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The job market has suffered some serious setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies were clamoring for qualified workers just a short time ago, and now applicants are scrambling to figure out how to find a job.
In just eight weeks, more than 36 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits, and many more may be struggling with reduced hours.
That said, some industries haven't been hit as hard by the pandemic, and others are even ramping up their hiring due to an uptick in demand. Whether you're looking for a full-time or part-time job, or just something temporary, here's how to find work in today's environment.
5 Tips for Getting Work in the Midst of a Pandemic
Finding the right job for you can be challenging, even during normal circumstances. But whether you're a recent college graduate, you were recently laid off, or your business is struggling and you need an extra income source, here are some tips that can help you achieve your goal.
1. File for Unemployment Benefits
The ultimate goal is to get back to work, but with tens of millions of people affected by the pandemic, it may take a while to get the job you're looking for.
You can file for unemployment benefits through your state, and you'll receive payments based on several factors that your state considers to calculate benefits. In addition to state benefits, the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides for $600 in weekly benefits and extends that payment for 13 weeks beyond your state's maximum benefit period.
Filing for unemployment is never ideal, but those payments may provide enough cushion for you to take the time to find a job that's a good fit.
2. Cast a Wide Net
Depending on your experience and skills, you may have a certain type of job in mind. But with so many unemployed workers, you'll likely be facing stiff competition from other candidates.
That's why it's a good idea to not only apply for multiple jobs, but also consider different types of jobs. As you work through this process, broadening your options can increase your odds of getting hired.
Even if the last time you considered delivering pizzas was when you were a teenager, that money can make a difference right now when you need it. Focus on your family's immediate needs until life goes back to normal, then it'll be easier to prioritize long-term career goals.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Work From Home
With schools and daycare centers closed, you may need to look for job opportunities that allow you to work from home. Fortunately, there are many such opportunities, which you can find on job board websites, including:
Not every company posts listings on all job websites, so use multiple sites to expand your search.
Working from home is a lot different from working in an office, and it may not be something you want to do long term. But by adding these types of jobs to your search, you can expand your employment options beyond your immediate area.
4. Be Prepared
Because there's more competition than usual for a relatively small supply of jobs, it's important to stand out. Here are some tips to help you make a good impression:
- Update your résumé. Make sure your résumé includes the latest and most relevant information for the job you're applying for. Consider having other people review your résumé and provide feedback to help you with the final product.
- Write a personalized cover letter. Many job listings require a cover letter, which includes a little more information about your experience, goals and skills. Instead of having a generic cover letter for every listing, however, customize the document for each employer to show your excitement for the company and why you're a good fit.
- Prepare for the job interview. No two job interviews are the same, but you'll typically get questions about yourself and your experience, your skills pertaining to the job and possibly some behavioral questions to determine whether you're the right fit for the position. Take some time to think about some of the questions you may be asked and prepare answers. Also, look up the company on Glassdoor and you may see that previous applicants have posted the actual questions hiring managers have asked in the past.
Preparing for the application and interview process won't guarantee you'll get hired, but it can certainly help you give it your best shot.
5. Tap Your Talents to Get Gig Work
If you have a specific skill, working as a freelancer may make more sense than finding a part-time or full-time job. Websites like Freelancer.com, Fiverr and Upwork provide countless opportunities for talented people to provide services for businesses and individuals that need them.
For example, if you're a skilled writer, graphic designer or accountant, you may be able to find several clients that will pay you for those skills. The same goes if you're experienced in marketing, web or mobile development, language translation or many other areas.
Gig work can not only give you the chance to earn money, but it can also give you some flexibility to continue searching for a job if that's your ultimate goal. It can also be beneficial for parents who have children at home and need a flexible schedule.
Who's Hiring Right Now?
The ongoing pandemic has hit several industries hard, but there are some that are still looking to hire new people, and a handful has even increased their hiring to meet demand in this unique environment. Here are some industries that are hiring right now:
- Grocery stores: National chains including Kroger, Costco, Walmart and more are hiring workers to help meet the demands from consumers who are stocking up on groceries and other household items.
- Pharmacies: Physical health is of course a primary focus in the middle of a pandemic, and major pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens are looking to fill positions ranging from cashiers to pharmacy technicians.
- Food delivery: With restaurants in many states facing restrictions, food delivery has boomed as people support local restaurants through Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and more. Instacart is also becoming more popular as a way to get groceries without entering the grocery store.
- Shipping and delivery: As people try to avoid leaving their homes, online shopping is becoming even more popular. Companies including Amazon, UPS and FedEx are looking to hire more people to help with fulfillment and delivery.
- Hardware stores: Retailers including Ace Hardware and Lowe's have seen increased demand as people take advantage of more time at home to finish projects and start new ones. As a result, you may find opportunities in your area.
- Teleworking technology: If you're experienced in tech, you may be able to get a job with companies like Microsoft, Slack or Zoom. These services are more popular than ever as more companies move to remote work.
- Online learning: With millions of children at home instead of in school, websites like Outschool and Tutoring.com are looking for teachers and tutors to help meet the higher demand in online learning.
These aren't the only industries that are hiring, but they can give you a good start in your search to make money.
This Too Shall Pass
The current economic situation is serious, and the future of the country's pandemic response and economy is uncertain. But in the coming months and years, opportunities will return, though possibly with some adjustments.
Until that happens, taking steps now to get assistance and search for a job can help you focus on what you can control. A new job may not be a perfect replacement for what you once had, but it could help you get through a difficult time and put you in a better financial position going forward.