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How to switch careers during a pandemic

Right now, according to the Virginia Employment Commission, 9.4% of Virginians are out of work. And while some industries have seen its numbers start to recover, from May 2019 to May 2020, over 36% of the leisure and hospitality workforce was out of work. If you’re part of that group – or, if our new reality has given you a reason to find a different career – start planning your next move.

Our FastForward training programs are continuing to move online, and we’re wrapping up training for some of our spring trainees who were right in the middle of things when everything shut down. But our Career Coaches are still hard at work to make sure their former students – and future students – are prepared to switch careers if needed.

“First, I have career switchers take the Virginia Education Wizard assessments and together, help determine their next steps,” says Alejandra Diaz-Rangel, our coach at Tidewater Community College. “Then, I assist student in enrolling into the degree program/certification program that they are interested in pursuing.”

Constance Peay, our FastForward Career Coach at Rappahannock Community College seconds Alejandra.

“I believe students need to do a bit of career exploration to understand what a job completely entails,” she says. “A simple interest inventory and checking in O*Net to see if their interest matches their new career job title will give them the information, ‘I can do this, this is a great fit for me,’ OR, ‘I have a lot of work to do and need more training.’ I let them come to the conclusion if it’s right for them.”

If you’re skills are transferrable – even if it’s your soft skills, not your technical skills – you should still throw your application in the ring for consideration.

“Apply, apply, apply! Given the strange circumstances of the pandemic, some employers may be desperate for help even if an individual doesn’t have direct experience,” says Brooke Shehan from Dabney S. Lancaster. “When times may be tough, career switchers may have a better chance at getting hired if an employer needs additional help.”

Looking for help taking your next step? From finding the right training to connecting you with potential employers, a FastForward Career Coach can help you every step of the way. Reach out and connect with your local coach to learn about your options.

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