Covid-19 Survival Guide: The Season of Hope

Ann Stromberg

By Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

Hope is an emotional state that we have all experienced at one time or another. It is a trait inherent in everyone, and we all possess unique levels of hopefulness. Hope has several definitions: a feeling of expectation, the desire for a certain thing to happen, and wanting something to happen.

While we all have different levels of hope inherently, it is something we can increase with our beliefs and actions. Hope is also an important driver of positive emotion and happiness! We all need to see the future as full of potential during every stage of our lives.

Hope is a future-oriented belief system rooted in the belief that our dreams can become reality. One of the greatest times in life when hope is present is the changing of the seasons, especially winter into spring. Did you notice a positive shift in your outlook over the past week as we shed the mountains of snow and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine? It’s almost impossible not to feel a mood boost as we anticipate the onset of spring, perhaps more in 2021 than ever before!

The opportunity to head outdoors to enjoy all the beauty of spring along with the potential to socialize again naturally creates hope for our future. Being hopeful enhances our performance in all areas of life from academics and sports to career and relationships. Hope is closely related to optimism and happiness, and it’s essential in a positive mindset.

One phenomenon of the pandemic has been a loss of hopefulness due to social isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future. If you have noticed that your level of hopefulness has been strained or reduced due to the events of the past year, there are strategies to help increase your hopefulness and happiness. The energy of the change of seasons is the perfect time to start! To begin to cultivate hope, you need to start with self-awareness.

Pay attention to your thoughts and ask yourself, does this belief help me? If the answer is that it does not, then take steps to change that belief and commit to it. Often just acknowledging the faulty belief is enough to make a shift. Create a list of reasons why the belief is false to help to create a new mindset for yourself. Writing a new story about our life and our life’s journey allows for the potential to create a hopeful future. Visualizing a positive future is essential for growth, along with the belief we can accomplish it. The belief we can do something creates hope and has the bonus of improving our brain health!

Growth is always good, it not always easy but it is good. Our belief that we can try something regardless of the outcome is key to maintaining a growth mindset. A boost in self-esteem occurs through our efforts to try and to work toward a goal. Honestly, is there anyone that can’t benefit from a boost in self-esteem?

To achieve change and to create a more optimistic, hopeful future also requires good self-care to maintain the incredible body and brain we are given. Movement, good nutrition, and good sleep not only help us feel better but also boost our immune system. Although creating good habits can be hard, it is so important to our well-being. There is no reason to make wellness a chore, a good balance is the 80/20 rule, which means 80% of the time you are focused on wellness you will utilize our good habits, and 20% of the time we allow for some time off without guilt.

Our mind, body, and soul are so deeply connected that when one area falls out of balance the rest falls out of balance too. It is easier to feel happy and hopeful when we feel good physically. If some of your good habits have taken a back seat during the winter, let the shift to spring be the reason to clean things up. Take advantage of the positive energy of the season to enjoy a new hopeful, optimistic way of life.

If you’re having trouble developing good habits, check out this Covid-19 Survival Guide: Habits post for inspiration.

Talent Acquisition for Nonprofits

A critical component of any successful talent management strategy is a strong plan. For many nonprofits, talent acquisition efforts are limited to placing ads, sifting through resumes, interviewing, and ultimately hiring and hoping for the best. To ensure your nonprofit is making the right hire, serious time should be given to developing an acquisition plan designed to attract qualified candidates, and effectively assess those candidates for skill and cultural fit. Here are four things your talent acquisition strategy could be missing:

Strong Employee Value Proposition

Have you defined your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP) in a way that clearly defines the value, rewards, and benefits your employees enjoy? Effective EVPs are simple, focused statements that summarize why someone would want to work with your organization.

To create an EVP, compile data from Employee Engagement, Onboarding, and Exit surveys. Work to identify key trends from these three types of employee/company interactions. This information might touch on the benefits your employees value, aspects of the workplace culture that help them succeed, or simply what they enjoy about working in your organization.

Strategic Sourcing

Are you placing ads on Indeed or LinkedIn and thinking that’s all there is to it? Or are you carefully targeting candidates on industry-specific or function-specific career sites? Strategically and proactively sourcing a talent pool for your organization’s current and future positions is paramount to building a robust and successful talent pipeline.

Review the data you’ve received from hiring sources to determine where you’re finding the best applicants. Review the resumes of current high-performing employees to revisit their backgrounds. Think back to where you found them, then use that information to streamline which sources you use for your latest searches.

A Candidate-Driven Focus

A positive candidate experience can be the difference between a failing talent acquisition strategy and one that routinely delivers excellent hires. To stay competitive, your organization needs to think about what applicants want; what will turn them off; what will attract them and encourage company loyalty; and what will result in the candidate selecting your organization over others.

It’s a good idea to stay in close contact with your applicants. Collect feedback from those who have been through the application process, and gather information on their attitudes toward your organization. You’ll want to ask what they thought of your particular application process, as well as what they think you could improve upon.

Culture

Review the vision for your workplace culture. Do you value having a group of employees who know, like, and trust each other? Is your company a place where employees feel valued and supported? Are there mechanisms in place to help employees work through difficulties? Are you striving to create an environment where work-life balance is prioritized? And finally, it’s a good idea to ask: what defines your company’s culture? Once you arrive at a fair and truthful answer, do everything you can to achieve it.

It can be hard developing your organization’s talent acquisition on your own. That’s where the expert help of JVS Career Services can come in. To learn about the wide variety of executive services JVS Career Services provides to Nonprofits, click here.

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Job Market

By Peter Landesman, Senior Business Development Manager

The most recent report from the US Labor Department shows that the US unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.3 percent in January 2021. Translating that number to individuals, at least 10.1 million persons are currently unemployed.

The most recent report from the US Labor Department shows that the US unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.3 percent in January 2021. Translating that number to individuals, at least 10.1 million persons are currently unemployed.

Although this is much lower than the rate in April 2020 (14.8 percent), unemployment is well above the pre-COVID levels of February 2020, when the rate was 3.5 percent. 

This data serves as a type of counterweight to the most recent report from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which indicates that there are nearly 6.5 million job vacancies in the country. Job vacancy increases were seen in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing, utilities, and nondurable goods manufacturing. Decreases were reported in accommodation and food services.

While this kind of information might be easier to parse and analyze when one is not directly affected, it is harder for those who have lost a job and are actively looking for work. What are some options for today’s workers seeking employment?

Gap Jobs or Side Hustles

The loss of regular income can be traumatizing. Although many workers can qualify for unemployment benefits, the benefits may not be enough to cover basic living expenses. Some workers elect to take a “gap job” as a way to generate income while looking for a more suitable opportunity.

It is easier for those workers to seek jobs in high-demand sectors, where employers often offer fast-track or even immediate employment. Examples include retail, warehouse, financial services, and call center or customer service work.

Some workers take advantage of their gap job by leveraging their access to employee-only intranets, which can expose one to career opportunities that may not be posted on public sites, such as LinkedIn or Indeed.

Still, others take on side hustles—such as driving for Uber or DoorDash—during those times when they aren’t specifically looking for a job. 

Remote Positions 

Many workers do not feel comfortable working on-site during the pandemic. It’s now possible to search for remote jobs, which often means that job seekers can work for employers that are not located near them. This significantly increases the number of job opportunities, as the search area now becomes nationwide, or even worldwide, in scope. Local employers might also offer remote opportunities that have the potential to become on-site jobs once it is safe for that to happen.

Career Pivot

Some workers may want to consider changing or pivoting in their careers. Perhaps they feel that their industry will recover too slowly from the pandemic, or will not recover at all. Acquiring new skills, or enhancing existing skills, usually requires training.

One option is to investigate training opportunities offered through The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In Ohio, these grants, which help underwrite or defray the costs of the training, are administered on a county-by-county basis through OhioMeansJobs Centers.

Forge Ahead With a Traditional Job Search

For workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19, seeking a similar job in one’s field is often the most appealing choice, and there are plenty of employers with open positions they need to fill. However, for those who worked in industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and restaurants, exploring options beyond your chosen field might be a wise course.

Job seekers who have the skills and the experience for available jobs can still face challenges, due to the greater competition for those open positions. Of course, candidates who have the ability and desire to network; candidates who can convert strong resumes into interviews; and candidates who excel in those interviews will always have an advantage. 

Fortunately, the education and training needed to acquire these skills are precisely what JVS Career Services is offering through their Career Success Package. To learn more about the wide variety of services JVS Career Services provides, please click here.