Get hired during an economic downturn
Unemployment is at an all-time high and right now, it's harder to get hired than years and decades past. But all hope is not lost. There are ways to get noticed and separate yourself, and to get the job, even when job openings are scarce.
First, consider these encouraging statistics: According to a recent study by SHRM (the Society for Human resource Management), among 2,278 members, 17% of employers were expanding their businesses and 13% were hiring. In addition, according to its annual global CEO survey, PwC found 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of skills in their respective workforces.
The bottom line: Companies need great employees with strong skills to grow their businesses. Particularly those who are unafraid to take an unconventional and bold approach.
So how can you get hired when it seems no one is hiring? Establishing a strong start to your process is key, along with finding the best ways to leverage your network, your creativity, and your distinctive skill sets.
As the job market has contracted, employers have more choices, so they can select the cream-ofthe-crop candidates.However, wherever you are in your career progression, stay on top of your area of expertise. Develop the newest skills critical to the type of role you want to land.
Set the bar high. Commit real energy into your network.
Networking is one of the nonnegotiables if you're going to get hired. It's critical to tap into the hidden job market and nurture connections that will introduce you to hiring managers. Reach out to people who you know well, but also focus on building links with people who are new acquaintances. Known as “weak ties,” people you know less well can inform you about a new opening simply because they have exposure outside of you and your typical, more condensed network.
Take on that inventive mindset.
Consider recommending a new role, a contribution, or a skill set you believe the company needs but may not have thought of themselves. A manufacturing company may need an expert in plant layout to reduce virus transmission, or a retail store may need someone who can innovate creative ways to welcome customers while social distancing.
Another way to get in the door may be to offer the company the opportunity to give you a test run. A friend of mine offered to work for free for eight weeks so the company could test her skills and her fit. Another friend offered to do a salaried job on a commission-only basis for three months to prove herself to the company. While these strategies will generally work better with smaller, less formal companies, they may be worth a try at even larger firms.
Articulate your fit.
When you talk to a potential employer, tell your story in a compelling way. Resist the temptation to just go through a list of your previous roles. According to Angela Burke, president of Palladian West, an executive recruiting firm, it is especially effective to pull out themes from your experience.
Perhaps you're a skilled problemsolver or someone who is especially organized or the one person who can energize a team. Highlight these kinds of strengths across your experiences.
In a tight job market, it is best to play to your existing strengths. Deborah Rousseau, lead talent acquisition partner for Poly, a telecommunications company, says “You'll be competing with people who already have skills in the area where you may be trying to grow, so this isn't the time to try and stretch to a job beyond your current skill set. Instead, emphasize your existing core competencies.”
Attract recruiters with an exacting résumé.
In every role, you'll be a member of a team and how you play will matter. Burke says, “Think about the team you'll join and market yourself based on what you bring to the team and how you will add something unique and valuable.” Also be specific about the role. Rousseau says, “Customize your résumé for each role by highlighting your relevant experience in a summary or as the top bullets in your work history. You can also identify the specific position to which you're applying at the top. Recruiters are moving quickly, so make it easy for them to see the match.”
There's another pandemic underway right now, and it is spreading fast, according to the FBI. It's financial identity theft, triggered by the millions of dollars being doled out quickly by disorganized and unsuspecting state unemployment offices.
The odds are that your financial information is out there somewhere on the “dark web” — stolen in the Equifax breach, the Target breach or the myriad of other leaks of personal financial information. Now, the netherworld has figured out a use for your stolen name, address, Social Security number and birthdate.
They are applying for unemployment insurance, using your information but directing the benefits to newly opened bank accounts using their own email addresses. In an era of online banking, you might never know that a claim was filed and an account was opened in your name.
Many people have received debit cards purporting to be filled with benefits from state unemployment offices — even though recipients are often elderly and have never applied for benefits. The FBI suspects the thieves have “inside” help, allowing them to syphon off the money or redirect it to fraudulent checking accounts.
Another fast-growing aspect of the scam involves fraudsters using stolen credit information to apply for small business loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which has been swamped with aid requests. Individuals checking their credit reports have found “hard inquiries” from the SBA and then learned loans were taken out in their name.
Just assume that your identity is out there on the dark web. Your job is to control the way thieves can use it. So take these steps:
Put a freeze and a fraud alert on your credit report at each of the three credit bureaus. There is no charge for this service. It means no one can inquire about your credit or open new accounts. You'll receive a PIN to ‘unfreeze' your account if you need access to refinance your mortgage or for a job interview or other purpose. You'll find direct links to the bureaus at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Read your credit report. Look for newly opened accounts, as well as “inquiries” from financial companies, banks and even out-of-state unemployment offices. Bank accounts do not show up on your credit report. But an inquiry from a bank might mean someone tried to open an account in your name. Contact that bank to make sure it didn't happen.
Report any fraudulent attempts to use your credit information. It is almost impossible to get through to state unemployment agencies to report fraud. Police and local authorities have other problems to deal with.
The best authority to report this kind of fraud to is the FBI, using these contacts: 1-800-CALL-FBI or www.tips.FBI.gov.
The FBI will have at least two people review any tips either to the hotline or to this web address.
Keep records of your attempts to report suspected fraud. Take a screenshot of your attempt to report fraud to unemployment agencies, police and even to the FBI. This will be an important record of the fact that you did not receive money from these scams.
It's scary to think of yourself as an identity theft victim. Even worse, most people won't even know their personal information has been used for fraud. That is, they won't know until early next year when they receive a 1099-G tax form from the government informing they must pay income taxes on money that was allegedly sent to them.
That will be a huge hassle to unwind — and the IRS is readying systems to deal with this problem. And that's when records of your attempt to report a fraud will be helpful in convincing the government you never received the money.
Federal officials have no idea of how far and deep this identity theft pandemic has swept the nation. Like COVID-19 testing, many victims of ID theft are asymptomatic — never imagining that it could happen to them. That's why it's so important to read, and then freeze your credit report.
And that's The Savage Truth.