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How to deal with recent layoffs, pay cuts and job market uncertainty

How to deal with recent layoffs_coronavirus

Last week I hosted a webinar with Career Contessa, and a large part of our conversation was about the current job market. In addition, many of the conversations we’ve been having in the Work Bigger community are around uncertainty, especially since many of you are in the midst of a career change. 

The news is sharing some scary numbers right now, which I won’t share here because I don’t think hearing those numbers will serve you.

Regardless of the numbers, you may be impacted by the current job market. Maybe your company is enacting layoffs or looking at pay cuts to keep costs down.

Cue anxiety, stress, total fear. Right? 

Even if your company hasn’t implemented any changes yet, you could still be bracing for the worst and maybe even wondering – Are changes coming? And what will this mean for me?

(I know because my husband and I had this exact conversation a few days ago. He already went through a layoff last June and the fear of – “Will this happen again?” is real.)

So today I want to address how to deal with the uncertainty in the job  market, especially if you or your loved ones are directly impacted. I promise you – if you can start practicing what I’m sharing below, you’ll be better equipped to handle everything that’s going on right now. 

Experience the fear and the anxiety

How are you feeling about your job situation right now?

Scared? Anxious? Worried?

Label it. Seriously, take a deep breath and put a word to it. Then sit with that feeling. 

Be with it. Close your eyes and let it wash over you. 

What I’m asking you to do may feel impossible. Many of us don’t know how to really experience our fear, our anxiety and all the negative emotions that come with being a human. 

Instead, we run away from them – and there’s good reason. If you’re thinking, “No way in hell am I going to sit with these feelings,” I get it. 

When we’re feeling anxiety, our brain is in fight or flight mode. Anxiety is “bad” and a sign that we’re in trouble. As a result, we either feel compelled to run (also known as avoiding taking action) or fight (take any action that makes us feel like we’re useful or safe).

This is why sitting with the fear and the anxiety may feel impossible at first.

But the only way out is through. The anxiety is there for a reason, and it’s telling you to pay attention to something. 

Furthermore, you need to sit with the emotions and accept them because the more you resist them, the more intense they get.  

One mantra I use to acknowledge and be with my emotions is, “I hear you, I see you, I feel you.” 

Can you try that?

Cultivate a mindset of possibility

This isn’t about being positive and keeping an upbeat attitude right now (although a mindset of possibility will definitely create more positive feelings which doesn’t hurt). 

This is actually a better strategy and one that will allow you to cultivate better results for yourself, especially during challenging times.

How do you create a mindset of possibility? 

First recognize what state you’re in right now, then make a different choice. 

The brain operates in two ways: the away state or the toward state.

Are you in the away state or the toward state? 

Check out this series where I cover this in more depth.

But in a nutshell, when you’re in the away state, you’re in fight or flight and trying to survive. You’re making decisions to keep yourself safe. 

And when you’re in the toward state, you’re feeling grounded and confident. And you’re more likely to make decisions from a place of possibility because you’re feeling optimistic and safe. 

The brain state you’re in impacts the results you create for yourself. So if you’re spending time avoiding taking action, you’re going to create results that don’t serve you. 

What brings you into the toward state? 

As humans we fluctuate between both. One state wouldn’t exist without the other. 

To help you get into the toward state, journal on the following: 

  • When is a time you felt really confident? 
  • What were you doing? 
  • What did it feel like? Really think about the emotion here.
  • What decisions did you make?
  • And what results did you create for yourself when you were in that state?

Look for the growth

Growth is always there. Yes, unemployment is on the rise (for right now). Travel, hospitality, service, events – all of these industries are significantly impacted by COVID-19. 

And if you work in any of these areas, you’re most certainly feeling the immediate impact. 

Despite these contractions, there are industries that are growing right now. 

For example, while the stock market is extremely volatile, some companies like Zoom are doing really well. Video streaming to pizza delivery companies are experiencing growth (Netflix, Amazon, Domino’s). 

 There is always opportunity in times of chaos. 

I want to share a list of companies that are hiring right now, curated by Work Bigger members. (We have a group coaching membership, and our members are spending a lot of time keeping an eye out for each other right now.) 

So in case you’re in the midst of the job search and looking at opportunities, here’s what to look into: 

  • Roles in UX, Content and Design: Think Companies
  • Kinship (a petcare company) is hiring for 70 roles in 10 cities across the world
  • A list of 1500 remote positions. I haven’t vetted these, but they include everything – from engineering jobs to software to design and more. It’s worth a look. 
  • CultureAmp is hiring for roles in Customer Success, Data, Engineering, Product, Marketing and more. 
  • The New York Times is filling several positions posted in the last two weeks.

These are just a fraction of some of the opportunities that are out there. Also, check out this list of hiring freezes by Candor.

I also share a lot of these opportunities on Instagram, so make sure to follow along. 

In Conclusion

You’re going to shift from optimism to pessimism in the days to come. You’re going to feel afraid and cry and feel hopeless. 

All of it is welcome. Allow all of it. Experience all of it right now. That’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself. And stay connected. 

We’ll be sharing more resources through this blog, our group coaching membership and Instagram. 

Now tell me in the comments – will you be trying out the practices I shared here? Share one thing you’re going to put into action today. 


Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Gillian says:

    The weirdest thing is that during the pandemic is when my job search started to heat up. I was offered a position and accepted it the day the shelter in place order went out in my state. My start date was pushed back, but mostly I’m scared the opportunity will be taken away completely. And I’m worried that my current unemployment benefits won’t be extended if that’s the case. In addition to that, two other companies reached out for interviews. One told me the position was now on hold, which is understandable, but the other request came yesterday! I have never had this much attention in my job search before and the world is literally on fire!

    I’m trying to remain positive about the position I did accept, because they’re mostly an online company and are still hiring for other roles. But I really am terrified about it falling apart and being back at square one.

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Congrats on all the progress Gillian, that’s awesome! Like I talked about here some places are growing right now and looking for support more than ever. Your job search must be aligning with those industries / companies. It’s totally understandable you still feel apprehension. It’s hard not to right now. I say allow that fear but also enjoy all the progress you’ve made and the opportunities coming your way.

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