How Coronavirus Will Change Your Next Job Hunt

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the United States lost 701,000 jobs in March, raising the unemployment rate from 3.5 to 4.4 percent. However, that report only includes data through mid-March and excludes the record-breaking number of Americans filing for unemployment in the month’s latter half.

How Coronavirus will change

Whatever the final numbers, the reality is that many Americans are job hunting, and economists are scrambling to determine how damaging the coronavirus will prove to the job market.

But with COVID-19, nothing is certain. We don’t yet know how many people have been infected. We don’t know if COVID-19 will halt its advance in warmer weather. We don’t know how well the government’s $2.2 trillion stimulus package will buffer the economy.

Among all this uncertainty, it’s natural to wonder what your next job hunt will look like. Here’s what we can say.

COVID-19 in the short term

Hiring will be lopsided for the foreseeable future. Industries such as healthcare, technology, and online retailers are frantically hiring to meet the massive demands placed on them by COVID-19.

Conversely, hotels are empty, airlines are grounded, restaurants are shuttered, and real estate stands eerily quiet. These industries have either instituted hiring freezes or are laying off current employees.

When hiring resumes for these hard-hit industries, it will be uneasy. Hurt by a protracted loss of revenue, these businesses will reduce expenditures where they can. That will mean staffing slowly and deliberately.

Job hunting in this environment, you’ll need to be deliberate, too. If your current job is no longer in demand, consider a different occupation that values your skills or shifting into a new industry.

Study what industries are hiring and what skills are in demand. Then target those industries in a way that positions you as the best candidate, while learning new skills to stay competitive.

Coronavirus in the long term

News about the coronavirus changes daily, so it’s difficult to predict long-term effects on the job market. But many argue the United States has already entered a recession. Given this, you should take steps to recession-proof your career. Fortify the skills, expertise, and experience that make you a valued employee, and learn how to brand yourself around those assets.

In a recession, anyone can lose their job through no fault of their own. Branding yourself around a set of skills and a clear career mission can help you bounce back sooner.

A change of strategy

Here are some suggestions to help you navigate your coronavirus job hunt:

Gain perspective. Are you unemployed or feel the furlough isn’t far off? Then take time to reflect before applying. You shouldn’t apply to just any job. Choose positions and companies that can help you advance your career, job skills, or network—even if it’s a stopgap job.

Already employed? Consider how to reinvest without entering the job market. Look for opportunities to grow your career and how to shore up job security.

Stay in touch. Reach out to your network, and let everyone know you are looking. A well-connected network can inform you about open positions and provide an invaluable introduction. Be on the lookout for virtual networking opportunities, too.

As a bonus, in time of social distancing, reinvesting in your network allows you the chance to socialize and check in on friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Adjust to technological hurdles. Speaking of social distancing, most companies are interviewing candidates over the phone or through video conferencing. Learn how to present yourself professionally through these media, and practice until it comes as natural as an in-person interaction.

Be ready to negotiate. It’s an employer’s market, putting you at a disadvantage when negotiating salary and benefits. Research company and occupational standards beforehand and go in with the knowledge you need to achieve a fair outcome.

Job hunting in uncertain times

The job hunt is never easy, but COVID-19 has changed the job market, and your next job hunt will be a bit more challenging. Despite this, with a thoughtful approach and a willingness to help each other, we can all weather these uncertain times.

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