As of May 14, over 36 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment. And the number has consistently grown every week since the coronavirus crisis started. Many jobs that seemed stable mere weeks ago now feel precarious. And many marketers that thought they could depend on their positions have already been laid off or furloughed.
It’s a particularly hard time to be an unemployed marketer. Job postings are more competitive than ever, and many people have to balance the job search with child care and other responsibilities. Even those who still have work may feel they’re on a precipice—with layoffs rampant across many industries, your job could go at any moment.
If you’re scared right now, you’re not alone. And while there are things you can’t control, there are also steps you can take now to ensure the effects of this crisis don’t hurt your career any more than necessary.
1. Research industries are still in demand.
The impact of Covid-19 has not been even across industries. Some, like restaurants and airlines, have been hit especially hard. But others are doing fine or even thriving. Companies with products that help workers telecommute are busier than ever, and grocery stores and delivery apps are slammed.
There are still businesses hiring out there. Shifting your career aspirations toward an industry in need boosts your chances of finding work. Do some digging to learn which industries have stayed strong. Consulting research released by companies like IBISWorld and VerticalQ is a good place to start.
2. Check in with your network.
Your network will always be your best career resource. Use this as an opportunity to contact friends and colleagues to check in. Don’t lead with asking for work—you don’t want people to feel like you only reach out when you need something. Also check in on how they are and what they need, and consider setting up a Zoom coffee to catch up. As long as you don’t make it all about what you need from them, it’s OK to mention what you’re looking for and ask colleagues to keep you in mind if they see relevant opportunities.
3. Keep networking (online).
In addition to tapping into the network you already have, keep building on it. While in-person networking events are out, professional communities have shifted to offering digital events. Take part in Zoom happy hours, industry Twitter chats, and relevant Slack communities. Contacts you make online can be just as valuable as those you meet in person.
4. Create a strategy.
When you have a boss expecting you to accomplish tasks on deadline, you stay on top of them. For many, it’s harder to keep that kind of momentum going when managing your own goals. But if there’s one thing marketers know, it’s that success is more likely when you start with a strategy.
A strategy helps you clarify what you want to achieve and how to get there. If you’re deadline-driven, create a list of specific action items and attach clear deadlines to all of them to keep you focused. Digital marketing professional Jeremy Bednarski says his job search plan is the #1 most helpful document he’s put together. It keeps you on task and helps you prioritize your efforts.
5. Work on your own online brand.
When it comes to building a career, marketers have an edge on most other industries. Branding know-how is part of the job. Use the knowledge that’s made you a great marketer for employers to build your personal brand. Update your profile on LinkedIn. Choose a few social sites and start connecting with people in your industry, sharing useful articles, and contributing your thoughts to relevant conversations.
Consider pitching guest posts to publications in your industry to prove your expertise to a larger audience. Or if you’re willing to put the time in and have a lot to say, start your own website and blog. All of this can help you get onto the radar of people in your industry and help you prove your worth to your next potential boss.
6. Volunteer with professional organizations.
Many professional organizations are run by volunteers. That means they’re always looking for people to help out. Professional volunteer positions are a fantastic way to build your network, earn some goodwill with others involved in the organization, and bulk up your experience in new areas. If there’s a new skill you’d like to develop, chances are there’s a professional organization that needs someone to take on that task.
Do some research into the top professional organizations in your industry and geographic region. Reach out about your interest in volunteering and the type of work you’d like to help with. Then be sure to add the experience to your LinkedIn profile and resume.
7. Look for freelance opportunities.
Freelancing is a good way to give a boost to your bank account, and flesh out your work experience at the same time. Make use of your network and professional communities to look for freelance opportunities that are a good fit for your current skills, as well as any to help you build new skills relevant to your career aspirations.
Be careful on sites like Upwork and Elance. While there are sometimes good opportunities, the sites tend to attract a lot of low-paying clients who are also difficult. Instead, research companies you’d like to work for and reach out to pitch them on how you can help. And many of the same strategies recommended here for building your career can also help pay in finding freelance work as well. Let people in your network know you’re available, and keep working to get your name out there so people will come to you.
Breathe New Life into Your Marketing Career
This is a hard time for everyone, and you may not be working at your usual capacity. But if you use this time to clarify what you want, create a plan, and start taking steps to achieve it, you’ll come out on the other side of this crisis in a stronger professional position for it.