As anyone who has ever been unemployed and looking for a job will agree, the task of finding that job is gut wrenchingly difficult. Writing cover letters, tailoring resumes, and attending interviews (if you can get them), is like have a full-time job all on its own – in fact some people can be unable to find work for months if not years. Add to this mix of uncertainty and anxiety the coronavirus pandemic, and you have uncertainty and anxiety amplified by factors that are simply unquantifiable.
With more than two million Canadians out of work, finding a new job may not be that easy. Perhaps because of the nature of the pandemic, a total societal disruption, the Government of Canada has not come forward with any new employment programs, instead the Government has focused its efforts at helping people through the crisis with relief programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Like any other program large or small, the CERB with an extremely wide criteria for qualifications, has left some people unable to access its benefits.
In Regent Park, an area just east of Toronto's downtown core which is undergoing a major revitalization - transitioning from being Canada’s largest solely social housing community to being a mixed-income and mixed-use community - the demographics still indicate a high proportion of low income and immigrant families,receiving social assitance, and a higher than average unemployment rate. With everything in lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges for this community are compounded not only by their socio-economic background, but also by the shift to a virtual environment (interviews now occur via apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and by phone) with a larger than ever emphasis on digital literacy.
As Wayne Greenway (RPTVs guest speaker) a career consultant and the CEO of Career Aviators, puts it, there are over 180,000 jobs ready to be filled by people who are digitally literate. For those who may be unemployed and in need of upgrading their skills, the Internet is once again proving its dominance, for example; Google has a program called Grow with Google OnAir which offers free virtual workshops, and one-on-one coaching session to teach you those much in-demand digital skills to help you succeed.
The shift to the digital realm in the face of the pandemic has been one of the most significant changes in every phase of life, and the service sector has seen an equally rapid adaptation and response to provide support and information to people who must now access that information remotely. Additionally, the pandemic has seen the rise of community-focused initiatives and Internet-based solutions. For example, in Regent Park where Wayne Greenway is now located, and where the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable communities is most pronounced, Wayne and a number of his colleagues have created a Career Zoom-In, where participants (for free) join in and view presentations by career professionals on interviewing, resume writing, or next step career paths, followed by a Q&A. The aim is to offer immediate help for people who want to work but can’t afford to pay for costly career management consultants.
The job search process even at the best of times can be truly daunting, but Wayne Greenway advices the following method to making that process more directed;
1) do not try to fit yourself into the add categories commonly found on sites like Indeed, instead determine what are your strengths, values, what do you stand for,
what you do you want in a company, and decide what you are most curious about;
2) decide on the job titles you are going to go after;
3) get your resume customised for that job; 4) network like crazy with people who are working in the field;
5) find jobs before they’re posted by talking to hiring managers and pitch them on why you would be perfect fit for that job; and finally
6) practice for the interview by learning all that you can about the company and the job.
by Dimitrije Martinovic
Dimitrije is a staff member at FOCUS MEDIA ARTS CENTRE