This article originally appeared on Credit.com and has been republished with permission.
DISCLAIMER. The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to be, legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only.
Long-term unemployment can really hurt—and not just financially. When people can’t work for extended periods of time, they often experience depression, anxiety and low self esteem. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’re in the right place. This handy guide will get you up and moving with eight steps that can help you find a new job.
COVID-19 and Unemployment
Coronavirus had a major negative impact on the US jobs market in 2020. At the beginning of the year—before the pandemic took hold in mid March—the national unemployment rate stood at a low 3.6%. In April, the bottom fell out of the American economy and 20 million jobs disappeared. By month end, 14.7% of American workers were unemployed.
The labor market subsequently recovered—and quite rapidly. By November 2020, 6.7% of the workforce were unemployed. In February 2021, that figure fell again to 6.2%. The picture isn’t entirely rosy, though, because despite these gains, millions of Americans are still out of work.
If you do find yourself unemployed and you can’t find a job right away, claim all of the financial aid you qualify for, including unemployment benefits, food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Note: Signed into law on March 11th, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extended pandemic-related unemployment benefits—including the $300-per-week FPUC program—through September 6th, 2021.
8 Steps for Finding a New Job
Ready to leave the COVID-19 employment blues behind? Without further ado, let’s talk about eight steps you can take to get out of the pandemic slump and into a new career.
1. Gain New Skills
First, evaluate your skills. Are your professional certificates up to date? Are you three credits away from gaining a brand new qualification? Now’s the time to freshen your skills selection and tie a bow around “nearly there” accreditations. You’ll fare better on the job hunt if you can make your resume stand out.
Sites like Coursera can help you find courses that complement your existing skillset. Log on to locate online learning programs and in-person classes near you, and infuse your brain with analytics, coding or business management.
2. Create an Engaging Resume
New skills in hand, it’s time to update your resume. Review your professional summary and revamp your objective section. Make sure you use a modern layout and contemporary fonts—no Times New Roman or outdated spacing allowed. Templates like the ones at Monster can help you create a professional-looking resume in short order.
Make sure you use the following sections in your resume:
- A header section with your contact information
- Your professional summary—also known as an objective
- Your work experience in reverse chronological order
- Your education, also in reverse chronological order
- Your skills, professional certifications and licenses
Some resumes—academic resumes, for instance—include additional sections about research and published works.
3. Upload Your Resume to a Job Site
It’s time to get out into the open water. Before you do anything else, upload your new and improved resume to a job site—like ZipRecruiter or Monster, for example. You can look for jobs near you or search further afield on both sites. You can also look for jobs by niche or keyword.
Go ahead and apply to any open positions that you feel you’re well qualified for. Spruce up your profile, too, so recruiters and headhunters can find you independently.
4. Write Great Cover Letters
Cover letters can feel intimidating to write. Do recruiters and HR managers even read them? The answer is yes—they certainly do. In fact, some recruitment professionals consider them extremely important, so they’re not something you can skip—or boilerplate.
Write a fresh cover letter for every job you apply to, and make it company specific. Use your letter to prove you’ve read up about the business, and if you can, address the hiring manager by name. Then, introduce yourself and tell the recipient why you’re excited to apply or what you’d bring to the job.
Finally, highlight any appropriate work experience and emphasize your skills rather than your qualifications. After all, they’ll learn all about your degree or your vocational certificate when they read your resume. Keep your letter relatively strong, end on a friendly note and always proof-read before you hit send.
5. Improve Your Interview Skills
Many people find face-to-face interviews intimidating. If you go weak in the knees in advance of a job interview, don’t despair. Instead, why not use this time to brush up on your conversational skills and learn a few new communication tips? Here are three ways you can make a great first impression during interviews:
- Nonverbal communication is important. Sit up or stand up straight and make good eye contact with the interviewer at all times. Give your interviewer a warm smile before you begin and again at the end of the interview.
- Dress appropriately. Don’t turn up to the interview in shorts and flip flops. Instead, wear clothes that go with the job you’ve applied for. When in doubt, go for business casual—it’s not quite a suit or pencil skirt nor jeans and a t-shirt, but somewhere in between.
- Always listen. Hiring managers appreciate interviewees who listen as well as speak and who can internalize new information on the spot. Make sure the interviewer knows that you’ve heard what they’ve said.
Above all, stay professional and steer clear of controversial topics at all costs. And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
6. Polish Your Online Presence
Remember those old posts you made on Facebook and set to public? That time you had a Twitter rant and forgot to clean up afterward? This is the time to engage in a little damage control. Make any inappropriate public posts and photos private—or remove them from your profiles completely—and go through comments with a fine-tooth comb.
Why all the fuss? Because recruiters and hiring managers routinely check social media profiles and base hiring decisions on what they see. If unsavory posts pop up in your public history, you could miss out bigtime.
Now’s also a great time to polish any online professional profiles, such as LinkedIn or an online portfolio. Make sure that all your experience and work is up-to-date.
7. Use Your Network
Your resume is live on ZipRecruiter and Monster, so now what? Don’t forget to let friends and family members know you’re looking for a job. They might have contacts you don’t know about, or they might know about opportunities that haven’t been posted yet. Also, you, might want to take a look around. It doesn’t hurt to scour different job search engines to see what’s out there.
8. Don’t Give Up
Finally, don’t give up. You might not land a job in three days—or even in three weeks—but there’s every chance you’ll find a great opportunity if you stay focused and positive. If you don’t have one yet, create a profile on LinkedIn and connect with former managers and colleagues to see if they have any employment leads.
Bonus Step—Check Your Credit
Some employers check candidates’ credit profiles before offering them jobs. Why? Because they want to know if you have any serious debts or financial problems before they hire you. This happens frequently in the financial world, so if you want to work in a bank or at an insurance agency, check your credit report before you fill out that application.
You can see a credit snapshot with Credit Report Card from Credit.com. To dive deeper and create a credit action plan, go for ExtraCredit instead. With ExtraCredit, you can monitor, build, restore and protect your credit—plus a whole lot more.
How Can I Find a New Job Quickly?
Don’t settle for anything less than a great job. If you’re between jobs, use the time you have to gain new skills, create an engaging resume and post that great resume to employment websites like Monster and ZipRecruiter. Create personalized cover letters for each new job you apply for and work on your interview technique before you have a face-to-face meeting—even if it’s on Zoom.
Finally, get rid of any unsavory social media posts to make a good impression on your potential new employer. Don’t give up, and make sure you stay on top of your credit with ExtraCredit from Credit.com.