July 1, 2020
By Stuart Karasik
Until several months ago, in my world of workforce development, life was good. The water sector offered many appealing job opportunities for new professionals, as well as for those developing successful and meaningful longer-term careers.
Suddenly and unpredictably, things have been turned upside down. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has catapulted the number of people out of work in the United States to the highest level since the Great Depression hit in the late 1920s. According to experts across various fields, many eliminated jobs won’t return when the economy eventually rebounds.
The water sector is not immune. Lower tax revenues at all levels of government, including municipalities, will put financial pressure on water service providers. Seasoned workers who had planned to retire may postpone their departures until the economy is more stable. Planned promotions may be canceled. Salary increases may be eliminated.
With fewer vacancies, utilities may be forced to limit recruitment of new staff. Competition for these positions will be stiff. For those hoping to find new positions, below are suggestions for how to be more successful in the changing job market.
- Expand your skills in digital communication and platforms. You should be comfortable with video/distance interviews, attending/participating in online group meetings, and related actions such as chats and file sharing via various applications. Due to social distancing concerns, face-to-face interactions will be limited.
- Take advantage of online learning and training opportunities. A quick internet search can link you to a variety of options, including free tutorials that provide step-by-step training on a specific topic.
- Update your resume, limiting it to two pages. Review and update your professional and personal profiles on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook; these are where employers go to research job candidates. Make sure to list all of your degrees/certificates, promotions, work-related skills, awards and publications. Remove any questionable postings or information.
- Review your on-line contacts. There may be people you haven’t thought of who could be helpful with your job search.
- Review what is posted about you by searching your name online. Un-tag yourself from anything that may be perceived as unprofessional.
- Consider working remotely. As we’ve experienced, telecommuting is becoming more acceptable and common. There are websites that screen companies posting remote positions.
- Continue to network with peers — most likely virtually right now. Professional contacts are critically important in a tight job market. Expand and extend your circle by joining online professional groups, chats and forums.
We’re in uncharted territory and the waters may be choppy for the next few years. By making these preparations and staying focused on your career goal, you’ll be prepared when opportunity knocks.
Stuart Karasik has spent most of his career in the human resources/personnel arena. He has a Ph.D. in education, a master’s in biology, and was previously the training program manager for the City of San Diego.