Employers might start asking new questions during job interviews like: “What have you learned about yourself during the COVID-19 crisis?" or "What have you done to prepare for a job during this time?”

Being laid-off or having hours cut from your workday can be devastating to you and your family. If you need it, take time to be upset and work through the situation you are experiencing. Call 211 if you need financial support, food, housing assistance, help paying your bills, or just need someone to talk to about the stress you’re experiencing. 211 is free and can connect you with available programs and services to support you right now or in the future.

When you are ready to start thinking about your next steps in finding a job in today’s environment, here is what you can tell employers you did to prepare. These steps will hopefully help you regain income quickly and feel confident you’ll stand out among other job seekers.

I maintained my well-being.

Maybe you used to wake up, shower, and have breakfast before heading into work. Try to maintain this routine or adopt a new healthy habit to replace the time it took to drive to work. Take a walk. Listen to a pre-recorded meditation. Write in a journal. Do one activity that helps you prepare for the day.

Then set time aside every day to focus on your job search, build a new skill, or expand your network. If it helps, you can even set a timer. Spend time identifying your strengths, values, and purpose using this job-seekers guide, so you can look for job opportunities to match them. Consider signing up for Project Iowa’s free four-week workshop to learn how to manage stress and build hope. Project Iowa will also start a class for job seekers this June, walking through the steps you can take to prepare for a new job.

I found new opportunities.

Some employers are busier than ever and could need someone with your strengths. To help you get started in your search, consider using these resources.

  • United Way of Central Iowa’s job-seekers guide has links within to help you get started.
  • Evelyn K. Davis Center continues to provide job placement services by phone or video conferencing. To set up an appointment, call 515-697-7700 and leave a message.
  • Sign up to be notified of available jobs in your area by filling out this form with the Palmer Group or seek out other services it offers to job seekers.

As you search for jobs, look for telecommuting or remote opportunities where you can work from home. Or reach out to employers you are interested in and know are busy right now—even if they don’t have a job posting. They may be too busy to post a job opportunity to their career page but could still use help. Keep trying! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back or hear a “no.”

I expanded my hobby or side gig into a business.

Is there a hobby or side-job you could turn into a business? Consider providing individual, virtual lessons or a web-based course to share your expertise with others for a fee. Starting a business could be a dream-job but may take time to build awareness and promote to start seeing a jump in your income.

I developed a new skill and met new people.

Are there skills you could learn to bring value to the job or career you want? Look for free online courses through providers like Coursera or read tips on how to get the job you want from The Science of People.

Update or create your LinkedIn profile and connect with people in the industry you want to be in or at the company where you want to work. Schedule phone calls or virtual meetings each week to reconnect with someone in your network or to get to know someone who could be a helpful connection in the future. Seek out virtual networking events through local chambers or in your community.

I volunteered to help nonprofits.

Volunteer in person or virtually with opportunities like those posted on United Way’s Get Connected volunteer portal to create consistency in your work experience and add to your resume.

You also can reach out to nonprofits you’re interested in supporting and offer to share your skills with them. If you go this route, keep in mind, some nonprofits may not be able to respond right away.

Learn more about the job search process.

We know the process of finding a job can be challenging, especially in today's time. United Way of Central Iowa’s Thriving Workforce initiative has developed a guide for job seekers to help you through the process. You can also connect with a job placement agency for personal support. 

View the guide

TAGS: Thriving Workforce

Sarah Welch

About The Author: Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.