Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Pandemic Unemployment Makes for Tough Job Search

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was previously a janitor for a school. Though schools are reopening, school days are limited, and I was officially notified that I will not be returning to work because my position was cut from the budget. Unemployment compensation for the pandemic is about to end. I’ve been searching for employment somewhere in my area but have been unsuccessful. I don’t have any degrees or skills.

I used to be so optimistic and applied for jobs knowing that I could sell myself up. But now that we’ve been home for so long, I feel like I don’t know how to get the go-getter attitude back. I feel like the only job I can qualify for right now is fast-food restaurants, and even then, positions are limited because I feel like everyone is trying to take whatever job they can, like me, and I have been unlucky. What else do I do to find a job, and what kind of jobs should I be looking for in this age of COVID-19? -- Struggling Worker

DEAR STRUGGLING WORKER: Times are incredibly tight, and you are right to be concerned. You also know that the winning attitude that you once had is essential for you to maintain to make yourself appealing to potential employers. Remind yourself of your willingness to work hard and your ability to do whatever job is before you. Continue to apply at fast-food restaurants, but expand beyond there. Look around in your neighborhood, at community centers, houses of worship, soup kitchens, nursing homes and other public service organizations. Know that front-line organizations that service people suffering from COVID-19 may have openings for janitors. If you are willing to take the risk, that may be a viable option. Go online and look for labor jobs. Write down the skills you used as a janitor and look broadly to see what companies are hiring. Do not give up.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I gave birth back in June, so my baby is about 4 months old now. The public is beginning to open back up. I have kept my newborn home and have not allowed anyone outside of my family to enter. Now we are transitioning to getting things back to normal. I have to return to work and hire a nanny.

I am terrified. I am nervous about hiring a nanny and not ever knowing what they do or where they go on their own time before and after they come to my home. Sending my child somewhere is out of the question. I know my worries are probably exaggerated, and I need to come to terms with getting back to normal, too. Since this is my first child, I have developed anxiety when it comes to my baby. What extra precautions can I use when I and others come and go from my home, and what can I do to put my mind at ease? -- Safe First Mommy

DEAR SAFE FIRST MOMMY: Stay vigilant. Statistics indicate that COVID-19 is back on the rise this season. The more you can keep your baby away from other people, the safer you will be. Continue to have family members -- and anyone else who comes in close contact with you or your baby -- wear a mask, wash hands thoroughly and keep a safe distance. Limit who can touch your baby.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)