The timeline and cost for completing the Purple Line is up in the air after a judge ruled that contractors may quit in the middle of the project. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich weighs in on that, the latest coronavirus news and more.
Whether you are a new graduate starting out in your career, recently unemployed because of pandemic-related shutdowns or someone who has been on the job hunt for a while, the post-pandemic job market will be unfamiliar terrain. New economic realities and the highest unemployment rate in generations have changed the landscape of getting hired.
So, what will it take to master the new job hunt and land your next position?
This is a broadcast of the audio from our virtual Kojo in Your Community event on May 19, 2020. Kojo will not be taking live calls or social media questions during this show.
Produced by Kurt Gardinier
- Char Brown Founder and CEO, Char Brown Solutions
- Julie Neill Career Coach, University of Maryland's Smith School of Business
- Nancy Augustine Professor, The George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
- Robert Reich Former Secretary of Labor, University of California Professor and author of, “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.”
KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" on WAMU 88.5, where I'm broadcasting from home, so, welcome. Tuesday night, we held our second-ever "Kojo in Your Virtual Community" event, via Zoom. The topic this, time navigating the post-pandemic job market. WAMU's Jeremy Bernfeld assisted me again by moderating and sharing the questions from the hundreds of attendees. A quick programming note, our next "Kojo in Your Virtual Community" will be Tuesday, June 9th. Detains on that event will soon be posted to kojoshow.org, so look out for that. And a reminder, today's show is pre-tapped, so we won't be taking calls or reading your questions or comments from social media during the broadcast. Later in the hour, we'll be talking with economist, professor and author Robert Reich. But, first, as I'm sure you're all very well aware, the economy is hurting across the D.C. region, the country and the world.
NNAMDIIn the U.S., we are seeing the unemployment rate approach 20 percent. To put that in perspective during the Great Depression, the highest the unemployment ever got was 25 percent. In the past, D.C. has been kind of, somewhat immune to economic downturns like recessions. But what's happening now is quite different, something we've never really encountered before. And it appears that no one is immune, well, anything. So, whether you're a new graduate starting out in your career, recently unemployed because of the pandemic or someone who has been on the job for a while, the post-pandemic job market will be unfamiliar terrain. New economic realities and the highest unemployment rate in generations have changed the landscape of getting hired. So, what will it take to navigate the new job hunt and land into your next position? Let's find out. Welcome to "Kojo in Your Virtual Community: Navigating the Post-Pandemic Job Market." I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIJoining us now, Char Brown, the Founder and CEO of Char Brown Solutions, who is joining us from her home in Arlington, Virginia. Char, thank you so much for joining us.
CHAR BROWNThank you for having me. Excited to get started.
NNAMDIJulie Neill is a Career Coach at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, where she coaches MBA students and alumni, and is joining us from her home in Montgomery County, Maryland. Julie, thank you for joining us.
JULIE NEILLThanks so much, Kojo. Pleasure to be here.
NNAMDIAnd Nancy Augustine is a Professor at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. She is also joining us from her home in Takoma Park, Maryland. Nancy, thank you for joining us.
NANCY AUGUSTINEThank you.
NNAMDISo, among the four of us, we have D.C., Maryland and Virginia all covered. Nancy Augustine, I'll start with you. What is the state of the D.C. area economy right now, and how does it compare with the rest of the country?
AUGUSTINEIt's going to be a while before we have a complete picture, but we do have some evidence to look at. So, just like other urban areas of the United States the economy of the District of Columbia and surrounding areas is in disarray. Large sections of the economy are shut down and economic activity in a lot of neighborhoods has dried up. The impact on area workers has been devastating. A critical data point, in the last eight weeks, one-and-a-quarter-of-a-million initial unemployment claims were filed in the District, Maryland and Virginia. In the District alone that was 85,000 people since mid-March. Just to give you a point of comparison, for the same eight week period last year only 3,000 people in the District of Columbia filed first time unemployment claims. And we know that enrollment systems all over the country have not been able to keep up.
NNAMDINancy, over 20 percent of workers in our region work for the federal government, and it's my understanding most of them are still working. Has that prevented our economy from getting even worse?
AUGUSTINEThe fact that we have a lot of government employees does provide us some insulation from the economic turndown. And, in fact, a lot of jobs that allow telecommuting are keeping the economy going. But, at the same time, there are a lot of other industries that have shut down. Overall, we can expect that D.C. is going to fair better during this recession that other metro areas. I think there are, really, three big reasons. As you mentioned, 20 percent of the local economy is government sector. We also have, compared to other metro areas, a relatively small manufacturing sector and really negligible mining and logging. They're both about two percent and those are two industries that tend to turn down in a recession. And then, finally, common policy response when there's a recession is to boost government spending. Now, this is a wild card for us, because this time, we're not seeing, so far, a lot of government spending, not the kind that would generate jobs. So, this will be the wild card.
NNAMDIJulie Neill, how does the economy and the job market in our region look like, through the eyes of a Career Coach like yourself?
NEILLYeah. That's a great question. Well, you know, certainly, we've seen changes. And there have been, you know, people, sadly, on the worst end we have seen some rescinded offers. But we also see a lot of positive things, too. We have seen people still getting jobs and offers. So, I think, again, there's an impact, but there's still always the positive end of it, as well.
NNAMDIChar Brown, a big part of the company you founded 10 years ago is to assist people with their resumes. What advice are you giving your clients? And has that advice changed since the pandemic began?
BROWNYeah. So, I give my clients various advice. I think it hasn't changed a lot because of the pandemic. I think companies are still hiring, as we can see. Depending on what industry you're looking to go to, I would say healthcare is still booming, currently. Manufacturing is still booming. So, I think it really depends on what you're looking to go into for your career. But I would say I wouldn't stop your job search. If you are worried about applying for jobs, currently, there are things you can still do to prepare yourself for the job search. You can begin to revamp your resume during this time. You can think about a career strategy and focus on what you want to do in your career. And if you want to get a career change, for example, you can work on understanding what the job market looks like today and what stills you may need now. A lot of people are focusing on building their skills, currently. So, they're turning to online learning to build their skills. I recommend that to my clients who are really in a place where they're aren't able to work, currently. It's a great time to just take some online skill development.
BROWNYou can even do some skill-based volunteering if you're unemployed, right now. So, being able to think about what you can add to your resume now while in this downfall. It's just a good time to think about that.
NNAMDIAnd, Jeremy, I think we have a question.
JEREMY BERNFELDThat's right. This is from Ben. Ben asks, "What do you recommend for recent grads trying to standout in a resume stack?"
BROWNYeah. I can definitely take that. So, I think, as a recent grad, there's a few things you can do. Firstly, again, think about where you want to go with your career and if you're in a situation where you're not currently working, you can think about what skills you want to gain for that. But, also, there are some companies that are offering virtual internships. I know some people think internships are only available for students. But I will tell you now that most companies will have internships for even about a year out after you graduate. So, it's a great time to take an internship, whether they're paid or unpaid. Obviously, paid is advised if you would like to do that. But if you take an internship right now, you'll still have an opportunity to kind of learn those skills on the ground while you're in this transition period. And then focusing on your network. I think regardless of if you're a recent graduate or senior career, your network is still there for you. You can network with your friends and your family to find out who are those key people two and three friends down the line who may have an offer at their company and that sort of thing, as well.
NNAMDINancy Augustine. Oh, go right ahead, please.
AUGUSTINEI'm sorry, Kojo. Yeah, just to add to that, you know, so two things about the resume and standing out. I think, number one, whether you're a recent grad or an experienced professional, on a resume, it's all about keywords. And really understanding that when you are applying, you are applying to an applicant tracking system that is a software that is designed to basically identify the best candidates and weed out other candidates. And they do that through keywords. So, really understanding the ATS, how it works and optimizing your resume for that. There's a wonderful website called Jobscan where you can do that. You can actually use it to optimize. And, as Char said, you know, not only the resume to standout, it's how do you stand out in the applicant pool is through networking and making sure that you get referrals, because getting passed the ATS is difficult. But you want to utilize those referrals so that you get noticed and you actually get a human to read your resume.
NNAMDISpeaking of standing out, Jeremy, I think we have questions having to do with how to stand out.
BERNFELDThis is from Kevin, from McLain. "I lost most of my income at the beginning of the lockdown, and I've been trying to find part-timer or freelance work as a copy editor. But the number of people applying, even for part-time jobs, is so huge, that sometimes it's up to 50 to 100 people for any of these jobs. So, how do you stand out from the pack, especially in a time with such competition?"
BROWNSure. I would say think about where you're looking. So, there are, as you mentioned, there are a ton of jobs that are out there, gig economy work that is out there. Freenlancingjobs.com, again, a good place to look. But think about where you can stand out, and as Julie mentioned, the keywords matter the most. I feel like as you're applying for these gig-based jobs, they're looking, again, at your resume, scanning it to figure out what you have there. But also, if you can think about what you can add to your portfolio when you're applying for those jobs, for example, that they can take a look at to see your past work, that may help you stand out as well within that job search.
NNAMDICan you offer examples of keywords, Char, that that candidate might like to use?
BROWNYeah. I would say, in the first place, is every candidate will have a different keyword based on their industry and what they're looking for. So, I would say the first thing I would do is Goggle the job that you want. And take maybe two to three of those jobs down. Save them into a Word document, and upload to Jobscan, as Julie mentioned. You can also use the Word Cloud. So, I've used Word Cloud for my clients. You can dump 10 jobs into one Word Cloud, and then those keywords are going to pop out. Those are the words that you need to think and focus on. Whatever you see that's most common in those pop words, use those in your resume as often and possible, as you can.
NNAMDISpeaking of industry, Nancy Augustine, what are the hardest-hit businesses and industries in this region?
AUGUSTINEThe hardest-hit industries in this region are the what they're calling the non-essential businesses. They are all shut down. You know, and this is a wide range of industries. Anything that involves physical proximity to people or having to be onsite at a particular place to be able to do your work, all of those industries are shut down. It's probably a little easier to talk about the ones that are still open. So, for instance, government is still working, as you mentioned. Restaurants are on a very limited basis. And also, as you mentioned, telecommuting. A lot of people are on telework. They still have incomes. But they're not spending money near their workplaces. They're not going out to lunch, not shopping, not going to the dry cleaners, not engaging in the usual economic activity that they engage in.
NNAMDIJulie Neill, which industries and businesses are not hiring right now? Where should people not be wasting time looking for opportunities?
NEILLYeah. So, I think in our area, you know, hospitality industry is big, right? We are -- the headquarters of Marriot is in Bethesda. We've got Hilton in Tyson's Corner. So, definitely, not the hospitality area. I think, again, anything related to where the business has not been able to function, right. But, for our area, I think I've seen the biggest in our students and alumni with hospitality.
NNAMDIJeremy, I think we have another question about standing out.
BERNFELDYeah. Kojo, this is a question about standing out for older workers. "What job search strategies do you recommend for older workers who may face age discrimination? Could the pandemic put them in an even greater disadvantage?"
NNAMDIFirst, you, Julie Neill.
NEILLOkay. So, you know, I think there are some strategies you can use on your resume to avoid someone seeing your age. With your education, you don't have to put the year that you graduated. But I wouldn't be so concerned about that. I think the concern is to really focus on making sure that you're positioning yourself as the best candidate for that role. So, the focus is whether it's your resume, the interview, is making sure that you're articulating your value proposition and your skills, and that they're sharp and that they're up to date and current. So, I really wouldn't worry so much about, again, the age part, but focus redirecting. Really focus on how you can sharpen that value proposition.
BROWNYeah. Julie, I piggyback off exactly what you said. I would like to add to that if you're thinking about ages and as Julie mentioned, education is one place where we likely will put our year -- our graduation date. Remove that from resume. If you're in a senior role or worried about that, you could focus on that most recent 10 to 15 years in your career. Anything past 15 years, you can either drop off your resume, or maybe make a career note that says "Notable experiences." And, even there, I would just put the title and the company, and remove the years of experience.
NNAMDIJeremy, one more on older job seekers.
BERNFELDThis question if from Janet from Facebook, and she asks, "Are there internships for older professional adults who would like to change careers?" Ultimately, we have several questions from older job seekers who are looking to retool and make career changes. What advice can the panelists give them on that?
NEILLYeah. So, I don't if I would call them internships. But I think, you know, we're moving toward a project-based work environment, right? And so there's so much, you know, the gig economy, Char mentioned, flex jobs. There's lots of places where you can you find, again, project-based work, whether it's contract, freelance and remote, you know. So, I think those are the things to focus on, rather than internships. If you're an older, experienced professional, I mean, the connotation there is for a student. Whereas you have a professional skillset to add, so how can you do that in, again, this flex, remote gig-type of economy?
NNAMDINancy Augustine, Char and -- go ahead, Char.
BROWNI was going to say, I would also add to that, I mean, if you think about what you're currently doing or what you've previously done and want to move towards that work, again, volunteering is free, and it may take a little bit of your time, but you're still going to get that skillset you need to continue being relevant in the field. So, the more you can think about relevant and working on, again, the skills you can be acquiring on this time of this downfall or learning a new skill that you may need for your next role. It's a great time to think about how you can increase some of that knowledge there. And thinking about freelance work or the gig economy, one advice I would have, if you take on multiple jobs, maybe two to three within these two to three months, you feel free to make that a one title on your resume. Say I'm a freelancer writer, for example, or a freelancer admin assistant, then you can list the two and three roles you've had as a freelancer. But keep the series of time within a larger time frame.
BROWNThat way, you can really focus on longevity within the work that you're doing. But, again, it could be gig work, but it looks like one constant type of work you're doing in that time period.
NNAMDINancy Augustine, Char and Julie's clients are primary professional workers. But what about hourly wage workers in our area? How are they doing?
AUGUSTINEThe picture there is really mixed for people at the lower end of the income scale. So, the industries that are open do have a lot of shift workers. For instance, again, restaurants, healthcare providers, nursing homes. And the same for blue collar. Infrastructure services is still open, utilities, municipal services. But even when they have a job, the problem is that a lot of these shift workers and blue collar workers are not necessarily in the safest conditions. They're not necessarily getting adequate protection.
NNAMDIHow important, Nancy, is the role of workforce development programs and centers right now?
AUGUSTINEWell, right now, unfortunately, workforce development is all remote. There are very few, very limited remote -- I'm sorry. Very limited workforce development opportunities right now. So, the Department of Labor supports what they call American job centers. These are throughout the United States. And it's federally funded job training. But the American job centers are closed. I think a lot of them are open by email and telephone. But even if you are able to get ahold of them, the training providers are not open. So, the options that you do have are to go online. They do have a lot of information online. You just can't sign up for any training. But as Char mentioned remote learning is a really good opportunity right now. In fact, I've had several former students contact me, saying that they want to pivot to something else, and this is a great time for them to make that shift to learn a new skill.
NNAMDITalk about the industries that may not be coming back, again, Nancy Augustine.
AUGUSTINESo at this point I would not prognostic that any industries are going to disappear. But I think that we're going to see a lot of realignment, and we're certainly going to see some dampening over the coming year or two. You know, the big question is: when are people are going to be willing to go back to crowded concert venues? When are they going to be willing to go back to restaurants? This is really hard to say. But, you know, I think that all of the industries will maintain, and those that will be stronger are the ones that are going to adapt.
NNAMDIJeremy, we have another question?
BERNFELDWe have a couple of questions. This is one is from Sherry, who says, "Do you think employers will be hiring people they haven't met in person?" And we have one from Bethany, in Alexandria, who says, "How do you see recruiting and interviews preceding during the pandemic? Will these processes become completely virtual, and will employers limit hiring until they can begin meeting candidates in person again?"
NNAMDIFirst you, Char Brown.
BROWNI say no. Companies are still hiring, so whether you're virtual or not, I would say continue to put your resume out there. We have as we see here at Zoom is a great platform company they're using for hiring. Microsoft Teams is where they partner with companies and allow them to use their platform for recruiting and interviewing. I would say continue to apply for jobs and look forward to virtual interviews, and resumes are still being reviewed right now.
NEILLYeah. Absolutely. I think hiring and recruiting is still happening. And we had a call about a month ago with some of our key employer partners, and they are just pivoting to this new environment. And things are happening virtual. We did a big virtual career fair for our students. We had a huge turnout and participation from employers. So, it's turning to adapt utilizing technology.
NNAMDIJeremy, we have a question about technology.
BERNFELDThis is a question from Dave. Dave says, "Technology is advancing rapidly. Within a couple of decades, there will be very few jobs that can't be done better and cheaper by machines than by people, and we'll have to find a new model for the economy. How can we leverage the current situation to prepare for that transition? As Churchill said, 'Never waste a good crisis.'"
NNAMDII guess I'll put that question to all of you, starting with you, Julie Neill.
NEILLYeah. So, even before this pandemic, we were already seeing that there were huge changes in jobs, the economy and the worlds of work. You know, we see that artificial intelligence, machine learning, they're eliminating jobs, but they're also creating new jobs, right? So, I think there's a couple of things to keep in mind in terms of the skillset. And number one is that no matter what your age, we all have to be lifelong learners. Nancy and Char have both mentioned, you know, online learning. But all of us have to develop new skills because, again, as the question stated, that things are changing all the time and the technology changes. So, we have to keep on our toes and we have to have that growth mindset and constantly re-upping, reskilling.
NNAMDIChar, how do you turn a crisis into an opportunity?
BROWNI really think Julie is spot-on there. I would say outside of continuing to learning new skills, understanding, honestly, what industries are currently booming. I know a lot of people are worried about the downfall the blue collar workers, if you will, or those what we call dirty workers or hard workers. But those jobs are, honestly, still out there. Are construction workers are out there and so are truck drivers. And there are still welders and pipe cleaners, they're all still working and really advancing their careers. If you're thinking about a career shift, if you will, and thinking about what they're working on and how the industry is going, the demand there is huge for those workers, because a lot of us are, honestly, getting four-year degrees and getting into the professional world into white collar. So, the blue collar industry is still booming and existing. I think it's a good place to look, as well, if you're eager to switch careers.
AUGUSTINESo, I think that Char and Julie probably have it exactly right. But I will a little bit of a contrarian view, which is I think it's very possible that this time has shown us just how important human contact is and having human beings doing jobs. Automation is not entirely making it for all of us. So, there might be a little bit of a turning back.
NNAMDIYes. My neighbor, who is a plumber, is not seeing any drop in work at all at this point. Char, what are common mistakes that people make on their resumes and cover letters?
BROWNI'm sure Julie would have a lot more to say there, as well. So, I would say format is probably the biggest mistake. You want to look as polished as possible when you're presenting your resume to both the recruiter, or, as Julie mentioned earlier, an applicant tracking system. Because ATS is an automatic system, the more polished you are, the more consistent you are, the easier it is for it to read your resume. So, again, is your name, your contact at the very top of your resume? Are you skills very prevalent there? If you're focusing on those three to five previous jobs, a good consistency matters. You first role should always be in an active voice, the past roles in a past voice. Using active words on your resume will be key. Whether you're discussing your accomplishments or your current job duties, the active words really matter most. They want to see what you've done in your career, not what we've done.
BROWN"What I've accomplished," without using the I, obviously, there. But really focusing on being consistent within your resume, a clean format, consistent bullets. If you decide to bullet format, you do three bullets in your first job, two to three bullets across the resume. If you do five bullets, you need five across everything. Consistency is key, there.
NNAMDIJulie, common mistakes people make.
NEILLYou know, I think the most common mistake people make is that they write their resume as if it's your job description. And they write their duties. And if you have a common job title that someone knows, if you're a server, you know, someone knows that you wait tables. You take people's orders and, you know, you give them their food. So, what you really want to focus on is your accomplishments. What have you done in that role? Were you employee of the month, three months in a row? Did you redesign the way that tables turn over, so it's more efficient? What value did you add? That speaks to an employer. That makes your resume come alive. That's the number one thing, I think, people do wrong, is they don't mention the accomplishments, only the duties.
NNAMDIJeremy, let's talk networking.
BERNFELDHow do I build a network during this pandemic?
NEILLI think, actually, the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to build a network, right, you know, using technology. And, you know, it doesn't have to be Zoom. It can be even just your phone. I think, you know, now people -- we're all at home, right. We're all craving social contact and probably have more time. We're not commuting. So, life has changed. So, in the busy life before, maybe your email would've got lost in the shuffle. But now is the time to reach out, and people do want to connect. And people do genuinely want to help.
NEILLYou know, I know that a lot of people think about networking, and they have sort of a negative association, but people want to help. And think about, again, that it could be very mutually beneficial. So, one of the refrains I give to jobseekers is that you could be helping the person who hopes to get the job. There's so many employee referral programs, where if you get successfully referred, that person is going to get financially paid, right. So, they're going to get a thousand dollar bonus or some amount of money. So, it is really mutually beneficial. And you'll find people do want to connect. They want to refer great candidates.
NNAMDIChar, are you also finding that people are more interested in networking, especially since the pandemic?
BROWNYep, yep, definitely. I'm getting LinkedIn requests constantly, at this point, now. So, I would say use your LinkedIn, as you can. If you think about the jobs you want, and you may not be in that role currently, LinkedIn is a great place to start looking. Search for the role you want. See what the current employees in that role, see what they're putting on their LinkedIn. See what descriptions they're adding there, to add value to their LinkedIn. Use some of that language in your profile. Again, it helps you standout by using common concepts that they're also using.
BROWNBut also offer -- ask for information on interview. As Julie mentioned, we're all very social beings. We want to be social. We love talking about our jobs and what we do. So, if you can email someone and say, hey, I'm looking for 15 minutes just to chat about what you're currently working on, what you're currently doing. It, one, gives you a point of contact within a company you're interested in. But also gives you the opportunity to learn what's happening currently in the job market.
NNAMDIChar, I often wonder if people loving to talk about their jobs is somehow unique to this region, or do you find it's anywhere you go around the country?
BROWNAnywhere you go. Everyone (laugh) -- I know, with a background of psychology, people love to talk about themselves. So, (laugh) I would say it's worth asking, around the world, that question.
NNAMDIJeremy, we have another question?
JEREMYThis is a question from Jen, in D.C. She says, “Given the high number of professionals who are currently unemployed and the severe impact of COVID on our economy and businesses, what are the panelists' thoughts regarding salary and benefits? Should those of us who lost our jobs expect to be forced into taking pay cuts, given the current supply and demand? Or is it okay to stay firm, when it comes to your value??
NEILLSo, I think it's a very individual thing, right. I think each one of us has to determine what our threshold is and what our walkaway point is. Yes, the environment is competitive. Yes, we're in an economic downturn, but the onus is on you to really be able to articulate your value and why you are worth that number.
NEILLSo, here's a golden question that you can ask, right. So, if you do get a salary offer, and the number is way lower than -- or lower, or just not optimal, what you wanted, you know, ask the employer, how did you get to that figure? How did you determine this number? Because then you can get into their logic, and they can explain to you. And then by understanding their logic and the analysis, you can then have a counterargument to say, well, you know, actually I have this skillset that would be valuable. So, really, I think, don't be afraid to negotiate, I guess, is the bottom line, even in this environment.
NNAMDIBut, Char, should expectations be lowered because of the state of the economy right now?
BROWNHonestly, I don't think so. As Julie mentioned, again, you know your value, and you know what your walkaway point is. If you have to term, like, the best alternative to some kind of offer...
BROWN...thank you, the BATNA, right then you know your walkaway point and you know where you're comfortable and where you'd like to be, as well. So, if you focus on that, and it was to speak to why you are worth that amount, I would say that you shouldn't necessarily walk away or take something lower than you honestly feel like you're comfortable with.
NNAMDINancy Augustine, when our economy is thriving again, what will it look like? Will the local business be a thing of the past?
AUGUSTINEWe are certainly going to see some shaking out of the local economy. Some of our local businesses are going to go away. You know, I would encourage everyone to look around your neighborhood and enjoy the businesses that you have there, because some of them might not be there after we get out of this, unfortunately. But I think that people are going to really crave the local business. They're really going to crave the mom and pop. That kind of a demand is not going to go away. So, it may take a while, but I think it will come back.
NNAMDIJeremy, we have another question?
JEREMY“What kind of advice do you have for applying to jobs that people may need part time or flexible work for the future? Is it worth it to apply to full-time job postings if I might only be able to off part-time hours?”
BROWNThat's a fantastic question. And Julie might be able to back me up on this one, as well, there. I would say if you're unemployed and you need a job, part-time isn't a bad option. I think you should, again, consider where your financial standpoints are, and what you're looking for in your next role.
BROWNAlso, a lot of companies are very flexible right now, even in full-time work. A lot of companies are offering more of the flexible work schedule. So, maybe you decide, I need my eight hours in the day, but it may not be a nine to five. A lot of companies are saying, okay, log in at 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. They'll make sure you're getting your work done the best way you can, given your current situation.
NEILLSo, the situation is fluid, right? There's so much uncertainty. We don't know when schools are going to open. We don't know so many variables, so I wouldn't count yourself out. Apply, because you don't know what's going to happen in the future. Give yourself that opportunity. If you don't apply, you're definitely not getting that job, and you're definitely never going to hear from that employer.
NEILLSo, see what your situation is now. Make sure that you have plentiful options, and then, you know, go through the process. If that employer likes you and you're fabulous, maybe you can negotiate. You know what? I've got a childcare situation, and I can only do 30 hours a week. Again, we're in a totally different ballgame now, completely different environment. And I think employers are going to be flexible for the right candidate. So, don't count yourself out. Go ahead and apply.
NNAMDIChar Brown, honesty is usually the way to go in life, but you suggest not telling your potential future employer that you're unemployed. Why do you suggest that?
BROWNI honestly would say, when you're thinking about where you are in your process, even your resume, as honest as possible, will get you through the door. Employers won't be looking for that gap of two to three months in this current timeframe, because we all may have that gap, currently. Again focusing on kind of where you are in your career, what your most recent jobs are.
BROWNAnd then when you're in an interview, they may ask, but they also may not ask. So, go and apply for a job as though they're not going to ask. And then when they ask, volunteer the information. They won't even care why you're unemployed. They may understand it, because we're all in the COVID experience right now. But, again, you may have more of a stronger chance of getting hired, because we're all in the same experience, than you might two or three years ago.
NNAMDINancy Augustine, how quickly will this Washington economy recover once we go back to whatever version of normal we get to?
AUGUSTINEOh, that's a really good question. So, what I would expect would happen first is that when -- I think the first step that we need is for the schools to reopen. When schools reopen, then people who are teleworking can go back to work. Then they will start spending money in the areas where they work. People that serve the buildings will be able to go back to work.
AUGUSTINESo, those will come back fairly quickly. I suspect that with the tourism industry, by contrast, entertainment, hospitality, those are going to take a whole lot longer to come back. It's so hard to say when anyone's going to be willing to travel and be in confined spaces with other people.
NNAMDIJeremy, we have one more question?
JEREMY“Can you speak to the importance of personal branding? I mean, investment and what that should look like, especially for more seasoned professionals?”
NNAMDIPersonal branding. Char Brown?
BROWNYeah, that's a great question. I would say you want to be consistent in whatever brand you put out there. So, for example, if you are -- your credentials, you want to make sure your credentialing is on your resume, is on your LinkedIn. The one cool feature of LinkedIn is that you can add your own customized URL to your LinkedIn profile.
BROWNSo, say you are a creative designer. You may say LinkedIn.com/creativedesignerChar, right. And make sure that same language is on your resume. And, again, it's all about being consistent in whatever brand you decide to put out there. I think that's what is key in branding, for me.
NNAMDIAnything to add to that, Julie Neill?
NEILLYeah, I think just, again, in this current environment, your digital profile, your digital brand is so important now. So, you know, as Char said, you know, make sure your LinkedIn profile -- where else are you showing up on social media? And how can you showcase your work? On your LinkedIn profile, you can actually have examples of your work. So, really, think about your personal brand in the digital space.
NNAMDIAnd, up next, is Robert Reich. But, Char Brown, thank you so much for joining us.
BROWNThank you for having me.
NNAMDIJulie Neill, thank you for joining us.
NEILLThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd, Nancy Augustine, thank you for joining us.
AUGUSTINEThank you. It was a pleasure.
NNAMDIWe don't have too much time with tonight's special guest, and there's a lot to get to, so let's dig right in. Joining us now is economist Robert Reich, who has served in three presidential administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. He's a professor at the University of California Berkley's Goldman School of Public Policy and the author of 12 books, including his most recent, "The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It." Professor Reich joins us from his home in Berkeley, California. Thank you so much for joining us.
ROBERT REICHWell, thank you for inviting me, Kojo.
NNAMDIDescribe the U.S. economy right now, please, and how this financial disaster compares with the Great Depression? The causes of the two economic disasters are certainly different, but we're starting to see Great Depression-like numbers right now. Have we seen the worst of it?
REICHI wish I could say that we've seen the worst of it. We probably are going to be getting up to between 20 and 25 percent unemployment. Now, those are numbers that we thought were absolutely impossible. The worst of the Great Depression, in the early 1930s, saw about 25 percent unemployment. I think we're heading in that direction, and not because of the reason we had 25 percent unemployment in the Great Depression of the 1930s.
REICHThe reason we are seeing it today is the pandemic. We didn't have a pandemic, obviously, in the 1930s. In the 1930s, we had a huge kind of crash. The debt system was -- and our financial system crashed. Same thing in 2008. It was a financial crash. But this is not a financial crash. This is a death-defying pandemic. And a lot of people are either unemployed, or they started out sheltering at home for a very, very good reason. And I think still there's a lot of very important and good reason, if you possibly can, to shelter at home.
NNAMDIWell, most every state has begun reopening its economy, businesses, restaurants, bars, even bowling alleys. You've called President Trump's four-step plan to reopen the U.S. economy lethal. Why? How is it lethal?
REICHWell, I think it's lethal because no country around the world that has experienced this pandemic -- and most countries have -- but no country that has experienced it has started opening again when it has done so little testing and when the level of deaths, the number of deaths, really, has not substantially declined. In the United States, we don't know what is going to happen. We are about to undertake -- in fact, we're in the process, this week, of undertaking, really, a very dangerous experiment. And that experiment is, well, let's open up.
REICHAnd some states are saying, let's open up without even worrying about social distancing or masks or anything else, and let's just see how bad it can get. Well, that's not exactly a good idea. Some businesses are reopening without adequate safety equipment or adequate safety safeguards, again, masks, social distancing. And those businesses are essentially saying, well, we're doing what is required of us, but there is no uniform occupational safety in health directives across states. Every state is sort of doing it in its own way, and every county in certain states is doing it in its own way. This is a kind of form of chaos, and it doesn't serve the interest of Americans and American workers.
NNAMDIIn a recent op-ed for Newsweek, you described four classes that are emerging from this crisis. Can you briefly discuss those four groups?
REICHYes, and the classes that are emerging from this do parallel the kind of inequality we see even before the pandemic. I mean, at the top, we have the managerial, professional and technical workers who continue to work and get a paycheck. They do it remotely. Most of them, many of them are very safe. They are working through their internet, through their internet connections, through remote systems. And they don't have to particularly worry about the risk. As long as they don't go out very much, as long as they wear masks and maintain social distancing, they're fine. They're at the top.
REICHThen you have people who are deemed the kind of essential workers and people who are in hospitals, nurses, people in warehouses, meat-packing factories, people who are providing oversight or actually personal attention in various nursing homes. A lot of these people are in risky situations. They don't have adequate protective gear, not all of them. I know, because I have a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law, both of them are nurses, and they're not getting adequate protective gear.
REICHAnd, also, many of these people do not have sick leave. They don't have hazard pay. They are in harm's way, because the country needs them, but we are not giving them the respect of at least guarding their safety and their health and providing them with adequate pay.
REICHThen you have a third group of people who are unemployed, who have no source of income. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This third group of people who have no paycheck, this group is in trouble. I mean, Congress attempted to give them some additional money, a $1,200 check and $600 per week extra in unemployment benefits. But they're having a hard time getting through to the unemployment offices. They are filing and claiming unemployment insurance. It's not clear that they are even getting it. And there's a lot of red tape in the way.
REICHAnd finally, Kojo, there is a fourth group that really are, in many ways, invisible. They're people in prison. They are on Native-American reservations. They are immigrants, or they are attempting to be immigrants. They are at our borders, and they are detained in various facilities. They are homeless people who are at homeless shelters. These invisible people are among the most exposed to this coronavirus, and they are at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of people who we pay attention to, even in the best of circumstances.
NNAMDIHow would you rate the first stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by the president? Was it effective? Did it stop the bleeding, so to speak?
REICHNo. We need much more. And some of that, if you're talking about the payroll protection plan and the $1,200 single checks, you know, that's fine, but $1,200 does not go very far, if you're a typical family. You have to pay the rent. You've got to pay -- you know, you've got to get food on the table. And a one-time payment of $1,200 is simply not enough.
REICHAs I said, the $600-plus for unemployment insurance was fine, if you could get through unemployment insurance and you actually qualify. But many people can't. And too much of the money went to big corporations and the banks. The banks took $10 billion for themselves, without any risk. They didn't face any risks. They actually were -- their loans that they made to businesses and small businesses were backed up completely by taxpayers, by the treasury. So, why the banks took $10 billion is a mystery.
REICHAnd then you have the Fed that is out there basically taking on the debts of a lot of big corporations that went into debt over the past few years in order to buy back their shares of stock. Well, that was a pretty risky move and now the Fed has essentially said, fine, don't worry about it.
NNAMDIIf you were writing and implementing the next stimulus bill, what would it include and, I guess just as important, what would it not include?
REICHWell, a lot of the things that I would recommend are already in the stimulus bill that was passed Friday by the House of Representatives. And that is, help for states and local governments, because states can't run deficits, most of them. And local governments -- both the states and local governments are terribly impacted by this crisis, because tax revenues are way down. Sales taxes don't -- you know, if people are not out there making economic activity, obviously, there's not going to be very much as tax revenues. And yet the state and local governments are on the frontlines of all of this. They, and the people they hire, need our help, and they are our first protectors.
REICHThe other people -- you know, I would also send the money directly to the people. I mean, most American's have their taxes, or have the option of having their taxes withheld. Well, you just reverse that process. The Treasury already knows who has withholding. Just get the money back to people, reverse the withholding system, and don't go through the banks. Don't go through the Small Business Administration.
REICHMost other advanced countries, particularly in Europe, they pay the payrolls, directly, and they don't expect people to report the work. They expect people to be sheltering in place but people need to have jobs. They need to know the jobs are there. They need to keep their connections to their work, and they need to have money.
NNAMDICompanies like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, Google will all still be standing after this, but how do we make sure that our small and even micro-small businesses not only survive the crisis, but prosper, like the big companies are expected to?
REICHWell, the small business -- a real problem is the small businesses. Now, I'm talking about businesses with 50 or fewer employees. These are the real mom-and-pop operations of the main streets, retail and restaurant operations. A lot of them are not going to survive, and it's saddening, and it's going to be a tremendous problem, because they're responsible for a lot of employment.
REICHAnd they -- ideally, they would have access to ways of rearranging, reorganizing their debts. And their landlords would have an interest in keeping them and would delay their payments. But a lot of these small businesses, unfortunately, are not going to make it, which means that a lot of people who work for them are going to be out of a job for a fairly long -- a long time.
NNAMDIWhat weaknesses has the coronavirus pandemic exposed about our country and our economy?
REICHOh, I think it's exposed almost all of them. It's exposed racism, and the kind of ugly form of racism. The people who are most at risk and who have died in larger numbers, in proportion to their numbers in the population, are people of color. Because many of them have pre-existing conditions, because they haven't had medical care. Many of them are in essential work, because they're the only ones who will take the essential work.
REICHMany of them are suffering from asthma and other diseases, because they live in places where the air is not particularly healthy. So, this kind of institutional and structural racism is built into America. And, sadly and tragically, the coronavirus has exposed it for everybody to see. What we also begin to see is how our antipathy as a nation toward government, our distrust of government means that we end up with a government that is incapable of helping us. We have no public health system.
REICHWe have no healthcare system that actually makes it easy for people to see doctors and go to the hospital when they need to. We have no unemployment system that is there for people when they actually need money to sustain themselves. The red tape that people have to go through right now is ridiculous. No other advanced country treats its average workers and its poor as badly as does the United States.
NNAMDIYou've now written a dozen books. Number 12 is, as we said earlier, "The System: Who Rigged It, and How We Fix It." So, who rigged it, and how do we fix it?
REICHWell, it was rigged, sadly to say, by very wealthy people and big organizations, big companies, big corporations. And they rigged it -- everybody in Washington knows exactly how the rigging works. It's called lobbying and campaign contributions. And every day -- and it's going on even during this pandemic. You've got big corporations with fleets of platoons of lawyers and lobbyists.
REICHAnd what they do, essentially, is they know to get their -- first in line. They know how to get their hands out. They know how to -- in the coronavirus legislation, for example, investors in real estate got billions of dollars of tax cuts. Nobody saw it, at least the press didn't know about it until weeks after it happened. But the lobbyists, obviously, were there. They got the Senate Finance Committee to put it in, Grassley's office put it in and, for what? Because it's a payoff. Let's be clear about it. This is bribery. It's legal bribery, but it is a form of bribery.
NNAMDIWell, these are certainly scary and uncertain times, but I am still able to get out on my bicycle with my mask and get a little exercise. But what is Robert Reich doing for fun, these days?
REICHWell, I get out when I can, and I certainly do try to get exercise. And I try to laugh every day. I try to find something to laugh at. Now, Kojo, if you can't find something to laugh at, then you're really in trouble. But it is also a very fine wire. It's a balancing act, because if you laugh too much and find too much that's funny, that could be a way of escaping from stuff that you shouldn't escape from.
REICHThat is, it's very important -- and I don't have to tell you, you know this, but I want to say it, in case anybody out there needs to hear it -- it's important to stay involved and active, not only with regard to yourself and your mental state and your family, but it's also vitally important to be an active citizen. Because unless we fight for social justice, unless we fight for good jobs for everyone and an economy that's working for everyone and a democracy that actually functions, rather than is overwhelmed with big money, we are never going to get where we should get to. And it's not just the pandemic. It's not just the bad economy. It's anything that we need to do as a society. We're not going to be able to do it, unless we fight for it.
NNAMDIRobert Reich is an economist and the author of twelve books including his most recent, "The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It." Robert Reich, thank you so much for joining us.
REICHWell, thank you for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIWe've heard a lot tonight. Thank you all for showing up and participating. We hope you'll continue to engage with us on this topic. Tweet us your thoughts about tonight's event @kojoshow, with the hashtag, #kiyvc. Before we go this evening, we'd like to say thank you to our wonderful engineers, the Kojo Show team, marketing and events and to the rest of our colleagues at WAMU for taking this show on the virtual road. We're especially grateful to WAMU's General Manager J.J. Yore, as well as Andi McDaniel and Diane Hottenberry for their support. And thanks to everyone for coming out tonight. Stay safe, stay well. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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