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There are ways to deal with the harsh new realities of the job market – now and post-COVID-19

By Susie Goldman

After leaving a long-term job in 2014 to build on my in-demand skills – and relieve myself from burnout – I explored opportunities for older workers. I was shocked to learn that the age of an older worker was viewed as beginning at 40.

Ageism is alive and well in the job market.

Searching for a job was very different from when I was last doing it, thanks to LinkedIn and SEO (searchengine optimization). Regarding SEO, people now needed to create resumes with enough keywords to get through scanning software. Meanwhile, mandatory in-depth online applications for jobs was mandatory.

Today, with the pandemic in mind and what job hunters need to be prepared for, I explored the ideas of Donna Cornell in her book “Job Hunting in Pandemic Times.” And the answer is we need to rely on everything we learned about job hunting in the past – but put it on steroids. Even younger workers face difficulties for their lack of experience, and because a changing job market may mean that available positions don’t match up with the skills they learned to earn their degrees.

Cornell directs all job hunters to fully embrace technology because it has become more prominent in most work settings. She tells us we need to investigate what skills are demanded by job openings. And if you have been “furloughed,” Cornell bluntly tells the reader to consider yourself unemployed.

I suggest you make sure your supply of caffeinated beverages is abundant.

The most essential job-hunting tool continues to be networking, according to Cornell. We also need to reassess of our skill set for how it aligns with the talents employers care about most. And look at how we managed during the pandemic as a measure of how adaptable to change we are. We also need to do our own research via the internet about what types of jobs are available post-pandemic, and what skills are needed for these jobs.

She tells us we need to announce to the world we are job hunting. And tell the world the specific field and type of position for which we are looking. We will need to be constantly using our friends, family, LinkedIn connections, trade associations, Chambers of Commerce, etc, as contacts.

Meanwhile, organizations have changed drastically to adjust to the pandemic. They are restructuring, and likely will continue to do this.

The goal is eventually to be referred to a hiring manager. For help and support along the way, keep in mind there are lots of classes teaching all manner of job-hunting skills. For example: resume writing. Professional skill development classes also are abundantly available online. Job hunters’ support groups and career counselors are at the ready.

One resource I used is Mass Hire Career Centers (www.mass.gov/masshire-career-centers), which are located throughout Massachusetts. And the internet, of course, will become your intimate partner.

Communication via Zoom, including for job interviews, and working electronically will continue to increase after the pandemic. Cornell tells us the pandemic will change employment for many years to come in unpredictable ways. Humans hate change, especially at this scale, but we are adaptable. She reminds us to build up our confidence and self-care. There will be hiring of new talent, but for fewer openings than before, and the competition will be fierce. The author urges us to use our time to be creative and reinvent ourselves.

Cornell is blunt in telling us we have no control over hiring trends and the industries that are being decimated by the pandemic. Some types of jobs will never come back.

But there are familiar areas where there still will be abundant jobs. These include: healthcare, customer service, community response, crisis management, cleaning, warehouse work, shipping and distribution, social work, video technology, computer technology, science, laboratory research, and jobs as electricians, plumbers and tradespeople. An area I noticed when scanning Indeed.com for jobs was for dispatchers. There always will be the need for people ready to deal with crises.

We can have our skills evaluated now on many websites, including www.iss.edu, which offers webinar screening for computer assessments.

An NPR podcast I have to listening to since the start of pandemic is “How I Built This,” with Guy Raz, who interviews entrepreneurs. Currently, the program is focusing on entrepreneurs adapting during the pandemic.

Creativity is key in shifting to producing products that are needed now. With this in mind, it’s worthwhile to consider one’s own skills and how they match up with the fields in demand right now. Furthermore, it’s worthwhile to examine how the new skills one may be interested in learning may fit in.

Persisting, despite disappointments, is a must. Delays will be part of the job hunt. They should not be taken personally. Spend time volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you and perhaps lets you develop new skills. For example, local cable stations offer training in video production.

Cornell encourages us to keep active, and not to stop working on career advancement. During a job hunt that’s not so-far been successful, it’s possible to think that whatever you are doing is not enough.

Meanwhile, self-care is essential. Sleeping well, eating healthy, exercising, and perhaps even meditation will help with the stress that can be part of job hunting during the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic. Staying social with friends and family by phone, and getting together in person when it is safe to do so, is key because we are social animals.

Finally, I highly recommend job-hunting support groups, especially the Job Search Success Team that Larry Elle and Myrna Kesselman offer on Zoom. These sessions fill the human need for social connection, and infuse group members with lively camaraderie.

Good luck out there. When you feel exhausted or down, reach out and connect with someone.

 


Susie Goldman has been constantly reinventing herself through ongoing professional development, most recently in program development and management for elders. For over 15 years she used her robust customer service/administrative skills in healthcare. She also has been involved with social work, and has a long history as a volunteer, including in counseling young women regarding reproductive health and as a Check-in Program AIDS Action phone buddy. She aspires to do freelance writing as a side “gig.” You can find her at LinkedIn.

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