CNN  — 

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The job market is in a dizzying tailspin, but there is one thing that can help both the employed and the unemployed: networking.

Love it or hate it, networking is instrumental to your career growth and job hunt.

But with lunch dates and industry conferences on hold, what does networking look like in the age of social distancing?

Well, different. But also the same.

Current relationships. Keep checking in with people you know like friends, colleagues and acquaintances. And when you do make a request for help, be specific with what you are looking for.

Dormant relationships. Here’s where things can get a little tricky. You never know where your next career opportunity is going to come from. But reaching out to an old roommate or former colleague you haven’t spoke with in years to ask for job help can come off as self-serving.

The key is not to have expectations when you reach out.

In your initial inquiry, just let them know you are thinking about them and wondering how they are doing. Then, if you hear back you can mention your situation.

But again, don’t be too forceful.

Try saying something like: I am doing OK, but was recently laid off and am currently looking for a new job in [insert industry] so if you know of any leads or have any suggestions I would be grateful.

Put on your virtual dancing shoes. Networking events are still happening online, so check out professional associations, alumni groups and social networks for online gatherings that can lead to connections.

The same rules apply to in-person events: Put together a quick pitch about yourself, prepare conversation starters and get contact information and follow up after the event ends.

Step up and host. Set up a virtual happy hour with a few established acquaintances and ask them to extend the invite to one or two new people.

As host, you should make sure everyone introduces themselves and have some questions prepared to get the conversation flowing and to overcome any awkward silences.

Increase your exposure. Now’s the time to showcase your skills and knowledge.

This can mean creating a blog, posting on LinkedIn or other social networks or hosting a webinar to help attract attention from others in your field.


So … when will the job market recover?

The job losses came quick. The recovery? That’s going to take a lot longer.

How much longer depends on who you ask.

One expert told CNN’s Matt Egan it could take more than a decade to get back to a 3.5% unemployment rate. Another said it would take three or four years to inch back down to 4% or 5% and another didn’t see the market getting back to pre-crisis levels until 2022.

Yes, some jobs will come back as soon as local and state economies start to open back up for business. But others will take longer to recover – if they do at all.

A lot hinges on our health response to the pandemic. “If you don’t have tracking and testing, this recovery will be very small,” said one expert. Read the full story here.

A test for employees?

Re-opening businesses and getting people back to work is vital to revving the world’s economies back up.

One method governments and companies are hoping might help: antibody testing.

The idea is that people who have been infected with the virus could have antibodies that might give them some immunity and allow them to return to work safely.

But relying on testing can be risky. It’s not clear that having antibodies means you’re immune to the virus.

And if those who test positive for antibodies are the only ones allowed to return to work, that could lead to workplace discrimination.

It can also encourage workers to intentionally expose themselves if they know they can’t go back to work without a positive antibody test result.

Read more about the potential issues of employers using antibody testing here.

These companies are hiring

There are still companies out there looking to hire new employees.

Many of the jobs are in food and delivery services, helping to meet shifting consumer demand and spending habits. On-demand shopping service Instacart, for example, announced plans to hire 250,000 full-service shoppers.

Pizza Hut said it’s looking to grow its workforce by more than 30,000, while Papa John’s said it was looking to hire up to 20,000 new employees immediately. The pizza chain even said that applicants can interview and potentially start the same day.

While many retail stores have taken a massive hit, both Dollar Tree and Dollar General are looking to add to their payrolls.

Check out the list of companies hiring here.

Women are burning out … big time

Everyone is feeling the toll of the pandemic. But women are getting hit especially hard.

Before the crisis, many working moms were already taking on more housework and childcare than working fathers. That work has compounded now that schools and day cares are closed.

A recent survey from the women-at-work advocacy group,, founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, shows that women are spending an average of 71.2 hours a week on household chores and caregiving since the start of the pandemic. Men reported 51.5 hours.

The difference is “half a full-time job,” Sandberg told CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi. “That’s unsustainable. It’s not healthy for them. It’s not healthy for their relationships. It’s not healthy for their children.”

So how do we fix this? Well, it’s not going to be easy. But here are steps employers and workers can do now to help ease the strain.

Coffee break

So you’ve baked bread, planted flowers, finished that 1,000-piece puzzle and watched what feels like all of Netflix.

Now what?

Our colleagues over at Underscored have you covered: They found 25 board games that will give you a little escape from quarantine life. Check them out here.