Now, work is stressful for a new set of reasons. You’re worried about losing your job. You’re working from home for the first time. Your business model is shifting due to “The Virus.”
Who would have thought we’d all be learning to work through a pandemic? Who thought there would be a pandemic? This is the last thing I thought I would be thinking about when it comes to work. But, here we are.
For most people, the isolation of the pandemic (paired up with fear of the unknown) has been the hardest. So, what can you do to stay engaged at work when you’re isolated?
The first thing is this. Set a schedule and work to keep it. Get up at the same time every day. Start working at the same time. Stop working at the same time. And, go to bed at the same time. I know that it’s tempting to your schedule go. After all, for the first time in a long time, your boss isn’t there to breathe down your neck. But, you have to do this for you, not your boss. Keeping a normal routine will help to keep your head in check.
Take breaks throughout the day. I’ve found that with the number of Zoom meetings we’re all having, we can go almost an entire day without getting up from our chairs. Take the time to have lunch. If you can, get up at least once every hour to move around.
Try to keep tabs on whether or not your current communication style is working for your colleagues. Communication is key to success at work. With the changes we’ve had, there is no more walking down the hallway to check on people. Watercooler conversations just aren’t possible. Now, we’re sending email, instant messages, texts, and having video chats and phone calls. Not every type of communication works well for everyone. Check in with your colleagues to see what works for them.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Whatever it is that you need to do to be sure you’re mentally and physically healthy as you can be, focus on it. Don’t allow yourself to get run down or drained more than necessary. One of the hardest parts about self-isolation is keeping your mental health in check. Don’t take it for granted. It will impact you, your spouse, your children, and other loved ones. And, it’s easy to neglect. Be sure you’re eating three meals a day. Do simple things like shower and comb your hair.
Hopefully soon, we can look back and remember that crazy time when we were all isolated. But, until then, you’ve got to get up every day, put on your sweatpants, and attend your Zoom meetings.
Thinking back to last year, we were all considering that the great job market might slow down at some point. But, who could have imagined the screeching halt of the economy would have come in the form of a global pandemic. If you’ve lost your job through all of this, my heart goes out to you. You may wonder when in the world you’ll be able to look for jobs again. When will companies be hiring?
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is, many companies have put hiring on hold until things settle down with the pandemic. However, the good news is that many companies are still hiring.
I have personally seen companies that are continuing to interview and hire candidates in the last few weeks. This is especially true for two categories: essential workers, and companies that are able to fully work from home. These are two very different ends of the spectrum, but they both present opportunity.
In a COVID-19 update, LinkedIn has shared that the current top ten most in demand jobs in the United States include store associate, system operator, certified public accountant, healthcare specialist, construction worker, warehouse manager, psychologist, vehicle mechanic, academic advisor, and delivery driver. The top ten companies with the most open jobs in the U.S. are 7-Eleven, Army National Guard, KPMG, Amazon, Genentech, Lowe’s, HCA Healthcare, Intuit, Whole Foods, and Sherman Williams.
If you need to look for a new job, try to keep going. Don’t stop. There are two places to focus on first: your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Update your resume to include your current work experience, your past work experience, your skills and strengths, and computer software that you know. Update your LinkedIn with similar information, but be sure to include a photo. You want to show employers that you’re a real person! And, if you can, get former colleagues to leave reviews for you on LinkedIn about your work.
Once you have these pieces together, it’s time to apply! One of my favorite sites to look for job postings on is LinkedIn. You can sort them by when they were posted, including as recently as the last 24 hours. That will give you a good idea of what is really open. When you apply, apply online. Then, try to look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn, and send them a note too. It can often help to put you ahead of the line.
And, you would be surprised. Despite everything, companies are interviewing candidates by phone, Zoom, and Skype. Companies are also giving job offers remotely these days. And, they’re onboarding new employees from home.
Not every company is hiring, but you may surprised at how many are. Companies have goals too, and they’re preparing to move full steam ahead once the pandemic is behind us. Now is the time to get started so you’ll be ready when the dust settles.
I guess this is what they mean when they say, “be careful what you wish for.” Here we are working from home, playing from home, schooling from home, and everything else-ing from home. At least there’s no commute. But, working from home isn’t as great when it’s not a choice.
But, let’s try to make the best of it. We may be here for a while. So, what can you do to effectively work at home?
For starters, find a space that you can designate for work. If you’re lucky, you may have an office or an extra bedroom. Or, you may want to designate a space like your dining room table. If you have a house with a garage, you may even want to temporarily turn your garage into an office. This is the time to get creative.
Once you’ve found your space, set it up. At a minimum, you’ll likely need a table, a desk, and your computer. If you have them, a printer and an external monitor can also be very helpful. Keep your office supplies nearby, including paper, pens, headphones, and anything else you may need. Take the time to set up your new home office in a way that is enjoyable to you. You will be spending a lot of time there.
After you setup your home office, it’s time to use it. Start out by creating a schedule for yourself. One of the most important components to successfully working from home is routine. Try to start working at the same time every day. Set aside time to eat lunch, and possibly for breaks. And, finish at a reasonable time. Try not to spend every waking hour sitting and working, as this could lead to burnout.
Look for ways to stay connected to colleagues. One of our biggest hurdles when working from home is how to stay relevant at work without being too much. In other words, without sending too many emails or making too many phone calls. Over time, work to develop a routine. Try to stay in touch with coworkers and management without wasting time, but while still creating a human connection.
Don’t forget to ask how people are really doing. When you open up, you’ll learn that your coworkers are just as stressed and as afraid as you are. They’re also trying to figure out how to keep their spouse, pets, and kids out of their workspace. They’re also worried about their parents. They’re also running low on toilet paper.
Working from home is an adjustment, even under normal circumstances. Virtual companies share that it takes months for working from home to become normal and routine. You’re in good company.
One question I hear often from readers is about military transitions. Many members of the military devote the first twenty years of their career to the US Military. Around age forty, they’ll retire and start entirely new careers in the civilian world. I receive questions about how to successfully make this change.
The number one thing I see that trips up people transitioning is this. They don’t realize just how hard it is. And, neither do those around them. The military will often help people who are transitioning by offering a class about how to get a job. Many of the people I’ve met who have attended this class assume that the transition will be quick, painless, and easy. They also assume that they will be compensated the same or more than they were in the military.
To make matters more complex, their loved ones also believe the transition should be easy. Unfortunately, this is a problem not just with military folks, but with anyone looking for a job. Your family can never understand what’s taking you so long. This can leave the job seeker feeling lonely and deflated, as if they’re the only one who has ever had to work this hard to find a job.
If we can agree that job searching is hard, then what? The people I’ve seen with the smoothest transitions have done three things well. First, they’ve started early. They didn’t wait until they were out of the military to begin looking for something new. Second, they put their fears and limitations on hold. In other words, they were willing to step out of their comfort zones to explore jobs they may not have considered. And, third, they kept their personal expenses low. In the civilian world, a paycheck is not a guarantee. Especially in the beginning, if you can keep your costs down, it will be less stressful if your search takes time.
Beyond that, listen to yourself. When you are job searching, you’d be surprised at how many people come out of the woodwork with advice. Your great uncle Bob who you barely know will suddenly have an opinion on what you should be doing with your life. If you’ve spent your entire career in one field, this guidance can feel good. But, don’t fall into the trap. Great uncle Bob probably has no real experience in the work he’s advising you on.
Start early. Form a support group. Reach out to people who have been through this transition before. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know through networking site, LinkedIn. And, be on the lookout for companies that specifically recruit transitioning members of the military.
Last, but not least, be patient with yourself. You’re starting an entirely new career. This is hard for anyone – military or civilian. It takes time. It’s going to be hard. But, in the end, it’s worth it.
If you were to look for a new job, where would it be? Very often, when we’re searching for a new job, we look in our immediate area. We look for something within driving distance of our home – in our existing city.
But, every now and again, a big change can be refreshing. A new city can offer new job opportunities. It can open up social doors that didn’t exist before. It can add excitement and variety to life.
If you’ve ever thought of making a big move, the first question is: where? And, frankly – where to even begin? If you’re over thirty-five (or even twenty-five), moving to a new city can feel daunting. Friends are no longer served up on a platter like they were in high school or college. In addition to friends, you’ll have to find new doctors, new restaurants, new everything. You’ll have to get a new driver’s license. The list goes on and on.
Many people never get moves off of the ground because of all of the pieces involved. This is especially true for those who are married and have children.
If you are considering a move, make a list of the things you value in a city. There’s no right or wrong thing that should be on the list.
Your list might include things like the population size. Or, maybe you want to research the average cost to buy a home – or the average income in the area. If you’re single, you may want to look at the number of single people who live in the city. You may want to research the political views in the city, to see how closely you align. You may want to look up the average temperature. And, you may also want to look up the crime rate in the places you’re considering.
Once you have this list, create a list of possible cities. Then, research each city using your list as a guide. When I’ve done this, I have put this data into a spreadsheet, so that I can easily compare the cities.
Another great source of information about cities is the LinkedIn Workforce Report. LinkedIn puts out data each month that will allow you to learn more about the job markets in large cities across the US. It can help you to understand where there are labor shortages, and which cities the most people are moving to.
Glassdoor also recently published a list of the 25 best cities for jobs in 2020. These cities were compared across three categories: hiring opportunity, cost of living and job satisfaction.
Moving is a big decision. It’s one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And, it shouldn’t be put off. Moving to a new city is much easier when the job market is healthy. If you’d like to make a change, there’s no time like the present. Start your research, and you’ll be on your way.