I, along with millions of other Americans, lost my job during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been seeking new employment, both in person and remote. However, over the course of many months, I have only encountered empty promises and false guarantees. Employers, especially during the pandemic, need to be completely honest when especially if they are not certain that they have a position to offer in the first place.
I have been to a handful of interviews in the last couple of months and each time I felt hopeful. I was going to get out of the hole COVID-19 had forced me into. Yet, after each confident interview I would receive a phone call or email stating that they either wouldn’t hire me or that they would bring me on but could not guarantee consistent hours. Which, as a college student in debt, is frustrating.
This situation is not exclusive to struggling college students; job insecurity during the pandemic spans all age groups and contexts. This is especially true in rural parts of Maine where opportunities are already limited. According to USA Wage, in the Bangor region, the most popular employment options include food service, retail, education and manual labor, all of which have been directly affected by COVID-19.
Staff and seating capacities at restaurants are in a constant state of flux based on case counts and government orders. Which, from my recent experience, appears to lead potential employers to advertise positions as a safety net for themselves without considering the struggle of the hopeful employee. Retail businesses are struggling to retain secondary staff as they dedicate their hours to full-time or managerial staff members. Manual labor slows in the cold seasons because the only kind of work available is snow/ice removal, which is reserved for those with the necessary tools and equipment.
Countless individuals in the U.S. are struggling with their mental health as they negotiate the challenges of this year, and the distant hope of regaining job security is certainly a contributing factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.”
Now more than ever, employers need to be upfront about possible inconsistencies in wages and hours in their job postings. If an employer does not feel that they are in a position to offer concrete commitments regarding those factors, then they should reconsider making the job posting in the first place. To do otherwise is to disregard the mental and financial struggles that countless individuals have endured in 2020.