COVID Sideline Your Career? How the Chamber of Commerce Can Help You Get It Back
COVID negatively impacted most of us. We lost our jobs; some of us lost loved ones; some of us had to put our careers on hold while we took care of more pressing issues. But now, as vaccinations increase and active cases decrease in the US, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We are all hoping to return to normal. But for those of us who are still unemployed or are just starting to think about returning to the workforce, it could be overwhelming to think about starting over again. If that’s the case, please know that your chamber of commerce is here to help. While you may not think of us as career counselors, we can assist you in your job search and building your network to help you get your career back on track in ways you may not have considered before.
Here’s how we can ensure you are situated in the best possible way to succeed in your career.
11 Ways the Chamber Can Help You Get Your Career Back on Track
Even before COVID, getting a job was often dependent on who you knew. This matters for two reasons. All things being equal, an employer will select someone who knows someone in their organization because that makes them less of a mystery and a risk. Hiring is one of the most expensive and riskiest things an employer can do. An applicant that is a known quantity poses less of a risk. The other benefit to building your network when you are job hunting is that you may find out about openings before they become public, giving you an edge over the applicant pool.
Chamber networking can be extremely helpful, especially to those who feel out of touch because they’ve been out of work (or working form home) for the past year.
The chamber offers networking mixers and can make personal introductions if you know you want to meet specific types of people like those in your industry or an industry you’d like to know more about.
A year out of the workforce (or working from home) might not seem like a long time but it can have an effect on your career. Some technology may have changed. There are new social media features and etiquette that has rolled out. And if you were unemployed and focused on your family, you may have completely missed the video call tech and its intricacies that became a major part of daily usage.
The chamber can help bring you up to speed through its webinars, videos, and content on various professional development topics. Best of all, these resources are free to members and a lot of it is free to the larger community as well. Most people don’t realize the educational resources that are available from the chamber.
In addition to the open networking programs that the chamber offers, ask if about niche networking opportunities like women in business groups, young professionals, industry-specific groups, and diversity-focused committees. These “niche networking” opportunities can help you connect with like-minded people who share your challenges or interests.
Many people have used the pandemic to reevaluate their career trajectories. In doing so, they may have decided they no longer want to work for other people but go out on their own. Maybe they want to consult or share their knowledge with others instead.
If you are considering entrepreneurship, you’ll want to build up thought leadership avenues. The chamber can help. There may be speaking opportunities, committee leadership positions, and video interviews that can help set you up for success by sharing your views and knowledge.
Chamber Job Boards
Ask about our knowledge of job boards where hiring companies can post their needs and job seekers can search available positions. These boards are great for several reasons:
the posts are from reputable companies within the community
there are not a lot of unsolicited ads or distractions
they’re specific to your area
they’re easy to search and find what you want
you can easily search them from far away too (you don’t have to be a resident or a member of the chamber in the area you’re interested in)
you can get info about jobs and the area in one place
If you are considering a new setting and moving into a new area, ask that local chamber is a great place to start gathering information. You can find out economic development information as well as which industries are hottest and which ones are looking to make a resurgence. Chamber pros are some of the most helpful people you will ever meet and you can ask them questions that you may not feel comfortable asking a potential employer.
Forum for Discounts
Some businesses don’t want to offer discounts because it devalues their service or product. However, with the chamber, you can offer a discount to other chamber members to try out the concept without a large-scale devaluation of your offerings. You can become a part of these to increase sales and help your career. This is also an important benefit to keep in mind if you are starting your own business. Deals can lead to greater exposure or help you gauge interest in your community.
Many people look at the chamber business directory to find services. Can individual members be listed? Yes, quite often. It can help people who are looking for your services but also serve as a form of informal credentials. They can see you are involved in the community and more of a known-quantity with a good reputation. Many people think of chamber of commerce members as reputable and established. When you are beginning your business, this can be an important part of getting someone to hire or spend money with you. To do so, they need to trust you and chamber membership can help them do that initially.
If you’re looking to rejoin the workforce or change careers, you may not think that advocacy is an important part of that. However, you’d be mistaken. Every day, chambers across the country go to bat for business. Chambers get involved in supporting pro-business legislation and help representatives understand what their crucial votes mean for the business economy.
The chamber could be voicing important backing for your industry, as you read this. In fact, if there’s an issue that is important to you from a business or career standpoint, the chamber may be in a position to help.
If your resume is lacking in leadership positions or you want to switch careers and you don’t have a lot of experience in the new area, the chamber has lots of volunteer opportunities available in different areas that can give you the experience you need. There are plenty of opportunities for people just starting out as well.
Matching Employers with Employees
A lot of employers are having difficulties hiring these days and the chamber is working with them. If you’re looking for a job, the chamber can likely help you locate hiring employers in your area. Checking with the chamber is a one-stop shop. It’s an ideal source for all of the local information that you just can’t get from the big job websites.
If COVID derailed your career, or you’re looking to start something new, you may be surprised with the help the chamber can provide. As the voice of business, it offers a lot of educational, networking, and advocacy programs that can help you get back on track.