Tools to get rid of Corona-related unemployment
Since I relocated back to Hong Kong from the Netherlands after the orientation year, I have been unemployed for two months. Two months is not a long period, of course, but the stagnant job market gives me no hope on getting out of the unemployment trap as soon as I hope either.
Being unemployed means you need to deal with the issue of “How to spend your time every day”. It is different from working from home because you do not have work to do nor no one will monitor what you are doing. It is like self-quarantine that you are asked to stay in one place to “do your own stuff”. Put it in an optimistic way, it is a “long holiday” in which you spend time in a 300ft” villa (a normal apartment size in Hong Kong).
So, what am I doing in such unemployed status amid Corona?
1. Apply for jobs
Turning from unemployed to employed needs efforts, as much important as it depends on the macroeconomic market. In Hong Kong, although the number of COVID-19 cases remains relatively low and the situation seemed to get better between late-February to early-March, the infection number has brought up as more Hongkongers coming back from foreign countries, as well as some increase in the local infection cases. As a result, as of today, the experts even urged the government to impose more restrictive measures such as locking down the city. So, even though the job market once started resuming in early-March, there are fewer job openings now as the situation exacerbates.
However, applying for jobs is not the only way; networking is a widely recommended strategy of landing an opportunity. To be frank, as an introvert person, I seldom network with someone I do not know. But, well, it is a matter either of whether you want job offers or staying in your introvert comfort zone…
2. Get organized
Having a pause in work-life means you have some time to review your life, such as setting goals and revising plans. Recently I am reading a book called “Designing Your Life”. It uses design thinking to prototype your potential lives which matches your work- and life-views. I am not going to outline the design methods here. What I want to point out is that a “holiday” in life can be a window of opportunity for us to make reflections, especially if you are looking for a job or even a career change.
After foreseeing the ideal life you want to pursue, it’s time to transform ideation into a concrete plan. I use Trello in this regard. Derived from a project management tool Kanban, what you need to do is to list out the “to-do”, “in-progress” and “done” on a board. I think the magic of Trello is not only to master and envision your plan step-by-step, but also by moving the items to “in-progress” and eventually “done” is a sort of satisfaction. That’s how I use Trello:
3. Find new habits
In my Trello, you may have noticed that I have quite a number of MOOC. Right, though it is not my new habit, it helps me to kill time more meaningfully. There are tons of MOOC (online learning) platform out there, some are paid while some are free. Examples are EdX, Coursera, Philanthropy University. The range of courses varies from data science to non-profit management. Upon completion of the course, depends on the fee scheme, you will get a certificate to put on your LinkedIn.
Another habit that I am building is writing, including this Medium post. In addition to my existing WordPress, which I have given up for a while, I now do journaling. The style and content of journals are not limited to a diary, but also morning page (which you write the first piece every morning right after you wake up) and good-time journal (mentioned in the book above. It helps you to track what motivates you in your workplace). One app I recommend for jogging is MS OneNote.
Mastering a new language might not be of everyone’s interest, but of mine. Being thrown back to Hong Kong as a fact, I started to reflect on the reason why I could not secure a job in the Netherlands, language seems to be a determinant (esp. I was looking for jobs in the NGO sector). Given that I have an A2 level of the Dutch language, Duolingo improves my Dutch despite no one I can practice my Dutch with.
So, in time of this challenging situation, get something to do and get motivated in spit of unemployment.