How to find a pandemic-proof job during the coronavirus outbreak if you’ve been laid off or furloughed

For the millions of Americans who have lost work because of the coronavirus pandemic, finding a new job may not be an easy feat.


The coronavirus pandemic has caused the U.S. economy to lose more than 20 million jobs, and some estimate that the unemployment rate in the country could actually be as high as 24%. Low-wage workers, such as those who work in restaurants or retail, have been among the hardest hit.


“The industries that are most subject to these sways are lower wage jobs,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.


With so many people out of work, the prospect of finding a good-paying job isn’t straightforward. “It’s not like the safer, more recession-proof jobs pay less,” Gould said. “They’re already the jobs that were in higher demand before all of this happened.”


Workers in states that are reopening sectors of their economy are having success finding jobs again, and some estimate that the U.S. has regained as many as 5 million jobs it had lost.


‘It’s not like the safer, more recession proof jobs pay less. They’re already the jobs that were in higher demand before all of this happened.’

— Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute


Whether those jobs are here to stay though may depend on whether the U.S. ends up seeing a second wave of COVID-19 cases. Some have suggested that returning to work could lead to more people contracting the virus and spreading it to others.

If that happens, and workers lose their jobs again, they may be at the mercy of lawmakers in terms of receiving extended unemployment benefits. And regardless the scenario, some Americans who are at a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 might rightfully be worried about getting a new job that could put them at risk of contracting it.


Here are the tips for employment experts on how to approach finding a new job in the midst of a pandemic:

Find out who is hiring — some companies are still taking on new workers

While millions of people are out of work because of the coronavirus, that doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs out there. In fact some companies such as Amazon AMZN, +0.24% and Walmart WMT, -0.37%, have been ramping up hiring to meet new demand created by the pandemic.


“I’m encouraging people to look in industries that haven’t been hard hit, but also industries that are thriving,” said Abby Kohut, a recruiting consultant based in New York.


Think pharmaceutical and biomedical companies researching vaccines or treatments like Gilead GILD, +1.55%, the maker of remdivisir. Or communication technology companies like Zoom ZM, +7.58% that have boomed in popularity. There’s even been hiring growth in the bidet industry, as consumers look for alternatives to toilet paper, said EB Sanders, a career coach based in San Francisco who specializes in working with creative types.


Another route: Jobs associated with logistics and delivery. While retailers have closed their physical stores in many cases, online shopping has boomed as people are staying at home.


These jobs, which are often temporary, often don’t require special skill sets, Sanders said. “Basically, do you have basic customer service skills, and can you operate within a larger company structure? And they’re really willing to take on people that they know are coming from different backgrounds.”

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