Pivoting in a pandemic: the top 3 steps to take in this crisis
Jennifer Magley was the keynote speaker for TechPoint’s 2020 Xtern summer session closing event. She is a sought-after speaker, a former professional athlete and NCAA Division I head coach, an entrepreneur and a single mother. Her leadership fable “How To Be Queen” will be released this fall through Archway Publishing.
Two weeks into my dream job we presented to a billionaire client on the 40th floor of a skyscraper overlooking New York City’s Central Park. The next day I was the opening speaker at our agency’s offsite event where both our North American and global CEOs were in the audience. It was a fairytale start to the year 2020, but I wasn’t dreaming. I was living my best life! Just three months later—84 days later, to be exact—I was laid off due to global pandemic cutbacks. The dream was over and the nightmare had begun.
Recently, I asked my six year old son if he had any ideas for how to make his own money to buy a toy he wanted. “I’m gonna have to lose more teeth,” he replied with a sigh. I knew how he felt. Like Fantine from Les Miserables I wondered for a moment how much my own teeth would be worth, but sadly I knew it still wouldn’t bring those financial ends together. Last month I shared the three things I learned from pivoting during a pandemic at the Xtern Farewell event. I am happy to share them in this article in the hope that they will encourage you or someone you know who is adapting to the current health crisis.
1.) Share Your Need
I’m that person on LinkedIn, the one with more than 10,000 connections who considers herself to be a master connector. Before the pandemic you could find me at nearly any dog and pony networking show smiling in a photo with a new found friend. In fact, I started a Women’s Power Lunch where we met once a month just so I could introduce wonderful business powerhouses that I knew to each other. With all the charitable work and boards I was on you’d think that I would not have trouble finding a new job after being laid off, right? Well, you would be wrong.
The main problem with my job search was that I refused to share my need. No one within my network knew that I had lost my job or that I was struggling financially. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and posted my truth on LinkedIn. Being that vulnerable made me nauseated.. My post went viral with over 10 million views and US News & World Report doing a story on my situation. For 15 minutes I was the most famous unemployed woman in the midwest (which was never a goal of mine.) For the full version of the original post click here.
My willingness to be vulnerable and transparent brought out the truth in others. People began sharing things they had never told anyone before about their journeys and it was awe inspiring. The empathy I received rocked my world with an outpouring of kind words, offers of money, and even … (gasp) a new job.
Takeaway: It is going to be awkward revealing that you need help. Share your need within your network. While publicly posting about your broken heart may not be your style, do not hesitate to privately message your network to ask if they can keep you top of mind for a new position.
2.) Stay Open
My new job does not come with the sizzle of saying I work with a global sports and entertainment agency that counts TikTok, Netflix, and Kevin Hart as clients. Fortunately, it is higher paying and completely remote work. In my new role I recruit people to become Benefits Advisors for an Austin based insurance company. I said “yes” to an opportunity that was out of my comfort zone and industry,which was difficult, but it has more than paid off. By staying open to all opportunities, I have been able to continue to provide for my two children, a feat of which I am very proud.
Each day I review the resumes of hundreds of individuals and I have noticed that people are listing the jobs they are doing in the meantime. I see laid-off doctors and attorneys listing Uber driver on their resumes. Before the pandemic there seemed to be a stigma around including a job outside of your chosen career. If you find yourself working a job that may not match your past portfolio of work I encourage you to list it. Recruiters and managers are impressed that professionals are pivoting to take on new ways of earning income.
Takeaway: There is honor in hard work. The work you’re doing to make ends meet deserves to be listed during the pandemic. Recruiters see work of any kind as a triumph to tenacity and grit.
3.) Write your six-word memoir
Legend has it that when Ernest Hemmingway was asked to write a six word novel he responded with, “Baby shoes for sale, never worn.” Part of pivoting is knowing where you are going. Intention guides action so setting the destination is priority one.
Consider writing your six word memoir or professional statement. The number of words allows you to distill your true focus into one succinct sentence. If you need inspiration consider visiting sixwordmemoirs.com or review my examples below:
Professional Statement: I help successful people become unstoppable.
Memoir: My love continues beyond my end.
Takeaway: Spend time reflecting on what really matters to help determine what is next.
In transition there are painful times, boring times, and there are times full of dread. It certainly can feel that nothing will ever get better. I’ve found that the only way to move beyond this is to go through it. There is no shame in being knocked down, a better opportunity might be waiting for you on the ground.