We are now into several weeks of our New York State shut down (except for our much-appreciated essential workers – a huge Thank You to all of them!) due to COVID-19. We are, however, facing a very interesting situation regarding job openings. While some industries have been hit very hard and forced into a furlough or position elimination situation, there are many companies in the Western New York area that are hiring and struggling to fill their open postings.
What many area companies are unfortunately finding is that their position postings are not being responded to by area Job Seekers. The number of applicants received is much lower than prior to the crisis when unemployment was extremely low. If you are experienced and skilled in one specific industry that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, then you may have an “excuse” for not job searching. As for many people, their skills are either transferable or based on an industry such as Human Services, Healthcare, or Skilled Trade that are still hiring.
There are several reasons that Job Seekers have delayed their search that appear to not be based on sound logic. By this statement, we are not referring to a person that is directly impacted by COVID-19 or a caretaker of someone infected, it is fully understandable or expected that he/she would temporarily drop out of the labor market. Unfortunately for others, the delay in searching for work is based on believing in myths or perhaps not fully understanding the situation.
So, let’s explore some of the reasons someone may not be immediately starting their job search and offer some counter guidance as to why the job search should continue.
• The Government Will Take Care of You – Currently the state unemployment benefit is being supplemented with $600 from the Federal Government. This extra money is temporary and, as the Federal Government struggles with the massive debt brought on by this COVID-19 stimulus, the focus is on states going back to work and not more federal money. If you wait until the supplemental money ends to start your search, then you will be joining all the other people who are doing the same thing.
• Not Factoring Other “Costs” of Being Out – While the $600 provided by the Federal Government is certainly a nice welcome addition for those out of work, these dollars can be quickly absorbed by the loss of medical benefits if you find yourself in this situation. Being out of work also means that you are not saving for retirement or accruing PTO. There are lots of “benefits” to working, beyond the compensation.
• I Will Be Brought Back by My Employer – If you had your position eliminated, then a return is very unlikely. If you are laid off, then there are still no guarantees that you will return. For those on a furlough, there are many components, such as your company’s specific financial health to the status of the economy, that must be factored into any equation. Some employers are using this situation as a reason to examine their current processes and staffing to determine if efficiencies can be found and, therefore, less people will be needed permanently. The theme of this bullet point is to not assume you will be brought right back.
• This Crisis Will End Soon and I Will be Right Back to Work – This situation is unprecedent and no one knows what will happen and by when. It seems to be an unnecessary gamble to believe that this situation will be over soon, and the economy will rebound quickly afterwards. Instead, you can leapfrog everyone else by continuing to seek employment and providing yourself a competitive advantage.
• No One Is Hiring – I believe I debunked that theory earlier in this week’s column. There are several Western New York companies in many different industries that have openings. Is it as many as before? Obviously, the answer to that question is “No”, but the candidate competition is significantly lower now for you. Your odds may be as good (or even better) than before the crisis.
This is currently uncharted waters for all of us, including those in a job search. As noted above, there are several reasons to not follow the majority and to begin your job search. The biggest thing of all, however, is to stay safe!
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional