Coronavirus and your confidence
In a world where wages equal worth.
By Jacquie Liversidge
From a government mandated distance, I just spoke to the woman serving me at the grocery store who explained that she was new to the role at Coles. Congratulations, I said, with real enthusiasm. She explained that she had been looking for a job for months. She got a job in our regional municipality. A job selected for praise by our highest ministers in the last week.
How quickly everything is changed.
You might be a researcher in a field which is non-essential. You might be a creative. Whoever you are, if you are like most, your definition of self is heavily tied in with what you do. When you meet new people, you ask—and so do they—so, what do you do?
You answer humbly, or proudly. Either way, your sense of self is seamlessly linked to what it is that occupies you for the majority of your day or night.
And if right now, like so many others, that answer would start with, “I was”, or “not much now, mate”, you might be wondering what is next for you and whether you will ever regain that sense of self.
You are facing financial hardship. If you’re not, you’re worried about it. And if your job is safe, you’re busy. Really busy. You feel as though you are sorting out the problems of the entire world.
If you’re reading this, you are likely worried about your future.
“Change can be good.
Remember, that can be good.”
COVID-19 is going to change the way we live. We know this. In a year, we will reflect on what we lost and what we gained. How we changed.
But right now, we are surviving.
We are facing the greatest changes in our jobs and in the job market since the industrial revolution. You might be working from home for the first time in your life, or not working at all.
Change can be good.
Remember, change can be good.
Hospitality, harbouring university graduates unable to crack the workforce, has collapsed, and in its place there is an ever greater need for communications, service delivery and science. Our young people are there to rapidly fill the new needs that appeared in growth industries like supermarket retail, cleaning, couriering and driving.
Our local producers are accessing locally based workers. Imagine—local people working in their municipality, saving hours in their day on lengthy commutes.
Those already working casually in cleaning, traffic management, as couriers are consistently in work.
And here in Hobart, federal government jobs are appearing in numbers we haven’t seen for years.
Stagnant businesses with little agility are thrust aside in place of those ready to capitalise.
If you are agile, or if you want to be, now is the time. There is nothing to lose.
When we lose work, we lose confidence.
For so many of us, we are defined by our jobs and our successes and skills in employment give us a sense of purpose in the world. When your work stops and your skills are unneeded, it is extremely easy to feel as though you are worthless. In our minds and certainly in business, worth equals money. If you have no money coming in, what is your worth?
Our language has changed in the last couple of weeks. Some of us are essential now, and some are not. Some of us are not really all that sure. Some of us are working, but we don’t feel essential. You might have been essential for decades only to be wondering what it is your job actually means for society in the context of the challenges we are facing.
Firstly, let me clarify that you are not worthless. Your skills are not worthless. I am not worthless. And we are all needed.
The only thing that is worthless, is the feeling worthlessness.
No work and you need it? Let’s get agile.
Right now you need to identify your transferrable skills. Look at the jobs that are available, or check out our table here. What is it that defines your approach? What are your technical skills? What are the skills that they need, and where do your skills meet them in the middle?
Waiting for everything to come back is what everyone else is doing. Don’t bother.
Depending on the nature of the industry you are working in, you need to come to terms with the fact that it might not be rising from the ashes.
What a lot of people are doing is waiting for their jobs to come back with the hope that the various stimulus packages available at the moment will get them through. Get them through to what? Your hopes, as an employee, bank on the management of the business through these times. If there’s no money to get through, of the business is new and for a whole raft of other reasons, please start to come to terms with the fact that you might not be going back to where you left off.
Your agility depends on your mindset.
A race to the bottom.
Tourism, hospitality and other sectors at the front line of these early closures due to COVID-19 will face a swarm of workers when they reopen. Say hello to reduced wages and quality of work.
I like to be optimistic about the Fair Work Act, but I remember the global financial crisis. I remember working for $10 an hour in the only job I could gain at the time. People are going to get desperate and they will accept anything. If you’re not willing to work at that rate, you can guarantee someone else will.
Working on your resume with shattered confidence.
It is genuinely difficult to be objective with your skills when you’re facing an unexpected change or abrupt loss of work. What do you say about yourself, when you feel like you have nothing?
Take these steps:
- Throw away notions of status. Those days are over. Get to terms with it and continue moving.
- Do your research on your local area. What are the jobs that are in high demand?
- Consider what it is that you can do. You’ve been a freelance consultant for years. Can you apply for a courier role? Yes! Because you’re organised. Because you have excellent customer service. Because you have a car sitting up the driveway.
- Look at your resume. What does it really say? Ask someone to look over it. What do they think it really says? Compare it to the jobs you are looking at. Is it too technical for these roles? What is it that the employer wants right now?
- Consider the new job market. Where there is growth, things are moving quick. Get your message out quickly, efficiently and clearly. Make a claim and verify it. Return to the old days and put your address on the resume, put your drivers’ licence and the fact you have a car on there. If you’re young, put your birth date on there. The things that used to be important are important once more.
- Get on the phone. You have nothing to lose.
We hope this helps in your hunt. Keep your chin up, keep projecting that confidence—even if you’re not feeling it–and be agile. It can be hard to accept the loss of what was, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has happened. Keep on moving, and keep on hunting. Things may never be the same again.