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How To Change Careers During A Recession

Apr 28, 2020

Millions of Americans are currently unemployed. COVID-19 completely changed the economy and working conditions for people all around the United States. With so many financial issues, it’s easy to feel confused and lost. Many Americans simply don’t know what to do about their career—they are worried about their industry, they’ve lost their job and don’t know where to go next, or they don’t feel prepared for what’s ahead.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are currently unemployed, or are nervous about your career future, you’re not alone. Many people feel that moving to a new career will be their best option in a recession. Discover how to navigate a career change during a recession and set yourself up for a great career future. This career advice can help you get on a new career path, so you can reach your career goals!

1. Choose a recession proof job.

The first step to changing careers is to decide where you want to go. Ask yourself some questions to help evaluate your thoughts and feelings. What kind of new job would you like to have in the future? Are you happy in your current industry? What do you like or dislike about your current role or field? These questions can help propel you to decide what kind of new job you should pursue. Think about what you’re passionate about and what you’ve always dreamed about doing. Sometimes, a layoff or recession is a great time to truly evaluate what you really want in a career and can be the push you need to go for your goals. While it can be uncertain or nerve-wracking, it can also be a time of great growth and self-discovery. Take advantage to choose a new job or career path you feel confident about.

It’s also extremely valuable to evaluate the best recession-proof jobs when deciding what career you’d like to transition into. Education, healthcare, IT, and some business fields may even see an uptick in hiring during a recession. Other industries may struggle during a recession—retail, travel, and entertainment may see declines as people hold onto their money and save for necessities. Things like education and healthcare are always needed in a community. Technology is constantly evolving and in extremely high-demand. And many businesses continue to grow and operate even in financial downturns. These are usually great fields to go into during financial hard times. Carefully research the best recession proof jobs and find which field is the best for where you live, and what you’re interested in.

2. Get the education and training you need to be competitive.

To be competitive for a position, you need to make sure you have the education and experience the job requires. If you and another candidate have similar experience, education may be the deciding factor over who gets the job. Pursue higher education with a bachelor’s or master’s degree that can make you more marketable, and give you the credentials and training you need in order to be qualified for a position. Especially when it comes to career changes, it’s crucial to have education so you have the actual skills needed to be successful in a position. 

More than ever, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are the basic qualification for a job. If you're job hunting or on a casual job search in a new field, you will likely need a degree in order to meet the job requirements, let alone stand out among the competition. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree is more than just a credential for your resume—it will give you specific skills and experience that you need to be successful in your position.

Many students are worried about a career change that requires education because they can’t afford to leave their current job, or have family responsibilities that come first to them. Luckily, you can get the education you need without having to quit your job. You can be a full-time student, full-time employee, full-time parent, and more. Online education options like WGU allow students to go back to school on their terms, ensuring they can keep up with their current career and family responsibilities while attending school. Our goal is to make education more attainable for students everywhere. So if you’re considering going back to school to pursue a degree that can help you with a career change, WGU could be the ideal fit. You can change careers and get on the path you’ve been hoping, without having to lose your income or neglect important responsibilities. During a recession, being able to keep precious income and juggle school with your other responsibilities is priceless.

3. Find people who can help you.

You don’t have to go at this alone. It’s important to utilize your network in a career change. Find people that you know that could help you get a foot in the door in your new industry or give you career change advice. It could be someone you know well like a family member or friend, or a social media acquaintance or someone you know of at work. Utilize whatever connections and resources you have to help you meet the right people. Networking is key to getting job interviews, and that’s the foot-in-the-door that you need.

Networking can also help you get a better idea of what field you want to go into. Job shadow or speak to a professional in a field to learn if it really is a good fit for you. You can utilize your professional connections to learn about the responsibilities, skills, education, salary, and more of a certain field. This will give you a chance to take a look into a field before diving into it yourself. Carefully evaluate before making a change.

You can utilize your educational network to help you as well. Alumni resources are often key in helping you meet other graduates who are in your field. It’s important to use social media, LinkedIn, cohort groups, and any other resources your university has to help you make the networking connections that can help you successfully navigate a career change. 

4. Be OK with a lower title.

When you change careers, you may have to start a step lower down on the ladder than in your previous job. It may mean taking a lower title or a bit of a lower salary at first. That can be disheartening, but it’s important to continue working toward your end goal. If you want to move up in this new field, you have to start somewhere. And it’s OK to step backwards in order to go further forward in a field you’re excited and passionate about. 

Especially during times of recession, it’s important to be ok with taking whatever position is available. You can learn so much and get your foot in the door to an incredible opportunity. Say yes and be willing to work hard to get where you want to be. That’s another reason WGU can be a great option for your education—you can stay in your current job and continue to generate income while going to school. Then you can save and prepare for taking a lower position or a lower salary in your new field. 

5. Know which of your skills can help propel you.

Do your research and now how your skills will set you apart from others. Your previous experience may be in a different field, but it can still be key in helping you succeed in a new industry. Communication, leadership, time management—these are all skills that can be used in many industries and may be important for your future career. List them on your resume and point them out as your strengths. Evaluate yourself to see where some of your best skills are, and think about how they could help you in a new field.

The job interview is an important part of a career change, especially during a recession when unemployment rates are high. You may have a lot of competition for a position, so it’s important to quickly be able to display how your skills set you apart. Share how your past experience in a different industry or field gives you a great advantage—for example, share how your time in the business field gives you understanding into the business side of IT, and that combined with your IT degree and training make you the best possible fit for a job. Utilize the interview as a chance to highlight these skills, also listed on your resume, and demonstrate why you're the perfect candidate for a job.

A recession can feel overwhelming and scary, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to jump into a new career. Many Americans feel that as a recession comes, they may need to change to a new career field that will be more stable during financial hardship. If you’re wondering if a career change is the right move for you, see how WGU can help fit your career plans. Take advantage of flexible, online learning and be prepared for whatever is ahead.

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