I wrote an article early in the pandemic about suggestions on how to take action even when you think there isn’t much you can do during difficult economic times. I was pleased to present a mini-program about this at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Career Expo on August 20. Whether you are unemployed or simply unhappy in your current role, this high-energy video with props will give you some ideas.

The first half is the program and the second half is a practical Q & A. For a (slightly less fun) reading version of the program, click here for my earlier blog post.

I’ve been invited to be the featured program presenter for another Post-Gazette Career Expo:

Reinventing Yourself during Pandemic Times

Thursday, October 22, 11:00 – 11:15 AM

This will be relevant to both unemployed folks whose industries were impacted by the pandemic job market and employed folks who are considering a career change due to pandemic re-evaluation.

Register and Research:

  • Register early to have the greatest access to materials.
  • Research whether it is on-line written chat or video chat.
  • Research employers, identify your top 5, take notes to use in interactions.

Technology Tips:

  • Review any written or video tips about the platform and event.
  • Test your technology equipment.
  • If video fair, have a clean, non-distracting background, computer camera at eye level height (use books to raise as needed), and screen arranged so you are centered on the video from shoulder to head.
  • Log-on early to explore the logistics and ask for help as needed.
  • During the event, review any additional event or employer chat rooms for up-to-date information and so you are not asking a question that has already been answered. Show your attentiveness by referring to what has been written.

Prepare and Practice:

  • Prepare your “elevator pitch” including one sentence tailored to that employer demonstrating your research.
  • For written chat room fairs, prepare your pitch in advance so it is thought out and easy to cut and paste. You may prepare some template or individualized follow-up questions or closing as well, tailoring to the conversation.
  • Review typical questions you may be asked and prepared bulleted answers including examples, stories and results. Prepare questions to ask that demonstrate your knowledge of the organization.
  • If video, practice with a friend, in a mirror, or through Zoom recording option. You could post a few key points at the top of your computer or behind it.
  • Decide in advance who you want to connect with. Start with an employer of less interest and end with your top employer.

Professional Presentation:

  • In written chats, use correct grammar and capitalization.
  • For video, fully dress as if it is an in-person fair. Have a few inches visible to show professional dress
  • For video fairs, make sure to smile and periodically look directly at the camera. Arrange your screen so that the employer is centered and as close to the camera as possible.
  • Be patient and courteous with recruiters who may be fairly new at this too. Demonstrate your professionalism with statements of understanding.
  • If networking rather than job searching, share this and be respectful of time.
  • Ask for contact information, next steps, and time-frame. Consider asking for an interview.

Follow-up:

  • Send a thank you note (email is fine, hard copy can stand out) within 24-48 hours.
  • Follow any instructions given by the employer, such as applying on-line.
  • If you have contact information, follow-up a week after the fair or a few days after the timeframe the employer gave you re-expressing your interest, giving another copy of your resume, and asking about your status or interview timeframe.

More Stand Out from the Crowd Tips:

  • Reach out to your top five employers in advance whether on-line application or email so you can start your “elevator pitch” sharing your initiative.
  • Even without reaching out in advance, you could stand out by saying “You are one of my top five organizations of interest.” Then say why.
  • Connect with organizations of interest even if the vacancies are not of interest to learn about the organization culture and structure, and perhaps receive a referral to an appropriate department.
  • Circle back toward the end of the fair reminding the employer of who you are and your strong interest, again tailoring and demonstrating your knowledge of the organization.

©2020, Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC, Pittsburgh, PA. May be reproduced with permission including this full section. Litzinger Career Consulting contact information: www.KarensCareerCoaching.com, Karen@karenscareercoaching.com, 412-977-4029.

  • Clarify goals – Although you may have an urge to get your resume out right away, take a little time to process your job loss and decide what you really want for your next steps.
  • Wait before networking – You may also feel an urgency to ask everyone you know if they know of any jobs.  If you take a little time to absorb the loss and clarify your goals, your contact will be better able to help you and you will come across clearer and more positive.
  • Tell a trusted few first – Don’t keep this from important people in your life.  Procrastinating on sharing the news will only be harder on you.  Plus you could use the support right now!  You also don’t want to indiscriminately tell everyone you see since your feelings may be too raw or you may not have a comfortable way of explaining the job loss figured out yet.
  • Apply for Unemployment Compensation – You have been contributing to this system, and this is what it is there for.  Apply on the first day after your last day of working.
  • Apply for COBRA or other health insurance – Be sure to take care of yourself and your family if you have one.
  • Review finances – This might include reviewing your retirement plan or making a budget once you know your severance package and unemployment compensation.  It might be anxiety-producing to deal with the topic of money at this point, but it is better to know where you stand than not know.  You may even be able to plan for taking some time off for retraining, healing, or figuring out career goals.
  • Organize a personal office space – Create a space in your home for your career transition paperwork and activities.  You may want to reorganize the existing desk space, set up filing bins or purchase a computer.
  • Keep a calendar – Although you will have a huge change in routine, you will still be having activities to keep track of.  Initially it may be more personal, but eventually you will be keeping track of networking appointments and interviews or setting goals on your calendar.
  • Stay connected with friends and colleagues – Eventually you will want to tell most friends, family and colleagues so you can get support and perhaps networking contacts.  Be sure not to isolate yourself.

Don’t wait too long – Taking a few days or weeks off after termination can be a reasonable choice if your circumstances allow for it, but waiting too long can increase

© 2008-2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh PA. Section from outplacement services Career Transition Workbook. All rights reserved. Permission given to reprint or share only in its entirety with this complete by-line and contact information: Litzinger Career Consulting, www.KarensCareerCoaching.comkaren@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029. For alternative use permission, please contact the author.

Whether you knew the termination was coming or were caught completely by surprise, there are a wide range of emotions you may feel.  Some people feel strong anxiety and anger about the termination or how it was handled.  Others may feel a sense of relief, either because it was not a good job fit anyhow or because the process leading up to the termination dragged on.

There is no right or wrong way to feel, but understanding and expressing your emotions in a healthy manner is necessary in helping you move forward.  Whether you are devastated or see it as an opportunity for new beginnings, it is still a job loss.  Even losing your daily routine or a family of coworkers are parts of the loss.  In our culture, people are often identified with career roles.  Upon meeting someone new, aren’t you often asked “What do you do?”  Not knowing what to say is part of the loss.

There are various theories of loss, but most originate from the work of psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, and her book, On Death and Dying.  Although the original work focused on stages of loss, it is more helpful to look at these as possible areas of emotions that you may move back and forth through.  Here are some brief descriptions to help you understand and cope with these emotions.

  • Shock – You may have felt this as you were being told the news.  This can include the feeling of being numb and not even completely hearing or comprehending the conversation.
  • Denial – This includes being unsure that you understood the termination completely, or doing activities that include anything but moving forward on one’s job search.
  • Bargaining – This stage can include conversations or an expectation related to your employer changing its mind or calling you back in a different capacity.
  • Anger – This can be about the fact of losing your job or how it was handled.  Your angry feelings may be toward the company or toward specific individuals at the company.  You may even feel anger toward yourself in not anticipating the termination or being more prepared for a job move.  Find safe ways to express your anger, such as physical exercise or keeping a journal.
  • Anxiety – This is a common emotion associated with concern of financially being able to provide for oneself or one’s family.  You may also have anxiety about being able to actually find another job.  Taking action is important at this stage, so you don’t become paralyzed with fear.
  • Depression – This can occur when the full realization of the loss has set in.  Although it is common to have the “blues” sometime after a job loss, if there is chronic or recurrent low energy, loss of appetite or overeating, or disturbed sleep, this level of depression could indicate a need for professional treatment. Taking care of oneself is essential in this stage.
  • Testing – This involves trying out options or actions whether exploring a new career field or moving forward on the job search.
  • Acceptance – This is the point at which one finds a way to move forward, focusing on the future and not the past, ideally with a sense of hope.

© 2008-2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh PA. Section from outplacement services Career Transition Workbook. All rights reserved. Permission given to reprint or share only in its entirety with this complete by-line and contact information: Litzinger Career Consulting, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com, karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029. For alternative use permission, please contact the author.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is sponsoring the Hiring Pittsburgh Digi-Me Virtual Career Fair to be held on April 29 and April 30. I’m excited they reached out to me to me to be a partner in co-presenting How to Prepare for a Virtual Career Expo on Tuesday, April 28 at 2:00 PM. Please share this blog with people who may benefit so they can get the links for more information.

At the preparation webinar, you will learn:

– What to expect from a virtual career expo and receive a live tour of the platform

– How to present yourself professionally as you make virtual connections with employers

– How to develop an elevator pitch to help you stand out from the crowd 

CLICK HERE to register for the webinar. Space is limited.

To get ready to stand out from the crowd even before the webinar, do register for the fair including a smiling photo, review the list of employers on the Post-Gazette Facebook page HERE, pick your top 3-5, and check out their web pages for current openings. Even if the employer doesn’t list an opening of interest, it is still worth registering to connect.

CLICK HERE to register for the Expo.


Attendees can visit the virtual resource center during the expo. Here, attendees will receive assistance building their resume, can ask questions about the platform and can download a list of local support services.

CLICK HERE for a list of employers and positions that are updated daily on the Event Facebook Page.

Life has been turned upside down, crashing down the last weeks with the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19. With states of emergency and businesses temporarily closed, the Department of Labor reported last week that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment in the past week, five times the all time high in 1982. The $2 trillion stimulus package will eventually give some relief to the unemployed and business community and it’s hard to keep up and know when resources will be coming.

With all that is going on, I would like to share some relevant resources to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

Don’t Quarantine Your Career: 7 Career Tips in COVID Times, my latest blog post: http://karenscareercoaching.com/2020/04/dont-quarantine-your-career-7-career-tips-in-covid-times/

Career Advice in a Quarantine podcast where I was a panelist: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6648289819447349248/

KDKA Radio Interview and Tips from March 27 (go in 30 seconds): https://kdkaradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/karen-litzinger-jobs-specialist

Fortune article from March 27 about unemployment benefits from the stimulus rescue package: https://fortune.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-unemployment-benefits-stimulus-package-who-eligible-when-start-how-much-long-faq-relief-bill/

Partner4Work, the region’s major workforce development organization (scroll to Job Seekers): https://www.partner4work.org/news/covid-19-resources/ 

Hopefully you’ve started adjusting to our new normal of isolation. Although parts of the job market are at a standstill, there are things you can do both for job searching and for thinking about a future career shift or further education.  Additionally, some industries are in big hiring modes, if you are in need of immediate cash flow; think warehouse, transportation, logistics, healthcare, food, pharmacy, and technology.  Now may be a good time to dust off or refine your resume, reflect on what you want out of your life and career, and consider adding to your skill set. Keep reading for my 7 career tips in uncertain coronavirus times.

Think: Be prepared, be ready!

I first started thinking about what makes sense to do during this time when a client emailed me even before the stay-at-home advisories asking “should we even meet about the job search since no one will be networking?”  At some level it reminded me of what clients say in December: “Should I even job search since no one will be hiring during the holidays?”  Even if not much hiring is happening, it good to keep things going since an according to the Department of Labor in 2019 an average job search took approximately five months. More time is needed if you are considering a career change. Some people may even have more time available for a networking conversation. In today’s new world of social distancing, people may actually welcome a remote opportunity to connect or may be in a more altruistic mood. 

1. Reach out for relationships and networking –Consider simply reaching out to someone you haven’t connected with to stay in touch and ask “how are you?”  Don’t forget to reply back.  My clients sometimes say they don’t feel like they can reach out to ask a networking question since they haven’t been in touch for a quite a while.  This is your opportunity to reconnect with people from long ago, and it won’t seem odd. When you do purposefully reach out for networking, remember that this is about seeking information and advice, not asking about job openings (they will tell you!). Offer support and assistance to others as well.

2. Reflect and reassess your goals – The upheaval may cause you to think about exploring a career shift for greater satisfaction.  Alternatively, you may have lost a job in an industry that is hard hit, and you need to explore a shift out of necessity. Typical steps of career exploration involve self-assessment, including interests, skills, personality traits and values/what you want from a job. Then explore and research career and education options, including the job market.

3. Build your skills – Through career research you may find a need to gain some skills for a career shift or to increase marketability.  Now may be a good time to catch up on the professional development reading you’ve set aside. New and free webinars are being offered to develop personal and professional skills.  Many free on-line education platforms exist, although some have a mix of free and fee-based offerings. Click here for a top 10 and click here for a top 25.

4. Upgrade your technology  – As part of developing your skills, give some special attention to technology since this is a necessary and marketable skill.  Learn tips on how to use and present your best self on video platforms like Zoom. Free conference call tools are another resource to learn about and use, even if just for family calls. This may also include upgrading your physical technology with better audio equipment. Employers are always looking for people comfortable with technology. Sharing that you’ve recently learned new tech skills will be a plus for your job search, especially if you are a mature job seeker.

5. Polish your presence – Revise your resume, making sure it is current and targeted to your goals. Enhance your LinkedIn profile by completing sections, inviting links with personal messages, giving and requesting recommendations, and participating in interest groups related to your career. If applicable, update or add to your professional website or portfolio.

6. Take action – Keep applying if you are in search mode even if you think people aren’t hiring or won’t respond. Don’t just bury your head in the sand. Recognize that the hiring process may take longer. Follow-up periodically to stay in the game and show interest.  Get creative. I recently advised a client applying for English instructor positions to send the department heads a few relevant, inspirational passages from literature as a follow-up.

7. Take care of yourself and others – Stay connected with people, get adequate rest, eat healthily, exercise, get out in nature, enjoy a favorite hobby, read inspirational material, meditate or pray. Take care of others too, such as calling relative, friend, or neighbor, sending someone an uplifting message, or volunteering safely if you can.

We’re all in this together and hopefully we will come out stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

I am happy to help you whether for career and education goals or the job search, whether an immediate need or planning for the future. To keep us all safe, I am working remotely via video or phone. Call me at 412-977-4029 to explore or schedule. Gift certificates are available.

Don’t quarantine your career! 

Think: Be prepared, be ready!

Even if you feel a job fair may not be worth it, I propose that it is valuable even if you just have face to face conversations with two to three employers that you are interested in.  Even if they advise you to apply on-line, at least you have a name for the first sentence in your cover letter.  Even if the company is not currently looking for positions that you are seeking, at least you could do some networking to learn about company culture and organization and perhaps get a name for follow-up.

I invite you to…

HiringPittsburgh 2018 Career Expo

Thursday, March 29, 2018, 11 AM to 2 PM

Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom

Click HERE for details, registration, employer lists and a quick 5 tips to prepare.

I will be speaking at 11:30 on:

Get Out From Behind Your Computer…

…..and Get a Job Through Networking.  Whether you like it or not, it is “who you know” that gets most people hired. Research shows that big Internet job boards have a success rate of only 4-10%. Networking is not asking people you know if they know of any open jobs! And please don’t get caught in the reactive, but tempting, offer of “I’ll pass your resume.” Come to the workshop to find out what you should be doing and saying instead.

A way to jumpstart a job search or supplement career coaching is through the four days of programming at four branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  It will include job search strategy sessions, such as tips on LinkedIn and on-line applications, and employer information sessions, including with FedEx, Rivers Casino and Duquesne Light.  The last day of the event is a Career and Community Resource Fair, featuring 20 employers and service agencies.

Registration is not necessary, but recommended.  So even if the registration period ends, you likely can still attend, but you may want to call the branch first to check.

Tuesday, March 20 – Friday, March 23

Click HERE for a link to the four branches and detailed program schedule.

Litzinger Career Consulting can help you use the information with personalized job search and networking coaching, reviews of cover letters and resumes, and video mock interviews.

A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.” Charles M. Schwab, American Steel Magnate

The happiest and most successful people usually are pursuing something passionately. Employers want an employee with “fire in their belly.” Your job search could be a crossroads to pursue a “calling” which is actually the root word of vocation. Often we made early career and job choice with little guidance. A career change can be complicated, yet the rewards can be vast.

Reflect on trends in what you read, what you do when not required, and what gives you energy. Think about your past and notice patterns. Get help from a career counselor if your mind is spinning. Ask yourself, if not now, when?

Perhaps you’ll decide you can’t or don’t want to explore a new career passion now for financial or other reasons. At least bring that passion into your life whether via a class, hobby or community activity. It may be fulfilled in many ways whether for yourself or as an offering to the world.

I honor my passions whether in a career or personally.

Copyright 2018, Karen Litzinger, excerpt from in progress book, Inspiration for Job Seekers. Feedback is welcome at Karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com.  This excerpt may be shared with the entire credit blurb, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com.

Remember when gigs mostly referred to music jobs or other cool, hippie-like short-term engagements? Investopedia defines a gig economy, as one where “temporary jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.” Many experts note we are in that economy with approximately one third of our workforce as independents per a recent NPR report. Last year CNN reported that that 44 million Americans make money outside of their job with side jobs.

Read on for a new series sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh called “Side Hustle” featuring several gig economy programs.

Sometimes a person chooses entrepreneurship or contract work for freedom and independence. Sometimes it’s a part-time gig to supplement retirement income or a low wage job with an employer. And sometimes it is all a person can get whether due to ageism, lack of skill or other barriers.

Prudential conducted a research study which illustrated some of the plusses and minuses of the gig economy. The research showed gig worker income at $36,500 per year compared to $62,700 for full-time employees, but people were working a median of 25 hours per week as compared to 40. Maybe that’s why they are happy with their choice with only 19% wanting to move to a traditional work arrangement. Of boomers in the gig economy, 75% said they are “extremely satisfied with their work situation”. Click here for more on the research about the pluses and minuses of working in the gig economy.

For four Wednesdays in February and March the Carnegie Library in Oakland is hosting a series called

Side Hustle

February 14: Selling on Etsy

February 21: Online Earning with YouTube, Podcasting, and Air BnB

February 28: Consulting and Freelance

March 7: Driving for Uber or Lyft

Click here for information on all four and to register.

Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.” -Hasrat Ali Ibn Abu-Talib A. S.

If we didn’t have darkness we couldn’t experience and appreciate light. Of course, we don’t want stay in the darkness that may come with aspects of career transition, nor would we wish it on anyone.  Yet it is an understandable reality.

Sometimes anxiety or depression can overwhelm us.  Allow yourself to loosen the grip of dark times to enable you to move through it.  See and greet it as a visitor who will eventually leave. Perhaps even ask powerful questions, such as “what can I learn from you” or “how can I lessen your impact?” Listen quietly.

Often energy can be shifted by taking a small step of action.  Perhaps it could be sending a networking email or hitting the apply button on a vacancy.  Equally as important are steps for self-care, such as exercise, an inspirational reading, a favorite song or a warm bath. Or take a small step to bring light to someone, even if simply a caring word to a cashier or a thank you note for a networking meeting.  That may help invite light in and lift some darkness.

If you are in that dark space too long, then consider professional assistance to help shift your heart, mind, and spirit to enable continued healing and career progress.  Eventually the light will shine again and then you can shine your own light to help others. And just maybe your darkness will add depth to allow you to better help others whether in your career or personal life.

 

I accept darkness as part of the human condition and take steps to move forward.

©2017, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh, PA. May be reproduced or linked to with this statement and where possible a live link. Litzinger Career Consulting provides career coaching and speaking services. Info at KarensCareerCoaching.com

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” — Buddha

You may wonder “How can I be thinking about gratitude when I’m in a cloud of career confusion or buried in rejections or deafening silence from applications.”  This is when you need gratitude the most as a coping tool and to help give you perspective. When we focus on lack, it creates negative energy that can paralyze our actions and repel people who may be able to help us.

Each day look for things that are positive.  It could be something small like a beautiful sunset, a favorite food, an email from a friend, or a special moment with your child or pet.  Maybe there could be things about your search process you can be grateful for, such as an email reply, a job prospect, or a networking meeting even if only 5 minutes of it was helpful.  Perhaps there is even something to be grateful for about being in the midst of the search itself, whether getting to spend more time with family due to a job loss or recognizing your courage to explore a new direction.

Consider starting a gratitude journal writing down five short bullets about what you are grateful for each night before you go to bed.  If you’re stuck, then write down that you have a bed to sleep in or a roof over your head.  The next morning before getting out of bed think of one thing you are grateful for, and that can change the course of your day.

Each day I notice things and people I am grateful for.