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DEDHAM, Mass. — Chris Gutierrez recently walked away from a 25-year career driving trucks to embark on something much more uncertain.
“I wouldn’t say it’s scary. It’s invigorating. There’s some anxiety there,” Gutierrez said.
The 52-year-old Hyde Park father decided to hit the reset button on his life; he’s going back to school to be a landscape painter.
“I saw the writing on the wall. It’s hard being a truck driver. It’s hard on the body and I wanted to do something I actually enjoyed,” Gutierrez said. “I talked it over with my wife and was like, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ So she said, ‘Let’s get you going in that direction.’”
Gutierrez is part of a much wider trend of workers looking for something different. California-based human resource consulting firm Robert Half recently surveyed 2,800 professionals. “Nearly 1-in-3 respondents said they had a shift in perspective due to the pandemic and want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling job,” the company said.
Robert Half Senior District President Bill Driscoll said the last year and a half to reevaluate what’s important.
“I think all of that combined to have people be a little bit more introspective and think about, ‘Am I really happy doing what I’m doing right now,’” Driscoll said.
Robert Half found 38% of professionals feel the pandemic “contributed to a career setback.” In a separate poll, 59% of senior managers revealed they “postponed promoting top performers due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the company found.
According to a Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, 1-in-4 workers are planning to switch jobs post-COVID, and 80% of those workers are doing so because they’re concerned about career advancement.
“Companies cut back significantly. Some folks were laid off, some folks were furloughed. Some folks were asked to work 10 times as hard,” Driscoll said.
The good news, according to Driscoll, is that everybody is hiring. Driscoll said some of the growing industries include cyber security, software development and tech support. The leisure and hospitality industries continue to rebound more slowly, Driscoll said.
After more than two decades driving a truck, Gutierrez said it was easier for him to walk away because there are so many options.
“We have a lot of opportunities in this state that you don’t have in a lot of other states, a lot of education here, a lot of financial help that can happen. So I think it’s just people getting out of their own way,” Gutierrez said.
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