by Shawn Gannon
The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected millions of jobs and job markets like nothing else in recent history, and my job was no exception.
As I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 15, 2020 to begin the relaunch of Gannon Solutions, I was met with a harsh reality. As I was unpacking, the local news was announcing the cancellation of the St. Paddy’s Day Parade – and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Each day more companies and businesses shut down followed by a national shutdown. Employers around the country were forced to limit employee counts, and in some cases, to close their doors forever. And for me, that meant my business plan imploded. No new clients … no work.
Fast forward to November, I am a job hunter like many of you. Gannon Solutions will be what it always was since 2013, a side-hustle ...and something I enjoy. My focus is on finding the right organization to work with full-time. Fortunately, as of October we are beginning to see optimistic reports despite the pandemic surge. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in October, the unemployment rate declined by 1.0 percentage point to 6.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.5 million to 11.1 million.
As we know, however, it’s still sharp out there. Well, here is what I’ve noted as the job market struggles to stabilize. I see:
- a market saturated with highly qualified candidates
- companies hiring at a snail’s pace while being ultra-careful in their hiring choices
- unemployment benefits slowly running out, causing desperation in candidates’ search
- good people are in pain
As someone who has been navigating this torrential current myself, let me share some helpful tips to not only keep yourself afloat, but also to find a way to take advantage of these strange times.
No one wants to hear a pep talk, but maybe that’s what you need. Listen, I left the city I loved after some 25+ years and moved to a smaller market only to get cut off at the knees by this pandemic … in Cleveland. <Insert eye roll.> But who says I’m stuck? Let your mind accept that yesterday is gone, no matter how well planned, and tomorrow is what you still have. It is time to take stock of what you have, not what you have to lose. Put it down on paper. Honor it. Take those assets and begin to rebuild.
Find Your Place:
Although your household may be filled with kids home-schooling, another partner working from home, pets, etc., it’s important you have a place that is clean, organized, and provides some level of solitude - a place to clear your mind to allow for unique ideas to come to you as you seek your next job adventure. Distraction-free moments can provide those all-important instances when strategies can be developed to move your efforts forward. For me, co-existing with my 125 lbs. pit bull requires occasionally relocating to other areas of my home, so I can have uninterrupted Zen when I need it.
Boost Your Skills:
Education is never time wasted. Build your skills with course works, certifications, or degrees online. Think about those skills you need to refresh or the ones you need to add to your arsenal. Grow with Google, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning have tons of online studies available. I acquired a government student loan and began business school to receive a master’s in business administration. If I was going to be stuck home, in Cleveland, you better believe I wasn’t going to waste my time. #GraduationJune2021.
It’s not easy to reach out to friends when you haven’t connected in a while, only to hit them up for a favor out of the blue. Well, you know what? Get over it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to connect with many only to hear “they get it”. These are strange times and people have opened their minds to the “new normal.” What you can do to make this easier for them is do your research, organize your request and keep it simple. In addition to reaching out to their company with their blessing, you have now made a great network connection with a single task. That could be asking for a referral to the hiring manager, providing some company insights about goals and objectives, or perhaps a simple phone call to discuss tips to improve your CV for that role. Whatever that help is, it gives you an advantage.
Desperate Times DO NOT Call for Desperate Measures:
Do everything in your power to stay ahead of making desperate decisions. A career is to be curated, not thrust upon. Make sure you know what you want and go for that!
Know that everything you’ve ever heard about branding yourself or having a tight resume is on steroids now. The market is packed with bright individuals. Period. As a marketer, I believe in an engaging message targeted to an audience with branded frequency. For me, this means that I’ve developed a website, CV, and LinkedIn profile that allows me to control my online brand and to be agile in my message depending on the role I am seeking. All are branded similarly to reinforce my message, skills, and provide high recognition. You may just need to freshen up your resume. If you’ve used your time wisely, you should have learned some new skills by now to add to it. If not, get to work!
As children, we are promised a happy ending, but that is a fairy tale. We know nothing is promised to us accept that which we make for ourselves and our community. And even then, sometimes that is taken away. Life is but an opportunity and the time we have is the gift. I will continue to plant, sow, and reap my just rewards. You will, too. I hope this article gives you a boost and gets you motivated!