How to find a job amid the downsizing

Mawulom Nenonene
Head of Talent
Apr 07 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is spurring companies in many industries to furlough significant numbers of workers. Some have reduced staff by as much as half, while others have completely shut down. From hospitality and travel to technology, retail, and sports, companies are slashing spending and staff as their business grinds to a standstill.

Though the suddenness and scale of the downsizing can feel jarring (especially if you’re among those laid off), there are a wealth of free resources to guide your search. And startups in some businesses, such as online learning and food delivery, are hiring just to keep pace with demand.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions based on my experience in talent acquisition that may help. I’ve divided the article into two main sections. The first section offers guidance for designing and carrying out your search. The second lists resources that can help.

Section one: A marathon not a sprint

In good times and bad, treating your job search as a marathon rather than a sprint will be to your advantage. The basics — researching, planning, acting and learning as you go — apply, but try subdividing your time among them. If you set aside three hours this week for your search, you might allocate an hour apiece for research and strategy, 40 minutes for outreach, and 20 minutes to reflect.

Step 1: Research

Identify companies with healthy financials in industries that are seeing a surge in demand. Think about services that you or people you know are using — Zoom, Netflix and Instacart immediately come to mind — and then learn about the companies that offer them to find those that align with your values. Consider whether or how the company’s mission and vision resonate with you.

Try to learn as much as you can about the company’s culture and values. Sites like keyvalues.com, where engineering teams describe their company’s culture, can help. As you gather your learnings:

  • Creating a document to store and track your research can be valuable. The Muse has a handy template.

  • I also recommend setting up alerts via Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Google to notify you of openings at specific companies. Crunchbase maintains a list of companies that run largely with remote workforces, as well as a list of startups in the videoconferencing business.

If you are struggling to find openings for the type of work you did in your former job, you might consider moving to a new field. In that case, think about the skills you can bring to your work. Here are some questions that may help:

  • What can you teach?

  • What unique experiences do you have that are transferable across industries?

  • What are your natural talents?

  • What skills have you learned in your previous roles? For example, the skills needed to thrive in sales — customer service, attention to detail, the ability to communicate clearly and to build relationships — are needed in plenty of other fields as well.

As you think about fields your skills may transfer to, it helps to make a list of learnings. You might want to take your skills for a spin by signing up to teach an online class. Outschool offers an easy way to start. And if you’re looking for a gig to earn some immediate income during your search, this project — Money During Corona — can connect you with work.

Step 2: Plan

Of the companies and roles you’ve identified as possible fits, pay attention to those that excite you. Then consider how you might connect with them. Here are some tips:

  • For posted jobs, you can apply directly through their online site to start the conversation.

  • Even when you apply online, reach out to your network to see if you have connections in common. You never know until you ask who knows someone or something that can help you learn more about the company and potentially earn a referral.

  • When you reach out, remember to be courteous and direct, to share the link to the posting, and, if you’re reaching out to someone who may not remember you, remind the person how you know them.

  • Social media can be a powerful resource to reach others but use it discerningly. Besides detailing your experience, you also can use sites such as LinkedIn to establish your qualifications by writing posts that showcase your experience or insights.

  • Of course, you also can use LinkedIn to engage people who work at the company you’re targeting. Think about who the hiring manager might be. Try to determine who’s charged with recruiting for the role, or who’s on the team that you hope to join.

  • If you find someone with whom you share a second-degree connection, it’s fine to send them a request for connection, provided that you are forthright if you follow up with specific questions related to the role.

As you discover roles that match your skills and experiences, it can help to divide the postings to help you focus your energy. For example, divide the jobs in half: those that really excite you and those that you think may be a fit. You can apply for the jobs in the second group online. For the group that really excites you, you can focus on earning referrals via your network. You might identify a handful of the jobs that excite you the most for additional learning about the brand on social platforms or to look for other connections that you may have to people who work at those companies. On your tracking sheet, be sure to write the specific steps you’re taking next to each role, and remember to set aside time in your schedule to take them.

Step 3: Action

Set goals that are within your control to carry out the plan you’ve developed. For example, this week you might set out to apply online for 10 jobs, to find referrals for five of them, and to learn much more about two of the companies at the top of your list.

Create a checklist and track your work consistently. Life can get busy. You may be looking for a job while working, homeschooling your children, taking care of family members, or setting aside some time for meditation and exercise. A checklist can help you reach your goals.

Step 4: Learn

As your search proceeds, be sure to take stock of what worked and what didn’t. Take time to gather your learnings, but keep moving forward while incorporating them into your process. The information will help you decide whether to continue with a particular approach or to pivot to a new one, as well as how to fine-tune the investment of your time and resources. Remember: there is no failure, only feedback.

Section two: A rundown of resources if you’re looking for work

A number of companies, organizations and individuals have come together to build tools and compile information to assist job seekers. If you work in recruiting like I do, some of this data can be a resource for you and your team.

  • Layoffs.fyi draws on publicly available data to track layoffs at tech startups since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It includes lists of employees impacted, and companies that are still hiring as well as those that have reduced staff. If you know or learn of such layoffs, you can send the information to Layoffs.fyi for review and addition to the dataset.

  • Candor.co offers a database of available talent due to recent layoffs, in addition to a user generated database of companies that are currently freezing hiring. It’s important to note that you can also access this list from the Layoffs.fyi site.

Tools for the search

  • Covid-19 career matchmaking is designed to connect workers impacted by COVID-19 layoffs with people able to refer high-quality candidates to job opportunities. Your contact info will not be shared publicly until you double opt-in to a warm intro with someone who wants to connect

  • Getsilverlining.com is an initiative founded by the entrepreneur and founder Chris Brownridge and funded by the tech startup community. It offers a support network to tech employees affected by layoffs, together with a talent dashboard and a job board.

  • Resume review is a group of talent acquisition professionals that have come together to offer their expertise on resume reviews via Facebook.

  • Stillhiring.io is a platform created from crowdsourced data to showcase employers who are actively hiring.

  • Newcraft.io is connecting students with paid remote apprenticeships.

  • Covintern.com connects employers with interns and students with remote internships.

  • #Plusoneedge is a group of LinkedIn employees who are offering free premium accounts on the social network.

  • Oneclub.org is a Covid-19 job board with a constantly updated list of creative positions.

  • #hiringnow is a useful hashtag to search on platforms such as LinkedIn.

As devastating as the pandemic is to many people, it can open the door to new opportunities. As the examples above highlight, communities are coming together to offer support. If you’re looking for a job, I urge you to avail yourself of the resources that are out there. I also encourage you to amplify the great work underway, by sharing and, to the extent possible, contributing your time, talent and energy.

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