We are in the throes of an unprecedented period in history. The coronavirus has forced changes in all of our lives in ways we could have never imagined. Many of us are well into our second month of self-isolation, and like us, you may be feeling a little helpless as these strange and difficult days run together.
Businesses have responded to this crisis by implementing remote working arrangements; however, as the coronavirus takes aim at our job market, workers are being laid off or furloughed at alarmingly high rates. USA Today is reporting
that over the last eight weeks, unemployment claims have reached a staggering 36 million, and April’s unemployment rate hit 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression.
If you’ve been impacted by a job loss, it may be tempting to hunker down at home and wait for the storm to pass. Isn’t it safe to assume that no one is hiring now anyway? Career experts agree that during this time of disruption, distancing and uncertainty, staying connected and engaged has never been more important. Don’t socially distance from your job search!
Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began measuring lost jobs and unemployment in 1948, there have been five sudden and dramatic spikes in these numbers: 1975-76, 1982-83, 2001-02, 2008-09 and now. A.J. O’Connor Associates was founded in 1983 in response to that historic recession to provide career transition assistance to impacted individuals, and for the last 37 years, providing emotional, strategic and transitional support remains a core part of our business.
Two of AJO’s expert Career Coaches, Stuart Ginsberg and Katie McGinty, recommend – DO NOT put your job search on hold; however, DO prepare to make some adjustments to your search.
In the face of all this uncertainty, there is no one size fits all approach to managing our days at the moment. Yes, a job search is daunting task, especially now, but these tips will help you to focus on the areas that you can control.
Set Aside Time for Self-Reflection
Before jumping in, use your time to jot down a list of what you’re seeking in a prospective employer, the type of work you’re looking for and the job titles that match your career aspirations. Consider the industries that are a strong match for your skillsets, and begin by focusing on the companies that may be hiring during this crisis.
Customize Your Approach
Your resume is a living document. Be prepared to customize it based on specific job openings to highlight your skills that best align with the role. Remember to include a tailored cover letter that speaks specifically to the industry or organization.
Enhance your Online Presence
At a time when job searching has gone virtual, it’s important that you bolster your online presence. Leverage the power of LinkedIn to increase your digital footprint: like content posted by your network connections; offer your perspective or expertise by commenting on a post, posing – or responding to – a question; share relevant news stories, articles and/or posts.
Engage your Professional Contacts
This pandemic has profoundly impacted each and every one of us. When engaging your professional contacts and/or prospective hiring managers, show compassion, lead with kindness and genuine concern by asking about their well-being, their family and how their organization is coping. Let them know you understand there may not be job openings now, but you can help them with their plans when the economy opens up.
Search for, and join, online networking groups. Be an active participant by registering for virtual meeting or events. Extending a thank you to the organizer will help to build your network and may open the door to explore ways for you to become more actively involved in the group, perhaps as a virtual speaker at a future meeting.
Consider starting your own job search networking group using your existing contacts. Your job may have been impacted as part of a larger reduction in force; create a LinkedIn group to support one another, share ideas and post opportunities.
Practice using Virtual Technology
Prepare for virtual interview experiences. It is important that you test your video and audio equipment, find a quiet, comfortable and well-lit area in your home and dress professionally for the role you want. Simulate mock video conferences with friends or family to practice keeping your body language open and maintaining eye contact with the camera.
Be Patient & Take Care of Yourself
Stay calm and remember to prioritize self-care: eat healthy foods, stay active, get adequate rest and keep your mind engaged – now is a good time to develop or bolster a job skill.
We are facing extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19. But we must remember to be patient and to be strong. Life will become routine again.
Stuart Ginsberg & Katie McGinty, AJO Career Coach Experts