Friday, October 2, 2020

Your COVID-19 Job Hunt



How hiring has changed, and what that means for you

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered how employers hire, what jobs their filling, and what they seek in applicants. If you’re job hunting, you’ll face new hurdles, but you also might benefit from new advantages for older applicants. Keep all this in mind as you search.


Now is a great time to network. “It’s much easier to reignite something.” says Barbara Safani, an executive coach and head of Career Solvers in New York City. “This is one of the few moments you can go back to somebody you haven’t talked to in years and say, ‘How are you?’ and be real and authentic about it.” Talk will naturally turn to the other person’s job and how his or her company is doing, she says. “The transition will be almost automatic and won’t be awkward.” People seem to be more responsive to outreach, Safani adds. “They’re craving being with other people, and they can’t do it in the traditional sense.”


A lengthy career can work in your favor …

“Companies that are in trouble need experienced people,” says Emory Mulling, chairman of a career consulting and executive coaching firm in Atlanta. “During the recession, people we worked with did very well because companies needed experience to keep them afloat or turn them around. The same is true now.” Long established, old-lined companies tend to be more open to older applicants, says Marty Nemko, a career consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. And businesses aimed to at older customers may want older sales and marketing staff, he says, to attract their own age as clients.


… and other societal changes may help, too…

At many companies, hiring often comes down to gut decisions. But, says Stefani, the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements will likely push companies toward more structured interview processes that better account for unconscious bias, perhaps benefiting older applicants.


…but age discrimination hasn’t gone away. Companies may be reluctant to hire older workers until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they’d never admit to it, says Nancy Collamer, a career and retirement coach who runs, “Ageism, even without COVID, is a reality of the interview process,” she says. “You always want to be very conscious of trying to appear as fit and energetic as possible.”


You may need to pivot to a different field. “Some jobs are not coming back, or they’re morphing into something else,” Safani says. “You have to think about how your skills can translate to other industries.”


Your search could be really slow … or really quick. Through job searches for older professionals typically take about six to nine months, be prepared to add another three months to that schedule, Safani says. In contrast, hiring has picked up at businesses seeking hands-on hourly workers after temporary closures, or to meet extra demand. Are you comfortable working in person? The government’s July jobs report, though still reflecting one of the highest unemployment rates in decades, showed large job increases at bars and restaurants, clothing stores and temporary help services. Drug stores, delivery services and distribution centers have also been hiring.


Remote working can expand your opportunities. If you can do your job remotely, you’ll now have more options throughout the country, since organizations might now be open to letting you work from home. Remote work also puts the focus on productivity. “Companies consider, ‘Is this someone I want to have lunch or beer with?’” Collamer says. “If you’re working from home, that dynamic is removed.”


By Kimberly Lankford

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