Along with concerns about health and safety, the current situation with COVID-19 has had such a dramatic and swift impact on businesses that many employees are facing layoffs and joblessness. If you are among those who have lost your job, here are a few key things to know and strategies to consider for finding new opportunities.
Understand unemployment benefits
Be sure you understand your unemployment benefits + responsibilities. These will vary by state and often have expectations and limitations. For example, you must be willing, able, and available to work. You must also be actively seeking employment in most cases. However, these are changing rapidly due to COVID-19. You can work while on employment, but those earnings may impact the amount of unemployment benefits you can receive. Nolo.com has a great overview of unemployment basics, including links to each state’s unemployment benefits and process located here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/unemployment
Use this time to improve and update your resume and LinkedIn profile
This is the time to update your resume and your LinkedIn Profile to include all of your career achievements. The key to a resume that gets you an interview is focusing on not just what you did, but how well you did it. Share quantitative results when possible, share awards, name-drop impressive customers, and if you’re in management, share the successes of your team members to demonstrate your ability to develop and manage people.
Use the power of LinkedIn to supercharge your job search.
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn Profile, now is the time to create one. It’s going to be far more effective than most job boards. Here are a few more guides to amplify your LinkedIn profile and job search:
Best practices for finding a job on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/151/job-searching-on-linkedin-overview?lang=en
How to find jobs on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/110912
Be sure to “turn on” the “Open to Opportunities” tab so you’re easier for recruiters and hiring managers to find and connect with. Here’s how: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/67405?lang=en
If you’re looking for a professional job or career, the place to be LinkedIn. Spending time to understand the platform and setting yourself up to succeed will be time well spent. LinkedIn’s help page offers a lot of resources to leverage the platform: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin
For LinkedIn or online resume boards, keywords are extremely important. The same search logic that drives results for your searches on Google and Bing is what brings your resume to the top of the pile. It’s important to work in keywords related to the work you do (your position, responsibilities, and results) as well as the industry to help recruiters and hiring managers quickly and easily find you when they start to search. Use these guides from LinkedIn to maximize your profile: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/5
See who is hiring and what jobs are posted—and create job alerts
It’s easy to feel discouraged and, in the current climate, assume there won’t be any jobs. However, this is likely untrue. A quick and easy way to see what’s out there is to go to Indeed.com and use their advanced search function to find jobs just posted in the last three days or seven days. I’d start with three days to really have “fresh” jobs to apply to so your application is the initial batch. That said, after those first few minutes, DO NOT limit your job search to only fresh jobs.
In addition, you can set up and save multiple job alerts that will email you when jobs matching that search are posted so you can be quick to reply—without having to check the job boards every day.
Here is a quick video on how to use Indeed’s advanced search function: https://www.loom.com/share/3f7762c56ca14fb0b21bc8a4a35c45fe
Check out this article on how to use Indeed’s advanced search functions to get better search results and set up awesome job alerts: https://support.indeed.com/hc/en-us/articles/204288884-How-to-search-for-company-names-and-job-titles
I’d also highly recommend you set up alerts on LinkedIn. Consult this article for using Boolean on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/75814/using-boolean-search-on-linkedin?lang=en
Adjust your expectations
This isn’t business as usual for most businesses. You will see far fewer job postings and far more competition for those openings. On average, companies get 250 resumes per opening. With the downturn in the market, that number is likely to skyrocket, which is very challenging for companies to manage.
So, it’s important to take the time to ensure your resume matches the job posting and makes it clear you have the experience they’re looking for. Most large companies use a resume parser to get your resume into their system, and it looks for keywords on your resume to match the opening. If you really want a job, take the time to make sure the wording on your resume matches the wording on the job post. This might mean using the term “sales” instead of “business development” or using “customer service” versus “customer happiness” to give yourself the best chance of being picked up as a strong match to the opening.
Read the instructions to apply and follow them exactly. Many companies and hiring managers include specific instructions as part of the selection process and eliminate candidates who don’t follow those instructions.
Consider making a career change versus just a job change
Perhaps this is the catalyst for a change. It may be that you haven’t been enjoying the work you’re doing or are just ready for a change after five,10, or 15 years. The process to make a career change vs. simply changing jobs requires a bit more planning and effort to do well.
The first thing I’d recommend is watching this two minute overview on Jim Collins’ HedgeHog Principle. In a nutshell, think about what you love to do, what you were “born” to do, and what you can get paid to do. It’s important to think about how these three things can cross over and co-exist when looking to identify your next career. By combining these things, you’re able to do work well, enjoy that work, and get paid for it.
Once you’ve identified your strengths and interests, use those to brainstorm different industries, roles, and ways you can make money using them. This might mean using your natural sales skills to fundraise for a non-profit you’re passionate about. It could be using your teaching experience to start working as an account rep for a company that sells supplies to teachers and schools.
Utilize job boards
There are many, many job boards, and almost all have a resume database aspect as well. It definitely makes sense to add your resume to job boards to get as many people as possible to consider you for employment. However, you will likely be inundated with offers that have nothing to do with your experience, such as a straight commission sales position when you’ve never had a sales job in your life,. But it’s worth it when you’re trying to get in front of as many hiring eyes as you can.
Indeed.com, mentioned above, is my favorite job board/resume database. It gets a lot of traffic, and many companies use it. ZipRecruiter has been advertising like crazy, and their offering mix appeals to a lot of small businesses.
I also use monster.com and careerbuilder.com and they have loyal customers they’ve had for years. Keep in mind, most companies don’t invest in multiple resume databases (unless they’re very large), they usually pick one and work primarily from that one. So make sure you’re active on more than one of them.
Pick the right platform for your position and seniority.
- LinkedIn – Professionals, Managers, Executive Leaders
- The Ladders – Executives – $100K+ earners
- com, ziprecruiter.com, monster.com, careerbuilder.com – Hourly workers and professionals like office workers and sales people, and managers.
Consider registering for temp or contract work
When companies begin hiring again, they often start with contract or temp workers. This is also a resource used by companies that are being stressed during crises such as COVID-19. You’ve probably seen that Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers and that your local Costco and grocery stores are actively hiring to meet the increased demand. This isn’t a surefire way to find work, but it’s yet another way to get yourself in front of companies that are hiring.
Have specific skills? Consider checking out the gig economy
Register on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and the many other platforms for companies to connect with freelancers. This can be a way to supplement your income and is often done remotely.
Check out free apps and resources to take care of your mental health
Check out this article from USA Today about the various apps that are offering free or discounted access to help you move through this challenging time: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/03/21/health-and-wellness-apps-offer-freebies-coping-coronavirus/2892085001/
How to talk to children about the changes and uncertainty caused by Coronavirus
Check out the resources from On Our Sleeves and National Children’s Hospital for talking to kids about Coronavirus and how it’s impacting their life, as well as how to address their concerns. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves/find-help/tools-for-you/coronavirus