How To Reduce Your Chances of Being Laid Off

Some have inquired about how they can avoid or protect themselves from being laid off in the future, or seeking a career that would be recession-proof. This can be a scary thing especially for folks who are employed with a company that offers no stability, no perks and no advancement opportunities.. and even companies who are at risk of laying off their employees right now due to the global recession. During a time of uncertainty, this is very tough because nobody is immune to this.

Image via GeeksforGeeks
Check out their article. They have excellent tips on how to manage layoffs as well!

In this case, half of the world is unemployed due to unwanted situations of COVID-19: temporary furloughs which in many cases, leads to permanent furloughs and massive layoffs over the span of 2-3 months since the pandemic.

So, for those of you who are currently employed, take a moment to appreciate the job/career that you have. Appreciate your contributions. Appreciate your colleagues. Be thankful for what you have and what you receive. Many of us do not take the time to think about this, however the job that you are currently employed at, gives back to you in many ways. Of course, income is one of them. But think about the things you are receiving at the moment: paid time off, health insurance, blended benefits, experiential rewards. The list goes on.. There is always something to be thankful for.

Sometimes, layoffs are hard to avoid (due to organizational restructuring, business downsizing, a pandemic, etc), however the list of advice below are ways you can prevent or protect yourself to lower the odds.

  • You should hone or learn a new, unique skill that will set you apart from others in the applicant pool. Put a plan in place to gain those new skills. List the skills that you want to learn.
  • Make an effort to educate yourself on all aspects of your employer. During these strenuous economic times, it is likely possible that you may be asked to take on additional tasks of other employees – which can be something that you may be under qualified / overqualified for, let alone something that you do not feel comfortable in taking on.
    • Show that positive demeanor, no matter how hard it can get – because in the long run, this behavior will yield good results. Employers will most likely remember those who assisted them through these arduous times.
    • When you are knowledgeable of all aspects of your employer, this shows that you are more exposed to different projects and learning about what other teams are doing. If you make the effort to engage in team meetings, inquiring to collaborate and assist colleagues with project deadlines that they are struggling to meet, this will convince the employer that you are a valuable asset to them – leading them to reconsider their decision in letting you go. You already have built a strong bond with the employer and they will have a difficult time in letting you go.
      • Do not slack off just because you have received a positive performance review or an appraisal from your boss/supervisor.
      • Take an extra mile and do more than just the responsibilities that are being assigned to you. Deliver great results. Understand the contribution that you make. This is key to becoming a superstar in your workplace. Employers want irreplaceable employees.
      • Put your skills into use and take ownership. Acknowledge how you are viewed and reevaluate what your reputation is. Instead of focusing on day-to-day and short-term goals of the job, start thinking of long-term goals and how you can demonstrate your leadership to your employer.
        • How can I improve the financial health of the business?
        • How can I build a lasting legacy?
        • How can I increase more traffic?
        • What new strategies or tools can I implement to market my employer?
        • Any new products or services I can add to the employer’s existing offerings?
        • Are there ways I can increase productivity?
        • What are some of the best practices to increase market share online?
  • If you are a job seeker who is seeking employment during this suffering economy, make sure that you are researching on the fastest growing companies. If you are located in the New York City area, you may find this helpful: 100 Fastest Growing Companies in New York City in 2020. Don’t let the unemployment numbers fool you, as the labor market is more competitive now than it ever was before due to the high number of job seekers and less job openings.
  • Stay in touch with your network on LinkedIn and reconnect with your existing connections – such as your former bosses/supervisors/colleagues, employment advisors! Do so in a meaningful way where they can speak favorably and highly of you. With this, you will have more people to speak with, as well as keeping you in the loop of any potential opportunities that can reduce your chances of being laid off.
  • If the employer you are working for is at risk of laying off their workers or filing a bankruptcy chapter, you might want to put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Seek ways and methods to help your employer reduce costs, increase revenues, etc.

Workforce Confidence Levels Drop in the U.S.

Workforce confidence levels have been improving in many states by the end of June compared to the beginning of March; and to name a few: Ohio, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Many small and medium sized businesses are slowly getting back up and bustling. For the most part, these states have been reopening cautiously.

However, due to the rapid reopening of some states such as Texas, California and Florida – their employment recovery has been shifting backwards recently. Their workforce confidence levels have dropped significantly due to the sudden spikes of COVID-19 cases in June.

Below, you will find a more specific chart illustrated by George Anders from his LinkedIn article to show the confidence levels across the U.S. that are heavily affected by this pandemic.

Table of 12 large states, showing their June COVID-19 cases as well as the workplace confidence levels of residents in those states

Image via George Anders’ article

Once the workforce confidence level has been exhausted, this can trigger setbacks in causing rollbacks of the reopening plans – delaying the economy and businesses as well as weakening our consumer spending.

While there are still huge spikes in confirmed cases, the unemployment rate in many states are still continuing to rise slowly if not rapidly.

Many Americans are still unemployed, however more are slowly becoming employed again as the unemployment rate has decreased from 14.7% on April 2020 to 11.1% on June 2020. Due to economic reasons, over 9 million are employed as part-time workers or working with significantly reduced hours.

According to the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI), over 37 million jobs in the U.S. are more susceptible to layoffs in the short-term. These jobs are the hardest hit by this economic and health crisis, which include the following that are in the service sector: those in retail, hospitality, food service, real estate, education, etc. It is stated that “most of these were front-line, customer-facing jobs that offer both low hourly wages and a limited number of hours of work per week.

These low-wage workers are hit in multiple fronts since many of them do not have health insurance from their employers, many of them are underrepresented and underpaid, some of them are in debt, and some do not have enough money in their savings to secure their living expenses. In addition, some of them are ineligible to claim unemployment insurance because there are also those who work off the books and do not pay taxes.

It is also becoming more transparent that many who were supposedly temporary layoffs, are becoming permanent layoffs. This means that there will be a longer extension period of unemployment benefits and we will soon – see a significant increase in new filing claims, surpassing 30 million unemployed Americans as of the week ending July 4th.

With the expansion of unemployment benefits, in addition to the new federal funding of the $600 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during this recession – many find that it creates a disincentive for the unemployed to return to work, since it is argued that these individuals earn more from unemployment benefits than they did from employment.

However, these unemployment benefits are actually a good thing since it helps keep the economy running. With the coverage and payouts, this will permit individuals to continue paying their rent, groceries, utilities, Internet, other insurance and consuming goods while the economy is still playing its role. While some states are shifting back to their normality, not all of them are confident enough to financially support their citizens, residents as well as businesses. After all, the federal government has the power to generate resources and twist things around to inhibit this exacerbation.

While the $600 Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is running out and is set to expire on July 26, 2020, all 49 states except for South Dakota are offering an extra 20 weeks of regular extended unemployment insurance benefits until December 31, 2020. In addition, our second stimulus bill which was approved by the House of Representatives – offers an extension of $600 Pandemic Unemployment Benefits until 2021, however it has not been passed by the Senate yet.

Chart via U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (To see the number values for each state, refer to the source.)

Based on the chart above, this depicts where the 50 states are currently standing as of June 2020 over a 12-month period since June 2019. It is affirmed that “Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in June, 17.4 percent, followed by New Jersey, 16.6 percent, and New York, 15.7 percent.

Due to the prolonged joblessness, it is necessary that these unemployment benefits continue even if the economy picks up. Right now, supporting those low wage workers who are now jobless, will be obligatory in ensuring a resilient economy once there is a solution to this public health crisis.

Once everything normalizes, this will be the approach to economic recovery as we will continue to see that there are more available job seekers than job openings.

2020 Resume/Career Advice For Beginners

Image via Vecteezy

While there are certain sectors or industries on the rise, job searching can be tough during this current economic uncertainty. With over 30 million Americans unemployed, many may not have the experience or knowledge base for the role that they are applying for because 1) the job that they were temporarily/permanently laid off or furloughed are currently unavailable since there are no openings due to COVID-19; OR 2) the available jobs available in the labor market is not what they are ideally searching for.

This has been extremely overwhelming for the whole nation and this especially makes it harder for individuals who have to keep a roof over their families’ heads, have babies/children to feed, pay rent and bills, etc.

The key component that is really important right now, is your RESUME. As we all know, it is mid-July now… we are all home since mid-March, which has been 4 months. There are ways that job seekers can change their adaptations of their resumes from what used to be on their resumes. Back then, we generally like to include as many details as possible and what we are proficient in to tailor it according to the job description.

Ideally during then, you want your resume to look presentable to the employer. However, the main issue has always been that job seekers struggle very hard on translating or interpreting that information to their interviews. Now, with COVID-19 and people being home, what job seekers need to do is to draw themselves between two things. Either you are a good public speaker and you should just have general stuff listed on your resume so that you can save it all for the interview to showcase your excellent communication skills; or if you are more shy/introverted, you might have all detailed information on your resume but you will need to practice more on improving your communication effectively during your interview.

Many individuals oftentimes get so nervous about changing their resumes. It shouldn’t be hard when they have it on their flash drives or saved onto their desktops. Many of them right now just do not want to go back to square one again and I totally feel for them. And that can pose issues for those who may have criminal justice record, failing a drug test and anyone who refuses to start from scratch all over again.

On the other hand, those who are still working in their part-time jobs or have reduced hours, are the ones who are still hungry and are currently looking for work. They’re hungry by saying – “Now is not only about experience and not about your resume, because everyone not only in New York City but the U.S. is looking for a job right now. It’s you versus everyone.” Unless you have a good relationship with people and can build or have built some kind of connection with them through LinkedIn or by volunteering, it will be difficult.

So let’s say, what if you only have 1 month of experience at a retail store because it was a seasonal role? What if you do have experience but you couldn’t translate that into a resume? Especially with difficult times like these, you really want to hone in on your job description and you want to place emphasis on the skills that you know the employer wants – which is conveyed in the job description. For instance for a cashier role, if they are seeking someone who is great with the cashiering, customer service skills and using numbers to define how much revenue you increased for the company – you want to really emphasize those things on the resume but you have to tailor it each time because each job, each employer desires different things. And if it’s a customer service job, you will want to shift the customer service bullet up to the top and if it’s not, then you either take it off or shift it to the bottom. This is what would be recommended for someone who does not have a whole lot of experience, on how to at least get the resume to help them advance to the next step.

One of the most resourceful and quickest ways in landing your job/career if you have not built your network, is to seek a career coach to assist you with your resume since they are armed with many valuable resources. On top of that, they have connections with many employers from different industries and sectors – which they can help place you in a job that you are looking for. Many non-profit organizations that are workforce providers offer free services on career development such as resume/cover letter writing, honing your interview skills, career advice, work readiness training and even job placement assistance.

Career coaches are very helpful during this time since they have employer partners who reach out to them for recruitment assistance. They are the ones who are consistently up to date with the labor market trends and which industries/sectors are hiring and not hiring. Career coaches and job placement specialists have seen and judged resumes that they thought would not make it to a job, that actually made it. If they are referring the job seeker to an employer, a useful way with helping them tailor the resumes are by looking at the job description as mentioned earlier. If the job description doesn’t convey honestly what the employer wants, your career coach can help you find out what the employer wants. Career coaches will take their time to coach and counsel you to the best version of yourself and make sure that you know every single thing before you walk into the interview.

They will be there to teach you not to give up, to really hang in there for the long haul, keep applying, keep at it – although we know at this time it is terribly difficult.

Normally, job seekers are asked “What have you been doing ever since you’ve lost your job and how do you fill in that gap?” and now we want to replace it with “What have you been doing since COVID-19 has invaded our lives?”
If you are learning how to use Zoom, remote work or even taking courses to enhance your digital literacy skills, then that is a resume builder. If you are currently taking care of family, then you are a caretaker.

To wrap this up, this is about teaching yourself how to fail. This is about teaching yourself how to not be afraid, how to throw your chances out there and be hungry. If you’re not taught to fail and you’re just going to hold onto that one job, what if they never practiced their interview skills after working in that same job for 2 years?

Moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to throw your resume to every single job opportunity out there in every field because guess what? You may end up liking that job that you’d never imagine that you would be doing. In many cases, there is always room for advancement regardless of what your title is, what department you work for or which industry/sector you are coming from. Your learning experiences come through your resume, you’re receiving feedback during your interviews and if a job really wants you, then you will possess that confidence.

It has been such a fast and deep downturn and that’s what’s unprecedented – we can’t compare it to any other downturn because of that. The problem is that we don’t know what the next 6 to 24 months are going to look like but the job search/hunt process and every new growing opportunity out there is, has always been and will be limitless.

Labor Market Updates Regarding 2020 Unemployment

According to the U.S. Initial and Continuing Unemployment Claims line chart (Chart 1) below from NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, it shows that the unemployment claim numbers have not been below 1 million since the start of the pandemic. That is an indicator of how painful that this economic downturn has been. And once it gets closer to dropping below 1 million, we will be closer to adding more jobs than shedding jobs. So we are still in a place that is not good. The longer this drags on, the slower it would take for us to come back and for the economy to come back.

The same thing goes for continuing claims. The chart depicts that these claims have been pretty flat since mid-May. There was a positive jobs report in June nationally, but this is probably going to tick up again as we are seeing with Texas, California, Arizona, Florida starting to boom with Coronavirus recently. As more and more vulnerable individuals become infected, we’ll see their economies re-closing and this will mean that we will see numbers creep back up again (slowly or rapidly).

According to the data from the New York State Department of Labor, initial/new claims are 1.3 million between June 27th to July 4th, 2020 with 14 consecutive weeks of 1 million new claims. For point of comparison on active/continuing claims, there was a total of 18 million as of June 27th, 2020 compared to 1.7 million from June 29th, 2019. That is ten times as many unemployment insurance benefits claims. At this rate, it was really important that the federal government passed that law to extend the duration of unemployment so that it would buy us more time for us to put together the strategy, systems, approaches, treatments to be able to deal with the pandemic so that the economy could come back a little more easily. But as we are all aware, this isn’t exactly happening yet.

So to summarize this all together, there was a total of 47.3 million applications between March 7th to June 25th, 2020 and a total of 30.5 million claims between March 7th to June 6th. There is a difference between those two things. There are many applications and claims that have not been reviewed or approved yet, due to the influx.

As a point of comparison, the Great Recession – dating back to 2008 – 2009, the total unemployment claims over the span of 18 months was 37 million claims. However, in our case right now in 2020, we have achieved that in the span of 2.5 months, which is a living nightmare.

Scott M. Stringer’s Chart 2 above depicts the Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) vs. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). If you look at the last bar on June 20th, almost half of the continuing claims fall in the PUA category. The PUA is a special, new category of eligibility for unemployment that Congress and the federal government passed so that freelancers, self-employed and gig workers could claim unemployment insurance – which has never happened before. This is the first time in history to create this – which is a vital thing to point out about this downturn from previous ones.

Scott M. Stringer’s Chart 3 above depicts New York City unemployment claims. We have currently – 48,261 initial/first time unemployment claims as of July 4th, 2020. Please note that this is not continuing claims. You can still see that the trend is still flat; it’s not trending down. It is still the number that we had in the end of March – but slightly higher.

If New York City’s economy might have to re-close and if it needs to go back on PAUSE, we might see that number go back up again if it’s a new category of workers who haven’t filed for a claim before. But, as we all know, if one has reached their maximum, permitted amount of weeks of unemployment, you cannot reapply until you get to the next 12 month cycle.

For national rates, the unemployment rate was 14.7% on April 2020 – which is the official unemployment rate, excluding discouraged workers. By June 2020, the unemployment rate was 11.1% – which most of those were rehired temporary layoff workers. We are unsure as to if furloughed workers fall into this category. It really depends on each employer and if they are using a formal and official word to describe what they are doing with their employees, OR in most cases, if they’re calling them furloughed when it turns out to actually be a temporary layoff.

As mentioned above, questions that arise are those who were furloughed, do they count as employed or unemployed? I believe that being furloughed counts as being employed. However, you can collect unemployment if you are furloughed but I am not sure if you are counted as part of the unemployment rate. If their employer indicates that their job will be available when they return to them, they would be employed. However, those furloughs tend to be less common than what’s called a temporary layoff and they may have a high prospect of returning back to work.

The Great Recession peak was 10-11%. So the longer that the current national rate (14.7%) is above the Great Recession peak, which is what it seems like in this case, will take us longer to recover.

According to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics, 3.9 million individuals were employed in NYC as of February 2020. By May 2020, 2.9 million individuals were employed – which shows that that there was a 25% loss in jobs. On the other hand, 138,000 individuals in NYC were unemployed on February 2020. By May 2020, 662,000 individuals were unemployed.

What’s interesting about this, is that the current official unemployment rate in New York City is the greatest among Asian workers – which is 25%, followed by Black workers – which is 24%, then Hispanic/Latino workers – which is 23%, while White workers fall into 11%. This is an indicator of the disparate and inequitable economy that we live in and have been living in for decades.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released an insightful report on the Current Employment Statistics Highlights on changes in jobs, job losses and job gains in both private and public sectors from dating from January 2010 through June 2020.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook also has a useful graph on the Fastest Growing Occupations.

For more up to date New York State labor market information resources, see below.

According to NYS Department of Labor, “Since June 2019, the number of nonfarm jobs (private plus public sectors) in New York State decreased by 1,494,100, or 15.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs decreased by 1,407,400, or 16.8 percent. Additional industry detail is presented in the table below.”

Data Highlights from the New York State Department of Labor’s Jobs and Labor Force Press Release: June 2020

NYS Economy Added 296,400 Private Sector Jobs in June 2020