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Is Now a Good Time To Change Careers? 3 Factors To Consider
The Great Resignation may be receding, but now is still a good time to change careers.
Here are three important factors to consider before making the big switch.
Is the Great Resignation turning into the Great Regret? Last year, an unprecedented 47 million Americans quit their jobs and entered a soaring job seekers market, where recently exited employees had their pick of the litter when it came to pay, perks, and benefits. Now, with thoughts of a career change on your mind, it’s only human to wonder if you’ve perhaps arrived a bit too late to the party.
We’re happy to tell you not to worry — you haven’t. While the hiring market is in a different place than it was last year, the conditions are still favorable if you’re serious about changing your career. However, making the big switch is always a big decision, so consider the following first to determine if a career change right now is the right move for you.
The math checks out
The Great Resignation wasn’t just about changing jobs, it was about changing careers too: A whopping 53 percent of Americans headed for the exits to try something different in 2021. This year, conditions have changed slightly, but the winds may still be in your favor.
We may no longer see a quits rate like we did in November 2021, where 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in a single month, but there are certain market forces at work that could benefit you as you look to switch careers.
Taking a look at the most recent labor market data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can see that job creation is slowing down. While this kind of economic recovery was needed after the height of the pandemic, the amount of new opportunities being created had started to overheat. In an unbalanced hiring market that already favored job seekers, employers found themselves strained even further as they tried (and in many cases, failed) to find qualified talent.
While it may no longer be that once-in-a-generation opportunity to change jobs, right now is still a good time to make a career transition. Why? For starters, while it’s true that job creation is indeed slowing, the unemployment rate is decelerating along with it. Recently, the amount of workers searching for new jobs returned to its near 50-year pre-pandemic low. So while there may be fewer job opportunities, there are also fewer job seekers for you to compete with.
Skill gaps create new openings
While we can pull generalizations about which way the wind is blowing from aggregate data, if you’re looking to make a career change, you likely have a target industry in mind: which, depending on your choice, could ultimately work in your favor. Demand will vary depending on the industry and occupation, so it’s critical to assess the current state of your target industry before making your decision.
It’s no secret that many industries are struggling with skills gaps and talent shortages. Manufacturing for instance, has been staring down for years predictions of 2.1 million jobs going unfilled by 2030. The shortage of nurses, as another example, has been so acute that almost every state has taken out executive orders to address it.
Tech in particular is facing a shortage crisis of its own. As a major engine of innovation, the tech industry exists in a perpetual state of flux. New technology means new training and new skill sets to source for — a breakneck rate of change that’s shrunk the half life of tech skills to just 2.5 years. Small wonder then that tech is one of the top most-needed focus area for training in U.S. workplaces, or that 54 percent of IT decision-makers say they currently have openings they can’t fill.
As a result, employers are starting to widen their criteria. Large gaps on a resume, for example, are no longer the red flags they once were. Additionally, employers are starting to hire based on fit and potential rather than hard-and-fast qualifications. This is another factor working in your favor, especially when making a full career transition. In a different hiring market, you may have struggled finding work outside your established area of expertise, with increased competition coming from more credentialed candidates in the field. Today, you may find more open-minded employers willing to help you make the transition in order to fill a major area of need.
Drawbacks to consider
Going by the numbers, the decision seems clear: It’s as good a time as there ever was to make a career change. However, a switch of this stature is just as much an emotional decision as a pragmatic one. So before you send out that first resume, make sure you’ve run a gut-check on these major considerations.
While no one can predict the future, the threat of a recession looms, so it would be wise to take stock of the stability of your position. Often, the last people hired are the first to go in the event of layoffs. Surrendering your tenure by entering a new industry would make you more susceptible to job loss in the event of recession-induced downsizing.
On the subject of tenure, you’ll also want to make sure you’re thinking down the road about where you want your potential new career to take you. Depending on where you are in your career, starting over could reset the clock on achieving milestone promotions that require a certain level of experience to secure.
Still, there’s no use in climbing the ladder if the view from the top isn’t what you’re looking for. If your passions no longer lie with your current career, then any downside will be a worthy tradeoff for securing work you truly love. We may no longer be in the head-for-hills heyday of 2021, but if you’re ready to leave your current behind to embark on an exciting new career, the second best time is undoubtedly today.
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