5 TIPS FOR FINDING WORK DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

by Nancy Collamer, Next Avenue

Job hunting is never easy. But the coronavirus pandemic is creating challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen, with unemployment expected to hit 16% or higher and employers laying off or furloughing millions. The job search engine site Indeed says job postings in late April were more than a third lower than a year ago. So, how can you find work these days?

 

1. Research employers and industries in active-hiring mode

While some firms, nonprofits and government agencies are shedding workers, others are looking for new employees. A recent Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that 31% of health care organizations are actively hiring and 16% expect to be soon.

 

“A good informational interview is part research and part building rapport.”

Other sectors with prospective jobs include tech, finance and online tutoring, as well as pandemic “essential businesses” like grocery stores, delivery services and manufacturers of protective equipment.

 

LinkedIn.com, Jobscan.co, The Wall Street Journal, FlexJobs.com and Job-Hunt.org all have real-time lists of employers that are hiring.

 

These lists can be helpful. But remember: The vast majority of job openings are found through networking and referrals, not online postings. That’s why Job-Hunt.org founder Susan Joyce suggests that after checking these lists you then “find other smaller employers which do similar things and develop your own list of target employers.”

 

In other words, use them to get an idea of which types of employers are hiring and then network, network, network!

 

2. Ramp up your informational interviews

One of the best ways to expand your network and uncover potential job opportunities is by conducting informational interviews. Those are structured conversations you have with people who work at your target employers or within your fields of interest. They typically last about 30 minutes and can be conducted by phone or a video chat/conferencing service such as Zoom.

 

“A good informational interview is part research and part building rapport,” says Noelle Gross, a career coach in Stamford, Conn.

 

Although an informational interview isn’t a job interview, it’s important to come prepared with a list of engaging questions. A few that Gross suggests:

 

Where are you seeing the most opportunities in this industry?

What is one problem within your department/company/field that if solved would make your life a lot easier?

Is there anyone else you think I should talk to as I continue to gather information?

For additional guidance on informational interviewing and other job-search strategies, I highly recommend LinkedIn’s collection of free training videos, “Finding a Job during Challenging Economic Times.”

 

3. Add remote-friendly keywords to your resumé, cover letter and LinkedIn profile

Since many employees are now working from home and many hiring managers expect people they bring on will, too, it’s critical to show your aptitude and experience at it.

 

Mention specific video technologies you’ve used, such as GotoWebinar or Zoom. Cite your familiarity with document-sharing tools like Google Docs. And detail how you worked remotely. For example, “Led a remote team of 15 employees across multiple time zones from a dedicated home office.”

 

Include and highlight relevant soft skills, too — such as time management or written communication — that demonstrate you can be as productive working from home as in an office.

 

4. Monitor social media for prospective job opportunities

In a recent Jobvite survey, 58% of recruiters said they’re using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to promote their brands and connect to talent.

 

Advises Jobvite CEO Aman Brar: “Maintain a clean and active digital identity, build strong professional network connections and get familiar with the employer’s brand.”

 

To connect with employers that are recruiting candidates through social media, follow their social media accounts to learn more about their operations and culture; retweet and share their relevant posts and comment on their posts when you have something constructive to add to the conversation.

 

Doing so might lead you to hear from one or more of them.

 

5. Create job-hunting systems for success

It’s easy to lose hope and motivation during a long job search. But as legendary UCLA coach John Wooden once noted, “The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.”

 

With that sentiment in mind, here are three ways to do more with what you can control as a job hunter:

 

First, set daily and weekly goals. For example, “I will schedule four informational interviews each week” or “I will make three networking calls a day.” Focusing on clear goals, as opposed to measuring success by how others respond (such as the number of job interviews you get), will help keep you moving forward.

 

Second, limit your time on online job boards. Research shows that only a tiny fraction of jobs are found online (and some posted jobs may already have been filled). Spend no more than a half-hour per day on job boards and use the bulk of your time networking and looking for referrals into jobs.

 

Third, make self-care a priority. Maintaining a positive mindset and a healthy body is critically important when you’re job hunting. Carve out time each day for exercise, healthy eating and visits with people who brighten your day — even if for now, you can only connect by phone, text, email or Zoom.

Nancy Collamer is an author, speaker and recognized expert on semi-retirement. She writes a monthly blog for the PBS site NextAvenue.org (and Forbes.com) and is the author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (Ten Speed Press, 2013). She holds an MS in career development from the College of

New Rochelle and a BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also certified as a retirement coach. Nancy’s advice has been featured in numerous media outlets, including NBC Nightly News; the New York Times; CNN; the Wall Street Journal; Redbook; and Fortune.

RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE:

WHAT DO EMPLOYEES THINK?

by Danielle Oliver

Unprecedented. Uncertain. Changing. These key terms have consistently been used to describe the conditions of the world throughout the past few months, and now things may be changing again. After adjusting to working from home, social distancing, and isolation, many companies are beginning to think about returning to their physical workplace. Regulations, guidance, and suggestions are emerging, but what does this process actually look like? More specifically, how are employees feeling about it?

The research team at the Pennington HR Institute recently sought insight from employees about the reopening process. We asked over 55 employees their opinions about returning to the workplace, and what they expect from their employer. One of the most significant findings was that employees expect greater flexibility as they transition back to “a new normal.” Our survey found that 73% of respondents expect some sort of flexibility from their employer during plans to reopen. Whether this flexibility relates to the number of hours worked, the location of work, or some other accommodation, each individual industry and company will likely have to adjust its workplace. Some suggested staggered start and stop times for employees, staggered lunch or break times, and limiting the number of customers on site. Carina Cortez, chief people officer of Glassdoor, says, “There’s no one-size-fits-all model for employers preparing to reopen their offices.”

 

Employee Relations will be more important than ever

Employees should expect open communication from their employer regarding their plans for reopening, and this should be a two-way conversation. Employees must be comfortable expressing their concerns about returning to work as well. This open communication will ease the process of returning to work, while settling potential uncertainties. If you have personal health concerns, speak with your employer about what types of accommodations can be offered. It is also important to be aware of your worker rights during this time. Robert Pummer, a business reporter from BBC news, suggests that if your employer does not address your concerns, you should contact a local authority.

Regulations from government organizations will likely dictate the majority of company reopening practices. However, employees seem to have specific expectations for accommodations that will make them feel more comfortable returning to their workplace, and these should be communicated to their employers. From our survey, the majority of respondents indicated that practices such as limiting the number of the employees on site at one time, limiting the number of employees in common areas, and providing personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, etc.) are most expected in the workplace. Additionally, employees want to see work stations spaced further apart, and frequent sanitizing of common surfaces. With these in place, employees can limit the health risks associated with returning to work.

 

Do all employees want to return?

Despite precautionary measures, what if employees do not wish to return to work due to health concerns? For the past few months, employees have become accustomed to working from the safety of their home, and some may wish to continue. The Pennington HR Research team found that 82% of our respondents feel that if they want to continue working from home due to health concerns, then their employer should allow them to do so. Of course, this is not applicable to all industries and assumes that productivity goals can still be met in these conditions. However, it is an important accommodation to consider. These are the types of conversations employees should expect to have with their employers in the near future, as these decisions can significantly impact public health.

 

The future of the workplace

As we do return to work, how will this pandemic change the outlook of the job market in the future? Employees may begin to especially seek jobs that allow remote work. Over 83% of respondents from our survey feel that a position that offers remote work is now more highly regarded in the job market. This could impact the demand of certain industries or positions, as remote work may now be considered a “perk” of a job.

As we begin to create our “new normal” it is important to remember that change is never easy. Our country faced new levels of anxiety, grief, and fear as we transitioned into a remote society. As we now begin to reemerge from our homes, these feelings will certainly return. They may be especially heightened due to current health concerns related to returning to work. Employees and employers must work together to combat these fears and create a safe, supportive plan for returning to work.

Danielle Oliver is Assistant to the Executive Director for The Pennington HR Institute and Managing Editor of Employee's Life. She is currently  pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Arcadia University School of Global Business. where she demonstrates academic excellence and holds numerous leadership positions in the

University’s Student Government. Danielle is passionate about ensuringDanielle is passionate about ensuring positive employee relations and bettering organizations through innovative human resource initiatives. 

HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE IN THE WORKPLACE

by ​Starla Sireno Forbes Councils Member

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to avoid working with at least some difficult (if not some extremely difficult) people. You might find them in senior leadership, among your peers or even among your clients. They can have an impact on your motivation, stress, absenteeism and morale. In extreme cases, they might even have a financial impact if your business must incur cascading management, legal and human resources costs.

Perhaps your difficult person does not cause you complete agony, but the effects of having to manage a relationship with these types of co-workers can take a significant toll on your productivity, focus and emotional well-being. While we will never be able to completely avoid difficult people, I've developed five strategies as a coach to help you deal with them gracefully:

 

1. Examine yourself first.

This is generally the most difficult (but also most important) step of any problem: Check yourself, and ask how you might be contributing to the issue at hand. For example, is the problem the other person’s actions, or your reaction? Ask yourself truthfully, are you overreacting in any way? Do you see any patterns or typical hot buttons for yourself? It can often be a challenge to look at your place in any conflict objectively, so ask a third party, such as an unbiased co-worker, for feedback to really understand the reality of the situation without the coloring of ego and emotion.

2. Learn empathy.

Instead of being defensive, see the difficult person as a person. Try to understand where he or she is coming from. What does that person need that he or she isn’t getting? Perhaps it’s to be seen, heard, acknowledged or recognized. Many of us have likely been there before; we might have even been the difficult person on the other side. Instead of ruminating on how you can get back at them, ask yourself how you can help them. Even if you still believe they’re in the wrong, how can you create a win-win situation now that you have an understanding of where they’re coming from?                                                       (more)

 

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© 2019 by The Pennington HR Institute

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