Job Layoffs Looming

Are job layoffs looming in your corner of the world? As you probably know, COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on our economy as well as our safety. Companies have vanished or at least cut back badly, causing massive job layoffs.job layoffs

Unfortunately, recent news suggests we’ll see more job layoffs–maybe large numbers. These layoffs could impact people in higher-paying positions, not just those in lower-income jobs. If that fits your status, you could have cause for concern.

For one thing, our government still struggles with how to do another relief round. In other words, if, when, and how much should be done? This adds a layer of worry to an already daunting picture.

What Can and Should People Do When Facing Job Layoffs?

If the ax hasn’t fallen on your job yet, you might have time to take a few useful actions. On the other hand, what if you’ve already gone through the layoff? In that case, see if you can quickly put remedial actions in place. Regardless, brace for the worst but keep an open mind about both the challenges and the options you might consider.

I won’t waste time listing all the steps you should take, such as review expenses for cut backs. Do those to help buy time and soften the near-term blow, but don’t expect magical results.

Why have Job Layoffs Hit So Hard–and We’re Not Done Yet?

layoffs increase

Layoffs can happen in the best economy–and ours was fairly good at the start of 2020. However, the pandemic sent our country to a place it’s never been before–and many businesses into a tailspin. With no end in sight and the numbers soaring, you have a challenge you couldn’t foresee in January.

With winter coming, experts predict a bleak picture for both health risks and the economic impact. What’s more, you might have little or no control over some of the factors. For instance,  you can’t force others to take commonsense steps, such as wearing a face mask and avoiding too-close contact. You also can’t decide whether your company schedules more layoffs and, if so, which employees it lets go.

So, if the outlook seems grim, is there hope? Yes. We’ve received encouraging news about vaccine availability that could come sooner than first expected. Other hopeful changes might occur that we can’t envision yet. My best advice: Focus more on what you CAN control than what you can’t. For example, if you’re already working from home, can you find new ways to add value to your company’s business strength?

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Age Discrimination in the Workplace–Are You “Aging-Out”?

Whether or not you’ve encountered age discrimination in the workplace (AKA ageism), you need to realize it’s possible. The information supporting this view stems from confirmed reports, not just anecdotal feelings. We often experience difficulty in proving intent to discriminate because many companies have gotten savvy about hiding it.old-age discrimination

(The following is a 2017 statement about the problem of ageism in the workplace from the AARP. Its premise remains valid.)

“Ten years ago, a Supreme Court ruling made it harder for workers to prove age discrimination….Age discrimination in the workplace is wrong, and it threatens the financial security of older workers….”

Of course, with the newest addition to the US Supreme Court shifting the court’s ideology, we don’t know what might happen in such a situation today. However, it’s important that you stay on top of events like these and plan your actions accordingly.

Even if you’re only “30-something” now, you might have a vested interest in how such issues play out down the road!

Key Age Discrimination Facts and Figures

  • Most important: Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Moreover, this fact holds true from hiring through promotions, raises, and layoffs.
  • Employers and prospective employers can ask your age and graduation date. Although you can try to make this data less visible, you can’t keep employers from asking.
  • Not getting hired is the most common complaint (19%), followed by missing a promotion (12%) and being laid off or fired (8%).
  • You could file a lawsuit or EEOC complaint. However, this can prove costly in more ways than one.

Can You “Fight” Age Discrimination in the Workplace–and Win?

fighting age discrimination in the workplaceSome people certainly believe you can. Moreover, at least a few of them have proved it for themselves.

Blasting ageism out of your career path might be hard, but you do have some actions you can take to overcome or avoid its effects. In an article on Ask The Headhunter’s blog, Don Harkness shares what worked for him. Briefly, he makes several points that are worth exploring.

  1. The personal-contact method is the best and most manageable way to go.
  2. Damn right, there’s ageism.
  3. If you want social justice and to eliminate ageism, bless you.
  4. Ageism swings both ways.
  5. Re-tool.
  6. Focus.
  7. Leverage your age. Pursue smaller companies that value expertise.
  8. Decide what you need.

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What is a Zoom Interview?

Recently I posted an article on “How to Ace a Zoom Interview.” This time I want to answer a more basic but important question: “What is a Zoom Interview?”

Some common questions job seekers ask include the following:

What is a Zoom app?

According to Google, “Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online….” You can install Zoom on your desktop computer, tablet, or cell phone if you plan to use it regularly. However, if an employer has scheduled a Zoom job interview with you, you shouldn’t need to have Zoom already installed on your system. Just choose the download option and sign into the call.

What are the key differences between a person-to-person interview and a video interview?

person-to-person intervierwI touched on this point in my previous post; however, I will recap briefly.

First, I need to refer to the original question above: “What is a Zoom interview?” A Zoom interview is not an entertainment performance! Focus on what you know you need to communicate—your value to the prospective employer. All other factors must support that key goal.

Second, understand that you lose some advantages in a video interview versus a person-to-person interview, but you also get trade-offs. You can sometimes pull body language, voice, and energy cues from a face-to-face session that don’t come as easily via Zoom.

On the other hand, once you gain a certain comfort-level with Zoom, you can pick up some of the same cues as from an in-person interview. You simply need to pay attention–closely. Stay focused and don’t let your mind wander when the hiring manager asks interview questions you have to answer.

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How to Ace a Zoom Interview

For a Zoom job interview, how should I set up my interview space?

woman in Zoom interviewRemember it’s a professional activity. Whether you schedule a Zoom interview or an in person interview, the interview space must reflect professionalism. Avoid visually distracting elements that could divert the interviewer’s attention from you.

That said, I offer these interviewing tips regarding the interview space:

  • Recognize the importance of good lighting for your Zoom interview. You might prefer natural lighting. On the other hand, if you don’t have a good natural light source, you can choose from artificial light options. For instance, use a ring light.
  • Make sure your light source placement doesn’t cast shadows on your face or obscure it. The hiring manager/interviewer needs to see your expression when you answer questions.
  • Provide a business-neutral background. For example, you can choose from virtual backgrounds in diverse colors and designs. Just remember to minimize distractions. You might dream about a Paris vacation, but that doesn’t mean you should show the Eiffel Tower behind you. By the way, Zoom’s virtual background feature requires a green screen–often placed on a tripod to hold it steady and in the best screen for Zoom interview

How should I prepare for a Zoom interview?

In some respects, you prepare the same way you would if you were there in person. For instance, make sure you look presentable and aren’t chewing gum while talking with the interviewer!

Always do your homework–for any job interview. If you need to keep referring to information you should have reviewed beforehand to help you answer questions, you send a poor message. In effect, you’re saying, “I didn’t prepare for this.”

However, a virtual interview does involve differences from one that’s in person. For one thing,  you don’t have the in-person “vibe” to help you judge how things are going. That means you must pay careful attention to other clues, visual and audio, and adjust your actions to fit the situation.

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Career Resilience in Uncertain Times

I suspect most of us think of resilience as the built-in ability to “bounce back” from problems, setbacks, etc. So what is career resilience? It is defined as the ability to adjust to career change as it happens and…adapt to what the market demands. The possibility of an unexpected job loss should not be the primary motivator for individuals to take stock of their careers.” (Excerpted from a Careerminds blog post) In other words, take the smart course of action and start planning before you have to.

“On Career Resilience in Uncertain Times” provides insight into key points to remember as you navigate today’s quick-changing, uncertain conditions. Those conditions can present daunting challenges to career-minded professionals, including reluctant job seekers (forced to do an unplanned job search). [From CFA Institute, Enterprising Investor]

“To stay resilient in an era of continuous and fast-accelerating change, we have to become more agile and adaptable. … The present crisis, with its abrupt shift to a new normal, has forced us to face this reality head on. We can only expect more of the same. The work roles, skills, and environments that are needed and how they are valued will rapidly shift as business practices evolve.”

How Does YOUR Career Resilience Look?

Let’s start with resilience. For instance, what do you bring to the table now, and what could you add to that? Resilience encompasses at least these 9 traits:Career Resilience

  • Optimism
  • Self-belief
  • Self-control
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Emotional awareness
  • Social support
  • A sense of honor

Next, make a not-huge mental shift to how you apply career resilience. Most if not all of the above traits match well to career-related situations.

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Good Boss-Bad Boss

Good boss-bad boss: How can you tell what you’re in for?

Obviously, you want to know you’re getting the best boss before you start working for him/her. However, sometimes you wind up with a bad boss even when you thought you made a careful choice. Moreover, you might find out that Mr. Hyde turns into Dr. Jekyll only in certain situations.Good Boss-Bad Boss

When Should You Evaluate Potential Bosses?

Ideally, you should start asking yourself (and sometimes other people) at least a few pointed questions during the interview process. When you interview with your prospective boss, what message is he/she sending in your direction?

This doesn’t refer so much to personality as to how the person interacts with those who might become employees. Someone can have a fairly forceful personality and yet communicate with respect and courtesy to potential employees. On the other hand, an overbearing attitude could mean the boss steamrollers over employees.

What Makes a Good Boss?

A lot of factors can determine how you might rank a boss. For example, does he or she build team morale or destroy it by pushing a win-at-all-costs approach? Your preference plays into it, too. A hands-off boss might strike you as near perfect or as wishy-washy, depending on how you like to do your job.

The main question to ask is: Will we be a good fit to work together? In other words, would you have to radically change who you are and how you work to support your boss and meet expectations?

Traits to Consider

Leadership traits or styles that influence your perception of your boss might include the following:

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What does a high-unemployment job market look like? For instance, with the huge increase in unemployment claims and an official unemployment rate close to 15%*, it looks grim. You could justify worrying about your prospects if you’re out of work or viewing it as a possibility. high-unemployment job market

I won’t offer a glib or sugar-coated view of the job market you’re seeing. It presents a daunting picture even to an optimist like me. (There’s a reason I label myself a “realistic optimist.”) However, I see no value in adopting a fatalistic outlook—what I call a “doom and gloom” mentality.

Can job seekers take practical steps to improve their odds in favor of job search success, even in today’s disturbed world? I believe the answer is yes.

Steps to Take in a High-Unemployment Job Market

An esteemed colleague, Jay Block, recently wrote a short post that relates to this challenge. His post, “Securing a Job in a 20%+ Unemployment Job Market,” lays it on the line and then offers a practical approach to make progress.

employer value messageJay begins by stating bluntly that today’s job seekers have to share their value with pinpoint accuracy to get–and stay–in the game. In other words, generalized or haphazard approaches won’t work. You need to share employer value clearly centered on your target job.

On the other hand, you can focus on a few key steps to put you in contention for targeted jobs. Briefly, Jay recommends the following:

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Employment in the New Normal–How Can You Cope? (Part 1 of 2)

What will the workplace  look like in the “New Normal”?

If you’ve wondered how the employment world will function in the new normal (that is, after COVID-19), you’re not alone. Many people speculate about what the future holds. They don’t know what it might involve and worry about its effect on their prospects for career success and stability.

new normal tightrope walkerHowever, such speculation tends to be unproductive, since no one knows for sure about the specifics. Because the current environment is still too fluid and challenging to predict those details with certainty, we’re left hanging. However, I believe it’s safe to say the new normal won’t include a 100% return to business as usual.

How the Workplace is Changing

An article in the May 2020 AARP Bulletin makes a strong case for my belief. For example, it offers one good reason to expect lasting change. “…Companies are doing things in radically different ways, and many will embrace lessons learned instead of returning to the status quo. For older workers, that means adjusting to fewer staff jobs, the immediate need for new skills and an overall flexibility that is far different from the salaried days of even the recent past.”

Furthermore, the article suggests you can expect the employment situation to look substantially different even after the pandemic subsides. The specific challenges remain to be seen. Your best bet rests on developing and executing a flexible career marketing campaign ASAP. The plan must put you on employers’ radar quickly and compellingly, so you don’t come on the scene too late.

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