COVID 19 has caused millions of Canadians to be laid off. For those in the later stages of their careers, it could mean losing a job in the highest earning years. The thought of pounding the pavement to find a job of equal status may seem daunting. But experts say finding a job as an executive or manager during a pandemic is not impossible.
Kareen Emery, vice president for employer branding at Monster Canada, a job search site, says fields like human resources and insurance are actively looking to hire upper management.
“Rethink who you are; try to see your resumé through different lenses,” she advises. A highly skilled person needs to pivot in her job search by looking at how those skills could be applied to other industries.
Eileen Dooley has both the professional and personal experience of being laid off at a career peak. Dooley is currently furloughed from her role as a leadership consultant and coach at one of the largest global executive heading hunting firms in Canada.
She says being temporarily laid off at this stage in her career is an uneasy feeling and, should she ultimately be let go due to the pandemic, looking for a new job will be scary.
“You have to be very patient. Leadership roles are harder to find. For example, there is only one CFO of a company, there’s only one president. It could take a while to land the role. In the meantime, rely on your network,” Dooley says.
She says networking is about building relationships and she believes it always helps when looking for work. You have to get out there and talk to people.
The good news for seasoned professionals is upper management roles require decades of experience. Once the economy opens up, experienced workers will be in the highest demand as companies try to get up and running with top talent.
“If you’re going to be hired as a CFO, you need to have 25-30 years of job experience. They’re expecting to hire someone in her 50s,” Dooley says.
Dooley advises it’s important for job seekers to be comfortable conducting interviews via video call or on the phone. Many recruiters are willing to accommodate the candidates’ family needs and will schedule calls during evenings.
If you have been temporarily laid off, use this time to update your skills, especially technical ones, or research news jobs. But don’t harass your employer to make a decision about your role.
“Never put pressure on your employer to make a decision regarding your status. They will make a decision when the time is right and yes, unfortunately, you’re not able to control that. But make the best of the time by brushing up your resumé,” Dooley adds.
If you are fortunate enough to have an emergency fund, you may be in a position to use this time to pursue other activities you didn’t have time for when you were working. For Dooley, that has been gardening and she is using her temporary leave to master those skills.