How to Get a Job Right Now in the COVID Economy

How to Get a Job Now
(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/U.S. Navy photo)

At the time of this writing, headlines scream about growing unemployment figures almost daily.

The global pandemic that has impacted nearly every sector, in nearly every country, is making job seekers nervous. Individuals currently employed might be holding on for dear life, keeping their heads down and dreading a companywide email announcing staff cuts.

Perhaps you're getting ready to separate from the military and wondering whether now is a good time to enter the civilian workforce. Or maybe you've already transitioned and are working in the civilian sector, fearing this economic climate means instability for yourself and your family.

But what if it's actually a great time to be in the job market? What if right now, as businesses slowly try to reopen, and furloughs and hiring freezes are still commonplace, it's a great time to look for a new job?

Assess the Market for Your Skills

If you worked in hospitality, you might be questioning your career viability right now. As fewer people travel, the industry might need to pivot to new offerings to generate revenues.

A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey indicates that the hotel industry's "recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2023 -- or later." Cruise lines, airlines, retail and theme parks might be stalled or operating with a restricted workforce, furloughing many existing employees and making it challenging to get hired.

Similarly, if you're looking to work in the food and beverage industry, especially as a restaurant server, manager or hostess, you likely will encounter challenges. Transportation sectors are being impacted, along with commercial real-estate markets, as fewer workers are traveling to the office.

But just because the nature of the work is shifting doesn't mean there aren't opportunities. Consider what services or skills hospitality companies, for example, might need right now. Are there currently teams of problem solvers huddled in conference rooms, exploring alternative scenarios to keep the business running and where you could lend your expertise?

As a prior military member, you are well-versed in problem solving, resilience and change management. You've learned how to pivot and adapt on a moment's notice -- and in high-stress situations -- and secure the situation for short- and long-term goals.

Are these skills valuable to companies struggling to figure out how to navigate the current environment?

Along those lines, it might be necessary to reframe your offer. Instead of referring to yourself as a problem solver or project manager, could you say you're a quick-minded strategic thinker skilled at helping companies navigate chaos by bringing best practices in risk management and option evaluation into high-stakes scenarios?

Yes, that's a mouthful, but you get the point. Companies need people who will help them reinvent, innovate, pivot and survive until a new normal is identified. Can you rework your narrative, experience and skill set to respond to their current needs?

Are Your Skills Being Fully Utilized?

If you find yourself wondering whether you'll have a job tomorrow, be proactive about ways you can add extra value today. In the military, you weren't restricted by job titles (although you respected hierarchy and protocol). If something needed to be done, and no one was available, you stepped in. In the civilian sector, where you're working in a specific role with a determined job description, it might be time to stretch and add value in other areas as well.

Consider speaking to your boss about additional skills and training you have that could be helpful to your team and department, or cross-functionally. Not only does this display proactive leadership, but you're also communicating that you'll prioritize the company's needs and goals.

It was once said that there are people who can't get a job in a good economy, and others who thrive in a bad economy. Evaluate the skills and talents you have to offer and creatively seek to apply them in new ways. Until economies settle down, innovation and creativity will be very important to companies.

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