I’ve been thinking about how to write what’s been on my mind these past few weeks.

Each time I’ve reached some mixed bag of wisdom, insight and patience about where we find ourselves, I have to start over. Like you, I have no idea where this crisis might be headed, for how long or how it will turn out.

The jobs and opportunities that kept our nation’s economy – our very lives – churning as never before have slowed to a crawl. Whatever we thought before simply doesn’t hold true anymore.

Jobs? What jobs?

For now, I wish I had words of sufficient solace for those who have already lost their jobs, starting with those in the service industries that were hit first and, so far, the hardest. Restaurants, hotels, bistros. Servers, clerks, house maids, bartenders. Out of work.

Don’t forget teachers, flight attendants, hair stylists, dentists, and so many health care workers. Don’t forget those who relied on the gig economy. Don’t forget anyone, whatever the color of their collar.

In the best of times, the collective “all” of us earn what we hope is a fair and livable wage. That’s the basis of a functioning society, fulfilling our basic needs and wants, supporting ourselves and our loved ones.

It’s called “earning a living” and it’s what we do, either by necessity or choice. Either we absolutely need a humdrum job to pay our bills, or happier, we truly love going to work because it’s what we do well.

Since mid-March, jobs by the millions, along with tens of thousands of companies large and small, have fallen off the map as if they never existed.

On a personal note, I’ve been navigating the economy’s ups and downs virtually my entire professional life, offering counsel and guidance and job placement for untold thousands of clients. It’s my passion.

When I hear experts warn that we could potentially reach and even surpass a national jobless rate of more than 20 percent, I do think they are being overly pessimistic. Or maybe I’m being an optimist.

Whatever the number, millions of Americans are now out of work. When the restrictions are lifted, how fast will we get back to normal? No one knows.

Sufficient assets and a semi-stocked kitchen

If you’re among the lucky ones, you still have a paycheck or some form of income. You work for an essential industry or can work from home. You have sufficient assets and a semi-stocked kitchen, at least for now. If you’re lucky, you have family and friends.

If you have a small company that’s stayed open, you’re likely hanging on, waiting for what’s next. Or you may have been forced to make a decision no business owner wants to make – either lay off your valued employees or close up shop. If that’s the case, my condolences.

True, the economy, if not everyone’s personal finances, eventually will recover and I remain certain we will eventually return to some form of normal, “new” or not.

Here’s a suggestion: How about using this crisis as a way to become a more valued and prepared employee? Sign up for one of those online courses you’ve always wanted to take. Think UC San Diego Extension or San Diego Workforce Partnership.

This is also an opportune time to search out new job opportunities. If you haven’t been happy with your current job, start looking around. With the job market in flux, now would be a good time to shine up that resume and get yourself better prepared. Just know your interview will be done remotely.

Don’t forget the temporary staffing industry. At our company right now and at most of our competitors, there are plenty of temp-job openings. Learn new skills and earn a steady paycheck while you wait to find out when (or if) you’ll be called back.

We’ll all feel a lot better when we stop dwelling on the negatives and start talking about positive initiatives. Think more training, a new job, or a new paycheck. Maybe a better attitude.

You’ll come out of all this a better person because of what you made happen.

Blair is co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won.” [email protected]

Twitter: @PhilManpowerSD


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