Hi and welcome to our How to Put Your Life Back Together series, i.e. good advice for post-pandemic times. Explore more here, or click the “next story” button at the bottom of this one.

Whether you were laid off from your full-time gig, your supplemental income dried up, or your current work situation suddenly just really sucks, insiders reveal exactly how to get your career back on track.

If you lost your job…

It typically takes at least a few weeks to land an interview. Here’s exactly how to make sure you get the call.

Start your job hunt by locating the ancient Word doc that is your résumé and doing this critical hack from career coach Ashley Stahl: Make sure that the first bullet under every job entry is your best bullet, since the average recruiter only spends about seven seconds reading. Also, use key words common to your career so it’s easier for employers to find you online.

Your new favorite phrase: I’m unemployed. Put it out there on social media, email every contact you have to let them know you’re looking for work (when they suggest coffee, say, “Yes, when?” so you actually book a date), and change your job-seeking preferences on LinkedIn so recruiters come to you.

Spend three hours a day applying to jobs from here on out. Your goal each week is to get to 10—either 10 jobs applied, 10 networking emails sent, or a mix of both. (Expect about 1 reply for every 10 messages you send, says Stahl.) To keep track of your outreach, use a program like Huntr. Then—and this part is important—take a walk, because…you can.

Here’s what you’re not going to do: Obsessively refresh your email while waiting to hear back. Instead, practice your soft skills, like mock-answering interview Qs or nailing your 30-second bio, says Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.

Frustrated that things seem to be slowing? Do another comb-through of the open positions you skipped over. If you meet even 70 percent of the qualifications, think about applying. And use the advanced search function to plug in key words that align with your skill set versus looking for specific job titles to turn up positions you may not have known existed.

Remember that advice about how if you’re unemployed, your full-time job should be looking for a job? That’s BS. You’re taking today off, because science says mental fatigue screws with productivity and makes you more prone to mistakes, and now is when you need to be on your game. Just make sure to check your email every few hours in case you hear back about a job prospect.

Now that it’s been two weeks, it’s the right time to follow up on the applications and messages you sent on Days 2 and 3. If you’re getting ghosted, let it go, Stahl says.

By now, you may have landed an interview (if not, it’s fine—keep applying), so give yourself some instant-hire energy: Semi-stalk those you’ll be meeting with so you can cite a common interest. Then text your BFF so she can remind you of the obvious: Any company would be lucky to have you.

If your side hustle dried up…

The best ways to get a new one with a start date of: immediately.

Seek out something similar

The gig economy isn’t gone, it’s just different. And chances are you can find an opportunity in line with what you were already doing. So your Uber business tapped out? Use your car to pick up groceries for a delivery service instead.

Think about what you’re doing right now for free

You’ve been proofreading your friends’ résumés since college or catching typos in their sponsored Insta posts. The thing is, people pay money for that shit. So while we’re not saying you should start invoicing your inner circle (although maybe we are?), it’s time to rebrand all the favors you’ve been doing into work you can get paid for. You can also cash in on your prowess on sites like Fiverr, says life coach Susie Moore.

Moonlight your 9 to 5

Your day job in content marketing could set you up to make some extra bucks as an SEO writer on the side, or your nursing background could make you a good candidate for telemedicine.

Launch an online course

Now more than ever, people are desperate to fill their time. If you’ve got a skill like editing photos or teaching yoga, get your own class going at Udemy.

If your dream job sucks right now…

Before you put in your notice, a temperature check on whether it’s really time to bounce

Suddenly there’s so much passive-aggressive behavior on Slack.

On a scale of sucks to salvageable: salvageable

WFH in the middle of a crisis has people on edge. There’s a good chance things will improve once everyone is back together. In the meantime, for anyone rubbing you the wrong way, switch up how you communicate. Dare we suggest… the phone?

All raises have been put on hold and you were really counting on one.

On a scale of sucks to salvageable: potentially salvageable

Can you negotiate another perk, like extra vacay days? Then see if your boss is open to revisiting the money convo in a few months. If not, consider it a hint to start searching. (FYI, the job market is going to be*cah-rowded*, so stick it out while you look.)

Your role has changed and you’re not doing the stuff you enjoy.

On a scale of sucks to salvageable: sucks (but maybe not forever)

It’s a bummer, but as the world changed, so too have companies. If it looks like your new mind-numbing data-entry task is permanent, it may be time to ask yourself: Am I still growing here? If you’re shaking your head no, it’s time to move on.

Your company is laying off basically everyone and you live in fear that you’re next.

On a scale of sucks to salvageable: sucks (but potentially salvageable)

Before you jump to The Worst-Case Scenario, try to remember that you weren’t laid
off, which means your employer sees value in the work you do. But if cuts are ongoing and bringing out the worst in your coworkers, hit that apply button.

You majorly slacked while WFH.

On a scale of sucks to salvageable: salvageable

FWIW, you definitely aren’t alone here. If you think it may rise to the level of your boss saying something, beat her to the punch. Set up a meeting so you can own it—shit’s been stressful and it’s okay to have needed some mental space—and be prepared to talk solutions.

Art by David Stenbeck. Courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

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