COVID-19 has been devastating. Lives continue to be lost as this virus wreaks havoc and tears through the fabric of our global economy and way of living. Unemployment has rocketed into the stratosphere, attaining levels completely unfamiliar to most working Americans today, and incomprehensible just a few short months ago.
Finding a job during normal times can be a challenge. Doing so during the pandemic introduces a whole different layer of difficulty. If you find yourself in this situation, please know that there is hope. There are jobs out there. While the majority of the stories you hear may be frightening, there are many heartening ones that inspire perseverance.
Recently, I spoke with an individual who shared he had been downsized after all three projects he was assigned were cancelled or postponed. Another individual had been laid-off along with her entire department due to COVID-19. A third person left her company just before this started, then suddenly found herself in a much different job market than she had anticipated.
These are just three of countless stories. We’ve all heard them or seen some in the news. On April 14, the Wall Street Journal provided the following data:
The consensus of 57 economists surveyed this month by The Wall Street Journal is that 14.4 million jobs will be lost in the coming months, and the unemployment rate will rise to a record 13% in June, from a 50-year low of 3.5% in February. Already nearly 17 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past three weeks, dwarfing any period of mass layoffs recorded since World War II.
As of September 4, 2020, the U.S. Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4% in August as Hiring Continued. Numbers continue to improve as segments of the economy slowly reopen.
While times remain difficult, and it is absolutely reasonable and normal to feel overwhelmed and hopeless, get through those emotions and then move forward and focus on hope. Hope will inject purpose into your actions.
…and if you take some time to look, hope is out there. You may have heard that Amazon continues to hire, including 75,000 new workers in response to COVID-19. The Muse has a great list of companies that want your application that is updated regularly. Take a look. There are companies hiring out there.
More sobering are the millions of people competing to win those jobs. You also have to figure out how to stand-out among those millions of others and win the job. How do you do that? Here are three things you can do that have made a difference for others:
#1 Network. Network. Network. Spend time reaching out and talking to people. There is nothing more defeating during a job search then applying endlessly for jobs without any response or feedback. These feelings are sure to be magnified by the COVID-19 quarantine. We all need human interaction, and networking will help you feel more connected, productive, and engaged… and networking is a better way to stand out and win a job when competing against others. Who can you reach out to? Why will they want to talk to you? We teach numerous techniques to network and differentiate to win jobs. You can also find ideas and techniques on the web. Find the ones that work for you, make your plan, then implement it.
And as you network, maintain hope. Every call you make, even if it that single call leads nowhere, you are one call closer to that job. Create your plan, stick to it, and persevere each day, one day at a time. If you keep at it and work hard, you can persevere.
#2 Compromise. In these unprecedented times it is critical to be realistic about the job market. While just a few months ago people could afford to have narrow criteria for job selection, in today’s highly competitive market you are likely going to have to compromise. What compromises are you willing to make? How do those compromises impact your strategy?
When J.N. Solutions launched in April of 2001 we were off to a great start. Then, 9/11 happened. Months of anticipated income vanished as all our projects were immediately halted. To survive, compromise was needed. Through networking, I was introduced to a home-based telemarketing job; I sold educational materials to schools. I set a quota for each day, got up early, and went to work. Once I achieved my target I spent whatever remained of each day on J.N. Solutions. That telemarketing job wasn’t what I wanted to do, didn’t optimize my skills, and didn’t pay what I was accustomed to earning. And it didn’t matter. That job was the bridge across the chasm of uncertainty created by the tragedy of 9/11. If I hadn’t done something, I might have stubbornly marched right over the edge into the abyss and wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.
#3 Get Creative. There are endless questions to fuel creativity and figure out how to make a buck. Expand your frame of reference and look beyond your history and definition of a normal job. You may have to compromise and look in areas that aren’t familiar to you. You may have to network with people outside of your traditional circles to ask questions and uncover intelligence that informs your strategies and tactics. Find out what industries are hiring right now. Ask yourself what companies are faced with challenges and plan to hire people to solve them? What can you do to become visible and attractive to employers who have jobs to fill?
One of the examples at the beginning of this article was a gentleman who was let go after his projects were cancelled. He is getting creative. Through networking, he learned that his skill set remains in demand for companies that had to cancel major projects, and yet they still need people for short-term projects. He has been networking with such companies and is formulating plans to launch a consulting business. Consulting may just be his bridge, or he’s open to the possibility that it evolves into a business.
And since we’re talking about those earlier examples, remember the individual I mentioned who was laid off along with her entire department? She was thrilled to report that, utilizing some customized networking methods we’d crafted, she found two great options and was expecting offers from both.
The third person decided to compromise and expand her search. She has since received three offers. Two from companies and another from an academic institution. Each offer necessitated relocation, something she originally wished to avoid. She’s now excited to accept one of the offers and move to San Diego. Not a bad place to live.
It can be difficult to maintain hope, focus and energy during a job search in “normal” times. It is exponentially more difficult now. The world has been dumped unceremoniously into unprecedented times and while finding a job will be hard, it is possible. People are doing it, and so can you.
These tips are just a few ingredients; there are countless more. What works for one person, may not work for another. If you or someone you know has other ideas that can help, please include them in the comments below. If you think this might help someone you know who is looking for work, please pass this along. Maybe that one comment, or that one share, will make a difference. And, as you embark upon your unique personal journey, may you find some hope today.