The 2 P’s of a Pandemic Job Search
The keywords for a pandemic job search are patience and persistence. While the numbers look daunting if you are out of work (BC Labour Market Stats August 2020) and if your industry (Industries Hardest Hit) is one of the most deeply affected, all is not lost. We are starting the process of recovery. As always, hard work and hope beat out talent and despair every time.
Be patient. Take the time to create a job search strategy. You could:
It looks as if BC will be relaxing some of the restrictions around businesses being locked down relatively soon. Will you have a job to go back to? Are you longing to get back, scared it might be too soon, somewhere in the middle or both at the same time? We will each have our own way of dealing with what happens going forward, both as a worker and as a citizen. The only right timing is your right timing.
If the fallout has you looking for a new job, the landscape of possibilities will have shifted substantially from what it was like in 2019, before the world twisted and turned into this new normal. More than ever, it will be essential to stand out from the crowd in some way. This is the time to hone in on what that is for you, to ramp up your confidence and self-awareness. If your self-marketing does not demonstrate who you are and what you have to offer, your chances of inspiring a recruiter to invite you in for an interview are slim to none. Their attention span is only a few seconds, so make those seconds count! Sending out résumés without taking the time to target them reduces your chances and increases the amount of time it takes to land a great job - in these unprecedented times, perhaps ANY job.
Looking for a job is hard work, as you know. It is definitely worth the effort. Explore your own career as if it were a movie with a plot twist at the end, an interesting theme and loads of character development. Recall the why, the when, the where and the how. Acknowledge your mentors, bosses, co-workers who supported you. Give your Academy Award speech to your family. There are lots of resources available online to help you out. Check them out; WorkBC and ALIS are a couple of my go to places for self-exploration and YouTube has loads of how-to videos. If you prefer to make it easier on yourself, consider hiring me!
Are you looking for a project to keep you busy and connected to your career story? This is a feel-good idea that will help when it comes time to put together a resume or answer questions in an interview.
The idea? Make a record of all the good things you have done in your career. Do not limit yourself to the things that are big. Maybe you are the person in the office I can depend on to start my day with a cheery good morning and a smile or a joke. Maybe you are the one I listen to in staff meetings because your perspective is always interesting. Maybe you saved my butt when I was overwhelmed.
If you connect better with pictures, create a poster or scrapbook with pictures of highlights of your career. For artistic types, you could even draw them! For those who really understand graphs, try making a graph in Excel organized in a way that makes sense to you. For people like me, stories work great. You could even make a video story. Whatever you do, be creative and have fun with it.
Include all the things you wish your boss or colleagues noticed you did. What will be they miss when you leave this job? No idea? Ask them!
These are uncertain times, and we have no idea what will happen to the economy when things go back to “normal.” If you have been laid off, or think a layoff is coming, there are things you can be doing to prepare for the upturn.
1. Find out how you will fare with references
Ask your manager how you have been doing, performance wise. This can be difficult to hear but it's better to be prepared than caught off guard. If you're doing well, ask what in particular stands out.
2. Review and record your career achievements
Hindsight is not always 20/20. It is sooooo much easier to keep track of achievements with a career journal. Do you remember...
Your top 1-2 achievements in the last 5 years for each position?
How can they be measured – saved dollars? time? awards? sales? accolades? customer appreciation?
Do you have the stories of those achievements to back them up?
It’s easier to collect this information while you’re still employed and surrounded by the evidence. Ask for their permission to be a reference and ask for a personal contact number to avoid problems getting in touch if they leave their job.
3. Optimize your resume
Finetune your resume against postings that appeal to you, using keywords as your guide. Take note of any gaps in requirements and look at ways to close the gaps by doing online learning. Take the time to create a killer cover letter.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile
Once your resume is updated, update your LinkedIn profile and picture. Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn.
5. Stay connected to friends, colleagues and social media
This is a perfect time to catch up with people who have drifted away as well as those you normally connect with regularly. More than any other time, they are sure to welcome your call! Remember to pay extra attention to people who you can help. Kindness and generosity of spirit are at the heart of connection.
6. Consider a career change
If you have been considering a different direction, but feeling a bit too comfortable, this is the time to explore other options. Research what you need to do to make it happen. Then take the first step.
How do you choose a career coach? How can you tell which one will be best for you? While technical skills from individual coaches may be more or less equal, it is often the "click" you get when you talk with someone that determines who you pick. You may think it is your intuition or gut instinct, but it is more likely your emotional response to the soft skills that a coach displays in your initial meeting that clinches it for you.
I was recently asked to weigh in on what soft skills I believe are most important in a career coach. Here is my response, along with the responses of several other career coaches. I'd say we are mostly all on the same page. What do you think is the mos important soft skill for a career coach?
Because you never know when you’ll need to use your résumé, the month of September has been designated “International Update Your Résumé Month” as an annual reminder for job seekers to review their résumé, LinkedIn profile, and other career documents. If you are asked for your résumé, you want to be able to provide it quickly. It can take time to gather your accomplishments, and you don’t want to forget something if you’re in a rush.
Here are some guidelines for updating your résumé:
• Is your work experience up to date? Need to add your current position? Now is also the time to review your accomplishments and make sure they are reflected in your résumé.
• Check your contact information. Make sure you’ve included your customized LinkedIn URL on your résumé, and any other relevant social media platforms or blogs where you are active.
• Update your education, training and certifications. Have you taken any classes in the last year? Earned a degree? Pursued a certification? Attended a job-related seminar?
Most important, make sure the résumé makes it clear who you are, what you’re good at, and what type of job you’re interested in. You have less than one minute to capture the attention of your résumé’s reader, so make it count. This is the 14th year for “International Update Your Résumé Month,” originally created by Career Directors International in 2001 to support job seekers worldwide.
If you are interested in a consultation, please contact Sandie Seymour at 778.928.8941. She is a certified résumé writer and a member of Career Professionals of Canada. She is also writing an upcoming book, No Job, No Hope, No Problem!
While there may be more jobs in Canada, the average hourly wage is falling and is below inflation. Families are struggling to make ends meet, debts are mounting, parents are working dead-end jobs and long hours despite good education and seniors are working into their 80's. How long will it be before we say "ENOUGH!"?
I thought about Marie Antoinette's famous remark "let them eat cake" when the Paris gas riots were happening. Around the globe, desperation is waging against the unconsciousness of the wealthy elite. "Just get a job" (or another job) is the same mentality as Marie Antoinette. Let's find a way to bring capitalism and socialism together for the common good of all with fair wages, challenging jobs that offer a solid career path and benefits that are not tied to a particular job or employer.
We don't often think of schools as being dangerous to work in. One of the more dangerous jobs is Education Assistant / Student Support Worker. Check out this article:
Photo by Bart Everson, Creative Commons licensed.
Should I _____? Fill in the blank. Go ahead, no judgment here!
When we start “shoulding” on ourselves, it is usually someone else’s voice we are hearing. We think we know the “right” answer. Yes, I should…. Fill in the blank.
Most of us have something we are ambivalent about. Should is a tension between what we want to do, and what we think we should do. It can be as simple as saying yes or no to a party invitation or as complicated as deciding to change careers. Each decision is weighted with the responsibility of accepting the consequences of a yes and the consequences of a no. Either way, there are risks. Either way, there are benefits. Often, there are no do-overs.
Almost a year ago, very close to turning 65, I was stagnating in a dead end job, enjoying biweekly paycheques, fun people to work with and not much else. Like many other baby boomers, I did not plan for retirement and that paycheque was mighty attractive. My mother’s voice said I SHOULD stay in my nice stable job and keep collecting that paycheque! How could I live on CPP and OAS? It did not bear thinking about. I could not stop thinking about it. Eventually, a plan began to form that would give me a financial cushion to explore starting a small business.
The pain of staying had become greater than the fear of being poor. I did not renew my contract when it ended. Yikes! What have I done? It was a big risk. What if my plan failed and I did not get EI? What if I could not get into the Self Employment Program? What if I got sick? What if the business failed? What if? What if? What if?
Is your head starting to hurt? Mine was!
In my case, I did get EI, I did get support through the self-employment program and I am wading my way through the first year of being in business. Sometimes it feels like a swamp. It isn’t a success story YET. The very interesting part has been the last few days when I was asked to temp for my old company while someone was on leave. It has confirmed my decision to leave. I am more alive, more challenged and more interesting than I was a year ago. Should I have stayed? Hell no!
Sandie convinced her mother at the age of two that a set of books would make her much happier than a tricycle. Then came diaries, school projects and heartfelt poetry - a writer was born. Reading and writing have been constant and faithful lovers ever since. This blog is an attempt to release some of the fleeting thoughts and crazy ideas in a place that may become another form of diary, but this time, one that talks back! Would love to hear from anyone who is inspired to rebut, dig further, validate or in any way comment on what has been written.