Stuck in a job that isn't you? Looking to change careers but have no idea where to start? You aren't alone. Thanks to the pandemic creating a more fluid jobs market, more Australians than ever are looking for new opportunities in completely new industries – particularly those which have been hard hit by COVID-19 and the subsequent social distancing – namely tourism, education hospitality and other recreation activities.
According to a study by the direct bank ING, 3.3 million Australian adults are re-thinking their career path, which includes 1.38 million Millennials and 1.31 Generation Xers (Sorman-Nilsson, 2020). According to ING’s head of retail banking Melanie Evans, this period of reflection has been spurred on by the pandemic and the upheaval it has caused within the economy, making many people start to question whether their existing skills will always be needed and taking the initiative to learn new skills and reassess what they want from their career.
Other research has shown that burnout or a lifestyle rethink after last year’s pause for many in the ‘rat race’ made many employees consider a career shift. A report released earlier this year by global advisory and research firm Gartner revealed that work-life balance is now the top reason for people leaving a job or changing careers. In the same report, compensation which usually was listed around number five of the top 10 reasons for people to change careers, had dropped to number 10 (Durkin, 2021).
According to futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson, pandemics have a history of being a catalyst for change – both culturally and economically. Just as the Spanish Flu and Black Plague shifted ways of working, COVID-19 will change the way professionals operate and pave the way for new industries. According to Anders, this point of transition is something Australian professionals can take advantage of; looking at ways to transfer their current skills, learn new ways of working and adapt to the current climate (Sorman-Nilsson, 2020).
Indeed, according to the same ING study, more than a quarter (28%) of Australian adults started learning new skills in isolation last year, whether in an attempt to progress their careers (17%) or simply learn something new (11%) (Sorman-Nilsson, 2020).
Change can be a scary thing. Consequently, for those currently contemplating a career change, whether that be voluntarily or due to the impacts of COVID-19, Public Sector People have listed some key steps that can help to make this career change a long-term success:
Step 1 – Focus on and Utilise Your Soft Skills
Your soft skills are defined as the qualities, behaviours and attributes needed to succeed in the workplace and include traits like interpersonal skills, teamwork, time management and productivity (York, J. 2020). Ironically, in an era of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), being ‘tech savvy’ comes second to possessing soft skills. In fact, in their 2019 Global Talent Trends report, Linkedin found that 91% of talent professionals believe soft skills are vital to the future of work. Furthermore, 89% of companies surveyed, believed ‘bad hires’ to be the result of poor soft skills (Bersin, 2019).
Why is such an emphasis being placed on soft skills? One belief is that while technology innovation (like AI) is gradually replacing tasks that humans once did, these advancements can’t replace or mimic soft skills. Companies cannot replicate traits like creativity, empathy or adaptability with technology and consequently will always need people to apply these attributes within their decision making.
Another factor that’s become more important since the start of the pandemic, is that soft skills are transferable. While hard skills relate specifically to one job or industry, skills like collaboration or emotional intelligence are considered core competencies and are required in all jobs- available today and tomorrow. Possessing and being able to effectively demonstrate these soft skills, has now become an incredible advantage for any job-seeker, especially during the recent year when the pandemic temporarily limited the growth of a number of industries and left many professionals looking for jobs outside their chosen vocation.
Consequently, when applying for roles outside of your industry or previous profession, think of all the soft skills you possess that apply and are relevant to these new roles and ensure you demonstrate these skills on both your resume and interview. For example, if you have developed excellent intrapersonal skills after years in hospitality, you can highlight how advantageous this would be for handling customers within a customer support role.
Step 2 – Get Tech Savvy
While there will always be a place for ‘human’ based skills -emotional intelligence, creativity etc –the demand for digital-based skills are only growing. Consequently, if technology has never been your ‘thing’, now is the time to embrace it. According to research conducted earlier this year by analytics software company Burning Glass Technologies found that DevOps skills – those combining software development and IT operations – have seen a massive 344% increase in demand in Australian job postings between April 2020 and March 2021 (Palmer – Derrien, 2021). There has also been a 101% uptick in demand for employees skilled in Atlassian’s Jira project management and tracking software and a 40% increase in demand for Salesforce capabilities.
The pandemic – and the move to remote and hybrid working – has fast-tracked digital transformation for all kinds of sectors and the reason why we’re witnessing the rapidly increasing demand for particular skills and experience with software platforms. Suddenly roles that wouldn’t traditionally have had a big tech focus now do. Marketing managers are now expected to know software configuration while software developers are expected to be able to build rapport with stakeholders. Consequently, having a base knowledge in essential digital tools like Microsoft Office, Linkedin, Google Advertising, Website development tools like WordPress or software like Zoom or Jira, will make you a more desirable candidate.
If you’re unfamiliar with these platforms – there’s never been a better time to learn! There are so many online learning platforms that make it accessible and affordable to enhance your digital skills and most importantly, will increase your competitiveness over other candidates that need to be trained in the particular software.
To determine which digital tools or software to focus on, review the job description of the roles you want to apply for and take note of the programs they’ve listed under specific requirements. You can also research what platforms the company uses for communication and project management. Once you’ve identified the key tools they use, familiarise yourself with the ones you haven’t used before. This way, when you have a job interview with said company, you can speak honestly about your experience with it. This shows the interviewer that you’ve done your research and is committed to the role.
For those currently considering a career change, a job within the public sector might be the perfect solution. The public sector is well-known for providing employees with workplace flexibility and prioritising work-life balance (a key motivator for people looking to change careers according to Gartner) and because the sector is owned and operated by the government it offers employees job security, a huge asset in today’s uncertain times.
We’ve listed the top 5 benefits to working within the public sector below:
1. You Can Make A Difference In Your Community
When public services are done right, they can make a real impact on individuals and communities. These types of public roles are well suited for people who are motivated to make positive changes to benefit those around them.
2. Improved Work-Life Balance
Generally, the public sector is more reasonable than the private industry due to employment awards and agreements that preserve shorter working hours. Overtime can also be accrued and paid back in flexible leave.
3. Boost Your Resume
In terms of developing a rounded CV, getting experience in different sectors is a positive step. Many public sector jobs provide excellent opportunities to gain experience and build useful new skills. In a government job, there are frequent challenges and complexities that vary from those that you would see in the private sector.
4. Staff Training
Public sector organisations are committed to realising their staff's potential. Employees are often encouraged, if not required, to enhance their skills set by participating in training programmes, progressing their profession.
5. Job Security
One of the biggest stressors for people working in the private sector is job security. Businesses in the private sector are always growing, changing, merging, and restructuring which can put a lot of stress on people who depend on their income to pay the bills. These kinds of concerns aren’t as significant in the public sector - the government won't go out of business like a private company could.
If a job in the public sector sounds like the perfect next step in your career journey, our team of consultants have a number of opportunities available across Australia. Upload your resume and today to hear from a member of our team. Click here to find out more
 Sorman-Nilsson. (2020). More than 3 million to seek career change post COVID-19. ING. Retrieved from: https://newsroom.ing.com.au/more-than-3-million-to-seek-career-change-post-covid-19/
 Durkin, Patrick. (2021). Pandemic Triggers Mid-Career Crisis. Australian Financial Review. Retrieved from: https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/workplace/pandemic-triggers-mid-career-crises-20210420-p57koe
 York, Joanna. (2020). Hard Times Demand Soft Skills. Welcome To The Jungle. Retrieved from: https://www.welcometothejungle.com/en/articles/soft-skills-during-covid
 Bersin, Josh. (2019). LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust. Linkedin. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-2019-talent-trends-soft-skills-transparency-trust-bersin/
 Palmer – Derrien, Stephanie. (2021). Demand for digital skills soars, as employers struggle to attract new talent and retain top performers. Smart Company. Retrieved from: https://www.smartcompany.com.au/coronavirus/digital-skills-demand-soars/