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  • Writer's pictureNikki McConnell

Honesty in the Time of Covid

It's hard to talk about job hunting on the internet, so naturally, I've decided to blog about it.

If the news is to be believed, the career of "job hunting" has pretty suddenly exploded. Groupon, my previous employer, cut a staggering 44% of their workforce in a single day (unfortunately I was among those cut). Yesterday, 1,900 Airbnb employees found themselves jobless. Uber, where a number of ex-Groupon-ers are currently employed, also announced significant cuts to come soon.

Given that, I suppose it's no surprise that my LinkedIn has been flooded with "I was let go" posts, especially from my connections in the tech sphere. I understand these posts have a two-fold purpose—it's smart to reach out to your connections in a time of loss. If you don't put it out there that you're looking, how are people supposed to know you're on the job market? But what strikes me most isn't the posts themselves, but that each post follows almost an eerily similar format. Each one explains the loss, expresses sadness, but finishes with a note of what could be described only as... optimism.

In fact, I could almost write a template for these by now:

Today, I was let go by [Company]. Over the past [number] years, I've been honored to grow and learn at [Company] with a number of smart and talented people. While I'm sad to see it end, I'm so grateful for the time I've had.
That being said, I'm excited to see what's next in my career and looking for new opportunities. If you're looking for someone with [list skills here], let's connect!

Feel free to use that template, by the way.

I'm not trying to be cynical or call anyone out here; my own post wasn't a heck of a lot different from the above. But it has struck me as a bit odd—why do we all keep following this script? Excited, opportunity, grateful... In actuality, almost no one is excited or grateful about being laid off. I can think of a few other words that seem more apt to me—devastating, confusing, scary. So why are these words so rare in our laid-off vocabulary?

As a former Hiring Manager myself, I can understand the aversion. No one likes a complainer, and you never know who's reading your posts. Above all, every Hiring Manager wants someone who persists, someone for whom obstacles are simply seen as new challenges. It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up, right? In normal times, being a perennial optimist (or at least acting the part) makes sense.

But we're not in normal times. Right now, even top performers are finding themselves unwillingly jobless. So with that in mind, can I be not normal for a second?

I'm not always optimistic about my career future. I'm not excited to scroll through hundreds of job posts or to spend hours applying to each one I feel qualified for. I'm not happy to be competing with nearly 30 million other Americans, many of whom have been in the work force for much longer than I have.

A little more honesty for you - I was rejected by not one, not two, but three jobs today. One rejection in a day is painful, three is devastating. I believe in myself and my abilities, so it hurts when I can't get other people to do the same. Every time I get one of those "Sorry, we're looking for something else" emails, I want to reply, "You're wrong! You didn't even give me a chance!"

I really worry some might read this and find my honesty off-putting. I worry they may blame my resume or my cover letter writing abilities to explain my bad luck. They may point out that my attitude is a cause, not a symptom, of joblessness. Maybe they have a point - I wish I was the perennial optimist that I, myself, would be more inclined to hire.

But if there's anyone out there who feels the way I do, I hope this post is some small comfort. I think it's okay to indulge our inner pessimist every once in a while, but more than that, I think it's okay to be honest that that we have an inner pessimist in the first place. And that, sometimes, that voice is pretty loud.

I'm calling it "Honesty in the Time of Covid." We'll see where it gets me.

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