Centred Content

April 2020

Dear Joanna,

I will be graduating from my high school’s special education stream. All of my courses are online and I have completed a co-op placement in a local grocery store last year. This is where I would like to work and I need to start making some money. But with this COVID-19 pandemic, how can I look for work and also be safe and healthy during these difficult times?

Signed: Safe&Healthy Job Seeker

Centred Content

Dear S&H

The economic impact of the Coronvirus pandemic has been devastating. Many people have lost their jobs and face financial challenges while companies are cutting back; some are closing down (Erica Alini in https://www.timminstoday.com/around-ontario/covid-19-looking-for-a-job-economists-say-companies-still-hiring-during-outbreak-2214887).  The good news is that supermarkets are hiring as they are a key part of the economy and are considered an essential service!

Below are some suggestions of how you can both look for work, and keep safe and healthy during this pandemic:

  1. Online applications. Make a list of all the grocery stores where you want to work. Pick those closest to your home so you can walk there if possible. And pick the early morning or evening or even overnight shifts that have the least amount of people so you can keep the social distancing (and all the other requirements like hand washing).  Use Google to search for the grocery stores that are hiring by entering a “key word” search. For example, if you want to work at Walmart, type in “jobs at Walmart Canada”. There should be a link to the site where you can apply for jobs online. For a bigger picture of the job openings from this sector and beyond, check out online job boards such as Indeed Canada, Glassdoor.ca, and LinkedIN as well as from the company’s website.  You may even hear an ad on the radio that Walmart is calling for candidates!
  2. Follow up. Prior to the virus, you might have applied online and then dropped in to follow up with the store manager. However during this virus this is a bit trickier. I would try to arrange to a drop in to the grocery store where you applied when you or your family member need to go shopping for food and supplies. I would pick times when the store is less busy to avoid line-ups and crowds. I’d ask to speak to the store manager or the assistant manager. Mention that you are following up as you have applied online to see what the next steps are.  You can also try to call the customer service department in advance and see when the manager is in the store before you drop in. During these time of crisis and shortages of staff, showing initiative while keeping the social distancing of 6 feet might go a long way. Remember, companies and their staff are overwhelmed with handling this crisis, and applying new ways of doing business while complying with the Public Health requirements to keep a safe environment for staff and customers and prevent outbreaks. So even though they need staff, we are all in this together to learn how to deal with this pandemic crisis. Be patient.
  3. Potential employers. The above website has a list of employers who are currently hiring.
  4. Healthy Work Environment during Covid-19. Many employers are having online job interviews using apps such as Skype and Zoom; others are using the good old fashioned phone.  One of your questions in the interview is to find out how the employer is protecting their staff (and customers as well) to ensure a safe and healthy workplace environment that complies with the guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Health. You can also visit the store prior to applying for work as a customer to see what they are actually implementing in practice to keep their employees safe. For example, grocery stores have installed plexiglass wall protectors around the cashiers as well as six-feet markers on the floor for customers, and employees wear gloves. You can check this site out to see what is required https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html. Needless to say, if the employer is not protecting its staff, you probably do not want to work there.
  5. Keep busy. Many of the employment centres (for example http://accesemployment.ca/online-event-series) offer online job search skills training workshops including Using LinkedIn, career exploration, resume writing, interview skills and related. They are also offering employer information sessions online. Plus there are a lot of online resources to learn new skills and keep engaged in learning.  The Toronto Public Library may be closed but they offer plenty of online job search trainings and career cruising to name a few. Online learning, blogs and podcasts https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/. Another helpful resource is https://connectability.ca/what-to-do-while-in-isolation-covid-19-resources/.

In the meantime, please keep safe, healthy and well during this pandemic.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org