I lost my job due to COVID-19. Here's why it's not as bad as you think.
When it comes to my career, I pride myself on my preparedness, dedication, and drive, but nothing prepares you to lose your job. Even if you saw it coming, it's still a shock.
As someone who has dedicated a large part of my professional life to understanding what makes someone a great fit in any workplace, I can tell you one of the most important assets you can bring to the table is adaptability. Adaptability lets your employers trust that you will find solutions when you run into a snag. It gives your coworkers confidence to come to you with problems knowing you can view them with an open mind and easily find a solution. In truth, all our abilities to adapt and flex are being tested right now as we live through an unprecedented global pandemic.
I'll be frank with you; when I found out I was losing my job because of a lack of investment in our small tech start-up due to COVID, there was only one thing racing through my brain - panic. When it comes to my career, I pride myself on my preparedness, dedication, and drive, but nothing prepares you to lose your job. Even if you saw it coming, it's still a shock.
It really wasn't as bad as I thought.
Once the shock subsided (and I'd had a glass of wine or three), I realized this wasn't the career-ending event my frantic mind was trying to make it out to be. To my surprise, it gave me precisely what I've always needed and never seemed to have enough of - the glorious gift of time. Time to think, time to explore, and time to do the kinds of things I enjoy doing. I had put this project (slaymyresume.ca) on the back burner for many years. I have always had a talent for helping others market themselves for their dream job, and bonus - it's something I also really enjoy doing! I have often been the go-to for friends and family on the hunt for a new job, spending what little time I could spare to help them. With the loss of my most recent position, my days were suddenly free and full of uninterrupted time to work toward my personal goals and vision for the future. And here we are!
As a disclaimer, I realize I am VERY fortunate to have kids in daycare and school and that a lot of people don't have the luxury to work on passion projects as they have family or work obligations. I am also not trying to make light of COVID. It has and continues to be devastatingly heart-breaking and has impacted virtually all aspects of our everyday lives. What I am saying is that while we navigate living and working through a global crisis, we can start to see things in a new light and find positive in "the new normal."
We are finding new ways of working.
One of the most significant changes for people working during COVID has been where they are working. Jobs that previously required employees to come into a physical office or space have now gone remote, Zoom meetings are the new norm for office meetings, and your break doesn't necessarily entail eating over-priced take-out at your desk. In the past, when coworkers would ask their managers to work a couple of days from home, they were met with apprehension. Visions of employees "working from home" lounging in front of the TV in their sweats all day getting the bare minimum done, were all they imagined. The good news is, after having no choice but to let remote work be the way of the world, several studies have shown that productivity has actually increased. This NY Times article delves further into how working from home has been unexpectedly liberating. Huzzah!
If you can strike up the right balance while working from home, tons of opportunities in your day can open up. Breaks can include going for a run or doing chores that would've otherwise been waiting at the end of the workday. (Or eating chocolate and surfing for the latest celeb gossip - no judgement). The time previously spent commuting can be used to meditate or connect with family. (Or each chocolate and surfing as previously mentioned). Work/life balance becomes a more realistic possibility. It's a proven fact that when people are happier and live more fulfilled lives, it reflects in their work quality and productivity. Hey, there's a win!
Now obviously, it's not all sunshine and roses in this new realm. It's also a lot easier to feel less motivated and more isolated while working from home. Extroverts (like me!) who look forward to daily office chit-chat may find themselves feeling blue. Employees who require more motivation and hands-on support may feel they fall short without regular, frequent contact with their managers. Sound familiar? If yes, remember that you are not alone. As mentioned previously, these are unprecedented times, and no one can tell you how you should feel, but remember that your boss and teammates are only an e-mail or phone call away, and they may be feeling the same. When in doubt, reach out to schedule a quick chat-even a quick 5-10 minutes can give you a feeling of connection and clarity. And if not with your coworkers, connect with a friend - whatever helps you feel like you're not alone.
Another obstacle inherent to remote work is suddenly having to blend your work and personal life. Finding a quiet, comfortable workspace in your own home is more challenging than you think, especially when there's a dog, partner, or child who may now want much more of your attention throughout the day. I have talked to so many people whose employers expressed that they would support them as working parents initially but have maintained the same availability and full-time expectations of their employees. These same employers seem almost surprised when they hear a baby cry or see a tiny face pop-up in their Zoom meetings. Leadership needs to remember to walk the walk, not just talk the talk when it comes to their full-timers with a baby on their lap, pulling their hair and screaming. If this sounds like you, check out this article for some great parenting tips while working from home.
The most important thing to remember is that any working situation will always come with its highs and lows. Ultimately, it's you who needs to take charge of things - from your morale to your motivation level and working environment, all of these factors will change daily with how you're feeling. So it's essential to set yourself up for success and remember that taking care of yourself first will set the tone for everything else.
There are new opportunities.
Now, speaking on a larger scale, COVID has affected the job market as a whole. Job sectors such as hospitality, retail, or those that require a physical service were put on indefinite hold for months. They have now opened back up with a long list of regulations that need to be enforced to keep the workplace safe. With most establishments able to only open at half capacity and other such restrictions, the resources required to run them has also been cut in half. It is an indisputable fact that a great job (let alone any job in general) is a rare find at the moment because of this. However, since there is absolutely nothing you can do about the current job market, whether it be the type of jobs I've just listed or remote work, don't stress! Use this as a time to revitalize your resumé or practice nailing that interview, essentially finding a way to show that you stand out and can bring something unique to the table. These are skills that I have worked on with former clients and have seen a real change in their ability to find a great job. All they had to do was learn how to market themselves to their fullest potential.
Despite the hit to the traditional job market, many jobs have opened up that may not have existed before. A good friend of mine just got hired to work for a large international gaming company based out of LA remotely from the Okanagan. An opportunity like this one likely wouldn't have been possible pre-COVID. Another field that has opened up is remote customer-service. With so many more businesses operating online, companies need to ensure their clients are happy with their online experience by beefing up their customer support. Companies such as HootSuite or Shopify have had to hire extra staff to keep up with the influx in online business, which is excellent news if you dream of working permanently from home.
Lastly, one of the unique opportunities this time brings is the chance to go after that job you've always wanted. Or that field you've always wanted to break into, but felt uncomfortable leaving a current position, the kind that comes with stability but not the passion you've ever imagined finding in your work. Whether the choice to leave a job is yours or not, both prospects are scary in their own way. You never know, this could be the moment you didn't know you were waiting for. The idea of looking for a job all over again can be daunting, but taking small steps will get you there.
Taking the first step on a new adventure.
One of the first steps to take when looking for a new job is ensuring your resumé, and LinkedIn profiles are on point. Specifically, ensuring your resumé is the right length, format and highlights what it should are essential. As I've said, it's a whole new world out there with many things to consider as we navigate this new job search landscape.
This could be the year that changed your life!
If I could sum up this whole post in one, maybe two sentences, I would say that although there are countless pros and cons to working and finding a job during COVID, the one thing you can do is take this time to work on yourself. Whether that be by eating healthier, doing more of the things that you love, or finally going for your dream job, this could be the year that you changed your life!
I'd love to help you with your job search. Send me an awesome message and I will be in touch.