45% of Workers Are Expecting Employment Changes. Here's How to Prepare.

Talk of reopening the country continues to grow as new COVID-19 cases are at last beginning to decrease. But some Americans cannot return to the jobs they left because their employers have gone out of business due to the extended lack of income. It's possible that more businesses will close in the next few months.

American workers seem to think so, at least. The 2020 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Retirement Confidence Survey polled participants in March and found that 45% of workers were anticipating a change in their employment status within the next six months. Twelve percent of those said they expect that change to be a negative one. But it doesn't have to be.

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You might not have control over what happens with the pandemic or with your current employer, but you can take steps right now to make yourself a more valuable employee at any company. Try the following tips.

1. Update your resume

If you're like most people, you probably haven't updated your resume since your last job hunt, which could've been years or even decades ago. But you'll need an updated resume if you hope to catch a new employer's eye. You'll want to tailored it to every job you apply for so the company can clearly see how your strengths align with its needs, but doing a quick update right now will make tweaking your resume for each application a little easier.

Think about your biggest accomplishments at your current job and how best to highlight them. Draw inspiration from sample resumes in your industry, and try to work some of the key requirements and skills listed in each job posting into your resume so you stand out.

2. Get a letter of recommendation

A letter of recommendation from your boss can set you apart from other candidates. If your company is forced to let you go because it is closing or downsizing due to COVID-19, see if your boss is willing to write you a recommendation letter, highlighting your skills and accomplishments during your tenure and stressing that you were not let go due to any fault of your own.

3. Brush up on your skills

Use your time at home to learn new skills or to or pursue a new certification in your field if you're able to. This can open up more job opportunities, and it will help set you apart from peers who lack the same skills or certifications. Do some research to find out which credentials are the most valuable to employers in your industry and weigh the time and cost commitment against the potential benefit to decide whether this is a smart thing for you to pursue right now.

4. Nudge your network

Some jobs never get posted because they end up going to current employees or to someone recommended by an employee. So it's always a good idea to reach out to your own network to see if you can find opportunities that aren't advertised online. Contact friends and ask them to check with their colleagues to see if they know of any job openings in your field.

Before you start looking for jobs, you might want to set some guidelines for yourself about the type of work you want, your must-have benefits, and whether you're willing to move for the job. You might just have to take what you can find at first if money is tight, but keep up your search until you find something that checks all your boxes.

5. Start watching for new jobs

Set up job alerts on a couple of sites to let you know when companies post openings matching your criteria. A general job-search website is fine, but you might find better-paying opportunities if you use a niche job site that's focused specifically on your industry.

If you see a job you're interested in, apply as soon as possible. Companies can get inundated with applications within the first few days of posting a listing and might not even get a chance to look at yours if you wait until the job's been posted for several weeks.

Job hunting can be stressful, especially if you don't have savings to fall back on. But it doesn't always have to be a bad thing. If you improve your skills and make yourself appealing to new employers, you could end up with a job that's as good as or better than the one you left behind.

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