March 2020 had the biggest initial unemployment claims in U.S. history. Millions of people are out of work or furloughed and, as the clock winds down on the extra unemployment compensation offered through the CARES Act (up to $600 weekly checks), many are beginning to have serious concerns about what their next steps should be.
Now is the time for both unemployed people, and those interested in advancing their careers, to make some moves to put themselves in a better place. Are you ready?
Opportunities Still Exist
The good news: not all organizations are terminating or furloughing employees. In fact, for some, it’s just the opposite. While several industries, like hospitality, travel and retail, have seen some significant declines, others represent job opportunities, even during these uncertain times. HireVue has collected data on the situation and reports that some essential industries are actually scaling up in their hiring processes:
- Grocery industry virtual interviewing is up 450%
- Hospitals’ virtual interviewing is up 37%
- Telecommunications has increased its virtual interviewing by 110%
In North America, virtual interviewing is up 12%; in the United States it’s up 14%.
But how can you find out about those job opportunities?
Find Out about Job Opportunities
A good place to start is with your own network says Genevieve Ryan Bellaire, the founder of Realworld, a startup in New York that is dedicated to teaching young people about living “in the real world.” “As companies slow down hiring, they are likely to turn internally to fill roles, and rely on their teams to supply candidates they know and trust,” says Bellaire. “After all, given social distancing, job offers are likely to happen without ever physically meeting the job seeker!”
In addition, LinkedIn continues to be a great way to connect with recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers. Many use the site to search for candidates. Making sure that your profile contains the keywords that relate to the type of job you’re seeking and the expertise recruiters are looking for can help your profile rise to the top of search results.
Expect a Different Kind of Process
Because of the pandemic chances are good that your interactions with a prospective employer will take place virtually—even your early days and weeks on the job might be spent from your home or some other remote setting.
This means that you should be prepared to conduct interviews via video and tools like Skype and Zoom. Even if you have experience with these tools socially, take some time to consider how you would use them in a professional setting. Find a well-lit room and pay attention to whatever is visible in the background. If you choose to use a background available through an app make sure that it conveys a professional image and that it is not distracting. During the interview, look into the camera on your computer, or smartphone, not at yourself. And smile!
Take Time to Advance Your Skills
If you’re not quite ready to go on a serious job hunt, now is a terrific time to expand your skillset through education and training. Whether it’s through a virtual class at a local university or a training program through a business, you have plenty of opportunities to make yourself more appealing to employers—both in and out of your current industry or line of work.
If you work a temp job with Adecco, you get access to all sorts of classes and trainings via the Aspire Academy and the company’s SkillBuilder portal. It’s flexible, free and allows you the ability to expand your knowledge and bolster your resume instead of sitting idle.
Make Your Health Top Priority
What’s most important for all of us during these times, is to stay safe and healthy. Practice social distancing rules, wash/sanitize your hands often and wear a mask when in public. If you do need help, not only for COVID-19 related issues, but in general, don’t hesitate to seek the care you need.
Even those who are unemployed and without health insurance, can find ways to get the care they may need, says Bellaire. “If you’re under 26 years old, you might be able to join your parents’ health insurance plan as a dependent. If you’re married, you might be able to join your spouse’s plan. If none of these options are available to you, you can always look to your state’s health care marketplace [accessible through Healthcare.gov] to find a plan you can purchase on your own.” Because of the current situation with COVID-19, Bellaire says, many states have opened up their open enrollment period and are allowing signups even outside the typical enrollment window.
It’s still possible to find a job. And just as important, there are plenty of ways to better position yourself now for the job you really want later. Keep your eyes open. Put your best self forward. Be proactive. And stay positive. The opportunities will come whenever you’re ready.