Life is already stressful these days, and if you’ve found yourself in the unenviable position of having to look for a job, it can be doubly nerve-wracking. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 2020, the unemployment rate is more than 14% in the U.S., the highest this country has seen since the Great Depression. Small businesses are shuttering, big businesses are laying people off, and the job market has narrowed considerably.
While it might seem like the current economic crisis makes viable employment an impossibility, there are still options out there, and certain fields are still hiring. It may take some creativity on your part to find that perfect or even that “fine for right now” job, but there are things you can do to put yourself at the top of the resume pile when it comes to job hunting.
Companies who already have a strong virtual presence, with the bulk of their employees working from home, have been able to continue hiring. Also, places that are considered essential, such as hospitals, grocery stores, and medical supply services are actively looking to bring on new employees. The fields of tech, pharmaceuticals and finance are still hiring, as well as food and delivery services. Due to low mortgage interest rates, real estate and mortgage lending services are also doing well in many parts of the country, and are hiring people to help with the influx of loans and refinances.
Where to Look
Online sites like Indeed and LinkedIn do have regular job postings, but they also often have a glut of applicants that can make it difficult for your resume to stand out. While it’s still a good idea to peruse online job sites, keep in mind that many employers avoid them because it’s nearly impossible to sift through the hundreds of resumes they’re likely to receive.
Try going directly to the websites of the companies you’re interested in, and see what they have available under their careers page. Applying directly as opposed to going through a third-party employment site can help put your resume into the right hands right away.
Employment agencies can also be a good option, as you only interview with them once and they put your resume out to a multitude of job opportunities. Getting a foot in the door with a temporary position can often lead to a permanent job offer.
Be cautious of job postings on sites like Craigslist, as fraud tends to be rampant there, and always make sure to vet a company thoroughly. Keep in mind that you should never provide any potential employer with personal information, until such time as you are officially hired and going through their HR process.
How to Stand Out
This is definitely a time to expand your existing skills and learn new ones, as well as being creative in how you define your work experience. A professional resume service can be helpful in showcasing who you are as an employee and what you bring to the table. If you prefer to update your resume yourself, don’t be tempted to use unusual fonts or graphics, as it only makes your resume more difficult to read.
If your computer skills are at all rusty, brush up on them. With working from home growing by leaps and bounds, you’ll want to make sure you understand not only basic meeting apps like Zoom or GoToWebinar, but also email programs like Outlook and Mail Chimp. Online sites such as HubSpot offer free courses on topics such as ecommerce, marketing and WordPress, and can be a great place to catch up on the latest technology.
Many companies are now looking for employees who can wear more than one hat, handling administrative duties alongside marketing and social media, or managing office staff while also doing light bookkeeping. Being open to a more expansive job description, and being willing to take on duties that might not fit into one box can go a long way toward impressing potential employers.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you might not be 100% qualified for, because you really never know. Some companies prefer to train someone themselves rather than un-train bad habits, and your skills could mesh with their needs more than you might initially think.
While none of us have a crystal ball to predict what the future of the workplace will look like, it’s safe to assume that the COVID-19 crisis will bring long-term and potentially permanent changes to the job market. Being prepared, being positive and making the most of your professional experience and skills can give you the edge you want in today’s working world, and help you find the job you need.
Jody Ellis is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, health, travel, fashion and style. Her work has appeared in publications such as LennyLetter, Huffington Post, BBC Future Planet, Civil Eats and Eater.