The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage unobstructed across the United States, and while the scariest part may be the thought of you or a loved one falling ill, another troubling side effect the pandemic has had is a massive slump in employment.
In fact, over one in ten Americans are currently out of work. New job seekers, fresh out of training or college, are competing now with millions of professionals who have been laid off due to the free-falling economy. It’s a pretty scary picture. However, it’s important to know that you’re not helpless. There are concrete steps you can take to boost your chances of securing a job, which we are going to take a look at today.
Take stock of your options
Whenever you set out to find a job, and especially during a pandemic like the coronavirus, it’s a good idea to first lay out your available options and consider them carefully. Maybe your dream company currently has a hiring freeze in place due to the uncertain economic prospects of the near future, so you’ll have to put your application on hold. Maybe, even worse, they’ve completely gone out of business. If anything like that is the case, take a step back and think about your next moves carefully.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you proceed:
- How much savings do I have? How long will it last?
- Can I apply for unemployment? Will that cover my expenses?
- Does my current job (if applicable) offer enough security to continue my job search?
- What kinds of jobs are available? Of those, which am I capable of or interested in?
- Will my lease or rental agreement allow me to skip a month or two of rent if I need to?
It may be that you have to spend some time collecting unemployment and furiously reworking your resume and cover letters before anything promising pops up. That’s okay. It’s a pandemic — you have permission to go easy on yourself.
Once you’ve assessed your current financial outlook, eligibility for unemployment, and likely job prospects, it’s time to make your next move.
Reach out to networking connections
Networking is essential to the hiring process, and during the coronavirus, pandemic networking has only grown in importance. Why? Because companies, already buckling under the economic strain of a pandemic-induced recession, are far less likely to feel comfortable taking a risk on a new hire they’re unsure of. They want to know that their new hire will hit the ground running and start generating wealth for the company immediately — because they need it.
So, what does that mean for job seekers? It means it’s time to open up your contacts list and look for those key connections you may have made over the years. Sure, reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while asking about jobs may feel awkward, but the discomfort of that awkwardness is nothing compared to draining your savings. Take the plunge and see if any established professionals you may know are willing to help. If they’ve seen a newspaper headline in the past 4 months, they should understand.
- Note: One feature of networking many job seekers tend to forget is that, more often than not, it’s not your direct connection who has access to job opportunities; it’s someone else that that person knows. When you’re networking, be sure to ask your connections about any further connections they may have who may be able to offer leads — and it’s always helpful to use online networking resources to find those connections, where possible.
When networking, be sure to reach out politely and thank your networking connections for their help no matter how it goes. If they hear about anything in the future, you might be the first person they think to notify.
(Carefully) Adjust your expectations
Don’t panic; your dream job will still be a possibility someday. Right now, however, in the midst of the recession and pandemic, it’s likely that the perfect job title will have to be put on hold. While you may be qualified for a more prestigious, higher pay, or managerial position, you may have to wait out the recession in a job that’s not quite your ideal.
And that’s totally okay. Right now, people are suffering, getting sick, and losing jobs. The fact of the matter is that times are tough, and taking a job a little lower than your regular pay grade is something that you may have to do to make ends meet.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should give it all up and accept the first job you can find. Depending on your education, skills, and employment history, there may still be tons of available jobs that will pay well and offer plenty of room for advancement.
That leads us to our final tip.
Consider alternatives to your industry
Tons of industries are experiencing major downturns due to the pandemic and recession. If you work in hospitality, like running events at hotels or managing staff there, you may be finding yourself in a pretty rough spot. Similarly, the restaurant and bar industries have taken a hit, and if your background is in those industries you may have a tough time finding work.
That’s why, right now, it’s smart to think about alternative industries. Plenty of skills are actually far more transferable than you might think, and now may just be the time to challenge yourself and find out how well you’d perform in a different industry from your own.
Online marketing and sales continue to chug along, as quarantined customers choose to shop online instead of heading to the mall. Telecommunications and web communications, like Zoom, are also doing great right now, as workers turn to their laptops to perform their day’s tasks.
Searching for jobs in an industry that isn’t what you’re used to can feel disorienting. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the opportunity; it’s critical that you still put yourself out there and find work if you need the money to get by. And, once the pandemic clears and the economy recovers, you’ll be in a much more comfortable position to start looking for the job in your industry that you truly want.
The pandemic has hit the economy hard, leaving millions of job seekers confused and frustrated. It’s okay to feel worried about your job prospects right now. However, by taking stock of your options, reaching out to trusted contacts, carefully adjusting your expectations, and getting creative about where you look for a job, finding employment is possible.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.