Some Questions from the Mailbox

August 11, 2020


As a Career Coach, not surprisingly in these days of Covid, clients bring up good questions especially as they contemplate job searches and career growth.  Here are a few of them followed by what are hopefully thoughtful and intelligent responses.


With so much uncertainty in the present work landscape, why should I even bother to go through a job search now?  Why wouldn’t I just wait until after the November elections, after Covid settles down, and when the unemployment rate is lower and my chances would seem improved? 


At the risk of being rhetorical I’m going to initially answer your questions with more questions.  First, what is going to happen after the November elections?  Depending upon who you believe might be better office holders than those at present, what if things either stay the same as they are now or change?  Second, what if Covid does not settle down and levels stay in line with where they are currently or have been over the past five months?  Third, what if we are now at a new normal level of unemployment? 


The reality is that none of us know what the future holds in store.  For sure, there are predictive tools, but even with these, this time in which we now exist in is unprecedented.  There have also been other unprecedented times in the history of mankind.  Those who best succeeded then made conscious efforts to not be impacted, remained nimble to adjust to new technology, and reached deep into the creative recesses of their minds to almost take advantage of the adversity.  All who are capable should be likewise challenged and respond…now.


I’m concerned that a job search now in a down market might put me at risk if my current employer learns I am looking at other opportunities.  Why wouldn’t I just want to play it safe? 


A traditional approach to a job search might lend itself to this possibility.  In other words sending out blind resumes, contacting disreputable recruiting firms, or letting those in your current work environment know that you are out looking could bring exposure. 


First of all, I will say that many “reasonable” employers these days “get” that employees are anxious about layoffs and furloughs and need to take proactive steps to assure themselves of a livelihood.  Some may even offer “outplacement” services.  In the public sector and government, where jobs are publicly posted, it is even common that professional advancement often includes moving on to other jobs outside of the organization. 


An even more effective approach might involve a targeted marketing strategy.  A targeted strategy includes an active and conscientious tactic of connecting with those who may be in a position to know of opportunities.  Rather than approach these individuals with the standard business card and resume, view the communication more as an exchange of information or a learning expedition whereby you, as the job hunter, aim to gain knowledge, and along the way share with your contact, experiences and stories that support common interests. 


Somewhat similar to the last question is another one concerned that if they network, market, and tell others that they’re looking for another position that word may get back to their current employer. 


Again, view the contact as one that can help enlarge your territories for both now and the future.  Consider what you are doing as a continual learning experience to which there is not a detriment.  At the very best you may be planting seeds towards new job opportunities, if not now, then possibly in the future.  If not a job opportunity now you are furthering your individual development through interaction with someone who may have some entirely new perspectives and helps you grow.  At worst, given that the contact may not turn out as you hoped it might, you have learned another lesson in discernment.


Speaking of these VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) days that we currently exist in, how concerned should I be if my fuse is a little shorter, my patience is wearing thinner, I’m claustrophobic, the news is depressing, and I’m not seeing an end in sight?  What are some things I can do to have a healthier disposition and attitude? 


The greater concern now may be if you’re numb to what’s been happening in 2020. 


Covid has caused the loss of life.  Over five million Americans have tested positive, many asymptomatic, others quite ill.  Resources have been stretched, new standards previously not thought of months ago are now everyday.  Some of us would consider ourselves inconvenienced, others overwhelmed.  Many of the typical symptoms of grief such as anger and denial have manifested. 


In sum, if you are experiencing these feelings, it is normal. 


As to what to do, here are a few ideas.

  1. Practice a healthy lifestyle, eat healthily, exercise, rest.
  2. Reach out to someone.  I have a friend who has made it a point of calling former co-workers regularly.  What an example!  He inspired me to give it a try.
  3. Invest in your faith and spiritual focus.
  4. Treat this present period as an opportunity—what can I learn through this time to improve or to make a greater contribution to society?
  5. Limit your time on news and social media.  Watch some comedies, old movies, or play board games with your family.
  6. Know that this time will pass.  Even if it it’s prolonged, you are developing a resilience to contend with it.


The Seed Sower