Mindset Matters: Turning Job Loss into Opportunity in UX Amid COVID-19

Mindset Matters: Turning Job Loss into Opportunity in UX Amid COVID-19

Designwhine Magazine Perspective Crisis Is An Opportunity

Lost your UX job during COVID-19? Mindset is a huge part of seeing the opportunities that present themselves during times like this. All depends on where you set your focus..

At the time of this writing, the economy across the world is in shambles. We are experiencing one of the worst recessions ever experienced since the Great Depression that started in 1929 and extended three and a half years. Currently, COVID-19 pandemic has left 147 million people unemployed globally. Even tech giants like LinkedIn are feeling the effects of the recession, as they laid off almost 1000 employees.

I myself was laid off just a week ago, and like a lot workers across the world, I found myself back on the job hunt a lot sooner than I was anticipating. As crazy as it sounds, I believe this is actually an incredible opportunity for all of us, in so many ways. Tech jobs are still abundant, and some companies are doing exceedingly well during the pandemic. Netflix, Amazon, Nintendo, Twitch. The list is huge! Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men alive, once said “be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy”. I believe this applies to other aspects of our lives as well, including the job market due to COVID-19. Mindset is a huge part of seeing the opportunities that present themselves during times like this. If you are unemployed, especially as a result of COVID-19, I believe you may be in a much better position than you give yourself credit for.

Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men alive, once said “be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy”

Let’s analyze some opportunities that this situation brings with itself:

Time to decompress and reset

Being laid off creates a nasty molotov cocktail of anger, fear, resentment and depression. I would be lying if I said I never experienced any of these emotions throughout my own career, including my recent COVID related layoff. It definitely took me by surprise, and it took awhile for me to finally come to terms with it and admit to everyone, ranging from close friends and family members to my LinkedIn followers, that I recently joined the ranks of one of the unlucky few who lost their job during a recession

But this is the perfect time to reset your emotions. Go out of town on a camping trip. Visit friends and family (while taking COVID-19 related precautions, of course). See a new part of the country. If your job was hyper stressful and you were running around 24/7 with hardly any work/life balance, this is a good time to shift gears and move into something more relaxing before you move forward.

If your job was hyper stressful and you were running around 24/7 with hardly any work/life balance, this is a good time to shift gears

Chance to identify the work environment you want to be in

Maybe you are burnt out from startups that try to entice employees with an office that feels more like a frat house offering ping pong, video games, beer on tap, etc. Or maybe you were working in a seemingly stale corporate environment or government agency, and you want a more relaxed and fun environment.

Perhaps you were a one-person UX team, and you wanted more collaboration from several UX designers and researchers. Or you were working with a company that had a mission that did not quite align with your values, or who had a business model that you supported with your work, but in reality you couldn’t care less about why the company exists in the first place. Whatever you experienced in your previous jobs that you would like to improve upon, you now have the opportunity to narrow that down with your new job search.

I recommend getting a journal and writing down what you have experienced in the UX world, both what skills you used and what platforms you executed them on.

I recommend getting a journal and writing down what you have experienced in the UX world, both what skills you used and what platforms you executed them on. Also write down the environments you have worked in. What did you like? What did you not like? What would you like to branch out into?

These questions, if thoroughly and thoughtfully answered, will give you clarity on what your next UX job should look like.

Opportunity to level up your skills

Not every UX job is the same, and each job will have a nuance of responsibilities depending on the company’s maturity of their internal UX team (assuming they have one), resources they have available, etc.

For example, you may have not needed to use any HTML/CSS or Javascript in your previous role. However, you may be seriously considered by a position that, for its own reasons, requires that expertise from their UX team. Or some roles want a strong understanding of UI and visual design. Or maybe it requires a deeper understanding of UX research.

While I agree that these roles would be clearly separated and well-defined in an ideal company with a strong understanding of what UX is and how to implement it, not every company is like that. Some will expect you to have a more broad (or specific) range of skill sets, which you can build upon while you have all the free time in the world on your hands. And the best part is, these educational resources do not have to be expensive.

For example, an account with the Interaction Design Foundation costs $13 per month. Courses on Udemy can almost always be purchased through a flash sale at around $10 each. And LinkedIn Premium (which costs around $25/month) not only allows you to network more effectively, but it also has a wide array Opportunity to level up your skills
of courses you can choose from from within LinkedIn Learning.

And in addition to learning, you can use this time to further beef up your professional experience and portfolio. You can use these resources to volunteer your time to do UX work for your resume and portfolio. I recommend finding opportunities that do not require an NDA so that you can show the work publicly. But choose what works for you!

Opportunity to build your personal branding and networking skills

Being unemployed without a strong network to fall back on forces individuals like you and me to gauge how effectively we are networking on LinkedIn and establishing ourselves as industry professionals.

If you have a weak, or non existent presence on LinkedIn, or at least other platforms where UX professionals are very active (such as Twitter), this is a good time to step back and evaluate how you can present yourself professionally. The silver lining here is that it is forcing you to evaluate how you are approaching the job search, which in itself is absolutely worth studying. Is your job hunt approach not as effective as it could be?

Now you can force yourself to change and be a complete LinkedIn and content badass, and attract your ideal jobs to yourself, rather than chasing for scraps.

Humans are creative beings by nature. We all crave recognition, achievements, and contributing to a better, healthier, more sustainable world.

Freedom of remote working

Tech workers have now been forced to adapt to remote work. While some people are only able to work in small offices or bedrooms that are nowhere near the size and comfort of our open office spaces, the possibilities of remote work across tech have become more and more feasible. So while travel may be difficult for COVID related reasons, this does allow you to be a lot more mobile, if you have the luxury of being able to do that in your personal life. And I don’t believe remote work will be a temporary thing either.

I genuinely believe that the prolonged effects of COVID are waking up both companies and employees to the realization that remote work is not only feasible, it can be quite beneficial for employees who need that lifestyle, such as parents raising young children, tech workers who want to travel the world, and people who may have health problems and need to work from home.

Amazing time to invest in (or build yourself) startups

Humans are creative beings by nature. We all crave recognition, achievements, and contributing to a better, healthier, more sustainable world. And it’s no secret that tech is by far, one of the leading fields to be in that is swarmed with entrepreneurs who created Facebook, Lyft, Airbnb, Amazon, Tesla, Twitch and other tremendously innovative companies were born from the tech space.

But here is the wild thing; did you know that a lot of tech companies, including some that are extremely successful today, were created during a recession?

If you have had an idea for a company you want to launch, this is a great time to do it. And similarly, these tech companies will always need funding, especially during a hard hit economy.

So whether you have been interested in angel investing, building a startup or both, now may be an excellent time to scratch that itch.

In conclusion

There is a silver lining in every situation, no matter how bleak it may seem. And it is more critical than ever to see these possibilities, so you can really make the most of your professional opportunities during COVID-19

This article was last updated on November 27, 2023; Originally published on September 23, 2020

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Samuel Harper
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