To Shift or Not to Shift During the Pandemic

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We’re not out of the woods with COVID-19. Cases are climbing higher than ever across much of the US, leaving folks in a constant state of uncertainty.

If you’re someone who was hoping for a career transition this year, your plans were likely put on hold back in the spring when unemployment peaked. And while unemployment has been on the decline since May, millions of people who didn’t anticipate being out of work have landed back on the job search. 

So, you wonder: is it even a good idea to seek out a career transition right now? It just might be. Let’s look at the pros and cons of shifting your career amid the pandemic:

Pro: Time to rethink your priorities

One of the most appealing reasons to make a career transition right now is that you’ve probably had a lot of time to think about it this year. While sheltering at home and working remotely, the pandemic created a unique opportunity for reflection.

Having lived through a very different work environment in 2020, what have you realized is important to you? 

Think about your job responsibilities, benefits, flexibility, development opportunities, etc. Take note of what you enjoy and what you don’t. If you find more flaws in your job than you used to, it might be time for a career shift.

In addition to thinking through your feelings on your current job, you also have lots of time to consider what path would align more with your values. This can guide and narrow your job search if you decide to pursue a new career.

Con: Job burnout or pandemic burnout?

The state of the world is causing added stress to your work, and you’re not alone. More than half of workers experienced burnout while working remotely during the pandemic, according to a recent survey from Monster.com

While you may think your burnout is due to your job’s nature, it may be other anxieties impacting your work. This becomes a problem if you decide to make a career transition based on your current job dissatisfaction. You’ll likely continue to experience burnout, even if you embark on a new career path. 


Don’t decide to shift based on burnout alone. Make sure other factors are guiding your choice. And remember to lean into your support system.

Pro: People want to help you make connections

This year, people who have kept their jobs are regularly posting on social media that they want to help their connections who are impacted by the pandemic. This willingness to help each other makes it a great time to meet folks in different career paths.

For example, some folks are offering to help contacts make connections with recruiters and hiring managers, review resumes, write letters of recommendation, and provide interview advice.

Now is a great time to reach out to the people in your network (and people who have put out an open call) to make connections that will inevitably propel you along your career path.

Con: Unstable job market

With millions of workers unemployed in the US and many companies still uncertain about their futures, demand for jobs is higher than the supply. Although unemployment has declined since the beginning of the pandemic, many industries are still on a hiring freeze.

While you may not be in love with your current job anymore, it may be more beneficial to stick it out through the remainder of the pandemic. If your company hasn’t considered furloughs or layoffs, the job security you currently have can grant you peace of mind. Paying the bills for the next several months is something you might not want to take for granted.

Pro: Geography is no longer a restriction

Another positive result of workplaces moving to remote environments is that companies are hiring virtually for the foreseeable future. The virtual work environment opens opportunities to apply for jobs you weren’t able to before due to being in a faraway city.

If your career transition involves an industry in another part of the world, now’s the time to get your foot in the door. In your job hunt, filter by “remote” or “virtual” jobs on job boards to see all of your new options.

Con: More challenging onboarding 

Starting a new job might be tricky amid a temporary remote working environment. You’d have to meet your new team in a virtual setting and get used to their temporary company culture. Unless the company plans to remain virtual after the pandemic ends, you’ll have to do it all over again when the company moves back to an office.

With so much change in the last year, you can’t be sure that the company culture that piques your interest in the interview will be the same once you’re a year or two into the role. If you decide to look at new employers, ask about the past and present culture to inform your decision.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. Depending on your needs and even factors such as geography or your industry, the circumstances impacting the job market this year may have created the perfect opportunity for you to accelerate your career. Do your research and keep yourself safe and healthy on this journey.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.