Getting Through Challenging Times

So. Things now are, shall we say, a tad dicey. The coronavirus pandemic has caused the stock market to decline precipitously, and now many economists are predicting a global recession.

Fun times, right?

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You may be worried that your employer will cut back. You may be an employer and worried that you’ll have to let people go. You may be an employer worried you may have to shutter your entire business. This has, after all, already happened to many enterprises: many restaurants, clothing stores, gyms, hair salons, concert halls, amusement parks, and more already have closed. The idea is that they will reopen once the emergency has passed, but it’s common sense to understand that many may never open again.

We understand your (possible) panic

First, please know that we’re in no way minimizing or scoffing at your concerns. They are legitimate and you have every right to worry or even dread what may be coming. In fact, if you’ve already lost your job/livelihood, it’s perfectly acceptable to collapse in a puddle of “woe is me.” Really. Wallow and wallow some more! For at most two days.

Then, here’s what you do:

  • Reframe your thoughts.

If a negative thought goes through your mind push it out and replace it with a positive one. Even if the negative thought is catastrophic (“We’ll lose our home!”) and the only positive thing you can think of is so minor in its positivity that you feel it can’t possibly “overcome” the negative thought (“We have peanut butter in the cupboard and I love peanut butter”), switch it for the positive one.

Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones really is a minor miracle: it truly DOES help you stay positive and functioning in chaotic times because it shifts your energy.

Once you’ve done that and calmed your mind, you can look back at the negative thought and label it a “negative thought.” Doing so lets you see the thought as something “to either ‘look at or to look from.’” It’s just a thought: it’s not a real thing.

  • Channel your energy in positive ways.

Exercise (with gyms closed, try some bodyweight exercises at home or at least go for walks, if possible). Aim to eat as healthy as possible. Rest and sleep (and don’t take your smartphone to bed with you). Don’t be afraid to ask friends and loved ones for support. (And, instead of texting friends, call them or even Zoom/FaceTime them.)

  • Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.

If you had to shut your business due to social distancing, you had no control over that decision. If you get laid off due to cutbacks during the (more-than-likely coming recession), you’ll have little control over that (although you may have more control than you think).

But you definitely can control over what you do now.

As some examples:

  • Look for part-time or temporary work (staffing firms are still hiring temporary workers, for example). Restaurants may need delivery people.
  • Start networking. You’ll have to do so remotely/online of course, but if you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile lately, now’s the time. Reach out to former co-workers and supervisors to let them know you’re available.
  • If you were laid off, check with your employer’s human resources department: there’s a good chance you will qualify for unemployment monies.
  • If you ran a business, what aspect of it could you run yourself? Were you a yoga instructor at a gym? Perhaps some of the gym members would be willing to pay you for instruction via Zoom? Did you operate a clothing store? Could you sell some of the items on Poshmark or Ebay?

In all things, be honest!

If you’re a business that might have to close or lay people off, be honest with your workers as soon as you understand that it could happen. Even if layoffs won’t happen, your employees no doubt are extremely stressed: keep them in the loop on everything and shut down any rumors as soon as you hear they’re circulating. Thank them for working even while they’re no doubt worried about the future – and possibly the health of some loved ones.

People here in the U.S. – and even around the globe – have been incredibly kind and supportive of each other in these last few weeks. It’s uplifting and gratifying how willing many people are to work at home (with children home from school, no less!) and how understanding businesses that have had to close for social distancing purposes have been regarding this critical step in controlling the coronavirus’ spread.

We can hope this continues, and it has the best chance of doing so if all of us are honest and above board about the challenges we face.

These aren’t easy times and they probably will get much worse before they get better. If you need staff to replace employees who have contracted COVID-19 or if you’re looking for work, we hope you’ll consider reaching out to the Helpmates branch nearest you.

We wish you good health, calm, hope, and love.

Never Refer to Yourself as Unemployed. Here’s Why.

Most of us will be unemployed at least once in our working lives. Employers are aware of that. So it should be okay to describe yourself as unemployed on LinkedIn or on your resume and cover letter, right?

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Well, no! Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that is attached to the word “unemployed,” a stigma that still prejudices hiring managers, even if they have been unemployed at some point themselves.

It shouldn’t be that way.

The fact is that many people these days have gaps in their work history for a variety of reasons. Employers are always looking to streamline their workforces and so layoffs have become more common. Those who remain are expected to shoulder more of the workload, and companies are filling the gaps with contingent labor.

In this day and age, according to some career experts, people can have multiple careers and multiple jobs within those careers. It has, in fact, become much more commonplace for people to have gaps in their work history.

But old ways of thinking die hard, and the prejudice against the unemployed still exists, although it may not carry quite the negative connotation as in the past. But research has shown that it doesn’t matter how someone lost their job, whether they were fired or laid off, the stigma still attached to his situation.

The unemployed are looked at less favorably than those who have a job, even if their skill levels are the same.

For this reason, some career experts advise people to avoid using the word “unemployed,” instead substituting something such as “between jobs.” The word unemployed has too much negative psychological baggage, denoting defeatism. Because of this it can even affect the job candidate’s self-image and self-esteem, impacting their job search.

What to do If You Are Unemployed

If you are unemployed and looking for work, don’t try and hide it. Many job candidates try to disguise the fact or equivocate about it, but they don’t fool employers and they only come across as dishonest. The fact is, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.

Explain what happened, and then focus on how you have been using the time since you became unemployed, how you have maintained your skills and knowledge. For example, have you volunteered your time doing work-related projects, taken classes or attended conferences, traveled, or something else in the meantime?

This will help to achieve two things – the first is showing your tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as your dedication. Even though you have lost your job, you have continued to work to advance your career and prepare for the time when you are rehired.

Lessen the Fears of the Employer

One of the main concerns companies have about the unemployed is the erosion of their skills. By emphasizing the work you have been doing during your unemployment, you also help to reassure the employer that you have maintained your skills.

Another way of keeping up your skills if you don’t have a full-time job is through temporary work. Working as a contingent employee has several benefits. As mentioned, it helps you maintain your skills. But you also will be working at companies that could be future employers if they like your work. And you get to meet new people in your profession who may also be able to offer leads on jobs.

So if you now find yourself between jobs, contact Helpmates as part of your job search. We can help you find temporary work while you look for full-time employment. We also can help you find full-time work.

Take a look at our current openings and apply to those that interest you.

Why Are You Interested in this Job?

This is one of the top standard job interview questions, so expect to hear it at your next interview. Employers ask it because they want to know why you want to work at their particular company, as opposed to simply doing it to make money.

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This question also helps the hiring manager learn about your career aspirations and how the job fits into that, as well as what you know about the company.

In answering the question, there are two issues you need to address – why you want to work at this particular company, and why you want to work at this particular job at this company.

Why the Company?

In order to answer why you want to work at this particular company, you naturally need to know something about the business. That means you need to do research. There are a number of sources for this, beginning with the company website.

On the website you can find out all the basic information about the company – its history, mission, products, and recognition it has received. Check out the press releases from the company as well as the company blog if there is one. Another place to look is social media to see what you can learn about the business.

Research online as well to see what pops up in your search. Finally, can check to see if anyone in your network has information about your potential employer.

All of this research should enable you to come up with specific reasons why you want to work at the company. These reasons could relate to the reputation of the business, its leadership, the products or services it offers, its culture and values, its growth or success, or particular programs, such as its marketing efforts, community involvement or training programs.

What you need to avoid are answers that are too vague or general, things that could apply to any company, or answers that show you haven’t done your homework.

Why the Job?

You have told the hiring manager what you like about the company. Now you need to focus on why you want to work in this particular job. You have to show the hiring manager why you are the best qualified person for this job.

To formulate an answer, first take another look at the job description. What caught your interest about the job? Why did you decide to apply for it? You need to talk about what really turns you on about the job because hiring managers want to hire people who love what they do and are excited about doing it.

Your answer should also explain why you would excel at the job, what skills and knowledge you have acquired that will allow you to deliver an exceptional performance  and value. Your answer should cover both why you are interested in the job and why you would be good at it.

Again, you want to avoid answers that are too vague or general, ones that could apply to any job. You don’t want to give the hiring manager any reason to believe you only want the job because it’s available. You need to convince him or her that you are the perfect match for the position.

You need to show enthusiasm also, explaining why you find it interesting using particulars about the job. If the hiring manager senses a lack of interest, your chances of getting the job are gone.

If you need help finding the next job at which you can excel, contact the recruiters at Helpmates. We have many direct-hire, temp-to-hire and temporary assignments just waiting for your special skills. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

No Job is a Dream Job: All Jobs are WORK

We often think that getting our dream job will make our lives all rainbows and unicorns. But dream jobs are, plain and simple, myths. All jobs involve doing tasks we don’t like – we have to take off the rose-colored glasses and accept that all jobs have both the good and the bad.

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You may think you have found your dream job, but it’s just impossible to get a clear, complete picture of any job until you are actually doing it. The job may look wonderful because of the type of work involved or the particular company you will be working for, but that feeling of euphoria could dissipate rapidly if your supervisor turns out to be narcissistic and unreasonable, or your coworkers are unfriendly, or the company culture is not a good fit.

The Downside of the Dream Job

In fact, psychologists and business experts agree that believing in and looking for that dream job is actually a harmful mindset to get into. You are more than likely just laying the groundwork for disappointment. Or you may be so convinced you have found your dream job that you refuse to acknowledge the warning signs for trouble. Others, in a similar state of stubborn denial, refuse to acknowledge their so-called dream job is more of a nightmare because they cannot face the prospect of being wrong about it.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do work that you truly enjoy. The problem begins when you develop an idealized version of the job in your mind, which seldom comports with reality. And when you have to confront that reality, it can lead to confusion and setbacks, which may end up leading you further away from what you really want to do rather than toward it. We see in our dream job all of the plusses without thinking about the minuses, all of the struggles and sacrifices that are inevitably involved in any job.

The Dream Job Changes

Another reason the dream job is a myth – our vision of such a job is always evolving and changing because we are growing and maturing. Our attitudes, values and beliefs are changing, so what we consider to be the perfect job changes as well. We gain experience and our perspective alters. For example, as a child, a person’s dream job may have been that of a fireman, but as the person matures, it may become a robotics engineer.

The job may change also as the parts that form the job change. For example, you may love your job, but you may get a new boss or new coworkers, or there may be changes in company operations or policy that affect your job, and suddenly it is no longer a dream job.

The march of progress may also change your image of a dream job. Technology is creating new jobs all the time, while rendering others obsolete.

It’s natural for your dream job to change over time as you move through your career.  There is nothing wrong with that. What you need to avoid, however, is chasing after a chimera, something that doesn’t exist, except in your mind.

Rather than focusing on some mythical dream job, strive to grow and develop in your career, to enhance your opportunities and options. Even if you don’t land a job you love immediately, as you advance in your working life, you will move closer to your dream job. Every experience is valuable if you learn from it and grow from it. Finding the perfect job is more of a journey, one that is not a straight line, but one that involves trial and error, and testing things out.

Speaking of trying things out, if you’re not sure what type of career you want, consider working as a temporary associate at Helpmates and give different types of jobs and industries a shot. Take a look at some of our current openings and if one or more piques your interest, following application instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

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