Life in the Slow Lane and How to Merge Back into the Fast Lane

The COVID-19 global pandemic has down-shifted our lives. People have lost loved ones, have sick family members or had the virus themselves. Front line workers are in danger just doing their jobs while many have been laid off already or are at risk. The pace of life has slowed, and the timing of getting back to work is unknown. We live in a world of uncertainty. What can we do now?

As a recruiter, here’s my take from a career perspective:  

Focus on your Passion Project. In a search for silver linings, here’s one to consider. Life in the slow lane (apologies to the Eagles) gives you time to reassess and plan. Your life and your career. Normally our head is down, grinding it out day to day. Now, with some time to stare at our navel a bit, maybe your current occupation is not where you want to devote the rest of your life. If it isn’t, spend some time to figure out what will get you leaping out of bed in the morning. Once you nail down the passion goal, make a plan that will get you there. Remember a dream without a plan is just a wish. Take online classes, write a business plan, talk to a mentor… become laser focused on how to make this happen.    

Build Your Brand – Freelance. If you’re a consultant, and want to grow your business, consider ways to build your Brand. What value do you bring to clients? Take the time to hone that value and fine tune your skillset. Review major assignments (and past full-time jobs) and write down the skills that you learned, then develop content (blogs, messaging, collateral, website) that “sells” your value, that makes your brand pop to your target audiences. Differentiate yourself and shout about it.  

Build Your Brand – Full-time. If you have a full-time role and you love what you do, you are also building your Brand every day. Not only by your constant learning, but by where you work and what you work on. If you’re at an agency and your client is Airbnb, Microsoft, Google, Proctor & Gamble or a hot new start-up, those brands resonate with hiring managers, make sure that experience is front and center. If you work on lesser known clients, explain how you helped them break through with creative communications programs. Hiring managers want to know you have world class skills and will add value to their team. 

If You’re Looking for Work. Make sure your resume and your LinkedIn profile align. I’ve had candidates lose opportunities because they left a job off their resume or LI profile. The LI profile doesn’t have to be as in-depth, but it should not differ from the resume and should reinforce your brand and provide a snapshot of your career story. And make sure you trumpet the most creative, strategic and downright amazing work you’ve down for your company or clients. Be specific, include examples and don’t be shy about what you did… just make sure you’re clear about your contribution. If your experience is in a different industry than the hiring company, explain how the skills you’ve honed are transferrable to the potential job at hand. 

And here’s a basic one, make sure you include your city, state and zip on your resume. Recruiters and HR execs parse resumes and search using these fields. If they don’t appear in your resume, you may lose out on an opportunity.   

How to Network Remotely. Lean on your community. Reach out to your alumni network (school and business), LinkedIn 1st level connections (build more!), friends and family – even people who share a common hobby or passion. Find common ground. (You’ll be amazed what you can find out on Instagram.) Consider getting a LinkedIn Premium (paid) account so you have access to a wider network of people on LinkedIn and you can contact them directly using LinkedIn “InMail’s.” Once you uncover some common history, don’t be afraid to reach out to the executive (even many senior execs have more time to devote to “informational calls”). And, whenever possible, make it a video call.  It’s much more personal than a standard phone call, or email, and leaves a lasting impression. Also don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you or note of introduction. 

Eyes Wide in the New Normal. This pandemic will change the way we live. Our society will be different in many ways that we can’t even anticipate right now – and some that we can begin to consider. Keep your eyes wide open as changes begin to evolve and think creatively how you can put yourself in the best position for future professional growth.    

Be an Empath. Having empathy is one thing. People often say they’re empathetic and then the next word in the sentence is BUT… and then they talk about their needs. Remember, we’re all in the same storm but not in the same boat. An empath is someone who truly visualizes themselves in someone else’s circumstance and tries to understand what that person is experiencing. Ask questions and listen. It’s a level beyond empathy.

Do Something for your Community. Do something kind every day. Be altruistic. See where you can volunteer and make a difference. Get the “helping others high.” Help out your business community, neighborhood, the poor, the elderly and others in need.   

You Do You. Take time to breath. These are traumatic and highly stressful times. Take yourself “out of your head” for part of each day. Do a YouTube yoga class or meditation. Take a long walk and be present. Accomplish something around the house. Do some gardening.  Hang some pictures. Fix the leaky faucet you’ve ignored forever. Take the dog for a walk – oh, never mind, he’s probably had three already today! ? You have control over these things, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.