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By now almost everyone in the world is talking about the Coronavirus. 

You may not be sick, and you might not even know anyone who is, but your life will surely be turned upside down by this tiny virus.

Shops, restaurants, schools, concerts, and entire sports leagues have closed. Flights, conferences, and even Broadway shows have been cancelled. We haven’t seen anything like this since September 11th, 2001. People are spooked, and as a result some are hoarding supplies and barricading themselves indoors.

Fear is rising. And we haven’t even hit the peak of the pandemic yet.

So how will all of this impact your career?

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios…

  1. You still have a job, but you’re worried about getting the virus at work. If you have a compromised immune system or are over the age of 60, you probably don’t want to be interacting with the public right now. Request a change of assignment. If you can’t get reassigned and you’re fortunate enough to be in a union, ask your union rep to help you get transferred to a new position. If you aren’t in a union and can’t get a reassignment then consider taking sick leave. This may be unpaid, but it’s possible the government will start providing assistance to people who can’t work because of the virus. If you are healthy and are working with the public, make sure you are taking all reasonable precautions. And if you get sick, PLEASE GO HOME!
  2. You still have a job, but you’re told to work from home. Congratulations! You still have a job. The most important thing is to set clear expectations with your manager or supervisor on what you are supposed to be accomplishing while working remotely. Stay in close communication with your manager and team both to avoid becoming isolated, but also so you can stay in the loop on what’s happening with your company. Reach out to colleagues and co-workers to offer moral support. And avoid getting sucked into gossip and rumors — they don’t help anyone.
  3. You are furloughed. This one is a bit tougher — especially if you don’t have a work contract or a union contract. Since most of us are “at will” employees, we can quit whenever we want. However, our employers can also fire us at any time–and for just about any reason. My suggestion is to use this time to learn a new skill that will make you more valuable at your company. Why is this more important than bingeing Netflix or stress baking? Well, when it comes time to go back to work, your company may not rehire everyone. Companies sometimes use “black swan” events as an excuse to cut costs, or get rid of underperforming employees. The more value you can offer the company, the more likely it is that you will be asked back. Checking in regularly with your manager also shows that you are eager to return to work. By the way, if you’re not getting furlough pay, file for unemployment immediately.
  4. You lose your job. First of all, I’m sorry. This is especially tough because right now few companies are hiring. File for unemployment immediately. Don’t wait and hope you find something else quickly. You paid into the fund so you have a right to get your money. It may not be enough to cover all your expenses, but it will help slow the burn rate of your savings. 

If you have been laid off due to the economic slowdown caused by the Coronavirus, there may be some additional help coming from your state and/or federal government. In the meantime, start looking for a new gig immediately. Change your LinkedIn profile. Email and text friends, colleagues, and contacts and tell them you are looking for work. Polish your resume. If you are really pressed for a job, consider signing up to work on the Census. They need tons of people and the pay is fair. Just know many of the jobs are public-facing, so this might not be a great option if you have a compromised immune system or if you just plain hate people!

If you’re in scenarios 2, 3, or 4, consider starting a home business. Regardless of when you get back to work, it’s always good to be generating additional cash. Whether you walk dogs, make clothes, play piano, tutor kids, do freelance graphics or code, having a side hustle can help you achieve your financial goals more quickly. Who knows, it might even turn into a full-time gig! 

Eventually, the virus will pass and things will go back to a new normal. What that new normal will look like is anybody’s guess. My hope is that you weather the storm and come out even stronger. Buddhists call this “turning poison into medicine.” 

No matter what’s going on with your work, black swan events like this give us an opportunity to self-reflect. What if you used this time to think about your personal goals, your career choices, and even your life direction?

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, I have a great new e-course for you. It’s called the True Path System and it can help you find meaning, direction, and purpose in your career and life. 

I’m offering a special “challenging times” discount for all my friends and readers. Just click here to get a whopping discount off the regular price of this life-changing course.

Wishing you total success and fulfillment.


Marc Sachnoff

The Career Buddha

PS – the most important thing during any crisis is to stay calm and not to lose hope. For more inspiration and encouragement from a Buddhist perspective see https://www.sgi-usa.org/

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