Opinion - CNBC Work

Op-ed: Why it's a myth finding a job is harder when you're unemployed

Blake Barnes, LinkedIn vice president of product management
Key Points
  • 84% of unemployed Americans believe there is a stigma around unemployment, and two-thirds believe it's hurting their prospects of getting hired. 
  • But almost all hiring managers would hire someone laid off because of Covid-19, and there are currently millions of Americans who are unemployed.
  • A focus of in-demand skills in programming, financial forecasting, data analysis, and agile project management, can help find a job opportunity.
Hundreds of unemployed Kentucky residents wait in long lines outside the Kentucky Career Center for help with their unemployment claims on June 19, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky. While the economic recovery has brought back jobs since the lowest point of the Covid-19 crisis, millions of Americans remain unemployed.
John Sommers II

There's a second pandemic sweeping our country: unemployment. The number of unemployed in the U.S. as a result of this crisis reached its highest level since the Great Depression. Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) of those currently unemployed have friends or family members who also lost their jobs due to Covid-19, according to new research from LinkedIn.

Adding to the challenge of getting back to work, people who find themselves out of work fear that widespread stigmatization of unemployment reduces their ability to land another job. According to our research, 84% of unemployed Americans believe there is a stigma around unemployment, and two-thirds believe it's hurting their prospects of getting hired. 

But perceptions around unemployment are changing. In fact, 96% of hiring managers say they would hire a candidate laid off due to the pandemic, and that is supported by what we are seeing on the platform: LinkedIn members who signal the community that they are #OpentoWork, through a simple frame on their LinkedIn Profile, are receiving more messages on average from recruiters and more support from their network. 

For anyone searching for a job in this moment, the hardest part can be taking the next step. Here are three things that can make a difference. 

1. Don't be afraid to reveal your situation to a personal network.

Only half (50%) of unemployed Americans have shared publicly that they are looking for a job. Those who haven't, say it's because they're ashamed or embarrassed (28%) or they don't see how it would be helpful (27%).  

Yet, our research shows that 73% of people have landed jobs through a personal introduction or connection, with LinkedIn members being 4X more likely to get hired through their network. So don't let unfounded fears prevent you from tapping into your professional network — it's one of the best resources available to find your next job. 

And people want to help: 84% of those we surveyed said they are willing to help someone in their professional network who has lost their job as a result of Covid-19 by providing a recommendation or making introductions. In fact, 76% have already done so. 

2. Skill up for where 150 million jobs are being created.

The power of online learning has never been so apparent. Over the past few months, LinkedIn members are consuming more than a million hours of learning content weekly and have added more than 140 million skills to their profiles since the pandemic hit in March.  

LinkedIn users are adding the fastest-growing skills among professionals today to their profiles at the highest rates. Free courses related to the fastest-growing skills include: 

Programming Fundamentals
Marketing Tools: Digital Marketing 
Financial Modeling and Forecasting Financial Statements
Data Analytics for Business Professionals
Agile at Work: Building Your Agile Team 

LinkedIn data shows that jobs like project manager, financial analyst and software engineer are in-demand, have grown steadily over the past several years, and will continue to grow. Using LinkedIn data, we also estimate there will be 150 million more technology-related jobs created across industries over the next five years, making it critical for job seekers to learn the digital skills needed for these positions. 

3. Don't let worries how to make a career pivot overwhelm the opportunity.  

If the path forward isn't clear, it might be time to pivot. But many people say they don't know where to start (45%) or worry they aren't qualified for any other industry (33%).

The key to making a career change is understanding the skills you already have, and how those overlap with different roles. You may be more qualified for a role in a different field than you think. For example, food service workers have many similar skills to a sales representative, one of the top 10 in-demand jobs right now. 

In addition to helping you uncover a new and unexpected opportunity, comparing your skill set with those listed in open jobs can show you which skills you need to build for the job you want. For example, LinkedIn data shows that 26 million LinkedIn members could have all the skills they need to qualify for customer service specialist roles, another one of the top jobs we identified as in demand, by learning two more skills.  

Opportunity is out there for everyone, and your skills — not your degree — are what can take you there. There are 2.4 million open jobs in the U.S. on LinkedIn right now that might not require a four-year degree. And if you are open to remote work, there are nearly 50,000 remote opportunities available in the U.S. across a variety of industries including education and software & IT services.

Helping unemployed people take the next step is everyone's job.

By Blake Barnes, LinkedIn vice president of product management. LinkedIn has launched a series of new tools designed to make it easier for job seekers to find a job, change careers, learn new skills and tap into their community.