Thankfully, 2020 is finally over. That said, many of us might still be reeling from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic and this is as good a time as any to start resolving to get our finances in order.
Right now, the most pressing task that you’re going to have to accomplish in order to get out of a financial bind is to make sure you’re making more money than you spend. In the simplest terms possible: as long as your income is greater than your expenses, you will be getting richer. Conversely if your outflows are greater, you will be getting poorer – depleting your savings, or falling further into debt. If you’ve lost your job and are currently surviving off of savings, try to reduce your expenses to the barest bones possible to minimize the difference between your inflow and outflow. Yes, that means cancelling or pausing your streaming subscriptions, your beauty boxes, and your food delivery passes. You can splurge on these again to celebrate landing a new job, and you’ll feel much better about it then.
Despite the first stages of a vaccine rollout being underway, we are still living in uncertain times. Relevant job opportunities can be hard to come by, and competition is likely to be higher for the best positions. But it’s not all doom and gloom in the COVID job market. There is a huge array of companies still hiring despite our current circumstances. And to add to that, all the time you’re spending at home right now can be used to work on cementing your toolkit, resume, and story so that you’re putting your very best foot forward when you come across a job you’re excited about.
Here are five strategies to leverage as you navigate the COVID job market:
Be a self-starter and emphasize your communication and technology skills.
The pandemic made us a work-from-home society overnight, and companies are looking for candidates who are excellent communicators and are comfortable using software like Zoom and Slack to collaborate as a team. Companies are very busy, and managers don’t have the time or inclination to micromanage an entire team of remote staff. It’s important to highlight that you’re a proactive communicator and you’re self-sufficient in your work product. Don’t wait to be asked about these skills.
Broadcast your experience in a cover letter and on your resume. If you don’t feel like you have these skills yet, take the time to build on them using the many free resources at your disposal; Zoom itself has a great blog with useful tips to help you become an expert, and there are numerous free courses online related to communication and efficiency. Even if you consider yourself an expert, it never hurts to brush up!
Be willing to take on a temporary job.
Hiring has slowed down, but there are many tech, telecom, and healthcare companies that are hiring at a normal, or even increased rate. Some of these jobs are temporary or project based and may pay minimum wage, but can still be a beneficial foot in the door. In taking one of these jobs, you get an opportunity to showcase your skill set and build trust with superiors. If you put your best work forward and a more permanent position opens up, it’s more likely that a manager is going to hire you (a known, talented commodity) over another external candidate with unproven capabilities.
Ultimately, employers know these jobs are temporary so there will be no hard feelings if you move on to a better job in a couple months – in fact, they’ll be likely to write you a recommendation letter for all your hard work.
Ask for an informational interview with companies you’d love to work for.
Hiring may be on pause in some industries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. Most candidates assume they can’t apply until there is a job, but one simple fact I’ve always been told is: people love to talk about themselves. Proactively search for a team you’d love to work on and ask for an informational meeting with its leader. Make it clear you know they aren’t hiring, but express that you want to learn more about their team, the company culture, and possible future opportunities.
If you ask intelligent questions and present yourself as a good fit, culturally and skill wise, you’re likely to be top-of-mind the next time a position opens on their team. Be sure to prepare well, if you’re going to use this tactic, by doing adequate research on the person you’ll be meeting with and paying attention to how they answer your questions.
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Have you ever come across the perfect opportunity, but feel drained the moment you pull up your resume and notice how much work you need to do before hitting send? Go ahead and update everything now, making sure to highlight your specific and valuable skills. If you’re applying to several types of positions, consider making a version of your resume that is slightly tweaked to highlight the relevant skills you have for each position. For example if you’re applying to both design and marketing jobs, make a resume and cover letter for each that highlights your relevant experience and related skill set for a potential position.
Consider taking the time to update your LinkedIn profile as well, and request recommendations from previous supervisors, clients, and peers to provide insight into what you’re like as a professional. When the right position presents itself, you’ll only need five minutes to make sure your resume and cover letter are ultra-relevant before you submit!
Diversify your skill set.
If you’re unemployed or underemployed right now, with lots of extra time on your hands, try to get the most out of your downtime by expanding your skills and ultimately making yourself even more employable. Some of the best free resources online include HubSpot’s Academy, where you can learn everything from Marketing to SEO to Lead Generation. Many of their free courses even offer certifications, which look great on a resume.
If you’re looking to build a more technical skillset, Udemy and Khan Academy are good free options. Or, if you have wiggle room in your budget, Treehouse is an excellent platform for learning coding, development, and or software skills for much less than a General Assembly course will cost you. Thinking of a larger change in your career? Start studying now for graduate school admission tests.
Millions of Americans are grappling with the economic and personal impacts of the pandemic, so remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to your community for support and encouragement when you need it. You’ll never regret making the best of a bad situation and using this time to work on yourself, your network, and your connections to others. Try not to get down on yourself and instead focus on the positive – when you really need it, it’s ok to allow space for moody days without throwing yourself a pity party.
Remember: it’s not about finding the perfect job in a down economy, but rather using your time well so you can secure your perfect job in the future. Do the self-work now and before you know it, you’ll be nailing interview after interview and you’ll have your pick of exciting job offers.
This guest post was authored by Charlotte DeMocker
Charlotte DeMocker is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Penny, the world’s first audio streaming edu-tainment startup that seeks to reimagine and simplify how we learn about money. Early in her career, Charlotte saw millennials working harder than ever but struggling to pay off debt or invest in their futures as they lacked the financial literacy to get ahead. As an analyst at a top investment bank, she often advised on investment opportunities for the wealthy elite while struggling to make ends meet herself. It was then that Charlotte realized how rigged the financial system is, and embarked on a mission to demystify money and make financial freedom more attainable. Connect with her on instagram @charlottedemocker or @penny.app.
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