How to Change Careers if You've Been Laid Off
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How to Change Careers if You've Been Laid Off

Career switching isn’t uncommon. And to be able to transition from your current career while building the skills and network you’ll need after-hours is ideal. But what if you find yourself suddenly out of work, with experience in a declining industry with no current job openings?

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Many workers face this challenge during recessions and industry downturns. Faced with a sudden loss of income, mounting bills, and few job prospects, they must quickly select a new career path, upgrade their skills, and repackage themselves to compete effectively for jobs.

If you’re unemployed and considering a new career, here’s how you should approach your career switch.

Maximize Your Income

The more financial stress you’re under, the harder it will be to transition successfully. So first, maximize your income, especially if you don’t have enough savings to fall back on. File for unemployment, and any other benefits for which you may qualify. Scrounge up part-time work, even if it has nothing to do with your former or future career. Even a pizza delivery gig can help offset some expenses while you pursue your new career.

Select Your Career Field

While layoffs occur in every industry, some fields, like healthcare, for example, are resistant to broad economic downturns. But this shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when selecting a new field. Consider the working hours, conditions, and likely compensation. And think about whether you can commit to doing the work and doing it well.

Upgrade Your Skills

Use job boards to identify a few different jobs in your chosen field. Take a look at each job’s skills and qualifications, then think about your own experience and background. What do you need to learn to be attractive to employers? Check the U.S. Department of Labor’s website for training programs and services for workers who’ve been laid off, as well as other online training resources, to obtain those skills. And look for trade associations, online industry groups, and other networking opportunities that can help you enhance your qualifications and make connections in the industry.

Repackage Yourself

Don’t wait until you’ve completed the training you’ve identified to start to market yourself differently. Update your social media profiles to reflect your career switch and your growing experience. And start applying for a few jobs. Even if you don’t land the position, the feedback you may receive about what you need to be a more competitive applicant may prove invaluable.

Changing careers can be challenging, especially when done under duress. However, approaching your transition with a clear head and a plan will dramatically improve your odds of successfully landing a job in a new field.