Karen Lomas
April 22, 2020

Looking for work during Covid-19

If you are looking for work during Covid-19, I’m sure you know you are not alone in this.

There are a lot of people seeking income support and employment alternatives. I have been approached by a few who are now unemployed, or have been laid-off for the time being. It is confronting, I know. It is particularly hard if you were happy in your job. It is difficult if it was truly unexpected – even those in seemingly secure roles have been impacted by Covid-19. Many people are anxious and struggling financially. To begin, I want to focus on how you might be feeling and how you may be able to re-set.

It is OK NOT to be feeling OK

Some of you may not feel so confident in looking for work during covid-19. You may even be feeling overwhelmed by the chaotic situation you find yourself in. This is normal. Please do not think that you “should” be feeling differently. The self-talk about; “I should this, I should that” is not healthy for us. I have spoken in previous blogs about the “Tyranny of the Shoulds”. For example, in a blog I published a few years ago, called, “Should I enter Masterchef? I spoke of being encouraged to enter the TV competition.

Karen Horney’s concept of the Tyranny of the Shoulds is that we “divid(e) our personalities into two selves: an ideal self and a real self. What happens then, is that if we don’t live up to our ideal self, our inner critic comes out.” Another theorist, Albert Ellis, wrote about the ‘musts’ in our lives; I must be this, or that. “We put ourselves down when we fail to live up to our shoulds.”

So many students feel that they ‘should’ get a high ATAR, otherwise they are a “failure”, or that they ‘must’ gain a degree, otherwise they are “less” than others. It’s the same with any employee who isn’t climbing the ladder fast, or has lost their jobs. In the time of Covid-19 there a many people who might be putting such pressure on themselves in just this way.

Change and chaos

If you have found yourself furloughed, or unemployed and are looking for work during Covid-19 you can take the “shoulds” pressure off of yourselves. For everyone, it’s important to understand our lives as a bumpy journey that is punctuated by all sorts of changes. Change is a huge feature of modern times and isn’t easy for all of us to navigate.  This year is especially chaotic. Likely this year is the most chaotic any of us has ever been through. Covid-19 has magnified the chaos of casual employment and many other aspects of the 21st century.

It might help to know that it’s a thing; Chaos Theory. Find comfort in the fact that, for a long time and well before Covid-19 commentators have been speaking and writing about how hard it is living in chaotic times. So there are things outside of your control. This book is a good resource if you would like to find out more about chaos theory as relevant to careers.

  • Knowledge of circumstances outside of your control gives you permission to say to yourself:
  • “This is not me, or my doing.”
  • “I’m not alone in thinking that this is very, very hard.”
  • “I give myself permission to not always be OK.”
  • “It’s OK for me to reach out for help, rather than struggling alone.”

It’s then helpful to look at how you can thrive through chaos. Shellie Deloyer is a fellow Career Coach and Trainer, from Canada. I recently completed some training on this topic, with her through CERIC.

We looked at finding calm, discovering opportunities, and maintaining momentum. The following exercises are useful:


  • Set your 3 intentions every day of who you are going to be today – it might be Enthusiastic, Hopeful and Content.
  • Remind yourself through the day so as to come back to those states of being.

Being Present

Stay in the present by identifying:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can touch
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Anxiety Release

  • Anxiety = feeling fearful about the future.
  • It may be because you have had difficult past experiences.
  • You’re playing a disaster movie in your head!
  • Instead, play a success movie in your mind – picture what that looks like and focus upon how that feels.
  • Then refocus again on the present – repeat the previous (Being Present) activity.
  • Focus on what you CAN control and take responsibility for. Be proud of what you are managing to do.
  • Ask yourself; How are you choosing to carry on and lead at this time? It may be in supporting your children’s learning from home.
  • Ask yourself; What are you taking responsibility for at this time? It may be in ensuring that your partner gets a healthy meal at the end of a stressful work shift.


Ask yourself:

  • What am I meant to gain/learn from this?
  • What have I been asking for?
  • What do I want the future to look like?

Open yourself up to opportunity

An opportunity to sit and think. Reflect upon your work so far. So for example:

  • Did you enjoy your job, or was it making you anxious?
  • What have you always wanted to do but haven’t had the time for?
  • Is there something you have been doing as a hobby that you could perhaps turn into an income stream?
  • Could your “side hustle” give you sufficient earnings for now?
  • Could you find a low cost short course, such as an accredited Certificate level training course at a local TAFE?

A growth/opportunity mindset

Several new clients of mine are looking at their job search during Covid-19 with optimism and enthusiasm. In response to the, “I am Feeling…” question some are saying:

“I am feeling very relaxed and looking forward to creating a new chapter, just not sure where to begin/start.”

For another:

“I am feeling quite optimistic about taking new steps to redirect myself. I’ve been wanting to move away from hospitality work for some time and this seems like a good opportunity to do so. I’m excited by the prospect of learning new skills and finding meaningful work.”

This is music to my ears! I’m delighted to be able to help these clients as they are using a growth mindset and that is really healthy. We will then be able to explore their skills, those that they wish to continue to use and those that they are “burnt-out” using. We then look at their development needs and seek suitable training. Then it will be time to carry out the job search skills – how to find vacancies; resume and cover letter writing, and interview skills.

Notice how the strategies here represent a process. I am just as happy to start working with you when you’re feel at your most fragile. I collaborate with key local agencies and support services in the event that your needs are beyond the realm of my expertise. So with specialist referrals, in some instances,as required, I can guide you in the practical ways to find clarity, maintain momentum and acquire skills that will make you feel more career competent.

I know how it feels to need and want change. I know that having an advocate, coach and mentor is valuable. In this time of Covid-19 it has never been harder to be job seeking, but regardless, it is still worth job seeking during Covid-19.

Please contact me via my contact page to find out more about how I am offering online career coaching services during Covid-19



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