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COVID-19: Looking for a job? Economists say companies still hiring during outbreak

Experts say that delivery services, transportation, IT, and health-care industries are hiring

The economic impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak has been devastating, as many Canadians have lost their jobs and face financial uncertainty.

Companies are cutting back on services and businesses are temporarily shutting down, including restaurants, recreation and fitness centres, daycares and clothing stores.

In fact, almost one million Canadians have filed for employment insurance: the number of jobless claims received by the government between March 16 and 22 reached 929,000, a source with knowledge of the data confirmed to Global News.

On the flip side, Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, said there are still a number of companies hiring and in need of people to fill positions.

“Companies in the grocery sector, as well as delivery services, report that they’re looking to hire,” Bernard said.

“When we look at some of the larger grocery store chains in Canada, they’re posting data suggesting they continue to hire. And grocery stores are a key part of the economy — especially with so many non-essential businesses shut down.”

Bernard added that the banking, transportation, IT and health-care industries are hiring as well.

Most people can work from home for positions in the IT and banking industries, while delivery roles need to be filled as more people are ordering online, and there is a high demand for health-care workers as hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, he explained.

How to find a job during the coronavirus outbreak

While economists can’t promise the job hunt will be easy during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some steps you can take to make the process smoother.

Kareen Emery, Montreal-based vice-president of employer branding at job site Monster, said using online job search resources like Indeed, Monster or Workopolis, for example, can help you find employment catered to your location, experience and industry.

“Look at the recent jobs that have been posted in the last two weeks,” Emery said.

“It means that these jobs, even though we are in this COVID-19 [outbreak], are still active. They are not on hold or paused. So look at the jobs that are recent and apply to those.”

Emery also recommended looking at government and company websites.

For those who were laid off or are temporarily not working, Bernard said it is important to have a conversation with your employer about the potential of being hired again once the novel coronavirus outbreak has settled down.

Although this can be a tough conversation to have right now, he said employees should “ask them for their honest assessment of what’s going on in the business, and what their expectations are for what will happen in the coming months.”

Companies that are hiring across Canada

Although a new study found 44 per cent of Canadian households say they’ve lost work or seen layoffs because of the outbreak, there’s a number of companies that are still hiring.

Walmart Canada, for example, says it will hire 10,000 more employees to work in its stores and distribution centres.

The company announced the jobs in a letter sent to customers from Walmart Canada’s CEO but did not provide details on where the jobs would be or whether they would be temporary.

Amazon said it would also hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers to handle the increase in online orders, as many consumers are relying on the web to meet their needs during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

24-7 Intouch, a customer service and tech company, is hiring 400 work-from-home customer service representatives as well, with both full- and part-time opportunities available.

Pepsico Beverages Canada is looking to fill 500 positions across the country, including delivery drivers, warehouse workers and employees in its manufacturing, merchandising, operations and product departments.

Babylon Health, a telehealth service provider, is also hiring 200 additional employees in Vancouver and Toronto for medical and customer service positions.

Other companies hiring in Canada include FreshBooks, Vancouver Coastal Health, Blackberry and more.

Even though the pandemic may have caused a lot of instability and grief in your career, Bernard said having this time off from work might give you the chance to re-evaluate the type of job you truly want.

For instance, you may have been working in an industry before that you weren’t happy in, so a job loss can be seen as an opportunity to redirect your career and build new skills, he said.

“There are a lot of resources online where people can take up new skills while we’re in this current period,” Bernard said.

“You can still find ways to develop your human capital so that if you’re looking to change careers when this crisis eventually ends, you’ll be on a better footing to do so.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

–– With files from Global News’ Erica Alini

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