The Covid-19 situation has disrupted the lives of many. For some, they lost their health to the virus and are fighting for recovery. For others, they lost their businesses or jobs and are searching for their next move. I have been quite fortunate to not have been disrupted by this pandemic so far.
Recently, I came across a friend who recently lost his job because of Covid-19 and is working in the bank on a 1-month contract in customer service. He's still searching for his next job before the contract expires.
That spurred me to write this article with my thoughts on we should do when we lose our jobs to unfortunate circumstances.
Acknowledge your emotion, find your self and move on
"It's not you, it's me." - this phrase doesn't just apply to romance. It is also relevant to your job as well. We can't all be great employees who exceed the expectations of our bosses, but we are unlikely to be the underperforming ones too.
In most cases, the poor performance of the business that is the only reason why you (along with many of your colleagues) are asked to leave. Try to empathise with your boss who is also undergoing immense pressure when he/she has to inform you that the company is letting you go. After the entire team has been let go, your boss could be next.
Take the time to acknowledge the negative emotions that you are having, make peace with the fact, and release all that negativity from your mind.
Remember, this too shall pass.
Examine your finances and revise your budget for sustainability
Spend some time to examine your finances. If you haven't been actively tracking your expenses, I suggest you download all your bank account and credit card statements and put every line item in an Excel spreadsheet. You can also make use of this simple budget template that I have created to track your past expenses.
Group your expenses into discretionary expenses (expenses that you can do without and still survive) and necessary expenses (expenses that you need to spend in order to survive). In case you're wondering, your restaurant expenses and taxi fares need to go into discretionary expenses.
You are switching to survival mode right now.
Start looking at your discretionary expenses and cross out those you are willing to go without or cut down on from next month onwards.
We do not know how long it would take for you to get hired so you need to stretch every dollar you have, for as long as it takes.
Don't be embarrassed to ask others for help
We have always been taught to be strong and independent. Especially for men, who are socially expected to be mature and be able to overcome challenges.
But sometimes, asking for help could be the bravest thing to do.
Don't be afraid to let everyone know that you're looking for a job right now.
Confide to your friends and family so that they could refer you to their friends if there are any vacancies that suits you. Even if there isn't a suitable job for you, they may know of a temporary position that could keep you financially supported to continue your job search.
Maximise both monetary and non-monetary support that the various government agencies are providing to unemployed individuals. Don't be embarrassed to accept their help. The support that you are receiving today are not handouts. These are support funded by the money you paid as a taxpayer, when you were gainfully employed.
Design your job search strategy
When was the last time a recruitment consultant sent you a private message on LinkedIn about a job she thinks you are suitable for? If your last job has a strong demand in the job market, you should have been receiving many of such private messages and have no problem finding a new job.
Unfortunately, this does not happen to most of us.
There are 2 reason for this. Either there isn't a huge demand for the work that we do or employers are making hiring freezes due to the economic situation and making do with the headcount that they currently have.
If you enjoy working in your previous job and want to continue to work in the same space even if there's limited demand, here are some things you could do to strategise your job search for success:
- Polish up your resume with a work portfolio that shows concrete examples of what you are capable of doing. Your portfolio should also highlight the results achieved in each project and accurately reflect your desired job position.
- Hiring managers usually use your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you to decide if they want to interview you. Make full use of the features offered by LinkedIn to build a tip top profile. Write thought leadership and expert articles, add links to past projects and upload presentation decks to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
- Start a blog or Youtube channel to write/talk about your expertise. This can take a much longer time to see any results but using the right industry terms and keywords will position you nicely as an expert in the online search results.
- Actively apply for job vacancies and customise each resume to the job description and requirements. Differentiate from the competition by including your LinkedIn articles, blog posts and Youtube channel videos.
Invest in your personal development
What if you have had enough with your previous job and would like to try something different? What do you need to do to get hired for a different role?
Many people would think that it means starting again from scratch, competing with a younger workforce who are trained with latest technology and learning materials. In many cases, that is true.
But you have also built up your own competitive advantages over the years too. You just need to know how to use them to your advantages.
Consider the concept of talent stack which was coined by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic.
"The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary. You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together."
- Scott Adams -
What would you consider to be your talent?
Let's take a marketer for example. An experienced marketer would have a keen eye for details (after curating lots of marketing collaterals) and the ability to capture the attention of the target audience with the power of voice and words.
Here's 3 options that the marketer could consider:
- If the marketer is good at numbers, add data analysis and R/Python programming to the talent stack to become an expert in marketing analytics.
- If the marketer is digitally savvy, add digital technologies and web programming to the talent stack to transition into the digital marketing space.
- If the marketer is outspoken and charismatic, add public speaking and negotiation skills to the talent stack to switch from marketing to sales.
A talent stack is like a brick wall where each talent is a brick and our goal is to keep stacking multiple talents that are seemingly ordinary on its own, but uniquely powerful when combined together.
Best of all, your talent stack will become your competitive edge.
Losing your job is not the end of the world
To some, losing a job after working in the same organisation for many years can be devastating. But if you look at it from the positive side, it could be an opportunity for something greater.
No one can decide when your career ends, except for yourself. As long as you refuse to give up on yourself, you will eventually find the light at the end of the tunnel.