Brenda Poor’s management resumé is stellar. She’s done everything from overseeing bustling TV newsrooms to being a marketing legal eagle. And now, like thousands of her peers, she finds herself gainfully unemployed and looking for the job in the middle of a pending recession and ongoing pandemic.
I talked to Poor about the good (she just finished her master’s degree), the bad (the less-than-stellar job market) and the ugly (pity parties are not allowed). Here’s what she’s doing to put her best face forward to prospective employers—and how you can do the same:
“I’m not going to lie, looking for a job in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging to say the least. When my position in Public Relations/Communications was cut at the end of February due to a merger, I wasn’t too worried. The job market was strong, my resume is strong, and I recently finished my master’s degree. I had plenty of leads and started out of the job search gate on a roll …
… until COVID-19 brought it to a screeching halt.
Although it’s been frustrating, a few things are helping me survive:
Have a Schedule and Stick To It.
A set schedule every day helps me stay productive and sane. Mornings (ok, so maybe I do set the alarm for an hour later) are devoted to my temp job as an educator and helping my daughter finish the first grade virtually. After recess and lunch, it’s my turn to work. Afternoons are spent on LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and other sites to see what Public Relations/Communications/Marketing positions are out there and connecting with those I might know who work at the company, then writing cover letters and tailoring my resume to each position I apply for. Tackling my “rainy day” to-do list has helped as well. Every closet and cabinet has been cleaned, getting me closer to my decluttering goal and giving me a sense of accomplishment.
I’m a social person by nature, so being out of a job and on lockdown for nearly two months has been torture at times. I enjoyed going to work, seeing my colleagues, collaborating on projects, and just working. I miss it! But I’m still engaging in the business world by participating in free webinars offered in my industry, as well as virtual happy hours for networking. I’m also watching a lot of news and reading articles to see how various companies have responded to the pandemic; who’s hit it out of the park and who has fallen woefully short in their communications.
Meditation Has Been My Saving Grace.
I took a meditation course about six months ago, and it’s been the best investment (along with getting my masters) I’ve ever made in myself. When my brain starts filling with negative thoughts about the job search, the future, or how I suck as a parent trying to home school, I find a quiet place, close my eyes, breathe and calm my mind. Not only has it kept me from spiraling into a deep dark pit of hopelessness, but it’s shown my daughter that sometimes even Mom needs a “time-out.”
Pity Parties NOT Allowed.
Since March 1st, I’ve applied for two dozen jobs, and I’m still unemployed, so yes, it’s my party and I could cry if I want to. I was a finalist for one job before the interview process shut down with no indication of when it will pick back up. I’ve had one in-person interview, but didn’t get the job, and an interview scheduled and then canceled (thanks, coronavirus!). I’ve applied for jobs where the job description could have been written just for me, only to hear nothing. But, as soon as my paranoid brain starts thinking the coronavirus is just a big conspiracy to keep me from ever working again, I stop, breathe and remember there are others out of a job as well who might be in a much worse position. And if that doesn’t help, I read the cards and notes from former coworkers or those I’ve mentored, telling me about the impact I’ve had on them. I’ve learned that people don’t take the time to write heartfelt notes unless they really mean it, and that always lifts my spirits. And despite what it feels like, I know a lot of companies are still hiring, and I will eventually find a perfect match.
There’s Always A Silver Lining
Honestly, in some ways, being unemployed during COVID-19 has been a blessing. My daughter’s school is closed, and as a single parent, I don’t have a choice but to stay home with her. I’m thankful that I’m not having to juggle work, her school and the uncertainty of our world all at once.”