If 2020 will be remembered as the year that, among other things, led to millions of people losing their jobs, then 2021 will likely be the year that brought in massive shifts in people’s careers. Many employers are hiring, but jobs are going unfilled. In fact, the most recent government data released about job openings and labor turnover shows a deficit in the millions between open roles and hiring numbers. 

It seems like we read a new story every day about what organizations are doing to attract and retain talent. Retail and hospitality are ramping up efforts to attract back the talent they lost last year. Major retailers recently made news when they announced they will cover 100% of college tuition and books for employees. Yet, many people working in sectors like retail and hospitality are quitting in record numbers, citing the desire for improved pay, benefits, or a different career path. 

As a leader of a healthcare training organization offering more than 40 programs to prepare people to take certification exams and start their healthcare careers, we have seen record levels of interest from learners wanting a fresh start. 

If I could spend time with each person who is bravely restarting their career, I would encourage them to keep moving forward. Often, when starting something new, we can feel like we are starting over completely. This fact can make people feel overwhelmed or, worse, hold them back from trying something new. 

One important thing to remember is that throughout our careers, no matter the industry, we gain transferable skills. The former retail manager who leveraged data to ensure in-demand items were in stock could bring that skill set to their local pharmacy after completing pharmacy tech training and certification. Those who were customer-facing in previous roles are often surprised at the many roles that are available in healthcare where their people skills can shine. 

When it is time for a career restart, it’s important to take the following steps: 

  1. Remember your strengths: Listing out the aspects of you that you want to grow and use in a future career can often help you determine what training or professional program is right for you. 
  2. Identify your skills: Write down what soft or transferable skills you have already developed. Aspects of how you work don’t disappear simply because you’ve selected a new career path. Talents such as clear problem solving, communication, strategic thinking, resilience, and collaboration can take you far in a new career. 
  3. Map your path: Once you’ve taken a personal inventory and identified your desired career, map the steps to get there. If the career requires certification and training, speak with those who have successfully done it and write down how you can achieve your goals. 
  4. Stay the course: You will encounter doubt. Uncertainty or frustration may sneak up on you, but reviewing the steps it takes to complete your goal and growing your existing skills is all part of the process that, once finished, can unlock new opportunities. 

A new career and a fresh start bring a lot of energy. In hard moments, they can also bring doubt and uncertainty. It is reassuring to be centered and know that a fresh start doesn’t mean a start from zero. Existing skills brought to new endeavors can help people accelerate toward and thrive in their new careers.