Finding a job during COVID-19 presents unusual challenges for job-seekers. And currently, many people are unexpectedly seeking jobs as businesses have been forced to close for quarantine. In early May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. economy had lost 20 million jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate to 14.7%—the worst unemployment rate since 1933, when the unemployment rate hit 24.9% during the Great Depression. However, some estimates put the actual current rate closer to 20% and more jobs are expected to be lost as small businesses struggle with lost income.
So if you find yourself seeking work during this pandemic, you’re not alone.
It might feel hopeless to look for work while the Coronavirus still ravages parts of the country, but there are ways to improve your chances of finding a job. Some industries are actually growing as they try to meet new consumer demands. And many jobs that had required working in an office have become remote positions, opening up options that might have been geographically out of reach before.
Job hunting is never easy, and finding a job during a national crisis is that much more complicated. But here are some tips on how to search for jobs, how to prepare for online interviews, and how to adapt to changes in the U.S. workforce.
Search For Jobs In Growing Industries
While retail and service industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, there are some industries that are growing in response. Many of these industries are seeing increased demand for services that help people manage with the changes quarantine has brought, while others support the medical field.
- Fulfillment and Shipping: Online shopping has reached new heights as people try to remain at home in quarantine rather than packing into crowded brick and mortar stores. As a result, companies like Amazon, UPS, and Walmart have been hiring record numbers of new employees to meet the huge increase in online orders. Typically, these jobs don’t require a lot of experience or special skills, although having a background in customer service or logistics experience is a plus.
- Communication Technology: Online communication platforms like Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, and Skype are becoming essential tools for companies whose employees now work from home, as well as for families and friends stuck at home worrying about each other. Although this technology has been around for a while, it’s new to many users, meaning that many of these companies are fielding more requests from users for tech support and tutorials. This demand is opening jobs not just for programmers, but for chat and phone support specialists as well.
- Medical: Obviously, if you have a degree in medicine, biomedical engineering, and the like, there are openings not just for doctors and nurses, but for drug development, research, and so forth. But other support positions like office staff for filing and processing patient information, custodial staff, and biohazardous waste removal jobs are essential and often offer on-the-job training.
- Online Learning: Many school districts have closed in response to COVID-19, and some are considering remote learning at least part of the time for the fall 2020 school term. As a result, demand for online learning resources is at an all-time high. These jobs include teaching and tutoring positions, curriculum development, customer service positions, and IT support.
- Childcare: Despite quarantine restrictions, some parents are still having to go into work. Arianne Cohen of Fast Company points out that with schools and daycares closed, many parents are searching for dependable babysitters. You can find clients through popular online websites like UrbanSitter, Care.com, or SitterCity.
- Essential Services: In the past, some jobs have proven to be recession-proof. According to Simone Jasper of The Ledger-Enquirer, these usually include positions like law enforcement, firefighters, and paramedics that are necessary for society to continue operating safely. Similarly, grocery store stockers and cashiers, waste removal personnel, and phone operators are generally stable positions during a crisis. And unlike most other industries, finding a job in these areas is sometimes easier during a crisis because demand for these services increases.
- Contact Tracing: When a patient is diagnosed with a dangerous, highly-contagious illness, contact tracers figure out who that person has been in contact with. They provide information and support to those who might have been infected by the patient in order to help stop the spread of the disease. In some states like Georgia, the minimum requirement to become a contract tracer is a high school diploma. Dr. Emily Gurley designed a free six-hour course that is available to anyone who might be interested in contact tracing. It covers information about COVID-19 and how it spreads, how to build rapport with patients and their contacts, and how to communicate effectively.
- Remote Work: Maybe the phrase “remote work” sends chills through your computer-phobic body. Or maybe the idea of working in your slippers with your dog next to you on the couch is thrilling. Either way, employers are finding it’s cheaper to allow employees to work from home. The advantage for workers is that now they are no longer restricted to local job searches. Instead, they can expand their job search to the entire U.S., and in some cases, beyond. Indeed.com has developed a guide specifically for those seeking remote work. We also have some tips to help you get started working from home.
Another way to determine if an industry is hiring is to see if companies in that industry are looking for recruiters. If a company is hiring a recruiter, that means they are looking to hire new employees, so see if you can find out what positions they might be hiring for and apply. If you can’t learn what specific positions they are hiring for, then figure out what skills you have that match their needs and pitch yourself with an informed, polished cover letter.
Try Finding A Job Through Social Networking
It can be embarrassing to be out of work, even when being out of work is not our fault. But letting friends, family members, and former employers/coworkers know that you’re looking for work can be an important way of discovering opportunities you might otherwise miss. It also opens up your contacts as your friends ask their friends about positions for you. And that personal recommendation from someone who knows you well can open doors that might otherwise stay closed.
Don’t forget to leverage your social media accounts while finding a job. Even if you’ve only ever used Facebook to play Farmville, now is a great time to polish your account and start making connections. Many established social media platforms now offer networking groups or dedicated pages (like Jobs on Facebook) where people can connect with others in their field or learn about fields that interest them. Similarly, LinkedIn encourages users to search for open positions on their platform using the hashtags #NowHiring and #HiringNow. Our recent post Using Social Media For Successful Social Networking goes into detail about how to actually do this, and our guide to personal branding has tips for shaping an effective online presence.
Develop Current Skills And Build New Ones As You Search For Work
Finding a job takes time. And even once you’re hired, onboarding can be a slow process. Instead of waiting restlessly, use your time to hone your current skills or to develop new ones. If you’ve been thinking about making a change in your career, now is a great time to take some classes or work on a certification. Our post on Using Professional Skills Courses To Advance At Work offers a rundown on some of the best online learning platforms. Or you can take this opportunity to strengthen your writing skills.
Stay Hopeful For Positive Changes
Times are hard for many people, here at TracSoft we don’t want to minimize that. But hope is important for helping us through hard times, which is why we want to conclude this post by focusing on positive ways that COVID-19 is expected to transform the American workplace.
First, many experts expect that relationships between coworkers will improve. “For a long time, we’ve probably taken for granted the ability to see our coworkers every day and maybe didn’t realize how valuable that was,” says Lakshmi Rengarajan, a workplace connection consultant who has worked for WeWork and Match.com. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant agrees, saying coworkers who do return to offices will likely “ditch previous messaging habits and actually get up, walk around and visit with each other in person.” In turn, the deeper appreciation we develop for our coworkers may lead to more pleasant workdays, with employees being more willing to stop and mingle or make time to share lunch or breaks with their comrades.
Similarly, experts predict that managers will develop increased trust in their workers as they see workers’ ability to adapt to remote work and maintain (or increase) productivity during crisis times. This may lead to changes in managerial style that give workers more autonomy and responsibility for themselves — and may great reduce micromanaging.
As a result of increased trust between managers and employees, the post-COVID workplace will likely be more flexible. Forbes’ Jack Kelly points out that working from home has allowed many workers to spend more time with their children, care for sick or older family members, and “enjoy a higher quality of life.” While some of these work-from-home positions may return to the office, it’s likely that employers will be more open to flexible work schedules that better accommodate life outside of work. Other perks might include better employer healthcare and support for mental health as company culture becomes more important to both employers and employees.
So while finding a job may be stressful and demoralizing, there are reasons to believe that your next position will be different than your last, and that difference will likely bring a lot of positive changes to your career and your life outside of work.
If your business needs help adapting to our changing world, contact TracSoft today. We offer a series of tools to help you set up online ordering or web-based point-of-sales systems. We even offer an app to easily increase security on your sight.
Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to focus on important tasks. Check out TracSoft’s post How To Focus: Tips For Improving Concentration to learn about apps and habits that can help you get in the zone and become more productive.