As the TV news reminds us daily, in addition to the tragic loss of life, tens of millions of jobs have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through no fault of their own, record numbers of workers have been laid off. Some layoffs will be temporary, while others are permanent as many companies are unsure whether they will ever reopen for business. In still other cases, scores of workers who may have escaped layoff have instead found themselves cut to part-time status, resulting in smaller paychecks and perhaps fewer benefits. Even many of the fortunate ones who can work online from home are being told they must take off several unpaid leave days in an effort to save their companies from financial ruin. Finally, self-employed individuals, including independent contractors and gig workers, have found themselves hit hard when ordered to cease their business operations.
Have You Been Impacted?
If so, you probably have lots of time on your hands right now. But, as you well know, this is no vacation. A big chunk of your time may be spent worrying, just trying to figure out how you will survive this crisis on a day to day basis. You may also find some of your time is occupied with self-reflection, wondering now if you were in the right job or career in the first place. What did you decide?
I’m OK With My Job
If you concluded you really were happy with your employment, that’s great. Hopefully, you’ll be back to work soon. However, just in case things don’t go as planned, or if you were one of those permanently laid off, consider using some of your newly acquired time to review and update your resume (or CV) and list of professional references. It’s probably been a while, right? To help in this task, check out these resources here on Career Lantern:
- Resume or CV?
- Should You Include an Objective Statement on a Resume?
- Securing and Submitting Professional References
- Professional References – Podcast CL101
Maybe It’s Time for a Change
Especially if you were working in a so-called “non-essential” field or lower-paying service job, you might have been one of the first to be put out of work by the pandemic. Up until now, perhaps it was easy to be somewhat complacent and just go to the same old job every day. Changing jobs or careers might have been one of those things that you always told yourself you would look into someday. However, given everything that has happened, you may have decided that “someday” has come. And, it’s today.
While no job can ever be completely immune to cutbacks resulting from pandemics, recessions, changes in technology, etc., it is true some jobs and career fields are definitely more vulnerable than others. Your goal now may be to switch to a career field which not only pays more, but one where you hope to minimize the risk of being the first person shoved out the door whenever problems arise.
So, What Do I Do?
Selecting a new career path is both a difficult and very personal decision. Many factors enter into the choice you will ultimately make. And, that’s just the start. Once you decide on a career, you have to figure out how you are going to pursue that career goal and then actually follow through and do it.
The good news is that there are many free resources available to help you in this process. Although you may currently be under “stay at home” orders, the internet makes most of these resources readily available. Plus, unlike before, you now actually have time to use them.
Government websites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the U.S. Department of Labor contain a wealth of information on careers. Plus, almost all colleges have a “career center” or similarly named page on their websites, many of which can also be accessed by non-students. These sites typically contain advice on choosing a career, resume preparation, job searching, etc., along with links to various online resources (many colleges have links to Career Lantern!). Also, don’t forget job search websites such as Indeed.com, Monster, and others. In addition to job postings, these sites have helpful articles and suggestions for job seekers.
Of course, be sure to also check out the numerous articles and podcasts here on Career Lantern. Many of our postings contain links to other valuable resources such as government websites and other published articles covering a wide range of topics.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Unhappy With Your Career? Change Things Starting Today! – Podcast CL109
- Your Career: A Good Choice for the Future?
- Are Your Career Goals SMART?
- What About Government Employment as a Career Path?
- Apprenticeships: Get Paid While Pursuing Your Career
- Squeamish About a Career in Healthcare?
- Job Shadowing Saves Time, Money, and Regret
- Professional Career Networking – Podcast CL112
But, You Need a Plan
OK, you’ve decided to make a change. But, the thought of making a career change might seem overwhelming. That’s because it IS a big job. However, stop for a moment and imagine the work required to build a 60-story office building! How do they pull that off? They have a plan. A project manager takes the seemingly impossible goal of constructing such a massive, complex structure and makes the job possible by breaking it down logically into many smaller, more manageable tasks. Each of those individual tasks can then be completed, one at a time, in a predetermined order.
You can use the same concept when pursuing your desired career:
- Decide on a career goal.
- Research and identify the individual tasks you will need to complete to reach that goal.
- Make those tasks a priority in your life and actively work on them, one at a time.
One approach commonly used is an “Individual Development Plan,” sometimes simply known as an IDP. An IDP helps you identify and map out those individual tasks required to reach your career goal. You can find an example of an IDP here on Career Lantern:
- Individual Development Plan (IDP) Overview
- Instructions for Use of Career Lantern Individual Development Plan (IDP) Forms
Do This While Stuck at Home?
Well, at least get started. Eventually, we will turn the corner on this crisis. At a minimum, dust off your resume and list of professional references – just in case. If you have, in fact, made a decision to change jobs or careers, use this time to do your research, make your plan, and get a jump on the process. When “normal” returns, you will be ready to hit the ground running. After all, once this is all behind us, when will you have this kind of time again?
I sincerely hope you, your family, and friends remain healthy. And please – do your part by observing all the guidelines intended to keep everyone safe and “flatten the curve” on this pandemic.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and share your experience or thoughts!
Image of CV-19 virus courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)