Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel: 5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis, With Rutgers University’s Mark Beal
Volunteer Your Skills: We all have skills that can help even just one person who is unemployed. If you have a skill in preparing an exceptional resume, then volunteer to help others who are struggling with it as they seek employment. Consider any step in the job application process and volunteer where you can help best.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Beal of Rutgers University School of Communication and Information Professor of Practice in Public Relations.
Mark Beal is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Public Relations in the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. A longtime public relations and marketing executive, it was Mark’s students at Rutgers who inspired him to author his first book, 101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College, which offers practical advice to students as they prepare for their transition from college to a career. The book led to invitations for Mark to speak to many career support networking groups which help those who are unemployed secure their next job. Mark was so inspired by his meetings with the individuals who attend career support networking meetings that he recently co-authored Career In Transition: 101 Lessons To Achieve Job Search Success with Frank Kovacs who founded one of the first career support networking groups, The Breakfast Club NJ, 18 years ago. Career In Transition is now available on Amazon as a paperback, audio book and in Spanish. Mark has also authored other books including Decoding Gen Z: 101 Lessons Generation Z Will Teach Corporate America, Marketers & Media and travels the nation delivering keynote speeches to conferences, corporations and professional associations on his book themes and topics.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
When I was in high school, I was fascinated with the media including newspapers, television and radio. I secured my first sports editor job with a weekly newspaper in Belmar, New Jersey as just a sophomore in high school. I was able to convert that into a part-time sports writing job with a major daily newspaper, the Asbury Park Press, by the time I was a senior in high school. As a journalism major at Rutgers University, I was a sportscaster for the student radio station, WRSU-FM, and was one of the play-by-play announcers for the school’s football, basketball and baseball teams. While at Rutgers, I also interned at WNBC-Radio in New York and helped produce one of the nation’s first major sports radio shows. It was between my junior and senior academic years that I had the opportunity to intern for a public relations agency, Mike Cohen Communications, in New York and my focused shifted from media to marketing. Fast forward 30 years and I spent the majority of my career starting in 1990 at one of the nation’s leading consumer public relations agencies, Taylor, where I developed and executed campaigns for category leading consumer brands around such major events and properties as the Olympic Games, Super Bowl, World Series, March Madness, US Open and The Rolling Stones. In 2019, exactly 30 years after graduating from Rutgers University, their School of Communication and Information hired me full-time as a professor of practice in public relations. I love my current role because I get to collaborate with members of Generation Z each day. I teach them about marketing, and they teach me about what’s trending with Gen Z. More importantly, I get to leverage my 30-year career and all my professional contacts to help my students secure internships and jobs. It is also my Rutgers students who inspired me to author five books including my first book, 101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College; Decoding Gen Z: 101 Lessons Generation Z Will Teach Corporate America, Marketers & Media; and a book I co-authored with Frank Kovacs, Career In Transition: 101 Lessons To Achieve Job Search Success. The books have led to invitations from major corporations, conferences and associations to deliver keynote speeches on such topics as marketing to Gen Z and marketing yourself to secure your next job.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The first book I authored, 101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College, has had the greatest impact on my life. Like me, many people dream of authoring a book that gets published and other people can read. However, very few of us realize that dream. By authoring and publishing my first book, I knew that anything you set your mind to can be accomplished. Additionally, once the book was published and I was interviewed by major media including ABC, CNBC and Fast Company, I knew I had authored something that was not only newsworthy but was helpful to others. I also saw that impact first-hand when career support networking groups invited me to bring the book to life and speak to those who were unemployed and I really started to see that my book was informing, inspiring and assisting those seeking their next job.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example of each.
In additional to our anxiety and fears around the coronavirus and the health and well-being of ourselves and our family and friends, we will experience a wave of uncertainty when it comes to employment and the economy. As many companies, especially small business, close and lay off employees, many individuals during this world health crisis are going to be faced with unemployment and securing their next job. Here are five reasons to be hopeful if you have lost your job due to COVID-19
#1 Massive Rehiring: I believe that a wave of massive rehiring will take place as we get through the current world health crisis and companies, big and small, are going to be hiring at unprecedented levels. Use this time to refresh your resume and strategically prepare for a wave of hiring later this year into 2021.
#2 Workplace Transformation: We will not return to business as usual following COVID-19. We will enter a new and better chapter in workplace employment. With many employers and employees forced to work remotely, that trend will continue. Companies will recognize the value of working remotely and will begin a hybrid phase where some employees will report to a physical workplace to do their job as has been traditionally done and many others will continue to work remotely either part-time or full-time. This transformation of the workplace will create even more job opportunities for those who are unemployed. In some cases, we will see midsize companies completely transform their workplace to a virtual setting and the money that they save in rent and other expenses that come with a physical location will be allocated to new hires and new positions.
#3 Reskilled For Employment: For all those conducting business from home now, whether employed or unemployed, you are learning and applying new skills which will make you even more appealing to employers. In my own world, I am now producing class lectures with video and audio which means I can deliver greater value to future college courses that are offered exclusively online. Take inventory now of all the new skills you have learned by conducting business remotely and then apply those as you seek employment and conduct interviews. These new skills will make you even more valuable.
#4 Community of Collaboration: The world is changing for the better. As all of us have had to practice social distancing and work, live and socialize from our homes. We now have a much greater appreciation for life and each other. With that, our communities of friends, family and former co-workers and associates will collaborate like never before to help those in need especially when it comes to securing employment.
#5 The Employed Are Eager To Help: Those who are employed are going to be very eager to help and assist those who are unemployed. First, they are going to be playing a role in the mass rehiring and they are proactively going to be seeking applicants. Secondly, they will be aware of professionals in their network who are also hiring. Finally, coming through this health crisis those who are employed will appreciate even more their employment status and help those in need.
From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
When it comes to helping those who are anxious because they are unemployed due to the global health crisis and seeking their next job, there are easily identifiable things we can do to offer support.
#1 Schedule A Cup Of Coffee Meeting: The first thing I offer to someone who is unemployed when they ask for my help is a cup of coffee meeting… and I have never had a cup of coffee in my life. However, a cup of coffee meeting with someone who is seeking a job may be the greatest thing you can offer as you will use that meeting to listen, learn and understand how you can best help them in their job search.
#2 Be Proactive: Once you have met with someone who is unemployed and understand their experience and situation, proactively help them without being asked to do something specifically.
#3 Volunteer Your Skills: We all have skills that can help even just one person who is unemployed. If you have a skill in preparing an exceptional resume, then volunteer to help others who are struggling with it as they seek employment. Consider any step in the job application process and volunteer where you can help best.
#4 Expand Their Network: We usually are focused on only expanding our own network. Now is the time to expand the network of others who are unemployed by leveraging your network and making one-on-one introductions.
#5 Make A Personal Recommendation: Recommendations for a job from someone affiliated with the hiring company comprise only seven percent of the applicants, but 40% of the actual hires. Take that extra step and personally recommend someone for a job that you believe they are qualified for. It will increase their chances of being interviewed and hired significantly.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
If someone is feeling anxious about their unemployment as a result of the world health crisis, there are so many resources online and in their communities providing assistance. After the attacks of 9/11, my Career In Transition co-author, Frank Kovacs, started The Breakfast Club NJ (TBCNJ) to help people secure employment. More than 18 years later, TBCNJ is helping more people than ever and there are many other similar career support networking groups in communities across the nation. The first step for anyone is to conduct a search of local employment support groups and career networking associations. Those local groups will lead them to an endless number of valuable resources to get them back to work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Success is a marathon.” It is not just a quote that I live by and share when I speak to audiences especially those who are unemployed, but is also the title of the first chapter in the first book I authored, 101 Lessons They Never taught You In College. My career has spanned more than 30 years and every success that me and my teams experienced along the way came after a marathon of training, preparation and planning. We had to invest significant time and resources to win a major piece of new business or to execute a successful campaign. That life lesson quote had more meaning for me as I trained and completed five marathons in my lifetime including the Boston Marathon. The unspectacular preparation that is required to train for a marathon over a four to six month period and successfully complete a 26.2 mile run is the same unspectacular preparation we should all apply to everything that is important to us in life — family, work, even seeking that next job opportunity.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger. “Employment For Everyone,” a national online community where everyone can contribute to ensuring everyone has a job. Employers can post jobs and those who are unemployed can seek openings. More importantly, it is a community of collaboration where those are working and what to give back can volunteer their time, experience and expertise across a wide variety of critical areas in the job search process — resume writing, professional networking, interview preparation, reskilling and so much more. Those who are employed genuinely want to help others, but they don’t where they can simply turn to volunteer their expertise in a scalable manner whether that is helping just one individual or many.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
The easiest way to connect with me is via LinkedIn. If your readers want to listen to me engage with leaders across industries, my podcast can be listened to for free at 101lessonspodcast.com and all my books are available on Amazon.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!