How to Manage Your Career During these Uncertain Times

Advice from Career Coach Dorothy Tannahill-Moran

Professionally, Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is known as the “Introvert Whisperer,” helping people to find career success by providing unique, actionable career advice. Dorothy also has had spasmodic dysphonia for over 20 years. Dorothy is sharing her professional advice but with a twist.

While there are many unpleasant adjectives attached to 2020, I think we can all agree one of the descriptors has been uncertain. We’ve lost a sense of knowing what to expect out of everything. We don’t know from week to week what to expect from our government edicts and how that rolls down to businesses in our own neighborhoods. We don’t know which local businesses are open and which ones have given up permanently.

For many of us that still have jobs, we don’t know if our jobs will last another week or if we are “kind of” safe. If we lost our job, looking for a new job is more daunting because there are fewer businesses open, the ones open have cut back and many are on their last gasp of air.

Managing your career has never been harder for most people. But it’s not impossible.

Let’s break this down.

Still in your job

If you still have a job and aren’t in essential support like medicine, listen up.

Assume nothing about the ongoing security of your job. I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but to repeat the founder of Intel, “Only the paranoid survive”. I think that is a good thing to consider right now. Only a few days ago a friend who worked in a big company that was financially strong found out her entire division had been sold to another big company. The move was going to take place in less than 30 days! She went from feeling secure to totally insecure in an instant. Right now, even financially secure businesses are taking advantage of this uncertain time and finding bargain basement deals or making deals to sell off parts of their business simply to cut costs. Merchants are clearing out warehouses and retail spaces in an attempt to cut costs, and one item that is a cost is the workforce. You have no idea what is being planned right now.

Plan ahead and plan for several scenarios. Although I am an advocate of doing work you love, right now, you may not have that luxury. You need to think about a couple of different jobs you could pursue in the event you lost the job you currently have. You may need to start taking classes or learn a trade on the side. We’re talking survival, my friend. Some professions that will increase in demand: 1– anything in the medical field and 2 – anything in the computer/technical field. You may not have the time to fully educate yourself to be a nurse but you can learn to be a nurse aid or a phlebotomist (draws blood). The same is true with the technical field. You can learn some starting professions without a four-year degree.

Be urgent. One of the biggest problems I see in these situations is that people hope for the best and do nothing. While I think it’s good to hope for the best I think you have to prepare for the worst-case and then if anything less than that happens you’re in good shape.

Have already lost your job

You may have lost your job and are not in an essential service. My advice:

Gravitate to the need. You probably didn’t come from the essential services area like medicine or first responders and you’re probably thinking you’re not qualified. While that’s true for the majority of the jobs, they still need people to do non-skilled work like filing, computer work, janitorial, driving, etc. If you can, go to a local school to learn a skill to make you qualified for skilled jobs in those areas. You may also discover financial programs to help you.

Secondary essential services work. Look into secondary essential services like grocery stores, anything with cars, home-related services like plumbing, heating, construction, etc. as life does go on, and people need assistance with anything related to eating, driving, and their homes. All require people in various capacities.

If you have a car, you can make money. These days delivery for food, clothing, medications, and all sorts of things is in big demand. If you have a car and a halfway good driving record, you can start earning an income today by simply picking up and delivering things of all sorts all over town. You can go one step further if you’re connected and set up your own business as a personal assistant to private customers to pick up things like dry cleaning and run errands.

Don’t apply for everything that’s posted. You do need to pursue job openings but some people mistakenly think that if they blanket the world with their resume or applications they will eventually get a job. That only works for non-skilled jobs. If you have a specific degree, or a specific work background you need to be focused. Being focused means your resume is focused on skills, capabilities, and experience consistent with what you’ve been doing or plan to do. Being focused means pursuing positions that your background communicates you’re competing for. You can tweak your resume to strengthen what you’re trying to communicate based on the job, but don’t try to scrub your resume so much that no-one can tell what you’ve done. Applying for too many jobs that you aren’t qualified for may make you think you are increasing your chances but you are really only wasting your time.

Use your network. Right now it’s really hard to tell what’s going on with various businesses. The only way to know is to ask the people you know. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re looking and tell them what you’re looking for. Help them to help you. Let people help you and also be willing to help others. We’re in this together and passing on job intelligence may help someone you don’t even know.

Do something every day until…Looking for a job in the best of times isn’t fun. Keep at it even when you don’t feel like it because it will eventually pay off.

Good luck to you. Good luck to us all.