Pandemic jobless benefits are ending, what do you do next?

Panedemic unemployment

On September 6, 2021, jobless benefits provided under the American Rescue Act are ending for 7.5 million Americans. This will affect roughly 350,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island benefit recipients. This day has been weighing heavy on many residents who have relied on enhanced unemployment compensation to get through these past 18 months. So with pandemic jobless benefits ending, what do you do next?

At surface level, the obvious answer might be “go back to work”, but we know it’s not that simple. With the elimination of so many jobs during COVID finding a new one, especially if you’re mid-career or transitioning to a new field, can feel overwhelming. Other factors like continued health concerns and trouble finding child care also pose a challenge… not to mention an 18 month gap in your work experience. You are the only one who can determine what’s best for your unique situation, but if re-entering the workforce is your solution here’s how you can prepare.

Enroll in state Back to Work Programs

First thing’s first, you are not alone on this journey. There are many free services and resources available to you. State programs are a great place to start. Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts offer impressive programs to connect jobseekers to quality education, skills training, and employment opportunities. They also provide support services like child care and transportation assistance.  

Talk to a recruiter about job opportunities

Recruiters understand that the job search process can be a hard, vulnerable place to be. They can bring some humanity, empathy, and transparency to your search, something you won’t get from simply submitting applications online. When it comes time for an interview, your recruiter will get you ready. They’ll provide pointers and coach you through some of the more difficult questions so you’re fully prepared and thoroughly informed.  

Recruiter’s also have direct relationships with local employers. They can ensure your resume gets seen by human eyes, rather than ending up in the online black hole. Your recruiter can also provide insight into new opportunities as they are often on the leading edge of trends and market movement. It’s also possible that they are working on filling jobs that you’d have no other way of knowing about and could be a good fit for you.

Look for free training

Online classes and certificates are available for just about anything these days. From understanding the “Science of Well-Being” to earning your ”Google IT Support Professional Certificate”, enrolling in an online course has so many benefits. First off, they will help you switch on parts of your brain that you may not have used in recent months and put a little polish on your rusty skills. Learning new skills and strengthening old ones helps to boost your confidence in your career, increase your chances of finding your dream job, and help you take on the working world like it’s the easiest thing you’ve ever done!

Here are a few of our favorite courses and a link to a more extensive list (courtesy of Guru99):

Address the gap in your resume

Historically, gaps on resumes have carried a negative stigma. In this time of COVID, millions of Americans were furloughed or laid off, and millions more had to leave their jobs to take care of kids or aging parents. It’s more common than ever to have extended periods of joblessness on your resume, but you still need to take care to address it professionally.

If you were laid off due to the pandemic, be honest about it. If you lie or try to hide it, recruiters will wonder what else you may be withholding. You also don’t want them to assume you were let go due to lack of job performance or some other reason. Be sure to include the reason for leaving your last position on your resume.

Consider what you did during your time off. Did you volunteer, take courses, provide care to a relative, freelance/consult, or home school your children? Highlight those experiences on your resume. List them as you would your other jobs, including job title, company name, job description, and employment dates. If you took a class, include it in the education section of your resume. By filling the employment gap, you’ll show recruiters that you are proactive and resilient.

Most importantly, be flexible with your employment options. You can lessen the length and impact of your employment gap by considering contract opportunities. These short time roles will help you keep your skills sharp and can often land you a permanent offer!