Unemployed by COVID-19: Key Strategies To Jump-Start Your Career
Unemployed by COVID-19. That is the consequence being faced today by more Americans than ever in the nation’s history, with unemployment claims filed to date reaching more than 22 million and counting. If you are in that number, you need to act now to jump-start your career and quickly gain reentry into a job market that will be markedly different than it was just a few months ago, before the coronavirus crisis. It is critical to proactively identify new employment opportunities and maximize your capacity to land a new job.
Confident Career Woman Founder Ericka Spradley is an experienced consultant, coach, former hiring manager and career readiness adjunct professor who specializes in helping her clients maximize their visibility, discover and leverage their competitive advantage, and identify transferable skills to create broader career options. Beginning April 19, 2020, Spradley is offering a free Career Catalyst Program to 1,000 people via open enrollment. The virtual program is designed to help those unemployed by COVID-19 to land their next position.
“I know individuals who have been furloughed, displaced, and who are in desperate need to land their next—even if it’s an interim position,” says Spradley, who stresses the importance of seeking opportunities that may lie beyond the beaten path of your chosen profession prior to COVID-19. “Consider ways in which you can expand your career options exponentially.”
Spradley makes the following recommendations for those who are currently unemployed:
DON’T PLACE LIMITS ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER THAT EMPLOYERS MAY VALUE
If you’ve been unemployed by COVID-19, it is a mistake to only view your skills, job experience, and professional value in the context of the job or career you had prior to the coronavirus crisis. Consider how these can be transferable to new career paths and industries. Skills, experience, and expertise you’ve acquired—whether acquired early in your career, via a personal hobby or past-time, a side hustle—that were not used or under-utilized in the job you had before you were unemployed by COVID-19, may also help you to position yourself for new opportunities.
“Understand that just because you haven’t held a particular title in certain industries doesn’t mean you’re unqualified to secure employment in those fields,” Spradley asserts. “For example, I was in retail for 18 years. I transitioned into banking as a branch manager having never worked in the industry. Several years later, I pivoted into academia as a college and career readiness adjunct professor, having never formally taught, and without an education degree. By identifying my transferrable skills, positioning them via my résumé and communicating with confidence and credibility during interviews, I removed the self-imposed limits associated with thinking I was only qualified to do a specific thing in one industry.”
“If you’re unsure of how to identify your transferrable skills or where to locate a listing, you can Google transferrable skills listings as well as career path options,” Spradley recommends. “Let’s say you’ve spent the last 15 years as a recruiter; a simple search for ‘What roles can recruiters transition into?’ or ‘What is a career path for a recruiter?’ can produce career options that perhaps you haven’t considered.”
STAYING AT HOME DOES NOT MEAN BE INVISIBLE
Sheltering in place is not a justification for those unemployed by COVID-19 to become invisible. This is not the time to passively wait to be discovered by potential employers. You need to go out of your way to find them while making it as easy as you can for them to notice and find you.
“If you’re unsure of who’s hiring,” says Spradley, “perform a Google search: ‘Employers hiring during COVID-19,’ ‘Companies hiring during the coronavirus’ or ‘Remote employment opportunities.'”
Also, make sure your LinkedIn profile will attract recruiters. “Visit www.Jobscan.com for your free LinkedIn Optimization Report,” Spradley advises. “Once your profile is scanned for keywords in your headline, summary and work experience, you’ll have an idea of what you’re doing well in conjunction with what may need to change.”
It is also important to maximize your visibility by using every virtual means at your disposal while traditional, face-to-face networking opportunities are eliminated by social distancing protocols. Being unemployed by COVID-19 leaves you with time and opportunity to attend virtual conferences, polish existing skills and add new ones in webinars, and showcase your expertise by sharing content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and especially LinkedIn. All of these activities create additional opportunities to show potential employers what you have to offer, even without leaving your home.
ACTIVELY NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Many experts, from networking mavens and career strategists to business coaches and mental health professionals, prefer the term “physical distancing” over “social distancing,” because the latter term implies that social isolation is unavoidable during the coronavirus crisis. The fact is, surrendering to isolation not only negatively impacts your mental and emotional health, it also hinders your prospects for discovering new job opportunities, by allowing relationships with those who can help you with your job search to go dormant. It’s your job to see that it doesn’t.
“Consider your relationships, both personal and professional,” says Spradley. “You’ll need support, encouragement, accountability and advocacy from those who can open doors to employment that you can’t yet access.”
Just because you can’t come within six feet of mentors, sponsors, advocates, colleagues and others (who may also be unemployed by COVID-19), does not mean you can’t maintain and leverage those relationships virtually. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you; schedule time to regularly engage and share details of your job search with them via Skype, Zoom, traditional phone calls—any virtual means available to you. Also, don’t forget to be a resource to others in the same way.