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3.3 Million File Unemployment: What This Means for Your Job Search

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Think about your last business trip: you arrived at the airport where an employee checked your bag, then you grabbed a coffee and a sandwich from a barista at a café before boarding, where a flight attendant scanned your pass. These 3 individuals are not working now, and multiply your own footprint by every person, on every flight, in every airport in the U.S. to get a sense of the portion of those 3.3 million claims that are connected directly to industries that are at a complete standstill. Industries that will again be necessary and will resume eventually.

With gatherings restricted and social distancing measurements enacted, it’s no surprise that the bulk of these claims come from the hotel, travel and restaurant industries. In fact, the American Hotel Lodging Association says that 1 million jobs alone have been lost due to the pandemic. This is an industry that we can reasonably expect to recover to some extent once the pandemic passes. Many places have clear plans to hire back their workforce when able, that is, if they can stay in business. The same is true though for the restaurant and travel industries.

The sheer number of unemployment claims is vast, but not every industry faces the same level of risk right now. The Brookings Institute names the top 5 highest risk industries as: mining, transportation, employment services, travel arrangements and leisure & hospitality. These industries encompass more than 24 million American workers, so these are fields that may be more challenging for job seekers to return to when the jobs either don’t exist right now or when the market is heavily saturated when the pandemic ends. So while, again, the number of those workers is very high and there will be implications for the entire economy, we can expect that professionals outside of these industries will face an easier path.

Coronavirus Is the Clear Culprit

The 3.3 million record surpassed even expert predictions and far outstripped claims from the worst periods in recent American economic history. The cause is clear, and the report even opened with a statement that the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is to blame for the spike.

These dire numbers are expected to rise as the pandemic continues, Goldman Sachs predicts that unemployment could reach 13% in the near future. Layoffs are sweeping through every level of the workforce and the impact of rock-bottom consumer spending will continue to reverberate through diverse industries ranging from food services to cloud computing.

While uncertainty reigns at the moment, it is still true that this pandemic is expected to end and some version of normalcy will return. While nobody can predict when or what this future will be, by examining the actual immediate effects on the labor market we can offer some insights to guide your job search now.

Your Job Search

The two biggest concerns for job seekers in this market are the increase in applicant numbers leading to stiffer competition, and the decreased financial resources that many companies will have to devote to hiring. While job hunting may be more challenging, it’s still entirely possible to land your next great role.

If You’ve Just Been Laid Off 

If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus crisis, first know that you are not alone and there is no shame in losing your position in the largest economic downturn this country has seen since the Great Depression. Take care of your mental and physical health, and push forward to land a new role as quickly as possible.

Use your experience and qualifications to pivot into a new field within your industry that is still functioning, or into a new industry all together. Think critically and analytically about the problems that potential employers are facing in the short term and the long term and present your solutions and your skills. Make it clear that you will be an invaluable part of making it through this crisis but also that you will be an asset when the crisis ends. With a sharp resume, active networking, and clear messaging about what you bring to the table you can get a new job even despite the crisis. 

If You’ve Been Job Hunting for a While

Whether you are currently employed or not, getting a new job at this moment will require strategy and boldness. Companies are still hiring and while there may be more competition for those same jobs, that doesn’t diminish your ability to highlight your strengths, experience and potential.

Now, more than ever before, it’s crucial to shed your sense of humility and demonstrate clearly and concretely how you can solve your target employer’s pain points. Hone in on specific places you would like to work and target those places through systematic networking or even pitching a role that doesn’t exist yet. Focus on highlighting your unique skills and accomplishments rather than the simple tasks you’re responsible for.

If You’re Pursuing a Career Transition

It’s natural to think that now may not be the time to change careers, or even jobs, but you don’t need to put your career development on hold just because of coronavirus. Continue to invest time in developing your skills and knowledge so that when the right opportunity arises you are ready for it. Stay upbeat and optimistic as much as you can and offer your help to others who may need it during this time of upheaval. Being of service is a great way to build your network, cultivate new skills, and it’s good for your mental health.

Looking Ahead

It’s natural to want to hunker down and protect your job at all costs. However, you don’t need to compromise on your goals or your personal and professional development even if you do need to adjust your strategy. This pandemic will come to a close, and life will resume. This has been an unprecedented global crisis, but it will be a temporary one. Where you and your career will go in the future does not need to be limited by the present.

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