If you’re a job-seeker in the time of Covid-19, you have already deduced that for many kinds of work, the market has slowed, if not halted altogether. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. Yes, we’re all stuck in limbo, losing track of the days and wondering when things will get back to normal, and what that normal will look like.
Difficult as these times are, it can help both morale and future job prospects to keep a hand in the game. This lull is a quiet time when there’s an opportunity to prepare without pressure for the future.
Seasonal workers are familiar with down time, and have learned to use it to their advantage. When winter arrives, farmers repair their machinery, and plan next year’s crops. Fishermen repair their nets. For everyone else, this time at home can be a chance to is tackle all of those tasks that there has never been time for but that are suddenly doable. In fact, if you’re like most people, you’re looking for something to do. Having an agenda provides structure and meaning to the day. And who doesn’t like to award themselves with a checkmark for a job well done?
Here are a few ideas for things you can do now to be ready when the job market heats up again:
- If you don’t have a home office, try to carve out a small space where you can pay bills, do bookkeeping, and work on professional projects. If space is at a premium, a small desk in a corner of the living or dining room works well. An unused closet can often fit a desk and file cabinet, and has the added advantage of being able to be closed off when not in use. Why is an office so important? Being able to easily access documents and materials means you won’t spend hours looking for them. It allows you to take your job search seriously, and also signals to other family members that you do so. For examples of efficient home offices in tiny spaces, check out:
- If you already have a home office, clean it up and organize as you go. Toss old samples and catalogs that are out of date or belong to a former career. Get rid of those piles that make it hard to see the top of your desk. Separate the personal items from the professional. Keeping a box or file for personal records and another for personal mementos will make the job go faster. To keep on task, leave the sorting of these things for a later date. Especially if you are looking for work in a new field, having your office reflect your new interests keeps you moving forward.
- Go through your files, and eliminate papers you no longer need, and make new files for the things you discovered during your clean-up. The more specific files you can create, the easier it will be to access relevant papers when the need arises.
Learn Even More
- Now is a great time to bone up on subjects that interest you and are relevant to the kinds of employment you are seeking. If you are looking for a job in a new field, now is a perfect time to explore further and build a base of knowledge you can draw on later during interviews. There are free online classes and podcasts on almost any subject, as well as virtually unlimited research opportunities on the web.
- No matter your area of interest, anyone can add a computer skill or two. For most people, learning a new program like Microsoft Office Suite or Sketch Up is easier when you have plenty of time and no pressure. If you have been slow to feel comfortable with a word processing program or even doing research on the internet, there’s no better time to experiment.
- Re-work or create a resume. It’s important to have one if an employer requests it, but the process of working on one can also sharpen your understanding of the skills you bring to a potential employer. If writing a resume is a distant memory, a good online guide can be found here:
- And don’t forget inspirational TED talks, at https://www.ted.com to spark your curiosity and creativity.
- Establishing a Linkedin account can help you to job hunt in a number of ways. Creating a profile helps others see your experience and skill sets, and will also send postings of relevant job opportunities your way. It’s also a way to connect with other professionals, and to widen your network. Linkedin also offers free online classes in a number of areas. To find out more, go to:
- If you do have a presence on Linkedin, there’s no time like the present to update your profile to reflect your current interests. You can also increase the number of people you follow, which is helpful in terms of both forging professional contacts as well as being exposed to new ideas from thought-leaders in your field.
Written by Kathy Hayes
If you’re over 50, live in the Hartford, CT area, and want—or need—to work until the right career opportunity arrives, check out the Seniors Job Bank. Sjbct.org It’s a non-profit community service organization that connects job seekers to businesses and households with work to be done. SJB specializes in part time and short term assignments, and there’s no charge for the referrals it facilitates.