Career Advice

Tips for Finding a Job in a Bad Economy

You don’t have to be a global economist to know that life is pretty expensive right now. With current inflation rates at 7.7% – a dramatic increase compared to the 1.23% inflation rate of 2020 – the gig economy went from allowing people to pocket some extra Christmas cash to becoming a mainstay of how they’ll keep the heat running through the holiday season.

By all accounts, our current economic situation looks bleak. But it doesn’t have to be. And here’s why: The United States is moving in a better direction, employment-wise, than it was during the Coronavirus pandemic. While many employers shuddered their doors because of both state and federal mandates, the U.S. economy bounced back to 6.7 million jobs in 2021 compared to the 9.3 million that were lost in 2020. As of November 2022, there are now more than 10 million available job openings in the United States.

Even though many economists predict us moving toward a recession in 2023, you can get ahead of the curve with these tips for finding a job in a bad economy:


1. Look at Job Trends

The workforce has changed since the pandemic emerged. And, even though we’re moving past it in many ways, the damage, so to speak has already been done. In other words, the nail in the metaphorical coffin of how we used to work and even look at work has been drilled in.

What this means is that the old industries you may have relied on back in the day may not be offering as many opportunities in today’s post-COVID society. For example, during the pandemic, industries that involved travel and retail were pretty much non-existent.

But now, because travel restrictions have been lifted, these industries are among the ones currently seeing the highest levels of growth in the U.S. In 2022, the airline industry, tour operations, and hotel industry have been on fire, seeing 64, 57.1, and 56.6% growth, respectively. Likewise, with more states having legalized recreational marijuana use, this industry has also seen monumental growth that is continued to increase through 2023 and beyond.

By looking at current job trends and which industries are experiencing either a resurgence or organic growth, you can find more job opportunities over other industries that may be a bit more limited.


2. Utilize Your Built-in Network

Chances are, if you’re looking for a job, you have a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn, as you already know is a job networking site that allows you to post current employment updates, network with colleagues, and seek new and exciting employment opportunities.

While this is an excellent resource to network with people you don’t know, you shouldn’t overlook those you do. Don’t be afraid to reach out to former co-workers or bosses about new employment opportunities. Likewise, let your friends and family know you’re looking for a job. Word travels fast, so if your cousin’s best friend tells them that their job is looking for a new manager or assistant, they may be able to make a connection on your behalf, linking you up to a job opportunity you may have never known of otherwise.

However, when you’re networking, there are a few key tips you should keep in mind. While letting your close friends and family know you’re on the hunt for a new job may suffice, former employers should know what skills you’ve gained since you last worked together. Maybe your former employer is looking for a new web designer and you taught yourself to code in the years since you parted ways. Let them know; it may be all they need to bring you back onto the team or recommend you to someone else they know is hiring for someone of your skill level.


3. Turn to Alternative Forms of Employment

Remember we mentioned the gig economy earlier? Well, this is where we’re going to take a deep dive into it.

Especially if you’ve been working for decades at the same job, you might tend to look at employment as being one way. But, the reality is that money is money, regardless of whether you’re working a full 40 hours consecutively or divvying them up throughout the week. If all you can find is part-time, supplement your income with rideshare and delivery services, or freelance, until you land full-time employment.

If you were exclusively working from home and a potential employer wants you to work a hybrid schedule, be flexible with it. Take on a role as a contractor, or as seasonal help. If eligible, offer consulting services. Sometimes, it’s not always possible for the right opportunity to fall in your lap when you need it, so be flexible about what “traditional” employment means and make what’s currently available work for you until what you genuinely want offers an opportunity.


4. Show Your Skills Off With Freelance

And speaking of freelance as an alternative form of employment, this is actually an excellent way to enhance your skills for when the right job comes around.

Freelancing has increased in popularity over the years, mostly during the pandemic. In fact, studies show that 41% of the U.S. workforce freelanced during 2020 – a 13% jump from 2013. One of the reasons why freelancing has become such a popular form of employment is because of the flexibility it offers, allowing people to customize their own schedules while making a decent amount of money, compared to getting, let’s say a seasonal job for a few months out of the year at minimum wage.

But the reality is that job seekers may be intimidated by the nature of freelance because 1.) it can be unpredictable, and 2.) they may not believe they have the necessary skills to succeed.

When it comes to making a freelance job work for you, the trick is to look at job postings 1-3 times a day. Freelance websites like Upwork are constantly posting jobs for a variety of skill and experience levels. This includes developing and writing content, conducting research, video editing, illustrating, and even reviewing a writer’s manuscript before they self-publish.

And since many employers using freelance sites – like Upwork – are open to varied experience levels, you can start slowly and hone your skills so that you’re eventually bringing in consistent work. Succeeding as a freelancer won’t happen overnight, but it is possible. Just make sure that you explain your skill and background to the job poster, and that your freelancing profiles are up to date with your current level of education, certifications, and any relevant training.


5. Ask a Recruiter for Help

Last but not least, ask a recruiter for help. Recruiters are busy people and with more people looking for a job, they may have hundreds of applications submitted to them for one job listing. The way to stand out is to contact one, otherwise, you risk getting lost in the shuffle.

There are two ways you can go about this. If you’re interested in working for a particular company, you can call the recruiter to discuss employment opportunities and potentially set up an interview or learn of any on-site job fairs where you can make a positive impression.

The second method is to reach out to an employment agency. Through them, you may be able to land a direct placement, either temporary or permanent. Unless the temporary role is only open due to a worker’s vacation or medical leave, many temporary placements turn into full-time jobs, especially if you do a good job and fit in.


Finding a Job Isn’t Always Easy, But These Tips Can Make it Less Intimidating

Finding a job is like a job in itself. It takes a lot of time and energy, and it can wreak havoc on your mental health and self-esteem if you never seem to land anything. While these feelings are normal, it’s also why you may have to shake up how you traditionally looked for employment in the past. Be open to new opportunities, look at job trends, and recognize that the way people make money has changed – and more importantly, embrace these changes because they’re probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to landing a job, whether full-time, part-time or on a freelance basis, regardless of the current state of the U.S. economy.