Guest Writer: Joyce Fang, Marketing Manager, Vaco
In a four-week period, jobless claims reached 22 million. This effectively means that, in one month, the US labor market has erased the 21.5 million jobs created since the financial crisis of 2007 – 2009. North Carolina is an unfortunate leader in jobless claims, being one of five states whose claims rose 4,000% or more in the first week of stay-at-home orders.
Fortunately, the US government responded with a record $2 trillion relief package. The CARES Act takes steps to expand support to those traditionally not federally protected, such as sole-proprietors, gig-workers, independent contractors and furloughed workers. Lawmakers are already considering future rounds of economic relief packages, based on day-to-day updates on COVID’s impact on our economy.
Three Things Jobseekers Should Do in the Interim
1. Search for opportunities
Not all industries and job positions have been affected in the same way. There are businesses in the Triangle still hiring. For a running list, check this LinkedIn page, Candor’s user generated report, and WITT’s own job posting page and Twitter feed.
Even businesses that have hiring freezes know that there is a pent-up demand for sales, and therefore talent has not gone away; it has simply shifted several months. As we are cautiously optimistic that we have seen the worst of COVID-19, remember that post-financial crisis, the US added 190,000 jobs a month from March 2010 through December 2017. Knowing this, companies may continue to screen and interview in anticipation of post-COVID-19. As you continue your job search, make sure to update your resume, LinkedIn profile and virtual interview skills.
2. Know your worth
Be open to opportunities. While companies have uncertain cash flow, they are looking to unique solutions such as consultant and contract-to-hire positions. Even if you prefer full-time employment, carefully consider the company and the specific option being presented. Consultant and contract roles may be your best prospect to enter a company for the long-term.
However, don’t let this affect your negotiations. Losses accrued during unemployment translated into annual earnings decreases lasting longer than twenty years. There are a number of reasons for this, but it is possible that jobseekers accepted positions for less than their worth, decreasing future salary increases that are often a percentage of current wages.
3. Stay healthy
The negative impact of unemployment goes well beyond earnings. Modern age is often defined by our job role and, on a deeper level, our ability to care for our families and ourselves. After the Great Depression, US workers were more likely to suffer from a range of physical and mental health complications. Unemployment, and the anxiety that come with it, are the great non-discriminators, affecting “men and women and members of all racial and ethnic groups as well as those with differing amounts of education.” In a Gallup poll taken on April 6 – 12, respondents said their mental health was suffering, even more than their finances.
Though it can be easy to let unemployment-related anxiety consume you, know that everyone around the world is experiencing this with you. The World Economic Forum lists tangible, data-backed steps you can take to care for your mental health.
Job searches are difficult, so much more so during a global pandemic and economic fallout. However, there are ways you can get ahead of the process. Take the time to care for yourself, and then continue the search. As my colleague, Jake Shepherd, states “Your employment status does not determine your worth. It will be okay. Just keep moving forward.”