Left Out of Work by COVID? Consider These 4 Career Pivots
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven massive job losses over the last year. Millions of Americans still remain unemployed—the Department of Labor’s latest report says 770,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims in mid-March. Travel, hospitality, entertainment and personal services have been among the hardest hit occupations, and many workers say they’re even willing to accept a job for less money, at a lower level and with fewer hours just to get back to work.
Even as some states are reopening and vaccine roll out ramps up, it may still be a long haul for some professionals as economists predict it could take more than five years for some of the worst-hit sectors to recover, including arts and entertainment, accommodation and food services. Meanwhile, others are booming and likely will continue to do so, with companies struggling to fill vacant positions.
For those who had been working in industries heavily impacted by the pandemic, it’s time to consider alternative job options where you can apply a similar skillset in industries that are hiring. Here are four creative career pivots to consider:
Travel and transportation -> Travel tech
Traditional travel and transportation companies have seen a huge decline over the last year, while their counterparts in travel tech and travel search engines have boomed as people clamor for safe, alternative travel options. That’s especially true for companies who leaned into COVID-safe travel options like RV rentals and the great American road trip. For example, VacationRenter, which aggregates the best rentals from top sites into one easy to use search engine, had a record year in 2020, exceeding $1 billion in gross bookings. At a time when other companies were seeing a decline in bookings, VacationRenter’s nearly doubled, growing by 88%, and as the only rental search platform with RV inventory, that category alone saw a whopping 350% rise in bookings. Other companies like RV rental platform Outdoorsy grew 4,600% from April to October of last year with no signs of slowing down.
For anyone who previously worked in logistics, customer service or technology roles with airlines, trucking companies and other hard-hit travel industries, travel tech companies offer a great alternative employment option. Those with destination knowledge like travel agents and flight attendants can especially add value to travel tech companies by applying their expertise in marketing and promotions.
Hospitality -> Insurance
This may not seem like an obvious pivot but hear me out. Insurance is all about providing exceptional customer service. Since anyone can buy auto, home or business insurance from any company, service has become the biggest key differentiator. Customers want to know they can reach a human who can help at any time.
Since customer service is also the lynchpin of the hospitality industry, this is a surprisingly easy shift. Insurance provides a great on-the-job learning experience which makes getting up to speed on products relatively seamless. And according to a new survey from Insurtech provider Vertafore, because the industry is currently dominated by people who are nearing retirement, this “silver tsunami” is creating an urgent need (and opportunity) to find people with complementary skills to fill those roles. Plus, with ample remote work and flexible hours, insurance and Insurtech are both great options for work/life balance.
Art -> dog grooming
This also might feel a bit like a leap, but it actually makes a lot of sense. A short history lesson: grooming first began to evolve as an art form in 16th century France. Pictures from hundreds of years ago show the “Continental Cut” of the poodle. Artists are naturally creative; the dog grooming industry is definitely an art form, with ample opportunity for creative styling and accessorizing.
Because more people got pets during the pandemic to keep them company at home, and they’re spending more on them, the grooming industry is booming. Companies like Barkbus—which operates a fleet of vans that pull into your driveway and groom your dog right outside your home—are experiencing a surplus of demand. Since August their revenue has grown 250% which means they are bringing on more groomers to keep up with demand. Plus, who wouldn’t want to work with cuddly pooches all day?
Personal services -> home services
Because of lockdown, companies that provide personal services like laundry, dry-cleaning and even cooks and bartenders saw a huge decline in their business and layoffs as a result. Those who work in the industry have a natural propensity for working with people, making customers happy and working with their hands to create a final product. And, they know that efficiency is important.
With remote work here to stay, more people are investing in their homes, which is creating a boomtime for companies in the home goods, home improvement and home solutions industries. Companies like Leaf Home Solutions, which provides gutter products, windows, kitchen/bath and home safety products, saw record growth in the last year, topping $1.1 billion in revenue. Despite the pandemic, the company grew organically by 80% in 2020 with plans to open 60 new offices this year. That provides ample opportunity for employment for folks who enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. Furniture company Article grew revenue 70% during the pandemic, primarily due to renewed interest in people remodeling their homes.
While the pandemic may have upended the careers of many, it’s also opened new doors of opportunity in some alternative industries. Now is a great time to explore a new career and perhaps find a “second act” in a new role that’s rewarding and fulfilling, plus offers flexibility and room to grow.
Brooklyn Lowery is a personal finance expert and Senior Managing Editor at CardRatings.com