“People are rallying together to try to figure out how they can help. The process of finding roles is hard to navigate, and now that the market has changed, it’s even harder. But companies are still hiring, and there's so much great talent out there.”
Emily recognized the power of humans helping humans through uncertainty. During periods of crisis, it’s tempting to fall into an “everyone for themselves” mentality, but there is power in working together. The only way forward is through, and the only way through is together.
“A lot of the bad news that you’re getting all the time feels a little better when you just help someone.”
Co-Founder of Help Wanted
“This is an undeniably challenging time, but supporting other people is really helping me through. When someone that I helped gets a job, it feels awesome. A lot of the bad news that you’re getting all the time feels a little better when you just help someone.”
Help wanted in action
Emily spent the past several years leading and scaling marketing teams. In November of 2019, she left her role to explore other projects, but when COVID-19 hit, she decided to dedicate her time and expertise to those affected by layoffs. With the help of her business partner, Deva Hazarika, they launched Help Wanted, a free hands-on program designed to help startup employees find jobs during the crisis.
Emily recognized that many people looking for jobs right now never had to do a job search in a down market. Young professionals with less than 10 years of experience weren't looking for jobs in 2008 when the market crashed. They're used to an environment where companies and recruiters were vying to get candidates in the door. Now, that has completely changed.
“There’s always a stigma around getting laid off. Our group is focused on rebuilding that confidence and reminding our candidates that they were not laid off because of performance, but because of these macro conditions out of their control.”
Emily and Deva looked at what organizations were already out there. A number of projects have popped up in this area – some before COVID-19 and some after. They came across companies populating layoff lists and a number of organizations in the talent space that pivoted to serve people who have been laid off.
“There are so many different lists, but navigating these lists can be really overwhelming. A lot of these organizations are doing things at scale, but we wanted to do something that’s not at scale and start helping people find roles.”
They quickly put together a website and application and shared it out with their networks. In five days, they received 200 applications.
“We reviewed every one of them and selected a group of 15 people across a variety of functions with little overlap on what they were looking for. We wanted it to be collaborative, not competitive. We wanted people that we thought we could help. We’re now working with our second group”
Rethinking networking in times of crisis
With the sudden shift in the economy, professional networking has become the best way to get in front of the right person. Organizations are overloaded with applications, so it’s critical to find creative ways of connecting with individuals at a company.
“Thinking creatively about your connections can give you a leg up. Don't just look to your past teammates or friends, think about vendors you’ve worked with, people from the same volunteer organization, etc. and just ask – ‘Do you think I'm a fit for this role at your company?’ This a much lighter weight ask than a referral, but might lead to the same outcome.”
While you may not always be able to help someone find a job directly, networking can be as simple as sharing relevant resources with peers. For example, many organizations are pivoting to provide free resources to people impacted by layoffs.
“It’s heartwarming to see so many companies offering free services to people impacted by the crisis. Code Academy is providing free classes, Headspace is offering free meditations, and there are many other services available to people affected by layoffs. Granted, the motives may not be entirely altruistic, but who cares? Utilize all the forms of help that are available.”
Especially right now, people are willing to ask for help and willing to offer help.
Especially right now, people are willing to ask for help and willing to offer help. Whether or not you’re in a formal program, Emily suggests building a core group of peers to serve as a support system and hold each other accountable.
“Without the break up of a commute to get in and out of work mode, I needed to create more of a schedule. I check in with her business partner every morning just to make sure we both get up and running.”
This discipline is encouraged within the Help Wanted program and beyond. Having a schedule is something that everyone is struggling with now, so Emily encourages job seekers to find peers in similar situations and establish regular check-ins.
We’re in this together
As a result of the program, eight out of the initial 15 participants have gotten jobs. Many shared that the greatest impact stemmed from being able to clearly state their story and achievements. While many of us don’t have the resources to launch a full-on help program, Emily assures that there are many ways to make an impact during this time.
“You don’t have to do something at scale and help hundreds of people, just helping one other person can be beneficial..”
“If you work somewhere that is hiring, make an intro. Be open to conversations with individuals in your extended network. Maybe they're not the right fit for your company, but you might be able to make a suggestion. Offer to review someone’s LinkedIn profile and give feedback. Volunteer to do a mock interview or review a presentation. That's something everyone can do.”
There are so many resources and lists and that can be overwhelming to people who are in an already overwhelming situation. Everyone's temptation is to do something at scale, to solve the bigger programs, but sometimes it’s more meaningful to help a few people in a really personal way.
“You don’t have to do something at scale and help hundreds of people, just helping one other person can be beneficial. Don't beat yourself up if you’re not spending that much time doing it, just know that a little action can go a long way.”Read less