4 reasons why 2021 is the time to make a bold shift in your careerFeatured
My first job after college was working as a Financial Analyst for a mutual fund company. At night, I took stand-up comedy classes because my dream was to be a comedian. As it turns out, you have to be really funny to be a comedian. However, exploring comedy catalyzed me to make creative leaps throughout my career. I’ve held roles in Finance, Marketing, Design, and Product, that have equipped me with a diverse set of skills. Now, as the Founder of Zeit, a career path discovery platform that specializes in helping folks make the leap from one field to another, I am constantly asked by our members, “When is the optimal time to make a career move?” Today, I can confidently answer: now. Successful career shifts are all about time and timing, and since the pandemic, many people have been grappling with the concept of time. When I asked the Zeit community how this unprecedented time has influenced their career transitions, I resoundingly heard people say, "Why not now? If not now, when?" Zeit member Cadine K. said,“This pandemic has made everyone realize nothing is guaranteed.” Cadine, currently in Customer Success, said, “Don’t waste your life working on something you don’t like. Bet on yourself.” The upheaval of 2020 also activated another female Zeit member to shift from the world of Management Consulting into an Operations role. “The chaos in the world has allowed us to pause and reflect on what we actually want in life. Life is too short to not be in a career you want” she says.There are also practical reasons you might be considering now the right time for a career change. COVID layoffs topped 44M+ in the US this summer — an unbelievable event for the economy, but devastating for families, new graduates, and long-term job loyalists across the country. For the first time ever, there’s a shared sense of camaraderie among the millions of people figuring out what’s next for them. Across industries, companies, levels, and roles, people are suddenly all bound by a bond to rebuild — a rare universal moment to pause and reflect. Whether you are rebuilding due to a layoff or just resetting during this unprecedented time, here are four reasons why I believe now is the best time to make a bold shift in your career.1. Remote work = Employee of the worldIf you thought twice about switching to another industry, role, or company because they weren’t in your city, good news, your city just became the entire world. Darren Murph, Head of Remote at Gitlab, said, “Remote work has opened up a global talent pool for us and new opportunities for dedicated people who may not be in a position to move to advance their career. We believe remote work can reverse rural depopulation, make communities less transitory and spread opportunity to underserved areas.” Careers that once felt out of reach because you had to pack up your life and move to another part of the world are now accessible. One Zeit member is looking to upshift her skills from Industrials into the Clean Tech space. She says,“I’m applying across the West Coast because you can work remotely or who knows, maybe we’ll move.” Companies now view your once inaccessible, eclectic skills as a unique asset. Plus, think about how much money you will save trading in that power suit for some power yoga pants? 2. AQ is the new EQDuring the height of the pandemic, Aaron Levie, CEO of BOX, said, “The 2020 strategies that we perfected last year can now be deleted. This will be the ultimate test of how quickly startups can pivot both operationally and strategically.” In this unprecedented time, companies need talent with high Adaptability Quotient-traits like resilience and flexibility. The good news is, career transitioners index high on AQ because they leverage their transferable skills. Zeit mentor, Nick Robnett, a Customer Success Executive at a fintech startup said, "At Paxos, I like hiring and working with Management Consultants making a pivot into Customer Success. These individuals have built great relationship management skills through their experience.It's helpful to our business and strategy to have people with this expertise at the ready.” The book Range describes this as “the successful adapters excellent at taking knowledge from one pursuit and applying it creatively to another while avoiding cognitive entrenchment.” At IDEO, one of our values was to “embrace ambiguity,” which meant forging through the unknown to develop disruptive products and services for clients around the future of work, future of banking, and more. By the time I joined Bloomberg Media to develop experiences on nascent platforms, like Amazon Alexa, I was adept at working with many unknowns. If you thought coming from another industry or role was a deficit, think again, it’s actually an advantage.3. Companies need to do more with lessMost of today’s headlines focus on slashing headcount and corporate budgets. However, some of the best leaders and companies see this time as an opportunity to sprint ahead of their competition. Leaner teams and budgets require a smarter and more productive approach to work. Career transitioners excel in this environment because they draw upon their highly varied and transferable skills to do more with less. An HBR study (https://store.hbr.org/product/build-the-workforce-you-need-hbr-special-issue/SPFA19) of companies with career switchers showed they were able to save more than 2,200 hours of work, which is the equivalent of completing an additional 200 projects. If you are asking yourself whether your domain expertise is relevant or if cross-functional skills are valued, the answer is yes. By the time I landed a job in Product, I had acquired analytical, marketing, and design thinking skills. My boss saw the combination of these skills as a competitive edge. From my experience, if linear paths are 2+2=4, then career transitioner paths are 2+2=5. Your diverse skills make you exponentially valuable to an organization. And right now, every company is asking themselves how to increase their productivity.4. Freelance as a first stepCOVID has accelerated the freelance boom. With so much uncertainty about the future, both job seekers and companies are turning towards freelance to strategically fill in the gaps. According to an NPR article (https://www.npr.org/2020/09/16/912744566/jobs-in-the-pandemic-more-are-freelance-and-may-stay-that-way-forever), “The freelance economy was enormous before the pandemic, and it's growing larger during it. Upwork says it now contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy — 22% more than in 2019. And the Upwork study referenced in the article claims that 60% of post-COVID-19 freelancers say no amount of money would convince them to take a traditional job.” If you are hesitant to go all in on a big career shift, freelance provides an opportunity to try it on first. If you are trying to go all in on a career shift, freelancing gives you the opportunity to shine. One Zeit member used freelance to bridge into her next role after being laid off. She said, “I’m using this as an opportunity to address some data and analytics skills gaps so that I build my resume to get my dream job.” It may not be the path of least resistance but it is the path to fulfillment. So, if you’re thinking about what your next career move looks like, think big, and think now. Don’t wait for the future of work, because the future of work may be waiting for you.Ambika Nigam is the Founder and CEO of Zeit (https://www.thezeit.co/), a digital career path discovery platform and network that helps people switch roles and industries based on their transferable skills.