Written by Emilie Brunet on June 28, 2023
There’s no use denying it. The market is tough right now. The tech layoffs that hit the world at the start of 2023 are being felt everywhere. We felt it too.
It can be really hard to stay motivated when all you seem to see in the news is more and more tech companies laying their employees off. So how do you stay motivated as someone looking for a job during this time? We sat down with Coralyn Fraser, one of our career coaches to ask her about it.
Start by telling me a little bit about who you are, your background, how you got into career coaching and your relationship with Journey Education.
In terms of my personality, I’m a bit of an empath. I’m intuitive by nature, and I love people. So ever since I was a little girl I’ve always been drawn to what makes people tick. As I grew in my career, I started off as a secretary, moved into staffing agencies as a recruiter and then I had the chance to work as a job search facilitator. That was the icing on the cake, because it got me fired up about helping people on their career path. Starting off as a secretary moving into the staffing agency and getting to be a career coach is really what got me started. I connected with Journey Education on a fluke actually, somebody reached out to me, and I love their philosophy about being empathetic with other people about what they go through and so I thought this would be a good fit for me. I’ve got about 7 years of career coaching experience, and I love what I do.
And before you were a career coach, you were working as a recruiter as well, so you’ve kind of been on both sides of the hiring process, both working to get people hired as well as doing the hiring yourself.
Yeah, I get to live in the best of both worlds. I love helping people find jobs and I love poaching them. You don’t get to do this very often. I take finding and living my life’s purpose pretty seriously. The pandemic hit, of course, and I was one of a hundred people who were laid off permanently, and so I had to reinvent the wheel and that’s how I got the contract with Journey Education.
You just spoke about being laid off. With the pandemic we saw massive layoffs, but then a huge influx of hiring in the tech industry and now we’re seeing a new wave of layoffs. How are you feeling watching all these tech layoffs?
It’s been pretty challenging. First hand I can see what the students and grads are going through in terms of how it’s affecting their job search. I’ve also had to see people get laid off who we just got hired. My heart goes out to everyone. Tech is kind of tricky, every once in a while it will go through these peaks and valleys. We had a lot of jobs gained and now we’re seeing a lot of restructuring in terms of how people want to run their companies. But it’ll rebound. New technology will drive up new jobs.
Have you seen massive layoffs like this in your career before, how did you handle it in the past and how are you handling it right now as a career coach?
Giving yourself some grace and knowing that not everything is in our control. We have to find a way to come to peace with what’s going on but keep it moving. There are still other ways to get to where you need to go, it just might take a little longer.
Right now, you’re working with students and doing one-to-one coaching sessions with them. Given the layoffs and subsequent hiring freeze, some of these students have been with our career services for longer than average. What do you feel seems to be the primary concern that students come to you with?
First one is the sheer number of people applying for a single job. It can be demotivating. But shifting to a mentality of, "I know that there is a job out there for me, it’s just going to take longer" is important.
Which brings me to the second point: how long it takes to find a job. A lot of people are thinking, “I’m going to find something in two months. I’m ready to go. I’ve got these new found skills.” But it doesn’t always work that way. For some people it does, but not everybody. It has affected a lot of people, but I'm just trying to help them stay motivated.
How do you continue to inspire and motivate students in times like this?
I try to suggest fun projects for them to do; creating a portfolio, learning a new language or develop a new skill. Anything that can keep your creative juices flowing. You have to. You need to keep on your code either way, so why not keep it fun.
As far as the actual job search, I try to give them different pointers on keeping themselves up. Do things that make you happy. Just keeping yourself energized and motivated. Find something that you can do just for yourself to blow off some steam so that you can get away from that endless job search hamster wheel for a minute and come back refreshed.
What are your top 3 tips for finding a job in a market like this?
The first one would have to be having a good pitch. You need to be able to tell people who you are and what you do and why they should keep listening to what you have to say. That’s so helpful, because you meet people everywhere: the grocery store, the airport, etc.
That brings me to the second point, which is networking. Networking is so important. A lot of people shy away from that because they aren’t comfortable talking to other people. You can make it a 1-to-1 situation. You might know someone from your family or friend’s circle who works in tech. Talk to them 1-to-1 about their industry.
Related to that, I wish more people would look into informational interviews. That's where you connect with somebody who works in a company that you really want to work at and try to ask some questions about working there, what it is they do, what the company does. It’s your chance to interview the company where you would want to work, to see if it’s a good fit for you, and to find out if they are hiring and if there’s potential job openings.
That's really important. I’ve noticed that since we’ve moved away from the heart of the pandemic, I’ve been getting more and more requests from people to network or have a 1-to-1 to just talk about what I do. It’s been great to just learn from each other. I’ve been finding it really valuable for me - creating community, learning and sharing with other people is so key.
More people need to have the attitude of giving back — especially the managers. Don’t be afraid to take five or ten minutes out of your day to answer some questions from someone looking for work.
I was just talking to someone the other day about how she got a job at a company that wasn’t even hiring. Simply because she had a conversation with them. They really liked her and they reorganized the company to make it work and hire her. Networking can be super valuable, not only to forge connections but to stay motivated. I think when you’re just applying to jobs endlessly, you can just feel like another number. Networking allows you to forge connections and community at the same time you’re on the job hunt.
That’s the best way to set yourself apart from the typical job seeker. When you think about how many applications Indeed collects for a single position in a few hours, it’s kind of crazy. It’s best to think outside the box and reach out to others — don’t be afraid to do that.
What are your thoughts on people taking part-time jobs not in the field that they studied while they’re trying to search for a more full-time position? Some people have to do that. They are not in a position in which they can just not work for a few months while they are looking for a job.
That’s like a double-edge sword. If you cannot work while you are trying to get a new job and a new career field, that would be a lot easier, except life is life and that’s not obvious for everyone. I’ve been finding that the job search schedule is even more important when you are already working. You need to be committed continue to set aside specific days for your job search. Sometimes people are more exhausted in the evening after working their job all day, and it can be tiring to be applying for other work. You need to be a little bit more strategic with your job search. Consider mapping out some time over the weekend and one evening a week, that way you don’t have to be burnt out throughout the week.
It’s important to be intentional about the job search if you have less time. Instead of just throwing out a bunch of CVs which takes a lot of time, but doesn't always yield a lot of results, you have to be intentional about which jobs you're applying to, editing your CV to accommodate that job and crafting good cover letters. Just throwing a bunch of CVs out on Indeed won't yield much.
If you’re going to work during your job search, then try to get a job at something that is at least somewhat related to the work you want to do. Working at a company that has a tech department will allow you to possibly grow in that direction. Also remembering to always continue to work on coding projects on a regular basis so that you can continue to build experience.
So, you’re a freelancer. You’ve been working as a freelancer for a while. What are your thoughts on setting people up for freelancing in the market we’re currently in?
Probably in the past year, or past six months specifically this has been a topic of conversation. In the past 6 months, more and more grads have been reaching out to friends and family to do these mini projects or contracts. I always encourage that because you’re building and improving your skills. It gives them a whole new range of additional skills, you know, like leadership qualities and project management. I encourage it as much as I can.
Anything else you want to add?
The last thing I want people to remember is that your state of mind has everything to do with it. I totally believe that if we have a positive mindset and we keep that throughout the job search, you can take every interview you have as a learning experience. Every rejection email as a “Hey, at least they noticed me!” Don’t get too caught up in the “no’s” because everybody has to go through that. There are a lot of people who are affected by layoffs and hiring freezes — even the really great candidates are all feeling the difficulty of the job search in today’s market. So keep a positive mindset and don’t give up on yourself. Know that you might have a bad day here and there but keep it moving and you’ll get to where you want to go.
This interview was edited and summarized for clarity at the approval of the interviewee.
I'm the People & Culture Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.
Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!
My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.