The coronavirus pandemic may give your business a lucky break—at least when it comes to hiring skilled talent. rieva hire talent.jpg


The numbers are sure there: Unemployment rates in the U.S. have risen higher in the first three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession, according to Pew Research. The jump in unemployment has affected all age groups, though those between ages 16 and 24 are the most impacted. All industries have been touched with hospitality, retail and business services being the hardest hit. Not surprisingly, information service workers fare the best.


It sounds bad but there’s a positive side to this for small business owners. You have a larger and more experienced talent pool to hire from—and that’s just in the U.S. With more businesses working virtually today, it may not matter if your worker is in New Zealand or around the corner.


Even if you’re still stuck in survival mode, it makes sense to think beyond the current conditions and consider how your business might seize the opportunity to grab accessible talent while it’s available. Even in the early stages of COVID-19, The Economist reported four-fifths of CEOs were worried about skill shortages, pointing to how businesses need their key people to help them survive during these challenging times.


What to Know About the Newly Unemployed


According to a LiveCareer national survey of people who became unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, most are unsure how to relate their skills on a resume or even how to apply for jobs in other industries. In addition, job seekers are not comfortable speaking with potential employers about their key skill sets.

As an employer, that means you may have to read between the lines on potential candidates’ resumes or think outside the box when looking for certain skills acquired in other industries. Start with the skills you want candidates to have and then look for clues, such as:


  • Longevity at jobs. If the candidate job hops, are they for higher-level jobs?
  • Responsibilities. Was the candidate working with detailed information or expected to multitask?
  • Did the candidate work with complex equipment?
  • Did the candidate work directly with the public? With vendors? In sales?
  • Did the candidate work in a physical capacity or sit at a desk for long hours?


Every job has transferrable skills if you know how to look for them and nurture them.


The unemployed are also invariably feeling stressed and anxious from not having a job at a time of high unemployment. According to, being unemployed may cause feelings of:


  • Loss of identity and sense of purpose
  • Unappreciated and a loss of feeling essential
  • Anger, fear and jealousy at others who can still work
  • Being lost and not knowing what will happen next.


Of course, not everyone feels this way, but as an employer it’s important to understand that  new employees might need more encouragement and patience than in normal times.

What can your company do to attract potential talent? A recent Robert Half survey found post-pandemic employees want more telecommuting opportunities, a COVID-19 safe work environment and fewer business travel trips.


Where to Find Talent


COVID-19 related job losses quickly filled the job boards with qualified talent looking for work, but there are other places to find employees. Here’s a quick rundown. Take a look at any job website and:


  • Online job boards. The highest volume of candidates is likely on, but you should also check GlassDoor and ZipRecruiter. Popular specialty job boards include SalesJobs.comJobsOnTheMenu.comTalentZoo.
  • Social media. Post your open positions on your social media platforms. LinkedIn is the best platform for making work connections.
  • Schools. Contact college, high school and trade/vocational schools and check with  their career centers.
  • Employees. Your employees likely know people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Put the word out about open positions.


Make it a Win-Win


You need talented employees and the growing talent pool wants a stable job. Work provides an atmosphere of belonging and the current unemployed talent pool wants a team to be part of. Your mission is to find and convince candidates your business is the place to put down roots, return to some version of “normal” and show off their skills.


About Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


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