“Today we acknowledge the shadows, but we lean into the light.” This quote by Carrie Newcomer from Saturday’s Daily Good newsletter spoke to me in the aftermath of the traumatic events of January 6. Regardless of political leanings, I think her article can be relevant to many. This article spoke to me about hope and on the balance of taking action at the societal and personal levels for healing.

A Speed of Soul Encouragement – Acknowledging Grief, Claiming Love, Remembering Radiance

Carrie Newcomer, Artist/Musician, originally posted in www.DailyGood.org, January 9, 2021


In the wake of January 6th many of us are wrestling with grief, dismay, anger, racial double standard and discouragement. So today I acknowledge what is hard as stone. Lets not candy coat anything. But let us also claim that there is a stronger force, a deeper truth and a wide and active community of good hearted, decent people. Let us remind one another of all the fine and honorable people in our own lives. Let us remind ourselves of how many people got up this morning and continue to make the world a kinder place, one day, one person, three feet around them.

Yesterday I wrote my legislators, and encourage others to claim agency and let their voices be hear. But I also encourage digging into what makes your life good. Howard Thurman wrote that “hope is the remembrance of radiance, the assurance that Light will be Light, even when walking in dark places.” I am gathering to myself that remembrance of radiance, the assurance that even in the aftermath of viewing the forces of shadow close up, goodness is still goodness, Light is still Light, and hope is still here and has not been hemmed in. I wrote my legislators, but I also texted a few dear friends to tell them I care, and to express that I am grateful for their presence in my life and in the world.

My encouragement today is to claim agency and to claim love. Text, zoom, call or somehow connect with someone who you think of as a treasure in your life, someone that illuminates your life, who reminds you of the power of love and the remembrance of radiance. Reach out and affirm what keeps saving us – goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gratitude, generosity, hospitality, justice and love…always love. Lay your hand on your heart and know that you also illuminate the lives of others around you. You are also doing what you can each day, in your own way, to make the world around you a kinder place.

Today we acknowledge the shadows, but we lean into the light.

More about Carrie Newcomer HERE

Image shown is free stock from Pexels by Anas Hinde

In light of the January 6 events and the upcoming inauguration, I am sharing “A Prayer for America” that I believe can speak to most political and spiritual leanings. It is from the 1994 book, Illuminata, by Marianne Williamson.

Dear God,
We join in prayer to celebrate this nation and surrender its destiny to You.
We give thanks for the founding of this country.
We give thanks for and bless the souls of those who came before us to found this nation, to nurture and save it.
We ask that God’s spirit now fill our hearts with righteousness.
May we play our parts in the healing and the furtherance of our country.
May we be cleansed of all destructive thoughts.
May judgment of others, bigotry, racism, and intolerance be washed clean from our hearts.
May our minds be filled with the thoughts of God.
His unconditional love and His acceptance of all people.
May this nation be forgiven its transgressions against the African-American, the Native American, the nation of Vietnam, our men and women who should not have suffered or died or there, and any all others. Please bless their souls.
May we learn from our mistakes, that the people who have died from them shall not have died in vain.
May our lives be turned into instruments of resurrection, that the sins of our fathers might be reversed through us.
May the beauty and the greatness of this land burst furth once more in the hearts of its people.
May the dreams of our forefathers be realized in us, that we might live in honesty and integrity and excellence with our neighbors.
May this country once again become a light unto the nations of hope and goodness and peace and freedom.
May violence and darkness be cast out of our midst.
May hatred no longer find fertile ground in which to grow here.
May all of us feel God’s grace upon us.
Reignite, dear God, the spirit of truth in our hearts.
May our nations be given a new light, the sacred fire that once shone so bright from shore to shore.
May we be repaired.
May we be forgiven.
May our children be blessed.
May we be renewed.
Dear God, please bless America.
Amen. 

1994 from Illuminata by Marianne Williamson

Free image credit: By Harley Pebley – Flickr: Prayer for USA, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32754317

Gone are the office parties and social festive gatherings of yesteryear, at least for this season!  Maybe you’ve already cringed at seeing the word networking in the title? Whether you are in a career transition or not, remember it is always good to stay in touch with friends, family and past colleagues. You may one day want to ask a question like “Do you know anyone in the ___________ field/industry?”

The pandemic is a perfect opportunity to get back in touch with people from the past.  Many people were reaching out in the spring with a “Thinking of you. How are you?” message.  So many of my clients regularly share how they have lost touch with people from long ago and feel awkward about reaching out.  Now is a good time for a holiday greeting of caring and connection.  If you are exploring a career shift or in the midst of the job search, keep it light and relationship-oriented. You can always follow-up in January.

It doesn’t matter that much whether it’s via Facebook, LinkedIn, email, phone call, text or a nice old-fashioned holiday card.

You might share something like:

“I know I’ve not been in touch for quite a while, but the pandemic got me thinking that I wanted to reach out and share a holiday hello.  I hope you and your loved ones are managing well enough during these trying times. (Can share a bit about yourself.) I look forward to hearing how you’re doing and maybe catching up a bit. Best wishes for a safe, healthy and meaningful holiday season.”

Don’t miss this unique time to reach out and touch someone!  Figuratively, of course!

Four years ago on election day, I shared the 1 minute music video of Building Bridges, which seems even more idealistic now than in 2016.

I decided to re-share my idealism as I was reminded today of this inspiration from Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

I came across Lincoln’s 1961 First Inaugural Address excerpt on the website of Citizen University.  An election day NPR news story “After Votes Are Counted, What Will It Take to Reconcile the Country?” is what exposed me to Citizen University whose mission is to build a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship. Most interesting on their site is their election night Gathering Guide resource with ideas of how to experience the evening on one’s own or with loved ones, together or apart. It includes music, poetry, and what they call “Civic Scripture” featuring addresses from Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  They also sponsor an annual Civic Saturday  which will be on November 7.

As a business owner and Libra who values harmony, I try to post inspiration that can speak to people of many backgrounds and views with the hope that we can find common ground. Therefore, I want to end with the last two paragraphs of Lincoln’s 1961 Inaugural Address. May it give us hope that through grace and love, we will come through these trying, divisive times.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend” it.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln, 1861

Perhaps you are needing to reinvent yourself because the pandemic crashed your industry. Or you may be employed, but the pandemic has caused you to think about life, time, and greater happiness. Or you may be insecure in your job and want to have some back-up plans in place if needed.

Whatever the reason, it is important to think through a next step for greater happiness and success in a thoughtful way.  Even if you are unemployed and thinking “I’m open to anything” because you just want food on your table, it is still important to have grounded job targets; employers want candidates who are motivated to work for them. Being clear on goals and job targets will also make you more successful in your search since people can’t help you well with networking unless you are clear about what you want.  Networking is always the best job search method rather than simply getting sucked into the black hole of the Internet. Lastly, the clearer you are, the more likely you will land somewhere that is a good match and you won’t need to go through this all again too soon.

THE JOB MARKET

Before getting into a framework on how to best choose goals and have a successful job search, here’s a bit of information on the everchanging pandemic job market to help motivate you.  We all know the first wave most hit the hospitality, food, retail, and entertainment industries the hardest. There was also some hit to eds and meds, which are expected to continue or increase in the second wave, yes, even hospitals.  Government jobs are expected to be hit badly in the next waves of furloughs and layoffs.  Of the early layoffs, Bloomberg cited that 30% of lost jobs will never come back and University of Chicago predicted 42% not returning.

On the positive side, a June article from Marketplace.org noted the survivors from LinkedIn data which could be helpful in looking toward the future. During the April crash hardware and networking jobs increased by 2.3%, including semiconductor makers, internet service providers, wireless firms, and makers of networking gear. I like to remind people that these industries employ all types of people, including administrative, not just tech folks. Small business hiring went up a bit bringing back workers, while larger companies shed 10,000 workers, paring back by 39.6%. The Pittsburgh Business Times reported gains in Science R&D of 700 jobs in April. Financial services had a 1,000 job growth in April prompting an effort for recruitment with the PA Bankers Association, called BankWorks.

A University of Connecticut report noted current positive trends in jobs related to on-line shopping and mobile marketing.  Among the report’s post-COVID positive trends are Digital, Renewable Energy and Construction.  The Marketplace.org article noted positive longer-term trends for logistics and supply-chain management; automation, including robotics and coding related; and eldercare and home healthcare due to the graying of America.

“Your power to choose the direction in your life allows you to reinvent yourself,

to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.”

Stephen Covey

CAREER PLANNING FRAMEWORK

Briefly here are elements to be thinking about when exploring and planning your next steps. Career counseling can help you walk through it with tools, counseling insights, and even career assessments/testing:

Know Yourself

  • Interests – or at least liking tasks so you aren’t miserable when waking up in the morning
  • Skills/Strength – What comes naturally to you, or on the practical end, what can you leverage but not be unhappy? What transferrable skills do you have?
  • Personality – Who are you naturally and how does that fit or not fit a career field, industry or even specific employer culture
  • Values – What is important to you in a job and in life

Explore and Research What’s Out There:

  • Written resources – After connecting self to potential fields of interest, use neutral resources through the Department of Labor like the O*Net to learn and narrow down
  • Networking – Ideally talk to 2-3 people in 2-4 fields to get real world information and advice and check out feasibility in the job market
  • Professional Associations – This can be a source of written information and networking leads
  • Shadowing – Not so possible in pandemic times, but something to keep in mind for the future
  • Volunteering – This could be an opportunity to explore a career, gain experience for your resume and make contacts, even remotely
  • Internship – Similar to volunteering, you may be able to create a more meaningful, structured experience, even if not a current student
  • Coursework – Take a course or two (or training experience) to decide between two fields, test it out before enrolling in a program, or two increase a specific skill for marketability

Make a Decision:

  • Career Field – What job title(s) or job functions
  • Sector – Business, Government, or Nonprofit
  • Industry – What product, service, issue or population
  • Education – Degree, training, or simply professional development course
  • Re-evaluate – If you are unhappy or unsuccessful in the search or job, review above steps

Job Search – Presenting Yourself:

  • Resume – This is a marketing document, not just a factual document. For those re-inventing, a skills-based or functional resume may work better than a chronological
  • Cover Letters – Yes, I still say to use them as a way to stand out even if only looked at during phone and video interview stages. It is your chance to tell you career shift story.
  • Interview – Even if you have good interpersonal skills, this is about strategy. This includes the case for your career shift and countering barriers like age or lack of experience proactively.

Job Search – Strategies:

  • Networking, networking, networking – With a 50-80% success rate, this is still the top technique, yes, even remotely. Spend at least 50% of your job search time networking.
  • LinkedIn – This is just one resource for networking, but important. Plus job listings.
  • Job Listings – Of course, you want to continue to do apply here, but don’t get lost in it with all your time. Plus try to infuse networking into this beside pure non-vacancy networking.
  • Employment Agencies/Headhunters – This works more for people who are job searching in their existing field than career changers. In bad economic times, employment often comes back here first in terms of temp or contract work
  • Job Fairs – Even though it is less personal with virtual fairs and employers may primarily direct you to on-line applications, still go so you can get a name for correspondence to stand out.
  • Spotting Opportunities – Keep abreast of news in terms of companies that are growing or nonprofits that are received grants, then follow them and/or network.

I would be honored to help you in your career decision-making and/or job search

to help save you time and heartache!

Coming in Part Two of Reinventing Yourself: Skills-based Resume and Transferrable Skills Assessments

My friends at March Consulting have created a totally free online virtual event called The Ultimate Guide to College. In this 7-day summit experience that starts this Thursday, September 22, the March Consulting team will be interviewing 15 experts (including me!) in their various fields of work that will leave you with a better understanding of today’s current college landscape, and a career beyond! Please forward this email to friends and family who may benefit.

Topics include: College Admissions, STEM, testing, financial aid, performing arts, athletics, and careers.

Be sure to watch my interview on September 28th, where I will be discussing how to make good educational and career decisions saving time, money and heartache.  Your future is in your hands! I give a shout out to all levels of education, including apprenticeships!

This summit is an excellent opportunity for a wide range of students (and parents) to be exposed to different options for their future in an informative, fun, casual, and distanced environment. I so encourage anyone wanting to catch up with what I’m doing, or even just what these trends are looking like currently to check it out!

It is FREE OF CHARGE, (all you have to do is register here): https://www.theultimateguidetocollege.com/

Check out this amazing new program, innovatively created for pandemic times!

Karen

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.

I wait and wonder

               For those who are furloughed

               Will I go back? Should I look?

               How I ache for the familiar that I took for granted

               Even the parts I hated.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs may be insecure

               Am I next?

               In the meantime, I feel guilty as a survivor

               Even if I don’t like my job.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs have ended

               What can I find in these turbulent times?

               I’m not sure where I fit and what to do.

               Even if I’m motivated.

I wait and wonder

               For those who have been unhappy

               How can I change now?

               Maybe I better just hang on

               Even if I’m beyond ready.

I wait and wonder

               For those who are happily employed.

               How can I process this turmoil?

               I feel privileged as well as overworked

               Even as I feel grateful.       

I wait and wonder

               For those essential workers on the front line

               How long can I do this?

               It is taking its toll

               Even as I know it is important work.

I wait and wonder

               For those who own small businesses

               Will I need to close my doors?

               I can’t bear to face lost dreams and lost faces

               Even if I worked more than I wanted.

I wait and wonder

               For those working at home with children

               How can I do justice to both jobs?

               I feel like I’m not doing enough

               Even when I’m doing my best.

May you rise up to self-awareness and self-care.

May you rise up to learning and loving.

May you rise up to hope and help.

May you rise up to compassion and courage.

               You are not alone.

©2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh, PA. May be reproduced with this entire by-line. Contact: Litzinger Career Consulting, Karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029.

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.

“The 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at 4-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2011 overall was 60 percent.”

People are often surprised by this data from a 2019 Department of Education report. I hope this information motivates high school students and their parents to think even more carefully about post-high school choices.

This summer may be an opportune time for high school (and college) students to engage in some reflection and exploration about education and career choices. My guess is that there are less opportunities for summer jobs because of the pandemic business slow down, so possibly more time for other activities. Even if not, students have more time now than during the school year for education and career counseling. I’d be happy to help with my four session High School Advising Package. Maybe a graduation gift for someone you care about? I’m now serving clients remotely across the country.

Besides the low 60% graduation rate, think about the debt of the 40% who didn’t graduate and have thousands of dollars of loans. Average student debt of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2019 was $29,900; some sources note higher rates. Loans were taken out by 69% of students. Click here for a link to the article that was updated in January 2020.

I was at a program this week by Steve Wize of Mental Fitness who shared data that 40% of college graduates are underemployed. While historically higher degrees indicate higher earnings, this could be shifting. Click here for the 2020 data on wages by education; note that the research is based on those 25 and over. There are many paths to success that do not require a bachelor’s degree. I shared options in the blog I wrote earlier this year, Top Careers that Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree. While there are many paths to success and happiness, I highly advocate some type of education beyond high school, whether a degree, apprenticeship, or certification.

Our country is at a crossroads, and I feel it is time to talk and share more. I’ve been inspired by the idea recently that’s it’s not simply enough to “not be racist” but we are called to be “anti-racist”.  I’ve also been affected by the phrase “White Silence = Violence.” I was reminded of the video I am inviting you to watch by a colleague this week. The video affected me profoundly a few years ago when I saw it at the Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association conference. Click here for the video which also contains an article with additional insights.

Over many years my church has discussed the uncomfortable and initially foreign concept of white privilege. This video illustrates it in a profound manner. I also realize there are issues with the video. When I first saw it, I wondered whether there was sufficient professional processing of what could be a traumatic event for the black students featured in the video.  An article I read recently questioned whether students gave permission, ideally before and after. Another article pointed out that since the video was more about the symptoms of white privilege and not the systemic structures and history that cause it, this gives a quite limited view.

I humbly share that I think this is a good “starting place” on our “marathon” of addressing our history of slavery and racism that still impacts our country today.  I feel that it is by touching hearts and hearing stories that we can move forward on our necessary journey of healing, our journey honoring the oneness of humanity and dignity of every human being. Synchronicity has me sharing this on Juneteenth, a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, June 19, 1865.

  • 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.

(Gift certificates for personalized career coaching can help practically and emotionally.)

An April College Reaction Poll showed that ¾ of students had their internship or post-graduate work plans disrupted due to the coronavirus, with half having offers canceled.  Others had them delayed or moved to remote.

It can be easy to lose hope, but now is not the time to bury your head in the sand.  You want and need to keep moving forward with the job search so you are in the pipeline when the economy opens up.  Plus, there are indeed some industries and companies that are still hiring. 

You should also be thinking of additional activities to supplement your job or internship search activities to be ready for the interview question:

“How did you spend your time during the pandemic period?”

You don’t want “looking for a job” to be your only answer.

HERE ARE MY NINE TOP TIPS:

1. Clarify career goals, including back-up plans: College students are often not successful in the job search because they were so busy just getting through that they didn’t clarify what they wanted to do after graduation beyond “get a job and start paying back loans.” Sometimes students really don’t like their major, but feel it’s too late to shift since so much money was invested.  It’s never too late to shift, especially when you have decades in front of you.  Right now, many people are reinventing themselves so you are in good company. Because of the economic conditions, students may feel like it’s not realistic to find a job you’ll like.  Sure, you may need to think about back-up plans and compromise, but at least know your ideal target.  The reason knowing your goals and targets make you more effective in the search is because that is necessary for networking.

2. Never Stop Networking: Yes, this remains important and going on even during COVID times.  Some things never change. Networking still has a 50-80% success rate, much higher than the “black hole of the Internet.” College students may think of networking as only tied to LinkedIn, but that is just one vehicle of many.  The old-fashioned strategy of asking your parents (and other relatives, friends, neighbors, and college professors) “Do you know anyone who is in the ABC career field or XYZ industry?” is still relevant. Professional associations and college career offices are also good sources. Remember that networking is ideally about asking for advice and information not “do you know of any jobs.”

3. Leverage LinkedIn: This is a key resource both for networking and actual job vacancies. First make sure you have a solid profile, smiling photo, and references that you give and receive.  For networking, naturally see if any of your contacts is in or knows anyone in your career or industry of interest.  Ask them to introduce you for networking purposes; the clearer you are about seeking advice and not a job lead, the more willing they will be.  When you send an invitation to anyone, be sure to personalize it.  Choose a couple career interest groups to join; observe first and share a resource or comment if you can before reaching out to an individual or group to ask a networking question.  Lastly, tap the little known alumni feature for networking. Go to your college page, click on the Alumni link, and search by title, keyword or company. You can also include a city as a key word and filter by graduation year.

4. Join a Professional Association: Join one if you haven’t. Almost all professional associations have greatly discounted student membership.  Many allow recent grads under that category for up to a year, or ask for an exception.  Information provided can help you learn about a profession both for clarifying goals and for showing knowledge in an interview. Many have career resource sections and job vacancies.  Most importantly, they are a source of networking!  Whether you make a networking request of an author of an article or the president of the local, state or national group, you may more likely receive a response out of professional responsibility. It one of the very few “cold” networking requests that I suggest, and introverts are often more comfortable in this realm.  If you aren’t sure where to start, Google the specific phrase “professional association” followed by one or two words of your career goal. 

5. Tap Your College Career Center: You typically will have access to your center as an alumni.  Even if you feel there isn’t any help for your field or major, at least try and especially tap any alumni networking program as well as the vacancy list.  Having been director of a college career center, I often advise clients on how to best use their college services to complement my more personalized coaching. For example, a staff member may be able to give you a recruiter’s name of an organization they are connected with even if there is no current vacancy.

6. Volunteer Strategically: While volunteering is a worthwhile activity itself, to both serve and feel productive, I advise clients to choose the place and experience strategically.  What activities can be connected to your goals? What roles will allow you to have more interaction with staff members, even if remotely.  What meetings can you “sit in on” to learn about the bigger picture, even if your role is data entry or making phone calls? Are they open to supporting you having networking meetings with staff members?  You can treat this somewhat like an internship, even if the duties are not as significant.

7. Get into Gigs: Consider project or freelance work to learn skills and add content to your resume, portfolio and interviewing. Volunteering may do that for you, but you can also find gigs through freelancing platforms like Upwork.com, the most well-known. Click here for nine additional ones.

8. Upgrade Your Skills: Although you may be tired of being on-line, downtime is an opportunity to show employer you are using your time well by developing your skills.  Whether you upgrade your technology skills (more important than ever), take a writing course, or enroll in a workshop through a professional association, you are setting yourself up to feel good about yourself and impress a prospective employer. 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.

9. Identify Hot Spots: Although the economy may feel frozen, in a recent meeting of career counseling professionals, we identified several industries that are hiring during and because of this coronavirus crisis.  These include Logistics & Distribution, Grocery and some Retail, Virtual Meeting Platforms, Cybersecurity, SaaS companies, Human Resources, Management Consulting, parts of Healthcare. 

I would be honored to help you think strategically about career planning for success and satisfaction.

And I would be happy to help you to create an answer that employers will admire to the question….

“How did you spend you time during the pandemic period?”

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.