The national unemployment rate is the highest we’ve seen since The Great Depression at 14.7% — to put that in perspective it was 3.5% in February. But there are still people hiring. In fact, there are companies — like Zoom and Instacart — that are booming thanks to stay-at-home orders (and that fact that even in places when orders have lifted, many people are still staying home anyway.) These are the kinds of companies that are hiring right now, and, yes, they need you, says Pamela Mitchell, Founder of The Reinvention Launch Club, a coaching community for people who are retooling their careers.
If you’re out of a job thanks (or no thanks) to the pandemic, we’re here to help. The first thing you need to do is file for unemployment benefits, says Don Asher, Career Coach and Author of Cracking the Hidden Job Market. The CARES Act has already beefed up basic benefits, adding another 13 weeks of state benefits and an additional $600 a week from the federal government through July 31. Asher predicts that timetable (for the weeks, at least) will be extended as it was during the Great Recession when unemployed Americans could collect benefits for up to 99 weeks compared with the normal 26 week period.
But unemployment benefits won’t last forever. Here’s what you can do to make your way back into the workforce.
Take Stock of Your Skillset
Start by assessing your own talents and capabilities, says Mitchell. “Do a survey of the skills you bring to the table and look at how they can be applied in [growing] fields,” she recommends. For example, if you’re a marketing whiz laid off because you were in the beleaguered restaurant sector, can you apply those skills to healthcare, technology or some other hot area?
Then, start making connections. The best way to apply for jobs, experts note, is through networking. You might get lost in a job application portal that can get up to 10,000 applications for a single position. Instead, connect with someone you know in your desired industry and ask them to spend 15 minutes with you giving you salient details on the openings at their companies. Even if that person’s company isn’t hiring right now, they may know someone else who is. And it is still great to get your foot in the door for any future opportunities that may arise.
Consider Broadening Your Horizons
If you’ve been on the same career path for years — particularly if it’s been one that you’ve enjoyed — it might be difficult to adjust to the fact that those jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon. Mitchell says it’s imperative to let go. “If you want to do only what you’ve been doing, you will have more difficulty [finding a new job],” she explains. You might find, as you start interviewing, that there are more commonalities between fields than you suspected — or that you even enjoy a change of pace.
Educate Yourself In Places Where You Lack
But, what if you don’t feel prepared for a job in a new industry? It’s time to hit the internet and do some serious research into which skills and talents are mandatory to make the switch. Following big companies in these industries on LinkedIn to stay up to date with what they’re doing, and reading industry blogs and trade websites that frequently discuss trends can also give you important insight.
Then, to bulk up the skills you’re lacking, take online courses to teach yourself new tricks that will make you more marketable. Ask to shadow a friend’s work via screen share for the day to learn the ins and outs of the field in which you’re most interested, Asher suggests. Once you’ve done the work, gather what you learned and ready yourself for a place in that field.
Land A New Job
Understand that a position in a new field might require you to take a pay cut since you have less experience, though that is not always the case, explains Mitchell. If you find yourself in that position, you can negotiate other valuable benefits, like increased work from home time once traditional offices open again. To make yourself a more desirable candidate, you can offer to do a trial of the job before any offer is made to see if you are a good fit for that position and that company. The bottom line is that you need to be both flexible and creative across the board. “We’re entering a new world of work,” Mitchell says.
With Rebecca Cohen