Is it time to pivot to a Plan B job?
Has the coronavirus pandemic thrown off your job search plans? Here's how to shift to Plan B, even if you never started Plan A.
You had it all planned. You figured out the right career path for you and made a long list of target companies to work for and ideal roles. You applied to dozens of jobs but heard nothing. You got a templated “thank you, next” response despite having carefully customized your resume and cover letter; or maybe you even had a few phone or video job interviews but haven’t landed an offer yet.
You’re not alone. It’s normal for the job search process to take time, but for some people, it’s taking longer now because many companies have implemented hiring freezes or furloughs because of the pandemic. It’s likely that there will be more job opportunities as the country reopens, but in order to land the awesome new gig you might have to consider a different type of role or even a different industry. In other words, you might have to pivot to a Plan B job without ever really embarking on Plan A.
It can be disheartening when things don’t go the way you wanted, but you might find that pivoting in a new direction can open doors, expand your network, and offer you the skills that will help you find the right role after all. And in the meantime, you get a paycheck! So what do you do if you’ve plotted out Plan A, but to quote Phoebe Buffay from “Friends,” “I don’t even have a pla...” when it comes to Plan B? We’ve got you.
Define your ideal job
Write down the qualities of your ideal job, such as company culture, compensation, work-life balance, and stress level. Don’t limit yourself to a particular title or company—think about what would make you happy. If it’s working with a large team, put that down. If it’s flexible hours, write that.
Now write down your top skills and strengths. Include hard skills like writing, math, editing, and anything else that is a teachable and measurable skill. Next, write down soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and other skills that are more intangible but are key to getting ahead in your career.
You could be good at anything if you try hard enough, but you’re likely to be happier and more successful if you find a role that requires more of your strengths than your weaknesses and a company that has the qualities you’re looking for.
Identify Plan A versus Plan B jobs
As you’re reading job postings, look for roles that will give you the skills and experience that you’ll need to land that Plan A job. For example, if you want to become a journalist but you can’t find the right gig, you would gain transferable skills and experience by working in public relations, content marketing, or advertising. Expand your search and set up job alerts for different positions to learn more about the responsibilities and requirements for each. At this point, you may find yourself spending a majority of your time applying to roles that fit Plan B, but continue to apply to jobs that fit Plan A. Read the postings for Plan A jobs that range from entry-level to exec so you can see the most common qualifications and experience that is required for your ideal career path. Then see if you can gain some of that experience in your Plan B jobs.
Be proactive and start gaining the skills and experiences you’ll need now. Read industry publications and take online courses and certification programs. If you have a passion project you’ve always wanted to pursue, start. It could make you more marketable when you apply to jobs or, if you start earning income, it could become your full-time role.
Expand your professional network
When it comes to job searching it’s both what you know and who you know. You might learn about a type of role you hadn’t considered, a company to check out, or simply gain insights into the industry that has become your Plan B through friends, family, professors, or former co-workers. Be sure to tell them about the industries and roles you’re seeking—both Plan A and Plan B to cover your bases. Ask if they have any advice, recommendations of companies to consider, or if they can connect you to someone at your target companies or people in the industry.
Expand your network further by making those recommended connections online and looking for new people through organizations such as your college alumni group. Ask everyone you speak with if they could recommend one or two other people you need to know and if they’ll make an intro.
Go on virtual informational interviews
The goal of an informational interview isn’t to get a job, it’s to meet with people in your new ideal industry who can offer valuable insights into their role, company, and industry. When you reach out to people, ask if they have time for a 15-minute call or video chat. Don’t be discouraged if they can’t accommodate you right away. Acknowledge that you know that these are difficult times and offer to follow up in a few weeks if they don’t have the bandwidth now.
Make the most of each informational interview by researching the person and the company so you ask questions that you couldn’t find through a quick Google search. , and always send a thank you email afterward. Since the purpose of an informational interview is to gather insights and information, write down questions in advance so you don’t forget to ask them. Smart questions about your interviewer and their company will demonstrate that you did your research and were prepared. And remember that although it isn’t a job interview, it could lead to one if you make a good impression by asking smart questions and speaking clearly about your experiences and goals. If you see a job opening at their company, apply and then reach out and ask if they would mind sending your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager directly.
Optimize your job search
If your number one goal right now is to earn an income, expand your job search further by looking for temp work, freelance, or part-time jobs that could lead to full-time positions. Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.