Laid Off Due to the Pandemic? 8 Career Moves to Take Right Now

To say that the pandemic era is the worst time for job seekers is an understatement. 

The unemployment rate worldwide caused by the global recession spiked drastically. A massive number of businesses have shut down. Some had to cut costs and let their employees go for their company to make it through. 

If you’re one of the people who have been laid off, we can barely imagine the amount of stress you’re facing right now. Aside from the sad reality of losing the job that shaped your character for years, you’re worrying about how to make ends meet after the sudden loss of income, especially in the middle of an economic crisis. 

So here’s a comforting, light-hearted piece of advice: there’s still plenty of career moves you can take to make your situation a little better. Here are 8 of them.

1. Claim unemployment benefits 

“I’m sorry but we have to let you go.”

This is one of the most heartbreaking things you can hear – it’s even worse than a breakup. After losing the job you love, you can be sad for a while. Lament on social media or write tearjerker letters dedicated to your colleagues and your company – you do you. But don’t wait too long before you pick yourself up and do the necessary paperwork. 

Filing for an unemployment claim should be your first move. You may qualify for unemployment payments from your state of employment. Research your state’s Department of Labor and Employment regarding the benefits you can claim. This isn’t just for corporate jobs – the policies may include unemployment for gigs, part-time employees, freelancers, and self-employed folks. For example, states may pay benefits in situations where an employer temporarily closed during COVID-19. 

You should also do the paperwork for the benefits you can claim from your company. 

2. Do something about your current expenses

Running away from your monthly financial responsibilities can do more harm than good. So if you let your service providers (and people you owe money to) know about your current situation. 

Banks, mortgage companies, utility providers, and landlords are more likely to aid you during this time. They might be willing to give you extensions or a revised payment setup if you negotiate well. 

While getting such amendments is a relief, you should also find areas where you can cut expenses while you’re still unemployed, like canceling unnecessary bills and reducing the budget for groceries.  

3. Work on a side hustle

Now is also the best time to revisit your other skills and work on the side hustle you’ve always wanted. You can make money from cooked meals and other food products, arts and crafts, project-based jobs (like writing, graphic design, video editing), and more. 

4. Use the downtime for polishing your credentials

Before talking to the HR services, spend some time getting clear on what skill set you can bring to the table. What are you good at? What are the soft and hard skills you can market? Polish your resume or CV. 

You can also seek online courses to either boost the skills you already have or learn a new skill that’s more likely in-demand. 

5. Gather references

Put together a list of contacts you can reach out to. This includes previous colleagues, alumni, friends, bosses, and other networking connections. You can reach them via email, asking them how they are and if they know any job opportunities. 

6. Follow the demand…for now

What’s more stressful about job hunting during the pandemic era is you might not see a lot of companies in your niche hiring at the moment. If they do, hiring managers see hundreds and thousands of applicants competing for a single spot. 

If your desired position isn’t available, be open to other work opportunities that are in demand. For instance, the COVID-19 has substantially increased the need for employees in the sectors including logistics, food and retail, healthcare, IT, and customer support. Even if they’re not your core skill, these jobs help tide you over for now. 

7. But don’t take your eyes off your ideal role

Being flexible doesn’t mean you’ll abandon your ideal role. While trying to get hired in your core occupation may be tough, you should still keep your CV fresh and circulating. You should also boost your phone and video job interview skills since you’re more likely to present your best self in those mediums. 

8. Last but not least: take care of yourself

Job loss can truly take a toll on your health. We know you’re eager to look for another job, but you can get to the wrong places if your physical and mental wellbeing isn’t stable. 

Find a way to relieve the stress that comes from coping with unemployment amid a global health crisis. Go for a jog. Eat healthily. Rediscover your passions. Find new hobbies. Limit social media usage, which can trigger anxiety, unless you’re using them for making you feel better and for searching for career opportunities. 

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a creative writer for HR Dept Australia, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful career management solutions for both employees and employers is her cup of tea.