It’s now approaching September and we have been in lockdown since March. We have seen various countries and various U.S. states move towards partial re-opening. We have seen the protests, the violence, and the re-imaging of our history. We wonder if our kids are going to go back to school. We wonder if we are ever going to get rid of the damn mask, shake hands, and give friends hugs.
So many things to think about – should I stop watching the news, should I bury my head in the sand, do I have to live with the anxiety that comes with everything being political?
I’m just a guy, a husband, a son, a grandfather who just wants to work, get paid close to what I’m worth, spend time with my family and get some enjoyment out of life. Treat my fellow man with respect, unless undeserved. Too much to ask?
Besides working, (one of the lucky ones, but may not last) I also work with a group of volunteers who are out of work. They are good people who have been laid off, let go, or returning to the workforce because of what’s going on with Covid-19, or mergers & acquisitions, had family issues that kept them out of work, or business decisions made by companies that did not need these people anymore. As many reasons as the people who are out of work and are hurting.
My main line of work is as a Safety guy (Environmental, Health, Safety & Security), I have and am working for companies to try and make sure they don’t kill or injure their workers and they don’t harm the environment, I do this by complying with regulations from the federal, state and local governments, company mandates and putting in programs, audits and training for the workforce.
I also did a 13-year stint doing Career Management and Outplacement and got bitten by the bug, that has seen so many people in this arena need help.
I hooked up with a great organization run by volunteers who are looking for their next career waystation along their journey in the work world. I do some training and try and help where I can.
The group is Professional Service Group of Central New Jersey, PSGCNJ.biz is their website.
So where are we now for those people who are looking, including the over 50 million people who have joined the ranks of people looking?
Is everybody looking? No, some are taking a rest, or waiting or think it’s not the time to look.
Does everyone have a plan? No, some people are going to let the wind blow them where ever it goes. Some don’t know what to do, how to start, where to go, how to look, how to prepare, how to function in this new, unprecedented job market. A lot are overwhelmed. Some have already given up.
Some companies have used this event to get rid of people and not hire back the people they could not get rid of before. Knowing full well that nobody is looking at this now. People are angry, but how do you blame a virus?
I pride myself on being an honest sounding board to job seekers I speak to. How can you work the job market if you don’t know what the landscape really is, without the rose-colored glasses?
So here some advice and the landscape as I see it for the job seeker:
- Doing Nothing gets you nothing. Anger will not help you move forward. Get off your butt and make it happen, nobody else can. There are plenty of people willing to help you.
- Blaming the company, the world, the virus, politicians, or anybody else is not going to help you move forward.
- Ignore the background noise: politics, virus, wars, trade issues, and anything else you can’t control, keep it down to as low a volume as you can. It’s like quicksand, you can’t move forward in the morass.
Spend your time and energy on the things you can control: your message, your activity level, building your personal network, staying mentally and physically sharp.
- Make a plan (where do I want to go, how am I going to get there);
- Work the plan… there is no magic bullet, it takes WORK and work is HARD and looking for the next waystation on your career path is very hard;
- Keep networking, it’s a great time to build relationships, get network contacts in your target companies, even if they are not hiring now. Remember: networking is a 2-way street, don’t be just a taker, but also give. Build for your future;
- Be the picture on the milk carton, be visible on social networks that will show your professionalism and skills of what you have done, and that companies are looking for.
You want to be as visible as you can in the marketplace or nobody will know you are available.
- If you’re out of work, volunteer for something that keeps your skill sharp. Develop new ones that future employers will need when they are ready to hire.
- And at some time, this will be over.
- Keep applying to jobs you see, that you can do 85% or more than what they are looking for. (You don’t know what the competition is offering, you may be closer to the top of the candidate pool then you realize.) You have to be in the game (job market) to participate. Make sure when you send someone your resume, take the time to send a pointed cover letter that talks to the position you are considering, also make sure your resume is fine-tuned the same way. (Don’t throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks, target and be specific.)
- Have your spiel for (30 seconds) casual networking down pat (practice), make sure your networking 90-second spiel for one-on-one networking flows and gives the listening person information of who you are in a business sense.
- Have a marketing document for networking, which can also be reworked as a consulting document to help you pick up a few $$ if you want to go in that direction while you are looking.
- Have a contact card (business card) that communicates what you do, have a tag line if you can. Don’t use a logo if it’s not immediately apparent how it ties into how you are presenting yourself.
- Get comfortable with the online communication platforms, Zoom, WebEx, Go To Meeting, Skype, WhatsApp Messenger, Marco Polo, Houseparty and know how to look and sound good over that medium… it’s going to be with us in our business and personal lives for a long time, and in a much greater percentage than before.
- Don’t spend more than 8 hours a week on the BOX (computer) unless doing research for networking or interviews. TALK to people, not email, not text, either by phone or by a video platform. INTERACT.
- When you have an interview scheduled…. Take time to prepare, research the company, see if you have anybody in your network who can give you information, prepare accomplishment stories of how you have used your skills that the hiring company would be interested in. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare… take the time, it will be rewarded with a good interview. After that It’s up to them, all you can do is your best. Doesn’t work out, move on.
- Don’t negotiate if there is no offer on the table.
- If you get an offer, carve out time to work up another plan of how you are going to negotiate. Know what you are worth, don’t ask for the moon, but do ask and put some thought behind the questions about what you need. Don’t demand, ask open-ended questions about what you want. Compromise and make a decision after you have crafted a package and decide yes or no.
- You will get a job, don’t know when, with who, where, or what you will be doing.
- You do have some control in this process, maximize that while others are doing little or nothing.
- You can be the master of your own density for the next waystation in your career search.
- I know you can do it, I’ve seen it happen to many people who put the time and work in and continue to see it happen even now with all that’s going on.
As Yoda said: “Try not… Do”
About the author: Lawrence Maglin is a board member of PSGCNJ and the Director of the PSGCNJ Training Committee. As a professional, Larry is an environmental safety manager with many years of experience and passion for excellence.