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Wooden: Where do we go from here, from a worker’s perspective

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Part 2 of 2

Clients, friends, even relatives have asked me what COVID will mean for them and for their friends as it relates to work and to how we live our lives. If I knew that answer, I might also play the lottery. I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me from venturing a guess based on my experience and people with whom I’ve spoken.

First, if you base your outlook solely on what you read on social media, I’d encourage you to step back and check out other sources. Aside from that, even our business leaders or politicians don’t know with certainty, either. We’re in a unique situation, not the normal cyclical recession.

As a worker, you’re facing some real challenges these next weeks and months. It’s an election year, so putting COVID and its economic impact aside for a moment, that would typically mean many companies will put decisions on hold until they see who’ll be in executive/legislative charge.

Layer that with the COVID pandemic… its impact on how we gather as a population as well its huge impact on our economy and you’re dealing with a myriad of moving parts — none of which are great news if you’re a worker. And if you’re an entry-level worker or someone seeking a low-skilled job, you’re also facing competition from automation (robots) who’ll replace your efforts at lower cost.

So what does all this mean for you as someone who wants to work?

Two primary things: Upskill and network your tail off.

Employers will ask what you’ve been doing during these past months. You’d better be able to point to how you’ve made yourself relevant, whether that’s been taking classes or doing volunteer work to show you’ve kept up your skills. Lifelong learning may be a new term for you, but it’s something employers will value.

Networking is something we’ve heard about for decades. It’s even more important during a tight market. Face it, you’re likely one of hundreds of applicants. Even if you’re a great fit, you’re far from the only one.

Invest time with Linked-In to ensure your profile attracts attention. I teach a couple of free LinkedIn workshops each week, so email me for details.

As the government’s PPP plan for employers ends, don’t be shocked when companies start some reductions in force. For that matter, that extra $600 a week for those off work — in addition to normal unemployment benefits — ends later this month. When that benefit ends, you’ll likely see many more folks actively entering the job-search market.

Sounds pretty bleak, right? We’ve been through recessions before. We’ve come through them. While that doesn’t help someone out of work, I’d hope today’s tips might give you ideas for positioning yourself for relevance as we work through these uncharted waters. Good luck!

Randy Wooden is a long-time Triad career consultant and Director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC’s Professional Center. You may reach him at rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org or at 336-464-0516. www.goodwillprofessionalcenter.org.

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