On the twenty-fifth installment of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, speaks on the topic of recovering from career crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, jobs may be lost, but hope is not! Be sure to utilize Latesha’s advice, and don’t forget to check out the Forbes article she mentions to learn about 10 career growth questions you probably aren’t asking yourself.
Click here to read “10 Career Growth Questions You Probably Aren’t Asking Yourself” on Forbes.
You can refer back to Latesha’s episode regarding building a career toolkit by clicking here.
Check out Latesha’s YouTube channel.
Find out how the CDC suggests you wash your hands by clicking here.
Help food banks respond to COVID-19. Learn more at FeedingAmerica.org.
Latesha: Hey, hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Link Up with Latesha. Happy Saturday, guys. I’m so glad that it is the weekend, although things don’t really feel the same, you know? I’m wondering if you all are even looking forward to the weekends just given the times that we are in. It’s been really challenging for many of us that may be navigating new waters as it relates to their career, working from home, taking care of children that are now doing virtual learning. Some of you may be dealing with sick family members. This is a very trying time, and I want to focus today’s episode all about how to bounce back if you have lost your job through this pandemic or if you were furloughed, and I want to give you all some hope. So jobs may be lost, but hope is not. If you don’t remember anything from today’s episode, I want you to repeat that with me: jobs may be lost, but hope is not. Now, what I’m going to be sharing on today’s episode is just ten tips that I want you to think about and I want you to definitely implement if you can if you have lost your job, if you feel that your career has been put on hold. For some of you you may have been let go like I said. So today is all about how do you recover from this madness so that you can get back on track, so that you can take that power back, that control back over your career and over your life. I know that some of you may have been able to make that transition smoothly from working in the office to working from home, but for some of you maybe it didn’t go that way, right, because your job could be dependent upon you actually having to physically be there. As a career coach, as you all know, I have a company, Byrd Career Consulting. We provide resume makeovers, LinkedIn makeovers, interview coaching and career coaching. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my coaching clients, with potential prospective clients, about the job market right now and how hard things are. I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, I feel you. It’s hard right now. I know that, and we are going to get through this. What my goal is as your favorite career coach I hope [laughs] is to be a light. There are too many people out here right now unemployed for career coaches like myself and others to not make sure that we are using our voice in the most value-adding way. So before I get into the ten tips that I want to share, I also want to share an article I was reading from Fortune Magazine. It’s saying that over 20% Americans are unemployed. Well, it’s saying there’s an unemployment rate of 20.6%. That would be the highest level since 1934. In the past five weeks, over 26.5 million workers have already filed for unemployment. Y’all, that is crazy. Literally ridiculous. So if you have experienced that, if maybe your company’s going through layoffs and you just want to make sure you are prepared, this is the episode I want you to make sure that you are listening to because this is definitely going to help you to get on track, all right? So ten tips. #1: I want you to understand that this is not your fault. If you were let go, if you were furloughed, this is not your fault, okay? This is not dependent upon your skill set. This is not dependent on your experience, how dope you are, how much value you contribute, how smart, ambitious you are. This has nothing to do with that, okay? There are impeding external factors going on with this pandemic that has affected the economy, that has affected consumer spending power, which in turn has led to job loss. So if you have lost your job, I want you to not take responsibility. A lot of times we feel guilt for things that we should not feel guilty for, okay? That’s #1. This is not your fault. #2: You are not stuck. Your career is not over. So I want you to be mindful and careful of the words that you’re speaking over your career, over yourself, over what you bring to the table and over your life. And this is a really important time to build mental toughness. I know the strongest people in my circle that are really feeling emotionally fatigued and drained and are going through it in levels that I haven’t really seen or experienced before, and so our emotional wellbeing and our mental health is extremely crucial right now. If you’ve never really truly focused on that, if you’ve never really sat still with yourself and paid attention to the thoughts and the words that you’re speaking, I encourage you to do that now. And don’t say things like, “My career is over,” or “I’m stuck right now.” You are not stuck. There is always another way. There is always an alternative. This won’t last forever. So I want you to start practicing career affirmations, writing those down and reading them and saying them aloud and aloud, career affirmations such as “My job, my career, is on its way, and it’s going to find me,” or “I deserve to be employed with a company that is going to pay me the value that I bring to the table.” I want you to make sure that you are building yourself up, okay, because if you are putting a front or attempting to put on a front in an interview, trust me, recruiters may be able to read through that. So again, speak positivity as much as you can over your career and over your future and know that this is not long-term. Again, let’s say you have been furloughed, right? So let’s say the company says, “Okay, well, you’re still on the payroll, but we’re not paying you. We’re not gonna give you any hours, and we don’t know when you’ll be able to come back to work.” If that is your situation, I would encourage you to go ahead and start just getting your things together so you can get ready to start job searching, because you just, again, never want to put that much power and control in your employer’s hands. They are just as uncertain about all of this as we are, all right? So go ahead and get it in order. Even if your job is secure and you feel like you’re pretty good, I would encourage you to start getting some of these things in order, and I’ll be talking about this a little bit later when I say get things in order. I mean your career toolkit, okay? Hold that thought, ’cause I’m not there just yet, but I am going to share what that career toolkit includes. All right, so remember, #1: Understand it’s not your fault, #2: Understand that you are not stuck. It is time to build mental toughness and speak positivity over your career. #3: Do some reflective work, okay? Let’s say you were furloughed, right? I had a conversation with someone today who is a chef and she was running, you know, like, a restaurant or, like, a [cafe?] for an organization, and, you know, of course if all the employees are working from home that really kind of leaves them with no one to serve, right? And so she was furloughed, and she said, “Honestly, I didn’t even like that job. I was there too long, and when they told me when things picked up I could come back to work, but I don’t know if I want to come back.” Y’all, this is a great time to really do some of that reflective work. I’m asking you if you were even doing something that you wanted to do, right? Or currently are you doing something that you want to do? This is the time right now to do that reflective work, to be introspective, to ask yourself, “Can I see myself doing this for much longer?” And this conversation just happened with a potential client this past week, but just a few weeks ago I had actually tweeted that there’s a lot of folks who are not going to return back to their job once this is all said and done, and I really believe that. If you are feeling anxiety thinking about just going back into that office or going back into that workplace, accept that, okay? I started my career in accounting. I’m not doing anything close to accounting, and I love what I do now as a career coach. The thought of going back into an accounting firm just makes me cringe. [laughs] So this is a very good time to just give some deep thought to “What do I want to do in my career?” Okay? “Where do I see myself going? Is what I’m currently doing going to put me in the right direction to get me to where I want to go?” All we’re doing right now is sitting at home, so take that commute time that you had in the mornings and in the evenings and use that time to get still and to get quiet and to journal, to talk through this with a friend. I will, in the show notes, link an article that I absolutely love from Forbes. It’s “10 Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself About Your Career Right Now.” I have all of my clients, coaching clients, read this article. So I will share that article with you. #4: Pay attention to the industries that are hiring and the ones that are not. So I’m using a young lady that I mentioned earlier who is a chef, right, and she’s now talking about teaching some classes, teaching some cooking classes online. So again, you already have the skill set. If you enjoy the work that you do but you did not enjoy that organization, what are different ways where you can add value in a way that you actually want to? Because that skill doesn’t leave you, even if you don’t, you know, currently have that job that you had before. That job doesn’t validate that skill set. No, because you were already working in that space. So think about how you can still continue to do the work that you want to do, what makes the most sense for you right now. Can you start offering services virtually? Pay attention to the industries that are hiring and the ones that are not. I think that’s pretty cut and dry, right? I know you might really want to go and work in hospitality. I know you really want to start that event planning company. This may not be that time to just do it. [laughs] Okay? Because I don’t know when, and quite frankly many of us don’t know when we’ll start going back to large-scale events and conferences, and these are things that I really, really miss honestly, but finding an event planning job right now… whoo, and I’m just being real, okay? I’m just being real. As a coach it is not my job to sell you a dream. Yes, I want you to find your dream job, but I want you to find it at the time where it makes sense. So again, go to an industry that is hiring right now. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t try and go and work at the airlines right now. I know that was your dream, but trust me, your skill can be applied to many different industries. For example, I was talking to someone, a client, the other day on a coaching call, and she is potentially thinking about HR roles, and she said, “I’ve always been really good at tech, and I help my coworkers with tech issues that they’re having, but I don’t know if I would ever go back to school,” and I said, “Well, you can still work for a tech company,” right? So every tech company needs someone in marketing. Every marketing company needs someone in tech. So you will need to get creative and innovative with thinking about how your skill set can be applied to different industries. #5: Build relationships. Connect with your connections. This is a great time to do it. It’s an even greater time to get connected to those folks that can help you get connected to jobs. I know that we don’t like to tell folks that we’re looking for a job, that we were let go or, you know, we were furloughed. I understand that, but you do need people to help you get into the door, even more importantly now, because there’s a lot of folks who are looking for jobs right now, and if you have a connection at these companies, at these organizations, if you’re connected to recruiters, trust me, that’s going to help you in the long run. Don’t be afraid to let your network know that you are open and looking for opportunities. Check in with your contacts. Go through your LinkedIn messages. That’s what I did and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past week or so on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Instagram. I’m going back through of some of my messages. I’m really for me spending more of that time on LinkedIn, and I’m looking and saying, “Okay, who do I need to connect with that I may have not connected with in a very long time?” Just reach out and see how they’re doing, right? If you want to be really strategic with that conversation, of course you can share that you are looking. Again, I already shared with you all the stats around unemployment, so trust me, even the best of the best right now are kind of losing out on opportunities. So again, remember that this is not reflective of your skill set, okay? #6 is find people that can be of value to you, so I’ve already kind of talked through that. Recruiters, leaders at organizations. You know more people than you give yourself credit for. Think back to who you went to school with, your alumni network, your church. Who did you volunteer with? Happy hours that you’ve attended, any meetups that you’ve attended, coworkers, old coworkers. Really think through your different network–I like to call ’em, like, network bubbles, right? Like, I have my friends I went to college with. I have my sorors. I have my entrepreneurship friends, you know, my business colleagues here in Charlotte, I have business colleagues in Atlanta. So really think about the different buckets, different pools of your network that you can really lean on right now. #7: Your career toolkit. That is your resume and your LinkedIn. You have got to get that together. It has got to be top-top-top-notch. I has to be top-notch right now. You cannot submit an average or a subpar resume for a job, not in today’s economy. There was an earlier episode where I talked about building a career toolkit and I’ll make sure that’s linked in the show notes as well, so I’m not gonna spend too much time on that, but just know you need a popping resume. It should be optimized for keywords and skills. Every time you apply to a job, you’ve got to tailor that resume. I know, I know. It’s time-consuming. It’s so time-consuming, right? But that actually leads me to #8: hire a resume writer. If you’ve never hired a resume writer or a career coach, this is a very good time to do so. It’s gonna be helpful to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward here, okay? You cannot relax in this area, in this regard. Yes, you may be able to do that job, and you know you can do that job, and you know “If I could just get into the interview I’ll be good,” but if that resume isn’t perfect, you might not even have the chance to really, really shoot your shot. So I encourage you to invest in a resume writer, whether it’s me and my company or another resume writer out there. Trust me, we are out here, and we’re deep. This is a time to really invest in that, okay? #9 is your skills. Build your skills. If you do think it’s time to pivot, if you’ve realized that “You know what? I don’t want to go back to this job. I don’t want to go back to this office when we do get that sense of normalcy again,” then think about the online courses that you need to be taking right now. Start joining webinars. Y’all, there is so much information out here on social media, on all the social media platforms. There’s a lot of free courses. I just saw something online that said Harvard now has over 60 or 65 courses for free online on a variety of topics. I know it’s information overload for me, and I love a good webinar. I love a good quick learning session. So figure out right now what skills would be most useful for you to know at this very moment and get really strategic and kind of narrow those topics down, all right? That’s going to help you as well with setting yourself apart on your resume when you do get in an interview. So build that skill set. We’re sitting at home. Might as well. I just bought a new book on Kindle, on Amazon, and so I’m finding times in my schedule to make sure that I am learning. I’m not just doing, but I’m learning, and that leads me to my last point: set a schedule. Set a schedule so that you can become persistent and diligent in your job search so that you can build good habits. So not looking at job boards–and if you listen to a lot of these episodes, my episodes, then you know that this is something I talk about. I don’t believe you should be looking at job boards all day every day in your free time just scrolling. I would encourage you to set a schedule. Three days a week, right? Maybe four or five days a week for an hour, a couple of hours, where you are dedicated solely to looking for jobs. You have some time dedicated solely to tailoring your resume. You have some time working on your cover letter. You have some time to start reaching out to your connections and getting back acquainted with some folks in your network. Be strategic with that and set a schedule for yourself. So I’m gonna run through these ten tips again. #1: Remember it is not your fault, #2: Know that you are not stuck, so defeat those self-limiting doubts and beliefs, #3: Do some reflective work, think about if it’s time to pivot or change, think about how your current skill set is translated into the market towards those industries that are hiring. #4: Pay attention to the industries that are hiring and the ones that are not. Focus your attention on the right industries right now. #5: Build connections. Start building those relationships again. #6: Find people that can be of value to you. #7: Build that career toolkit. The next one: hire a resume writer or career coach. #9: Building your skills, and #10: Set a schedule for searching so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in this job search. So I hope this was helpful. I am rooting for all of you. I want you to know, again, this will not last forever. We will get through this, and I will be here to support you every step of the way. You can find me on social media. I want you to reach out to me. I want you to seek me for advice. I want to be a resource for all of you that may kind of feel a little bit lost or helpless right now, okay? And that leads me to my last point, which I want to reiterate here, which is jobs may be lost, but hope is not. Take care.