BerkeleyBefore COVID-19 swept through the state, unemployed people had to prove they were looking for work to receive payments. This requirement was lifted during the pandemic but was recently reinstated.
If you don’t know where to start to find work, the California Department of Employment Development has resources for job seekers, along with the criteria to prove you’re trying to find a job.
But your job search skills can be rusty. We spoke with Adrian Vasquez, employment coordinator for Sacred Heart Community Service which provides career services to low-income people, and Dr. Justin Rietz, assistant professor of economics at San Jose State University. who manages a Covid-19 economic dashboard for Silicon Valley, on the state of the job market and how to find work.
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Are jobs in the Bay Area available at this time?
Rietz: What the data shows is that unemployment is going down, so people are returning to the workforce, which is obviously a good sign. But we still have room to increase employment to get back to where we were before COVID-19. Employment in retail and hospitality, for example, is still below pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that there are decent job opportunities.
Q: Where should I look for jobs?
Wash: There are many job search sites out there, but we use Indeed because for us it is the most reliable. While you are trying to search for a job, there are employers who are trying to find employees, so you can post your resume and get spotted.
Indeed’s application process is also very straightforward. They require very little information from you to submit a request. All they want is your phone number, your email address, how many years of experience you have and what your relevant skills are.
We also recommend networking. Word of mouth always helps. You can start to network with former colleagues, former managers, friends, family, on social networks and friends of friends. They are the best to start with because then they diversify. For example, if I post “Hey, I’m looking for a job” in a group chat, it’s more than likely that a friend will say, “Hey, we’re hiring here” or “I saw this place that is hiring. “
Really get out there and start applying, as the typical time between when you apply for a job and when you are hired is around three months.
(Other well-known job posting websites include Glassdoor, LinkedIn, CalJOBS, Craigslist, and Monster.)
Q: What if I am not computer savvy or do not have Internet access?
Wash: The pandemic has changed the job market a lot because everything is virtual. If someone is not computer literate, it makes it all the more difficult for them to get the help they need to apply for a job, even if it is eligible.
If you live in Santa Clara County and don’t have an internet connection, we can help you get connected. Whether it’s getting a library hotspot or connecting to a central internet. For those in the Bay Area, go to libraries for free internet access and you can also request resources from schools. Getting back to friends and family, I’m pretty sure someone knows someone who can help you out.
Zoom has been a bit easier for community members to use because the interface is fairly straightforward. You continue, create an account, and as long as you have the meeting password and ID, you can log in.
(The San Jose Public Library offers iPads, Del Computers, and Access Points for library members up to 120 days old. Oakland Public Libraries also offer computers for viewing, while most Bay Area Libraries offer free Internet access.)
Q: What are your top tips for your resume?
Wash: You want to identify your unique qualifications by creating a resume that shows your skills, certifications and relevant work experience. Don’t want to use more than 10 years of employment history because the employer just wants a very brief summary of what that person has done? And how do they qualify for this job? It’s all that matters.
If you’re trying to turn your professional expertise into something else – for example, if I’m in the hospitality business but want to switch to tech – in your spare time, you should invest in yourself.
Find the job you want, see what those skills are, and see how you can learn these new skills and techniques. Capitalize on volunteer roles, which can be a form of free training.
Q: What are your top interview tips?
Wash: Interviews can be very intimidating, especially in a virtual environment. What I would suggest is to do mock interviews. The mock interview can help you answer difficult questions, improve your communication skills, and reduce stress before the interview.
While it might seem silly to be in front of a camera and wearing something professional, you still have to prove yourself, so dress professionally.
When it comes to negotiating wages, really refer to the job market and say “Hey, this is how much work in the job market costs to date”. And stick to that.
(The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary estimates for various jobs in California.)
Q: What will happen to the job market over the next year?
Rietz: For the record, I’ve been told several times that people who used to work but are now unemployed earn more with unemployment than they did at work. This suggests that once the additional unemployment benefits from the federal government disappear in September, we will likely see an increase in the number of people trying to find jobs.
And also remember that September is the start of school. So if you were a stay-at-home parent during COVID-19, when those kids go back to school, it will be easier for you to go back to work. The labor market could therefore become more competitive in September.