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How you can find a job during the COVID-19 crisis

The founder and CEO of Talent Inc. says right now your best strategy is to focus on short-term solutions that will get you through this challenging time.

How you can find a job during the COVID-19 crisis
[Photo: Mimi Thian/Unsplash; Marko Blažević/Unsplash]

No one could have predicted our current reality as part of the 2020 employment forecast. As of March 26, over three million people have filed unemployment claims this week alone—the most in U.S. history. The stock market is in turmoil, drastically plummeting on an almost daily basis. The national government has now stepped in, offering bridge loans to small businesses to help them retain their employees.

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We’re facing unprecedented times, and no one knows how long this will last. Since we cannot predict when the worst will be over or even when the virus will be contained, your best strategy is to focus on short-term solutions that will get you through this challenging time.

Doing nothing is not an option.

And, while you cannot control how this virus has affected individuals and the job market, you can take action. When you understand what’s changing, you have the opportunity to better manage your own outcome.

So, how can you survive this turbulent economy right now?

Think short-term and get creative

Layoffs and furloughs were slow at first, affecting mostly service industries, but we’re now witnessing a trickle-down effect. Companies whose businesses are linked to various industries, such as events, entertainment, and travel, are struggling, and they’re letting go of employees in an attempt to stay in business. Even The Metropolitan Opera recently laid off all of its union workers.

Think about what you can do today, or during the next 30, 60, and 90 days. This is not about forever, it’s about right now. No one will penalize you for taking a job outside of your field or career path for a little while. They’ll understand and it may even make you more marketable when the crisis is over. You’ve likely had a successful career because you have certain attributes (intelligence, connections, resourcefulness), and now you’ll need to tap into them in an unprecedented way. Use this time to explore jobs you may have not considered in the past, and perhaps you’ll find opportunities you wouldn’t have necessarily pursued otherwise.

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Here’s how to explore your short-term options:

Inventory your top skills and then search for opportunities to leverage these in a different capacity. Are you an event planner who could help a hospital coordinate its temporary expansion? Leverage what you have been doing and pivot to where the current job openings are.

Look for telecommuting job opportunities where the location is irrelevant and in-person contact is unnecessary.

Get creative about how you can leverage your skills virtually. Do you have a hobby or talent that you can turn into a short-term business? Can you provide individual lessons or consulting online or create an online course.

Consider the sectors that are ramping up their hiring to meet current demands. Many of these national brands, such as Blue Apron, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Zoom, are looking to fill positions throughout the country. This is a great way to secure an interim job until the economy recovers.

And, remember the local businesses that may require additional assistance, but are too overwhelmed to post jobs. Take the initiative and ask them what they need. Perhaps they are seeking another manager to onboard their new employees, someone to create or enhance their website to handle their online orders or even someone to stock shelves or package goods for shipping. Ask if help is needed. The worst they can say is no.

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Enhance your résumé

Résumé writing is both an art and a science. In order to stand out, it’s imperative that you have a polished, professional-looking résumé that is written with both the hiring bots and the hiring manager in mind. When applying for remote jobs, in or out of your industry, read the job description carefully and showcase those skills that match the job description.

Even though you’re searching for short-term employment, you should apply the same best practices that help all job seekers stand out in a crowded job market. An independent, two-part study commissioned by TopResume found that the most successful résumés achieve three critical goals: present a compelling career narrative, create visual balance, and illustrate a candidate’s value.

Prepare to interview virtually

While we socially distance ourselves, job interviews will be virtual. This process will require patience because most companies’ hiring and onboarding processes aren’t set up to be entirely remote. This will delay the hiring process as companies adjust to their new circumstances. Even if employers were already in the process of filling a position, there will be new logistics involved.

When it is time to interview, make sure you’re prepared to do so virtually. Many of the same rules apply. For example, dress as though you are going to the company’s office, even if you’re being interviewed over the phone, to help you set the right state of mind. Be cognizant of your tone so you sound enthusiastic. Additionally, prepare by doing the following:

Control your environment and find a place that’s quiet, clutter-free, and well-lit.

For phone interviews, indulge in the luxury of referencing “cheat sheets” without the interviewer’s knowledge. Have a copy of the job description, talking points about your qualifications with the job requirements, and a list of questions to ask your interviewer available in front of you to reference.

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For video interviews, download any necessary programs (or software updates) ahead of time and test the equipment with a friend to familiarize yourself with the process and ensure the setup (e.g. volume, camera position, lighting) is ideal.

Once there’s more clarity around the scope of the virus and its impact on the global economy, companies will begin hiring again. But, in the interim, focus on your short-term goals. We’re a country of relentless entrepreneurs and creatives, so embrace that perseverance and tenacity as you consider your employment options during this uncertain time.


Jeff Berger is the CEO and founder of  New York City-based Talent Inc. and its suite of brands TopResume, TopCV, and TopInterview.

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