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Career Recovery: Be Resilient After a COVID-19 Job Loss

Career Recovery: Be Resilient After a COVID-19 Job Loss

The global pandemic has forced millions into unemployment with business closings and an economic downturn that beat the Great Recession. A common denominator in tumultuous job markets is the necessity for job seekers to showcase resiliency and recovery as they navigate their career futures.

Here are some essential tips to help you deal with the present and prepare for what’s next.

Filing for unemployment.

Managing your finances is difficult with a sudden job loss. Be sure to file for unemployment insurance to help preserve your savings and cover the basics.

The filing system has improved since the onset of the pandemic in March. Filing differs by state and in most cases, funds can be directly deposited into your bank account quickly.

[Related: Are You Prepared for a Job Change? Five Strategies That Can Help]

Process the loss.

Losing a job without it having anything to do with your work performance can be emotionally debilitating. Processing and grieving this very real loss can be overwhelming. Employees that have been furloughed with an unspecified return date are equally anxious navigating the ambiguity of their future.

Psychologists note that losing a job often equates to the grief of losing a loved one; the emotional trajectory can include any of the stages of grief, which run from shock and denial, through to anger and bargaining, and eventually to acceptance and hope.

What I have found helpful to people is to point out that they are actually going through a loss and once they realize this, they can be more compassionate with themselves and allow themselves to feel what they feel. -Adam Benson, New York-based psychologist

Get back on the career horse.

It’s a myth that companies are not hiring during the pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to be a threat around the world, it’s essential to consider how you can make an impact now. This may be different than your long-term or ideal career scenario, but it could help you begin earning again as you develop a long-term strategy.

The sectors with critical hiring needs include healthcare, logistics/supply chain, security, technology, and grocery and pharmacy companies, to name a few. With school re-openings around the corner there is also a need for enhanced teaching and administrative staff in some geographies to help keep schools safe for students and staff with social distancing requirements.

Michelle Merritt, an executive and career coach, discusses how to be competitive in the COVID-19 job market on a recent episode of my Your Working Life: COVID-19 Survival Guide podcast.

It’s essential to assess where you are now and focus on what skills and experiences you have that will help you pivot into something new. Rally your network and consider who the influencers are, so you can reach out and share your value-add. Be a good egg and pay it forward to others who could benefit from your insight, as well.

[Related: Transition Through Tumult: How to Set Yourself Up for a Career Change Amidst a Global Pandemic]

Skill up.

The New Collar worker is rallying to seek training and skills to enhance their success in a competitive job market. Your unexpected downtime is a great opportunity to pursue short-term training to prepare you for new opportunities. Forbes contributor Scholley Bubenik wrote:

…the new-collar worker is trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programs, high school technical education, and on-the job apprentices and internships.

Explore options in your community. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) could include subsidies for training in your state to help the unemployed get back on their feet.

Showcase resilience and recovery skills.

I’ve spoken with many career seekers who are concerned about a gap on their resume due to a lay-off or a red flag concern from an employer. The good news is that employers are sympathetic about COVID-19 job loss and won’t hold it against you as you transition to what is next.

The impact of the pandemic is worldwide and the solidarity about recovery is encouraging. This is a great opportunity to showcase your resiliency with a new employer.

In Punit Renjen’s Deloitte Insights article on recovery, "The essence of resilient leadership: Business recovery from COVID-19," he stated:

Resilience is the capacity to retain character while being formed in the crucible of crisis. Resilience is not a destination; it is a way of being. A “resilient organization” is not one that is simply able to return to where it left off before the crisis. Rather, the truly resilient organization is one that has transformed, having built the attitudes, beliefs, agility, and structures into its DNA that enable it to not just recover to where it was, but catapult forward — quickly.

Now is the time to showcase how you can be nimble and adaptive to difficult situations. Your ability to recover from adversity with an attitude of hope and possibility can distinguish you as a candidate, or a leader if you are still employed.

Resilience is now an essential employability skill. Consider how you can pivot to showcase your grit and recovery as you move forward to design your new career path.

[Related: Three Ways to Use a Crisis as an Opportunity to Stand Out]

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Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community College system and contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, Medium, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online video series about career and life empowerment for women is on YouTube. She hosts the three-time award winning podcast, Your Working Life, on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Her TEDxWOMEN talk about reframing failure and defining success on your own terms is available on YouTube.


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