Dear J.T. & Dale: I was one of the millions who quit their job during the pandemic. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’d saved money and thought I’d take six months off to emotionally recover. Well, it’s been a year now. I’ve run out of money and I’m going to be forced to go back to the career that I was in, probably at a pay cut because I’ve been out of work. Any advice on how I still might be able to turn things around? — Carmen
J.T.: You aren’t alone: I saw research that as many as 80% of those who quit during the pandemic are still not happy. I think that, for many, it’s not so much the job but an overall unhappiness in life. It’s easy to blame work for making us sad, but the truth is, all of us are recovering from a very traumatic experience. It’s being called PTSI, which stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. I like that because it implies that it can be healed, and I firmly believe that it can. I would encourage you to get back to work, just the routine and having new colleagues can help you start to feel better. At which point, it’s time to take a more calculated approach to figuring out what to do next. You should focus on career exploration and using your transferable skills to do work that works for you. Easier said than done, but I know a great free website you can go to get help — it’s called workitdaily.com. Of course, I’m biased because it’s my website, but we help millions of people every year just like you.
DALE: Yes, do visit that most useful of websites; however, I find myself reluctant to embrace this “PTSI” notion. I worry about what we might call the disease-ification of dissatisfaction. We already have perfectly good concepts for what seems to be going on here: malaise or melancholy. And, if so, the solution is to get out of your head and into the world. What better way to do that than reentering the workforce? The good news is that the workplace has been gloriously transformed. A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine the flexibility and freedoms now available at work. And there is still, in most fields, a labor shortage that could allow you to choose a work environment that provides you the camaraderie and engagement that will enhance your well-being. And don’t even think about a pay cut — there’s a good chance you’ll see a nice bump up. I’m excited for you. Jump in.
Dear J.T. & Dale: There is a company that I dream of working for. I was recently listening to a webinar where the CEO was being interviewed and he said really interesting things. Is it crazy of me to try to reach out to him on LinkedIn and see if I can let him know what I was really impressed with in hopes that he might consider me for a job? — Adam
J.T.: That’s not a crazy idea at all! In fact, CEOs love it when people take the initiative to specifically share with them things they admire about the company. So, being able to talk about the fact that you heard him on a webinar will show that you were paying attention. The most important thing is to not turn it into an epic novel. CEOs don’t have a lot of time, so you’ve got to make sure that you make your point in 300 characters or less!
DALE: Early in my career, I happened to meet the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I then sent him a letter and resume. And while I didn’t hear back from him, I got a call from the company’s HR department — the CEO had forwarded my resume to them. HR didn’t seem especially thrilled to follow-up with me, but I got an interview and then got the job, a big step up at the time. My point is this: it’s a long shot with no downside. Go for it.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “Experiments Never Fail: A Guide for the Bored, Unappreciated and Underpaid.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.