Anxiety is essentially our brain’s response to imminent danger; for someone with an anxiety disorder that signal functions less like a motion light and more like a lighthouse. But in a time like this where that signal is firing for so many people all around the planet, knowing how to support your team members and loved ones with already present anxiety issues is more important than ever.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when speaking to someone struggling with anxiety:
Don’t downplay their feelings…
Everyone is entitled to how they are feeling. Saying things like “don’t get worked up,” “everyone feels like this,” and “it really isn’t a big deal,” while coming from a place of helpfulness can have the opposite effect. In this global climate, suggesting that being fearful is overreacting can cause their anxiety to shift to worrying that you may not be taking the appropriate precautions which just adds more things to the list of worries on their mind. Also, it may be second nature to suggest that it is not a unique feeling and attempt to offer perspective with “at least…” statements but that can make it seem like their anxiety is not as valid as someone else’s, which can cause feelings of guilt.
…but don’t feed into them
Sometimes talking about their feelings is the only way for someone to process them but put effort into not letting the entire conversation be driven by anxiety. Offer your compassion and interest with statements like, “what could I do to help you right now” or “would you like me to offer advice or do you just need someone to listen.” Once the conversation is settling, change the subject to something more lighthearted by asking a simple question like, “I am running out of things to watch, have you watched any great shows lately that I should check out?”, something that will shift the thought process away from stress. It is important to try to end the call on a lighter topic so that they are not hanging up only to sit with their anxiety again, especially in a time where there is not much else going on to distract us.
If this person is a team member and you have only been connecting during work hours about work-related things, remember that everyone in some way or another is struggling right now and probably feeling lonely. So, showing that you care about them as a person separate from work can be impactful. Touch base by simply sending a text just to check in, share a funny Instagram post that made you think of them, or even give them a casual call to chat and show you care.
If you have a friend that you maybe haven’t connected with in a while use this time as an opportunity. How many times do we say, “I need to call this person” and then get busy with life or can never connect with them because of opposite schedules? This is the perfect time to reconnect and let someone know you are thinking about them and there for them during this challenging time.
If you are busy juggling kids, family, and work during this time and are not available for a phone check in often, still keep in touch and offer something to keep them busy like a show recommendation, a Spotify playlist you made for them, or a great eBook they could download. Small gestures and small distractions will be very helpful.
Keep your routine
Nearly everyone is functioning on a new routine right now, try to maintain elements of your old routine as much as possible. If you have a team that always eats lunch together on Monday, do a Zoom lunch. If you always go to brunch with your friend on Saturday, turn on FaceTime and chat with each other while you make brunch from home. Keeping as much normalcy as possible while also doing your part to keep yourself and everyone else safe will be beneficial for the mental health of everyone involved.
Make a new routine
If you have something in your routine that really cannot be replicated virtually, like a weekly hockey game or bar trivia, get creative and stay connected during that time anyway. The less time we have idle to feel alone, the less time we will have to ruminate on our anxieties. Have an online board game night with those old Yahoo! Games everyone used to play before iPhones, watch a YouTube drawing tutorial and find out who is the better artist, just do something new and fun together until you can actually be together again.
You may try to maintain your routines, say all the right things, and it might not feel like it is helping. You may suggest virtual activities in lieu of the physical ones and you may get turned down. Be patient and be flexible. This is a new journey for everyone, and everyone is going to approach it differently. Don’t get angry or stop reaching out to your friends who pull away. Continue to check in and be okay with no response, just continue to make it clear that you care and are here for them. If one of your team members would rather skip the virtual lunch to take a nap, let them. This whole process is exhausting for everyone, especially those with anxiety disorders.
Everyone is going to approach this differently. If they are being responsible, social distancing, and protecting themselves and others, everything else is their own prerogative. Just be understanding and judgement free.
The most important thing is to remember that everyone is struggling right now, and to pay extra care to the people we know were struggling before. The most valuable thing that any of us can do right now, aside from staying home, is to continue to foster our connections and stay united even in our physical isolation.
If you have any questions about team building and employee support, please reach out to
We are officially on week 3 of a 100% virtual Recruitment and HR team and although we miss being in the same physical space, we are also really proud to be doing our part and staying home.
As a newly formed remote team, we have been feeling really connected after creating our own process and thought we would share some of our favorite “social” events.
Virtual Happy Hour
Every Friday, we get our entire extended remote team together for a virtual happy hour. We all catch up on how we are doing, our wins, our struggles and just support one another. This isn’t about productivity, it’s about genuine connection.
We care about each other and want to make sure we are all ok. We are in this together so it’s important that we all know we can lean on one another.
It’s also a fun time to brainstorm new ideas and get our whole team together!
In smaller remote groups, we connect by video or phone, with a coffee in hand. These are generally shorter connections with only a few people, to connect on a deeper level. This might be to solve a work problem, come up with some new ways of supporting client, or simply be a way to download the day on to someone that cares.
Online Work Outs
Our team loves to snack – we might be some of the best snackers out there! We also like to stay in touch and keep active. When we were all together, we’d challenge each other to take the long walk back after lunch or encourage someone to get to the evening workout class.
Now, with so many amazing gyms and trainers putting on online class, we can log in together, and do similar works outs. We have not let go of our roots though, and always share the best snack finds; and have a new list of office snacks ready to go when we can all be together again!
In keeping with the healthy lifestyle goals, we can hold each other accountable remotely for our own personal goals. We are more than just what we do for a living, and at Career Contacts, we want everyone’s personal goals to matter just as much as their work goals. We are all about bringing your whole self to the job – fitness goals and all! Whether this means challenging each other with our health, fitness, education, side hustles or big dreams, we push each other to be the best versions of ourselves when we need it most!
Virtual Spa Days
The week that things got serious for us (about a month ago now), we had an employee spa day planned. We, as owners of the business, wanted to celebrate our teams and ensure that they never forgot how much we appreciate the work that they do, and the trust that they put in us.
Now that we are working from home, as a remote team, we are finding new ways to ensure that our teams are still focused on self care and making sure we still get to treat our teams in a small way.
Overall, what we have seen is that our teams care about staying connected more than anything else. The work continues (albeit at a slower pace) and clients trust that we are doing whatever it takes to get them what they need. We are also ensuring that our teams are taking advantage of this time to spend time on themselves, with their loved ones, and have a team of champions in their corner to do it!
This is day 11 of total social isolation for our team due to COVID-19.
That means in some of our cases, the kids or pets are home, are significant others are around, and as Recruiters, that means interviewing from home.
At Career Contacts, we have a really robust screening process, and an important piece of that is the phone interview.
Some of the perks of a strong phone interview are:
- Reducing unconscious bias
- Saving time (and therefore, money)
- Improved candidate experience (when done correctly)
- Increased quality of the hire by adding a step in the process
Now that our hiring managers are also conducting phone interviews, we’ve received a lot of questions on the do’s and don’t’s of phone interviews and thought we’d share our list!
Talk about salary
When possible, we encourage companies to be transparent with this process. If you are paying fairly, there should never be a worry of “leaving money on the table”. I also personally am a big fan giving candidates a range, and encourage them to share theirs.
Talk about culture fit / add
Instead of expecting them to know what you’re all about, take the time to share a bit about your values and what your company stands for. Tell them about your social events, your training programs, anything that highlights your company as a employer of choice.
PRO TIP: This might not be the right candidate for the role, but they might be for the next role, or be able to introduce you to your next dream candidate – it’s worth giving them a good feeling about the company.
Invite them to ask their questions
Candidates want to feel comfortable asking about what matters to them. It’s a great way to gauge what they value, and also allows them to screen themselves out early in the process if needed be. The more transparent you can be, the better!
Ask what they make now
It’s really none of your business. They are applying for a new position, likely with new roles and responsibilities, and potentially with greater expectations. Ask them what they are expecting to make in the role they are applying for instead.
Be afraid to dig deeper
If they don’t ask, it’s ok to find out what they value from companies – vacation, work from home, benefits. The offer package has a lot of room and if you know what they value, you have more to offer them when it comes time.
This also applies to things like their computer skills, communication skills or previous experience with a specific tool or program. Take the time to ask them the non negotiables up front. If you need someone with SAGE software experience, get that out there in the first round and reduce your work on the back end.
Disorganization in the hiring process reflects heavily on the company as a whole. Respect that the candidates time is equally as valuable as your own, and remember that they are interviewing you, as much as you are interviewing them.
If you are going to be late, you’re going to know an hour before hand, maybe even half an hour before – make sure you give them a heads up.
If you are cancelling all together, ensure that you are sincerely apologetic, and work with their availability to reschedule. Don’t normally work past 5 but that’s all they have available? Make it work!
The most important thing during a phone screen is to listen to your candidate, have a genuine interest in what they have to share, and be mindful of their time. Interviews are not easy for most, so walk into any interview with compassion and you’ll be pleasantly surprised what you get back in return!
Want some more tips?
Stay tuned for our next blog: Behind the Scenes of a Great Phone Interview
Part 1: The Benefits of Your Employees Working From Home
Employees have been asking to work from home (or remotely) for years.
Over time, this has become more common to work from home, but is still not how most organizations operate. At the most, employees have options to work from home on occasion, and are rarely doing their roles 100% remotely.
Now, with the Corona Virus, COVID-19, employees are being asked to work from home with little notice, and less support. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working remotely., but also support employees in being successful at home.
Here are a few of the benefits you may experience, depending on your role in the company.
Benefits to the company:
- Companies are all upgrading IT so that employees are efficient with time and accessibility
- Companies are able to show (not just tell) that they put trust in employees
- Employees working remotely are often more productive (less interuptions)
- Remote meetings are often more time effective and shorter in length
- Companies are able to hire employees from anywhere in the world – global reach!
- Allowing employees to work remotely is one of the best perks you can give them
Benefits to the employee:
- Time is saved on the commute to and from work
- Reduced costs of eating out, coffees etc.
- Extra time available for continuous learning like online courses and learning
- Allows you to work independently and demonstrate you are a hard worker and your value to the team – letting the work speak for itself
Benefits to employee and employer:
- Our carbon footprint is reduced (everyone wins!)
- Productivity will be increased on projects without distractions and interuptions
- The balance of work / life improves
- The cost of employee parking, bus passes, transportation is reduced
During this difficult time with COVID19 and the Corona Virus, let us all work together to be the best teams possible and support one another in finding success in our new work environments.
Collaboration over competition has always been our mantra and now more than ever, we are committed to supporting one another to come out of this time stronger, more connected and prepared.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our blog: How to Work from Home Effectively
Interviews are stressful – you want to be organized and appear to be fully qualified for each job you apply to. When getting ready and prepared for a job interview, it is important to think of the questions you may be asked and be ready with great responses.
One of the most common questions that still gets asked is some variation of “tell me about your weaknesses”.
Let’s get ready for this one together!
First, let’s consider why interviewers ask questions about your weaknesses.
They ask about weaknesses to see how and if candidates will fit into their organization when it comes to taking ownership. They also want to see if a candidate has the ability to recognize their imperfections and then be able to implement strategies to learn and grow to overcome them. Employers care about the process of coming back from errors, more so than the mistake itself.
Do not reply with “I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”.
It can be tricky to identify weaknesses.
One way to communicate positively about a weakness is to identify a skill or a trait that you are learning or have learned to overcome and that has now become a strength.
When asked “what is your weakness”, this is a great time to tell a story about yourself of how you have learned to improve yourself. This can be done by identifying a hard or soft skill you wanted to improve and then telling you interviewer the steps you took to actually do it.
Show that you are ready for self-improvement and growth.
Here are a few examples of good responses:
I am still learning to set boundaries. I have a tendency to people please and in the past, took on too much I don’t like giving up projects and can get caught up in the details. To help with this, I have learned to give myself deadlines to stay on deadline. I also ensure I prioritize and delegate when needed.
A weakness of mine is that I don’t speak a second language. In my last job at ABC Company, most of our clients were from Mexico or Southern USA and spoke Spanish. I took it upon myself to buy a Rosetta Stone (Audio Book) to learn conversational Spanish in my car to show my clients that I acknowledged my weakness and that I was committed to making a change.
We also found a great response from Hubspot, about delegating. “I’m incredibly self-motivated, and I sometimes find it difficult to delegate responsibility when I feel I can finish the task well myself. However, when I became manager in my last role, it became critical I learn to delegate tasks. To maintain a sense of control when delegating tasks, I implemented a project management system to oversee the progress of a project. This system enabled me to improve my ability to delegate efficiently.”
Remember that the common “what is your weakness” question can take many forms.
Interview questions can be straight forward or geared towards behavioral questions such as:
- How has this weakness negatively affected you?
- What would you like to improve in the next year?
- What would your pas manager say you need to improve on?
- If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
This is a great time for self-reflection. It’s not only helping you rock your next job interview; it will also be a really good opportunity to check yourself and see what improvements you can make to eliminate an answer from the roster.
Please feel free to contact our office with any questions.