The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently reported that another 4.4 million U.S. workers filed for new unemployment benefits during the week of April 18, bringing the five-week total since March 15th to 26.4 million workers! That’s a staggering number to comprehend.

I don’t think there is anyone who would argue that we are living in very challenging and unpredictable times. Will businesses reopen in a few days, weeks, or months? When they reopen how quickly will employers bring workers back, and/or hire new staff? Will most workers continue to work from home, or go back to work and have to adapt to changes such as working with masks, gloves, social distancing, temperature checks, and testing? Right now, there aren’t a lot of clear answers, but this is still a good time to prepare for the back-to-work future.

Here are 7 must-dos for positioning yourself to successfully jump back into the labor market with a positive attitude and updated perspective:

1. Attend to Networking

We used to think about networking as meeting a colleague at Starbucks for a cup of coffee – say good-bye to those days. But although the way we network has changed, the importance of staying in touch with others is just as important as ever! Make a list of those individuals you want to make a conscious effort to stay connected with. Try to reach out to 5-10 people a day on LinkedIn, or through emails. What are those companies you’d like to get to know? Don’t let the restrictions of social distancing and sheltering isolation rob you of the critical task of keeping your network robust; you’re going to need them!

2. Stay Tech Savvy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that the majority of the world has moved into video conferencing for personal and professional calls. You probably have adapted to this mode of connection if you are working from home, but if you haven’t – you need to get up-to-speed and comfortable quickly. Most likely virtual work opportunities will continue in the future workplace, and most certainly telework opportunities will expand. Be ready by developing and demonstrating your knowledge and abilities to use platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and FreeConferenceCall.com to connect in a personal manner, facilitate meetings, share documents, and manage projects. And along with this ability, be aware and knowledgeable of video etiquette and best practice protocols.

3. Focus on Continuous Learning

Find a way to set aside some time each week for continuous learning. Stretch your brain power, curiosity, and imagination to learn something new. Read articles, attend webinars, check out Ted Talks, or take an online class. Many organizations, like the Project Management Institute, are offering free learning events – check them out and take advantage.

4. Stay Positive

I know, sometimes easier to say than do. Limit your exposure to the news. Make a list of 5 things each day that you are grateful for. Do something that makes you happy. Attitude will easily be on display during that video conference interview you will be attending in the near future. Be ready to introduce your positive self.

5. Prepare for the Interview

Not only do you need to be comfortable with the interview being conducted over a video conference link, you need to be able to quickly share who you are, what makes you the best candidate for the position, and how you “brand” yourself (i.e., the values and beliefs that make you who you are).

6. Attend to Your Social Media

Be aware of what you are posting – is it positive and upbeat? Is it something a potential employer would understand and appreciate? What does it say about you, your character, and the way you deal with conflict, stress, ambiguity and empathy? Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflective of what the new work order will be requiring.

7. Stay Healthy

Do what you need to keep your body, mind, and spirit centered and aligned. Establish and practice a good routine for exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness, and meditation. It’s so easy for us to take care of others and put ourselves at the bottom of the list. You’re important as well. Take care of yourself as you prepare for the day when the coronavirus is behind us.

This blog post was written by Debbie King, the founder and President of Evolution Management, Inc. (EMI), a management consulting firm focused on improving organizational effectiveness at the individual, team, and enterprise levels. She is also the author of a comprehensive career-development workbook, I Want That Job! offered through the EMI Store. Contact EMI for more information about how we can help you achieve personal and organizational effectiveness: www.evolutionmgt.com / 770.587.9032.