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 Voices | | Coronavirus →

Ask Chuck: Advice for the unemployed

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

I was laid off because of COVID. My company may rehire me soon, but I am thinking of getting out of the travel industry completely. Should I wait it out or move on? 

Stuck in Unemployment Land 

Dear Stuck in Unemployment Land, 

I am sorry that you are feeling stuck. Having been laid off twice in my life, I understand the dilemma you face. Let’s start with the big picture and, then, get practical. 

Chuck Bentley
(Courtesy of Christian Economic Forum)

The job market has been affected, if not permanently changed, as a result of COVID. But, the dynamic change is being led by many other factors. In 2018, the World Economic Forum reported that automation, robotization, and digitization would impact the workplace. So, it is important to prepare yourself for what lies ahead, regardless of whether you’re unemployed or are considering a career change. 

According to CareerBuilder.com, a few trends are obvious:

  • Healthcare workers are still in high demand.
  • Retail jobs are down overall.
  • Tech stands strong.
  • Truck driving remains steady.

Get Busy

View your job search as a full-time job. Currently, there is actually an upside of unemployment, but it is your responsibility to maximize this time. Do not expect others to do it for you. Avoid the temptation to fall into bad habits or squander time during this period of unemployment. Invest in yourself. When a professional athlete gets cut by a team, he/she still has to stay in shape and strive to improve in order to win a spot on another team. Keep that in mind. 

Read, study, and research. Then, gain the necessary skills to make yourself more valuable and, thus, attractive to potential employers. 

The best investment you can make is in your gifts, talents, and professional abilities. Develop a daily schedule, and set deadlines while working toward specific goals. Take time to clean up your social media. It is almost as valuable as a resume in today’s world. 

A Career Direct assessment could help you get to know yourself. You’ll gain an understanding of your personality, skills, interests, and values. We have coaches to help you find a new direction should you decide not to wait out the time to potentially be rehired. 

Find a mentor who will be direct while offering encouragement, accountability, and guidance. Think through your relationships at church, with family, in the workplace, or in your neighborhood. Ask the Lord to direct you to the right person. 

Some Practical Tips

Next Avenue recommends the following job search tactics: 

  • Improve your LinkedIn presence: Post professional photos, demonstrate your expertise via PowerPoint presentations and whitepapers, respond when people comment, post interesting content, and repost content from others. 
  • Diversify your network: Make weekly calls, set up meetings for your own good and to assist others. Stay involved and join calls/meetings when invited. 
  • Be proactive if you sense that your job may be threatened. Start networking early.
  • Be flexible and willing to move to high-growth industries.
  • Consider hiring a career professional.
  • Get creative to attract interviews.

Build hard skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online. Coursera offers training from leading universities and companies. 

Don’t Overlook Soft Skills

Develop your soft skills as well. These are more personality focused and are highly underestimated. A study at MIT Sloan revealed that training in these skills grants a substantial return on investment to employers, while it also benefits employees. Communication, leadership, time management, problem-solving, adaptability, positivity, learning from criticism, and working under pressure are essential in being able to interact well with others. 

The top five soft skills cited for 2020 by Business.linkedin.com included creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Different companies offer training. Udemy offers 130,000 courses online with a special division for Soft Skills development.

Mind the Gap

There are several reasons to consider a temporary job. Besides providing income and relieving despair, it keeps you productive. It can fill in gaps in your resume, allow you to explore a field that may prove to be interesting, and even be a step to a job you love. A temporary job provides the opportunity to develop new skills while broadening your network. It will give you some understanding of a position before committing to it full time. 

Work can be a positive witness for the Lord or a negative one. Give it your all, exercising common sense, diligence, and excellence. Set yourself apart by striving to do your very best.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”  (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV) 

We are all hoping for the economy to be fully open soon. Yet, the travel industry may be the one most affected in the short-term. My advice is to get an interim job, pursue new opportunities, and wait on the Lord to show you where He wants you to work. Let us know if we can help. 

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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