In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are either working from home, or nervously in an office setting right now, or are already unemployed, and there is a collective anxiety that rolled in like a fog overnight. Many are wondering if they’ll have a job tomorrow, and worse, folks already unemployed are wondering if there is any hope in sight.
I won’t sugar coat this – it sucks.
This whole thing sucks. For some sectors, despite the government working toward relief efforts, this is devastating. Truly. For other sectors particularly those in tech or corporate life (which is where our focus is for this story), there is a recovery in the future.
It’s universally awful, but it’s not an impossible situation.
In fact, this could turn out to be a major advantage for you if approached properly.
Before I tell you the bad news, then the good news, and then offer advice, let me first assert that employment is a topic close to our hearts here at AG. Although you’re reading this on the pages of an entrepreneur news site, you may also know that for nearly a decade, we’ve operated the Austin Digital Jobs group on Facebook (and hosted quarterly recruiting mixers that average 450 attendees (which are obviously on pause right now)), but you might not know that we also launched the Remote Digital Jobs group on Facebook.
We’re in the trenches with job seekers, employers, career coaches and the like. Every day. Which means we’re having hundreds of conversations about how COVID-19 is impacting employers and job seekers.
So… let’s start with the bad news first.
It’s no secret that there is an air of uncertainty right now. We’re collectively holding our breath, prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. The universal virus we’re all infected with right now is anxiety – employer and employee alike.
Some employers are moving forward as normal because their industry is thriving in this time, others are hard hit and looking at their reserves and hitting pause on hiring.
Many companies have a hiring freeze in place right now, but they’re not public about that in any way, so as a job seeker, you’ll never know which are in this situation.
Others are following bad advice from venture capitalists and are considering blindly axing people. Some already have.
Layoffs are here. Not en masse yet, but if a company has no money, it can’t pay employees, and smaller companies are currently facing that reality.
But here is the good news. For YOU, anyways.
In this time where an entire workforce has been sent home to work, some folks are going to shine as they are reliable, communicative, and think creatively. Unfortunately, others are going to struggle and sink.
Sinkers open up critical spots on the team that need to be filled to keep operations moving. That could be a spot free up for you!
Further, employers are reconsidering their roster right now. They may be trimming some figurative fat.
For example, one small software development company in Austin told us they would make it through the storm if they made the hard decision to let go of two senior developers they had hired who had negotiated extremely high salaries. With those two salaries cut, two people have lost their jobs, but the company will now hire one senior developer and pay them an Austin salary, not a California salary they had originally paid to attract that tippity top talent.
That could be good news for you. And there are plenty of companies doing just this.
Additionally, companies are looking at their future hiring needs for “when this all ends,” and we’re being told that many companies are currently hiring for the summer, which sounds far away, but is about as long as the hiring process often takes anyhow.
While not a total win, we’re hearing news that implies companies don’t expect COVID-19 to wipe out their business, or hold them back indefinitely.
So should you even bother applying for jobs right now?
The answer is: Yes, absolutely, but you’re going to have to change your approach.
Job interviews are going virtual, so get ready. You’re going to have to test out all of your video platforms with Zoom being the most common, followed by Skype – don’t wait until you’ve landed an interview to test your tech. You’ll have to test your lighting and sound (and probably wear in-ear headphones with a standard mic). Do that today if you can, even if it’s just a friend you’re video chatting with as a test. Here are some quick tips.
You’re going to be tempted to apply to as many jobs as possible and play the numbers game.
That feels good because you’re seeking to control something in this time of uncertainty, but you’re working against yourself and missing opportunities. Plus, it’s lazy. Sorry, it’s true.
Take the time to groom your resume and cover letter. Send it to everyone you know and ask if they’ll pretend to be an employer and opine when they have time, that you’re looking for criticism, not praise.
If you have savings and can afford a professional resume writing service to help you, make that investment right now. If you have comfortable savings, hire a reputable career coach to speed up the process and work with you on your strengths and weaknesses.
Every application you submit should be refined for that specific employer. Before applying, read the job posting three times in a row. Then, read the company’s Career page, their About page, and see what they tweet. This will all tell you what’s important to them (plus, the keywords you’ll need to use to get past the applicant tracking system robots and into the hands of a humans are IN THE JOB LISTING, so use them). This will help you to tell your story in a way that answers their needs.
Take the time to get to know each company before introducing yourself, it’ll make an immediate difference. This is why you can’t really apply to 100 places in one day, it’s unrealistic and puts you at a disadvantage.
Aside from transitioning to video interviews and customizing every application for quality, these times call for some things I’m scared to ask you for, but this pandemic demands grit and patience.
And that’s so much easier said than done.
You’ll have to keep pressing forward, even when you don’t feel like it, and even when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. And you’ll have to really wrap your mind around the fact that employers aren’t moving as quickly as they were just a month ago. Response times are slower, so landing an interview takes more time, and post-interview decisions will take even longer.
And that doesn’t sound appealing when you’re worried about paying rent in a few days. It’s not appealing, and we are by no means minimizing that fact or your feelings about it. These are the cold realities of these COVID-19 times.
In these desperate times, your only choice is to take a deep breath and approach job hunting the right way, knowing that companies are shuffling the deck right now. It won’t be in fast motion, but there’s a chair for you about to open up, and you should be pushing your hardest to be the one to fill it.
From the depths of our hearts – know that we’re pulling for you.
Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time
(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.
Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.
But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.
In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”
This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.
HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.
Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.
As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.
HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.
They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.
Las Vegas’ largest dispensary gets massive Infinity Wall expansion
(BUSINESS NEWS) Las Vegas’s largest dispensary is getting a big, expensive makeover, thriving while other brick-and-mortar shops are struggling.
Have you ever heard of an Infinity Wall? If I were you, I’d check it out right now because it’s utterly mesmerizing.
An 80-foot version of this wall is just one of the new features that Planet 13 (or The Company) announced it will be implementing in Las Vegas’ largest dispensary, The SuperStore, this past Monday. In addition to the futuristic entertainment feature (I honestly can’t get over that thing), they will be doubling the sales floor and expanding the dispensary to ~23,000 sq. ft. For reference, the entire Planet 13 SuperStore complex is 112,000 sq.ft.
Why expand an already massive dispensary during a pandemic, when most brick and mortar stores are suffering? Well, according to Larry Scheffler, Co-CEO of Planet 13, The Superstore is actually thriving beyond belief.
“We are achieving record sales even with Las Vegas at ~50% tourist occupancy. As Las Vegas returns to normal and this industry continues to grow, we anticipate that this will be first of many expansions we will undertake to keep up with demand.”
The expansion adds 40 points of sale to uphold the outstanding customer service reputation Planet 13 has. If you do have to wait, you have a state-of-the-art entertainment system to enjoy. It’s win-win for any and all visitors.
The CapEx cost of the expansion between is $1.5 – $2.5 million. The project is expected come to completion by the end of Q1 2021.
Las Vegas has become a sort of cannabis mecca. After all, it’s home to MJBizCon, the industry’s largest networking event attended by thousands from around the world. And the popularity and overall acceptance makes it an easy choice for any cannabis aficionados. The SuperStore, like most things in Las Vegas, is huge, glamorous, and caters to tourists.
I have no doubt that when the city bounces back from the pandemic, this new-and-improved dispensary will be a must-visit destination.
The future of work from home will be a hybrid, says Google CEO
(BUSINESS NEWS) Google is looking to adapt a more flexible, long-term hybrid work model for their employees, which includes partially working from home and partially being on-site.
Google, the world’s largest search engine company (yes I know they do other things), is positing that the corporate office will look completely different post-COVID-19.
In September Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai said that the organization was making changes to its offices that would better support employees in the future. This includes “reconfiguring” office spaces to accommodate “on-sites”, days when employees who regularly work from home will come into the workplace. The move comes after Google was one of the first major tech companies to announce that employees could possibly work from home through next summer.
“I see the future as definitely being more flexible,” Pichai said during a video interview for Time 100, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new,” he said. “So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something.”
It was reported that Google’s decision to work remotely into mid-2021 was originally in part to help employees whose children might be learning remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Pichai said that several factors went into the decision, stating that improving productivity was a major concern.
“Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could,” Pichai said. “The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan… and it was affecting productivity.”
Pichai also mentioned that the decision would help the firm embrace the reality that remote working wasn’t going anywhere once things returned to normal. A recent survey at Google found that 62% of employees felt they only need to be in the office on occasion, while 20% felt they didn’t need to be in the office whatsoever. While the work from home trend had already been growing over the past several years, the pandemic accelerated that movement greatly.
With housing costs surging in the San Francisco area, where Google headquarters resides, many employees have been forced to move outside of the city to afford a mortgage. This caused many to commute long hours into the office, something Pichai realized was a problem.
“It’s always made me wonder, when I see people commuting two hours and away from their families and friends, on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans,” Pichai said. “So I think we can do better.”
It’s too early to tell whether or not Pichai’s vision of a “hybrid model” will be adopted by other companies when the pandemic ends. One thing is for certain though—work will never be what is pre-COVID-19.
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