Most of us are currently following the stay at home orders that have been instituted all over the world. I have been hearing a lot of people saying things like “I just feel stuck” or “I feel like this is wasted time”.
The fact is, most of the world is in the same situation, so feeling like you are getting left behind as the world is moving forward simply isn’t the case, we are all in the same boat. Mindset is key in this situation. It’s important that you are choosing to see the silver lining of this extra time as the chance to use it however you feel works best for you. For some, that will mean some much needed down time, for others, it might be getting in that quality time with the kids that you have been missing. For others, it can be a time to grow your skills and knowledge to set you apart when the world returns to normal.
Here are some ideas of great ways to keep that stagnant feeling at bay!
Take an online class
Utilize some of the wonderful online learning platforms to deepen your software skills, learn about how other people in your field approach their tasks, or even to pick up a new hobby. If you don’t know where to start here are a few suggestions:
MasterClass is a great site where famous experts in their field share their knowledge. Here you can learn to cook like Gordon Ramsey or critically think like Neil deGrasse Tyson. It is a bit pricier, but they are running a buy one, get one deal that you could split with a friend or colleague.
Udemy is similar in concept to MasterClass with a wide range of subjects and price points. They also run great sales every few weeks with up to 90% off some courses.
SkillShare is more targeted to the arts but features great content if you are looking to pick up a new hobby or are interested in an arts career, and they are running a free two-month trial.
Read a book
Normally our schedules are so packed with work, social events, and errands that we don’t have time to sit down and read a book. Check out the great selection of physical books available for delivery online or download an eBook from a respected person in your field, a great life coach, or a how-to book for a skill or hobby you are interested in.
Did you know we have a career coaching book available? Check out the HR Insider; how to land your dream job and keep it – available online at Chapters and Amazon!
Update your LinkedIn / Resume
If you are facing a career change or looking to grow your network, take some time to review your LinkedIn page and resume to ensure that it is up to date and the best reflection of you professionally so that recruiters or potential connections are more interested. Make sure to include keywords in your profile, so when recruiters are searching for candidates, your profile will have a higher change of popping up on their radar.
Practice your skills
Take this time to revisit the skills on your resume that you may have not used in a while. For example, if you have Excel as a top skill on your resume but haven’t been using it in your current role take some time to play around and assess where your skills are now and take steps to improve them.
Things like legitimate goal setting can get bumped off the to-do list easily. Take this time to sit down and map out some SMART goals for yourself for the short term and long term. If you set a 3-month goal, add a calendar alert to remind you to check in on your progress six weeks from now, and again at the goal date.
If you are looking toward applying for positions soon, ask a friend (or us!) to stage a practice interview with you. The earlier you do this practice interview the earlier you can identify gaps in your skillset that could help guide you to the best online courses to be taking now.
Turn your designated Amazon scrolling time into time where you “shop” for dream companies. This form of shopping will not cost you anything and may help you discover a new goal.
If you have (or discover) a company that you would love to work for, reach out on LinkedIn to see if you can arrange for an informational interview using Zoom or FaceTime. Although the recruiter at your dream company might not be immediately available to interview or meet with you, it’s still a great idea to throw your name out there and express your interest in case a suitable role opens up later down the road.
Develop your brand
Who do you want to be perceived as professionally? Do your LinkedIn, socials, and resume all reflect the same brand identity? If not, take some time and analyze what you should adjust to best represent yourself. If branding is not your strong suit that may be a great online class to take!
If there are any great things you have found to continue your professional development during this time we would love to hear about it!
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
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