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FIDM Alumni Association Group - Dressmaker's Monthly Article

Re-directing your career during COVID. What do I do now?

by Sean Kam,

August 5, 2020

After sending out emails, survey’s and questionnaires, the time has finally come for me to fulfill my end of the bargain. I heard and read all of what you had to say. The massive responses I received were strikingly similar. All your input has not gone unnoticed. This article will be posted monthly covering topics relative to your struggles and failures, successes and working progresses. We all know that no one is perfect all the time. Otherwise, how will you learn or improve?

This is the beginning of something new for those of you who are FIDM alum looking to not just get ahead in the workplace, but at the very least find and hold a job, especially during these times of uncertainty. Some of us have been laid off or furloughed and some still have a job or just found one. Whether you are working for someone else or working as an entrepreneur/self-employed, we have all

been thrown a curve ball that has impacted all of us and feeling lost, worried and frustrated seems to be the consensus right now.

Unemployment, that is probably one of the many reasons you added LinkedIn or use the FIDM Career Center Portal. There are numerous job-hunting apps out there and it is easy to be overwhelmed with choices, rejection, and yes even ‘job ghosted’. Sitting and waiting to hear the result of anything is enough to stress you out. If you are feeling insecure about finding or holding a job, you are not alone. You’ve either gone through it or are going through it right now. Either way, it’s a re-occurring feeling when trying to fulfill so many things on your checklist during a job hunt- paying for rent, food, bills, your sense of purpose, living up to your parents expectations, having a better job than your friends, holding yourself to high standards, independence, the list goes on.

You may have heard this before but knowing what your priorities are for survival is what’s key to getting through times like these. Being innovative with your skills and how you connect with people and maintaining those connections, is what will make you resilient and stand out during life transitions and job uncertainty. So, stay persistent and determined. In the meantime, find safe and reasonable alternatives to offset living expenses. As one wrong move can send you many steps backwards, sometimes one right step backwards can propel you forward. It goes both ways. So never be afraid to step back and asses before making decisions.

Need somewhere to start? Below is my personal checklist to help guide you during the process of job hunting. I am not a “job guru” so this list is subjective to my experience as well as others that shared similarities with me.

1) What are your skills? Knowing your strengths is important and highlights your assets that appeal to your desired place of employment. As a note, using proficient is not an attractive word to describe your skills.

2) What’s your worth? Researching and studying those in the same vocation or field as you, allows for better insight on where you place in any one position and it lights a fire under you for any shortcomings you need to improve on.

3) Always be on the hunt. This includes social networking with those in your profession. There is a tactful and professional way to network. For example, just because LinkedIn suggests people to add to your contacts, does not mean add every person in your line of work or of similar interests recommended by LinkedIn. You better have a GOOD REASON for adding or “connecting” with them.

4) Do your research. You don’t need to be a historian on your desired place of employment but knowing basic information relative to your position and the business as a whole will give you better insight on what you are applying for, ahead of time and during your interview.

5) Knowing the red flags of jobs that are too good to be true. Don’t be misled by automated and templated messages or emails from a Human Resources representative- it could also be a computer. Sometimes the representative that sends those solicitations out don’t always know

the full extent of skills and experience they are posting in job listings and notices. Again, do your research.

6) Avoid being ‘that pest’ that businesses delay responding to. There is such a thing as being ‘too persistent, which comes off as sometimes… a nuisance. Learning to “take a hint” or “reading the room” would best serve your representation as you navigate the job market. Be mindful and check in at most one to two times a month.

7) Talk to your peers and get collective feedback on their experiences. Never think that you are the only one going through this experience. Chances are you have more to discuss with peers alike. Having an out siders perspective often reveals to what we sometimes, as referred in Disney’s Mary Poppins, ‘can’t see past the end of our noses’. Have some humility, asses and move on.

8) What are your assets you can bring to the workplace (without coming off as cocky)? Knowing what you bring to the table in a tactful manner, will work to your advantage. As ‘fortune cookie’ as that sounds, you need to know what relatively makes you stand out from another person applying for the same position and that will vary based on the positions you are applying for. So be flexible.

9) Avoid job complacency & have a back-up plan via maintaining professional and social networking relationships. Nothing lasts forever. But don’t mention to everyone in your current place of employment that you intend to use this as a means to go elsewhere. Remember, you can always be replaced. Keep in contact with your likeminded peers and go to conventions or meetings that stimulates and improves your knowledge and expertise. Maintaining good professional relationships sometimes lead to unexpected opportunities. Just remember to always do transitions tactfully.

10) Taking initiative. Having gumption and energy is great but knowing how to address an issue in its priority is imperative to how you are viewed in the workplace. In other words, “pick and choose your battles.”

Do these guides sound familiar? Well, you probably heard some of it during one of your terms in your Professional Practices class. Why are you hearing it again? Sometimes we need to be reminded. You have full control, so take the wheel. Yes, we are in a pandemic and yes, the guides above still apply. The only difference now, is that working remotely is the new normal. Create a strategy for yourself and keep those professional lines of communication open. I hope this helped.

Again, this will be a monthly submission. We would like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave comments and voice what worked for you and what did not. You are as much a part of this as anyone else. There are more of us alike in the same situation, than we think. Through our experiences, these articles can shed some light on what common issues we all un-knowingly share and give each other some sense of guidance and resiliency to continue our path to that job we desire.

As a reminder don’t forget to be added to the Official FIDM Alumni Association Group on LinkedIn. I know it’s been hard but the FIDM Alumni representatives and Career Center counselors have

acknowledged our struggle with job placement relative to us individually and regionally, especially now. They are working hard to assist you with job searching and placement. So please keep checking the FIDM Career Network on the FIDM portal and call or email your Career Center counselor. We look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments and experiences. I am Sean with your Dressmaker’s monthly, Making Way.