Millions of people are currently unemployed, thanks to the global pandemic.
While many keep talking about life returning to normal once this over, things may never go back to how they were – especially when it comes to the job market.
No one knows what will happen next or what the long-term effects will be. But we do know that the business world has already changed. Tens of thousands of small businesses, chain restaurants, and retail stores have already permanently closed across the US and Canada, including over 40% of black-owned businesses.
Even though we are still in the midst of things, you can’t afford to sit back and wait to start looking for a job. At the best of times, finding a job can be a challenging, long process. Getting rehired after the lockdown is lifted is going to feel impossible.
You need to give yourself every advantage you can to stand out amongst the steep competition and get that job offer. But how?
Follow these ten tips for getting rehired after the lockdown.
1. Don’t Assume You’ll Get Rehired
According to one study, almost 80% of people that have been laid off or furloughed assume they’ll get rehired once the lockdown is over. Unfortunately, this is not going to be the case for everyone.
As mentioned, numerous businesses have already filed for bankruptcy and will not be reopening at all.
Those that do reopen will have to change how they operate. Unfortunately, many positions will get eliminated. To ensure safety and social distancing, they may have to reduce hours or downsize their staffing levels. Consumer demand will also change, meaning certain products or services will no longer be profitable, and therefore no longer require as many staff.
It’s a good idea to keep in touch with your manager and your Human Resources department. They may not have all the answers right now either, but they can give you some idea of where things stand so that you can plan accordingly.
2. Evaluate Your Situation
If you are hoping to return to your old job, you need to evaluate your situation and your likelihood of being rehired.
How hard has the industry you worked for been hit? Is there a strong possibility that your company will return to business as usual? Or will changes be inevitable? Are the number of positive cases still growing in your community, or are restrictions being lifted?
You also have to consider the job security of your specific role within the company. If they do have to let go of staff, the newest employees are usually the first to be terminated. If they have to cut costs, they may outsource roles instead, particularly in customer service and administration. Or your position might simply no longer be needed.
Any of these factors can prevent you from being rehired, yet have nothing to do with you or your abilities.
There are a lot of reasons you can’t find a job right now. Maybe you have children and need a job that can accommodate you working from home at flexible hours. You may no longer be in touch with your last supervisor if the business is closed and, therefore, are missing out on a valuable reference. Or maybe you don’t have a lot of experience and don’t meet the qualifications for the types of jobs you are interested in.
By evaluating your situation, you can focus your efforts on what’s in your control.
3. Improve Your Skills and Education
With the significant increase in competition, improving your skills and education is one of the more natural ways to make yourself a stronger candidate. It also opens up new opportunities for you to move into a different or more advanced role than you had before.
You don’t necessarily have to go back to school to get a certificate or degree, although that is an option.
A lot of the time, upgrading your skills or learning a new one with a course or two is all you need to set yourself apart from the other applicants. There are plenty of free and affordable online education courses available that can teach you just about anything! A few examples include Udemy, Alison, Coursera, OpenLearn, and Edx.
If you’re not sure what to take, focus on improving your soft skills like time management, communication, customer service, and problem-solving. These skills are always in demand.
Don’t be afraid to take the time to improve yourself personally, as well. Your health and wellbeing matter and can influence how successful your job search is.
4. Update Your Resume & Cover Letter
With the limited number of open job vacancies, you have to show employers why they should hire you over everyone else.
Your resume and cover letter are tools used to get you a job interview. They have to make a strong first impression, as most hiring managers only glance at your resume for 6 seconds before deciding if it ends up in the “yes” or “no” pile.
And that’s assuming your resume lands on their desk at all.
Because there are significantly more applications to go over, many companies are relying on applicant tracking systems (ATS) and artificial intelligence to do the initial screening for them. So not only do you have to make your resume scannable to a person, but also a computer.
Keep the look and design of your resume clean and straightforward. Really focus on the content like your skills, responsibilities, and professional accomplishments.
If you’ve worked in a few different fields or are hoping to make a career change, you may have a few variations of your resume that highlight your various roles and experiences.
Tailor each resume you submit should to the specific job for which you are applying. To pass any screening software, be sure to use the main keywords from the job ad.
Take the extra step to get your resume reviewed by a professional. Glassdoor, the Ladders, Monster, Resume Worded, and LiveCareer offers free resume review services. Or contact your local career or employment center to see what supports they provide.
5. Prepare Your Job Search
Preparing for a job search in this economic climate requires more than just updating your resume and writing a cover letter.
With more jobs becoming remote, you are no longer only competing against people that are geographically close to you. You are competing with candidates from all over the world. Therefore, you have to stand out at every step of the hiring process and can’t give employers any reason to question or doubt you.
Employers are going to look you up online during the hiring process. Make sure your social media accounts and online presence are professional. Delete anything that isn’t, or at the very least, change your privacy settings. You might consider making a LinkedIn profile, an online portfolio, or a personal website to showcase further your skills and experience beyond what fits in your application.
Once your application is submitted, the next step you are hoping for is a job interview. So start practicing answering interview questions to improve your confidence. Your meeting may be online, so practicing being in front of the camera will also help you feel more comfortable.
If your interview is successful, you are going to be asked to provide references. So put together a list of potential people. Check with them to see if they are comfortable being a reference, and if so, ask what contact information they want to use. If you do get asked to provide this information at a job interview, you will have it ready to go, and your references will already know to expect a call or email.
6. Apply Where the Jobs Are
Specific industries are going to bounce back much quicker than others, so it makes sense to focus on applying where the jobs are.
If you don’t already know, research how the pandemic has impacted the industries, companies, and roles you are interested in. Look at online job boards to get a better sense of who’s currently hiring and for what types of jobs.
Some companies are actively hiring now, particularly in the health care, technology, online education, e-commerce, and essential services industries.
These jobs may not be your first choice, but if you don’t have enough or any income, making money has to take priority over finding your dream job. You can’t afford to be picky.
No job is going to be perfect. Figure out what you are willing to tolerate at work and what you aren’t. But don’t limit yourself further than that. Be open and apply anywhere you could see yourself working, even if it’s only temporary.
You may have to take a pay-cut and apply for entry-level jobs that are below your capabilities and work your way up. You can also apply to jobs that are above what you’ve done in the past, especially if you have taken a course or extra training to improve the skills needed for a promotion.
Many employees have had to work from home, and business owners have realized that remote work is possible (for specific roles and sectors). There are so many opportunities to work from home that there are online job boards specifically for remote work, such as FlexJobs, Virtual Vocations, and Remote.co.
While it’s generally not a good idea to spam your resume and apply to every single open position, this pandemic might be the exception. If you are growing desperate to find a job or there aren’t many new postings, you might have to play the numbers game and try quantity over quality.
Knowing what’s happening in the labor market will help you make smarter decisions.
7. Use Your Network
“Networking is not about knowing people but being known to people.” (Source)
Think about that quote for a moment.
With so much competition out there, getting known to people puts you at a considerable advantage over everyone else. A personal connection or recommendation means you are no longer just a name in a pile, especially if that recommendation comes from someone who is respected and has a prestigious reputation.
Not every job is advertised online. Networking is one of the best ways to access the hidden job market.
Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Ask if they know anyone that could be of help. If they give you a contact name, make sure to reach out. They may not have a job to offer you at this time, but they can provide valuable advice, and you can start establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with them.
You can also make new connections by joining professional associations, attending seminars or conferences, reconnecting with people that are already in your network, or use social media to find opportunities online.
8. Be Proactive
Submitting your resume through Indeed or emailing it to the HR department might not be enough to cut it. You may have to go above and beyond to show a potential employer why they need to hire you.
In addition to applying early, upgrading your skills, perfecting your resume, and using your network connections, what else can you do?
Attend job fairs (many are virtual).
If it’s safe to do so, take your job search offline. Drop off your application in person (if they’ll accept it this way) so that they can put a face to the name. Inquire about volunteering with the company so that you can meet people and show them who you are and what you are capable of doing.
If you are selected for an interview, consider doing a pre-interview project. Figure out what problem you can solve for the company, and then show them by putting in the work and coming up with ideas, suggestions, or examples. I assure you, virtually no other candidate will take this extra step. It will be impossible for the hiring manager to ignore you if you do.
9. Have a Back-up Plan
As much as I hate to say it, you may be unemployed for a long time. No one knows how long this will last or if the worse is still to come. At some point, the unemployment benefits and financial assistance programs are going to end.
You need to have a back-up plan.
One possibility is to work a part-time job or a survival job for the time being.
Or you can monetize your skills with a side hustle, gig job, or by freelancing. How successful you are will depend on several factors. Consider starting with something easy that doesn’t have high start-up costs, such as delivery driving, online tutoring, or content creating.
But your back-up plan might have to be more extreme than that. You may have to get a roommate, sell your valuables, or move somewhere more affordable or to where the jobs are.
10. Don’t Give Up!
Under normal circumstances, it’s hard to stay positive when you’re unemployed. But giving up is the worst thing you can do.
Send a follow-up email to every single place you’ve applied after a week or two. That can put your application back on the hiring manager’s radar, reiterates your enthusiasm, and gives you the chance to explain why you are interested in the position briefly.
You may not hear anything back, but someone from the HR department might give you feedback or provide an insight into why your application wasn’t successful. Remember, there are a lot of reasons why you weren’t selected for an interview that truly has nothing to do with you personally.
If your job search isn’t getting you anywhere, try a different approach. Completely re-do your resume. Stop relying on job boards and find those hidden job market opportunities. Or simply send in your resume anyway, even if the company isn’t actively hiring.
With a record-breaking unemployment rate, finding a job has never been harder. Tens of millions of people are out of work and don’t know what their future holds. Use these ten tips to improve your chances of getting rehired after the lockdown ends.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and more. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a free library of career & job search resources.