What can “influencer” culture teach women who are facing pandemic job loss? Your first answer might be to scoff and roll your eyes. And I totally get where that is coming from! Certainly, the Kardashians of the world have precious little in common with the near 900,000 women who dropped out of the labor force last month. However, they are not the “influencers” I am talking about. Rather, this post is about the lessons small-scale content creators offer. Are you reinventing yourself after job loss? These women are masterful at pivoting and positioning, skills that are invaluable for those attempting to reenter the workforce. Blogging involves much more than posing and pretty dresses. Content creators know how to bloom and grow despite chaos or challenge.
We are in the midst of what economists coin the nation’s first female recession. While the pandemic is surely impacting the economy at large, it is disproportionately affecting women, particularly those of color and those with young children.
The most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows four times more women than men exited the labor force in September. Worse yet, economists believe it will be extremely difficult for those women to return. That’s why your behavior right now is so important! You can bounce back—and surprisingly—you might want to model the behavior of bloggers.
Their stories run the gamut. They are stay at home mamas who’ve remained connected to their entrepreneurial side by fashioning a business from blogging, women who have reinvented themselves after job loss—leveraging personal experiences to build authentic online brand, and women who express their creativity using blogging as a side-hustle.
They include people like me, who might prefer to be working in their industry of choice (e.g. television news) but need to let a spouse’s job take precedence. And they represent individuals like Emma Cortes—a savvy creative/aerospace professional who planned to take her successful blog Emma’s Edition full time but recently moved up the timetable because of COVID’s impact on her industry (read her story here). So, let’s dive in… It’s time to explore the many facets involved in reinventing yourself after job loss!
Just about every blogger has an “about me” page, explaining what their website is all about. The good ones delve into the content creator’s mission and purpose (you can read mine here). Who are they helping? What do they offer readers? In many ways, it resembles an elevator pitch (e.g. a quick synopsis of your background, what you do, and what you want to do). If you are reinventing yourself after job loss, you need to spend some time considering what your “about” page might read. I’m not saying you should literally write one, but pretending to might be helpful.
What are YOU all about? What drives you? How do you hope to make an impact?
Job searching or switching careers without considering this personal mission statement is like traveling a foreign country without a map. Why do you do what you do? Your answer should offer direction. I know… The pandemic already has you frazzled. You have ZERO time—especially for deep thought like this. However, this pause on “normal” life does offer an opportunity to reflect on what you really want.
Before you burden yourself with the practicalities of job searching and financial implications, seize this chance to self examine. Ideally, you should be able to sum up your personal mission in a few sentences or a short paragraph. Next, get so comfortable with this mission statement you could discuss your goals/outlook with a total stranger.
Have you been thinking about updating your professional image, but never quite got around to it? Is your portfolio dated? What does your online/social media presence look like? Image matters, especially in a competitive job market. Like it or not, employers make snap judgements based on first-impressions. If your digital footprint is unflattering, you might not even get your foot in the door. Bloggers understand this well. Most meticulously plan and curate their online image, ensuring each component is reflective of their personal brand.
Am I saying you should rush out and get professional photos done? Nope. Image is more than a headshot! However, in almost every industry, it is a good idea to have a flattering and updated photo available. If you have the means to get professional shots, that’s great. But cell phones can get you a fairly flattering image too. My hubby snapped the headshot I used for the first two years of this blog—and my TV news portfolio—in our dining room. There are plenty of free editing apps out there if you need to correct the lighting or enhance a photo. Unsure where to start? Feel free to message me on Instagram – I’ll even help you edit your photo. I want you to succeed!
Self-promotion? It can sound icky and awkward, right? Well… It doesn’t have to be that way! The trick to enthusiastically—and effectively—promoting your business ventures/job goals is to alter your approach a bit. More specifically, it involves stripping the “self” from self-promotion. Most successful bloggers and content creators recognize their work is not about them—it’s about their audience! They focus on adding value to the lives of their readers and providing a genuine service. The goal is to share helpful, educational, or entertaining information. They’re not selling something; they’re offering insight and assistance.
If you discuss your work by explaining its impact on a customer, client, audience, or employer; self-promotion won’t feel sleazy. Rather, it will appear conversational—a genuine discussion about what you can bring to the table.
Likewise, as you retool your resume and/or website, always consider how you can frame your accomplishments as an asset to future employers. Talking about yourself can be tricky, but SELF-less self-promotion demonstrates a level of confidence modern employers will respect and admire.
When reinventing yourself after job loss, you might face the urge to push career development aside for more immediate goals (e.g. getting back in the workforce as soon as possible). Resist this impulse—don’t rush! Periods of unemployment are really uncomfortable, but they can also pave the way for a skills addition and assessment. Because of the nature of technology, content creators are consistently expanding their skill sets and adjusting to new developments. In the digital era, you need to get in front of industry changes! Employers will always value those who bring current, fresh perspectives to the table.
For instance, I’m always working on enhancing my understanding of graphic design and photography with programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Additionally, I completed my master’s degree in strategic communication while COVID raged (more on that here). It was a huge juggling act, but greatly expanded my understanding of corporate communication and communication campaign design. Eventually, I’m hoping it will allow for more collegiate teaching opportunities.
Ask any content creator if they’ve forged real relationships over social media and I guarantee you’ll hear a resounding – YES! Through blogging, I’ve worked on projects (e.g. podcasts, articles, blog posts) with other creatives I only knew from social media. How did these endeavors get started? Usually, with a simple Instagram direct message or email.
While social media has plenty of downsides, it also holds tremendous power to connect you to others within your industry and within your desired field. Have a question about your target industry or employer? Use social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook) to reach out to those already there! Be friendly and frank. We are all busy these days. However, people are generally flattered when someone shows genuine curiosity about what they do. Most will do their best to make time for you.
In addition to information seeking, you can use virtual networking to spark collaborative freelance projects. If you have a great idea, don’t sit on it. Think about who you need to connect with to get the ball rolling. What might be the social platform they spend the most time on? How can you make a pitch that might be appealing? Getting your foot in the door with a freelance project gives a prospective employer time to get to know you. If they love your work, you will have all the name recognition you need when a full-time opportunity comes around.