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How to Prepare for Unemployment During Uncertain Times

Americans, like many of our global neighbors, are already seeing a surge in unemployment due to COVID-19. There are many unknowns around what the coronavirus will mean for the economy and how long this will last, but it is anticipated that unemployment numbers will continue to grow as businesses are forced to shut their doors or scale back operations.

Yet despite the fear that comes with unemployment, there are a handful of things you can do now to prepare yourself for when the job market picks up again. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your job search during these uncertain times.

Take a temporary or contract assignment

Although it may seem like all hiring has been put on hold due to the pandemic, some companies are still bringing on new employees on a temporary basis. Not only can taking a temporary position provide an income stream, but it can help open doors for your next full-time opportunity. Taking on a temporary position can help you develop new skills and introduce you to an industry or type of company you may not have considered before. Furthermore, a temporary job can help you expand your contact list. Not all contract jobs end with a permanent job offer, but if you make impactful connections along the way, you may leave with strong references to help land your next role.

Give your resume a facelift

Updating a resume can be time consuming, but it should be a priority if you are unemployed. Besides adding your most recent job responsibilities, consider giving the rest of your document a facelift. Just like outdated skills, using older terminology or including antiquated technology on your resume can damage your chances with a new employer. Browse through LinkedIn to see what terms people in your industry are using and update your resume accordingly. You may also want to consider writing a compelling profile statement or summary at the beginning of your document (don’t bother with an objective). Create a narrative that doesn’t put your unemployment front and center. Focus on your value-add as an employee and core competencies.

Find alternative ways to network

Just because we are practicing social distancing, doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and make valuable connections with people in your industry. Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools to help you grow your network and leverage new relationships. Find a group that aligns with your interests and join the discussion. If LinkedIn groups aren’t your thing, consider posting engaging content or writing an article to present yourself as a thought leader. There are so many ways to get involved and expose yourself to new opportunities. Coffee meetups may be ill advised right now, but virtual meetings and dialogues over the phone can still be had. Every conversation counts!

Consider your career path

While unemployment is never something to look forward to, it can force you to re-evaluate your career path. Think about the position you previously held and contemplate: “Did I find value in this line of work?” If the answer is no, ask yourself “What do I want from my future job?” Take this time to consider what career path you want to take. Changing careers is never easy but doing so can help give you a renewed sense of purpose and, ultimately, make you happier.

Take an online course

Learning new skills is never discouraged – the more competencies you have, the better. Looking for ways to increase your skills while unemployed is a great way to get ahead of the competition. Consider looking at profiles on LinkedIn of people who have the kind of job you want. If your skill set doesn’t match, there are a handful of ways to learn new competencies without breaking the bank. Online learning platforms such as Coursera offer a variety of free classes from top universities like Yale and Stanford. LinkedIn Learning is another valuable resource. By taking a class in your respective field, it shows you are serious about your work and that you take initiative. Plus, improving your current skill set can make you a more attractive candidate.

Take care of yourself

Unemployment can feel very isolating and lonely, especially during these harrowing times. It’s easy to fall into negative thoughts and behaviors so it’s important to take care of yourself. Whether you are into cooking, working out or reading, practicing self-care should become a top priority. And remember, you are not alone. Recent data showed 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment due to COVID-19. It never hurts to seek out support groups or online forums that can offer advice and encouragement. You want to remain positive to ensure you are in the best position to land the right job.

During these uncertain times, unemployment is unfortunately all around us and expectations are for the rate to continue to rise. Start your search right away if you’ve lost your job, but also prepare for the future. Economic downturns always rebound eventually and you want to be career-ready for when that happens.

Photo credit: Tomáš Hustoles for Burst

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