This time last year, I wrote a column about Labor Day. It started off this way. “Labor Day is a holiday that honors the American labor movement. It celebrates the development, productivity, and prosperity of the United States. And, it marks the unofficial end of summer. If you’re like most Americans, Labor Day is spent with loved ones and tasty food.”
When I wrote those words, we collectively could have never imagined what this Labor Day would be like. What seemed like such a productive economy has turned into something that feels a bit like it’s out of a horror movie. The end of summer is quite a concept. It feels like summer never really started. And, what we all wouldn’t give for a vacation and a party with loved ones.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear when the pandemic will end. And, the uncertainty of the future is causing major stress for many people. The good news is, this time next year, things should be back to normal. Or, they will have reached a new normal that is more tolerable.
In the meantime, begin to think about how you would like to celebrate this time next year. If you would like to celebrate with a new job, this is the time to start looking. If the pandemic has made you realize you wish you were closer to loved ones, this is the time to make a plan.
Setup job posting alerts on the major sites. Although it may feel like there are no jobs to be found, companies are still hiring. By setting up an alert, you will be notified when a new job is posted that meets your skillset. Although hiring has slowed significantly, many companies really are still hiring.
If you want to move, look for jobs in your future city. Or, begin to look for jobs that allow remote work. Working from home is giving employees the flexibility they need to choose the lifestyle that works the best for them. If you’ve ever hoped to move back home, this may be the time to research that idea.
If you find yourself with extra time, this is also a great time to network. Even when jobs aren’t posted, you can connect with those who might want to hire you (or to help you) in the future. Connect with old colleagues on LinkedIn. Then, send a note asking for a networking call – or a call to catch up. You can do this by phone or by video. Although it may seem awkward at first, you may be surprised at how many people will make time for you. They likely also have extra time.
This Labor Day was an unexpected one. It was tough. Many people are struggling with job loss and isolation due to the pandemic. Hang in there. Work on the things within your control. Put together your plan for a better 2021.
I hope we’re on the same page. This is a pandemic. It’s not a competition. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked lately, “What new hobbies have you picked up since March?” I haven’t. “How much are you working out?” Very little. “How are you spending all this free time?” Like many of you, I’ve been working, and managing through this unexpected and difficult experience. My skills are the same, except that I’m now an expert at ordering groceries using Instacart.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for career development. I’m for personal growth. I’m for striving to be better and for climbing the career ladder. But, for many people, this is not that time. 2020 is a time to duck and cover a little. It’s a time to take the best care of ourselves as we can.
A big part of that care comes from both empathy and the awareness that we are each in a different situation. And, it comes from the awareness that people need other people.
Some folks are fortunate enough to have a vacation home. They’re spending quality time with family. Other people are far away from loved ones, and isolated. They may even be struggling to make ends meet.
Because we’re all coping with this pandemic, the best way to stay in touch is virtually, often by phone. But, the phone doesn’t bridge the gap in experience. Some cities are opened while others remain very much locked down. It’s easy to overlook that we aren’t all in the same boat.
This is the time to support one another. It’s not the time to push self-help books, or to expect others to be learning a new skill. It’s the time to listen and to have empathy.
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re able to learn a new skill, then great! Go for it. Get in better shape. Learn to code. Cook something new and exciting.
But, realize that not everyone is there with you. And, just because they may be at another spot on the spectrum doesn’t mean they’re doing the pandemic wrong. They very likely are in a different life situation. It’s not because they’re not trying hard enough or that they don’t care. They may be trying to figure out how to pay their bills. They may feel afraid for their personal safety. Or, they may be trying to work and teach their kids at the same time.
In order to make it through a disaster, we have to do it together. We have to be aware that not every situation is the same. We have to be there for each other, even when it’s tough. This goes for coworkers, family members, and friends.
And, if things are going great for you, this is the time to be humble. Your struggling friends don’t need to see your fabulous photos online. They need to hear your kind voice.
There are many days when 2020 feels like the year that will never end. In 2019, if someone had been taking bets about how this year would play out, we all would have lost. One of the most challenging things about this year has been self-care. And, it’s that same self-care that allows our best selves to show up for friends, family — and in the workplace.
It is so easy to get caught up with work. We’re living with work right now. Working from home can intensify the day, and it can extend our hours. No longer are we taking the same coffee breaks to chat with colleagues about the weekend. And, we don’t have somewhere to be right after work.
The endless video calls can also be draining. Many people are sitting, staring into a tiny computer camera all day long.
In many places, gyms are closed. It has made falling off of our workout routines the new norm. Somehow, even though we’re eating at home more, it’s become harder to eat healthy. It’s easier to find yourself eating chips and pizza than ever before.
The problem is, all of this working, lack of exercise, and poor diet will eventually catch up to us. And, I’m not talking about in terms of our waistlines. I’m talking about how we feel day to day.
Working long hours is only helpful if you’re feeling like yourself. If you’re dragging through the day, it’s just one long, unproductive day bleeding into the next one. If you’re feeling bad, it’s time to pull yourself out of it, one bit at a time.
The first step is sleep. Getting good rest is so important. Then, it’s about trying to eat a little healthier each day. And, don’t forget about drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
It’s also important to keep up your social connections. This is harder to do right now in many ways. But, the good news is that more and more people are using the phone and video chats to stay in touch.
Last, work to create boundaries between work and home. Create a daily schedule and stick to it. When you’re working, focus on work. When work is over each day (at a predetermined time), stop working. Don’t go back to it unless there is a truly exceptional reason (such as an emergency).
All of these things seem basic on some level. That’s very true, until they aren’t. We are all struggling so hard to create a new normal that works for us. Some days will be better than others. Give yourself the space for bad days. Be kind to yourself even when you’re struggling. And work to improve your self-care routines, so that each day may be a little better than the one before.
Unfortunately, we may be in this challenging situation for a while. It’s important to take care of ourselves along the way.
As you know, we’re facing record breaking unemployment. Unemployment for July was up by 1.8 million, with a rate of 10.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These staggering numbers mean that many people are looking for new jobs. If you are a job seeker, you’re probably wondering where to begin. You may wonder where to find the best job search websites, and the best job search apps.
There are many websites where you can look for jobs. There are three main sites that I recommend for most jobs: LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed. Each of these sites has a great app.
If you work in certain specialized fields, there are other sites you should also be aware of. For example, if you’re looking for a government job, you should check out usa.gov. If you looking for a job related to sports, check out teamworkonline.com. There are many other sites, but let’s start with the basics of the top three.
LinkedIn offers job seekers many features. You can create an online profile that is essentially an online resume or portfolio of your work. LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to connect with people who work at the companies you’re interested in. And, it has job postings. The job postings offer various data points, including how many people have applied to a job and how you rank in comparison to other candidates. In addition, you may be able to see an estimated salary and the human resources recruiter who posted the job. Applying is fairly straightforward, and there are optional features available such as asking for a referral.
Glassdoor and Indeed are now owned by the same parent company. They’re both excellent websites with unique features.
Glassdoor is built on employee feedback. They have similar job postings to those offered on LinkedIn. But, they also give quite a bit of information about each company. You can look at how well ranked a company is by its employees. You can also see how much the company pays employees for specific roles. And, you can look up interview questions the company may ask.
Indeed has long been hailed as the world’s largest job website. They have more job postings than any other website. Indeed also shares estimated salary data with job seekers, along with company reviews.
As you can see, each job website adds its own value. On top of that, you want to look where the jobs are listed. Not every company puts each job on all three sites. You don’t want to miss jobs by only focusing on one site. Use each site in the way that it best fits you. Then, go directly to company websites for companies you really love. And, keep your eyes open for other sites that may be more specific to your career.
Last, remember that applying online is a numbers game. Get started if you want to play.
Small businesses are a special thing in our country. Being able to start something from a vision and grow it is a gift. But, the pandemic is taking a toll on small business owners. Many are reconsidering the idea of being self-employed. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things to consider.
First, job seeking takes time. It takes a lot of time. Not only is there the work of applying, but there is networking and interviewing. If you’re thinking of going back to corporate, don’t wait until you’re desperate. Start now. It could take many months, even in a good situation.
People who work in a corporate environment will have a hard time understanding what it was like to be self-employed. They will ask insensitive questions about whether or not your business is failing. They may ask if you’re skills are out of date. They will have a very hard time picturing how running your own business has prepared you for this moment. They won’t relate to how hard owning a business is, how stressful it is, or how unstable it can be at times. Rehearse your answers ahead of time, and try not to react poorly when asked why you want to leave.
Don’t look for the perfect fit. This sounds counterintuitive. You’re giving up a dream. It should be for a good reason. You should find the perfect opportunity. You want to find something you’re going to be just as good at and even more passionate about. You’ve worked too hard to walk away for the wrong job.
I would argue that this is the wrong approach. Reentering the corporate world is very hard. It’s like switching career fields. You need to get back into the pool to show everyone you can still swim. It shows people that you can work well with others, and that you don’t mind taking direction. (This is another big fear of your future hiring manager.)
Realize that it’s okay to grieve. For most people, giving up a business feels like a death. Your pour your heart into a business the way you would pour your heart into a child. You plan your future around it. It becomes your identity. Moving on from your business is hard.
If you decide to transition back into corporate, reach out to those around you for help. Call your friends and colleagues. Contact your college career resources department. Sign up for LinkedIn. Even those in the corporate world get help when they are looking. There’s no reason you should do it alone.
Just remember. The transition back to corporate will not be easy. But, at the end, you will have the stability you’re seeking. You’ll have a reliable paycheck, and solid health benefits. You may even have 401-K matching. As hard as it is to give up your business, there is a bright spot waiting for you.