May 6, 2020

The End of the World © Cici Mattiuzzi

The world as we knew it has ended. The global pandemic we are now living through is a shared crisis of loss and challenge. Things will never be quite the same. This is the grim reality for people all over the world. As of today, over 30 million people in the United States have lost their jobs and more than 70,000 Americans have lost their lives. The bleeding is not over.

You cannot go back to where it was. That place no longer exists. It would be like trying to go back to when life was easier at age 10.

You may be able to return to your former employer and resume working in a new way. Maybe you have been working from home. The reality is that your world has been rocked and there is a little less stability and security no matter where you are. Many companies will continue to shed people. Government, the traditional safe haven, is now looking at deficit spending and doing furloughs and talking about potential layoffs.

Even ramping the economy back up is fraught. Governments at all levels are trying to figure out how to return us to the new normal when the future is unknown.

When will the spending public feel safe enough to come out and play again? Every employer is now at risk - some more than others.

As you are hunkered down trying to figure out which way is up, it is hard to think about what next? But that is exactly what is required now. You are going to have to reinvent yourself just like countless people before you, and now countless people around you. The world has changed forever and there is no going back, no matter how great the urge for nostalgia.

You can shout at the moon about the unfairness of the havoc unleashed by the coronavirus crisis. But your job is to not mourn the loss indefinitely. Your job is to figure out how to survive and thrive in a world that has yet to unfold. You are allowed only 24 hours – one day to cry.

This is about survival. Survival is not for the faint of heart… they will be left behind. Survival is for the people who take hold and figure out a plan to move forward.

This is your opportunity to reinvent yourself and come out of this better off than before.

This is not going to be easy. If you are looking for easy, now is a good time to stop reading.

Your survival depends on your ability to move on and come up with a plan for recovery. You cannot afford to wait for someone else to figure it out for you. You need to start making decisions now for what next. You need a personal plan. No one is going to rescue you but you.

Many people will never make it back into the labor market. Reinvention is not for the disorganized. It is a job that requires drive, discipline, and determination. It also requires a positive attitude. Once you realize that this too shall pass, you will find that you are quite capable of change. There will be ups and downs… but you will manage. Humans are wired for resilience. We evolve, we change, we adjust to whatever comes our way. We find a way...

Crises are usually individual and we usually marvel and gain inspiration when one person recovers from a personal tragedy. When I was 17 my father’s store burned down. We lived in a small company town, and it was the little grocery store and a catering business that supported 6 kids through college. The first stage was devastation. It happened late at night. As we watched the fire leap through the ceiling and firefighters struggle to put it out, it was hard to comprehend. I remember seeing my father standing in the wet, firehose draped street just stunned. It is the only time I remember him being quiet and completely still. He was a man who was always in charge.

The next day, as I watched my father pick up the pieces and move forward to recovery, I learned valuable life lessons. I learned that life goes on even when the worst things happen.

The first thing my father did was to assess the situation and regain a measure of control. He started by taking inventory of the loss and analyzing the financials. He learned that the catering had actually been carrying the business. Then he started the reinvention. He didn’t give up. First he figured out a way to keep the business running in a temporary location. Then he found a new site, got financial backing in the form of a low interest government loan, hired an architect, and remodeled an old Victorian in the next town over to recreate his business. Everyone pitched in to help.

This is what I learned. You can change your life without losing who you are. You can dig deep to find the strength. Life goes on… It is about survival. And there is abundant creativity in crisis. There is rebirth. My dad recovered then and we can recover now.

This is probably not the first time you have encountered a huge challenge. I am guessing that you have had to figure out strategic moves in the past. And you have probably watched family members reinvent themselves too.

This is going to be the hardest job you ever had.

For people blessed enough to have a job that they can go back to… say a prayer and remember the people who are less fortunate than you. And you will need to remember that you are vulnerable too. You are not out of the woods.

We are all going to have to pull together to survive. That means that everyone will be called upon in some way to help other people.

For people who have not been laid off, it is still going to be a long haul that will require your complete attention and focus. You will have to run faster, jump higher and make sure your people know what you are doing even when they are not seeing you across the room at your desk.

For those who are laid off from work, it will require drive, discipline, and determination to get through to the next place. Think of this as an opportunity for reinvention, renewal, and rebirth. You have to go positive or you will get lost in the struggle.

12 Steps to Job Recovery
  1. Do a self assessment! Figure out what your motivated skills are and how you can reconfigure your skills and abilities for industries that are growing… Skills are the basic building blocks of jobs. Move your skills blocks around and think about what you are seeing. What jobs fit with the new configuration of your skills. Remember - there are always winners and losers… Who are the winners and what jobs are growing?
  2. List your goals, values and interests so you can identify industries that fit you well. Once you know what makes you tick you will be able to brainstorm on Google looking for industries that match. For example - you are an accountant who likes hiking. Who has a phone app for hiking that needs accountants? All Trails!!!
  3. Put it all together and find industries that are expanding. It will be a long time before some like the airlines start hiring again. But there are some that will profit by being in the right place at the right time with solutions that we need.
  4. Look for jobs that are posted in growing industries that match your skills - I love for job descriptions, salary data, and job postings. They are spot on for all of those things! Other good sources for job posting are Indeed, Linkedin and Google Jobs.
  5. Create a resume template and then modify your resume for each job you apply for - matching the job requirements as much as possible. Your resume must be perfect in every way!
  6. Practice your interview skills with a friend.
  7. Create a portfolio of your work to show employers in an interview.
  8. Employers are using Zoom for interviews. Learn how to use it!
  9. Write a cover letter template to modify for each job you apply for.
  10. Apply, apply, apply. Some jobs are posted only on company websites. Government jobs can be found at USA jobs, state job websites, and city and county websites.
  11. Network with colleagues and friends. Your friends are worried about you! Let them help. Send email regularly to update them about your job search and what you are looking for. When they get a job or if they know who is hiring you want them to think of you first. When you find a job posted see if you know anyone at the company by using LinkedIn.
  12. Be Bold! One woman who found a job posting searched LinkedIn and found the CEO for the company posting the job. She was able to use the contact info that was posted on LinkedIn to send him her resume. He called immediately. She got an interview and got the job!
Do not give up! Keep at it. Apply for a job a day at least. The average length of time that it takes to get a job in normal times is 3 to 6 months. Be patient but work your tail off.

This is going to be a long hard process but you will come out the other side and you will survive just like your parents and grandparents survived the trials and tribulations they faced.

You got this!