A friend said something to me this weekend that took me by surprise. They said, "Better times are ahead of us." What took me by surprise was less the statement than my own reaction to it. In the moment that it was said, I had a realization as to just how tough the last few months have been – on everyone.

Can you believe it's been more than three months since the lock down started? It's been three months since things felt "normal." The pandemic, although maybe obvious to some, seemed to come out of nowhere in mid-March. Suddenly, everything in our lives was very different. Travel plans were put on hold. Learning was no longer an in person school activity. And, if you were one of the lucky ones, you were working from home.

Now, the end is very unclear. States are beginning to reopen. But, the news is mixed on whether or not this is a good idea. No matter what your opinion is, chances are this time hasn't been easy.

Some people have lost their jobs and are barely hanging on. Others have experienced significant life events, such as weddings or funerals or birthdays, while socially distanced. Many are either locked in a home with too many loved ones or too few. No matter how you slice it, it has not been easy.

On top of everything else, the job market isn't great. Whether you're out of work or stuck in a job you hate, this is not the best time to be looking. It's especially difficult when you compare today's market with the great job market of 2019.

But, if I can reflect again on the words "better times are ahead," now is the time to prepare for those better times. Eventually, things will go back to normal. Eventually, companies will hire again. Some companies are even hiring now.

If you haven't done it, update your LinkedIn profile. (Yes, people really do use LinkedIn for hiring.) Update your resume. I know it's hard, but your resume is an important part of landing your next job. And, start networking. With so many people stuck at home, you'd be surprised at how easy it is to get time on someone's calendar. Instead of an in person coffee, have a virtual coffee over Zoom or on the phone.

Above all, keep applying. Don't assume that just because the job market is bad, you're doomed. That's not necessarily the case. Don't get me wrong. Getting a job won't be easy. But, if you don't try, you definitely won't find one. I have personally seen companies that are still hiring and onboarding new employees virtually during this unusual time. It is happening. So, if you're looking for a new job, keep trying. At the very least, you'll be completely prepared when new jobs start to come available. You'll be ready for the better times that are ahead.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.



Week: June 29, 2020        

Title: Career Change During COVID

Author: Angela Copeland

If you've found yourself out of work because of COVID, you are likely searching for something new. You may be doing some soul searching. You want to figure out what you should have been, or what you'd like to be in the future. You may even wonder if you're living in the right city.

I'm an advocate for major career change. Switching industries, job function, and city can open up so many new possibilities. It can lead you to a better career, potentially more fulfillment, and sometimes, more money. Although the process is scary, it can be worth the effort.

Pre-COVID, I would have advised you to be daring. Take risks. Search for your perfect career and perfect city. Argue your case for more money. It may take time and be a little painful, but it will be worth it. Today, my feelings have evolved with the times.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the May unemployment rate to be over 13 percent. And, some estimate this number is low.

What this means is that you need to take your risk tolerance into perspective when you decide what you want to do next. As a general rule of thumb, the more things you are changing in your career, the longer your job search will take.

Think of it this way, if switching everything about your career would mean an investment of one year, are you prepared to wait that long? Are you someone who has saved an emergency fund for just such a time?

If not, consider making fewer changes at one time. For example, keep the same kind of job, but look in a new city. Or, change industries in your existing city – while keeping the same job function. Or, switch job functions within your industry and your current city.

Taking your career change in steps can help you to mitigate risk, and it should shorten the time it will take you to get to the next job. This can be especially helpful during a time when hiring has slowed, and available job candidates have increased.

If you're feeling especially strapped for cash, or your stress level is very high, you may want to consider looking for something similar to what you did before – near where you currently live. It will give you an opportunity to stabilize and you can go from there.

Remember, no job has to be permanent. If you don't like it or if it's not quite what you wanted, you can start looking again soon. But, stabilize yourself first. The more time that goes by, the harder looking for a job can be emotionally -- and employers will have more questions about why you're out of work. And, if you're in a pinch financially that burden will only grow with time.

Don't get me wrong. Career fulfillment is important. But, so is having stability during this unprecedented time.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.


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