Written by Johnathan Jena

According to the U.S. Labor Department as of April 2nd, a staggering 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment. With so many either out of work or working fewer hours, it raíses the question of how affected workers can best regain control over their careers.


Jason Zagami interviewed Mike Swaney, the Operations Manager of MassHire Cape and Islands, to learn about the changes that have occurred in the job market in response to COVID-19. Swaney explains how unemployment benefits have altered to better serve workers who have been laid off due to the pandemic, and he goes on to discuss the new opportunities that can help you to regain control over your career.




1. Understand Your Options:

One of the best ways to cope with uncertainty is to demystify it. When you understand the help that is available to you, it's easier to find ways to grow and make your situation better. Here are a few resources available for Massachusetts workers who have been displaced by COVID-19:

  • As you may have heard, all eligible individuals earning less than $75,000 will be receiving a check for $1,200 to ease the financial stress of the pandemic.


  • If you sign up for unemployment due to being out of work or to make up for lost hours, the one week waiting period for unemployment has been waived.  


By understanding your options, it is easier to see how you can navigate these stressful times. 



2. Start Freelancing:

Another great way to gain control over your situation is to work on your own terms. By freelancing, you can bring in some extra income and gain more confidence in your skills while you’re out of work. Freelancing is a great option for writers, artists, developers, and other professionals. 

Here are a few great websites where you can get started with your freelance work:


  • Upwork: Upwork is one of the most famous sites for freelancers and hosts large companies such as Microsoft and Dropbox. It also gives you plenty of tools to make the transition into freelance work quick and easy, if you’re new.


  • Fiverr: Fiverr allows you to showcase your finished work ahead of time to your clients with attractive tiered offerings. Also, it gives you support tools to help you sell your services to your audience.


  • Toptal: If you’ve freelanced before with success, check out Toptal. It is the home for top-tier freelancers in their respective fields. This makes it a great option for securing work with major companies who are looking for the very best.


  • 99designs: 99designs specializes in freelance work for designers and hosts a vibrant community. It also allows clients to start contests for designers to compete in if you have a competitive spirit.


  • Writer Access: If you’re more an artist of the written word, Writer Access is the go-to platform for aspiring freelance writers. Complete with content analytics, keyword optimization tools, and a content planner, it’ll help you stay at the top of your game.
There are many options for you to turn your work into a freelancing opportunity. The list above only scratches the surface, so have fun and good luck! 



3. Invest in Career Development:

It may seem counterintuitive to develop your career when you’re out of work, but it can be one of the very best things you can do right now. 

The reason why is because while the majority of people are out of work, they will be stuck when it comes to their careers. Because of this, now is a great time to level up your skills and abilities. This way, when you return to work, you'll spend less time adjusting and more time getting great work done.

Getting certifications in your offtime will show a great deal of initiative and help you stand out from the rest of your co-workers. Use this time as a way to sharpen your skills to make yourself more indispensable to the company in the long run.

The issue is that while some certifications are free, many of the best ones cost money. The good news is that there are resources available to help make it easier.

MassHire is a state-run career center with 29 locations across Massachusetts. They offer training services, information, and workshops to help transition you back into work. Included in this is a training stipend for people who lack the marketable skills they need in their industry.

MassHire Cape and Islands offers up to $10,000 in training allowances for certificate programs eligible to jobseekers. This is a great opportunity for you to level up your skills and regain control of your career and your life without emptying your wallet.

Signing up for MassHire is completely free through their online portal. Once you’re in, you’ll have full access to all the tools and resources needed to make your transition back into work as smoothly as possible. 



Keep Your Head Up

Even though it can be disheartening to be out of work, there are ways to make it easier. You can take back control by learning about your options for support, looking into freelancing, and pursuing professional growth. 

By creating certainty for yourself in uncertain times, you’ll grow in your work and in your life, by using the struggle to make you stronger.

Thank you for reading and best wishes to you and your loved ones during this time.