While the worst part of the pandemic was the lives that were tragically cut short, the second-worst part, the economic impact, is something that has yet to play out. All of the business closures, cutbacks, and loss of revenue due to social distancing protocols led to almost unprecedented levels of job losses – according to the Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank, unemployment jumped from 3.8 percent in February of 2020 to 14.4 percent in April of that year, and says that just 3 months of the COVID outbreak took a greater toll on the economy than did the 2-year Great Recession (2007 – 2009).
While the economy has rebounded to a certain extent, it’s likely it will be a long time before we return to 2019 levels of prosperity. It took the better part of a decade for unemployment rates to come back down after the Great Recession, and we’d better be prepared for more of the same this time around. That doesn’t mean we need to start panicking, though, but rather, that it’s time to get proactive and figure out how to solve our own personal unemployment crises, whether we’re currently out of a job or just want to future-proof ourselves. In order to get some tips from an expert, The List spoke with career developer Ken Lindner, author of Career Choreography™: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Job and Achieving Huge Success and Happiness
Stay on top of your game
Lindner agrees that the pandemic has made this “an extremely challenging job market.” He adds that the situation can be even more difficult for anyone 45 years old or over since that brings up the question, “who will invest in someone who is more ‘mature’?” Sill, he says, it’s not impossible to find new employment at any age. He gives the example of his own dad, who was laid off from one company at age 66, then hired by another one 3 years later – a company he continued to work for until he was 99 years old! Holy Betty White, Batman, how is that even possible?
Lindner says it was because his dad kept himself in top shape both physically and mentally. He stayed optimistic and kept himself current on all of the latest trends in his industry. Rather than sitting around watching TV or playing golf, his dad “remained relevant and disciplined for those 3 hiatus years,” so when he finally got the opportunity to return to work, he was able to step right back into the swing of things without having to make up for any lost (or wasted) time.
Start making lists
Okay, so you’re working out, eating right, and spending time every day reading professional blogs and journals. Good for you, you’re on the right track! Now it’s time to narrow down your focus a bit, and it starts with making two lists. The first one is all about you – what are you interested in? What do you want to do? What are you good at doing? What skills and qualifications do you have? This list may help you decide where to direct your efforts so you can point yourself in the direction of a career you’ll actually want, rather than a job that’s more of a chore or a bore.
The second list is one of names: everyone you’ve had a positive work relationship with and who is aware of your talents and your work ethic. In his book Career Choreography, Lindner tells the story of a woman in her late 50s who was laid off at the height of the Great Recession and who followed this strategy of listing all of the people who knew what a great worker she was. She contacted each one of those people and asked if they knew of any job openings, and wound up with not one, but two excellent job offers.
Do your homework
Once you finally land that interview, what do you do? Faint from shock? Okay, but once you regain consciousness, it’s time to get to work. Prepare for that interview like your future depends on it – although bear in mind that each job opening is likely to have numerous applicants and there can be only one chosen one. If at first, you don’t succeed, take a page from the Ariana Grande songbook and say (or sing) “Thank u, next.” Still, there will come a day when that chosen one will be you (after all, even Ariana finally found her Mr. Right), and in order to leverage things in your favor, you’ll need to study up on the job, the company, and the interviewer.
Lindner says when it comes to the actual interview, whether in-person or Zoom call, you should “dress for success,” since “how you dress sends major signals to a prospective employer that you have pride in yourself and in your appearance.” In addition to showing up for the interview nicely dressed and well-informed, Lindner says your main goal should be to “effectively and compellingly explain to the prospective employer why you are an excellent fit for a position that they may have or one which they would create for you.” Anyone able to follow all these steps and stay positive, Lindner tells us, will “put the percentages strongly in their favor that they will attain their professional goals and live their professional dreams.”
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