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Job Hunting in the Era of COVID-19

Job Hunting in the Era of COVID-19

In 2008, my husband became one of the millions of Americans who suddenly and very unexpectedly lost his job due to the Great Recession. Thankfully, I was able to keep working and he was able to collect unemployment for an extended period of time. We were newlyweds with an underwater mortgage and at a loss as to what we should do. Eventually, my husband decided to return to school and we were able to short sale our home. It is now twelve years later, and here we are again: facing unemployment but with a bigger mortgage and the added bonus of student loans. 

In some ways, this feels like familiar territory to us with the confusion, anxiety and impatience for things to move forward. Yet, there are particular differences. It’s possible that this recovery will not take as long and people will go back to work shortly. When I start to feel myself worrying about all the possible unknowns and bleak predictions by economists, it helps to remember that we are not alone in this. The only thing to do is take it one day at a time, just like we did before.

There are definitely added challenges for finding work amidst a pandemic that has literally locked many businesses up. However, the same time-tested advice for job hunting still applies, and is still possible thanks to technology.

Network:

Networking should never be underestimated. At least 70% of jobs are found through networking. Take this time to update your LinkedIn profile and stay active. More than 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool. Reach out through email and social media. Since everyone is at home, we are all communicating the same way for the time being. That may just be an advantage for those who are willing to put the time and effort into being noticed.

Volunteer:

There are still many opportunities for volunteer work, and it can serve to increase your networking capabilities at the same time. Employers appreciate volunteer work on a resume because, if listed strategically, it can showcase a variety of skills. It also shows that you did not take time off during quarantine as an extended staycation, but instead were proactive and thoughtful of others.

Re-think your Trajectory:

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis will reshape our economy for the long term. It has already been predicted that work-from-home jobs will increase permanently. Shopping habits of consumers are also likely to change long-term, altering the types of jobs that will be needed in the future. Now may be the time to rethink where your skill set is most needed.

It took a year into the last recession for my husband to realize that he needed to give up on the job he had loved and choose another path. Now he is happy he did, but it was still difficult at the time.

Remote Employment Resources in Clark County:

WorkSource Washington is the main resource for those receiving unemployment benefits in Washington State, but you don’t have to be receiving benefits to use the free resources. WorkSource offers help with resumes, job coaching, job training, and apprenticeships. There are even specific services for those with disabilities, veterans, and farmworkers. Their easy to navigate website offers tools for looking at the labor market in Washington and jobs with the most opportunities nationwide. “Our priority has long been to create a workforce system that invests in human potential and drives the growth and development of Southwest Washington,” says Melissa Boles, program manager for Workforce Southwest Washington, the workforce development board that invests in WorkSource. “[We] support anyone looking for a new path, a new position, or a job that better allows them to support their family. The recent turn of events has not changed that work.”

NextSuccess.org is a local employment resource specifically for young adults ages 16-24. They help with education and diploma completion as well as support for applying to college and financial aid. They offer a community for young adults to feel supported as they find a career path with mentorships and apprenticeships. Focusing on the health of vulnerable young adults, they offer meals, snacks, showers and classes on living a healthy lifestyle. “While neither the Next office [or local WorkSource office] is open to the public, we do have members of our team working every day to assist people in accessing unemployment insurance and other resources.” assures Boles.

NW Staffing Resources is a temporary staffing agency that helps both employers and job seekers find the right match. They specialize in finding both part-time and full time positions for job seekers, whether temporary or long term. For example, students home from college temporarily can get help finding temp work while workers displaced by the COVID-19 crisis can find something to sustain them. Many jobs placed through NWStaffing turn into permanent positions.

The Employment Security Department of Washington, has a new page on its website dedicated to questions concerning unemployment due to COVID-19. This page explains the expanded unemployment benefits offered through the federal stimulus for all types of workers.

The most important part of job seeking is to not give up! Staying positive and reaching out to network will lead to positive results. Think outside the box, and use the many resources available to help you succeed.

Sarah Mortensen recently completed her degree in marriage and family studies and works for Vancouver Public Schools as a paraeducator in addition to her role as associate editor of Vancouver Family Magazine. When Sarah is not reading to her kids or students, she is probably in her backyard taking care of her garden. She also enjoys hiking, hot chocolate, and dressing up for Halloween. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, son and daughter.

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