How to Find Work During COVID-19: 5 Steps for Managing Job Loss
As the virus that causes COVID-19 disease shutters businesses across America, states are struggling to process a surge in jobless claims, while anxious job seekers — whose prospects looked healthy at the start of 2020 — are coming to the realization that they may only find remote work for the foreseeable future.
For many, this challenge is compounded by the country’s new stay-at-home lifestyle, one that’s turned professionals into temporary home school teachers and put an end to networking lunches and happy hours. Even the face-to-face job interview, which allows an applicant to put his or her personality on full display, has been sidelined by the crisis, increasing online interviews and remote work.
If there is a silver lining, it’s that Ashford University students and other online learners are uniquely prepared to tackle these tough times more than they might think.
“Our students are already technologically savvy, they take initiative, they meet deadlines, they’re self-motivated, and they can work independently,” explains Ashford University Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations Grace Williamson. “They already possess the attributes needed to be successful at remote work.”
For those suddenly facing unemployment in the era of coronavirus, Williamson has put together a checklist for you to get organized and begin your remote job search.
1. Determine your unemployment benefits status
Finding out you’ve been laid off can take a toll psychologically, and you find yourself anxious to jump into the job search. First, you need to determine the status of your unemployment benefits, Williamson says.
“Because of coronavirus, the federal government has created more flexibility for workers filing for unemployment,” she says. The process varies state by state, she adds.
CareerOneStop.com, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, has gathered resources to help you determine your status and file your claim online. Doing so immediately, Williamson adds, will help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that often accompanies the job search.
“If anything, you’ll know that you have crossed a very important item off your list: feeding your family and paying the bills in the short term,” she says.
2. Find out who’s hiring, and narrow down remote opportunities
For some workers, the transition to telecommuting can be jarring. But as an online student, you already have a leg up on the competition. Now, you just need to find the right fit.
In January 2020, Forbes published a list of the Top 100 work from home companies, with familiar brands such as Williams Sonoma, Humana, and Amazon making the cut. The job search and company rating website Glassdoor published a similar article in March 2020.
One trick that you can add to your efforts, Williamson says, is to substitute the word “remote” for the city name in your searches.
“For example, if you’re on Indeed.com, you can type in specific positions in the “What” tab, and then “Remote” in the where tab.”
3. Validate legitimate career opportunities, and avoid fraudulent ones
Just as a global pandemic doesn’t stop the spam emails to your inbox, there is no stopping scam artists posing as legitimate companies online.
“You need to be prepared to vet every potential opportunity, just as you would expect an employer to vet your background and resume,” Williamson says.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers has published guidelines for Ashford and other universities to help students identify the right opportunities. Among those that you can adapt to your job search:
- Match emails to reflect the company’s website
- Check Google Maps to see if the company has a “real” address
- Research the company’s website and social media accounts to determine its validity
4. Get your resume remote-ready
A golden rule of resume writing is to make sure that you’ve identified the unique experience and skills that make you qualified for the job you want. In the current climate, you’ll want to emphasize your ability to work remotely.
“Use LinkedIn for keyword inspiration,” Williamson says. “In the ‘Add Skill’ section you only need to type the beginning of a word – ‘project’ for project management or ‘human’ for human resources – and you’ll see a number of skills show up.”
Keywords are an essential element of your resume, and how you use them can help you get through the “resume robots” – Applicant Tracking Systems that determine whether yours will get forwarded to a recruiter.
You can also use Jobscan, a resume optimization tool that will help you get noticed by recruiters. Ashford University’s Career Services team will work directly with you to ensure that your resume best captures the skills required for the job you want. Just email [email protected] and include the following:
- Subject line referencing your request for a Jobscan report
- MS Word or PDF copy of your resume
- Job posting you plan to apply for – paste the entire posting into the body of the email or provide a link
Career Services will use Jobscan to generate a report of recommended changes to optimize your resume.
5. Prepare for your interview – remotely
Video interviews were already becoming more common before the pandemic. Now, they’ll be the new normal. Career Services will help you prepare for your remote work interview with recommendations for your setup and performance; and you can conduct mock interviews to evaluate yourself using My Career Powered by Symplicity, which is accessible through your Student Portal.
Keep in mind, adjusting to the job search – which is, in itself, a full-time job – and remote work can be challenging, but you’re built for this. As an Ashford student, you’ve already made adjustments to fit college in your schedule and succeed on your terms. Although the world is changing rapidly, you’re more prepared than you may think.
Written by Ashford University staff