‘Find something new’? In Bay Area’s pandemic-withered job market, some fresh roles arise – San Francisco Chronicle - Freelance Rack

Work from Home freelancing

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Monday, July 20, 2020

‘Find something new’? In Bay Area’s pandemic-withered job market, some fresh roles arise – San Francisco Chronicle

Presidential adviser Ivanka Trump advised unemployed Americans last week to “find something new” rather than trying to cling to the careers they had before the coronavirus struck.

That is proving easier said than done. Though the chaos of the pandemic has churned up some new kinds of work — gigs ranging from Zoom fashion adviser to face mask sewer to virtual recess coordinator — for the most part, the crisis has recast existing jobs or renewed demand for familiar ones more than it has spawned wholly new kinds of work.

Even in California, where Silicon Valley and Hollywood have long spun off unfamiliar job titles and different ways of working, finding new work has required creativity and scrappiness.

Sophie Geddie spent almost a decade working for Apple before she took her database and project management skills freelance. She began selling her services on Upwork, a Santa Clara online marketplace for freelancers, before the pandemic recast what her clients, like a San Francisco shoulder surgeon, were asking of her.

Geddie helped the medical practice move to telehealth, modifying its systems to schedule online visits and follow-ups with the doctor and allowing the practice to see more patients than it had before.

“They had approximately 270 visits a month” before the pandemic, Geddie said. Now that patients can get video-chat appointments, “they could increase the number of monthly visits to 400,” she added.

The closure of Bay Area schools and offices in mid-March meant Brandon Elsner had to rethink his job at Oakland nonprofit Playworks.

He used to design recess activities for schools, sometimes bringing in workers from companies to do team-building exercises with the kids. Now he designs play-at-home sessions for kids, and for his corporate partners, he’s come up with a new offering: adult recess.

Household-object scavenger hunts, a game called Animal Kingdom where co-workers guess which species a noise belongs to, and improv sessions break up the monotony of team calls, he said.

“I think everyone is looking to connect with their co-workers,” he said.

It is rare for a wholly new job type to be created, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist at workplace-reviews website Glassdoor. But demand is shooting up for some positions related to the pandemic, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at jobs search engine ZipRecruiter.

Interior designers have to figure out how to space out desks in workplaces. Contractors who might have set up kitchens before are now installing Plexiglas in stores. Public health departments had contact tracers before, but many more infection trackers are now needed. Security guards double as temperature takers. Workers who were hemming jeans are now sewing face masks. Many open jobs are “ones that existed before, but the tasks are different,” Pollak said.

With more of our lives and purchases moving online, demand for data collection and analytics roles is increasing, according to Jane Oates, president of the nonprofit WorkingNation and a former Department of Labor official.

“The biggest question mark in everybody’s head right now is consumer behavior,” Oates said. “That’s where data analytics comes in.”

The trend toward digital work may not have been created by the pandemic, but the economic shock caused by the virus is accelerating the shift.

According to Glassdoor data, postings for information-technology specialists shot up 33% from early March into May.

Google, which also offers jobs-listing searches, estimates that nearly 2 out of every 3 jobs created since 2010 requires at least a medium level of digital literacy.

The Mountain View company recently announced that it is funding a career certificate and training program focused on jobs in data analytics, project management and user experience design. It plans to provide 100,000 need-based scholarships to complete a career certificate.

Not all jobs can be done at home. Some frontline work has been boosted by the shelter-in-place restrictions on businesses, and other public-facing jobs transformed.

Postings for grocery store managers jumped more than 600% on Glassdoor from March to May. Openings for warehouse managers on the site climbed almost 150%, and demand for forklift operators increased 73% during the same period to accommodate the increase in online orders.

Many restaurants have closed, and with table service limited if not prohibited, the work that remains in them is different now.

David Hanna manages San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, the Tadich Grill. Before, he oversaw the dining room and kitchen, chatting with customers and staff. Now he is part bartender and to-go order filler, when he’s not working with the owners on building a reservation system — a first in the restaurant’s 170-year history — for whenever they can serve diners in person again.

“Everything has totally changed,” said Anthony Strong, the chef and owner at Prairie, a Mission District restaurant that has turned cooks and servers into grocery baggers and delivery workers.

Strong said turning his restaurant into a general store that also offers meal kits has allowed him to keep about half his staff, albeit in new roles.

“I pretty much am a grocery buyer now,” he said. Managers still interact with customers, but “now instead of talking wine table-side, we’re putting things in bags,” he added.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, Strong said, he worries about the future and hopes he can hold on to his staff if sales hold steady.

“I thought making a decent margin was tough in restaurants,” he said. “Grocery is even tougher.”

Chase DiFeliciantonio is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: chase.difeliciantonio@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ChaseDiFelice



No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad