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With strict social distancing mandates in place, skyrocketing unemployment figures and a looming recession, finding a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic may seem daunting. But it's not impossible.
"Overall, more companies have slowed their hiring than have ramped up hiring,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at job site Indeed. “We've seen a decline in job postings pretty much across the board."
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But securing employment isn't impossible. And the work you put in now may position you better for future success. Career coaches, human resources officers and recruiters share their insights and top tips to help you navigate the turmoil.
Many professional opportunities now will be in positions in which people are working from home, so focus your search on companies with a track record of remote work, says Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager at job site FlexJobs. “Right now, so many companies who were previously operating with traditional offices are working to move everything online. They might be a bit slower to hire or be doing a freeze because they're trying to find their footing in this new remote environment. But for companies that have long had remote opportunities – whole remote teams or a whole remote company — they're better suited to hire at a reasonable pace right now.”
Also, consider industries that are directly serving the pandemic or the stay-at-home economy, suggests John Philbin, founder of career coaching firm Happy Spectacular. “There may be funny parts of that marketplace that weren't attractive to you in the past but have become really important right now,” he says. Companies in health care, information technology, education and training, delivery and online customer service are more likely to be hiring than other industries, experts say.
Workplace exchanges are another emerging trend, says Alex Alonso, chief knowledge officer of the Society for Human Resource Management. “What they are doing is porting people who are being laid off directly to other employers in their localities,” he explains. “If you've been out of work for a little longer, they'll give you priority because they're trying to stave off the impact of long-term unemployment,” he adds. To find these exchanges, visit your state's Department of Labor website or contact the office.
"Everything is online — everything,” says Lora Cheatum, senior vice president of human resources for the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. And that includes job interviews, mostly through videoconferencing and platforms like Hire Vue and Rocket Hire, which HR departments are increasingly adopting. Both facilitate virtual candidate assessments and video interviews. Those services also help job hunters by providing them with coaching resources and lists of companies who are hiring.
And it's not just the hiring process undergoing this shift; the whole workforce is. “The tether to the office, which had started to fray, is now fully broken,” explains Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston-based career platform TurningPoint. “People have to be willing to use technology, not just for internal communications, but to serve customers too. How to create a customer experience virtually is something that customers are going to come to expect from now on.”