Q: One month ago, our company closed nine branches across the country. Everyone in my department and branch is looking for work. That means I’m competing with my former leads, supervisor and manager and younger candidates with superior technological skills for jobs. I’m also in my 50s. I’m trying hard to keep my spirits up, but afraid I won’t find a job other than as a grocery store greeter. I’m desperate; not sleeping, not eating, just staring at Craigslist and LinkedIn. I didn’t want to end my career this way.
A: Then do not end it this way, begin anew. Start by working on yourself. You can’t convince a prospective employer to hire you if you remain psyched out; desperation doesn’t sell.
You’re aware of the challenges you face, that’s a great first step. Now, develop your plan, which includes keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy. You need sleep, healthy food and exercise.
You also need to think strategically. Assess the job marketplace, considering all the industries and positions for which your skills and qualities are relevant. Don’t limit yourself by focusing exclusively on yesterday’s jobs. Some employers and industries now actively seek employees. The pandemic both caused a full or partial lockdown in some economic sectors and created many new lines of work, from on-site IT and video-conferencing support to contract tracers, temperature takers and health monitors.
The demand for employees who can handle safety-related roles has skyrocketed as employers across the country seek risk mitigation and health and safety stewards who can clean and sanitize workplaces, enforce safety protocols and help employers modify their workplace layouts for social distancing. After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced it would allow employers to take employees’ temperatures as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, organizations began repurposing current employees and hiring workers to do that.
Do you possess customer service skills? A glance at ZipRecruiter reveals thousands of postings from city and county health agencies, large employers, staffing agencies and hospitals and health systems for contact tracers. These jobs require the people skills needed to call individuals who’ve been exposed to coronavirus and assist them to set up appointments for COVID-19 testing.
If you have interior design, office management or facilities, maintenance or custodial skills, you may be able to help a large employer, or many smaller ones, redesign their workspace. Can you install Plexiglas dividers in shared office spaces or restaurants to protect against the spread of coronavirus? Do you possess the technical skills to facilitate virtual events using videoconferencing technology? If you’re smart enough to call an employer with these obvious but not-yet-filled needs, you might land a projects job or even find enough clients to launch a small business. Jobs such as these will remain as long the virus does.
You increase your likelihood of quickly find viable employment if you assess the short- and long-term potential of jobs in your category and industry to return. You also need to assess what skills you need to succeed in the ones that will come available and position your resume and thinking to match those employer needs. Don’t sell yourself short. If you have work ethic, reliability, technical, problem-solving and people skills, you have much to offer a prospective employer, particularly one looking for individuals who can handle remote work.
Next, identify every available job platform and recruiting firm and ask yourself, “if you were a prospective employer who ran across your profile, would you give it a second glance?” Change your resume from one that singularly focuses on the industry or positions you’ve worked into one that showcases your many skills.
Finally, don’t scoff at viable jobs. Yesterday when I purchased gas at Fred Meyer, their intercom system blared out the message they were hiring. Grocery and other retailers are all hiring additional cashiers, shelf stockers and delivery drivers to keep up with the demand from customers self-isolating at home. Amazon, with its 110 fulfillment centers across the country has just hired 175,000 new employees to fill a wide variety of jobs, from accounting to customer service to warehouse workers. If you have supervisory or people management skills and land a cashier job today, you may become a supervisor within the year.
Don’t end your career; think strategically and repurpose yourself.