Coronavirus Chills the Job Market: What You Can Do

There’s no sugar-coating it, folks. While the full extent of the COVID-19 crisis is not yet known, it is already clear that the impact on the job market will be massive. We do not want to discourage anyone, and to be fair, we do know of a few industries that have not changed their hiring plans yet. But, we do want you to be informed and prepared. The list of industries that are consumed by their COVID response efforts and where hiring is on hold is long and certainly expected to grow.

With the president promising to send relief checks to every American, there’s no denying we are now in a crisis of historic proportions. Companies of all shapes and sizes will be grappling with all sorts of emergency issues, not the least of which is simply staying afloat during this turbulent time. Unfortunately, layoffs — not hiring — will be front and center in the short term.

What does it mean for job seekers? It can seem like a gut-punch. A couple of weeks ago, you were chugging along, sending resumes, making contacts with prospective employers, and doing exactly what you should be doing to find a job. And now this, an emergency that’s totally beyond your (or anyone’s) control. What now? It might feel to you as though everything has ground to a halt.

At GetFive, we’re telling our clients, first and foremost, prepare yourself mentally for a longer job search. Second, consider your finances and assess the changes that need to be made to lengthen the runway. Third, make sure you are taking steps to make yourself a better candidate for the inevitable thaw.

For a job seeker, the news of a sharp reduction in hiring activity is a tough message to receive. But, you’re not the only one in this boat. You may experience delays or cancellations of upcoming interviews. Don’t take it personally. Don’t be discouraged. It is going to take a while, but things will normalize and growth will return. Things WILL turn around.

Until then, here’s what you can do:

  • Be realistic. We are likely to be in this environment for a period of months, not weeks.
  • Be conservative. Manage your expenditures prudently. You may be unemployed for longer than you anticipated. Doing a quick update on your budget is crucial.
  • Keep in touch with hiring managers. Let them know you’re still out there. Express support as they navigate this crisis. Remember that they may be at home managing challenges of their own. Don’t be surprised if they don’t respond. Be polite and constructive if they do, even if the news isn’t great.
  • Consider a Plan B. According to veteran GetFive coach Teri Coyne, if your finances dictate it, look at jobs that are off of your beaten career path. There are services greatly in need in this economy, such as delivery and help lines.
  • Jump into the Gig Economy. There is a multi-billion dollar marketplace for project-based services, from accounting & consulting to design & creative to sales & marketing and beyond. Try leading sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
  • Invest in yourself. This is a great time to upskill. You can take online classes on any number of platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, Udemy and edX. Your library may offer a surprising number of resources for free. Learn new skills or improve existing ones. What is it that you wished you knew more about? The goal is to be a more valuable asset to an employer when this crisis ends than when it started.
  • Improve your knowledge of the industry you are targeting by reading relevant books. For example, if it is autos or aerospace, read American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company.
  • Check out some of the better business books that will make for great conversation starters when the interviewing window opens up again. Consider these recommendations from veteran GetFive coach Jack Kirnan: The Future of Work by Darrell West (2018); The Corporate Lattice by Cathleen Benko and Molly Anderson (2011); The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAffe (2014); Machine Platform Crowd by Erik Brynjolfsson (2018); Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse (2019), Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (2017); Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. (2017); Switchers by Dawn Graham (2018); Springboard by G. Richard Shell (2016); The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch (2018); Zucked by Roger McNamee (2019); Autonomy by Lawrence Burns (2019); or Digital Transformation by Thomas Siebel (2019).
  • Stay in shape both physically and mentally. Perhaps you can combine this point with the one just above by taking a long walk while listening to an audiobook.
  • Volunteer. If you’re healthy, think about ways you can help out in your community. Some school districts are packing and distributing school lunches to students during this time. Food shelves need donations.


Above all, stay as positive as you can. At GetFive, we’re here to help.

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