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3 Strategies For Job Searching In A Pandemic-Induced Recession


By some measures, unemployment in the U.S. is approaching 20%. By others, it is "literally off the charts.

A recent episode of Fast Company's Secrets of the Most Productive People podcast tackled the intimidating prospect of job hunting in the midst of the pandemic-induced recession.

Bisnow spoke to a commercial real estate recruiter for additional input on how to land a new opportunity despite the state of the industry.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Focus On The Short-Term

As Talent Inc. CEO and founder Jeff Berger wrote for Fast Company, don’t be afraid to consider short-term moves.

"Think about what you can do today, or during the next 30, 60 and 90 days," Berger said. "This is not about forever, it’s about right now. No one will penalize you for taking a job outside of your field or career path for a little while."

CRE Recruiting founder and principal Allison Weiss agreed that, ultimately, a hiatus or detour on a résumé is less likely than ever to be a red flag for an employer. "I have had clients in the past who’ve been really sensitive to movement," she said. "They want to see a certain number of years of experience. That becomes more difficult to come by with every passing year."

For older generations, job-hopping was significant, she said. Longevity at a job spoke of someone’s loyalty and integrity, whereas frequent moves were perceived as an indicator of the opposite traits. "Younger generations don’t exhibit that same decision-making or have those same patterns in their backgrounds.

"Some of those companies and hiring managers I’ve worked with in the past are realizing it’s not worth missing out on someone very qualified just because they don’t have a narrative," she said. "If you can walk them through the narrative, as long as everything can be explained, people are more willing to ask the question and listen thoughtfully to the answer than to have a knee-jerk reaction and not give them an interview."

A short-term move may mean thinking outside the box about one's role or shifting sectors, but even if it means briefly changing industries, Dorianne St. Fleur, diversity and inclusion strategist and host of the podcast Deeper Than Work, recommended looking for ways your short-term position could fit into your longer-term employment narrative no matter the industry.

"In general, think about: How does this next move translate into the next, next move?" she told Fast Company. "And while you’re doing this temporary role, still keep those skills growing in the field you want to go back to. Put out the thought leadership, develop skills, pay attention to the market so that it’s not such a big shock" if and when you want to transition back, she said.

2. Think Creatively

“If we were in a normal situation, I would start with let’s dig into your history, your background,” St. Fleur said. “But now before that step, let’s research the different markets and industries. A lot of people are concerned about making money at the moment.” 

She named healthcare, logistics and shipping, and food supply as a few industries that, while the rest of the economy may be withering, are experiencing surges of opportunity.

Whether it’s healthcare or last-mile logistics or spots for ghost kitchens, Weiss agreed that there are industries — while everything else seems to be retracting or collapsing — that are on the brink of thriving. The trick is identifying them and figuring out how your skills align.

“I think a lot of people who experienced the last recession were stockpiling capital and have a lot of dry powder to deploy as soon as these materials materialize,” Weiss said. “They’re interested in hiring up for that.

“There were a lot of people who saw this movie 10 years ago, although it was a totally different one, they said ‘We’re going to plan for the next time, so we can capitalize on it,’" Weiss added. "There are companies who are incredibly well-positioned for this moment."

3. Keep Networking (Online)

Especially when starting out or switching industries, it can be hard to know where to begin looking for opportunities, Fast Company Deputy Editor Kathleen Davis said. In times of steep competition, the trope that 'it isn't what you know, it's who you know,' has never been more frustratingly true.

"Since those physical events aren’t coming back anytime soon," she said, "digital networking events or reaching out to people digitally" could be make or break for many job seekers.

St. Fleur agreed that "engaging your network” is more important than it has ever been. “You cannot rely on just what you see posted," she said. "Speak to the people around you. Ask for help. Tell people ‘I am doing this kind of work today, I am interested in doing more of the same — or possibly something else.'"