Career Pivot Readers Survey Results
The Career Pivot Readers Survey had a different focus this year. Given that 2020 has been such a strange year, the focus of the survey was to get feedback on how the pandemic affected you both professionally and personally.
What you told me was the effect of the pandemic has varied a LOT.
Some of you have seen little change in your lives except for being confined and not being able to see family or travel.
For others, the effects have been detrimental financially, mentally, and physically.
Since most of the survey questions were open-ended questions I am going to attempt to group the responses and summarize.
Before we get into the details, however, let me say a big “thank you” to everyone who responded to the survey. I had 110 people take the survey and about 95 complete the entire survey.
Warning: This is a long post with hundreds of responses that will find encouraging and sad.
First the basics.
Q1 – What is your gender?
As has been true in the past, the Career Pivot readership is evenly distributed between men and women.
This has been pretty constant over the 9 or so years I have been writing on this blog.
Q2 – What is Your Age?
The sweet spot for both my podcast and blog has been the 55-64 age range. This year there are significantly more people who are under 55 years of age. I suspect that this pandemic has hit a broader range of experienced people than past recessions. Of course, this is not an ordinary recession.
Q3 – How has the pandemic affected your career?
Since over 20% of the respondents clicked “other” on this question I had to do some analysis. There were a few responses that I had not thought of.
About 40% of you responded that you stayed employed with the same employer during the entire period. This jives with much of what I have read in that almost half of the workers in the U.S. have largely been unaffected. In fact, due to working from home, and not being able to eat out or travel, many who are working are saving money at record rates. Check out the following article, The Pandemic Has Resulted in Record Savings, but Only for Some.
Another 20% responded that they were self-employed but it was easy to see that many of these people were struggling. Many said they had lost clients and were struggling to find new ones. One person who is a dog walker said that people no longer needed her services because they were stuck at home and actually wanted to walk their dogs.
Another 25% said they had lost their jobs and were unable to find work. Along with this, there was an additional 5% who said they are now under-employed.
One interesting response was several people responded that they quit their jobs. I know that some people have quit work due to health concerns, either their own or a family member.
Around 5% of the respondents have retired. I discussed retirement with Mark Miller of the Retirement Revised podcast and newsletter in the podcast episode, Retirement in the Time of COVID-19 with Mark Miller. I have hypothesized that this pandemic is creating 3 types of retirees:
- Those of you who can retire financially and have used this as a catalyst to retire now rather than later
- Some of you who were a few years away from retiring but decided to pull the plug early
- The unfortunate majority of you who will be forced into retirement
We have not seen these in the numbers yet but the numbers could be staggering.
New research by The New SchoolSchwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis says that 50% of older workers have been pushed into early retirement which accounts for about 3 million people and they expect another 1.5 million to follow them in the coming months.
Approximately, half of the respondents are unemployed, underemployed, or retired.
Q4 – What is the biggest challenge in your career right now?
The challenges people wrote about fall into the following categories:
- Age Discrimination
- Self Employment
- Not Sure What to Do Next
- Working but…
- Difficult Job Search
I will give you a sampling of their responses.
Approximately, 20% of respondents mentioned age discrimination as an issue.
Here is a sampling of their responses:
I fear I won’t get a new job because of ageism (I turn 62 in 2 weeks). There is a mistaken perception of recruiters and possible employers that my salary demands will be higher (due to my extensive experience) than a younger person in my field (law).
Needing to pivot my career and dealing with ageism and intense competition from a flood of candidates
Getting a full-time job despite my being over 60
Find the right fit for me and agism
Finding work as a 69-year-old person
Trying to find employment and deal with age discrimination
Age & many skills but not experience
Needing to pivot my career and dealing with ageism and intense competition from a flood of candidates
When you become a necessity entrepreneur it can be challenging but freeing. Many of the respondents were already working for themselves either as a contractor or owning their own business.
Here are some of the responses:
Adjusting older clients’ expectations for meeting remotely
Finding appropriate clients
Finding new clients and new services to offer existing clients since much of our business involved traveling offsite to do training and facilitate meetings
It has negatively impacted the volume of business I have.
Getting paid in a timely manner. (I’m a freelancer.)
The biggest challenge is starting a writing career that I can continue when I retire.
Deciding on a product/ service to represent off and online
Getting clients for a new writing career
Transition to online income
Balancing supplemental freelance work in addition to a consulting contract job in which I am committed to 100 to 130+ hours a month.
I do a mix of work—consulting, advising, and consulting. With COVID, the consulting work has been slow to non-existent. COVID is impacting the consulting revenue stream which is lucrative. Pivoting more work into advising and coaching which will take time to build the revenue.
When you work for yourself in a crisis it can be very lonely. As you can see, the big issues are getting and retaining clients and getting clients to pay if you have an existing business. Launching a business in this climate is a good thing though it takes time. However, the traditional ways you might get help like the Small Business Development Center or SCORE might be more difficult to access.
Not Sure What to Do Next
This pandemic is creating an amazing amount of uncertainty in our lives. I wrote about this in the post, Dealing with Uncertainty in a Time of a Pandemic very early in the pandemic.
What patterns do you seeing in these responses?
Persevering in a historical field or changing to something new
Ambiguity and uncertainty due to workforce reductions over the past 12 months and changing executives. Hoping for more clarity after the election and the new year begins. Currently networking inside (company name removed) and outside for better understanding of the market, 2021 investment plans, and opportunities
Becoming obsolete and not caring enough to make the changes. Ready to try new things
Determining next step-find traditional job or continue quest to run my own business
Trying to do a career change in the middle of a pandemic
Finding a new career that excites me
Trying to change my area of focus after 40+ years of Engineering
Deciding what to do
Finding what it is that I want to do and finding an employer that provides health insurance
Figuring out what my encore career will be
I’d like to do something else with my career, but I’m not sure how to make a change
Most of these people I suspect are frozen and are deep inside their own heads. Stress will do this to us, however, what we really need to do is seek out help. There are a lot of places to get help including the Career Pivot Membership community.
The key thing is to get some help!!
As in the past, when there are major layoffs at a company it is often the people who are still working who feel the burden to continue to get the work done. In addition, working from home is not always the panacea when you have to manage children and a spouse also working from home.
If you work on a team staying connected in this new remote world of work can be difficult. Particularly, if you are an extrovert where you get energy by being around people.
Onboarding to a new company virtually
Managing changes with job and kids at home
The tariff’s the US imposed on technology coming out of Asia
Trying to get a better position within the university I am currently employed with.
No raises this year, also furloughed for 15 days or about 7% pay cut. Voluntary and involuntary job reductions have reduced my staff by 40%.
Legacy employees with lack of motivation -New tech not operating properly periodically
Managing team members who are now working remotely. People are being pulled in many different directions (ie. kids now being taught remotely, my spouse is also home working remote, caring for elderly parents, etc.) There are many more “life” distractions that weren’t present when they were in the office.
Time management. I know a percentage of my week needs to include marketing and sales, but I tend to push that aside in order to push paper and attack the stacks on my desk.
Staying in communication with co-workers while working remotely.
Work from home has lots of good points, but my visibility at work has diminished which will likely translate into lower ratings, opportunities, etc.
Lack of growth opportunity and diversity of assignments in my current position. Work-life balance.
Feeling invisible. Not necessarily with my team, more the isolation of working from home and general socialization.
Trying to find a way to make an income while working from home and maintaining flexibility/autonomy with schedule and workload.
I want to change jobs and it just seems impossible now.
More work with fewer resources post layoffs
Difficult Job Search
There were numerous responses that said finding a job was extremely difficult. I am not including those but there were many. I wrote the following post, Are You Operating Without a Playbook? You Ought to Be! based on a comment made by Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes. Lisa was a guest in the podcast episode, The Experts Take on Looking for a Job During a Pandemic – Part 1 and said that the most successful people she is working with have thrown away the traditional playbook in their job search.
The following responses indicate to me that they are struggling.
Getting the right skills to be employable
Finding a work from home position
Lack of job openings
Finding a part-time job
Getting hired. I’ve always been hired when I interview or work as a temp. Computer reviewed resumes don’t seem to work
Opportunities to get a new job are restricted
No professional development opportunities
Uncertainty in the job market
This should come as no surprise that the word stress came up so many times in their responses. I am not going to include any of their responses in this post as many were very personal.
As I have written about before, I believe that the long term effects of stress that is induced by this pandemic will be with us for years.
Check out the article published by the BBC, Coronavirus: The possible long-term mental health impacts.
Q5 – How the pandemic has affected the quality of your life?
This question generated a lot of interesting responses. I categorized the responses into 3 categories on how their quality of life was affected:
- In the Middle or No Change
As you can imagine over half of the responses are in the worse section. I also removed many duplicates.
Improved it. I have more downtime with less running around to do. I need to be careful to not work around the clock and all the time as that has been a trend due to the demands of my job.
Quality is good. The silver lining has been more quantity and quality time with wife and kids.
Actually, the pause at the beginning of the pandemic, helped me shed what is unimportant
Positive due to increased self-awareness and more connection with others due to common challenges.
Oddly, my quality of life has improved slightly. Able to spend more time with my son allowing ex-wife/his mom to continue to work/be employed.
It has highlighted that changes are needed to honor what is important.
Thrilled with not having to drive to and from a physical office. Got back almost three hours a day. Since I no longer need to drive to work, am sleeping until 6 AM. Wonderful.
Improved it. My life is calmer because I have fewer decisions to make daily.
In the Middle or No Change
Not so much – missing face to face meetings/facilitation
Working from home can both help and hinder work-life balance. I’m trying to keep more or less set hours and to exercise and eat well.
More free time, less family, friends, and money.
Only in a few ways, shortages in stores, and lack of complete freedom to move around.
Gained weight but otherwise, I’m OK
Workwise busy as ever. Not a huge social butterfly but have missed the regular interaction and things to look forward to.
Isolation without having a remote position is alternately great and depressing. Thankfully, I’ve been okay financially, but the longer I’m out of work, the more concerned I am about getting back into the workforce.
It has had many repercussions on our current and future life plans. We are trying to stay positive, but my husband was furloughed from his job and also recently required spinal surgery. Thankfully, I am still employed but went from possibly semi-retiring to continuing to work full time.
It has simplified things in some ways: No need to buy business clothes, forgiveness for things like getting hair done. Complicated other areas, such as: getting a home office setup dialed in, sitting for too long impacting my physical health, and my attention span is now officially nil.
So far not affected, I received government assistance and I am also in mortgage forbearance however If I don’t get the same income type of job I will lose my home.
Having worked remotely for the past 18 months, not much. I do miss in-person networking, conferences, and now-diminished social events (dining, parties, etc.)
My qualify of life is unchanged. However, my wife is busier than ever. She is in the construction industry and it is booming. She works long hours and fewer days at home. The increased workload is affecting her health.
Somewhat to minor as I am still enjoying life. External activities and visits are on hold. Miss visiting my 91-year-old mom and attending the theater and visiting restaurants. I have pivoted to more virtual engagements with people. I have an adult son with special needs and he has been significantly impacted as he is currently in / should be in a life transition program. He is missing out on time-limited activities. Overall, it is what it is, and embracing what you have is wiser than embracing what you don’t have / can’t have.
It has hurt but we still surviving and able to do most of what we were doing before.
About the same, less opportunity to get out and be with people
Negatives: Less exercise, less social time, more stress, more work creeping into my off-hours. Positives: Reduced commute, reduced meat consumption (mostly vegetarian).
My life is less hectic, which is good, but I miss seeing my friends, family, and coworkers and feel anxious much of the time.
Other than working from home, not much else really changed.
No huge change *except* not being able to see the kids/grandkids.
Surprisingly, not significantly, since I am lucky enough to be in a technical, white-collar position. I am WFH full time and much prefer it to go into the office. One big downside: I would like to travel to see family and friends.
It really hasn’t, other than I only leave the house 2-3 times a week.
I worked from home before the pandemic. No change.
It has stayed about the same — my wife and I are fortunate enough to have remained employed since the quarantine started
Feeling stuck at home. Income reduction
Everything requires more thought and planning in order to avoid Covid exposure. Tasks and errands that were simple before Covid are now either impossible or at least more complex, and they can require evaluation and management of risk. Less family contact is also difficult.
Homeless and living in an Airbnb
I got divorced so I guess not good
More stress from kids being affected
Taken the stress level through the roof. All this nonsense is very disturbing. The planned destruction of our society.
I wake up each day grateful for what I have. At the same time, I have felt very lonely and anxious.
I am much more stressed, with physical symptoms that won’t go away and weight gain from comfort eating. I am the primary earner in our family and am a caregiver for my partner, whose own anxiety and depression have worsened significantly since early March 2020.
Well, I do not get to see my kids as much as before, and my wife and I seldom go anywhere anymore. My human contact has decreased.
A lot more confined. Because we’re taking it seriously, we try not to go out more than necessary, which gets monotonous. We also downsized to an apartment two years ago and now our son has bounced back home. So we’re all a bit overcrowded!
I was already working remotely but was feeling isolated and thinking about looking for a new job. Now that I don’t get to talk to and work with people on a daily basis, I’m really feeling disconnected from the world. It’s hard to listen to the news because so much of it is bad. Due to my layoff, I’ve restricted where I spend money so I can continue to support the household. I do talk to family and friends more now. And I’m reading again and taking some online classes to beef up some skills and just for fun.
There is a sense of lack of freedom, but justifiably so. The things I’d wanted to participate in, volunteering, attending group events have been suspended. Most importantly, I was unable to be with my 98-year-old mother when she died (of a stroke). Thankfully, I was able to be with her in the hospital a day before thanks to hospice nurses who facilitated the one-time visit. I had always imagined that upon her death I’d have a huge choice of activities, jobs, etc…COVID and the completely correct restrictions have limited my options in a way I didn’t think would happen.
Part-time work dried up some – thus, underemployed. It took away my daily visits to the health club, so the only way I got to see my friends was via email and texts. My home exercise program slowly lost momentum. We had several in US and overseas trips that were canceled. Although our deposits are secure, we have become virtually home-bound, except for out-of-state drives to take care of aging parents. So, while we have been fortunate to remain physically healthy and rely on telework, I’d say mentally the pandemic has taken a toll on us.
Am experiencing an increase in the strain on my marriage and an increase in anxiety generally
I am very anxious about the present and future.
Unable to socialize, higher stress levels for common instances (grocery shopping, visiting restaurants, visiting the kitchen at work & meeting with clients)
Work from the home office and can’t go out to visit customers which have been tough on me.
Working remotely since March. Stress and worry about losing my job.
Much more isolated, frequent realization on how evil society is starting to sound with little opportunity to find the kinder folks who are there, just more silent.
Additional stress and anxiety. Working from home is not my favorite, and I prefer the social and collaborative aspects of a physical workplace.
I pretty much only go to Costco, HEB, and Target. I wear a mask whenever I am near my in-laws. I fear being unable to see my family in California over the holidays.
We have been belt-tightening. The fact that my country can’t get its act together to stop the spread has affected my livelihood and future plans.
I miss seeing my kids, going to have a glass of wine, having family come see us here. Seems like this year has lasted 24 months.
I’m much more tired at the end of the day, have not been able to attend my regular fitness classes, and feel much more isolated.
Lack of social interaction with others face to face is becoming stressful. I miss human interaction. I like to travel – the pandemic has caused that to come to a complete halt. On the plus side, I am spending more time with my family. I have also spent a lot of time catching up with old friends over the phone.
Early on I liked that society paused. The weight and stress of financial strain, job/work strain, and health risk are substantial now. Concerns about health insurance.
Negatively. Increased isolation. Increased stress due to unknown future, increased competition, fewer jobs, but on plus side people are empathetic, willing to help, and I have used services to thank people for their efforts and for pro-bono projects to get into companies.
Q6 – How Uncertain Do You Feel About Making Future Plans?
I was not sure how to do this so I gave the respondents a scale of 0-100 where 0 was totally uncertain and 100 was totally certain.
The average was 52 and the median was 50. For those of you who are not familiar with the term median, half of the respondents responded below 50 and the other half responded above 50.
I am not sure what to make of these results. I am not an expert in creating these types of surveys. Feel free to comment below if you can tell me what you think.
Q7 – Is remote work in your future? Answer based on what you think is achievable.
This was a poorly constructed question and I did not find the answers really told me anything. I am not including it in this post.
This pandemic has affected us both negatively and positively. Those of you who look at life with a growth mindset will look at this new world as a challenge. If you have a fixed mindset, then life could be tough going forward.
The social isolation this pandemic is causing will have long terms effects on our age group. In many ways, I am blessed that my family is very small. Both my parents have passed, my wife and I do not have any grandchildren and do not expect to have any, and if anything my brother and I talk more than we have in years. The only person we wish we could visit more with is our son, who lives in Washington D.C. with his wife.
We have a circle of friends that we maintain social contact with on a regular basis and that is primarily outside. You can read more about my social “community” in the post, Community – What Is The Value Of Belonging To One?
After the lockdown was over in April or May, I truly do not remember, but our lives have not changed much. As I write this post, the Governor of Jalisco Enrique Alfaro has pushed the “emergency button” which means most businesses will be closed Friday at 7 PM until Monday morning at 5 AM. Monday through Thursday businesses must close at 7 PM and reopen the following morning at 5 AM. For my wife and me, this is a minor inconvenience. For the Mexicans, Sunday is the beginning of the Day of the Dead celebrations or Dia de los Muertos. This is a very important celebration that has been put on hold. Check out the Washington Post article Day of the Dead celebrations to be muted when Mexicans need them more than ever.
I personally have felt very fortunate not to be in the U.S. during the current presidential campaign and this pandemic. I know that sounds strange but it is a healthier existence living in Ajijic Mexico than Austin, Texas where my wife and I lived for 40+ years.
Please comment below on your thoughts.Marc Miller
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