The career worst has happened. You lost your job during a pandemic. You suffer through the “sorry to tell you” call from your supervisor. When he says “take care of yourself,” you respond, “You take care too.” Then you sit frozen. When every employer is furloughing or laying off workers, how the heck are you supposed to get a new job?
You spend the hours it takes to sign up for unemployment, and circle the date on your calendar when you need to have a new job. You spend a day cleaning up your resume and the next three days sending it out to every job you find posted in Indeed.com. No employer calls you.
You call a few of your still-employed friends. They check with their HR departments and tell you the grim news. “Our company is freezing hiring.”
That’s the bad news; here’s the good. Some employers are still hiring. Here’s what you need to do now, and here’s how to find and land one of the jobs that exist.
Stay active during the waiting game
Jobs exist; keep looking for work. Don’t prematurely retire to a place of anxiety and stagnation. Open indeed.com and LinkedIn daily and immediately apply for every posting that interests you. Good jobs are snatched up immediately.
Continue letting your friends know you’re looking for your next job. Ask them to keep an eye out for you. Mention you’re willing to take contract work.
Widen your focus
Think about which employers might still be hiring, such as those in supply chain management, food and product distribution, IT services, landscaping and groceries. Break your mental lock on specific jobs and titles. Instead, focus on your skill set and what hiring employers are asking for. You may need to pivot to a different type of position that makes use of your experience and skill set.
Up your visibility
Update your LinkedIn profile; make sure it captures what you’re good at and shows why an employer should hire you.
Connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. If they post a company status update or press release, comment on it, thus illustrating what you’d be like if hired to be on their team.
Join discussion groups with people in your field and actively participate by offering useful thoughts and sharing valuable articles. You may uncover a hidden job.
Taking control of the situation you’re in will help you settle your panic. Create a document that lists your target employers and hiring managers. Proactively reach out to these employers and explain your specific interest in working for them. Don’t take “no” personally; if you’re told there’s a hiring freeze, ask if there’s an estimated date when it will be lifted.
Set up Google alerts for employers you might want to work for. Many employers post updates and job openings that aren’t available elsewhere. Pay attention to how each prospective employer’s leadership team deals with the pandemic and treats its employees. If you receive the opportunity to interview, you can then show you’ve done your homework.
Leverage your time and career
Assess the skills job postings ask for and make yourself a better candidate by updating your skill set and gaining skills that match the most intriguing job opportunities. Use free online courses including those offered by EdX (which features courses from MIT and Harvard), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Microsoft.
Make yourself an exceptional candidate
When you write your cover letters, show you’ve done your homework. Explain why you want to work for a particular company and let them know you’re already familiar with their services, products, recent announcements and challenges. When a prospective employer asks you how you’ve used your time during the pandemic, explain what you’ve done to hone your skills.
Don’t jump in desperation
Although I urge you to apply for every interesting posting, assess each prospective employer who interviews you. What would they be like as an employer? You don’t want to jump from job to job.
Finally, no one knows how long the pandemic, resulting financial crisis and social distancing may last. Focus on what you can control. You can respond to job postings. You can reach out to your current contacts and develop new ones. Most importantly, you can keep a handle on your attitude and how you react to this crisis.
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