Across the world, millions of people have been rendered unemployed because of the economic downturn from the COVID 19 pandemic. In the US over 45.7million people have filed for unemployment benefits so far during the pandemic while in Kenya more companies continue to let staff go and the numbers are steadily reaching 4million. This is especially harder for economies like Africa where the majority of workers are in the informal sector. Others have been placed on unpaid or paid leave until further notice.
So with job prospects and retainment looking bleak, what can you do as a jobseeker in these trying times to bounce back even stronger especially if it’s your first time getting laid off?
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
Do a reality check
Start by truly accepting what is going on, starting with the fact that much of your life and the world are not directly in your control. Don't assign yourself or your employer blame because the pandemic has affected everyone and everything with some sectors impacted more harshly than others such as tourism, real estate, and hospitality.
Take an assessment of your true current situation. What do you have & what don’t you have? How much-saved income do you have? What about assets that could be converted to liquidity fast? Who else is dependent on your income? What compensation or relief is your government or employer offering you? How soon can you claim these? And while at it, work with your boss or HR team to make sure the exit process is according to policy and employment legislation. This will help avoid any legal liability claims from both sides. Doing this will help you plan financially for the next hard months to come while you job search. Think 1 year to 2 years ahead because the whole world is uncertain as to when things will get back to normal. Prepare for worst-case scenarios such as a continued lockdown or late developments in a vaccine. Talk with your partner, parents, landlord, dependants & anyone else who will be directly impacted from your loss of income eg household assistants about what this will mean going forward eg reduced shopping spending. Aim for honesty and avoid making promises or guarantees about future engagements.
Remember whatever is happening is not your fault in any way. Accept that it’s OK to feel how you feel right now. Millions of people around the world are feeling the same- uncertainty, hopelessness, or fear. Accepting the emotion is the first step in overcoming it. Find out what you can do to help stay calm & keep healthy mental health. Most countries and some employers have provided free counseling & support resources. This is also not the time to be alone. Try to interact with other people as much as you can even though it's through online platforms like webinars or communication tools like social media. You’ll not only get content that distracts you like comedy but also find ways other people worldwide are overcoming their challenges & even innovating. Watch, read and listen to positive uplifting content including affirmations & motivational speeches. Download free meditation apps & videos that will supercharge you and release the stress. Like I always say, “Whatever gets you high, do it.”
Zig Ziglar said, “Motivation is like a shower.You need it every day.”
Stay active & rebrand yourself
With time on your hands now, find constructive ways you can keep yourself engaged for fun reasons as well as to realign your professional goals. With fewer vacancies & an increased number of jobseekers, competition for jobs is going to be at an all-time high. So what can you do;
- Expand your job search- Utilise a wide array of job search options available including social media and keep positive even through the application rejections. Be open to other job types like remote/work from home types including freelancing and temporary gigs that may be able to put some coins in your pocket while you explore more permanent positions.
- Polish your brand portfolio- Use this chance to rebrand yourself. This involves everything that speaks about who you are as a professional and a person. Revamp your CV using free online resources we’ve highlighted before or even use professional CV writing consultants. Refresh your interview skills while you’re at it too. Go over your social media to ensure it reflects the kind of brand you want to build. Update your footprint online & offline including recommendations to stand out.
Sir Richard Branson said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunty”
- Get networking- Opportunities are connected to people, especially when it comes to jobs & referrals. Some companies are still hiring & even though you’ve been recently let go, you will want to keep your work relationships through company alumni programs & communities. If you’ve been following our networking tactics, it’s time to check up on your contacts and refresh those conversations. With movement curtailed, be on the lookout for online networking opportunities through social media and online events. Subscribe to channels that target your profession such as newsletters or pages. Being in a community right now and also actively participating will help increase your chances of having the right people find you. Be honest about your current situation because telling others about your job loss, will keep you on top of their minds when they see suitable job opportunities for you.
“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.”- Dr. Henry Link
- Start a side hustle or take up a hobby- There’s still plenty you can do while still job searching. Check out our earlier piece on this to get started. Do the things you didn’t previously have time for such as exercising, checking up on friends, reskilling, reading a book, or working on an old talent. It’s important to note here that you should also not tie your worth to your job title. Most people do this & end up not having any other skills, knowledge, or networks beyond their job. By using this time to explore other things beyond your job, you may just discover amazing opportunities. Like we said before, life is not work and work is not life.
- Consider a change- With your career on break now, it may be a good time to plan for your next job opportunity by using this framework or evaluate if it is time for a shift altogether to a different path. As long as you’re still moving forward, no path is the wrong one. Start with Brian Tracy’s “Imagine your life is perfect in every respect; what would it look like?” Then work backward to achieve it.
Pico Iyer- Making a living & making a life point in opposite directions
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.”- Ma Jaya Sati
“There is nothing as certain as silence, stillness & the solitude to introduce you to the secrets to yourself”-Guy Finley
- Time for Introspection- All good things start with self-awareness. And if you want to change your life you have to change your mind first. Take time off to reflect upon how far you’ve come. Acknowledge your accomplishments and failures too. Use various tools available online such as IKIGAI to gain a deepened understanding of who you are and what you can offer the world. Only then can you be able to position yourself competitively & authentically in the world. It’s easy to be pulled into the rat race of life so you have to consciously work to unlearn some thinking. Check out Pico Iyer’s TED Talk on ‘The art of stillness’ to help you identify what you really want out of life.
Stay active because of the above but also because the devil likes an idle mind. Don’t get trapped into bad habits or situations if you can avoid them by keeping busy and staying social. Talk to your friends and colleagues to help one another figure things out faster since a problem shared is a problem half solved. This isn't the time to keep to yourself as loneliness can breed depression & even worse thoughts. Stay off the news if they are adding to your anxiety. A few friends of mine have even deactivated their social media accounts at the moment to avoid over-information. Do stuff that makes you happy & optimistic such as dancing or watching comedies.
There’s power in silence too. Consider going for a solo trip somewhere calm to collect your thoughts and even pray. A lot of great business leaders including Steve Jobs & Bill Gates have been known to have used this technique.
“Listen to the silence. It has so much to say.”-Rumi
“In the silence of love I am recreating myself once more.”-Roxana Jones
“In the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am- unbound”- Nisargadatta Maharaj
Lastly, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Your journey is yours and unique to you. Stay true to yourself and your goals. Embrace your new chapter.
As Maya Angelou said, “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. Remember, This too shall pass.