Will anyone miss you?
Your boss is sitting at home with all the irritations and uncertainties that come from lockdown. His or her most compelling question is ‘How is my boss rating me as he sits at home?’ It has to be your most compelling question too. Coronavirus shows up, more vividly than any management consultant, who is contributing and who is not. More, it shows up pretty clearly how much each of us is contributing – better than the best appraisal system invented.
Oh, you’ve always been appreciated, no question of that. Maybe you have been extra supportive, a good reason for keeping you on. Your boss needs all the support s/he can get. Maybe you were always handy to run the odd errand, make an occasional booking, check up on how the car service is coming along, see if the dry cleaning is ready. All good stuff but not contributing to the profitability or sustainability of the business.
Perhaps you have been much nearer to the seat of power, a sounding board for new ideas, someone whose views are always worth listening to but are not all that practical. Or an old hand who has made his or her contribution but is really getting out of date now. Even an intern of whom much was expected – but we’ll have to put that aside until the business settles down again. Or a middle manager who has slogged their way through – but obviously isn’t going anywhere.
If you fit, or nearly fit, one of these categories, start working hard on the next phase of your career. It is coming to you on a very sharp-pointed instrument any time now. Why? Because all costs are being carefully reviewed, all headcounts reduced and, above all, all teams being scrutinised for their suitability for the New Post Coronavirus Era (NPCE). The needs for this era are different from those of the pre-coronavirus decade. Even good players will be let go.
Speed is not, of itself, a good criterion of anything except getting there first. But in recovery it is also a critical factor in preventing slipping back, stalling on a hill or simple exhaustion. It’s not the event itself that is most scary. In fact lockdown was, at first, a novelty, an excitement. It’s the recovery that tests the metal. Stand ready for that test now. Make a realistic assessment of yourself under the headings [a] will anyone miss me? [b] is it time to make a change anyway? [c] am I prepared if they boot me out?  Do I know what I want to do? Getting any job may be a priority but never lose sight of what you want to do. If you don’t know, address this immediately*.  Is my contact list up to date and properly classified? [a] Who really owes me one? [b] which senior contacts will be good for introductions at CEO, CFO, CIO etc level? [c] which other contacts may have, or know of, jobs?  Am I making the right approaches to each individual? Pay as much attention to your approach and follow up as you would if you were buying a $1M house. You are doing something more important than even that.  How is my interview technique? If you answer that with ‘OK’ be very worried. You are probably giving pre-virus answers to pre-virus questions. And not asking enough questions yourself. You absolutely do need a few run-throughs before you give poor interviews*.  Do I appreciate that getting a job now is tough but not impossible? You will answer ‘yes’ to this, I am sure. Then think about what it means for the way you present yourself. You have to prove that you know what is going on, locally, nationally and internationally. No kidding.
Don’t let yourself be forgotten.
Prepare yourself to be missed.