At a recent dinner with a friend, I was asked if my coaching business was really busy because so many people are out of work. She is correct, The US has a 6% unemployment rate at the moment and many are out of work. However, these are truly unique times.
While businesses are opening up and the country appears to be on a positive employment track, individual workers are not all coming back to the job market. Over 916,000 jobs (in addition to agricultural jobs) were added in the last month, evidence that hiring momentum is building.
However, that statistic doesn’t tell us much about the conversations people are having at home about whether to go back to work or not.
A second, very interesting conversation, was with a recruiter who informed me that she has far more job openings to fill than she does candidates. The sourcing of viable candidates to fill a variety of positions has been challenging.
There are a few reasons for this, a major one being fear of COVID in the workplace. People are concerned about their health and not necessarily ready to be working in an inside office environment.
Childcare continues to be an issue that complicates some parent’s return to work and may force delays. For others, the unemployment and stimulus benefits have been an adequate source of funding and they are weighing the option of riding that out as long as possible.
The choice to delay going back to work (for those who can) is one I’d like to address. I believe in always considering long term goals in decision making. What might be the long term gain or loss if you decide to wait longer to job search?
Here are several compelling reasons to return to work, and quickly – assuming the health of you or your family will not be compromised by this decision.
- Mental Health – Many significant human needs are met through work. The sense of fulfillment and purpose derived from work are important ways people create meaning and value in their lives, connect with others, use their skills and talents and create structure in their lives. There is a sense of pride and well-being that comes from having a job.
- Best chance to get a temp-to-hire job is now – Companies are hiring and seeking out talent. If you take on temporary work now, especially with companies that you aspire to work in, you have a better chance of being noticed and becoming permanent than ever before.
- Best pay rates are now – Demand is high and applicants are low which means you may be able to negotiate a higher salary than you will when that balance shifts. This will likely happen in a few months when more people are comfortable with the health risks. If you secure a higher pay rate at the start of your job, the overall financial gain over time is significant.
- The most desirable jobs / companies are easier to get into – There are many sought after companies and jobs people don’t leave because they are in highly desirable workplaces. This is an opportune time to seek out those positions because people are transitioning due to the pandemic. Once these positions fill, you can assume that people will occupy them again for the long term.
- Avoid gaps on your resume – You may have the resources to stay home, but when you do decide to head back to the workplace, that gap on your resume will need to be explained. Ask yourself, what is your reason for not returning to work as soon as possible and what explanation would you provide? Will you be viewed as a more or less desirable candidate in this context?
- Get your spouse off the couch – We are creatures of habit and this past year has reset these habits in many ways. Particularly, if you have a partner or family, how is it helping or harming your relationships to be out of work? How might the dynamics of your home life improve if you were to return to work?
- This is an opportunity to reinvent – If you have been out of work, or even if you are currently employed but unhappily, now is an exciting time to make that career change that you may have been dreaming about. Take this brief window of time that is ripe with opportunity and create a new career path. Companies may be more willing to take on someone who can bring value, despite having different or less experience than they typically require.
- Save your stimulus money – While some of the government assistance right now may feel like a way to pay for another month of living expenses, it’s also a way to build savings (emergency funds), pay down debt or invest. The emotional boost of not only getting a new job but also having additional money in your bank accounts will give you a sense of independence and control which many have not felt in a while.
You will not likely hear about the demand for good employees on the news right now, but if you decide to look for work, the word on the street is that good jobs are available. You might just re- enter the workforce and reap benefits that will be gone once the rest of the world figures it out.