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Given the historic unemployment numbers, it might be hard not to freak out if you’re looking for a job. But don’t, says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for personal finance website Bankrate.com: “It’s important to remember that there is hiring happening. There’s always attrition and individuals leaving for other jobs.”
Perhaps fortuitously, few unemployed people are job-hunting at the moment. “They believe they’re going to return to their old company, or that there aren’t any jobs, or that only lower-level jobs are available, or that they can’t get hired, which are all absolutely untrue,” says career counselor Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds and You’re Hired. Or they’re not going to look until the extra $600 a month of unemployment runs out in July, which is a terrible idea if tens of millions of Americans have the same strategy. Start now:
1. Beat the system. Make a list of your recent jobs and your top accomplishments at each. “Those are the items that should be on your résumé,” says Ryan. To get past automated applicant vetting systems, enter your work tasks—budgeting, project management, graphic design, team leadership, etc.—in the first bullet point under each job. Don’t include extraneous formatting, such as text boxes, tables, footers, or headers, because application software can’t recognize it.
2. Assess your prospects. Is your industry shrinking? Don’t despair. (Mine is, too.) “Many people fail to see that their skills might apply to a variety of settings,” says Hamrick. Consider some of the sectors that have stayed open in the lockdown—finance, real estate, food, education, and retail, plus suppliers and distributors for each. If that exercise doesn’t yield much, think about how your skills might help companies sharpen their online business. “There’s a need for people to help facilitate digital transformation,” he says.
3. Hit up recruiters. “Let them help you with your résumé and offer suggestions about things you might do to stand out,” says Ariel Schur, chief executive officer of ABS Staffing Solutions, a recruiting company in New York. “I say, ‘Honestly, I don’t have anything at this juncture, but I would love to take this time to get to know you, so when things turn around you’ll be at the forefront, and I can market you.’”
4. Use your resources. Schur says companies are filling positions needed to support virtual workers and staff their pandemic strategies. She warns that many company websites don’t yet reflect these changes, so try places likeindeed.com: Type in a company and your city, and you’ll get a better sense of what kind of hiring is going on.
5. Network. That friend-of-a-friend who previously ignored you? He’s home now and might be up for a quick Zoom coffee date. Connect with everyone you know in your field. (LinkedIn is good for this.) “Those connections build on each other,” says Schur. She advises asking mutual acquaintances for intros to people who can help; once that happens, say, “I’d be so grateful if you’d meet me for a 10-minute virtual coffee. I’ll send you a calendar invite—let me know your availability.” If that goes well, ask for an introduction to a hiring manager or supervisor. You’ve got nothing to lose.
6. Don’t give up. “Victory will come to those who are persistent, innovative, and optimistic,” says Hamrick.
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