COVID-19 has had a profound impact worldwide. It’s changed how we interact, approach our health, and how we work. Well over 1 million Canadian workers have been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless others have made the shift to work from home. There are still thousands of frontline workers who continue to go to work every day, despite the risk to their personal health and safety.

If you have been laid off because of COVID-19, temporarily or permanently, there is government support available. Now is the time to take advantage of government benefits, support, and start the job search process. Here’s what to do:


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apply for the canada emergency response benefit (CERB)

If you’ve been laid off, the first thing you need to do is apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefits. You can apply here. The CERB provides a $2000 payment for a 4-week period. You will receive $500 per week for up to 16 weeks. Once you apply, you should receive a payment in 3 days if you set up direct deposit.

To qualify, you must have earned $1000 or less (pre-tax) during the eligibility period. Refer to the government of Canada website for full eligibility criteria and program details.

update your resume

Anytime there is a change in your employment status, it’s important to update your resume. Make sure to update new skills, experience, and your most recent job. If possible, have a trusted colleague take a look and offer an alternate view. They may have good ideas for ways to improve your resume.

update your linkedin profile

Once your resume is up to date, the next step is to update your LinkedIn profile. Make it known you are looking for new opportunities. Adjust your job seeking preferences in your account settings. Let recruiters know you are open to opportunities.

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start networking and see if there are opportunities

Many people assume now is not a good time to start looking for work. You may even be tempted to hold off on your job search until self-isolation rules are relaxed and the COVID-19 situation improves. Now is the time to reconnect with your network. Start planting seeds and making connections in your industry. While many companies have put hiring on hold, there are still many companies that are hiring. Even if a company isn’t hiring now, they may have a hiring need in the coming months. Get your foot in the door now.

consider temporary and alternative work options

There are a select number of industries that can’t get enough help. There are lots of temporary roles available in grocery, health, supply chain, and information technology. Even if this is not the prime industry for your career, there may be opportunities worth pursuing. Have an open mind and think about how you can apply your skills and experience to the career opportunities available.

use the time to add skills and expertise

There is a silver lining to getting laid off and having extra time at home because of physical distancing. You can use the time for self-growth. You finally have some extra time to recharge your battery and read that book you’ve been meaning to get to. You can also use this time to improve yourself professionally. Consider taking an online course, studying for a certification exam, and adding new skills to your toolkit. There are many sites and organizations offering free or affordable resources.

As with anything else, this too shall pass. Getting laid off is an unfortunate result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it can also be an opportunity. It gives you a chance to reevaluate where you are in your career, what you want to do, and next steps in your career journey. 


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