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COVID-19: The Silent Job Killer

COVID-19 confirmed there is no such thing as job security.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 36 million people in the U.S. filed for unemployment benefits and more than 20.6 million jobs were lost between mid-March and May 14.

The pandemic showed no mercy in who lost their job — from the CEO to the bartender, its destructive path was indiscriminate. For some, losing a job may be similar to experiencing a death, whereas an individual may go through one of the five traditional stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Like our families, faith and lifestyles, our careers are a big part of who we are and how we are perceived by others. Losing your job means a part of you has been lost and a piece of your identity has been stolen.

“Loss of a job or career can be quite difficult for people, as work is such a large part of a person’s identity and sense of agency,” said Dr. Rebecca Klott of River City Psychological Services in Grand Rapids. “People often feel like they are free-falling or like they’re lost when they’ve been laid off or lose their jobs because work often creates a structure in their lives and a sense of purpose. Some people can become depressed and angry; others can experience high levels of anxiety and aimlessness.”

Though losing a job may seem devastating at the time, it can also open windows of opportunity. The pandemic has forced us to work differently and to think outside the box. Some of us have become more technically savvy, For others, we are forging stronger bonds with co-workers, family and friends. This is a great time to look at your current career path and ask yourself, “Is this where I really want to be?” Review your career trajectory and consider finding a new job or a completely new profession, one that makes you happy and where you will be fulfilled. Accept this as the “new normal,” but do not let the new normal stop you from becoming the very best.

As companies reorganize after COVID-19, there will be new career opportunities that will allow us to grow, prosper and succeed. Let COVID-19 stand as a lesson of who we are and how far we have come.

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