A career coach shares an exercise to find new roles you'd be a fit for if you're looking to switch industries
Some professionals have been laid off during the pandemic only to learn there are barely any jobs left in their industry. At Randstad RiseSmart, coaches help people who have lost their jobs find something new — and often they have to think creatively. RiseSmart's vice president of practice strategy, Lindsay Witcher, recommended listing your professional skills and accomplishments and thinking about how those might apply in another job context. Witcher also suggested considering contract work until you find something full-time.
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Looking for a new job in a recession can be challenging. That's especially true if your industry is on shaky footing and there are barely any openings. But few people have figured out how their skills might apply in another field. The careers site LiveCareer surveyed 1,519 people in the US who had lost their employment due to the coronavirus pandemic and found that 56% said they were looking for jobs in a similar industry. And 57% couldn't indicate with a high degree of confidence the skills that would help them succeed in a different type of role. In other words: Most people aren't looking for jobs in other sectors, despite the fact that they might need to. At the talent-mobility firm Randstad RiseSmart, coaches guide professionals who have lost their jobs and are looking for something new. (When Airbnb laid off 1,900 employees in May, it connected them with RiseSmart.) "We're really trying to help people think more creatively and differently about what roles could be a good fit for them," said Lindsay Witcher, the vice president of practice strategy at RiseSmart, who previously worked there as a career coach. Witcher shared with Business Insider the advice and strategies she uses to help people broaden their options and make successful career transitions. You may need to look for jobs in industries where you don't have direct experience Certain industries have been hit harder than others by the pandemic. Business Insider previously reported that clothing stores, dentist offices, and restaurants and bars were among the sectors that saw the greatest job losses in April. In some areas, hiring has picked up. Business Insider's Allana Akhtar reported that job postings for dietary aides grew by 150% between April 13 and 20. Other newly in-demand jobs include warehouse handlers and tutors for statistics and calculus, Akhtar reported. That's why Witcher said it's important to think broadly about the kinds of jobs you could perform. "In some cases people are getting laid off from industries in which there are literally no open positions," she said. The question she and her colleagues ask next is, "How do we look at your skills and your background and transition that, and think creatively about how you can work in a different industry using those same skills in a way maybe you didn't think of?" Pinpoint the gap between the skill set required for your target jobs and your current skill set
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RiseSmart shared with Business Insider a worksheet (linked above) that can help unemployed professionals navigate the next stage of their career. Start by listing the skills you used every day in your previous job, along with relevant accomplishments. That process will help you think beyond specific job titles and consider how you might add value in any job context. To use an example from the worksheet, say you've just lost a job in marketing. Your transferable skills might include public relations, content management, and product launches. Those skills might map well to a job in business intelligence or brand management. Erica Keswin used a similar exercise when she was an executive coach at NYU Stern helping alumni who'd lost their jobs in the Great Recession. Here's how it works: Write down all the skills you've used in previous jobs; pinpoint which of those skills could be highly relevant in another job; think about another job you could reasonably apply for. Finally, see if you can pinpoint the gap between your current skill set and the skills that would be necessary for that role. Closing that gap might be a matter of enrolling in an online course. If you're not certain how to describe your skills in a way that's succinct and compelling, the RiseSmart worksheet recommends looking at job postings for roles you'd want and keeping track of the common skills required. This is a useful habit even for professionals who still have a job. In "The New Rules of Work," the cofounders of career-advice and job-search platform The Muse recommend browsing openings for jobs that you might like to hold in the future. Check out which skills are required for these positions, so you have a sense of what you'd need to do to qualify. Consider doing contract or gig work while you look for something full-time Another option, Witcher said, is to consider taking contract work for the time being, even if you ultimately want a full-time position. "Maybe you can do a couple of different consulting roles that would be equivalent to a full-time job," financially speaking, Witcher said. Some types of contract work also have the potential to lead to full-time jobs down the road, she added. In any case, even if you can afford to be out of work for a few months, picking up a few gigs helps you keep your professional skills sharp. As Witcher put it, "It's also a great way to continue to move your career forward when there aren't as many full-time, regular salaried positions out there."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
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Summary List Placement If you've been on LinkedIn recently, you may have noticed several new updates....Summary List Placement If you've been on LinkedIn recently, you may have noticed several new updates. The website has a new design, and updated search and messenger functions, among other things. But one of the most notable features is the addition of "LinkedIn stories" — a tool that lets you, much like Instagram or Snapchat, post minute-by-minute updates about your life. LinkedIn stories give job seekers and experts a new way to post on the app in a less permanent way (stories are only available for 24 hours). In an official blog post about the update, LinkedIn said the tool should be used to share "lightweight conversations related to your work-life." Adding stories to the world's largest professional social network makes sense. It allows the everyday person to post casual updates about their career life and gives career coaches and experts a platform to share spontaneous advice and stories for job seekers. But even though the tool mimics the more relaxed experience of other social media outlets, in particular Instagram, you shouldn't treat it the same way. In the blog post, LinkedIn said users should post experiences from the work day, questions for your network, insights on timely breaking news, and tips on how to use a certain tool or develop a new skill. It's safe to assume you should avoid posting updates about what you ate for breakfast that day, or a family vacation. Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," previously told Business Insider that LinkedIn should never be used to trash-talk your boss or a previous employer. It also isn't a place to post personal photos and status updates about your life. "Consider this as a living résumé or a living business card," she said. "If you were in an networking event and you were handing out your business card, it wouldn't be a photo from your family album." For the most part, this advice should be common sense. But we've all come across someone who overshares on their LinkedIn profile. While no one can tell you exactly how to post on your profile, you probably shouldn't be posting anything you wouldn't be comfortable with your boss reading. As the careers editor at Business Insider, for example, I might use my story to post a link to a relevant article that I think job seekers would find useful or some thoughts on a trending topic in the news. Stories should, above all, start a conversation, LinkedIn said. And at a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and looking for jobs, there's an urgent need to have more honest discussions about how to be successful at work.SEE ALSO: Job-search giant Indeed is rolling out a new virtual interviewing technology to help people find work quickly Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How NASA strategically paints its vehicles for space
The 6 important steps you need to take to successfully change careers, according to coaches and real people who've done it
Making a career change isn't easy, but it's certainly not impossible. In fact, we interviewed several...Making a career change isn't easy, but it's certainly not impossible. In fact, we interviewed several people who did it and came out the other side unscathed. These experts, as well as career coaches, suggested that before you officially start your job search you begin your transition by researching your options, going on "trial runs," and conducting informational interviews. "Buy them coffee and ask them about their workdays, their responsibilities, and what they enjoy and are challenged by in their positions," Vincenzo Repaci, a senior coach at LOVR Atlantic, said. "If you don't like the destination, don't get on the boat." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Career transitions are not for the faint of heart. Overhauling your entire daily routine — along with jeopardizing your income stream — requires a strategic approach, a clear vision of what you really want, and nerves of steel. But by following some tested advice from career experts and job revisionists who've been there and done that, you can navigate your new professional reality much more smoothly. Follow the six steps below to first figure out what you want to do, and then actually pursue it. Step 1: Research your options You may know that you want to shake up your career by doing something different than what you're doing now, but maybe you aren't quite sure exactly what that something might be. This was the case for Saranya Ramanathan, now a content writer and personal-finance blogger at One Fine Wallet, who made a major move from her previous career as a dentist. But when Ramanathan first decided it was time for a change, her vision of being a work-from-home mom was cloudy in that she didn't know exactly what her options for remote work were. So her career transition began with a thorough investigation into what types of virtual work she might be qualified for and also enjoy. "I first wrote down the different types of remote jobs available — virtual assisting, proofreading, bookkeeping, or blogging," Ramanathan said. "The last one seemed to be the right job for me, as it didn't have timelines or commitments." Armed with this information, she set up her blog in 2018 with a minimal investment of around $100, giving herself three months to decide if it would be a good fit. Luckily for her, she ended up loving it, and a year later she began earning a full-time income from home. Ramanathan said she has consistently been earning "well over $5,000 a month" from her blog since March. The lesson here is to look before you leap. And be sure you dig beyond the larger categories (remote jobs, technology jobs, finance jobs) to understand the nuances of specific roles. Vincenzo Repaci, a senior coach at LOVR Atlantic who works with clients on career transitions, flags finding a new niche as the first vital step when preparing to make a career transition — but validates the need to approach this step with intentionality. Read more: Ex-Googlers, Stanford professors, and startup CEOs share their best advice on making a career change "A lot of advice is about following your dreams, and sometimes that's a good idea," Repaci said. "Often though, it's a way to make retirement much more difficult and turn a passion into a poorly paid chore." Instead, like Ramanathan did, Repaci advises focusing on identifying opportunities and interests where you may have expertise and a competitive advantage. Step 2: Home in on the what, who, and why Sarah Johnston, who is a job-search strategist and the founder of Briefcase Coach, advises aspiring career changers to be very specific when figuring out and winnowing down their next move. "The biggest mistake that I see job seekers in transition make is that they aren't crystal clear on their next step or they are too open — I'll often hear, 'I want to do X or X or X,'" Johnston said. "Job seekers who know what they are targeting (title, opportunity, etc.), who hires for these opportunities (company and specific hiring managers), and why they are uniquely qualified for these opportunities are significantly more likely to have job search success." Step 3: Do a trial run (or 2) Imagine investing all of the time, stress, and expense into engineering a shift to a new career and then discovering once you get there that you actually don't enjoy it. To avoid this unsettling possibility, it's smart to test the waters first. William Taylor, a career-development officer at MintResume, believes that volunteering in your area of interest is the best way to determine whether or not you should actually go through with a career transition. "The biggest fear people have when transitioning their career is the fear of the unknown," Taylor said. "They're afraid whether they'd be the right fit for the new role. So I often recommend people volunteer in organizations that will help them test-drive the skills needed for the new career. This way, they can determine whether they possess the right skills before making the big move." He added that doing so could also help you expand your network. Repaci agrees with the importance of checking the course before driving on it, saying that just because you can get into a new field doesn't mean you should. "If you don't like the uncertainty of contract work, project management will be a tough field," he said. "And if you want a 40-hour workweek, consulting isn't a great idea no matter how well it pays." Besides volunteering, other kinds of "trial runs" to consider before committing to a career move include freelancing on the side, picking up a side hustle, or taking on a temporary or part-time internship or fellowship. Step 4: Manage your inner critic Let's say you're ready to take the next step — but then your inner critic kicks in with a million reasons why you shouldn't. The career coach Dexter Zhuang says that this type of reaction is extremely common. "The greatest challenges I see that job switchers face are managing their own psychology and developing a focused vision of what they want," Zhuang said. "My clients tend to face emotional obstacles (fear, guilt, anxiety) that get in their way of seeing a clear picture and pursuing their goals." Read more: The ultimate guide to whether you should go to business school or not, according to successful CEOs, founders, and execs who've had to make the choice Zhuang emphasizes that some of this heightened stress and confusion comes about from clients feeling like they haven't yet clearly identified what they really want to do in their new careers. If that's the case for you, revisit steps one and two above. But if you feel you have a firm grasp on your vision, then Zhuang recommends focusing on your strengths rather than your apprehension about your new direction. In other words, "leveraging your talents for quick wins, which will help you build confidence and create a positive feedback cycle," he said. Building on Zhuang's advice, you can take the following steps to manage that critical voice inside your head: Revisit a "highlights reel" from your previous position or career. This might include positive reviews and feedback you received, education and trainings you completed, awards you won, and key projects that you successfully executed. Use this tangible evidence as proof of your professional competence and potential. Keep taking the next step forward. Anxiety can stop you in your tracks if you let it, while forward momentum (even taking the tiniest of steps) toward your goals can help dissipate your worry about whether you're making the right decision. Recognize that stress is a normal part of any transition. If you've carved out a plan and thought through your options, chances are you'll be just fine. Step 5: Start with informational interviews before actual ones To build on any volunteering or other trial-run efforts that you may have tried, another way to get an idea of whether a particular destination appeals to you or not is to reach out directly to mid- and late-career professionals in the field you'd like to be in. "Buy them coffee and ask them about their workdays, their responsibilities, and what they enjoy and are challenged by in their positions," Repaci said. "If you don't like the destination, don't get on the boat." The types of questions you can ask during such coffee dates might include: What's your typical workday like? What do your primary responsibilities entail? What do you like most about your job? What's your least favorite part of your job? Is there anything that you wish you'd known before you started your job? Are you glad that you chose this as your career? Amanda Holdsworth, the founder of Courses for Communicators, has ample experience in informational interviews, having made a career transition herself into a field where she now helps others to do the same. "I went from being a full-time communications director, making in the six figures, to a full-time assistant professor (making half that)," she said. "I then transitioned again to a consultant, career coach, and online entrepreneur." The reason behind these big changes was that despite being well-compensated, she felt "burnt out" as a communications director. "I was leaving the house at 7 a.m. and not getting home until 6:15 or later each night," Holdsworth said. "I was missing out on my girls' activities and was constantly stressed." But after becoming an assistant professor, the university where she worked unexpectedly cut some professor positions — including hers. This gave her the impetus to shift gears completely into consulting and entrepreneurship, where she could have more control over her livelihood. Read more: 90% of startups fail. Here's exactly how you should vet a company before deciding to join. Holdsworth suggests that once you've pinpointed a career path of interest, informational interviews are also an excellent way to gain insight into specific roles and what they're looking for in candidates (and may even land you a job). She says to add these two queries to the list of questions above: If you were hiring today, what would you look for in a candidate? What skills does a top candidate need to have for this job? Johnston agrees with this line of thinking. "Job seekers in transition who commit to doing informational interviews — and I'm not just talking about doing only one of them — are more likely to land a target job versus job seekers who exclusively apply for positions online," she said. "I've seen informational interviews open unexpected doors for my clients." Step 6: Get serious about your search Many of the career coaches we interviewed said that people who want to switch their professional aspirations frequently begin where they should end — with launching an intensive job search in a new industry. But the coaches emphasized that it's only after you've taken all five steps above that should you consider getting serious about a full-on career change. If you've cleared all the hurdles and truly feel ready to take the plunge, then Holdsworth suggests taking a methodical approach to move you from point A to point B, beginning with a proper job search in your new field of interest. "Print out and save interesting postings of jobs you think sound like something you'd like to do," she said. "Go through each job posting and highlight the required skills in one color, circling what you already have. Next, in a different color, highlight the skills/requirements you do not currently have. Finally, highlight the components of the posting that drew you to the job." By tracking the details in this way, Holdsworth maintains that patterns will begin to emerge regarding skills, shortfalls, or other valuable intelligence that can guide your next steps. This type of paper trail can also be invaluable in crafting your resume, cover letters, and other job-search materials. "If there are major requirements you need immediately, such as certifications or degrees, begin exploring your options and create a timeline as to how you can fit the extra studying and work into your schedule," she said. Finally, before you start the application process in earnest, Holdsworth believes you should conduct a resume audit to ensure your application materials are appropriately directed toward your goals. "This might mean scrapping your resume completely and starting over," she said. "It needs to align with the career you want to transition into, not with your old one."SEE ALSO: The best way to teach yourself to code and land a six-figure job, from 5 people who've done it Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
Here's a blueprint for seizing new opportunities and growing your career in a tough economy, according to 3 business owners who have done it
Current economic conditions are forcing many people to change careers. We asked experts who have made...Current economic conditions are forcing many people to change careers. We asked experts who have made their own transitions — two coaches and a startup founder — for advice on doing it effectively. They mentioned the value of using other people as sounding boards and remembering that your next role doesn't have to be your last. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Joe Casey left his phone at home while he went running one Saturday afternoon in 2008. When he got home, his wife mentioned that the president of Merrill Lynch, where Casey worked in human resources for 24 years, was calling him nonstop. Merrill Lynch, Casey learned, was merging with Bank of America. Casey was offered the option to stay on or to take an early-retirement package. Casey thought about staying on, but within a few months, he knew he didn't want to stick around much longer. He interviewed for an HR role at another organization, then backed out at the last minute. "My heart's not in this," he remembered thinking. Casey had already been considering a transition to career coaching. He worked with an executive coach at Merrill Lynch and found the experience valuable. "If I'm really serious about coaching," Casey told himself shortly after the merger, "Why not do it now?" A year later, Casey started work as an executive coach. Today, at 62 years old, he runs his own coaching firm, Retirement Wisdom. From his office in Princeton, New Jersey, he works primarily with people who are retiring and helps them plot the next steps in their careers. Casey prefers to keep his business on the smaller side: In mid-March, he had 25 clients, including corporate partners. (Business has been slower in the pandemic.) Casey's trajectory is a prime example of how to spot opportunities for advancement when your career plans are foiled by factors outside your control. And there's never been a greater need for instructive stories like his. In the nine weeks ending mid-May, nearly 39 million Americans filed for unemployment. Layoffs are sweeping nearly every industry, thanks largely to a global pandemic and the beginnings of a deep recession. Many people who have lost their primary source of income — and their hopes of finding another — may feel as though they're living out a professional nightmare. But it helps to look at the situation differently. The next few months are an opportunity to take risks you wouldn't have otherwise, and to tap into skills and interests you didn't know you had. You may even find greater success in your new career path, or in entrepreneurial pursuits. NYU professor Scott Galloway previously told Business Insider that the best time to start a business is at the depths of a recession. Business Insider spoke to three business owners — two career coaches and one founder who runs a career-development startup — about their transitions, and what other people can learn from them. Ask other people what they think your strengths are When Casey guides clients who aren't sure what to do next, he tells them introspection will only get them so far. It can be hard to look objectively at your own strengths, so it helps to ask people who know you well what they think your main values and skills are. (On the precipice of retirement, one of Casey's clients went back to his college roommate and asked the person, "What did you think I was going to become?") Alison Heisler, now a flow and clarity coach for individuals and organizations, used a similar tactic when pivoting to coaching. Heisler spent nearly two decades in magazine publishing when she started working part-time with the executive coaching and advisory firm Talentism in 2010. In the years that followed, as she was exploring her interests and considering her next move, she asked people who knew her well — including friends and former clients — what they considered her unique strengths and skills. They helped her recognize how much she enjoyed the interpersonal aspects of her work, and that she was drawn to more entrepreneurial environments. Other experts recommend using friends and family as sounding boards when considering your next career move. Tasha Eurich, for example, an organizational psychologist and the author of the book "Insight," previously told Business Insider that everyone should have a group of "loving critics" who will be honest with them about their shortcomings in a way that helps them get ahead. Self-awareness, Eurich said, is key to professional success — and most people are lacking in it. Spencer Rascoff, meanwhile, founder of real-estate website Zillow, previously told Business Insider's Alyson Shontell that his wife is his "career mirror," helping him clarify his hopes and frustrations about work. "Every career decision I've made has been because my wife told me to, because she's held up a mirror to me," Rascoff said. "She said: 'Look, you're unhappy. You may not realize it, but you're unhappy doing this thing.'" Know your personal tolerance for risk and uncertainty When Heisler started coaching part-time in 2010, it wasn't exactly an ideal time to make a drastic career move. The US economy was just coming out of the Great Recession; Heisler had four young kids at home; her husband was changing jobs, too. "My reality was just that I needed to at that point stay in an income-earning position," Heisler said, and "stay within a space where I knew that I had a lot of equity and connections." That didn't mean she was stuck. Heisler identified the aspects of her career that excited her (networking and one-on-one training) and the areas where she wanted to grow, like learning about the mind-body connection. She took some positive psychology courses and enrolled in certification programs for coaching and teaching yoga. These were all ways to look for "evidence" of her skills and passions, she said, versus focusing on what she felt she "should" pursue. More recently, Heisler took the opportunity to pursue coaching full-time when her employer consolidated and she was one of a number of employees who were laid off. She was able to make that move only because she spent the better part of a decade preparing. Heisler's transition was markedly different from Dave Fano's experience launching Teal, which provides the tools and technology to help people build meaningful careers. Fano was the chief growth officer at WeWork; he took paternity leave in April 2019 and decided not to return to his job. Fano, 39, had already built several startups (one of which was acquired by WeWork, which is how he ended up there). He knew he wanted to pursue something entrepreneurial, but wasn't sure what. "I'm very comfortable with risk," Fano said; he was that way even earlier in his career. "It doesn't necessarily mean you'll succeed" at whatever you're pursuing, Fano added, especially if you're too comfortable with risk. But, he said, "I'm excited by the early, malleable nature of very young companies. It's a very energizing experience for me and I really enjoy it. What for some may be overwhelming and daunting, those are actually super exciting for me." Remember that your next role doesn't have to last forever Heisler tells all her clients that the most important component of a career change is adopting an "experimental mindset." That means you're trying out potential paths and gathering data, as opposed to making a single, drastic move that you'll have to stick with for years. Knowing that the next job doesn't have to be "forever," Heisler said, "takes some of the stress out of it." That's practical advice, to be sure, since you may not find your ideal role in a recession. But it also helps free up some mental space. Heisler's foray into coaching was part of her (ongoing) experiment in figuring out what she's great at and how she can best help other people achieve their goals. That mindset left room for "unexpected possibilities" in her transition, she said. For Casey, experimentation meant talking to already established coaches about their career paths, as a way to ensure this was something he wanted to pursue now that he'd left Merrill Lynch. Casey said some 21 of the 23 coaches he approached were glad to speak with him and share their experiences. "People were very generous with their time," Casey said. Now, Casey calls these conversations "life design interviews," a term coined by the Stanford professors who wrote "Designing Your Life," a 2016 book that's influenced Casey's coaching practice. According to the professors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, everyone should conduct life design interviews before changing jobs. It involves asking someone who's achieved what you hope to achieve to tell you how they got where they are today and what it's like to have their jobs. Casey was careful not to ask any of the coaches he interviewed for a job lead, and he recommends clients don't either, since they're still in the learning and discovery phase. But in the current economic circumstances, people in your network will likely understand if you're looking for work and need their help. Fano's advice for someone who's just lost their job is to leverage their network. "Tell the world," Fano said, and get over the embarrassment. "Right now the world wants to help more than ever." But if you don't ask for anything, "then they can't help you." As for his own transition from WeWork to Teal, Fano said it was helpful to have a "pausing mechanism." In his case, that pause was paternity leave, when he had a chance to think big-picture about his work life. In someone else's case, it could be a layoff. Even if you need financial stability right now, meaning you need to take another job immediately, being thrown off course can give you a chance to reconsider what you really want out of your career. "I'm usually quick for action," Fano said. "So I intentionally forced myself to take a breath, process it all, and say, 'What do I really want to do? This is going to be a big commitment.'"SEE ALSO: The NYU professor who predicted Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods says the best time to start a business is during the depths of a recession Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence