Americans have been losing their jobs left and right due to COVID-19, with unemployment claims coming in so fast they're crashing online systems and leaving filers scrambling and frustrating. And while there's a good chance that many people who are currently out of work will be employed somewhat quickly once the current crisis subsides, there will, unfortunately, be plenty of employees who continue to find themselves out of work once things normalize -- namely, because their employers had to shut down permanently.

At this stage of the game, it may be too soon to figure out which camp you'll ultimately fall into. But one thing you can do is use your time out of a job to work on improving your prospects for when things improve. Here's how.

Man sitting next to big box of office supplies, holding his head with one hand and a document with another


1. Learn new skills

If you're out of work, you probably have a decent amount of free time on your hands, which means you have a key opportunity to learn new things that make you a more desirable job candidate when the market opens back up. Learn a new skill by taking an online class, or by dabbling with software you already have on your personal computer. You can also work on boosting your soft skills -- those that apply to any job.

2. Rewrite your resume and cover letter

If your resume and cover letter aren't particularly compelling, now's your chance to give them some attention. Spend some time thinking about the skills and responsibilities you want to highlight, and work on ways you can tell your personal story and sell yourself as a strong job candidate. You can even spend the time coming up with a few different versions of your resume and cover letter, as those may come in handy when you're ready to embark on a full-fledged search.

3. Network extensively

The more people you stay in touch with while you're home and isolated, the better your chances of finding a new job once it's safe to go out in public again. Talk to your friends, neighbors, former colleagues, and anyone else who might serve as a resource when you're looking for work. And also, see if there are any online meetups happening for people in your industry -- laid-off or otherwise -- as they're a good way to broaden your contact list.

4. Practice interviewing

If you worked for your most recent employer for quite some time, you may be rusty on the interview front. Well, now's a good time to practice those skills. Enlist the help of a family member or friend and go through some trial runs. And also, familiarize yourself with the questions that are commonly asked during job interviews do you're better prepared to answer the toughest ones.

It's never easy finding yourself out of a job, and the fact that you're in good company right now probably isn't much consolation. But if you take the above steps, there's a good chance you'll be back to work fairly quickly once businesses are able to open their doors again.