I was up late the other night on Instagram (which I seem to find myself doing more and more these days) and started messaging with a friend of mine. She has my cell phone number, but for some reason communicates more on IG. As we were updating each other on life, she mentions she has to figure out what she is going to do. I asked what she meant and she clarified that her original plans for returning to work after her daughter turned two had all become obsolete thanks to COVID.
This friend was a travel manager for a large global organization prior to giving birth to her daughter. A major part of her job was orchestrating travel for senior staff, as well as producing large events for training purposes. She was planning on starting her own event production business once her daughter turned two years old. Now she is left with uncertainty, questions, and some important decisions to make.
She had some ideas about what she was good at and what she thought she might want to do, but not enough confidence to pull the trigger. There was also the question of organizing childcare: do I start looking for it now or do I wait until I actually get hired? Maybe I should go back to school, but then I need to look into a loan for tuition.
So what is the point here? According to our research, that sense of uncertainty and inability to make decisions about the future is not unique to my friend. As summer comes to an end, Americans across the country continue to contend with the unprecedented unpredictability of 2020. Northern California is still ablaze. Parents reorganize for their children’s return to (virtual) school. The future of the economy and the US job market remains unclear.
Some Americans have become so disenchanted with looking for a full-time job that it seems easier to stay on unemployment benefits or take “gig” jobs for now. As a last resort, this might make sense. But what if this is exactly your time to be in action? Everyone wants things to go back to normal – whatever that means. That is a promise not even our brightest minds can make. While everyone else is waiting for things to change, why not adjust your mindset and give yourself permission to go after jobs that are available right now. Yes, it will take patience. Yes, it will take persistence. And yes it will take a fundamental shift in your job search strategies and how you view what is possible.
Companies around the world are and have been overhauling their organizational infrastructures to “keep the lights on.” For example, my husband is in the health and fitness industry. His company is legally unable to see clients in person indoors until the city ordinances change. While other fitness studios are in more debt than ever and some are shutting their doors, his company generated more revenue this month than they expected to pre-COVID. It was not magic or luck, but rather that my husband and his team refused to buy-in to a negative mindset. They set aside what they knew to be true about “how it is” and instead got creative, innovative, and bold.
Ok, ok, so what does this have to do with me? you might be wondering. My question to you is how do you want this to go? Do you want to continue being unemployed, upset, and at the effect of life’s circumstances…..or do you want to start producing some results?
I’ve put together some actions you can take to get yourself empowered, as well as taking action that is actually effective and will support you in the long run. Read on.
Back to the Drawing Board
Consider that right now, you have a picture of how life should look which is predominantly based on how it used to look prior to March 2020. You have an idea of what “normal” looks like. You first need to get this out of your way to allow room for your own creativity and imagination.
When you have some time today, grab a notebook and start writing that out. Get it all out of your head and down on paper. Write it all down including what is “normal” for your schedule, your bank account, your social outings, your career, travel…even write down what is normal for things as seemingly insignificant as going to the grocery store or stopping at the gas station.
Once you’ve got everything you could possibly think of down on paper, read back through what you’ve written. What you’ve got written down is YOUR view of how life “should be” right now. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that either. What I am saying is that if you are convinced that life needs to look a particular way, there will be no space for anything else to show up as a possibility.
Now ask yourself the question, are you willing to let go of your view? Really! Are you more committed to having a view about how life should look and being upset that it doesn’t look that way…or could you get committed to causing some breakthroughs without knowing exactly how it looks?
Yes, I am fully aware of all the industries and families that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. I’m not discounting any of this. I’m also not saying that you will necessarily be doing what you did professionally before all this craziness started. But if you are more committed to the latter, it will require giving up your picture of normalcy and what you already “know” about things work and what is possible.
Get in Touch
Now that you’ve got some breathing room, take some time to think about all the things you are interested in, all the various areas you have experience in, and all the different ways you can uniquely contribute to an organization. And write that down! Give yourself room to wonder and be surprised.
You might be rolling your eyes at this point. That’s fine, just keep following the instructions. The intention here is for you to tap into that part of yourself that you haven’t been able to hear while you’ve been freaking out. Science has proven that human beings are far more effective when their focus is on what they are out to achieve versus what they are worried about not achieving. Sometimes working with someone else on this like our expert Career Coach Gay-Lynn Carpenter helps when you know you want a different kind of job, but don’t know where to start.
Don’t expect to be done after your first sitting. This is very different from trying to figure it out or looking for the “right” answer. Allow yourself to continue dwelling in, looking at, thinking about what might be of interest to you. As you do this, feel free to start researching what kinds of jobs could be related to your various interests.
Update Your Assets
There is a reason why there is that saying, “Life is full of the unexpected.” Imagine you stumble upon an open job opportunity that you are really excited about, but you don’t have your personal marketing materials ready to send. So many of our clients here at The Job Sauce arrive to us in a panic because they just found out about some opportunity and now suddenly need their resume rewritten as soon as possible. THIS IS NOT EFFECTIVE!
Being ready is incredibly important because you need to not just make a good impression on potential employers, but also make a lasting impression. Standing out and sticking in people’s memories is more critical and difficult than ever before. The difference between a day and a week could be the deciding factor in presenting yourself as a candidate that companies need to hire.
I highly recommend hiring a professional resume writing company (like The Job Sauce) to rewrite your resume for you. Firstly, you’ve got plenty of other things to be working on right now. This will relieve you of the time and effort. It might not seem like the time to spend money, but I promise you that investing in yourself now will make a huge difference down the road. Secondly, a resume writing company usually has an internal research and development team that ensures that client resumes are accounting for trends in the job market. Finally, having your resume be ATS (applicant tracking software) optimized is non-negotiable. Professional resume writers have access to this software because they use it on a daily basis. Don’t try to do this yourself, get an expert to assist you.
You also want to start preparing what you’d share with an employer about what you can bring to the table. Take a moment and write this down – not from your perspective, but from an employer’s. For example, instead of saying “I lead cross-functional, international teams,” you would instead say “I ensure that companies’ cross-functional teams around the world are highly coordinated and effective, driving revenue and innovation.” In articulating and defining your core offerings, you will be far more effective in leveraging a consistent message.
Make sure you pay attention to both your hard and soft skills. Companies are paying attention to what kind of person they are hiring, not just whether or not you can do the job. This is where soft skills come into play. Soft skills are the key to implementing a vision and being a successful addition to any team. Your professional resume writer will account for weaving this into your resume, but you’ll need to craft these into your responses during the interview process. Also, keep in mind that the pandemic has served to make companies more empathetic to individual needs and you want to show that you are not only capable but personable.
Additional Actions to Take
More jobs are found through networking than by responding to job postings. Pandemic or no pandemic, this has always been the case – even more so for senior-level professionals. Get in touch with your existing network and let them know what is happening with you. You also want to continue growing your network, so consider getting in touch with professionals that you’ve long admired for informational interviews, mentorship, or advice. You can
Additionally, there are many conferences that would have been in person that has now pivoted to remote/virtual events. This is a great way to connect with people within your industry and create direct pathways to connecting to start a conversation.
The bottom line is that the job market is not like it was eight months ago, so your actions can’t be the same either. It is important that you take the extra time, thinking, and effort to ensure that you’ve got a highly focused strategy for identifying the jobs you want to go after and showing potential employers why you are the one they’ve been waiting for.