If we’re honest, events that bring unprecedented circumstances teach us things we’re unwilling to learn:
- Setbacks are inevitable and unavoidable
- Crisis exposes who we are and what we’re prepared for
- We’re forced to embrace what we’ve been avoiding for years
I saw this as a young man named Joey reached out to me several weeks ago about his job situation. He was looking for work, and through a few email messages and some time on the phone, he was able to obtain a four-month employment contract. He accomplished this without another agency getting involved and after the stay-at-home mandates.
To comply with their hiring process, he had to learn how to scan employment documents with his phone, learn to interview over Skype and Zoom (with different companies) and work with IT to install the company’s VPN software. In the past, he would have had the Geek squad or his thirteen-year-old son do for him.
In the past, there would have been a formal interview, hiring, and onboarding process. Instead, there were phone calls, online assessments, and one meeting.
With 30 million people filing for unemployment tests, the rest of us! One rule of thumb for me: Offer people help and patience I would like to receive if I lost my job. It’s not 2008 with a 10% unemployment rate. To some degree, and to loosely quote U2, we’ll have to carry each other.
The now in what’s essential for your adjustment of the new norm is understanding what will happen next.
The following are my ideas of how our lives will change:
1. Preparing the home for remote work
2. Adjustment to constant text and voice communication
3. Privacy and decisions about online authenticity
4. Data protection for you and your work product
5. Your online network is your primary bridge to career advancement
6. Your references will matter (they’re transitioning too)
7. New core values will emerge
9. You may need a mentor more now than ever
10. Video is the new phone call
11. You will fail if you’re not a perpetual learner
11. Are you the epitome of your resume?
Those who physically go to a job will need to digitize their efforts. The early and fastest worm are using their mobile phones as a workspace, and their primary job search tool. Once Joey understood he needed to control his career, the first thing he did was to learn to scan, use video frequently, and over-communicate his efforts to comply with the application process.
Earlier this week, I got a note from James, who started a new job three weeks ago was furloughed because several people were COVID-19 confirmed. The building was shut down except for the security guard who turned employees away. James sounded discouraged and wondered what he should do.
First, I paused before I gave any advice as a reaction. I was more interested in what James felt rather than giving him advice. I called him immediately after the text, and after 15 minutes of just listening, I decided NOT to offer help then.
Sometimes, giving quick advice is feeding the panic. I heard through James’ tone, not words, was a concern. Conversely, it helps to not seek advice right after a shock like he received this morning.
I will advise James to do this week:
-Audit your financial stability
-Talk to HR. You may still be covered with a few benefits during a furlough leave, even if you’re no longer on the payroll. Many times benefits start at 90 days but have the conversation.
-Apply temp agency
-Have daily conversations with people in your network
-The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 is helpful to low-income individuals to get job training. Depending on your income, you may qualify.
I also think it’s vital to encourage job seekers and not lace their fears with “or else” advice. It’s time for temperate sound guidance and not reactionary, and sometimes laced with fear. I believe it’s best to respond to unemployment with speed, but only if that person in the space of clarity.
James will be ready in the next day or two to pursue other work. He was told it would be two weeks when they could come back to work. James doesn’t have any PTO (Personal Time Off) to use. He can’t be sentimental in thinking they will call him to work. If they do, great. If not, he’s out of a job.
I advised him to act as if he is out of a job and start looking again. If you’ve followed me for a while, I urge you should never stop looking. Never. There will always be a crisis, and it will indirectly affect you or someone in your family.
You want three things to be true about you:
- You’ve created a more agile career.
- You’ll endure industry crises.
- You can embrace changing technology seamlessly.
Even if you need help with these things, you’ve started the preparation before you need it.