Coping with Job Loss and Tips for Conducting Your Job Search in the Covid-19 Market
Covid-19 has changed people’s work lives in profound ways. The world has changed so drastically in every way since the pandemic, but particularly in the career realm. Since many countries and states literally “closed down” due to the virus, many people have lost their jobs.
If you are among the countless individuals that have lost a job, I have some tips to help you navigate this unprecedented job market.
What can be so disheartening for people is that may be grieving the loss of their job, title, financial benefits and often even the social aspects based on connections they have formed with colleagues. This job market and economic downturn was such a drastic, sudden and unexpected change because the economy was so strong pre-pandemic. All this being said, please keep in mind some folks might find themselves experiencing depressive symptoms after the loss of a job. Consequently, your social network can be an essential support during this time. Additionally, working with a therapist can help manage such symptoms through telehealth (virtual sessions with a therapist).
The first order of a business for anyone that loses a job is to find out about resources, such as The Cares Act. Do your research and apply for all the benefits that are available to you. I have found people are often surprised about the additional benefits afforded them through the Cares Act, such as student loan forbearance options. In fact, many banks are offering mortgage forbearance too for a number of months. Of equal importance is a review of your weekly spending. Consider cuts that can be made asap in order to prepare for your unemployment period. Many people do not think about their budgets and spending until they have too. Think about any non-essentials that you can eliminate. Furthermore, if you were saving and/or contributing to your 401K, you may decide you need to postpone that for now in order to provide for present essential needs. If you are a renting and your lease is expiring soon, see if you can negotiate with your landlord for a slightly lower rent. Perhaps you can find a cheaper lease, or maybe even move in with family or friends until you gain more job/ financial stability. The point is, you can’t control your job loss, but you can focus on the things you can change, such as the previously mentioned areas.
While you get your affairs in order, update your resume, LinkedIn Profile, and cover letter. It can be worthwhile to invest in working with a coach around resume and cover letter edits. In fact, I work with my clients to help fine tune and maximize their professional documents and they find it extremely helpful. In terms of the actual job search, the following are some good search engines: LinkedIn, Simply Hired, Indeed, Glass Door Jobs and Google for Jobs. Also, I strongly encourage you to network, network and network some more! This is so essential. When I worked in career services and from my experience as a professor, I have seen so many people find jobs through the “hidden job market”. As a result, I encourage people to share that they are looking for work with their family, friends, former colleagues, supervisors, teachers, etc. Make a list of your network and start reaching out. They may have connections that could help you make contact with the right people in your target industry.
How does one keep moving forward in spite of hiring freezes and a competitive market replete with job seekers viewing for limited opportunities? I would recommend lowering expectations for now. Pre-pandemic, people may have had their sights set on moving up. Of course, I would certainly suggest applying for what you want the most and aiming high for “reach” positions. At the same time, be realistic. Some people may have to weigh out whether they should make lateral moves or even take a step down. The bottom line is, a job is better than no job, especially if you get to the point where you have exhausted unemployment benefits. You may find a “right now job”, rather than the “right job”. Keep in mind that when the economy rebounds, there will be more ideal opportunities. Stay encouraged-this will not last forever!
Use the time you have out of work to make your job search like a full time job. Mark time in your calendar daily to look on search engines, apply, and network. Also, I encourage you to think of companies that you want to work for and go directly to their websites. They may have postings listed directly on their websites instead of on mainstream search engines. If there are no postings, again network and see if you can schedule informational interviews to learn about the company, stakeholders and hiring managers. This is a good way to build relationships and to make positive impressions for a later time when a job becomes available.
In order to move forward and stay motivated in the current job market, keep the Covid climate in mind. Remember that one must at least try and apply in spite of how discouraging it can be. I have a client who used a great metaphor to represent the importance of continuing her job search in spite of the weak job market. She said” if you don’t play the lottery, you have no chance of winning”. Exactly!