The rate of unemployment rate in the US rose from 3.5% in February to a new record high of 14.7% in April. With the health and political crises sweeping across America, the future of the job market and desperately needed economic recovery are more uncertain. 44% of employers are in a hiring freeze and finding suitable opportunities in one’s industry might be challenging at this time. Certain industries such as hospitality and travel were more significantly impacted than others and new opportunities might be scarce until 2021.
It is a reality many of us unfortunately have to embrace and overcome. What many recently unemployed Americans need is readily available opportunities that will allow them to make their ends meet. It may not be the next career milestone in the field of their choice, but it will be immediate access to some funding while they weather through the tough times. For those who lost their source of income due to COVID-19 and are struggling to find new gigs, here are 3 types of jobs that would be more readily available regardless of your background and how you may obtain them.
1. Virtual Assistant (VA)
What is a virtual assistant?
Many small to medium businesses often use virtual assistants who are available remotely and can either be on as a contractor or hourly employee. More often than not, they are also willing to take on inexperienced folks as long as they can demonstrate that they are organised and considerate.
A virtual assistant’s day-to-day can be very different based on the job. But he/she helps out with all administrative tasks to ensure operations are run smoothly, important meetings and events are coordinated, and records are maintained. Some could be asked to take on some of the marketing efforts such as blog posts or lead research efforts. You can negotiate hourly salaries based on the nature of tasks you’ll be responsible for.
As virtual assistants fulfill their work remotely, there will likely be a larger pool of opportunities available as employers in Europe, Asia, Canada, and US could be looking for resources as long as they’re willing to work around their hours to overlap with the location of the employers. You may also have 2-3 employers at once as long as the hour requirements allow.
How can I find job opportunities as a VA?
Some start off as a sole proprietor and set up their own website to market themselves to small to medium business owners. Once there are some happy clients, it can transition from sole proprietorship to a small business with a few employees. You can become a VA agency. This path is more challenging and requires a lot of initial time investment.
The fastest way to get connected with a pool of opportunities is by being a freelancer. Utilising platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr which matches employers with gig seekers, you can find a wide range of VA opportunities. Happy clients can provide positive feedback and you can be badged as a top-performer which will prompt many employers to reach out to you proactively. You can set your own rate but if you don’t have much relevant experience in the office, you may want to lower your rate in the beginning until you’ve accumulated some good ratings at which point you can charge premium to employers seeking more experienced VAs. These platforms charge a fee but it is recommended that you get your gigs through the platform for protection at the start. Once you have built a solid client base with some repeat clients who are seeking longer-term relationships, you can discuss how to work directly to avoid the extra fees.
2. HVAC Technician
What is a HVAC technician?
A HVAC technician is a technician who installs and maintains heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to ensure steady temperature and air quality are available in residential and commercial buildings. There are some technicians who get further specialized in areas such as solar technology systems and commercial refrigerators.
HVAC technicians are necessary and could often be called on urgent assignments. Maintaining good temperature and air quality are essential to our health. Certain commercial facilities such as ones that store food, chemicals, medicine, etc. may need to follow strict temperature standards and failure to do so could be economically and legally detrimental. Thus, HVAC technicians play an important part in our society.
Anyone can sign up to become a HVAC technician but must go through proper training. As long as you have a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug test and hold a valid driver's license, you can sign up to be one.
How can I find job opportunities as a HVAC technician?
There are three possible paths to becoming a HVAC technician:
- Formal apprenticeship
- HVAC/R programs + work experience
- HVAC/R courses in community college + work experience
The fastest way to get a paying job is by entering an apprentice program. Many employers will pay for apprentices who assist licensed technicians in the field. You can sign up with no previous experience or relevant education as long as you’re willing to complete the required courses while working as an apprentice. A typical apprenticeship will require 50 40-hour work weeks and some will partially subsidise the cost of further training and education. Once you are licensed, your salaries will rise and you can also venture off to start your own business.
3. Warehouse Workers
What is a warehouse worker?
The e-commerce industry is one of a handful of industries that have thrived during the pandemic and actually experienced increasing hiring demands. Amazon created 100,000 additional jobs in March and another 75,000 in April to manage its warehouses and spiking order volumes. 7-eleven created 20,000 positions for the same needs.
A warehouse worker oversees the inflow and outflow of goods as inventories turn into sold products ready for shipment. Safe work environment is critical to ensure the safety of the employees as well as the products as they are transported from one place to another. A warehouse is an important part of quality assurance for the brands to minimise damage to the goods and leakage. A warehouse worker will often operate heavy machinery to transport the materials and items.
How can I find job opportunities as a warehouse worker?
There is no required certificate or degree for warehouse work. However, there may be some specializations or certificates that could enhance your candidacy when applying to jobs such as forklift certification and Certified Professional in Distribution and Warehousing (CPDW) program. Previous experience will be preferred but not mandatory. For your own safety, it’s wise to take some safety courses in heavy lifting to avoid future injuries.
Many transferable skills from any background could apply to how you can add value as a warehouse worker. Being organised, able to stand on your feet for a long-time, and being familiar with productivity softwares could all be demonstrable qualities that will make you an efficient warehouse worker so highlight all experiences and soft skills on your CV when you apply. Use job posting platforms such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and Linkedin to find open positions or go directly to the websites of well-known retailers or eCommerce giants such as Amazon, Macys, etc.