It’s the pandemic that brought more than illness.
Across the United States, millions of people have lost jobs as COVID-19 shutdowns threw the economy into a recession. For those left unemployed – from hourly workers to professionals – It’s a blow to both the pocketbook and the psyche.
“People’s very identities are often tied to their jobs and careers,” says Kimberly Roush, founder of All-Star Executive Coaching (www.allstarexecutivecoaching.com) and co-author of Who Are You… When You Are Big?
“In a situation like this, you’ve lost your job, your title, your paycheck and are left wondering who you are and where you go from here?”
Roush specializes in coaching C-level executives and recently launched a national version of a 12-hour group coaching program for executives in transition that she has run in California since the 2008 recession. She offers these tips for getting careers back on track:
Grieve – but not for too long. It’s natural to take a few days to regroup after the initial shock of having a career torpedoed. But then it’s time to put those bad feelings behind you and move on. “Hanging in a dark place will not serve you,” Roush says. “It sucks your energy and it sucks the energy out of everyone you encounter.”
Transform this transition into a positive experience. Despite the blow the situation dealt to your career and your self-esteem, it can be a chance to redefine success on your terms, as well as an opportunity to take your career off autopilot and get it moving in a direction that gives you more fulfillment, Roush says. “Science has shown that we cannot be resourceful, creative and innovative when we are in a negative state of emotions,” Roush says. “Focus on what’s good and what’s right about this situation.”
Take stock of your financial situation. You will need to cut unnecessary expenses and may need to tap into your savings, but with any luck you can avoid financial disaster, says Roush, who also has a background in accounting. “This is an excellent time to look at your spending, do some long overdue planning, and actually prepare a formal budget,” she says. “There are a lot of things you can control here that will give you some peace of mind and will position you even better for the future”
Expand your network – and use it. Most jobs come through networking, so start making those connections right away. “Your network isn’t just everyone you’ve worked within the past,” Roush says. “It’s your customers, your vendors, your family members, your neighbors, your fellow soccer moms and dads, your church members or fellow volunteers. You never know where your lead for your next great job is going to come from.”
Create structure for your day. Since you’ve lost your daily routine, create a new one. Set goals for each day or each week, such as connect with 15 people in your network each week or add two new LinkedIn connections each day. But allow yourself some downtime as well, Roush says. Don’t let the job hunt become all-consuming.
“If you keep your head in the game and do the work, you will find meaningful work again, likely in a better position than the last one you were in,” Roush says. “Just keep your spirits up, stay positive and, as difficult as that may seem, enjoy the ride.”