2020 was going to be the year I did it. Finally. I’d been at my company for over 11 years and I knew it was time for a change. Exactly what, I wasn’t sure. But when there were some significant changes made to our bonus structure, I took that as confirmation that this was as good a time as any to find a new challenge.

So in mid-February I began the job search on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. I upgraded to a paid subscription to LinkedIn so I could…search better? To be honest I don’t remember why I upgraded. It just seemed like the thing to do if I was serious about this whole job search thing. I began submitting applications for jobs, sending follow up messages on LinkedIn. That’s right. THAT’s why I upgraded! So I could send people outside of my network follow up messages. Spoiler alert: I never got any responses from those personalized messages I agonized over but at least my subscription allowed me to see who looked at my profile. Kudos for blowing the cover on snooping, LinkedIn.

Then mid-March happened and everything came to a screeching halt. Jobs that were listed a week earlier no longer appeared in the search list. People close to me who knew I’d just begun my job search comforted my frustration by saying no one was going to hire in the middle of a pandemic so if I wasn’t hearing anything back, not to worry. I appreciated the well-meaning encouragement but I wasn’t sold. Once a few weeks passed, jobs started to re-appear though some now had much lower salary ranges listed than before the pandemic.

My own work schedule drastically changed as I went from being on the road 4 days a week and in hotels most nights to working completely from home. While I thoroughly enjoyed binging on Netflix the first week, by the second week I was antsy to do something, anything that might help with my job search. Enter Hubspot.

I’d come across Hubspot a couple of years earlier when I’d toyed with the idea of transitioning out of my job if I wasn’t given a raise. Nothing came from my application to Hubspot and I ended up getting the raise, but I signed up for their marketing blog to get ideas I could apply to my role as a Public Relations Manager at the time.

Fast forward to March 2020 when I was faced with binging Tiger King or using my newly freed up evenings to learn some skills that could make me more marketable once the whole shut down was over in a few weeks. Cue the dramatic narrator voice: “She would soon find out this pandemic would be nowhere near over in a few weeks.”

When I went to Hubspot’s website I came across Hubspot Academy, a series of free online certifications in a range of subjects from Inbound Marketing to Content Marketing to Digital Advertising. My first certification was in Content Marketing and halfway through the course I knew I wanted to apply the information I was learning any way I could, whether at my current job or a future one.

The next certification was Digital Advertising which got me excited about all the ways my employer could be using digital advertising to round out our current marketing efforts. I sent one of our top executives an excited email detailing a plan I thought could increase our lead conversions but was met with a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks, that’s not our business model” email.

He did mention, however, that our parent company was considering using a vendor that specialized in streamlining customer journeys. Considering my email was about using digital advertising as part of our lead nurturing and customer journey, I wondered if he’d actually read my email at all. I took that as further confirmation my newfound knowledge and excitement might be better used somewhere else.

At this point, it was clear the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon but armed with much more clarity on what I wanted to do in my future role, I had a new sense of purpose in my job hunt beyond finding just another job. One day when I was mildly annoyed that none of the jobs posted were ones I was particularly excited or interested in, I had a lightbulb moment to check out the website for a Public Relations agency I’d heard about at a convention I worked a year earlier.

I remembered one of the people representing the agency at the convention being extremely proud of the work she did and how much the agency helped their clients. Lo and behold they had a couple open positions listed on their website. While the positions listed didn’t require a background in content marketing or digital advertising, I knew it was the perfect environment to learn even more about advertising and was confident my experience in outside sales and public relations qualified me to get a first interview at the minimum.  

I heard back within a week. Interestingly enough, and most important for current job searchers to note, during my second interview and after my writing test submission, the President of the Agency let me know I wasn’t the best fit for the position I’d applied for but they saw a need for my unique experience and skillset.

He let me know of another role they thought I would be a better fit in, one that had not been listed on their website when I first applied. At some point during the conversation he mentioned they wanted someone to help with their content marketing and I lit up. I could barely hold my excitement in as I told him I’d just been certified by Hubspot earlier this year.

In the end, I was hired as their Vice President of Partnership Development, a role I wouldn’t have thought to even apply for before the pandemic. While this year has most certainly upended most people’s plans for the year and their lives as a whole, I want to encourage you that if you’re in the midst of a job search, the pandemic does NOT have to thwart your efforts.

This could be the perfect time for you to consider a completely new career path. Your perfect job may not be listed yet but if you’re intentional about where you apply and confident about the value you offer, you can land a dream job you didn’t even know existed.

Not interested in marketing or advertising? No worries. There are plenty of free and low-cost avenues to learn and improve your skillset beyond Hubspot. Check out the list below for options.  Some might have a free course and then charge a fee for the actual certification, but the fees tend to be relatively low and even if you don’t get the certification, you still up-level your marketability with the education.

Class Central

Udemy

Coursera

Harvard (yes, THE Harvard)

edX

Life Hack

Alison

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