Finding a job during a pandemic is not easy, but still possible

Practise your job interview the night before with a friend or family member, Monster Canada suggests. Getty Images

With a staggering number of Canadians being laid off during the COVID-19 outbreak, people who have been looking for work are finding it especially challenging.

Kareen Emery is vice-president of the recruiting firm Monster Canada, which focuses on employment trends. She says the impacts that previous recessions have had don’t even come close to what is being seen now during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not talking about a slowdown in the economy,” Emery said. “We’re talking about people unable to consume the same way. They cannot get work. It’s completely different.”

However, she pointed out that job postings on haven’t disappeared.

“There’s a decline in job postings of about five per cent,” Emery said. “Only five per cent, so it’s not like 50 per cent less jobs.”

But things are changing daily. As it stands now, some industries, like retail, are struggling. Others are holding strong, Emery said.

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“Agriculture. It is still there, it is stable,” she said. “People are still hiring and there is a need. IT [is] still very stable as well. People are at home, they’re streaming, they’re using e-comm[erce], they’re shopping online.”

Emery notes that other industries are booming in the new reality created by COVID-19, including manufacturers of medical equipment, insurance companies, logistics and transportation.

Craig Miller doesn’t work in any of those fields. However, the Edmontonian has been looking for work since April 2018 when he lost his job as a journeyman red-seal electrician.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking, gut-wrenching to go on Indeed, go on these job postings, and see nothing,” he explained.

Miller said he’s looked for work in the trades in all of the places he can think of.

“Government of Canada job bank, Indeed, Zip Recruiter, company websites, and then I know this is a thing of the past, but I’ve gone into company doors with resumes in hand,” he said.

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Last year, the father picked up some work framing houses and doing general labour. But he says that work has dried up too. He says he’s not alone and a lot of his friends in the trades are struggling.

“They’re looking at mortgage payments, car payments… the grocery bill, and there’s nothing.”

Miller asked a professional resume writer for help but is still hunting for a job.

“I’m hoping and praying for something to become available, something that shows up in terms of work in the industries that I’m trained for.”

Meaghan Dickert knows that feeling all too well. She’s just about to get her education degree.

“For us graduating, there’s now no jobs because the schools are all working remotely,” she said.

Dickert says she had work lined up as a substitute teacher for May and June but that the COVID-19 crisis saw that job disappear.

“We’re all just in the same boat of floating, waiting and wondering when we’re going to get to use these degrees,” she said.

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Emery recommends job seekers consider how their skills may transfer to other work.

“For example, if you were a waitress before, you have customer service skills,” she said.

Alternatively, she said job seekers can consider changing their resumes to reflect current demands.

In Dickert’s case, for example, that could mean something like this: “‘I’m at ease with online platforms. I’m at ease with developing online courses, but I also look forward to teaching in a class.’ It’s to show that you have this flexibility,” Emery suggested.

Another tip? Cross-reference the keywords in the job description with those in your resume.

Emery said one additional place to search for jobs, especially with small businesses, could be social media.

“Make sure you increase the pages that you’re following on social, so you’re going to know where there’s jobs close to your home,” Emery said.

She added this is also a good time to further your skills.

And if things aren’t going well, there’s always a chance things will change.

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“If today, for X reason, you’re discouraged and you’re like, ‘There’s no jobs,’ wait. Check tomorrow. Things are moving so fast,” Emery said.

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