By Nikki MacCallum
The 2020 COVID-19 shut down of all non-essential businesses is affecting everyone differently. Although official current figures haven’t been published, estimates place the current national unemployment rate at around ten to thirteen percent. For obvious reasons, this number is anticipated to increase before we’re through the pandemic.
Everyone is in a different boat right now depending on the industry
they are in. Across all businesses, individuals have been laid off, some have
been furloughed, and others are still gainfully employed, doing everything they
can to become invaluable resources for their companies. The bottom line is, the
current state of the world is a terrifying climate to be job hunting in. It can
be frightening, depending on the state of your current company, if the work is
drying up and everyone is gunning for the same assignments. If you’re one of
the lucky ones and things are still going well for you, everything is just on
hold so that forward momentum has slowed. The last scenario begs other
questions like, “will that big project I just did matter in six months?” or
“Will my good work be forgotten?”
This blog will arm you with five tips for continuing to gain
or at least maintain forward movement in your career as we navigate the fallout
- Reach out to decision makers, important business contacts, executives, etc. and simply ask, “How are you doing?” The thing that has struck me the most about COVID-19 is how much everyone has been exposed for being human. I’ve taken video calls with executives in backwards hats, pajamas, and with their kids running around in the background of the frame. We are all in the same boat, and just as you might be fearing your own job security or revenue stream, it’s important to remember that your clients and higher-ups are in that very same boat. Instead of asking for business or asking for something work-related, simply ask, “How are you doing?” It’s a great way to stay on people’s radars and once this is over it won’t be forgotten. Who are you most likely to remember? The person who reached out asking you for an interview or business during this time, or the person who just asked you how you’re doing?
- Help someone else. It is so easy to get caught up in our own stressors, but being of value to another individual, who is equally as stressed during this time, can go a long way. Last week, I heard a story of a woman who’d lost most of her business due to COVID-19. She was a seasoned entrepreneur who ran a coaching business, most of which didn’t translate to the virtual world. Instead of panicking and trying to drum up more business for herself, she’s helping a long-time mentee build their business instead. As a byproduct of this, she’s been able to generate revenue for herself through this new venture and has also inadvertently had a few hits on her own business. Helping this other person has helped her to stay motivated and engaged. This is obviously an extreme example, but whether you’re employed or not, offer your services to someone in need. Helping others will naturally help you feel engaged and sometimes it’s easier to motivate others than it is to motivate ourselves.
- Have a presence on social media. A lot
of people have an aversion toward social media, but it is now more important
than ever. During this period of time when we’re not speaking at conferences or
having in-person client visits where we get to shine, if you aren’t visible you
run the risk of being forgotten. There is no right, wrong, good, or bad
approach, but if people don’t know what you’re doing you run the risk of
becoming irrelevant. While social media intimidates a lot of people, it doesn’t
have to be hard. Staying visible can be accomplished by reposting or re-sharing
an interesting article you read on LinkedIn. In fact, there’s an individual
I’ve recently come into contact with who doesn’t have any original social media
content of his own, but has built his entire brand around sharing other people’s
posts. First of all, it’s a cool thing to do to be of service to others, but
second, he is doing an amazing job staying visible without putting out any of
his own original content.
- Implement some sort of structure around
your day. Whether you’re working from home, or new to unemployment,
creating some sort of structure can work miracles in terms of your productivity
and/or level of engagement. That structure can range from taking an online
workout class every morning at 7 AM to reaching out to contacts to check in on
how they’re doing from 2 – 3 PM every day. It can even be as simple as, every
day from 12 – 1 PM, unplugging and taking an actual lunch break. Our minds and
bodies are naturally more engaged when we have some sort of structure, no
matter how small, and aren’t left to our own devices.
- Think outside of the box and find ways to
add value. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to add value
to an organization that might be outside the parameters of your current role. One
mindset shift that can be helpful is, instead of thinking “what can I do to add
value,” thinking in terms of “who can I help” to add value. Is there something
you can take off your manager’s plate? Is there a colleague of yours who you
know has a busy workload and you could increase your team’s productivity by
offering to help, even if it’s outside the realm of your normal job
description? If you’re unemployed or job hunting, you may need to think even
further outside that box. Is there a connection you can make with someone who
might be able to help you down the road? Is there an article you think a
decision maker might find interesting? Check your ego at the door and find ways
to create value.
We’re all in this together and we will all come out of this together. While being isolated can make you feel hopeless or like your career is on pause, especially if you’re an active job seeker, hopefully, you can apply these five tips and continue on that forward path, even if the train is moving slower. Ask people how they’re doing, help someone else, have a presence on social media, implement some sort of structure around your day, and think outside the box to create value. You’ll be a step ahead once businesses start to resume.
If you have questions about this blog article or want to
chat about the concept further, please feel free to reach out to me at NMacCallum@lighthouseglobal.com.