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Career Moves in the Outbreak Era

Managing your career change during a pandemic:


With companies across the globe trying to maintain a semblance of work output and cohesion across a dispersed workforce, what does this mean for those people who are actively engaged in finding new positions or who were in the process of looking for a career step?  A study carried out by an Outplacement organization in 2019 indicated that one third of respondents planned to make career moves in 2020. With the dramatic changes impacting all areas of commerce, where does this leave the active job seeker?

The following article will consider the current climate and suggest alternative strategies to find that new role and thereby maintain an upward career trajectory.



In talking to candidates and clients within the European patent profession, it is interesting to learn how busy they continue to be. Private practice attorneys remain highly active, with some firms reporting record months! Industry patent attorneys are also keeping busy as they assess their portfolio management techniques and look to retain more work in-house.

These comments seem in contrast to those during the financial crisis in 2008. Why so? Opinions from the profession suggest that for many companies their current strategies to conduct business remain unchanged, in the knowledge that this is not an economic fallout – for now at least! Clearly some industry sectors are taking a hit and there may well be a lag-period which will eventually impact the attorneys workload. However, with hope, this will be short-lived. A recent conversation with a Head of IP for a multinational corporation hinted at the prospect of having to increase headcount in order to manage more of the workload in-house – this unsettling time for some, is perhaps an opportunity for change for others.

With active job seekers in mind, there may not be the same volume of open positions available in the coming months but this should not stop someone from progressing their career through other means. The following are a set of strategies which might be employed to help keep a positive mind:

Temper your career expectation:

With the contraction of many markets across the globe, there may be less new hires in comparison to replacement hires. A major electronics client confirmed that there remain critical hires still to fill where people are leaving or retiring. However, new positions will be put temporarily on hold. May be this is the time for active candidates to temper their expectations in terms of their next career move. Taking a lateral position may provide a new impetus and direction – working in a different culture with renewed expectations and a path to future internal prospects.

When thinking about your career options and choices, take time to analyse what is important to you. Areas to consider include Autonomy, Remuneration, Culture, Prospects and Fulfilment, and considering these individually can help to provide clarity on lateral hire decisions.

Having clarity of your professional needs will give you a more objective focus on what new roles to consider and if they align with your own expectations.

Revisit your CV:

The purpose of the CV has multiple messages: to inform those of your skills and career experience. But more importantly, it is needed to highlight your achievement pattern in each role. This takes thought and consideration but must be a specific achievement, which was undertaken in a time frame with a quantifiable result. And it needs to demonstrate career growth. These are the added-value you bring to a role and demonstrates ambition and career stretch.

Remain sector aware:

If you are actively seeking a new position, you must take a systematical and methodical approach to your search. Reaching out to the various channels available to you, take time to filter out those positions which are not a perfect match, so that you can focus your energies on applying to those roles where you could make an immediate contribution. There may be eight to ten roles advertised each week through various channels. You must whittle these down to no more than two or three in order to be effective. Also, think laterally and be prepared to step out of your industry sector. When we speak to attorneys who have worked across multiple industries (e.g. pharmaceuticals and FMCG), we find that they have developed new perspectives on how IP is managed.

Change is the new constant:

Feel comfortable with change! As long as you are making sensible career choices every few years, this experience demonstrates adaptability to new environments. Of course, there is a strong argument to remaining for a long period with one company – you build up a substantial knowledge-base and internal network. However, there is equally nothing wrong with a portfolio career. This is a time when you can take skills and knowledge to multiple environments and develop along the way.

Continue to network:

Lou Adler, Performance Hiring Coach, and a recruitment doctrine that MWA strongly advocates, states that the majority of hires in today’s economies rarely come from applying to job boards but by networking via referrals through recruiters and directly within company functions. This is the ideal time to reach out to your wider network to ask how they are. Show a serious interest in their situation and be empathetic to their needs. It’s about being interested versus being interesting.



For active job seekers, this is a time to truly hone your skills in rising above those who do not alter their strategic approach to career management. It may not come naturally to carry out the above, but small steps in this direction will gain attention and interest from both recruiters and companies, either looking to hire now or wanting to network for the future opportunities that do come to market.

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