Tips for Finding a Job in a Recession

An illustration of a man holding up a "need a job" sign during the pandemic
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In addition to the loss of life, the biggest impact of the coronavirus has been the massive loss of jobs in America. 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate to nearly 15 percent, the highest numbers since The Great Depression. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that things will get bleaker, saying on Fox News that unemployment numbers are “going to get worse before they get better.”

Unemployment benefits have helped make some out-of-work individuals whole again. The CARES Act included $250 billion in unemployment benefits and has been a critical piece of relief. However, if you’re looking for a new role, it can be challenging to find work when the economy is slumping. Fewer companies hire and more people apply, meaning you may have to do more to stand out. Here are some tips for job hunting during a recession.

Network and Communicate 

Personal connections are crucial to landing a job, especially during recessions when the hiring process might be a bit dried up. Usually just submitting your resume through job boards won’t help you much. Now is the time to reach out to anyone in your network who might be able to lend a hand and let them know you’re looking.

LinkedIn is a great tool to help you stay connected with former colleagues or classmates. In addition, whenever you apply for a position you should try to find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and reach out to her or him directly. The extra work can make a major difference in a job hunt.

Locate a Company, Then a Job

When you’re searching for a job during an economic slump, it can feel like you’re backed into a corner if there aren’t many positions you’re interested in. That can lead to taking a job at the wrong company, which might put you back in the same position after a few months. To hopefully find a job that sticks, prioritize who you’re working for over what you’re doing.

Don’t discount the job title entirely, obviously, but it’s more important you find a firm that aligns with your values and goals. Find companies that excite you and would be a good fit, and reach out about potential openings. Even if there isn’t anything perfect available, you might still be able to apply your skills to a different position and work your way up. This strategy helps ensure you land somewhere you’re happy about and potentially stay longer.

Think Outside The Box

Standing out is the name of the game when you’re applying for jobs, especially during recessions. That’s a challenge, but it presents opportunities for you to think creatively about your job prospects and come up with solutions to solve them. Stepping outside your comfort zone is important. To stay afloat, you may have to consider things you hadn’t before. Maybe try freelancing if you have the capability, or step out of your industry and apply to non-profits or government positions.

Often companies aren’t looking for a perfect match based on resume, but want problem solvers who are eager to grow into roles. Even demonstrating your willingness to change by stepping out of your industry can raise eyebrows and draw interest, as long as you’re not applying for a job you’re totally unqualified for.

Work on Your Resume

Whether you have connections at a company or are applying cold, your resume is still the best way to really get your foot in the door. Without a strong resume, it’s hard to make it past a hiring manager’s desk. Writing a strong resume is a crucial step to landing a job, especially during an economic downturn.

Remember that although your resume is a list of your work experience, it’s also your best chance to sell yourself. Space is limited since your resume should be one page, but expand on your responsibilities from past jobs to fill out your resume. Also, tweak your resume based on the job you’re applying for by prioritizing more relevant work.

Keep At It

Hunting for jobs can be discouraging even under the best circumstances. Applying to tons of jobs usually means tons of rejection, so it’s important to stay positive and keep working until you find what works for you. Mindset is half the battle, and staying optimistic can prevent you from making rushed, poor decisions and help you stay the course until you find the right job.