How to Take Control during Career Uncertainty
I literally just started a new job last week. Talk about bad timing! I was on the third day of my new job when the COVID-19 turmoil began to hit. The.third.day. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
But here’s the reality: I’ve got two little kids to take care of at home right now. Even though I’ve had to put my paid work on hold, I’m making a choice not to dwell on what I can’t control. Instead, I am channeling my energy into being present for my kids and helping others around me who are in need during this crisis.
Finding effective ways to take control during career uncertainty is essential. If you’ve already been laid off or are worried about job security, you’re not alone. If you’re sitting in disbelief, wondering how you’re going to manage working from home with kids around all day, you’re not alone!
The truth is, nobody has any definitive answers right now. Chaos is everywhere. It’s really challenging. But there are actually some things you can do to take control of your situation. Start by remembering to breathe deeply, and take things one day, or even one hour, at a time.
Read below for specific ways you can take back some control and better manage your career in the face of uncertainty.
We’re all feeling career uncertainty to some degree. But try not to let it overpower you. The truth is, we never really have complete control over our jobs and careers, even in the best of circumstances. We can get laid off, fired, or experience a crisis at any time. If you’re scared of losing your job or having your hours cut, don’t sit in your worry for too long.
Instead, take action. Talk to your supervisor or manager. But before you make any hasty phone calls, write out a list of questions. Then, select the most urgent questions to focus on first. Keep in mind, your manager may not have all the answers at this point. You might have to sit in limbo for a while.
Depending on your type of employment, you might be entitled to compensation for lost wages. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) has and the Employment Development Department have information about the entitlements due to lost wages due to natural disasters / disease etc.
Make a Plan
Are you going to continue working at the office, or from home? If you’re working from home, what do you need? Do you have a designated area where you can focus (this is especially important if your kids are going to be home with you)? If you don’t have an office, carve out some designated “work space.” Set some expectations with your family about when you need to work and limiting interruptions.
What’s your new routine going to look like? I’m not a huge planner by nature, but the first thing I did when I realized my kids and I were going to be inside the house all day together was create a schedule. I got out a giant post-it, and my husband and I figured out that I would work early in the day and he would work late morning and through the afternoon.
Next, we sat down with our kids and made a family schedule, including schoolwork, chores, meals, free-time, and play-time. I wrote everything in pencil so that we can make changes as necessary. Seeing our schedule down on paper made me less anxious.
See related: Five Tips for Working from Home With Kids and Create a Productive Work From Home Schedule in Four Simple Steps
Use Your Time Wisely
Being trapped inside the house is definitely not ideal. But you can look at the situation one of two ways: you can see it as limiting, or you can use it as an opportunity to do accomplish something you might otherwise put off or never get to.
For example, let’s say you’ve been wanting to get a certification to move ahead in your field. What better time to take a distance learning class than when you’re stuck inside? Online learning is everywhere these days. With the health crisis, it’s going to become more ubiquitous in the coming months and years.
If you’ve been laid off or your current industry is at a standstill, don’t succumb to isolation. Instead, use this time to stay connected and grow your network. Creating and / or building upon your existing relationships will help get you through the crisis. Even though you might not be able to meet face to face, schedule a few Zoom or Skype sessions each day or week with colleagues and friends. Find out what other people are doing. You might get an idea of how to be more creative with your time!
If you’ve been considering a career change, there’s no better time to do some research. Picking up a side gig to earn some extra cash is a great way to learn or hone skills and learn first-hand about a new career field. Check out this comprehensive list of remote jobs in 2020.
See related: The Ultimate Guide to Job Search and The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume
Be of Service to Others
I heard a podcast last week where a therapist talked about being of service to others during this turmoil. It really resonated with me. If you look around you, there are so many folks out there who need help right now. It could be something as simple as delivering some food to your elderly neighbor, or reaching out to a family member or friend.
What special skills or expertise do you have that you could offer to the world right now? If you’ve already got a platform like a blog, podcast, or other business, what about offering some virtual services or resources for free?
If you have extra food or supplies, consider donating to those less fortunate. Some communities have already set up supply centers where you can drop off extra items or pick up any specialty things you need. Check your local Facebook groups or on Nextdoor for local news and updates.
Remember: deep breaths! Although career uncertainty is all around us, there are many things you can do to manage your situation in the coming weeks and months. Be well and stay safe, friends. Oh, and if you feel like others could benefit from these tips, please share it!