When you look at it, the numbers are staggering. Workers are looking to change jobs during or after the pandemic at a very high rate. A number of surveys have been conducted on the topic, and somewhere between thirty-five and sixty-five percent of all employees plan to find a new job soon.
One of the top reasons cited is corporate culture. The pandemic has drawn out for over a year. Not all companies have handled the situation well. Some have forced employees into endless meetings, or have been unforgiving with personal matters. The experience has been especially isolating for young employees who may be home alone, without an option to socialize with coworkers or even to go out with friends.
Many organizations have failed to recognize how tough working from home in this situation can be. Although, in fairness, those at the top are likely struggling with their own pandemic challenges. In the end, employees whose employers haven’t handled COVID well have had enough. They’re ready to move on.
In addition, many people have found added balance during this crazy time. They are reprioritizing what’s important to them. They are no longer interested in the corporate rat race or working themselves to the bone. These employees are not only looking to switch companies, they’re looking to switch careers completely. They want to do something different, and something that better suits their personal values and priorities.
Similarly, many workers have taken advantage of the work from home situation the pandemic has provided. They’ve left expensive cities and have moved closer to family. Many of those workers are not interested to return to the city or to the office anytime soon. They’re now looking for permanently remote jobs.
This change will present interesting opportunities for employees. The more people who change jobs, the more jobs will be available. And, all of this change may in fact give job seekers the upper hand. They may be considered for roles they were previously thought to be less than qualified for. And, employers will be forced to be more competitive with regards to benefits such as work from home.
Today, some candidates are interviewing all the way to the offer stage. Then, if the company is unwilling to allow them to work from home permanently, the candidate is walking away. This is something we never would have talked about two years ago, because the strategy would have had little chance of working. But, today, companies are being forced to rethink work from home in order to remain competitive.
What are you doing to prepare? This is an unprecedented time. With that, there may also be unprecedented opportunities. If you’ve thought of looking for a new job, it’s time to get your resume and LinkedIn profile in order. If you want to switch careers completely, take an inventory of your transferrable skills. Set up networking calls, and get yourself back out there.
The unfortunate truth of today’s job market is that applying for jobs is very competitive. Employers can be picky about who they hire and how much they want to pay. For many job seekers over fifty, the search process is a longer, harder road than they remember from years past.
This is especially true during the pandemic, when it has been harder to keep up things like hair color and regular gym work outs. Greys are showing through and age is becoming more obvious.
Some companies view an older employee as a risk. They can be more expensive, and less likely to stick around for the long term. An older applicant may be looked at as less flexible, and behind the times when it comes to technology.
Older workers want to switch jobs, but they feel trapped. They’re certain another company won’t take a risk to hire them.
If you’re facing this dilemma, start by taking a long look in the mirror. Think about what you can control at this stage of the pandemic, whether it’s home hair color, teeth whitening strips, or updated glasses. Evaluate your interview attire. If your clothes are outdated, consider purchasing something new. If you meet with the same company multiple times, change your shirt and tie or jewelry instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe. And, if you’re interviewing over Zoom, consider investing in a ring light. These can help with your appearance overall.
Next, evaluate your technology. If you’re outdated technology, it may be time to upgrade. Consider signing up for and participating in social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’re using an old email address (such as AOL or Comcast), it’s time to sign-up for a free Gmail account. If you’re not sure whether or not your email is outdated, think of how long you’ve had it and where it came from. If you’ve had it more than ten years, and it ends in your Internet service provider’s name, you could be at risk.
Last, spruce up your resume. Remove positions from the beginning of your career that are no longer relevant to what you do today. Do not include your high school, and keep any college related activities to a bare minimum. It’s no longer relevant that you were the president of the college chess team. You can even consider removing your college graduation year from your resume. It’s much harder to guess your age if you don’t provide the year you entered school.
The bad news is that with the pandemic, our normal upkeep has become a bit harder. The good news is that if you’re interviewing from home, you still have some control. Start with these simple tips, and you’ll quickly find that you shave years off your appearance and your resume. Although you can’t eliminate age discrimination altogether, you certainly can reduce the likelihood that it significantly impacts your search.
How relieved are you that spring is here? After months of winter paired up with snow storms, and a long global pandemic, seeing flowers and clear skies brings much hope for the future. It’s finally warm enough to spend time outside. With the vaccine rollout, we are beginning to look toward the future. And, the job market seems to agree.
In March, the US unemployment rate dropped to six percent. There were 916,000 new jobs created. This is the fastest we have seen jobs added since last summer. Job growth was across the board, with a larger increase in leisure, hospitality, public and private education, and construction. This is good news.
Many people have been putting all of their energy into holding onto their current jobs through the pandemic. And, it makes sense. It has been hard to know which way things would go or how long it would take to get back to normal life. It has been unclear what work will even look like in the future. Will we continue to be remote? Will we go back to the office full time? Or, will it be some combination of the two?
If you’re like many people, you haven’t had the energy to job search. Just getting through each day has been a larger task than we’d like to admit. We’re worried about an array of new problems. Kids are doing school from home. We’re working from home. We’re either completely alone or with our entire family. And, medical risks seem to be around every corner – whether from the pandemic to mental health. It takes more effort than usual to keep moving ahead in a positive direction.
But, spring brings a new energy and an opportunity to take a deep breath. Companies are actively seeking out new candidates for interviews (even when they haven’t applied to jobs). Companies are adding new jobs and for some jobs, it appears there may be fewer people looking than jobs available. Companies are working around the pandemic, interviewing candidates via Zoom and Skype. They are moving ahead with a look to our more normal future.
What does this all mean for you? If you’ve been wondering when to look, this may be the time to get started. If you do, you’ll increase the chances that you beat other candidates who haven’t yet started to think about looking.
Search for the latest job postings. When you apply, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, companies don’t require you to meet every criteria in a job description. They’re looking for the best candidate, not the perfect candidate. Second, if you have a desk job, consider looking outside your local area. Even if a job isn’t listed as remote, the company may be open to remote work.
If you’ve been waiting for the right time to consider something new, the spring may give you just what you need.
Recently, an old question resurfaced. Should high school seniors go straight to college? Or, should they enter the workforce first? This can feel like a difficult question as young people face such big decisions.
Those who argue that seniors should work for a few years believe eighteen year olds are too young to make such life altering decisions. They will take college for granted. They will select the wrong major. And, they will incur high student debt before they know what they really want to do.
While I respect this perspective, I don’t agree with it. I believe high school students, if they can, should go straight to college following high school.
One of the biggest things working against us when we are young is a lack of information. At this age, part of this lack of information is due to a small circle. In other words, you get most of your information about careers from your parents.
Your parents may have very specific careers. They could have done those same jobs for their entire adult lives. And, their knowledge about other careers is limited. Those same parents are the ones who typically advise their children on career choices, such as which major to select. The problem is, parents also don’t have enough information to give a solid recommendation.
Sending these students out into the workforce (or on a backpacking trip) is not the answer. At this age, you’re qualified to do very few jobs. It can be hard to even secure an unpaid internship. A high school graduate may end up working in fast food, as a nanny, or in some other entry level job. These jobs won’t give more information about which major to select.
When a high school student goes straight to college, two things happen. First, they don’t get taken off their normal path. They don’t end up never going back to school. They don’t end up in some unfortunate life situation that derails them.
Second, they are exposed to many other students. Those students come from different families, with different parents, and different information about careers. They also have the opportunity to be exposed to professors from various backgrounds and other career advisors. And, they will likely have the option to complete an internship or two that will give them real life career experience. All of these things expand the amount of information they have access to. It gives them a better chance of making the right decision about their ultimate career.
This brings us to the worry about picking the right college major. It is very common to graduate with a degree in one thing, and end up doing something different in your career. A college major is often less important than we assume. Ask your friends what they studied, and you may be surprised.
But, what is the most important is finishing college. There is no substitute.
Sometimes, I think back on early career lessons. It’s amazing how someone says something when you’re young that doesn’t make sense until you’re older. My very first job was working for General Motors. I was nineteen, working as an engineer while I was a student. My boss pulled me aside. He said words that I’ll never forget, but that didn’t fully make sense at the time.
He said that in the corporate world, there is often a sort of personality trait that’s preferred. It’s a more aggressive, loud tone. He pointed out that my working style was different. It was more subtle. I persuaded people with persistence and patience. He said that one day, someone at work would try to encourage me to change away from my nature style. But, I should resist. My natural style works well, and there is space for me. Don’t change it.
As I’ve grown through my career, I’ve witnessed the sentiment he was referencing. I’ve heard people say things about how introverts aren’t welcome at specific companies. Extroverts are where it’s at. I’ve seen bosses try to imprint their aggressive style on their employees.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for self-development. But, when you’re learning to be your best self, you should still come out yourself in the end. You should not morph into another person with another style. And, there’s no one style or personality type that’s the right one.
So often, when we struggle, we beat ourselves up. We focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Very often, this energy can be better used by trying to get better at our natural strengths, rather than to fix all of our weaknesses. But, that misses the point a bit, doesn’t it? Being your true self is not a weakness. Being your true self is what you have to bring to the table.
If your company is trying to change you, take a little time to digest the criticism. Does the feedback represent a real and actionable issue that you can correct? For example, perhaps you are often late to meetings. This is a real issue that should be corrected.
On the other hand, is the feedback more about your personality or style just being different than the mainstream culture? If that’s the case, start to think about your results. Are you getting your work done? Are you meeting your goals? If not, perhaps it’s time to come up with new ideas. But, if you are meeting your goals, the feedback may be more about your fit within the corporate culture.
In the last year, we have talked a lot about diversity and inclusion. Diversity is about having a seat at the table. Inclusion is about being able to bring your whole self to work. It’s about being accepted, despite differences you may have. At the end of the day, you need to be true to you.
Many of us are chomping at the bit for the COVID vaccine. It feels like a ticket to freedom. Glassdoor.com recently conducted a survey to understand where employees stand on the issue of the vaccine and returning to the workplace. Their results are quite interesting, and I wonder if you agree with their findings.
Glassdoor is a website where employees can leave reviews of their employers. Interestingly, Glassdoor found that over 58,000 reviews mention COVID-19 or the vaccine. This is definitely a big topic on everyone’s minds.
First and foremost, 7 in 10 people surveyed believe that employees should be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the office. This makes sense. We’ve been isolating for a year. Getting the vaccine is an important next step in returning. Of those surveyed, 76 percent also said they intend to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. This is good news, considering how dependent reopening is on the vaccine.
The part that truly surprised me about the survey is this. 69 percent of people surveyed by Glassdoor agreed that employers should offer financial incentives for employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for financial incentives at work. But, this seems a little out of the ordinary. We can’t wait to get back into the world. We want everyone at work to be vaccinated. We plan to be vaccinated. Yet, we want to be compensated to receive a COVID vaccine?
I don’t mean to be the negative person here, but it seems a little like if we’re going to get on board, we should do it because it’s the right thing to do. No compensation should be necessary. And, aren’t we just happy to have a job at this point?
Also of note in this survey was remote work. Many employees like working from home and would like to keep it up, regardless of what’s happening with the pandemic. Of those surveyed, nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) said they would prefer to continue working from home at least part of the time after offices reopen. This comes as no surprise as companies have had a year to test drive working from home.
In fact, 17 percent of those surveyed said they would consider quitting their job if they were required to return to the office five days a week, regardless of vaccinations. This is an interesting point. It’s one thing to quit a job completely. It’s a completely different thing to find another job to replace your current job.
The job market has shifted in the last year. Employers will have to think hard about what the future of work looks like. It’s time to start again. But, this time, we know what’s possible with remote work. So, it’s time to decide what we want work to look like in a post COVID, post vaccinated world.
Businesses are beginning to worry. And, it’s not what you’d think. As the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed around the country, the ability for workers to go back to the office is becoming a real possibility for the first time in a long time. This should be great news. The problem is, the pandemic has gone on for an entire year now. For those who have desk jobs, it’s been proven that you can work from home.
Many workers are considering a move to a cheaper city where their money will go further. Some have already moved to be closer to family for the time being. In spite of the downsides of the pandemic, for desk workers, this has been one of the upsides. And, there have been no more big commutes and more flexibility overall. That flexibility is providing some added level of work-life balance.
But, as things with the pandemic wind down, employers who want their employees to come back in person have a tough road ahead. How will they make the case? Typically, the case to do a desk job in person is collaboration. To be creative and productive, we need to be together.
In fairness, it’s been hard to be as collaborative over the last year. We have been disconnected. We’ve been fighting every day to make things as normal as possible, in the most unusual circumstances. We have lived through isolation, health issues, home schooling, and in some cases, loss.
But, we’ve done it. We are still getting up every day, still fighting, and still working.
When things do go back to normal, a weight will be lifted. Kids will go back to school. We will be able to socialize. We won’t have to worry so much. And with that weight lifted alone, productivity will increase.
Before the pandemic, there were already companies that were virtual, allowing employees to work from home. One observed that employees who joined their company from a traditional brick and mortar organization took time to adjust. In fact, in many cases, it took one year. Maybe that’s what we’ve been experiencing: an adjustment year. And we did it, despite many, many challenges.
If you’re a manager, consider this. Employees are often happier working from home. They’re typically more productive. And, frankly, it’s cheaper for the company. You no longer have to pay for all that expensive office space. And, it opens your hiring options up to the entire country.
In many cases, in person work is more about control and less about results. If you force people to come back, be sure you have good reasons. Talk to your employees. Listen to what they want. Ask them if they’ve been more productive at home. If you don’t, you may lose some of your people. After all, employees want choices. And, there are plenty of companies willing to give them choices in today’s working environment.
At times, it feels as if the pandemic has changed everything about the nature of work. One notable thing that has changed is our work attire. For most of my career, I’ve thought of my work uniform as a costume. It’s a version of ourselves that we show in a certain setting. It’s like wearing certain clothes to religious services. You know that there are certain things that are expected, depending on where you are.
I started my career in engineering. Back then, I wore khaki pants, a golf shirt, and steel toed boots. Later in my career, I worked in marketing at a financial institution. Then, I wore a suit and high heels on many days. But now, things are very different. It is not unusual to see an entire team of people wearing hoodies and stretchy pants.
What should we make of this? The honest answer is that only time will tell. On one level, it seems that we’re focusing more on talent than appearances. But, are we also letting our work slide with our casual looks?
For me, focusing less on appearances allows me to focus my energy more on what really matters – the work. I love how casual work from home has become. And, I wouldn’t feel badly if I traded in my business suits for yoga pants and hoodies.
With this said, there is one time when you have to make the effort. When you’re interviewing for jobs, the same rules apply even though you’re remote. Dressing up for a Zoom job interview is similar to writing a thank you note afterward. It’s not something that you have to do. But, you want the job, so you do it to show interest.
It’s recommended that you wear the same suit you would have worn before the pandemic. Try it on in advance to be sure it fits properly. Do your hair and makeup in a similar way. Wear the same jewelry. Try to look as if things are normal.
Beyond what you look like, you also need to pay attention to your environment. In a normal job interview, you’d go in person. But at home, you have to take charge. First, realize that the company can learn so much about you that they couldn’t before. Clean up the area around you. Be sure your space is quiet. And, consider getting a ring light for the best on screen appearance.
This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth it for the job offer you’ll secure. With any luck, the job will be remote. And, you’ll have the opportunity to wear casual clothes again day to day.
What will be curious to learn ultimately is what in person office wear will look like in the future. We will have spent almost two years wearing casual clothes together. Can we all agree that hoodies and yoga pants are in our future?
We’ve now been living in a pandemic for almost one year. It felt like things couldn’t get any stranger. Then, the last two weeks happened. A massive winter storm blanketed much of the country. States struggled to get the impact of the storms under control. Texas was one of the most extreme examples, with many, many people completely losing power. In other areas of the country, there were other issues, including a lack of water or other resources.
With many people working remotely, some employees have moved to another city temporarily. This has had many advantages. Employees have been able to spend more time with aging parents. They’ve been able to spend more time at their weekend homes.
But, the last two weeks revealed a challenge. With employees distributed around the country, our experiences are no longer universal. Not everyone is going through the same weather. Not everyone is struggling through the same issues. With different family situations, this was already true. But, the storms highlighted it again.
On Zoom, everyone appears the same. Unless coworkers share, it’s easy to remain unaware. We assume everything is fine. But, this invisible difference has been a theme throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are each having our own unique experience.
Some employees have small children at home they are trying to care for when no one is looking. Some have extra family members living with them who are out of work due to the pandemic. Some are trying to manage aging parents from a distance.
We are all going through the normal phases of life, including birth, celebrations, and loss. But, on camera, we are more disconnected from one another at work. We are less likely to realize when a coworker is struggling. We are less aware of what a hard time they may be having.
And, to a certain degree, it makes sense. Our businesses are struggling to stay in business. How do we find the time to care about basic day to day problems? We’re fighting just to make it through the pandemic. We’re doing our best to stay employed.
It feels important to recognize that we’re each having a unique experience. Frankly, the impact of the pandemic has been harder on some people at your company than others. That’s the nature of this separation and isolation from one another. We have removed many of the normal social supports that are in place. We’re left to get by on what we can do solo.
At work, try to remember that we’re all in this together. Try to be patient with one another. Try to check in on each other.
Ask your coworkers real questions beyond what you’re meeting about. Video meetings have made it harder to have personal interactions. Ask about children. Ask about pets. Ask about parents. To know what is really going on beyond the Zoom meetings, we must ask one another.
Every day, I hear from job seekers who are unhappy at work. They will share that they wish things at their current job were different. If only things were a bit better, they would like to stay. If only their boss were better, they would prefer not to leave. If only the company would pay them more, they’d like to stick around. If only there was room for upward movement, they would continue working there.
Unfortunately, hoping and wishing doesn’t change the situation at work. Only you can change your work situation.
Don’t get me wrong. I fault no one for staying at an incompatible job because they need the work. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. But, waiting indefinitely for things to get better just doesn’t work. When you do this, you make yourself miserable.
Over the years, I’ve met with many job seekers who are trapped in this unfortunate cycle with work. They wish so much for things to be better, but they have such a hard time when they’re not. It can be anguishing. I have seen many people who struggle to stay focused because of this stress. It begins to bleed into their personal lives, where they may struggle with sleep and anxiety.
But, when the situation isn’t working, it’s not just you. It’s the entire situation. It’s like something in the ecosystem is off. And, the problem is, you only have control over you. You can only change one thing in a system that’s not working.
This topic reminds me of exit interviews. When you quit your job, your company will want to do an exit interview about your time there. So often, employees want to use it as an opportunity to vent. In reality, your comments will only make you feel better. Again, you can only change you. You can’t change everything else.
With that in mind, if you are wishing and hoping for things to be different, try looking elsewhere. At another company, you may find things to be different. You may find that you no longer need to wish or hope. Things may work better on their own.
The hard thing is, sometimes it’s easier to stay with the situation you don’t know than to go back into the unknown. It’s not easy to tell during the interview if the company will really be a perfect fit. After all, if that were the case, your current company might be a better fit. But, if you don’t try, you won’t know. And, in the meantime, you’re pretty miserable.
You’ve got a decision to make. You can accept the way things are. Or, you can accept the discomfort for now, knowing there’s an end in sight. Or, you can decide it’s not for you. And, if that’s the case, it’s time to start looking. Put your hopes and wishes into action, rather than just thoughts.