By Trish Conheeney. 

Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” Or maybe it’s just False Events Appearing Real, which is another way of saying we can let fear overcome us from taking action which in turn gives fear all of its power. Many people are experiencing fear right now because of the global pandemic, the state of our economy, and the upcoming election. No matter which side you’re on, there’s uncertainty and apprehension for everyone. I myself just awoke from a deep sleep and am writing this article well before dawn. Eye roll. These days, many of us are not only working, but policing our kids through this new hybrid form of education that encompasses in-person learning, virtual classroom, and part TikTok, YouTube, and Call of Duty. For parents of young children, the day is much longer. This is all to say that life right about now is pretty unusual, and has been since Covid-19 hit in March and took the bottom out of the job market except for a few pockets of opportunity here and there. With over 20 million furloughs and 12.5 million layoffs in the US since and a historical election upon us in less than a week, most people are sitting tight—except for a minority of companies that continued to hire. But for many others, they hit the brakes, including potential candidates who have remained employed, but cautious—-many even seem stuck. They may want to leave their perceived safe haven, but are afraid they might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire—and it’s a reasonable fear. Even candidates that were actively exploring new opportunities before Covid have decided that staying put through the ‘next wave” seems like a safer option.

A candidate said to me on a Zoom call the other day, “it’s not that bad here, and what if this company you’re telling me about doesn’t make it?” I could see on his face he was lying to himself. “Yeah, you’re right,” I said. “They could eventually go out of business, but they’ve had a great product for 10 years, they’re profitable, good people, will pay you more than you’re currently making,  and YOU get to tackle new challenges!” The candidate could only see the potential harm from moving to a new company but failed to take stock of the dangers of career stagnation. Taking on new challenges and learning new skills can be really valuable when you consider the uncertainty around how long this virus will stay in the ring or when it will finally get knocked out by a vaccine. Of course, if you’re jumping from a solid company to a house of cards because you’re momentarily bored, that may be a foolish move you quickly come to regret. But if there is a meaty role with your name on it, with a company that can offer you new learnings on a sunnier path with a fresh perspective and earning potential, now might be exactly the right time to make that move–especially if you’re in the first few innings of your career when your load is lighter. Things are changing all the time. Technology is moving faster than we are, and the list of what companies seek in an individual is everything and the kitchen sink, and often for a bargain. So keep learning, a lot.

Now is the time to have those conversations, explain your value, and what you bring to the table, and why you’re worth more. Interview them! This is your career, and you will choose where to spend your precious time, brainpower, and dedication to help them grow. That’s worth a lot! And get to know this new team you might join.  This gig will hopefully be for a long time and these are people you will spend more time with than your own family and friends. And to not venture out there and have those conversations out of fear, or to stay in the same role with the same title and be unhappy for years is a missed opportunity that can have lasting consequences for your career.

If you want to make a move, think about what you want to do and articulate what that is. Find people who can help you move forward—-and whatever you do, move forward. And remember, taking action in the face of fear is what reduces fear altogether. After all, in the beginning, it’s just a conversation and you never know who you might meet. It could just be the “love” you’ve been looking for!