Orange County Career Counselors Reflect on Challenging Job Market 

Orange County Career Counselors Reflect on Challenging Job Market 
A woman walks past advertising for office and retail space available in downtown Los Angeles on May 4, 2020. (Fredric J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Drew Van Voorhis

As Orange County looks toward economic recovery in the new year, the industrial unrest it leaves behind has prompted some residents of the Southern California region to rethink their career choices.

Some professionals are making riskier professional moves, while others are seeking out new fields, career counselors told The Epoch Times.

The shakeup comes after Orange County has dealt with one of its most economically challenging years on record. The statewide lockdown orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of restaurants and small businesses last spring. The Southern California region entered a second state-ordered lockdown last December, and remains under a stay-at-home order.

Orange County’s unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent last May, but fell to 6.4 percent last November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent last December.

Adapt and Innovate

Bill Dyment, a Huntington Beach-based career counselor, said many of his clients are seeking more stability in their new roles. The bulk of jobseekers aren’t looking to change fields, he said, unless their industry has been permanently knocked out by the pandemic.

“They want to stay in the same field,” he told The Epoch Times. “A few people have thought of changing [industries], but most people want to stay where they are, they just need the security, and they feel like there’s no guarantees.”

For those that are looking to shake things up, he said he’s noticed a particular trend toward the health care industry.

“There’s been a huge shift there,” Dyment said. “I think that will continue to be a huge area that we’ll always need, but I think [the pandemic] has really kind of woken up people that there’s just so much need there. If you can do some work within that area, you’re probably going to have work for a long time.”

The pandemic has inspired other clients to take big professional leaps, he said.

“Some of [my clients] have said, ‘Hey, there’s no reason for me not to try to develop my own boutique consulting based on what I’ve done for years internally,” Dyment said. “That’s been the biggest trend I’ve seen, is people that have wanted to look at [moving to] a different place, have been able to just execute on that.”

Of course, he said, some industries have been hit harder than others. Service workers—such as waiters, hairstylists, and hotel workers—might have a harder time bouncing back from a layoff than a tech professional would.

“In any pandemic or crisis moment there are people that end up doing well,” he said. “And I think it’s important to be a student of history, and to say, ‘What are those areas that could be pandemic proof?’ If you’re going to make a shift, this is the time to do it.”

A Focus on Health

Mike Gellman, chief executive of High Five Career Coaching in Irvine, said he noticed many people entering the wellness field, as opposed to the health care field directly.

“I’ve had a good number of [clients] shifting toward wellness,” Gellman said. “[Companies are] seeing wellness as more of an essential business in particular during COVID, and I suspect it will probably remain post COVID.”

Similar to Dyment, Gellman said it can be challenging for clients to find new jobs depending on the field they are in.

“I would just advise job seekers to take a step back and look at what are the industries that are scaling up right now, that are building up,” he said, noting that industries such as electronics, home furniture, and streaming services have done very well during the pandemic,” he said.

“It’s been challenging for them, for sure, but I’ve had a good number of clients that have been getting jobs and interviewing, so companies definitely are hiring.”

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for six years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.
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