"In crisis, there’s always opportunity," says career coach Maggie Mistal

By Wendy Grossman Kantor
September 01, 2020 09:00 AM
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PEOPLE’s Real Tips for Real Life presents practical answers to some of the most commonly asked questions around finance, employment and preparing for the future — even when that future can seem very uncertain.

Jeremy Lynn hated his jobs in corporate America — from supply chain to technology consulting.

“I was always answering to somebody else and I didn’t have control over the work I was doing,” says Lynn, 28.

About 15 months ago, he launched his own consulting company and began working on growth strategy for a venture capital firm and a start-up company. But when the pandemic struck, his contract work disappeared.

His career coach Maggie Mistal, encouraged Lynn to find a project he was passionate about.

“I had this wild and crazy idea,” Lynn says.

A part-time Atlanta tour guide, Lynn partnered with a buddy who was laid off, 28-year-old Nace Zipperman, and in late March they launched FEED ATL, which delivers curated food tours. They bring customers a tasting menu from multiple restaurants — appetizer from one, entrée from another and dessert from a third.

“I wanted a way to help these restaurants keep their doors open, and also give people at home something fun to do,” he says.

Jeremy Lynn
Jeremy Lynn

Whether you got laid off, furloughed, your freelance work disappeared or you’re just looking to change careers, the pandemic might actually be a good time to find a new line of work that makes you happier and more successful.

“In crisis, there’s always opportunity,” says career coach Mistal, 47, host of the podcast Making a Living with Maggie.

PEOPLE spoke with Mistal and more experts to get the dos and don'ts of launching a new career. Read on for their best tips.

Don’t: Apply to Random Jobs

Don’t just go onto a job board and apply randomly to every job you see, says career consultant Mistal. And don’t simply post on social media, “I’m out of work. If you hear of anything, let me know.”

A vague, non-specific Facebook post won’t help people help you find the job of your dreams, Mistal says.

“It’s not about getting any job. It’s about getting a job that fits,” Mistal says. "You don’t just need a job — you need a job you’re excited to go to day in and day out.”

Do: Soul Search Before You Job Search

Before you start your job search, take the time to soul search, Mistal says. Think about the last time you felt really focused and passionate and happy.

“You lost all track of time, you were at your best,” Mistal says. “Everybody has a moment, at least one, where they really experienced something that was fun for them.”

Maggie Mistal
Peter Hurley

Hint: If there’s something you’re willing to do for free, maybe a volunteer gig, that’s a good indicator of what you might want to make your full-time job, Mistal says. Why not get paid for it?

Do: Envision Your Ideal Work Day

Are you inside? Are you outside? Are you working from home? Are you working in an office?

“It’s like puzzle pieces,” Mistal says. “People think this is just day dreaming. They ask, ‘How can I take the time?’ How can you not take the time? This will allow you to know which employers and which jobs to focus on.”

Once you determine your passions, type those keywords into LinkedIn, Mistal says. Reach out and connect with people who have a job you want so that you can learn more about whether you’d actually like that job, and how you could go about getting it.

If you’re looking for a career that “makes a difference” but you’re not sure what exactly that will entail, Mistal asks you to reflect on your typical complaints.

“There’s a lot of people who want to make change, make real change, make lasting change with their careers,” Mistal says. “Not everybody is into causes, not everybody is here to save the whales. If it’s not your thing, don’t feel guilty. There’s a myriad of ways to make a difference.”

Do: Make Lists

Still stuck? Start making lists, says Marley Majcher, author of But Are You Making Any Money? Ask yourself what you’re best at, what you love and what you could earn money doing — three different categories.

“Be brutally honest with yourself,” says Majcher, 50, and don’t waste any more time doing something you’re good at but you hate.

Try to put at least 20 items in each category, Majcher advises. Where all three lists intersect is where you can find your new path, says the small business coach and The Profit Goddess blogger.

“This pandemic has been going on so long now, people are really starting to second guess themselves. And they are starting to lose hope,” says Majcher, who encourages plenty of sleep and research. “Just keep going, keep your head up. We all know the next great entrepreneur story is coming out of this time.”

Marley Majcher
John Chapple Photography

Don’t: Worry About Location

One thing the pandemic has taught employers is that a lot of jobs can be done remotely. Don’t let geography limit your job search, Mistal says. You may not have to relocate.

“I’m hearing from recruiters that companies don’t care as much if you’re geographically located near them or not,” Mistal says. “You can actually get hired in a lot more places.”

Do: Consider Learning a Trade

Finance guru Suze Orman worries that a lot of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic aren’t going to get them back. She recommends training for a new gig that’s never going away.

“Look for a skill that you can never be laid off from again,” advises Orman, 69, of the Women & Money podcast  “Houses are always going to break. Cars are always going to break. What is something that’s always going to need to be done?”

Suze Orman
Marc Royce

There are plenty of not-s0-glamorous-but-necessary jobs for which you can train, from handyman to plumber, points out Orman.

“You have to change the prescription of your glasses now. You have to see your life in a whole different way, you just do,” Orman says. “But it’s not so bad. So life throws you something. You’ll hit it out of the ball park."

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