Questions from the Mailbox


By Kirk McCarley

Kirk Mccarley

As a Career Coach, not surprisingly in these days of Covid and uncertainty, clients and associates bring up questions especially about job searches and career growth.  Here are some followed by what are hopefully thoughtful responses.

With so much uncertainty in the present work landscape, why should I even bother with a job search now?  Why wouldn’t I just wait until after the November elections, after Covid settles down, and when the unemployment rate is lower?  

First, who knows with certainty what is going to happen after the elections?  Depending upon who you believe might be the better office holders, what if things either stay the same as they are now or change?  Second, what if Covid continues its rampage?  Third, what if we are now at a new normal level of unemployment?  

The reality is that none of us know what the future holds in store.  There have also been other unprecedented times in our history.  Those who best succeeded then made conscious efforts to not be impacted by challenging conditions, remained nimble to adjust to new technology, and reached into the most creative recesses of their minds to almost take advantage of the adversity.  There’s no time like the present to respond positively.

I’m concerned that a job search now in a down market might put me at risk if my current employer learns I am looking at other opportunities.  Why wouldn’t I just want to play it safe?  

First of all, many “reasonable” employers these days “get” employee anxiety.  Some may even offer “outplacement” services.  In the public sector and government, where jobs are publicly posted, it is acknowledged that professional advancement often includes moving to other jobs outside of the present organization.  

An effective approach to an employment search might involve a targeted marketing strategy.  A targeted strategy includes an active and conscientious tactic of connecting with those who may be in a position to know of opportunities.  Rather than approach these individuals with the standard business card and resume, view the communication more as an exchange of information or a learning expedition whereby you, as the job hunter, aim to gain knowledge, and along the way share with your contact, experiences and stories that support common interests.  

Speaking of these VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) days that we currently exist in, how concerned should I be if my fuse is a little shorter, my patience is wearing thinner?  What are some things I can do to have a healthier disposition and attitude?  

The greater concern could be if you’re numb to what’s been happening.

Covid has caused the loss of life.  Many Americans have tested positive, some asymptomatic, others quite ill.  Resources have been stretched.  We’ve all at least been inconvenienced and aggravated.  Typical symptoms of grief such as anger and denial may have manifested.  

In sum, if you are experiencing these feelings, it is normal.  

As to what to do, here are a few ideas.

  • Practice a healthy lifestyle, eat well, exercise, rest.
  • Reach out to someone.  I have a friend who’s made a point of calling former co-workers regularly.  What an example!  He inspired me to give it a try.
  • Invest in your faith and spiritual focus.
  • Treat this present period as an opportunity—what can I learn through this time to make an even greater contribution to society?
  • Limit time on news and social media.  Watch some comedies, old movies, or play board games with your family.
  • Know that these days will pass eventually.  Even if it is prolonged, find joy in your resilience.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact,, or call  314-677-8779.

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