If you are considering a career transition or find yourself needing to, you're far from alone. In 2021, 68.9 million workers left their jobs, and another 75.3 million were hired. By 2030, McKinsey & Company projects 10.1 million Americans in the workforce may need to transition to new employment or a new field, based on workforce transitions due to the pandemic. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that 66 percent of unemployed adults have seriously considered a new job field.
It's clear there is a lot of movement in the job market – what does that mean for you in your current job or next career?
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Why So Many Career Transitions?
At the height of pandemic-related job loss, in April 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent, affecting the work-life of 23 million people. The January 2022 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the current rate at 4 percent, or 6.5 million.
While that change is in the right direction, those numbers point to something else: millions of people found themselves in a job transition. Some were forced into a job search after being laid-off, while others reconsidered their career goals and set upon a different path.
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Workplace Transition and Career Change
As workplaces became more flexible and agile during the pandemic, higher-wage jobs in industries with low physical interaction pivoted to remote work. Industries with lower wages and high physical interaction, such as retail, hospitality and travel, didn't have that option. Those jobs were the hardest hit by the pandemic and the slowest to recoup.
As a result, workers in low-wage jobs are 1.3 times more likely to be forced into career transition, according to the latest Future of Work after COVID-19 report by McKinsey & Company. These industries are also predicted to accelerate automation and AI (artificial intelligence). Of the 10.1 million job changes estimated by 2030, a large percentage of these are expected to occur in customer service and food service jobs.
Once you know what skill set you need, search out the training and make yourself the strongest candidate among the other job seekers.
Workers in declining industries will need to think about a new career in a new industry. And to land that job, job seekers will need to develop new skill sets.
The same is true for workers who voluntarily left full-time jobs for a new career path or dream job. Changing careers means additional training and education to develop new skills and stand out to hiring managers in your new field.
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Reskilling for Career Change
The Future of Work report estimates that a large share of workers will need to advance their skills to advance at least two wage brackets – not just to earn more but to reach a more secure career path and better work-life balance. Achieving those goals means developing the skill mix recruiters are looking for post-pandemic.
Joseph B. Fuller, co-chair of Harvard Business School's Managing the Future of Work Project, found that 85 percent of workers who successfully transitioned out of low-wage work had switched to a new industry – and upgraded their skills.
Skills training can be found all around these days, from LinkedIn courses and learning paths to federal and local career resource centers. Colleges and universities offer short-term, focused training for career development, too.
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Stand Out in Your Job Search
To learn what skills you should focus on, consult with someone. Consult with a career coach or recruiter, conduct informational interviews with people doing your dream job or entrepreneurs in the business that you want to enter.
Once you know what skill set you need, search out the training and make yourself the strongest candidate among the other job seekers. Consult with a professional about developing your LinkedIn profile, resume and cover letter. Engage in mock job interviews. These tactics don't have to cost you a thing; check with your local employment agency to learn about available support and resources.
Whatever the reason for your job transition, reskilling and making yourself stand out are going to give you a head start in landing your new role.
Consider also: How Unemployment Motivates Job Hunters
- McKinsey & Company: Where the Jobs Are: An Inside Look at Our New Future of Work Research
- McKinsey & Company: The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation
- McKinsey & Company: The Future of Work After COVID-19
- Gartner: 9 Future of Work Trends Post-COVID
- Pew Research Center: Unemployed Americans are feeling the emotional strain of job loss
- Pew Research Center: COVID-19 Pandemic Continues To Reshape Work in America
- Springboard: How Will COVID-19 Impact the Job Market?
- Marketplace: There's a Mismatch Between Jobs That Are Open And Workers That Are Searching
- Urban Institute: Where Low-Income Jobs Are Being Lost to COVID-19
- Be Well Stanford University: Coping with Work Transitions
- Congressional Research Service: Unemployment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic