Unemployment rates have skyrocketed in response to the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks. Many employees have found themselves out of work for the first time—with little possibility of finding a job in the near term in the industries they are most experienced in. What should workers do if they find themselves looking for work in a time of record-high unemployment—while social-distancing mandates still remain in place?
To get some answers, we talked to Intoo career coach Ellen, who has more than 10 years of experience helping people find new jobs and careers. In this Q and A, Ellen shares her best job search tips during the crisis. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Are you noticing any changes in the questions you receive or the topics discussed with candidates that could be attributed to the Coronavirus?
Yes. My conversations have changed with candidates who were laid off prior to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve discussed how this will slow down their job search, but in essence, they should still continue to network and build relationships and just work on refining their interview skills. It’s a great time for that.
For those who were recently released mainly due to the coronavirus, the question that I’ve been asked is, “Should I even try applying for roles, or is it worth it with everything that’s going on?” While we know that there are fewer jobs in this current economy that we’re in, I still encourage them to continue in their job search. More and more likely, people will need to be more flexible about what their new role will look like. There are more and more companies that are going to be in need of people.
“Candidates … should still continue to network and build relationships and just work on refining their interview skills. It’s a great time for that.”
—Intoo career coach Ellen
So, while it might not necessarily be similar to the role that they had, they can still find opportunities and gain experience during this time. For example, the larger companies—Walmart, Google, Amazon, Facebook—they’re going to continue to hire in larger numbers. We’ve seen it in the news.
But it’s also important to look at those that are behind the scenes. For example, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft, any of the online digital learning platforms that students are using, whether it’s for college, high school, middle school, or elementary—all of those have opportunities as well.
Also, while we typically think of nurses and physicians and surgeons when we speak of healthcare, there are a lot of corporate and administrative roles that can be a great option for individuals as well.
While we know things are challenging right now and while the opportunities might decrease, we can and will continue to help candidates by making sure that their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles are optimized with their top skills. They can continue to effectively market the value that they can bring into employers.
How should job seekers who have been offered a job in the past few weeks follow up with their recruiting or hiring manager—say if that company has recently announced the hiring freeze or if the process seems to be stalled in some way?
I encourage candidates to reach out directly to the hiring manager or to the recruiter who extended the offer and just ask for details on the next steps. It’s important to stay positive. I know that can be very tricky in these kinds of situations because you were so close to the offer, but it’s just really important to keep the patience, maintain that positive attitude, and continue to show your interest in their company and in the position that you had been working on.
Things might be uncertain for some companies right now, and there are definitely some situations where companies aren’t going to be sure of when that hiring process is going to restart. It’s important to continue to keep in touch with the company and maintain a positive attitude. Then, when the company does start the rehiring process, you will be at the top of the list. They’ll know, “This is the person that we want to hire. They showed exceptional perseverance through the situation and we definitely want them to be a part of our company.”
If there are no jobs in a particular field, should candidates be investing in an education right now? Do you know of any resources for online education courses free or paid that they should be checking out?
I would say it depends on each candidate’s situation. Some candidates might have an immediate need to find employment, and others might have the ability to wait a little longer before they start working again.
If candidates are interested in pursuing additional education during this time, there are several free resources currently available. One of the best options right now is the local library. While the library doors are closed, you can still access all of the digital resources. For example, if you have a premium LinkedIn account, you can access hundreds of classes through LinkedIn learning. If you don’t have a premium account, you can still access those classes through your local library, free. You just have to have a library card or the library number in order to access those resources.
Now for those interested in remote learning, there’s G Suite learning, which offers you free tutorials on all of the different resources that Google offers, from calendar management to Google Hangouts. A lot of companies are starting to use that now. So if you feel that you need to brush up on those skills, those are great resources as well. iTunes U, Microsoft 365 fundamentals, EdX, and others also offer free educational resources.
By offering unlimited, on-demand personal coaching from highly-experienced career transition coaches via a convenient, on-demand virtual platform, Intoo’s outplacement solution helps companies retain positive relationships with departing employees and protect employer brand during a layoff or workforce change in difficult times like the present coronavirus crisis.
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INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.