marketplace.
Q: You deal with a lot of senior executives. How is the job market for them with COVID-19 still on the radar?
A: The job market for senior executives is on fire. Our executive search firm is busier than we’ve ever been. A lot of the demand that we would have seen in a typical year got pushed to this year as companies are seeing visibility through the COVID-19 fog. Even in the aerospace world that’s still being heavily impacted by COVID-19, flight restrictions and an international aerospace market that has been decimated, they’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and are preparing for the resurging market by bringing in the necessary new talent to lead in this evolving environment.
Q: With remote work a bigger reality than ever before, many businesses have shuttered or downsized a portion of their real estate footprint. How is that impacting the job market?
A: Remote work over the last year has taught many companies that they can still get things done without having people physically in their meeting rooms. Companies are more willing to get the best talent that exists rather than just the best talent that’s willing to relocate into their marketplace.
Now, contrary to that point, some CEOs have experienced a loss of cultural connection in their companies and are sharing that they’re very eager to get their workers back under one roof. They are looking to re-establish the personal connections that are primarily built in an in-person setting.