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In this month’s Checking In column, Gomez talks about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of being a bilingual real estate agent and why she encourages buyers, if they can, to wait when buying a home in today’s market.

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In agriculture and health services, Yakima's major economic drivers, a supermajority of employees worked for companies and organizations that continued operating during the pandemic. Many employees were in positions that could not be done remotely.

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While millennials have been getting a bad rap for changing jobs too frequently, the COVID-19 health crisis has shifted management mindsets. Recent statistics indicate that people of all ages are changing jobs. Some by choice, others because their positions have been eliminated.

I have changed jobs many times (admittedly, some not by my choice). I’ve also had three distinct careers in my life. Yet for most people, changing jobs – let alone occupations or careers – is scary. You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I recently sat down with a friend of mine who has also changed careers a few times. If you’re planning to make a self-initiated career change, there are some things to take into consideration before you leap.

First and foremost, review your finances. The hiring process can be slow. It can take anywhere from six to eight weeks — sometimes longer — to secure a new position. Look at your bank accounts, expenses and budget accordingly. (WorkSourceWA.com has a great free, confidential budgeting tool: https://worksourcewa.com/BudgetCalculator/BudgetCalculator.aspx.) And remember, in most instances, if you quit a job, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits or employer-sponsored health insurance. From experience, I can tell you it’s easier to find a new job when you have one; it takes the pressure off.

Why do you want to make a change? Evaluate your current job satisfaction. Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike? Assess your interests, values, and skills. What skills have you used through all your jobs? What new ones have you developed that could lead to a new career? Do some research. Is the new position you seek “in demand” where you live, meaning are businesses actively recruiting for that position? Visit onetcodeconnector.org or mynextmove.org. Both websites allow you to explore occupations, check out the required skills and education, and more importantly, find wage and demand data by state and zip code.

What about my resume? Won’t a job change look bad? In today’s business climate, recruiters expect people to change jobs. They see the value of gaining a variety of skills and experiences from different positions. Gone are the days when workers would begin and end their career with the same company. Still, according to Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, more than five job changes in ten years is too many.

What about my employer? How will they survive without me? Loyalty is not a good reason to stay in a job. Work really is a business transaction, and you need to treat it as such. Today, most businesses don’t expect people to be long term employees.

Spend time on a new resume. Job seekers must target and tailor their resume and your cover letter for each job they seek. Include key words and phrases from the job description for which you are applying. Beware of formatting and applicant tracking software.

Finally, network. Set up informational interviews or job shadows. Volunteer in a field you are looking to break into. After all, volunteers are just unpaid employees! You might even consider finding a new job in your existing industry. For example, if you are in retail and need a change from holidays and weekends, consider a move to corporate recruiting.

Whether you’ve been laid off, have felt stuck, or feel called to do something different with your life, you can set yourself up for success. Dare to dream. And as always, there is help through the workforce system.

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A Sunnyside meat cutting and curing business launched during the COVID-19 pandemic is the winner of the Enterprise Challenge, a business plan competition co-organized by the Yakima County Development Association and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce.

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