Vibe check- how’s everybody doing? Great? Awesome. Me too. ✌?
This week marks the end of April, a month where people across the country were locked down under stay at home orders. Quarantining and social distancing have been around a little longer- what feels like a couple of decades now.
We all knew the “new normal” was going to be… how should I put it… less than ideal? But what we maybe didn’t quite grasp at the beginning was how brutal this would be on those of us who are looking for new jobs- especially if you’re trying to break into the job market for the first time.
Unemployment is way up, businesses are closing, sports are canceled, and our originally scheduled programming on this blog included a talk on how to dress nicely for an on-site job interview… which just feels silly to even think about right now.
We’ll get back to that place, and eventually we will break out our very best fashion tips, but not today. Instead, let’s talk about how to survive right now. Both how to get through it, and how to pursue a job while we are dealing with this unprecedented set of challenges.
These days, nothing is certain, so it’s extra important to understand how much money you actually have, and make sure you live within your means. Now is NOT the time to start incurring credit card debt or taking out extra loans, because truth be told we have no idea when the actual cash will start flowing again.
In some cases, leaning on credit is unavoidable. If this is the case for you, make sure you minimize the damage. No needless spending. Avoid “retail therapy”. Try not to order delivery all the time (this is my biggest weakness).
If you are really struggling in the short-term, you might be able to get some temporary forgiveness on credit card or rent payments by asking. Just remember that when things revert back to normal, banks and collection agencies are not likely to be forgiving, even in the wake of a crisis. You’ll still have to pay back whatever debt you have accumulated, so help Future You to avoid the headaches by limiting your spending now even if you are able to make your payments. Future You will be very, very thankful.
You know how on airplanes when the flight attendants are doing their safety procedures dance and the disembodied recording says “if the oxygen mask drops, make sure you put on your own mask before helping those around you”? I always thought it sounded a bit selfish at first.
However, they’re absolutely right.
I’m a firm believer in the “you must help yourself before you can help others” philosophy. The unbelievably unfortunate timing of this pandemic for those about to enter the job market has put millions in a position where we can’t even help ourselves.
If you’re like me, this can be a totally crippling feeling. It’s understandable that taking the help of a relative or friend feels like a regression, maybe even embarrassing.
You can’t think of it this way. These people are fortunate enough to be in a position to assist, and if we don’t allow them to do so, we could just wind up remaining in a state of helplessness further down the road.
Allow me to shout this from my rooftop real quick – “ACCEPTING HELP IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS!” (the author proceeds to fall off the roof, and now requires even more help).
Whether it’s a place to live, food, money, whatever… You can’t feel like taking what is offered makes you any less independent or resilient. It just means you’re liked or loved by someone who is fortunate enough to be in a position of stability.
Ultimately, the goal is for you to get back on your feet as quickly as possible so that eventually you can pay it forward. Once your hypothetical mask is on, you can assist the next person.
Consider creative ways to generate some income
In spite of my earlier assertion that it’s tough to find a job right now (and it is), there ARE ways to make a little cash on the side. If a paycheck is absolutely crucial, know that there are still some jobs out there, they just might not be your ideal profession. That’s okay. Nobody is going to look down on your resume for taking some work outside your desired field to help get you through a pandemic.
According to Forbes, these four industries have actually seen spikes in hiring for full and part-time jobs during the pandemic. You can also try to get a side hustle like teaching English online or picking up some of the huge demand for delivery services (be CAREFUL and SAFE if you look into this).
If you’re handy with a computer, there are several ways to make a little extra pocket money from home. Flexjobs, a top remote-work job board, has published a list of the top 100 companies hiring remote workers in 2020, which could give you an idea of where to start.
Offer to work for free
The most immediate response to this one is “Ha, No” and I totally get that when we are all a little tight on cash. But consider this…
The vast majority of companies probably aren’t hiring right now because they can’t. They may even have downsized or furloughed employees out of necessity. These companies are struggling to stay afloat and need all of the help that they can get, so why not reach out to companies you like to see how you can help for free? Especially in the case of understaffed small businesses, who would refuse free help?
In a situation in which there is basically no money flowing, it doesn’t have to be a factor in deciding what you want to do right now. In a way, it actually can give you a lot more freedom and open up some options in different industries and positions down the road.
If you’re able to make someone’s life a little easier right now, they WILL remember you when they get the green light to start hiring again. At the very least, this strategy will increase your exposure in your target industry, providing a valuable boost in your networking power later on.
In fact, since you’ve read this article on how to navigate the COVID-19 world, you’re probably our type of person. Check out the internships that we are offering this summer and mention in your application that you found us in this blog post- we respect the hustle.