It seems like a dream. Just four months ago, the United States was enjoying full employment, record-setting stock market highs and everything looked wonderful. In a mind-numbing and unrelenting series of shocking events, we’ve been hit with the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to an economic crash followed by a job-loss crisis. Businesses were shut down, people ordered to stay home, schools were closed and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. This weekend, our nation watched in sheer horror as peaceful protests—mourning the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers—were ruthlessly hijacked and our greatest cities erupted into chaos, violence and mayhem.
If you are one of the millions of people who’ve lost their jobs or part of the millions more who are worried about losing their job, this is a stressful and torturous time. It’s easy to become despondent and lose hope in the face of all of the bad news. It’s hard—if not impossible—to fully process what has happened to us in such a condensed period of time. If you’re experiencing feelings of dread, panic and fear over an unpredictable and perceived bleak future, here’s what you need to do right now.
Try to stop ruminating over all of the bad news that’s not within your control. There are too many things around us that we’re unable to change. You can spend all day long lamenting and obsessing on how unfair things are. Your mind races thinking about how you should be in a better place by now. Looking at others, you feel that you’ve fallen far behind. Spending your waking hours incessantly stewing over all of the bad things makes matters worse. These are damaging and unproductive thoughts that will drag you down further than where you already are.
Immediately start focusing on what you have the power to improve in your circumstances and enact meaningful change in your life. If you are concerned about the safety of your job, do everything possible to hold onto it. Speak with your boss—or more likely, video chat with her—expressing your strong desire to remain with the company and inquire as to what you can do to help out.
Let your manager know that you want to go above and beyond to help her and everyone else get through these tough times. The call alone will put you in good stead. If she relays items to work on, set upon them quickly and produce results that exceed expectations. Make sure she knows of your progress and accomplishments. Although it’s hard to do when you’re working remotely, try to network internally with people to stay on their radar and ensure that they’re cognizant of your contributions.
If you are in between jobs, it’s okay to put aside some time to grieve the loss. If it’s hard to get past the bitterness, consider speaking with a professional to get some help, guidance and advice. Once you get your head together, write down a plan of attack. Find the companies you want to work for, locate the appropriate hiring managers and internal recruiters and send them notes along with your résumé on LinkedIn. Contact recruiters in your field of expertise, network with all of your contacts and make new ones too. Treat the job search as your new job and attack it with gusto.
As important, if not more crucial than the tactical stuff, you need to focus on your mental well-being. In times like this, the pressures can weigh heavily on you. You may not notice it, but you could come across angry, depressed, annoyed or irritated when you network or interview. We’re human and it’s not easy to shed your feelings, put on a happy face and pretend that everything is fine. You are going to have to work on that. Interviewers pick up on your bad vibes and will take a hard pass in favor of a candidate with a more attractive, positive, can-do attitude.
Stop focusing and dwelling on everything bad that’s happened. Replace those thoughts with positive ones. Recall all of your previous successes—no matter how small or trivial they may have been. Remind yourself that you’ve accomplished great things in the past, overcome obstacles and can do this once again.
Prepare some mantras to power through the dark moments. Think of something that will keep you motivated. Tell yourself, “I’m doing this for my family!” and “I’ll do anything it takes to find a new job.” Add on all of the positive attributes you have to offer and play them on a loop in your mind. For instance, repeat, “I am perfect for this job. I have skills X, Y and Z. I have the right credentials, education and background that makes me a perfect fit.” Visualize yourself on the video call confidently telling the hiring manager all about your virtues and why you’re the best person for the job.
Take some time to focus on a hobby, sport or activity that you excel at. This will boost your confidence level. Spend time, as much as you can while we’re under lockdown, with people who care about you. That love or friendship will make you feel better about yourself and you’ll feel stronger.
It may not seem obvious at first, but there’s a lot of things that are within your control. If you take charge of your life, you can turn things around in your favor fairly quickly—as many are easy to do. For instance, you can turn off your television, put down the phone and stop mindlessly scrolling through social media sites. The onslaught of negative news, constant arguing and envying of other peoples’ lives is unhealthy and messes with your psyche.
Use the time saved to develop a regiment to keep physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. Once you start moving in a positive direction, you’ll pick up momentum. A positive outlook shines through in the way you speak and act. People will notice and be drawn to you.
Seeking out a new job is daunting and fraught with failure. You’ll be afraid at times, but move forward nonetheless. It boils down to a large numbers game. Every time you’re rejected, tell yourself, “I’m one step closer to a ‘yes.’” When you want to give up, don’t. Give it one more try. If that doesn’t work, try once again. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Surround yourself with smart, positive, upbeat and enthusiastic people. Avoid those who want to drag you down to their level of misery. Read, watch informative podcasts and attend informative Zoom meetups, in an effort to improve yourself and learn about new opportunities.
If you are hitting dead ends, try to pivot to a different type of career. Reinvent yourself by going back to school, attaining new certifications or pursuing a passion you have always wanted to, but were too afraid to go after. Stay flexible, nimble and open to new ideas, even if they’re a little off the beaten track and some say are crazy.
The harder you work, the more lucky you’ll become. Remain positive and upbeat, no matter what happens. Push out the negative self-talk and replace it with positive mantras. This is something that you may have to do all throughout the day. Remain hyperfocused and relentless in pursuing your goals.
Bad times don’t last forever. If you have the right attitude, block out all of the noise, focus on your goals and pursue them with an insane amount of passion. You will get through this, find a new job and lead a better life. The goal is to look back and say. “I’m glad this happened to me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”