We define altruism as the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. In other words, working to help others without any expectation of anything in return and helping others less fortunate than ourselves. A willingness to lend a hand to those in need of assistance. Trying to make the world around us a better place.
I reflect on the coronavirus pandemic and the current state of the world around me. I wake up every morning and ask myself what I can do to help. The answer from the government and every news outlet is straightforward. Stay home and walk the dog (occasionally). I hear that answer, and it just leaves me empty. Don’t get me wrong. I love my dog but that can’t be enough. The greatest challenge faced in a generation and my contribution is to stay home, walk my dog, and watch Netflix? There must be something more I can do in the service of my greater community.
Medical professionals are on the front lines, literally placing their own lives at risk to save the lives of strangers. Truckers, delivery drivers, and warehouse employees work long hours to bring us the goods and supplies that we need to shelter safely in place. Cashiers and grocery store employees work bravely behind plastic shields to keep the shelves stocked and the lines moving quickly for our weekly visits to Wegmans. The list goes on, and there are heroes everywhere. Just because you get a paycheck does not diminish the level of your altruism. You are serving the greater community.
But what about in my own home? Upstairs, I hear a sewing machine. My wife has put her art business on hold while she sews protective masks for the local healthcare workers. My 2020 version of “Rosie the Riveter” is practicing her brand of altruism. And what do I do? I can’t sit still and do nothing. I try to limit my streaming to a couple of hours each day (happy movies only!). The country’s economic decline is accelerating faster than Mikaela Shiffrin on a gold medal-winning downhill ski run. So, I looked inward and decided I can do two things. I can write, and I can coach. Sometimes for money but often for free. There are a lot of people whose careers and employment are in crisis. These activities are my form of altruism. It’s not a lot, but it’s something. It gives me purpose every day to keep pushing forward to that brighter day I am confident awaits us on the other side of this crisis.
But what about you? If you made it to paragraph five of this article, you likely are a job seeker struggling for direction. Take a step away from yourself and view yourself as the “other” in the standard definition of altruism. Look at your current job search like an objective 3rd party. For you, altruism starts right at home with yourself. You need to take care of yourself before you can help others. That means you need to get your job search plan in order and running that a well-oiled engine.
You have two choices. Pull the sheets up over your head and wait until the dust clears to start your job search. There is enough streaming content available to occupy your attention for the next few months. Or you could consider a more productive option that focuses on action and forward motion. Put a job search plan in place and execute on that plan every day. When the economy turns the corner and hiring begins to accelerate in the right direction, where will you be? The answer is right at the intersection of advantage and opportunity.
How do you execute a winning job search strategy when the world is on pause? Here are three points for you to consider where I believe the crisis has created an opportunity.
Networking in the Age of Coronavirus
I have said it before, and I will repeat it. Networking is how you are going to increase the probability of landing that next job. Don’t put your job search networking on hold just because the virus has placed the economy into the deep freeze and pushed all your potential contacts into their homes. If anything, COVID-19 presents you with a unique opportunity to accelerate your networking activities for two reasons. First, all networking and exploratory meetings are now, by definition, going to be virtual. The barrier of convincing someone to agree to invest enough time to meet you for a cup of coffee is off the table. And second, and perhaps most importantly, we are all sheltered in our homes, practicing social distancing and craving human connection. Take the time to draft your requests for a virtual networking meeting correctly, and you should see an uptick on your connection and meeting acceptance rate.
Continuous Learning in the Age of Coronavirus
Just because COVID-19 and the need for social distancing limit our physical movement, there are no boundaries on your ability to stretch your mind. Now is a perfect time to expand your skillset with a focus on continuous learning. Take the time to research online job postings for positions you are targeting. Do an inventory of your skills as compared to the posting for the ideal candidate. Are there gaps that you can close through online learning and certification? Are there skills that you can add to your value proposition that will give you a competitive advantage over other candidates? Whether it is free or low cost learning through platforms like Skillshare or Coursera, or formal programs through association and universities, there is no time like the present. And the beauty of online learning is you can always hit the pause button and catch another episode of Better Call Saul!
Thought Leadership in the Age of Coronavirus
One of the most common areas of opportunity I see when reviewing clients' LinkedIn profiles is the absence of personal branding and thought leadership. The clients are well-seasoned professionals with years of substantial work experience. Still, their profiles are devoid of any representation of their brand and the knowledge that they could share with a broader community. Cooped up in your home for the foreseeable future, you have time now to close that gap. There are several types of LinkedIn activity you should utilize to elevate your brand and thought leadership positioning. Listed in descending order of priority (i.e., the potential for engagement):
Self-created video posts (short 1-3 minute)
Self-published articles (on LinkedIn Pulse, from your blog site, or both)
Sharing articles or videos from 3rd party sources and including your specific insight on the article or video (keep to 1-2 paragraphs or 3-5 bullet points).
Commenting on other individuals’ posts (not simple congratulatory notes but adding real insight)
So, in closing, we can practice altruism for others and ourselves at the same time. Let’s continue to practice social distancing. Do our part and stay at home. But while at home, we can advance our job search and our competitive advantage in this new job market that will emerge from the real medical and economic challenges of today’s world.
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Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.