Over the past 10 days, the U.S. economy has been rocked by corona virus pandemic. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the corona virus outbreak could eliminate 3 million jobs in the United States by summer, and the United Nations estimates that nearly 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide.
Still, some are optimistic that hiring will continue in select industries that have not been negatively impacted by coronavirus.
Amazon recently announced it is hiring an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. to meet a surge in demand from online shopping.
“Though the outbreak is impacting the way we work, it’s not impacting our business needs — and as a result, hiring needs are still crucial and open positions still need to be filled to continue providing strong business outcomes and value,” Peter Baskin, chief product officer at Modern Hire explains to CNBC Make It.
CNBC Make It spoke with job seekers and industry experts to see what it’s like to look for a job during the pandemic.
A shockingly tough job market
Looking for a new job is uniquely difficult during the coronavirus outbreak because many organizations are laying off employees and traditional ways of hiring have also been disrupted.
Cheryn Shin, a senior at Wellesley College majoring in English and creative writing, says she has spent the past few months looking for a full-time job to start after graduation. But because of the pandemic, her job search has become even harder.
“It feels like even fewer companies are looking to hire,” she says.
Jasmyne Keimig is a culture writer living in Seattle, a so-called “hot spot” for corona virus. She was recently laid off from her job writing at The Stranger, a biweekly newspaper, due to a drop in revenue.
“When I got suddenly laid off by The Stranger, it was shocking,” Keimig tells CNBC Make It. “Though my employers encouraged me to get on unemployment, I was very aware that I was dropped into a tumultuous job market along with thousands of other people in similar situations.”
“On top of that, much of the casual and part-time labor I’d relied on previously had dried up due to the social distancing measures in place,” she says. “It was a devastating blow both professionally and financially. My community has been extremely supportive of me and for that I’m thankful.”
Workers in the service industry have been hit particularly hard.
Natalee Cruz was working as a hostess at the New York City restaurant Chinese Tuxedo when it was required to close on Monday, March 16. She says managementstarted a GoFundMe to raise donations for the staffand promised to rehire everyone once they can re-open.
Without her primary job and no firm date for when restaurants will be allowed to re-open in New York, Cruz is supporting herself with a part-time freelance writing position that pays $975 every two weeks.
“It doesn’t feel like I can look for other jobs right now. There’s just so much uncertainty going on, and I don’t think this is necessarily a hiring market,” she tells CNBC Make It. “The biggest battle we need to be fighting right now is containment. It’s not going to be comfortable, but I can find a way to get by.”
Technological growing pains
While the future of the job market remains unpredictable, what is certain is that how workers are hired has changed — starting with the interview process.
“In response to COVID-19, many companies such as Twitter, Google, Amazon, Target, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, have switched over to video interviews for job candidates,” Kathy Gardner, senior director of public relations for job site FlexJobs tells CNBC Make It.
Gardner stresses that applicants need to give themselves additional time before an interview to adjust to the technology, and they should consider factors such as audio settings, camera settings and internet connection strength.
The technological transition from in-person to online interviews is expected to be bumpy for many workers and employers.
“As more and more of the workforce is working from home indefinitely due to COVID-19, HR teams will rely more heavily on video interviewing, which will lead to the need to reevaluate the technology that they’re using,” says Baskin. “While tools like Hangouts, Zoom or GoToMeeting are convenient, they’re not designed to fit interviewing needs — which could, in turn, impact the quality of the interview, and eventually, the quality of the candidates being hired.”
He says that in the future, companies will develop virtual interview platforms that cater to their organization’s specific needs, whether that’s group interview or test administration capabilities.
And this technological transition brings a new host of best practices that applicants need to consider during an interview.
“Make sure you present yourself well virtually. It’s not enough to just dress nicely, you want to demonstrate that you are adaptable in any environment,” Brian Buck, CEO of Scotwork North America, a negotiation consulting firm, tells CNBC Make It.
Additionally, applicants need to consider how their body language comes across on screen, especially since being at home can lure them into a false sense of informality.
“Place both feet on the ground, and avoid doing things like slouching or holding your head up with your hand. And always try to keep your hands in your lap to avoid distracting gesturing or fiddling,” says Gardner. “It’s also important to pay attention to where you’re looking. Looking at the interviewer’s face on your computer screen means you’re not actually looking into the camera and making eye contact.”
A disadvantage while negotiating
For those workers who do manage to land a new role, they may be at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating for their salary and benefits because of the current labor market and economy.
In the near term, negotiating could be harder for applicants “as companies are working through understanding all the impacts of COVID-19 on their business,” says Buck. “However, as companies become accustomed to the new normal, it will get easier to have these types of conversations.”
“My advice is to be mindful of the other party’s situation and pick the appropriate course of action,” he says. “In the industries that are being negatively impacted, the right course of action might be to pause. In the industries that are experiencing positive impacts, the right course of action might be to be proactive and push your agenda.”
Job seekers should research how much an organization typically pays for a given role and be prepared to provide clear evidence for why they are deserving of their desired salary.
“Don’t be afraid to tell them what you want. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll be able to anchor the negotiation in your favor,” says Buck. “But be realistic while being optimistic.”
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