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How To Get Help If You Lost Your Job Because Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Coronavirus has been catastrophic for so many families and in so many ways. From those who got sick themselves (or sadly lost a loved one), to those struggling to manage child care, COVID-19 has affected almost everyone’s way of life. But if you're one of the millions of people looking for work right now, you should know there are ways to get help if you lost your job because of the coronavirus, so that you don't have to struggle alone.

The stats are truly sobering: 24.2 million people in August were unable to work because their employer shut down or lost revenue specifically due to the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this is a decrease from the 31.3 million people in July who were unable to work, it's still a significant portion of the population.

Being unemployed is certainly scary, but having to contend with the problem of looking for work during a pandemic can make matters even worse. Still, there's always hope. Aly Brine, a career alignment coach, suggests using this time to discover what it is that you really want to do in order to make the most of your job search. "Taking the time to get to know yourself and what you want in your career is going to set you apart from other candidates when having conversations with networking connections," she advises in an email to Romper. There are many ways in which you can find work, supplement your income, or even receive food and baby supplies until you're gainfully employed once again. Here's how.

1. Talk To Your Employer

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Even if you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19, you should still stay in touch with your former employer (if you’re on good terms, that is). You never know if/when things could change, and your ex-boss might be able to rehire you. They could also recommend you for work with other companies or connect you to a new company that is currently hiring.

2. Apply for Unemployment

If you’ve been let go from your job, you may be able to collect unemployment. Each state has its own guidelines when it comes to eligibility, so be sure that you meet the requirements before applying. You’ll need to apply for unemployment in the state in which you worked, which can be done in person, over the phone, or online. The U.S. Department of Labor has more information regarding unemployment options, and links to direct you to your state’s unemployment insurance office.

3. Recruit Former Classmates

If you’re looking for unemployment, now’s the time to hit up all of your former high school and college classmates to see if anyone knows about available jobs. Another option: Contact your school’s alumni organization to see if there are any employment opportunities that might not be on your radar. “College graduates can access their alumni offices for help,” John Paul Engel, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa JPEC, tells Romper in an email. Find out what companies they are connected with to see if your job skills would make for a good match.

4. Look For Remote Work Opportunities

If you want to work but returning to a traditional workforce just isn’t an option anymore, consider a work-from-home job. There are a slew of legitimate job search boards for people who are looking for flexible work options. Sites such as upwork.com, Fivver.com, or FlexJobs specialize in flexible and remote jobs — sans the scams that are so prevalent in the work-from-home job search industry. Just be careful to avoid too-good-to-be-true jobs (like the ones that offer a lot of money for little work, ask you to pay upfront, or give out personal information, such as your Social Security number.

5. Find Out About Your Local Food Banks

If COVID-19 has made it tough to put food on the table, you don’t have to struggle alone. From your local food banks to government agencies (such as applying for the WIC program), you can find ways to get food assistance if your family is in need. Almost every community has a food pantry, (FeedingAmerica.org has a search option so you can locate your local one), so contact your local town hall to find out about options — even religious organizations may be able to provide assistance.

6. Let People Know That You’re Looking For Work

It can feel uncomfortable to ask for help, but you have a better chance of finding work through someone you know, says Engel. “The best way to find a job is to reach out to the 250 people that would go to your wedding or funeral, and explain that you need help.” But before you say you need a new job, be sure that you’re super specific in your job-related request, so that you get the right recs.

7. Ask For Informational Interviews

Sure, you want to actually get hired, but if you’re having a hard time nailing a gig, you should switch gears and look at landing informational interviews. Why? Well, informational interviews are an excellent way to get your foot in the door at a company that might not be hiring — yet. Engel agrees, stating: “Informational interviews lead to jobs.” So if you find a company that you’d really want to work at, (and there aren’t any open positions yet), ask for an informational interview. That way, your resume will be at the top of the pile when a position does become available.

8. Recruit A Recruiter

Job searching can be stressful, which is why having a buddy who can help you can be crucial. “For those currently looking for work, the assistance of a recruiter can be invaluable, particularly if you work in a specific industry or niche and are trying to determine what companies are currently hiring in your field,” Alexandra Sampson, an attorney and work-life strategist tells Romper in an email. “Be sure to vet anyone you chat with and feel free to talk with a few recruiters before deciding who might be a best fit for you.” And if you don’t know any recruiters, you can always ask some friends or family members who might have switched jobs or careers in the past year for their tips.

9. Get Social

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If you thought that your social media channels were just for surfing, think again. Now’s the time to put all that liking and commenting to good use. Find some friends on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and any other social media sites you use to announce that you're looking for a job. You'd be surprised at how many people will be willing to help you in your job search.

And if it's been a minute since you last updated your LinkedIn, there's no better time than the present. "LinkedIn is the new virtual office space, so make sure yours is up-to-date and tells people who you are and what you're looking for in your career," advises Brine. Write a stellar statement in your About section that includes all of your accomplishments as well as the fact that you're currently looking for new work opportunities Then, according to Brine, "Start identifying people who could help in your search; these could be people in your current network, and even family and friends can offer referrals!"

10. Look For A Diaper Bank

If you’re desperately in need of diapers, there might be ways to get some for free. The National Diaper Bank Network can help you find an agency in your area that may provide free diapers for families in need. Other options include Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization that, to date, has distributed over 30 million baby essentials such as diapers, formula, and even baby food for children ages 0-12 living in poverty.

11. Apply In Person

If you've exhausted all the online avenues and just need to find a job, (like, now), there's nothing wrong with cold calling the local businesses in your area. Print some copies of your resume, and head to establishments in your area where people are working in-person to see about full or part-time employment opportunities. You might be surprised at how many minimum wage jobs are available and can help you pay some bills at home.

If you're unemployed due to COVID-19, there are options that you can explore to find a new job and feed your family, too. Having these alternatives can help you through this tough time until you are happily (and safely) employed once again.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.