Job Search in the Time of Coronavirus: Top Ten Tips

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Work-life balance has a whole new meaning under the current coronavirus pandemic. Things are different for everyone but not the same for all.  People working in some fields are busier than usual such as IT folks helping the rest of us get online and work from home, restaurants scrambling to meet the demand for take-out orders, Amazon continuing to deliver packages and grocery stores are looking to hire more staff.  At the same time, many businesses are slowing down because they have been designated non-essential.  With people staying in place, anything with tourism has taken a hit – think casinos, hotels, airlines, cruises, etc.

Finding a quiet place might be harder now as there are lots of people in the household at all times due to children being home from school and employers requiring work from home. The trick is to find your place in all of this and then see what coping mechanisms work best for your situation. Here are 10 ideas to try to help you cope during the coronavirus pandemic.  The first five are for everyone and the last five are specific to job seekers.

Five things we can all do:

1) Routines & guidelines:  Normally you don’t want to get too stuck in routines and it’s beneficial to try things a different way to keep your mind open to new possibilities. However, in these uncertain times, it’s good to establish routines as a calming mechanism because it’s something we can control when things seem out of control.  Establish new routines for eating and exercise (these might become group activities if many are at home). Set guidelines within the household to help everyone be comfortable i.e. for music maybe listening with earbuds (or having a big group dance party), community time vs. alone time and space allocation for common areas.

2) Reach out to loved ones: Many of us are worried about others.  While we can’t physically be near others, we can easily stay in touch.  There are so many forms of communication available right now that there’s no excuse not to reach out to others (family, friends, colleagues and long lost contacts).  Staying in touch will help you feel connected and it’s important to continue to grow your relationships (the picture above is my family catching up on a Zoom meeting).

3) Manage expectations & practice self-compassion:  It’s important to first accept that things are not normal.  We will all need some time to adjust to this new normal.  Take time to reflect on what’s happening, let yourself fully absorb that things are not as usual and that the situation may change daily.  Manage your expectations and give yourself a little leeway. Don’t expect to get the same results working from home with five people in the same house as you would if you were alone.  A quiet and useful act of self-care can be journaling (which can be a good way to process your thoughts and feelings).

4) Learn new things:  This can be a great time to catch up on CEUs for your profession or learn a new skill.  If you have extra time, pursue a fascination that you have been putting off “until you had more time.”  Try out calming practices like meditation (www.calm.com and www.headspace.com are two apps to help you get started).  Grab a book that’s been sitting in a pile waiting for the right time.

5) Be grateful:  Think of all the things you DO have, even with this crisis happening.  In many places we can appreciate hot water, indoor plumbing, communication technology to keep in touch from afar, spending more time in person with loved ones and being able to slow down from a life filled with too many activities.  There are always things for which to be grateful.  If you focus on these, it will lessen your focus on what you can’t do and don’t have.

Five things for job seekers to do:

1) Don’t stop looking:  Yes, it’s true that hiring times will be slower because of this disruption but many employers are hiring right now to help their business meet the new demands of this crisis.  It’s similar to the myth that no one hires during the holidays. Even among crazy times like these, there are employers hiring in some industries.

2) Network online: You may not be able to visit places in person but there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out to contacts by e-mail, social media or the telephone.  Many people have more time on their hands because so many activities have been canceled.  If you’ve been planning to schedule an informational interview, go ahead and reach out to that person.  You might just catch them at a good time.  I’ll caveat this by saying it’s probably not a good time to reach out to someone in an industry that is swamped right now, like IT or healthcare.

3) Work on career management activities:  This is an excellent time to work on things you have been putting off such as cleaning up your LinkedIn profile, creating a branding statement and reflecting on where you are with your career goals.  If you are relieved to be away from a job you don’t enjoy, take time to dream and map out a game plan to improve your employment situation.

4) Build your virtual meeting skills:  Whether you are holding a meeting with people you know or interviewing for a job with strangers, having virtual meeting skills will be critical now, and in the future, as hiring processes will become even more virtual than they already had been.  It isn’t rocket science, but it does take some practice.  Use this time to set up a Skype or Zoom account and practice with others to get a feel for these platforms.  Once you understand one, you can usually pick up other platforms with similar features (chat, sharing your screen, muting yourself, etc.).  Remember to make eye contact by looking at the camera directly (as opposed to the person’s face on your screen).

5) Look for opportunities:  Amid all of this confusion and uncertainty, federal, state and local governments are creating programs to help with employment.  Some are tied to unemployment insurance, but others are grants and training opportunities to help employees get back to work.  There are even new programs for the self-employed and small businesses.  See what you might qualify for and take advantage of these programs, if possible.

You can also look for job opportunities with certain industries that are high in demand.  You might take a different direction with your job search to focus on employers who need the most help right now.  Many employers will need legal skills to interpret new laws and regulations.  Manufacturers may re-focus (and increase) their production of equipment and materials needed for this pandemic.  As I mentioned before, some employers will need to hire more people to provide needed services and products

In conclusion:  It really all comes down to how you want to spend your time and what you value most?  If you have more time on your hands, think about how you want to spend that time.  You may choose to spend more time with family and play more.  Or you may dive deep into projects that you held off until you had time.  Or you may do a little of both. Either way, please be safe and stay germ-free. Limit your physical contact with others but don’t lose touch with your connections.  They will help you get through this tough time.