Over a third (34%) of people have admitted the pandemic has made them re-evaluate or change their career plans and aspirations, according to new research.


A year on since the UK first went into lockdown, millions of people are now reflecting on their lives and future goals. We spoke to Andrew Fennell, former recruiter and director at StandOut CV for his top tips.


Andrew shared that people should:


  1. Identify the types of skills/knowledge likely to have future demand, you can check the government’s Shortage Occupation List for a national overview of skills shortages in different sectors


  1. Consider online courses that are free or heavily discounted for introductory skills in different industries which could help towards entry-level positions


  1. Look for those who have done similar career moves on LinkedIn/Twitter and drop them a DM, you might get some useful advice from helpful people in the field


  1. Join industry networks and groups. This can be in the form of groups who meet virtually, or industry chats on Twitter using relevant hashtags


  1. Review your own experience and work out which skills are truly transferable, these tend to be attributes such as people management, software/tool expertise, organisation, handling stress, and adaptability


  1. Ensure your skills are COVID-ready, employers are looking for those who can adapt to changing situations, find solutions to new problems, and able to work efficiently remotely


  1. If completely retraining, see if you can do this part-time alongside something you’re already proficient in to keep a safer approach to your new career


  1. When retraining ensure you have a clear career path ahead, so you know your 1–5-year goals in terms of progression and salary. You can understand whether this move is financially viable long-term this way



As well as considering changing jobs, over half (52%) said they’re now more conscious with how they spend their free time, and 54% have said they want to be more spontaneous and experience new things in life once lockdown is over. On top of that, 59% said they value experiences more than materialistic objects, such as cars, bigger houses and clothes.


When it comes to new career aspirations, the research suggests that rather than wanting to find fame and fortune, people may prefer to explore roles that will help others. Over two-thirds (68%) said they have lost respect for celebrities, influencers and politicians for floating rules over lockdown, while over two-thirds (79%) think local heroes like NHS staff, teachers, supermarket employees and other keyworkers are more valuable to society than those in the public eye.


The research, which questioned 2,013 people, was carried out by Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists to find out how the pandemic has impacted people’s outlook on life, and how it’s the everyday people in our lives that make the difference. When asked to name their top three local heroes, 68 per cent said they most admire the work that NHS staff have done over the last year, 42 per cent said emergency services (police, paramedics, fire service), and 33 per cent said supermarket staff.


A fifth (19 per cent) respect what teachers have done since March 2020, and 16 per cent are grateful for delivery drivers. Social care workers, postal services, waste collection services, public transport operators and cleaners all scored highly too.


The nation’s most admired local heroes:


NHS staff 67.91%
Emergency services (police, paramedics, fire service) 42.03%
Supermarket staff 32.84%
Teachers 19.47%
Delivery drivers 16.05%
Social care workers 15.95%
Postal services 13.16%
Waste collection service 9.44%
Public transport 8.99%
Cleaners 8.15%
Nursery workers 6.91%
Local government workers 3.58%
Tradespeople 3.38%
Religious leaders 3.18%


Commenting, Kirsty Franks, director of marketing and communications at Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists, said:


“The pandemic and subsequent changed way of life has resulted in many people reflecting on what’s important to them in life. Our research shows that many of us have changed our priorities, moving away from aiming for more money and more things to appreciating time spent with loved ones, helping others and getting involved in our local communities.


“As a business with 24 local practices across the UK, we work hard to integrate into local communities, and we’ve seen first-hand just how much people have gone out of their way to help each other and show kindness during the pandemic. Many of us are looking ahead to more positive times, but hopefully we can continue to show appreciation to those special people in our day-to-day lives”.