If you’ve been laid off or had your hours reduced because of the pandemic, you are not alone. I have heard from numerous friends and connections in similar places. I’ve spent most of my career working on employment issues specific to individuals who are blind, low vision, or have other disabilities, so I want to provide some productive ways to use your time while you’re at home.
Here are my 19 tips:
- Preparing for work or looking for work is a job, and it’s not “Nine to Five” with Dolly Parton. The employment process is difficult, and you only get out of it what you put into it.
- Create a routine: assign work hours particular to your job hunt or preparation. These hours don’t’ have to be the same every day, but you want to block off hours for this venture.
- Treat your job search like work. Get showered and dressed in clothing that allows you to feel comfortable, but not too comfortable (you might want to leave the zebra-striped Snuggy aside).
- Find a space that is not distracting, and allows you to focus on your objectives for the day (so, Tiger King can wait ‘til later).
- Build in time to improve or enhance your skills. For example, if your typing skills are not optimal, you use can APH’s Typer. Take a free online course to build a new skill. Read a book on time management strategies.
- Update your resume(s). Have a few versions focusing on your different experiences or skills.
- Create or update your LinkedIn profile, and have two trusted friends who are professionals in your field review your profile. LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool, if used correctly.
- Make sure you have an email address that is something simple and clear like your first initial and last name. Steer away from addresses like TigerKingFan78@mac.com or SexySam1970@gmail.com! I can tell you that I have not interviewed people because of their email address, and I know many others have done the same.
- Reach out to professionals in your personal network who are doing the work that you are interested in currently (realistic career options). Before you reach out, think about the questions you might want to ask them about their work. This is a step toward doing an occupational interview. Find out about their work landscape, is their business hiring or expected to hire?
- Be realistic about your compensatory skills. Do you have the skills to work from home right now? If not, you should be focusing on whatever skills will allow you to be more valuable. Some people are using this time to explore and apply to college or certificate programs to better themselves. I know individuals who are working their way through online software tutorials to enhance their skills.
- Review your social media presence to see if it fits your personal brand and meets a perspective business’s brand. This is becoming more and more flexible, but we always want to be more conservative in our online presence during a job search for most fields. You could ask another trusted professional or two to review your social media profiles for advice. You might want to ignore my Chewbacca onesie video, as it is totally part of my brand. The more prominent you are in your field, the more flexibility you get.
- Finding mentors and role models is important. I have many mentors and role models. Some of my role models have become mentors over time. I believe in surrounding myself with people who are successful in the work I want to do or just in general. My mentors provide me advice that helps me navigate employment and life. I try my best to make sure that I am respectful, appreciative, offering assistance to them, and following through on objectives.
- There are specific industries that are hiring right now, and many of these businesses have many categories of jobs available. You will see medical, online education, educational technologists, pharmacy, grocery, shipping, logistics for all of these businesses, customer service, call centers (mostly remote), emergency, some construction, warehouse and anything related to supply chain. You will see opportunities grow down the line as restrictions reduce.
- Make sure you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses fronm the perspective of others. This means from past co-workers, bosses, friends, family and others you interact with in the community.
- Creating goals and objectives regarding your employment and / or educational goals. Defining the objectives or steps toward completing these goals over a defined period of time. You can find a lot of information regarding this on APH’s CareerConnect in the ConnectCenter.
- Assess your wardrobe while you have the time. I suggest utilizing visual assistance either in person, within social distancing recommendations, or virtually through video chat. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on nice clothing, as you can find good deals or clothing secondhand.
- If you are video chatting with a perspective employer, mentor, professional contact: dress appropriately, which means getting out of your COVID-19 quarantine clothing and into something more appropriate.
- Read books or articles about people who inspire you professionally. Do your research and learn about successful people. I hope to be reading about you down the line, and not on a Tiger King fan page.
- Practice your interview and conversation skills. Many of us are isolated right now, and you want to be prepared to speak to professionals in an appropriate manner. Don’t overshare about your personal problems and large mistakes. Be prepared to sell yourself with your 30 second sales pitch. This takes practice. I have a 30 second and longer versions of my sales pitch ready.
I hope you found these employment tips useful as you get prepared for work or the employment process. You can find many other articles to help by browsing through CareerConnect. Please stay safe and healthy, and use a little moisturizer on those hands because of all the hands washing.