The federal government has yet to announce their decision about extending the $600 unemployment benefits to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If those benefits go away, what will that mean for your career? Are you prepared to find a new job, or possibly even change careers?
By the time we know for sure what's happening with the federal unemployment extension, you may be behind in the job search process compared to the competition. So, it's in your best interest to begin positioning yourself for career success now.
Here are some tips for setting yourself up for career success once the $600 federal unemployment benefits end.
1. Optimize Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile
If you've been putting off updating your resume or optimizing your LinkedIn profile while unemployed, it's time to get down to business. We know it was easy to procrastinate when the whole world shut down for a few months and went into quarantine, but the reality is, the pandemic won't last forever. When we're safely out of COVID-19's reach, and the federal unemployment benefits end, you will have to face some hard truths about your career.
This is difficult. We understand how crushing unemployment can be. The good news is that once you optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile, you'll have momentum pushing you in the right direction.
Get all of your career materials in order. Make sure you're focusing on your relevant skills and the skillsets that'll be in demand after COVID-19. This will help you articulate your specialty or "service" you provide to employers to show your value immediately, the moment they glance at your resume or view your LinkedIn profile.
Also, make sure your resume can get past the ATS. If it can't do that, all your job applications will be a waste of time.
2. Think About Your Career Goals
Many people have used downtime in quarantine to reflect on their lives and their careers—unemployed or not. The disruption caused by COVID-19 coupled by the thin security blanket of federal unemployment benefits has created the perfect space for a lot of professionals to think about where they are in their careers, what they want to achieve, and whether they're happy or not.
Are you in the same boat? If you haven't thought about your career goals in a while, starting to think about them now will help you figure out your next career move. Do you want to change careers? Do you want to find a similar job to the one you had before becoming unemployed? Are you forced to change careers due to COVID-19 and finally have an opportunity to pursue your dreams?
It's important to have short and long-term goals. Reflect on your career and be honest with yourself. Where do you want to be next year? In five years? Getting clear on your goals will make it easier to position yourself for career success, no matter which industry you're in.
3. Create An Interview Bucket List
An interview bucket list is a list of 10 to 20 companies that you would love to work for that also hire for your skill sets. If you're passionate about a product or service they provide, connect with their mission, or are inspired by their innovation and great company culture, then the company probably belongs on your list.
One of the most effective ways to find a job even in the toughest of times is to create an interview bucket list and then try to network your way into those companies by connecting with current employees on LinkedIn. The purpose of an interview bucket list is to help you be intentional with your networking and job search so you don't waste your time. You should have an interview bucket list whether you're secure in your job or not.
Since federal unemployment benefits probably won't be extended, knowing which companies to target in your job search now will help you be more efficient and land a job quicker.
4. Learn How To Write A Disruptive Cover Letter
Nothing will make you stand out to employers more than a disruptive cover letter. And in the age of COVID-19, standing out in the job search has never been more important and vital to your career.
With the federal unemployment benefits ending soon, more people will be looking for a job than during all of quarantine. Depending on where you live, your local economy could be opening back up again, attracting more job seekers than usual due to mass layoffs earlier in the year.
A disruptive cover letter is the key to standing out from all this competition. The best disruptive cover letters tell a story. A compelling one, too.
The story you tell should explain why you feel connected to the company while also emphasizing what you are excited about doing if you get the position. Even if you don't have the exact experience they're looking for in a job candidate, you can usually make up for it with enthusiasm and a great connection story.
5. Cut Spending Where You Can (If You Haven't Already)
One thing is for certain: COVID-19 made us realize how quickly everything can change. Those who have been laid off now need to figure out how they will manage financially when the $600 unemployment benefits end.
Hopefully when the COVID-19 pandemic first started, you doubled down on expenses, prioritized saving money, and cut any unnecessary spending to better prepare yourself for any financial uncertainty coming your way. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to get serious about a budget, in case your job search takes longer than expected.
Don't forget to review your bills to ensure you're still using the services you're paying for. If you can live without them, why not get rid of them until you feel secure in your career again? The extra money will help ease your financial concerns a little as you look for a new job.
Whether the federal government approves an extension of the $600 unemployment benefits or not, you should be ready to jump back into the job market with all the necessary tools under your belt.
If you want to position yourself for career success after COVID-19, just follow the five tips above.
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