More than 40 million Americans are currently unemployed or furloughed. That’s a staggering, never before reached, number. To put that in perspective, 197 countries in the world (of a total 233) don’t even have 40 million citizens. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, has just over 37 million.
Governmental programs have cushioned the blow for millions of our citizens who have lost their jobs or been furloughed. But many of the businesses that employ them have been devastated and won’t be able to reopen. The threat of long-term unemployment looms for many. Chances are you, or someone you know, will soon be in this situation. What can you do to not only survive but thrive as you find that next lifeline or opportunity?
As we’ve never, as a country, been in a situation like this, where many, rightly or wrongly, fear to even leave their homes due to Covid-19, it is difficult to give suggestions or advice on how to re-enter the workforce. We can’t and shouldn’t count on the government paying out more money to those of us who have lost our jobs. So, here’s what I’m thinking, for what it’s worth:
Positive Mindset: The economy was humming along; you had a good job and your career was moving in the right direction. And then, by no fault of your own, BOOM, the Corona Virus hits and throws a monkey wrench into your hopes and dreams… and livelihood. Now you don’t know how you will pay your rent, mortgage, car payment or grocery bill. Under these circumstances it is very difficult to have a positive attitude, I get that. Again, you didn’t cause this calamity and you aren’t the only one that’s suffering.
Life won’t get any better if you’re depressed, frustrated or angry. No matter how bad things are we can still have a thankful attitude. Every morning I’ll journal three things that I’m thankful for. They can be simple things, stuff we take for granted: a hot shower, clean drinking water, air conditioning, our spouse or children. Get in the habit of writing three things down every morning.
Use This Time: If you’re not an “essential” worker, chances are you’ve been told to stay home. You might see this as a curse, a blessing or a hybrid of the two. My twin boys came home from college for spring break but never returned. Sometimes they get on my nerves but in general, I enjoy having them home. We have dinner together every night and this has led to good conversations and a lot of laughs. My wife and I are also teaching the boys how to cook, something that was of little interest to them while in high school.
Every day my wife and I go for a long walk. Besides sharing good conversation, we have become much more intentional about meeting our neighbors. I’ve learned more about my neighbors, and how I might be able to support them, in the last eight weeks than I have in the 9 years that we’ve lived here.
Some people are using the time they’ve saved not commuting to the office to watch Netflix, follow Twitter or post their frustrations on Facebook. I’m enjoying getting a lot more reading in. I’m also pretty disciplined and I end my workday at 5 pm and then spend an hour working out in the basement.
How are you spending time, especially if you’ve lost your job or have been furloughed? Are you finding ways to learn a new skill, improve a current skill, maybe take an on-line class? The resources at our disposal, on-line, are unreal and often free. If you are on LinkedIn, click on the “Learning” tab at the top right of the screen and find hundreds of free courses. Another resource I can recommend is The Great Courses. I’ve used them to become a better photographer and improve my chess game. Lastly, all of us can improve our digital skills during this downtime. Maybe you can learn how to create better PowerPoint presentations, use Constant Contact or Survey Monkey, Go-to-Meeting or Zoom. If you want to explore any of these tools their websites will have tutorials, or you can find countless videos on YouTube.
Build on your passion or be curious and explore something new! No excuses!
Develop a Plan: If you’ve already lost your job or believe it’s only a matter of time until this happens, you need to develop a plan that will help you reenter the workforce. Here are a few things you should do:
- Use your passion to pursue an opportunity. Maybe this next job is a steppingstone that will move you towards your passion. Be flexible!
- Update your resume and have a few friends review it for you.
- Make a list of companies you might want to work for and research them.
- Network, network, network. Call and meet people you know, let them know about your situation and ask them who they can introduce you to. Whom might they know at your target companies?
- Don’t spend too much time on job sites and don’t send your resume randomly to job sites. Only send your resume to someone you know or have been introduced to. Everything else is a waste of time.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. Do this well. Maybe invest some money to get someone who is a LinkedIn professional, help you. If you need a resource, let me know. Research the contact list of those people in your network and if you want to get introduced to one of their contacts, ask.
- Practice interviewing. Have some friends role play an interview with you.
- Surround yourself with positive people, those who will build you up and not tear you down. Connect with them by phone, zoom or socially distanced coffees.
- Ask for help. There is no shame in telling someone you are hurting and need their support.
- Help someone else. What can you do to help a friend, your neighbor or people you don’t know? Believe it or not, there are others out there who are worse off than you are.
In a year from now I hope you’ll be able to look back at this time and say, yes, it was very difficult, but I got through it. And not only did I get through it, I’m better for the experience. Best of luck!