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Career coach offers advice for finding employment

  • Debra Caplan is a career coach based in Peterborough. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/20/2020 4:07:16 PM

According to the NH Department of Employment Security’s weekly COVID-19 Unemployment Update released last Thursday, initial and continuing unemployment claims have continued to decrease in the state.

For the week ending July 4, NHES reported that initial claims for the week fell by 47 percent from the previous week to 2,557. In a press release, NHES said the new claim numbers are down 93 percent from its peak at the beginning of April. That’s a fry cry from when 125,232 new unemployment claims were filed with the New Hampshire’s Department of Employment Security between March 15 to April 11.

During the same period ending July 4, continuing claims decreased by 4 percent to 71,599 for the week ending June 27. Since peaking during the week of May 2, continuing claims in New Hampshire have fallen by 39 percent.

The good news about the unemployment rate dropping means more and more New Hampshire workers are returning to work, as increased aspects of the state’s business landscape continue to reopen. But the number of new claims and active weekly claims shows that many Granite Staters continue to be out of work, many of whom don’t have a job to return to.

And that means trying to navigate a job market that isn’t what it used to be.

“What I’m finding generally is employment has slowed down, but it hasn’t come to a screeching halt,” said Debra Caplan, a career coach based in Peterborough. “It’s always hard and yeah it’s a little harder now, but people are doing the hiring process virtually.”

That means that some business sectors are still hiring, but that is not the case for all, especially the ones that were the hardest hit by the pandemic closures likes restaurants and retail. But Caplan doesn’t think that job seekers should be discouraged – even during this unprecedented time.

“It’s harder, but it’s still happening,” she said.

For those who are out of work, but are seeking employment, Caplan offers some strategies to go in the right direction.

“You’ve got to spend a reasonable amount of time on your job search every week,” Caplan said. For the unemployed, Caplan suggests treating it almost like a part-time job with spending upwards of 20 to 25 hours a week. And for people currently employed, but looking to make a change, there will be some limitations in how many hours they can realistically dedicate to the search, but it’s necessary to make the effort.

“It takes work, it takes energy and it takes time,” she said.

With the increased unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of the month (although there is talk of Congress extending it), Caplan said those who were living comfortably on the extra $600 a week from the federal government added to the weekly benefit through the state will start to see the financial crunch.

“It won’t last forever,” she said. “And do people really want to fritter it away?”

Caplan said one of the first things people should look to when actively seeking a new job is their friends, neighbors and colleagues. She said 70 percent of people “get jobs through people they know.”

“You want to use your network to help yourself, help you get your foot in the door for an interview,” she said.

She said no matter what, letting your pipeline go dry is never a good thing. She said joining an organization or using your interests to connect with new people can only benefit you when the time comes to look for new employment. View everybody you meet as an opportunity to increase your network, Caplan said.

“You don’t know who your neighbor knows,” she said. “So you should never stop networking.”

She said even if you don’t meet all the qualifications “pursue it anyway because maybe it leads to something else with that employer.”

And while it’s never ideal to be out of work, Caplan said this is a good time for people who have been thinking about a change to see what’s out there.

“It’s absolutely a chance to make a change,” she said. “Here’s the time to say ‘what do I want to do?’ because it’s an opportunity even if it’s forced on you because of the situation.”

The biggest issue surrounding unemployment that Caplan sees is the loss of health insurance.

“What do you do when you don’t have insurance?” she said.

Caplan does see the entire employment landscape rebounding, but only time will tell when that will happen.

“I’d say yeah, eventually, but nobody can tell you when,” she said. “Can anybody predict if it’s going to be in the fall or next spring?”

She is also a subcontractor for Lee Hecht Harrison, a worldwide talent development and transition company, and she has seen a huge increase in services, not just locally but all over the country.

“It’s a crazy time,” Caplan said. “Everybody’s lives are disrupted.”


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