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Job Hunting During an Economic Downturn: Here’s How to Remain a Strong Candidate

It’s been years since job hunters have had to face an economic downturn. Whether its created by an outside event, like the COVID-19 outbreak, or through the natural ebb and flow of the business cycle, a weak economy creates a challenging situation for job seekers. However, there are steps you can take to remain a strong candidate.

Job Hunting in a New Reality

The last few years have seen historically low unemployment rates. Even as recently as February, the unemployment rate came in at 3.5%, hovering near its lowest level since the late 1960s.

However, those figures came in before COVID-19 hit the U.S. The quarantines and work stoppages that have come as a response to the coronavirus will have a dramatic impact on the economy. No one knows precisely what will happen. Some officials are warning of a massive spike in unemployment, possibly to the 30% range.

One thing is clear: the job market going forward will be dramatically different than the one we’ve gotten used to.

Navigating an Economic Downturn

Over the last few years, the labor market has been a seller’s market. With unemployment low, skilled workers have had notable leverage. Since most people had jobs, employers had a tough time finding qualified personnel. It gave workers, and job seekers increased power in negotiations.

A weak job market has a different dynamic. The competition for open positions intensifies. As a job candidate, you’ll have a tougher time finding good opportunities, and you’ll have less bargaining leverage if you find one.

That said, jobs are still available. Even in an economy largely shut down by COVID-19, some firms were hiring. Many more will add to their workforce as the economy starts up again. You just have to get in a position to take advantage.

Here are a few steps you should take:

  1. Build Your Network

    A strong network is always an important job-search tool. In a weak economy, it becomes even more critical. An “in” at a company gives you a way to skip the stacks of resumes that arrive for every open position.
    However, in a weak economy, you might need to bolster your network. Opportunities are scarce. As a result, a wider set of professional contacts raises the chances that you can find something.
    With this dynamic in mind, consciously look to expand your network. Make contact with people you haven’t talked to in a while. At the same time, look to make new contacts on social media, or through industry events.

  2. Pick Your Spots

    Every opportunity is precious in a tight job market. If you spread your attention too thin, you might miss your chance to land the ideal position. Concentrate your efforts on your best prospects, making sure you do everything you can to impress.
    Customize your resume, practice your interview answers, research the companies, and take a deep dive into all the latest industry news. And, of course, double, triple, even quadruple everything you send into the company. You want to invest your time and effort on your best opportunities.

  3. Apply Rational Standards

    When times are good, you can afford to be picky. In tighter economic circumstances, you don’t have that luxury. Sometimes, you have to take what you can get.
    Don’t shy away from positions that seem like lateral moves, or even small steps back. Take a rational look at your current prospects, and make the right decision for the time being. These positions, while not ideal, can keep your career humming while you wait for conditions to improve. Then, when better opportunities open up, you can make more aggressive moves.


Navigating a weak economy can be stressful and scary. It helps to have expert assistance. By partnering with a top-ranked staffing firm, like TriStarr, you can find better positions, and receive the professional advice you need to chart the right course through the choppy economic waters.

Contact TriStarr today to get started.

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