Laid Off Unexpectedly? How to Find a New Job

by | Firings & Layoffs

The national unemployment rate is rising as many states respond to the COVID-19 crisis by closing any non-essential businesses resulting in millions of workers being unexpectedly laid off.

If you find yourself in this position, we want to help by offering some advice on how to find a new job in the current environment.

For some, that will mean finding a new role related to your current career path but adapting your job search to a more competitive environment and a remote hiring process.

For others, it will mean transferring your skills to a new type of job, at least temporarily, until more positions open up again in industries that are struggling.

Take Stock of Your Transferable Skills

If you’ve worked in the same industry for a long time (or possibly even your entire career), you may not have thought a lot about other types of jobs you could potentially excel in.

You probably have skills that are so much a part of how you operate from day to day that you don’t even think of them as skills. For instance, organization or time management.

Right now, you’re going to be trying to focus on skills you can transfer from the industry you were working in, to a new role entirely.

In the job world, it can be helpful to think about job skills as falling into two categories — hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills, or technical skills, are things that are taught, such as proficiency in certain software, knowing how to code, understanding food handling procedures, or operating equipment. These skills are quantifiable and usually things you learned in a classroom or on the job.

Soft skills are more innate personal attributes, generally linked to working well with others. Some examples include communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

Sit down with a piece of paper and draw two columns.

Put your hard skills on one side and your soft skills on the other.

This will give you a more comprehensive overview of what your job skills are.

Dig deep! Many people are modest by nature. Write down every skill you possess. If a skill is particularly strong, make note of it.

However, you should inventory ALL of your skills, even those that may seem somewhat basic level.

For example, if you’ve worked with others, you have some teamwork skills. For many jobs, a basic competency is enough. You can analyze how your skills fit specific jobs later. For now, be generous in listing all of the hard and soft skills you can think of.

Next, to figure out where and how to apply your skills, let’s take a look at where the current opportunities are and which companies are ramping up hiring right now.

Find Which Industries Are Booming

The buying habits of consumers have drastically changed in the past few weeks, as essential foods and goods have flown off the shelves and non-essentials aren’t moving nearly as fast.

Additionally, state-wide mandatory “shelter in place” laws have meant that people are staying home and ordering in.

This has unsurprisingly resulted in many thousands of job openings in the grocery and delivery service industries.

These are important jobs but may come with some risk. While many companies have instituted contactless deliveries to reduce the risk of virus exposure, other job openings involve interaction with the public.

It’s important to take the proper precautions in these roles and research companies to understand how they protect their employees.

At the time of this writing, retail and delivery companies that have announced they are hiring widely include:

CVS Health

Walmart

Instacart

Amazon

Safeway

Albertson’s

Kroger

Publix

Outschool

PepsiCo

Dollar General

Papa John’s

Dominos

Pizza Hut

7-Eleven

GE Healthcare

Walgreens

Slack

Zoom Video

GrubHub

DoorDash

Next, there are also new opportunities in online learning. All types of schools and learning institutions have moved to online learning — from preschool to graduate school to continuing professional education. Kids need help with remote learning and many adults are looking for learning opportunities while stuck at home.

As a result of these developments, the demand for e-learning services has also grown.

There are more opportunities than ever to teach and tutor online. If you have experience with children, parents are looking for tutors to help them with their kids’ online learning in school subjects and extracurriculars.

Research tutoring and homework-help companies to see if they have openings. Start by searching for tutor positions on Indeed.com and other job boards. You might also want to reach out to see if any after-school programs have moved their lessons online and need additional help.

Alternatively, you could look into starting your own freelance business. You can register as a tutor on a site like Tutor.com or Care.com or use your network to connect with parents of school-aged kids who could use your services.

Similarly, if you’re an expert in a particular area, you may be able to offer online classes for adults. Think of any skills you have that can be taught remotely — for example, yoga, graphic design, music, foreign languages, writing, and programming. Again, you can look for job openings at established companies or start your own freelance business.

Start Your Own Business

What? In the middle of a pandemic?!

It sounds crazy, but it’s actually quite pragmatic.

There’s a good chance you already have some kind of side-hustle. Do you repair small machines? Have an Etsy shop? Design simple websites for your friends and family? Do landscaping? Volunteer as an Art teacher?

Now you have time to turn that passive pursuit or hobby into something greater.

Starting a business doesn’t have to mean getting a brick and mortar space and taking out a business loan.

It can be as simple as starting a profile on a freelance website like Upwork and bidding for jobs. Or start cultivating the interest you already have in your Etsy shop, blog, podcast, Youtube channel or other platforms.

Right now is a unique opportunity to fulfill a demand.

We already talked about e-learning and childcare, but put your creativity to use in thinking through how to solve problems that are arising from demand right now.

Have you had an idea for a remote working platform? A sharing app? A delivery service? Invest in yourself during this pivotal time and come out on the other side a business owner who turned your whole situation around.

Tap Your Network

Now’s the time to make use of that network!

Hopefully, you’ve spent some time making connections over the years, even if in a casual way. Now’s the time to get a little more proactive about networking.

In fact, having some more time on your hands can be an excellent opportunity for polishing up some career development tools that may be a bit rusty. Things like your resume, LinkedIn profile, professional headshots, skills and certifications and the like.

When it comes to networking, think through your nearest and dearest first–relatives, friends, and close colleagues who may be currently working in a stable field you feel you have the skills to qualify for.

The pandemic, distressing as it is, gives the current job-seeker the advantage of global unity. Everyone knows and understands that things are difficult right now and many people are looking for ways to help.

There’s never been a better time to access your network than now, when many people will be looking to offer a helping hand, especially to someone they know and care for.

If you have thought through your skill set and can’t make a connection with your personal network, it’s time to cast a wider net.

Reach out to your LinkedIn network or others in your professional groups on social media, MeetUp, or anywhere you congregate with people digitally. Let them know that you’re looking for work and what skills you have. You might be surprised what kind of opportunities open up just by putting yourself out there.

Your Life is Not Over, It’s Just a Plot Twist

It’s important to remember that no matter how destabilizing things may be right now, your job is not your life–and it IS possible to reinvent yourself.

It may not be simple or easy, but you can and will become employed and stabilized again.

In many ways, the changes that will result from COVID-19 can be positive. It has the potential to revolutionize how we think about and perform our work as a nation. It may cause an increase in flexibility of work hours and healthcare coverage.

And for you personally, it can be seen as a reset button for a career path you may not have been happy in. If you felt stuck previously or like you weren’t living up to your potential, now is your time to start again.

The key is to not give in to despair and be creative in your problem-solving. If one approach to finding a new job after you’ve been laid off isn’t working for you, strategize a new angle and try again.

Don’t sell yourself short–you have more skills and a bigger network than you think you do. People are banding together right now to help each other and everything is going to be okay. The metaphorical sun will rise again!