For months now, millions of Americans have been on the hunt for jobs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the economic impact of the crisis is so critical that the nation’s unemployment rate was three times higher entering August 2020 than the same period a year ago1. That’s equated to almost 16.5 million people still looking for work as the summer months wind down2.
With such a large number of people actively seeking employment at once, coupled with the fact that even fewer employers are actually hiring, the process of securing a regular paycheck has undoubtedly changed. Competition can be fierce and options limited, even following the positive rebound in the unemployment rate since its most dire moments in April when more than 23 million Americans were unemployed2.
So, what’s a person to do if they’re still looking for jobs during a pandemic? Naturally, you have updated your resume, you’ve crafted a strong cover letter for jobs you’re attracted to, and even secured a glowing recommendation letter from a respected professional in your field. What do you do with those resources next?
While there’s no single way to land a job at any moment in time, there are certainly opportunities to change your job-seeking approach in this wild time by asking yourself some out-of-the-box questions and seeking a refreshed perspective on how you should go about your search. Perhaps the solution isn’t in just getting hired, it may be in changing how you look for jobs. For example:
- 1. Be Flexible
- 2. U.S. Jobs Considered Essential
- 3. Pandemic-Proof (and Profitable) Businesses
- 4. Which Industries Are Thriving In the Pandemic?
- 5. Is It Time to Change Careers?
- Video: Outside-the-Box Job-Hunting Tips
If you have mouths to feed and no wiggle room in your budget, landing the job of your dreams is probably not a reasonable outcome right now. In fact, landing any job in your given field may not even be an option at all depending on how you paid the bills pre-pandemic. Get that resume, cover letter, and professional recommendation letter in order right away and put them to use.
But some people are fortunate enough to hold out for a job that fits their wants, rather than taking one that fills their most basic needs. If you can honestly assess which of these categories you fall into you can then grasp the urgency of your particular job hunt. Newfound flexibility in the work you’re willing to take will open your eyes to new options. And once you’re in that mindset you may want to start expanding your job search radius by asking:
An essential worker can actually vary state by state right now, but there are a handful of job roles that both federal and state governments have deemed critical to maintaining infrastructure operations. This ranges from energy workers to agriculture to transportation, and so on3.
These are fields you can likely consider pandemic-safe, which can lead to long term security if that is one of your current needs in this difficult time.
DoorDash, Grubhub, and Amazon are just a few big-name companies that have been thriving during the pandemic4. Similar to discovering which workers and fields are essential, these businesses have services that remained in high demand in spite of or because stay-at-home orders changed our daily lives.
Either way, a company that is profiting is a company that will likely need more employees to ensure that trend continues. So maybe it’s a local business that has helped your community in this time of need or maybe it’s a recognized corporation setting up new facilities in your area that suddenly needs to hire. And you may just be the person to help them.
Identifying individual businesses that are profiting (and hiring) during a pandemic can be a big advantage, but identifying an entire industry positioned to do the same can help you cast a wider net for your job hunt.
This may require some outside-the-box thinking, but you’ve probably made some observations about how the world has changed this year and which resources have stepped in to fill our new daily needs. People now log into Zoom meetings instead of going to the office every day. Students learn from home instead of in traditional classrooms. Healthcare is at the forefront of our global consciousness in an entirely new way. And online shopping has by-and-large replaced visiting brick and mortar businesses. All of these shifts point to industries and even career fields we can expect to continue leaning on into the future, which is likely another job choice that could create some much-wanted stability.
What do you actually want to do? Not just five or ten years from now, but tomorrow when you wake up? It may sound silly but many people don’t honestly ask themselves that question until somebody else asks it for them.
So, were you working in a job that you liked but didn’t love before the pandemic? Was the lifestyle created by and afforded by your livelihood one that you actually enjoyed? Were you too busy for things you enjoy in your personal and family life? One silver lining of a world that commutes less and has been asked to stay inside as much as possible is that we all have had time to reflect on what we actually want to fill our days with.
None of this is to suggest that a career change is as easy as snapping your fingers but being forced out of work is, from a glass-half-full perspective, one less thing standing in your way from an overdue change. Many people have seemingly followed that idea, with Coronavirus creating a flood of online learners brushing up on new job skills. The Science of Well-Being from Yale University, CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard University, and Machine Learning from Stanford University were just a few of the top 100 online courses that saw 11.7 million new enrollments during COVID-195. These are often skills that can be applied to what will undoubtedly be a different job market in a post-pandemic world.
If you can afford the flexibility and patience, maybe a career change is for you. And that can open your eyes to an entirely different kind of job hunt.