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Episode 132: Building and Maintaining Resilience When Job Searching in a Downturn with Matthew Temple

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Episode Description

In part 2 of our series on the COVID-19 pandemic, Carol welcomes back Matthew Temple, Senior Director of Alumni Career & Professional Development at the Kellogg School of Management and an iRelaunch Advisory Board member. Carol and Matthew talk about building and maintaining resilience when job searching in a downturn; how to best use your time while at home; tips on video interviewing and other elements of the remote job search and more.

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Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chair and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host for today. Today we welcome back Matthew Temple, Senior Director of Alumni Career and Professional Development for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he manages a team of eight people who deliver career and executive coaching to 50,000 alumni globally. He's also a longtime member of the iRelaunch Advisory Board and has been in the leadership of an alumni career services organization for the top 30 business schools called the MBA CSWP, MBA Career Services for Working Professionals.

We did a podcast with Matthew about a year and a half ago, Episode 53: Alumni Career Services, a Valuable Resource for Relaunchers, if you want to listen to that one. But today we are focusing on a completely different topic. We're talking about resilience when job searching in a downturn. We want to hear from Matthew about his advice about maintaining resilience and how to proceed in anticipation of a downturn in hiring, how to best use this time, and tips on conducting a job search and working remotely. Matthew, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Matthew Temple: Carol. Thank you. It's great to be back.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And we're thrilled to have you back. Matthew, let's first talk about resilience, this all important topic right now during the coronavirus period of uncertainty.

It's a tough time. It's unprecedented. How do we maintain or develop resilience, especially when we're feeling very isolated and worried about the future?

Matthew Temple: Carol, that's a great question. And I think resilience is important even before the coronavirus outbreak because we're all going to have setbacks in our lives and how do we get back up again?

And when you think about resilience, for most of us, we probably build our resilience in three big ways, one might even be genetically, some are just more wired to be resilient. The second is typically going to be from childhood. Did people have support from parents, family, extended family, friends, teachers, religious communities, sports teams, cub scouts, as a way to build it.

And the third is learning from adversity. You know, how do you learn from moving and setting up a new community, losing a job, challenging work situation. And I think one of the things that the coronavirus has presented is it really is an opportunity to learn from adversity. We're all going to face challenges in this.

Some of the things that are really gonna be important when you think about resilience is just even gonna be support. Who can you reach out to? Whether it's your friends or your family, we're all going to need some emotional support during this journey, and that's going to be important. Confidence is going to be important as well.

We're going to get through this. We really are. And so thinking back on what are other challenging times that you've had and how did you get through that. Focus is gonna be important. There are so many things that we're not going to be able to control right now. How long a lockdown might stay, how long are you gonna have to be working remotely?

We have to focus on those things we can control, because you can really drive yourself crazy otherwise. How do you manage your thought process? How do you stay positive? For me, sometimes, and for a lot of people just getting outside, connecting with friends, family, and community while maintaining a six foot physical distance is going to be really important.

And just even taking time to reflect. I think those are all things that can really help as we build resilience.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. All really good suggestions. And one, one of those that I'm really wondering about is this idea of being face-to-face with people in when you're in a remote environment. So can you talk about connection with people and is all of a sudden the audio connection is kind of old school and the virtual face-to-face connect video connection is much more important.

is that part of resilience building to be able to be face to face with people on video?

Matthew Temple: I think it is more important now. I was even reflecting this weekend. I was catching up with friends, and typically we might just do a phone call and for part of the time on some, we turned on video on FaceTime, because having that face-to-face is more important.

We, I'm used to working virtually. I've been doing it for 15 years. I'm now putting in weekly meetings with my team via Zoom because that, that in-person connection is really important. Whether, even if I think about teammates who may be single and on their own, or even with families, they're welcoming the opportunity to connect with other people that aren't their spouse or aren't their children, 'cause that's, they're, they're isolated from those other people as well.

And so I think there's going to be more of that. One of the things that we're doing, launching actually this week for Kellogg alumni is we have a tradition at Kellogg it's called the TG. It's almost like a happy hour on a Friday. We're actually launching Kellogg alumni virtual TGs this Friday as a way to connect alumni in groups of eight to 15, and it's not necessarily career oriented, but we just think it's so important to be connecting right now, and we're gonna use Zoom as a platform, as a video conferencing platform to do that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. I'm glad you're mentioning Zoom. So we are also, as an iRelaunch team doing as much as possible, we were already using Zoom extensively. We're continuing to use it. I know with our, my own millennial children, I'm making a point of FaceTiming them or being in a situation where we are talking by video, face-to-face as much as possible because, three of them are living on their own in apartments in different cities, and there is a isolation factor.

And I know that they're in contact with their friends through a lot of video chat as well to fight this isolation piece. So, getting back to the relauncher component of it, when you're on a long-term job search and all of a sudden there's this isolation component, you have lockdowns in certain cities, and you are really cut off from any kind of in-person meetings with people, that compounds the isolation that you might have even felt already when you were on a prolonged job search.

Matthew Temple: For sure. For sure. And so, connecting virtually using video is gonna be important. And again, trying to connect in person, so I've been meeting friends in a park and we'll maintain our physical distancing and walk and talk, and that's important where we can do that in an environment that's not crowded.

To get outside a little bit, get some exercise, get a little connection while obviously following the directives to stay safe in a lockdown. And and I'm living in LA, which is in lockdown right now.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And I just also wanna add that Zoom has free individual Zoom accounts and most of them will allow you, and I think this is still in place to have a free call for 40 minutes, so people who haven't, don't have access to a corporate Zoom account, you can set up one individually in addition to Skype and, FaceTime and, Google Hangouts and some of the other ways that you connect with people remotely. Did I remember all of them, Matthew or are there any others?

Matthew Temple: Yeah, those are all great platforms. BlueJeans is another one sometimes that, that people will use. We'll sometimes use things like WebEx and Adobe Connect, but they tend to be more for larger platforms. The one caveat with Zoom is, if you're only talking with one other person, there isn't a time limit. But if it's more than you and someone else, then it is a 40 minute time limit on their basic service.

Only if it's a group do you have that 40 minute time limit.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Oh, got it. All right. Thanks for clarifying that. All right, so let's focus now back specifically on the relauncher and the job search in this current environment. What do you think about anticipating a downturn in hiring? Are you, is there a conversation about that?

I know there's these economic collapse predictions being made, but I'm also, I'm seeing some other opinions too, and I'm just wondering what you're hearing and do you think people should be shifting where they're applying for jobs to companies that they think will thrive in a crisis like this?

Or what? What are you hearing out there?

Matthew Temple: So this is rapidly evolving, would be the first thing I would say. I read some initial stats, I think Goldman Sachs had predicted a 5% downturn in Q2, UCLA Anderson forecast was six and a half percent. I've seen those elevated much, much bigger lately. And my response in the end is, who knows? We there, there will be a downturn. I think it'll be a substantial downturn. I think it'll be more of a downturn than the 2008, 2009 financial crisis. And I have coached many people through that. And one of the things that I said back then that I'll say now is there's a lot of things we're not going to have control over.

And we have to focus on the things that we do have control over. You know, 12 years ago I was telling people, you cannot watch CNBC. It's gonna make it worse. Like you, you've gotta sometimes filter out things like that and focus on things you can't have control over. I think when you think about, what are some potential industries that may look better right now?

Certainly distance learning and companies like Zoom and platforms like that, you would imagine those are gonna go up and get much better. Grocery is gonna be pretty strong. Amazon was looking to add 100,000 jobs at warehouse centers. So in the short term, those are places that are hiring. Another way to think about it is what are industries that more and less affected. So you figure the travel industry is gonna be in, have huge challenges, obviously. But things like healthcare, that's a staple that's gonna do well even during the downturn. So focusing on industries like that can be very helpful as well. And the other thing that I'd say is, we don't know exactly how bad it's going to be.

And so a lot of times I'll say, as I'm coaching clients, go out to the marketplace and let's see what the reaction is. Because sometimes we're gonna find out by learning versus going in with a very particular mindset. On the good side, I had our call with our coaches this morning and one of the clients they were working with just landed a job offer .

You know, someone else was interviewing last week and so, continue moving forward with those things. The one other thing that I've been saying is just make sure that you, you acknowledge the elephant in the room. So when you are reaching out to someone and you're in that job search process, you may wanna start that email by saying, how are you and how is your family? Have that dose of reality before you go into the business at hand.

One of the other things that's going on, and I've seen this in a lot of companies, many of the people working in HR are focused right now on other things than hiring because it might be how do we communicate out to our workforce what's happening and how things are changing? How do we set up our workforce to work remotely?

And so again, if you're waiting to hear back from a company, just be patient. Because you have to know that a lot of the people on the front lines are really working, probably focused a little bit more inward right now than outward.

Carol Fishman Cohen: It's so interesting because we at iRelaunch, we've been around since 2007. Even before that, we were active in the space. So we have also ridden all the way through the Great Recession, and back out again, before we got to this point. And I remember people would get brought down by this sort of macro narrative, the economy is horrible, and no one is hiring.

And even when there were companies that were having big layoffs, you could still look at their career pages and see that they were there, were open, they were looking for certain people, even the companies that are letting people go are still hiring in other parts of the organization.

And also, you can't let a macro line, like the economy is terrible, just stop you from even taking the first step out the door to do something about your own job search. You won't be able to make any progress if you allow yourself to be taken down by that kind of narrative. And interestingly, we were just coming out of another narrative, be up to this point where people would feel upset that they were in a prolonged job search "in a full employment economy," that would also make them feel bad. Like, everyone else has a job except for me. So just this whole idea about focusing on where you can add the most value to an employer, and ignoring or filtering out that larger negative narrative, whichever it may be, can be helpful.

Matthew Temple: I couldn't agree more. It gets back, focus on the things you have control over. We don't have control over the economy or that macro factor, but we do have control over what is our attitude? Are we gonna be positive or not? Can we set goals and move towards those goals of, I wanna send out five networking emails or apply for five jobs online. Bring in structure, but focus on those things we have control over.

We have control over our output, reaching out to people. We have control over our attitude. We have control over how we might react to rejection, and you have to focus on those things. .

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. Great advice. So assuming we're home for the duration, our job searches are stalled in some way. How do we best use our time? And as an extension from that, how do you conduct a job search when you're doing everything remotely?

Matthew Temple: Sure. In terms of what we might wanna think about right now in the short term, and I was asked even by some alums, should I continue networking? I think this is a great opportunity to network, particularly with people you know that are in your network.

A lot of people are checking in with people, with college roommates, business school roommates, people we haven't seen for 5, 10, 15 years. Take advantage of that. Connect with people, but connect first on how you're doing. , Start the conversation with that, but I think it's a great opportunity to do that because we all have more time on our hands because we're staying at home and not traveling.

It's a little tougher when you're reaching out to people outside of your network, and I wouldn't say stop that entirely, but again, start that reaching out by acknowledging what's happening by seeing if they're okay. One of my professors years ago would always say, Connection before content. And so before you launch into the topic at hand , whether it's your search or networking, check in with them and that's gonna be longer right now. Continue to apply to jobs online. While it's never the best way to do a job search, it is something you can continue to move forward with.

The other thing I'm telling a lot of people, be more open now to part-time jobs, to flexible jobs, to projects. Be more open to that. And then finally, look, this is an opportunity to continue to learn and develop. Think through what gaps you need to close, what are new skills you need to learn, and then take this time as an opportunity to invest in yourselves.

And there's an opportunity, and I can go through, but there's a variety of ways that you can do that. .

Carol Fishman Cohen: Good. All right. Well, we should go through some of those in a minute. And it's related to this next question, which is what is now different about recruiting processes? Like I've heard about people, they're doing all their interviewing virtually, and like even up to more, more than one stage of interviewing. And did company, are you seeing a tweak in recruiting processes as a result of all this isolation that and remote working that people have to do?

Matthew Temple: We are. I think one of the interesting outcomes of what we're going through right now is we're going to see certain trends that were already in place and well along the way really accelerate coming out of this.

So whether it's things like working virtually, or interviewing virtually, those trends were in place, but I think they'll really accelerate. I can even think about some of the investment banks had started to do super days as video calls, and I think you'll see things like that really accelerate. So I think, virtual interviewing is going to be key for many companies right now in this very current period.

No one outside of the company can even go into headquarters. And for many companies now, everyone is working from home, so that wouldn't even be an option. But even for other ones, they aren't letting outsiders in. And so getting very comfortable with video interviewing, practicing, and feeling comfortable.

I'll always talk about, you know, one dress up. I mean, you're still being interviewed and dress up, even if you're half a step or a step more, that's going to be important. Make sure your lighting is really good. Are you being front lit versus silhouetted? Practice on your webcam before. Do a practice session with someone else and get their feedback.

Make sure you don't have anything in the background that you don't want there. Make sure that you find the right room in the house. In some places, I'm actually a very big fan of standing up, if I have a phone interview or a even a video interview. I think we have more energy. I think our voices project better.

That's gonna be important as well in, in a phone interview, you could have some notes in front of you. In a video interview, you really can't, but you can put a post it or something on your laptop saying, these are the three points I wanna say, but you can't be reading pieces of paper 'cause you're gonna lose eye contact.

That eye contact is really more important. And that's one of the other reasons you want to rehearse is you wanna get used to looking into the webcam, not at your keyboard, not at the monitor, it's into the webcam. And so practicing that, getting comfortable with that is important. The one other thing I would add is in a typical interview, your answer could go for up to two minutes. I think in a video interview you wanna truncate things a little more. So maybe instead of two minutes, it may be closer to 90 seconds. And so those are the big changes I might advise on.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. Those are great recommendations. I have to say that I actually, I have a standing desk and when I'm presenting and I do a fair amount of presenting through video to companies, I do usually stand when I present, so it's not an interview, but it's the same kind of situation.

I do feel more energetic when I'm standing. . so that's such a good, piece of advice. And then when you're talking about being front lit, just to clarify there, so that means like if there's a window that you're facing the window, so the light from the window is coming in and lighting up your face as opposed to having the, your back to the window.

You will be back lit and then you'll be more in a shadow with the person who's interviewing you. So the idea is to face the light source.

Matthew Temple: Correct. And or you could be like Barbara Streisand and have your whole lighting crew there and have all these things ahead of time. But most of us are going to be at home.

And again, focus on the things you can focus on. And the one other thing I would add is, look, we're in a new normal right now where I've been on a lot of Zoom calls with my colleagues who I know, and their kids are in the camera, and it's just, there's not a lot we can do right now because kids are at home learning.

And you know what? It is a new normal on a work call and it's fine, but you really can't do that in the interview. So also make sure that other people in the house, whether it's your spouse or your children, know that your pets are downstairs. Be in a room that's gonna be quiet and it is important that you feel confident and comfortable, that you're not going to be interrupted, so you're gonna be at your best.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yes. And whenever I'm podcasting like I am right now, I always tell my family I'm podcasting. So no knocking at the door. Don't expect any response on, for phone calls. Absolutely try to get yourself in that environment, where you can focus a hundred percent on your interview and the other person and not be distracted at or worried about some kind of interruption, 'cause that will definitely affect your performance.

Matthew Temple: And I'm seeing, and I'm seeing some of my friends and some of my colleagues' children taking this message to heart. Now that they're learning and doing classes from home, they've started to post signs on their bedroom door "in school right now. Don't interrupt." So even children are taking this message to heart right now.

Carol Fishman Cohen: . Exactly. So Matthew, in the introduction, I didn't talk about how you have a completely separate coaching practice, executive coaching, career coaching, for individuals. And I'm wondering between advising the alumni that you advise at Kellogg and the coaching practice that you have, what are you telling people right now in terms of how to proceed?

Matthew Temple: I think, again, we're not going to be exactly sure about what's going to happen. And so just, continuing to move forward, whether it's a job search or work, is gonna be, is gonna be really important. One of the things that we have been talking about, if you are working from home, how do you make the best of it?

And so one thing is gonna be, look, location is gonna be really important working from home. Can you find a dedicated space in your home where you can get work done? That's going to be important. Is there good lighting for virtual calls? Connection's going to be important. Do you have a good work colleague that you can socialize with via texting or via FaceTime? That's gonna be important.

I think, following a schedule is even more important now. So having more structure. I have natural structure to my day because I often have meeting after meeting, whether it's Zoom or a phone call, and so that structure keeps me on pace. I can't procrastinate. Build and breaks though.

That's going to be important just to get up to walk around, communicating. I think video is gonna be more important right now than phone, so I've started to shift more meetings to video. Getting dressed up is really important. I've been working from home for 15 years and I always get asked if I ever work in my PJs.

And the answer is, I never have. For me, it's so important to get up, to shower, to shave, to get dressed, and I'm usually wearing shorts and a t-shirt if I don't have a video call. But there has to be a fundamental break in my schedule that I'm now in work mode. Be mindful about distractions and tv. I have a really strict no TV rule. The only time I might relax it during the working day if the Red Sox are in the playoffs and they need me watching TV because it's really vital . But other than that, I have a very strict no TV rule And get outside. Even during that day it's probably important to just, even if you're outside for five or 10 minutes, that's going to be important as well.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Matthew, can you elaborate on some good resources for learning for people who spend time learning at in this unusual period?

Matthew Temple: Absolutely. I think a lot of learning is gonna be online or in books right now because of physical distancing. So one of the things that I've been advising a lot of clients, think about executive education online.

So for instance. Kellogg and a lot of business schools will do executive education, but there's been a movement towards online executive education. We actually offer alumni a 30% discount, but think about a lot of other platforms out there. There's a lot of MOOCs like Coursera, or edX, Udemy. You could do things like Code Academy, even something like Masterclass.

So how do you continue to learn online? And many of these classes are minimal investments, some are even free. Is there learning within your company that might be online as well? LinkedIn Learning has great things that are available. LinkedIn bought out some years ago. If you're a premium member on LinkedIn, there's a number of great things that you could be learning.

YouTube is great for learning things, just even listening to podcasts or reading. And so take advantage of this pause right now and think through, what are some gaps you can close? What are some skills you can learn? I'm a big advocate that we all have a to-do list. I run my life with a color coded to-do list, but all of us should be maintaining to learn lists, and this is a great opportunity to focus on that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Matthew, I'm curious, are there any particular websites, job search sites, gurus, experts that you follow, that you like to get news from or that you like to, that you think have particularly good career advice?

Matthew Temple: You know what's interesting in terms of career advice, there's some great advice, I think in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune often publishes some great articles on career advice. I think some of the really great articles, HBR as well. Whether it's, yeah, things like managing a virtual team, working from home, career advice in general. Those are probably three of the go-to resources.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Great. Those are great. All right. So Matthew, we're wrapping up right now and I wanted to ask you the question we always end with, and that is, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today?

Matthew Temple: I would say the biggest thing is really going to be resilience. There's a lot of things we are not going to have control over, and so having a positive attitude getting up after being knocked down. Is going to be really important. We don't know how long this is gonna go on for. We may need to be in this longer term than we might have anticipated.

And so just focusing on those things we have control of and appreciating some of those smaller things in life, being with family, being with friends, having more time for friends, having more time to reflect, just going for a simple walk with a friend or with your family. Those are gonna be really important things right now.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's great. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us.

Matthew Temple: Thank you, Carol. It's been my pleasure. Take care.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chair and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host.

For more information on iRelaunch, go to iRelaunch.Com. And if you like this, be sure to rate it on iTunes and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Thanks for joining us.

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