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The Question

I’ve been looking around for a new job for months but now the coronavirus pandemic has hit. Is it a bad time to be looking for new work? I’ve been unhappy in my current job for over a year. I feel stuck and I don’t know what to do.

The First Answer

Bill Howatt, chief of research (workforce productivity), Conference Board of Canada, Ottawa

The brutal fact is, at this time, your emotional job satisfaction may be less important than your ability to maintain what you have. When a pandemic of this magnitude with all its potential fallout hits, taking care of what you have makes the most sense.

Are you physically and psychologically safe in your current job? If the answer is yes, maintaining your job security would be advisable until this pandemic passes. The next few months will be uncharted water as the economy becomes strained, so maintaining your personal and financial health will be job one.

One critical factor in a health crisis is social stability. The economy will experience some strain, and I suspect economists are working on many different “what-if” models. It would not be a stretch to assume many employers will experience strain that may result in laying off employees until this pandemic is controlled and society gets back to normal.

People with family members who contract COVID-19 will likely experience stress, and some will even lose family members.

It’s a time to pause and take care of your basic needs. Whether you’re happy about your job is not the right question. It’s okay to ask, but be ready for the brutal facts. As Jim Collins advised in his book Good to Great, get through this crisis and re-evaluate your job status once this has passed.

The Second Answer

Colleen Clarke, career specialist, Toronto

Right now is not an ideal time to apply for a new job, but it is a perfect time to prepare for one for when the time is right. The last thing you want is to be on more of a roller coaster ride than necessary. With layoffs and cutbacks so prevalent, your expectations for new employment will be challenged more than usual. You want to keep the status quo as much as possible. Look around and network but don’t expect interviews right now. You couldn’t prove your worth in a new job right now anyway.

Take the time to do some self-assessment work. Identify your skills, strengths and values. Is it the position or the company that is not sitting well with you? Maybe it is where you are in your life, are you suffering from burnout? Ascertain why you need to make a change.

Research your industry and job equivalencies and prepare your documents. Prepare accomplishment-based validation stories to support your résumé once you reach the interview stage. Get your résumé updated. Working with a résumé writer virtually is very common and do-able. Do practice interviewing with yourself by reading interview questions online then answering them out loud. Practice with someone, perhaps by video. Learn how to execute a professional video, telephone and in-person interview. Get yourself to the starting line so that you can dive in when the time is right.

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