Was 2020 The Best Thing To Happen To Your Career?

by / ⠀Startup Advice / January 7, 2021
Was 2020 The Best Thing To Happen To Your Career?

This may be a difficult question to answer for a year that’s caused untold economic and career misery for so many people. However, they say growth doesn’t come without an element of pain and many people are using the current situation as an opportunity to re-examine their professional life. 

It seems necessity really is the mother of invention, or reinvention in this case.

A Push to Career Reinvention

As human beings, we can easily get stuck in our patterns and habits. Psychologists would say that we rarely take action to change things in our life unless we’re in serious discomfort or pain, or if we see the opportunity to move to a new scenario that’s far more appealing than our current situation (the old ‘grass is greener’ view). 

Therefore, something that shakes our world to the core – often in the form of a life-changing experience – can be the most compelling catalyst for us deciding to transform things for ourselves, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes with zeal, and often for the better.

This has certainly been the case for many people’s career choices in 2020.

Fundamental changes in sectors like retail, travel, and hospitality prompted huge shifts and catapulted many individuals into the job market. This caused them to reassess their choices and consider options that may not have previously been thought about. And, areas like event planning and management have changed enormously. That buzz of running a face-to-face conference is now replaced by remote, technology-driven networking opportunities and a need to think creatively about how to drive the same value to clients. 

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This caused many professionals to question whether their industry still offers what they need and want.

Shifting Careers

Recently, there was a huge backlash in response to the UK’s CyberFirst campaign advert showing the image of a ballerina and quoting, “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet).” This embodied what many feel is a sore lack of investment and interest from the UK government in the arts – a sector simply left at the bottom of the pile. Individuals have been left with next-to no choice about giving up their passion and seeking work elsewhere in order to pay the bills.

In contrast, Fraser Silvey, managing director of Connor, was asked to offer his professional comment in an FT. article that explored the phenomena of pilots shifting career paths into financial trading. 

What’s been interesting is that these shifts in career focus have not been ignited by a sense of panic in response to what’s happening in the travel and aviation industries. Instead, many of these pilots have described this as a ‘kick up the backside’ to finally move on from a career they have been out of love with for some time. They have seen this as a once-in-a-lifetime push to spread their metaphorical wings and put their talents to use in a different way.

Motivation For A Future Career

And here’s where motivation comes in. Those who feel they are hanging on by their fingertips to an industry and a job they love, due to a Covid-19 triggered financial landslide, are feeling devastated and desperate about their options. They feel a lack of control and a lack of choice. At the other end of the scale, people who have been stuck, demotivated and under-inspired for years, or whose life motivations have simply changed, this has been the wake-up call they’ve been waiting for. It has caused them to step off the treadmill of their career and consciously consider what they want.

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As a result of the dynamics at play, 2020 and 2021 could be historic in terms of people making career moves. Many are deciding to ‘go it alone’ and launch themselves as independent consultants or take a vocational route such as life coaching. Others are deciding to slow their pace of life and fully or semi-retire, or take advantage of the uplift in remote working. And, some are taking a career shift to allow for a different working pattern and sense of flexibility.

Things to Consider

This is being born out in an increased demand for retirement transition services, and people personally funding career coaching and transition services. They are seeing this as a pivotal moment and they want to make the right decision for the next few years, or perhaps for the rest of their career.

Whatever your circumstances, you may find this is a good time to simply pause and consider:

  • What do you have control over?
  • What don’t you have control over?
  • Where can you exercise your career choices right now?

Think about what you need (income, flexibility, location, resources), what you want (culture, inspiration, fulfillment, motivation) and what this year has shown you that you may not otherwise have considered.

It’s useful to remember that, no matter what is happening with your role, organization and sector, you do still have personal choices even though you may not feel like this right now. Consider using a trusted friend or family member as a sounding board or, if helpful, seek out professional career transition services to explore what’s right for you.

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When you look back on 2020, how do you want your career to have been defined by it? 

About The Author


Kate is an energetic and passionate leader with a unique combination of vision, drive, pragmatism and practicality. She joined Connor, leading outplacement service providers in the UK, in 2016, and became CEO in 2018. Since then, Kate has led Connor through an exciting period of growth and reorganisation, and is a strong champion of technology as an enabler of effective organizational transformation.


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