Co-authored by: Yorka Velasco-Caballero

As COVID-19 continues to spread it has negatively impacted the economy resulting in an increase of furlough and termination notices.  Through social media, many in my network have reached out asking for guidance as it pertains to opportunities.  My immediate response is to thank them for their courage in reaching out and provide encouragement as I have been in their shoe’s multiple times in my career.  Each time it brought life lessons about myself as I prepared, re-invented and re-emerged from each unique situation.

It was the final day of an incredible holiday vacation when I received a call that my position had been eliminated.  Standing in the middle of the city’s plaza, my initial response was shock and disbelief as I stood there listening.  Flying back home a day later, all I could think about throughout the 10 hour flight is how everything transpired.  Shock turned to disbelief, sadness and then anger but, through the help of my wife, past experiences, and the process below; I found hope with a sense of renewal and purpose.

Mourn the Loss

As strange as it may sound, we do need to allow the mourning process to take its course so one can fully emerge to new ventures and opportunities.  Holding on to sadness, anger and regret will only exacerbate the problem, preventing you from changing your mindset so you can think clearly with a sense of creativity and resourcefulness.  So, give yourself some time to allow the process to take its course but once it’s done, commit to moving forward and do not look back.    Keep in mind the mourning process is not linear, so be flexible as you move forward with grace.

Assess Your Resources

As one becomes involved with their work to include living their daily lives, we often forget to take stock in our skills, knowledge level and overall abilities.  Utilize this juncture to fully inventory the knowledge you have accumulated, the skills you are known for, the resources that are available to you and the network you have built.  I was surprised on what I had learned and accomplished over the years, but I also realized I needed help around developing a solid network of peers, friends and colleagues.  So know yourself, know your resources and engage with your network.

Embrace with the New

I think Paulo Coelho, famous Brazilian novelist said it best, “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change.”  Becoming unemployed puts you in a position where quick thinking, intentional creativity and strategic action is a must.  However, take the pause necessary to think what your next steps could be to include looking for a similar role, stepping into a different career, going back to school or seeking something out of your comfort zone.  Regardless, your mindset will help you see change positively so you can pivot with a much clearer lens to opportunity.  You may see the cup of water as half empty but, trust me on this that your mindset will start to allow you to see it half full.

Set Realistic & Accountable Goals

A friend of mine had lost his job on a Friday and had used his weekend to mourn, assess and identify a new path for himself.  By Monday he was up at 5:00 am doing his exercise regimen and headed to his new office, Starbucks (today it maybe your kitchen table or garage).  Thirty days later he landed his next role which included additional responsibilities from his previous one.  For him it was all about getting into a regiment of his new purpose which was, finding his next career move.  By engaging in the SMART goal concept and establishing a set of objectives to reach his goals, he prioritized networking events, scheduled one-on-ones with key contacts, ramped up his social media activity, volunteered at a local charity and applied for desired & interesting positions.  Most importantly this regiment allowed him to find the discipline necessary to hold himself accountable to his goals and objectives. 

To be unemployed in the time of COVID-19 has its own set of challenges.  As our “new-normal” comes to realization remember that with every challenge there is also opportunity.  So, follow these simple steps, utilize your growth mindset as you seek out new opportunities and be good to yourself as your resiliency will be tested from rejection. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to lose your employment, especially during this unprecedented time.  However, you have the chance to design what your new future will look like through the assistance of your network, family & friend support, positive mindset and setting realistic goals; you can overcome this and find your new success!