How to Cope with Job Uncertainty during the Pandemic

After six long months of furlough, as the majority of workers returned to the office in early October, they were greeted by a now-ditched ad from the British government — have you thought of working in cyber? With 42% of British workers worried about the security of their role since August, this advertisement didn’t give us hope, but made the public fearful. With most people in creative roles already working secondary jobs, the elephant in the room emerged itself: is my job even safe?

With so much uncertainty about what affects lockdown will bring, it’s understandably hard to remain optimistic in these times. Yet, to try and regain some control of the situation, remember to P: perception, plan, productivity, and proactivity.

Perception

Right now, you’re likely in crisis mode. With unemployment stats and ‘predictions’ covering the news, the outlook is bleak to say the least. But, in these moments, remember to take a step back and breathe.

Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and co-author of ‘Be Fearless: Change your life in 28 daysstates: “as with many situations, perception is key and that begins in your mind. So next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no control, take some time to change your thinking. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you go from feeling powerless to powerful.”

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed over the pandemic and your job, take a step back. Remind yourself that, like the rest of the world, no one could have predicted this and the devastation it could have caused. In this time, identify what you can’t change and what you can. Although anxiety disorders often make us think we are the problem, note that you have done nothing wrong. Sure, the global panic caused by the coronavirus pandemic is abnormal, but this isn’t a ‘normal’ thing to happen.

Plan

After you’ve identified what you can’t control, it’s important to recognise what you can. So, if feces hit the fan, have a contingency plan in place. Not only will this help you to feel less anxious, but if things don’t go your way and you are unfortunately let go from your job, you’ll know exactly what to do.

For example, if you’re worried about the risk of sudden unemployment, look into any government schemes, such as benefits, that may be able to support you during these times. Similarly, if you have some many saved, think of small ways you could possibly live on that for a while until you get another job. If you are made redundant, it’s also important to know your rights that are listed on the government website.

By recognising that things may not go to your original plan (or even this new one), and may diffuse energy, having the awareness of government schemes or other possible jobs you could slip into is never a bad idea. In these unprecedented times, we need to act differently; with our world upside down, being aware of your options can only help you in the long run, not hinder you.

Become productive

So, you’re not too sure if your job seems secure and you have a back-up plan in place? That doesn’t mean you should slack off in work. If you’d like to become an even more valued member of your team, possibly giving you that push towards job security, set yourself SMART goals.

To make sure your goals are clear and achievable, they should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

Your tasks could be either short or long term goals, but they must be something you can achieve and can add to your portfolio of skills. For example, if you’d like to impress your boss and be more likely for a promotion to supervisor, set this as your goal. Not only is it simple, relevant, and measurable, but if you work hard and impress your boss, it will be achievable. Giving yourself a time frame to achieve it will also make it more-likely to happen.

By aligning to the SMART method, you’ll not only set yourself a clear target of when to complete it, but also gives you the focus of what you actually want from your career. Even if you do lose your job during the pandemic, setting SMART goals such as the one above will not hinder you. After putting in extra work, broadening your skill set, and showing your past-employer you are capable, you will likely get a positive letter of recommendation from your boss. Then, when applying for future jobs, why not go for this SMART goal position?

Proactive

So, you’re still doing the work but preparing for the worst. While the future is scary, now is the perfect time to update your CV.

Not only will you be prepared in case things do go pear shaped, but always making sure your CV is up-to-date is useful for any possible future position and opportunity that comes your way. So if it’s in need of a little refresh, take the time while you have it to give your resume a lick of paint, making sure it highlights the best version of you.

Similarly, if you’re worried about the job market and having an online presence, why not update LinkedIn. Not only will you be able to view a large range of jobs and connect with other professionals, but possible employers will also be able to contact you if they’re interested in your skillset.

… And relax

Right now, remember that everything may be up in the air, but it doesn’t mean the worst will happen. Whether you’re in a creative role that the government isn’t too sure of, or are just worried about the current climate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be unemployed in the next few months.

If you are extremely worried and anxious about the current climate, think about talking to your GP or to someone from a registered mental health charity about your symptoms and what they can do to help. Although things are scary right now, it doesn’t mean you should be struggling.

Written by Alison Irlam
Alison is a writer with a keen interest in mental health and wellbeing. Since finishing a postgraduate degree in Creative Writing and having her own experiences with mental health, she has dedicated her time to helping and empowering others to make positive changes in their own lives.