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America continues to make progress toward a post-pandemic world, but, especially in Central Florida, unemployment is still elevated and thousands of job seekers are still trying to get back in the workforce.

Many Central Florida families live paycheck to paycheck, without any emergency savings. If you’re already worried about health care coverage or mortgage payments, it can make looking for your next job feel like an uphill battle.

But what has really changed in the past year? And is it possible to adapt? Here are some of the most common questions received from job seekers:

What’s the outlook for the job market these days? In some industries, business is picking up and companies — like Goodwill — are hiring (or rehiring) people who lost work last spring. Employers feel more confident, but not everyone has recovered at the same pace — and some sectors, like hospitality, will need a while to bounce back.

Odalys Simmons

HELPING JOB SEEKERS Odalys Simmons is a job connection services virtual team member with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida.

At the same time, the pandemic made it harder for employers to find qualified talent — which means that many companies still have roles to fill. Meanwhile, businesses that had to reduce their staff in 2020 may begin recruiting again.

What are employers looking for? In a word: flexibility. The future is still unpredictable — and employers need people who can get the job done in unconventional circumstances. There are more “temporary” and part-time positions as companies try to fill important roles without knowing for certain what tomorrow might bring.

Being fluent with technology is another big plus. Whether or not you’re in an “office job,” chances are good that you’ll need to use Zoom on a mobile device, tune in to virtual meetings, and communicate easily via email and text.

What’s the best way to stand out from the crowd? Make sure you’re ready for the interview, ask the right questions, and know what the company is looking for and relate your answers to the job description. Remember, you’re not just talking about yourself; you’re advertising why you’re the ideal candidate for this position.

If you’re trying to enter a new field, focus on transferable skills and experiences. Practice out loud giving clear, concise examples of real situations you handled — a time you managed a team, dealt with a difficult customer, or overcame a weakness.

Where can you get help when you feel like you’ve tried everything? At Goodwill, our virtual job connection team provides free career counseling to anyone who needs it. Whether you’re looking for a résumé review, interview practice, access to certification and training, or other support, our specialists are ready to assist.

Goodwill also can help connect job seekers to permanent roles or temporary ones. It’s a win-win: Employers can hire new team members, families gain a source of income, and employees can acquire experience and showcase their skills on the job.

No matter your situation, please reach out — we’re here to help. For more information, visit www.GoodwillCFL.org.

— Odalys Simmons, a job connsection services virtual team member with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, can be reached at JobConnection@GoodwillCFL.org or by calling 407-235-1541.