By Jack Kelly
One of the less-discussed critical issues facing families during the Covid-19 pandemic is the balancing act of working from home and taking care of children. When it seemed that the shelter-in-place orders would be temporary, the mentality was that—while challenging—parents could figure out ways to accommodate both their careers and taking care of and homeschooling their children.
With the resurgence of Covid-19, it now looks like a large number of states will reclose to certain degrees and this problem just won’t go away. Something will have to give. Many parents are now having to decide whether they should quit their jobs to focus on attending to their children, frantically juggle both child rearing and working at home or send their children to day care—providing that there is availability and it’s safe.
The numbers involved are substantial. More than 41 million workers between the ages of 18 and 64 cared for a child under the age of 18, as of 2018. Roughly 34 million were under 14 years of age, according to the Brookings Institution. The costs of child care are exorbitant. According to a study, parents have to pay in excess of $11,000 per year for an infant to go to a child-care center. It will run roughly $10,000 for toddlers and more than $9,000 for 4-year-olds.
We’re almost five months into the Covid-19 pandemic—with no end in sight. Our nerves are frayed and tension runs high. If you’re in between jobs, panic may be setting in right about now. You read about 53 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits since March and start fearing that it may take many more months to get a new job. In the back of your mind, there’s palpable worries that you may never find another job or it won’t be anywhere near the level and salary of your last position.
Tough times make tough people. This is a uniquely brutal job market unlike anything we’ve seen before. What worked in the past won’t necessarily work today. You have to cultivate, develop and execute these three skills to survive and thrive in this unprecedented, cruel job market. You need these three critical skills to find a job in this current difficult job market climate.
When you’ve lost your job or are deathly afraid that you’re next in line to be downsized, it’s easy to lose your self-confidence. It’s understandable to question yourself. “Did I do something wrong? I’m one of the hardest workers at the office. Why was it me?” Even if you intellectually acknowledge that you were part of a large-scale layoff, you still feel awful.
It’s hard to shake it off. You avoid friends, family and former co-workers, as you don’t want to talk about the job loss. The well-meaning sentiments saying that they’re “sorry” kind of make you feel worse.
This feeling follows you around and into the interview process. You’re a little off your game. You don’t speak with the same authority you used to have. There’s a sense of foreboding and dread—waiting for the moment when they ask about the reasons surrounding your downsizing. You start to stumble, get a little agitated and come across somewhat defensive. After the interview is over, you know you didn’t do your best and now feel even worse.
Here’s what you can do to rebuild and elevate your confidence.
Right about now, you may need some help to self-motivate yourself to seek out a new job.
We all hope to get what we want right away. In this environment, it won’t be easy to find a new job in short order. This will be a long and arduous journey, but it’s achievable and you will prevail.
Start with small incremental steps. Push yourself to get off the couch. Stop scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. When Netflix sends the message asking if you’re still watching—because you’ve been binge-watching for six hours—it’s time to shut off the television.
Change Your Mindset And Improve Your Game
Start weeding out all of the toxic people in your life that are holding you back. You don’t have to discard them, but—perhaps—put them on a temporary mute. Find a group of people who are mutually supportive, positive, like-minded and make you feel good about yourself. This will be your tribe that you can kick around ideas, share job leads and commiserate with.
Interviewing in this current environment is like entering a Tough Mudder challenge, along with participating in a marathon and triathlon all rolled up into one event. You’ll be forced to drag yourself through the muck, scale walls and leap over seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your path. Even when you are totally exhausted, you must find inner strength to keep going until you reach your goal.
To have the endurance for this overwhelming feat, you should start a regiment of eating healthily and getting sufficient sleep and exercise. Cut out the junk food, alcohol consumption and drugs. Eat right, sleep well and exercise. You should have a balanced diet and workout routine, go to sleep early and wake up early. If you don’t do this, you’ll constantly feel tired, rundown, cranky and irritable. These traits don’t go over well in your interviews.
Talk To Yourself Like You Would To A Person In Need
We’re all our own worst critics. We constantly look back at all of the bad decisions we’ve made over the years. Negative thoughts are allowed to run rampant through your mind. You need to change the way you talk to yourself. Start by being kind. Forgive yourself of all of your former mistakes and faults. Reach out to people you’ve wronged and apologize to them for your transgressions.
Then, start replacing the self-defeating ruminations with positive affirmations. Make a mental list of all of your strong points and positive attributes. When the bad thoughts start creeping in, immediately substitute and remind yourself of all of your awesome qualities.
Celebrate Each Tiny Victory
Your ultimate goal may be finding a new job. This could take a long time. You need to reward yourself for all of the little victories along the way. Savor every small win. Keep each win—no matter how tiny—in your memory bank. When you’re feeling down and out, replay each and every time something positive happened or when you overcame obstacles in the past. It will boost your confidence and remind you that you’ve confronted and surmounted tough times in the past.
Find Your Larger Purpose
It helps to keep motivated when you have a larger purpose guiding you. Think of the reasons why you want to find a job—above and beyond securing employment. Is it that you will be able to have sufficient funds to buy a home, pay for your kids’ college, save for a long retirement or give money to charity and the needy?
As you face the adversities attendant with the job search, recall why you’re enduring the torture. Having a purpose and working toward a meaningful goal can power you through the darkest days.
With so many people unemployed, millions of folks may turn toward the gig economy to earn some money. Large numbers of people are likely to swarm toward Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Amazon Flex, Fiverr, Uber Eats, DoorDash, TaskRabbit and Target’s Shipt. Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, an app connecting freelancers with gigs, has seen a 50% increase in signups.
It is Economics 101. When there are more people looking for jobs than positions available, wages will be driven downward. As greater amounts of people hit the job market, the overall hourly pay will decline. With a continuing oversupply of people desperately needing work, it will force down the wages of everyone involved.
There will be other adverse effects. Companies will be emboldened to cut back on their expenditures on workers, in addition to lowering their pay. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, workers were given the necessary protections and hazard pay to compensate for the risks they were undertaking. Most, if not all, of these bonuses were withdrawn.
This could have a ripple effect on the overall job market too. With so many people searching for jobs at the same time, corporations won’t have to worry about having to offer large salaries to entice workers to hire them. They’d be able to cut the compensation and benefits, while demanding more. This could impact both the lower end of the salary spectrum, as well as white-collar office workers.