Today is the month anniversary of when I was laid off and started looking for a job.
What a difference a month makes.
When I was laid off on February 13, the Coronavirus was mentioned on the news but did not dominate the 24/7 news cycle. Whether I wasn’t paying close enough attention or it was being underestimated, it seemed distant and relatively unthreatening. Now, it is changing the lives of every person around the world in one way or another.
In addition to the risks it poses to our health and the well-being of those we love, the Coronavirus is causing a ripple effect in every part of our society. Schools are going online or closing. Large and small events are being postponed or called off. Broadway shows are going dark for a month. Theme parks have shut their doors. The list of cancelations continues to grow: festivals and conferences; major sports’ games, tournaments, and full seasons; and concerts and tours.
This too shall pass – but it’s going to leave a mark.
For those in a professional transition, like me, we naturally wonder what effect this will ultimately have on our job hunt. Looking for a job can be challenging even when everything is “normal.” Add a worldwide pandemic into the mix, and searching for your next professional home can seem even more difficult.
Current job seekers weren’t just given lemons; we’re dealing with a whole lemon orchard.
Like many other things going on during this time, predicting exactly how this will impact your job search is nearly impossible. A lot, of course, depends on the industry and role you’re hoping to find. Will it tag on weeks or even months to the pursuit? Possibly. Could current circumstances actually speed up the process? Possibly.
Here are a few pros and cons when looking for a job during a worldwide pandemic.
CON: Unstable Economy.
Clearly, the stock market is reacting in a big way to the Coronavirus. The full influence of fluctuating stocks and event cancelations and closings remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, many industries and businesses will be set back and have substantial ground to regain. Recovery times will vary, but some will be considerable which will delay onboarding certain roles. Knowing the positions and companies you have in mind, you can closely follow your desired professional homes now. Observing how they are weathering this storm can help you gauge the pace of how well and quickly they will pull through. What you may learn can help you decide the direction you need to move.
CON: Gathering The Team.
More and more companies are asking their employees to work from home, and rightfully so. It’s a smart, precautionary move that demonstrates tremendous integrity. They are helping to #FlattenTheCurve. Team members not accustomed to working from home will find themselves in a familiar but new work environment. Setting up their workstations and adjusting to new distractions at home may slow down their productivity a bit. Plus, direct access to other colleagues and decision makers may be more challenging. Not having everyone immediately available or accessible may slow down the process of reaching a decision about several projects, including hiring.
CON: Higher Levels.
Searching and interviewing for a new job can be stressful. Preparing your resume, networking, remaining financially sound… everything involved during a phase of unemployment is an uphill climb. Add alarming news stories and phone alerts about a global pandemic, and the climb gets steeper. We don’t have control over much going on right now, but we can play a role in our own anxiety.
Nate Kemp in his Fast Company article “Stay Safe But Stop Obsessing: How to Prevent Coronavirus from Taking over your Life” provides great insight on guarding your mind during this time. Yes, it’s good to be informed, but there’s not a need to know when each new case is reported. For me, overdosing on every story about the situation was not so much an effort to be educated, but it was more a form of me trying to control what is happening… which I can’t. I’ve limited my own news access, and have assigned myself to rewatch Lost instead. There’s no need to overload your currently-taxed stress level.
But, there is hope…
PRO: Good Starting Point.
Yes, the stock market is suffering, and we can’t actually predict the journey that lies ahead. A helpful reminder is knowing that the point from which the declines started was high. Financial losses are never fun, but remembering that the majority of losses come from the gains made in the past few years adds perspective. Also, unemployment has been very low in recent weeks; if you’re currently looking for a job, it’s nice to know the market of job seekers isn’t flooded. To also add hope, Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com said, “Markets fall quickly, but they can rebound rapidly.”
PRO: Bump Up The List.
Have you ever had a task you need to accomplish but other urgent matters come up so that item gets bumped down the “to do” list? It happens to everyone, including hiring companies. Sometimes the action items that keeps getting delayed are reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates to fill a position. Now, with many team members working remotely, their daily routines will change. In some cases, this will actually open up some time and help them get to things they’ve been meaning to do for a while. With no break room banter and other projects being put on the backburner, now may be the perfect time for them to start reviewing resumes… one of them could be yours!
PRO: Add Worth.
While your income may have decreased significantly or stopped altogether, that does not diminish your worth. Your skills and knowledge haven’t evaporated. Find ways you can use or enhance them during this time of looking for a job and professional transition. What online courses could you take that could earn you certifications or licenses? With this encouraged time at home, it is a great time to take a few.
Look for ways you can help others, especially now. Limited exposure to others may prevent fully engaging in a charity’s list of services, but several offer virtual or online involvement opportunities. Check on people in high-risk groups and help them limit their exposure by bringing them food. Professionally, as you continue to peruse job boards, you may run across a position that doesn’t fit your plan, but it may perfectly match someone you know; forward it along and help others network. Use the time and skills you have in this moment to do good. It’s a great way to relieve stress as well.
We are all venturing into the unknown. There’s a new normal, and we will all have to adjust to it. Methods you used for the job search before may need to be adjusted now. Even with all the change, you don’t have to slow down. People are working remotely, but it doesn’t mean that the world is stopping. Keep your search active. Continue to look on job boards and companies’ career pages; new positions will still be posted.
In person interviews will likely be put on hold, so virtual interviews will be more common. Make sure you have a web cam ready and that it is positioned for good light, at a flattering eye level and has a background that isn’t distracting. Face to face networking opportunities may not readily available, so dive in to LinkedIn and other online professional organizations.
Take educational webinars. Research companies; take the time to evaluate their reaction to the current pandemic. How they address the issue speaks tremendously to their culture and could be the deciding factor if you want to join them. Look for common connections who may be good resources to chat with now and meet when this is over (and it will be over). Maybe best of all, follow professional recruiters. See what the experts are saying during this time.
Feeling alone during a season of unemployment can be common. When we’re encouraged to be socially distant, that can compound the sense of isolation. Even during this time we are all going through, though, there’s no reason to be professionally distant too — especially when looking for a job.
Right now, we may have a ton of lemons… now is the time to start making the lemonade.