With unemployment due to the pandemic, many of us in North Carolina have benefited from the Federal program to supplement our state unemployment benefits. In North Carolina, people receiving state unemployment from the Division of Employment Security (DES) automatically received an additional $600 in weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for a period of time also. Gig and part-time workers were still able to qualify for benefits because of the pandemic. 

In September, according to CNBC, about 22% of parents considered reducing their hours if their children needed to stay home at least part of the time while schools were closed and another 9% said they would be forced to quit their jobs. The extended federal relief for parents who needed to care for children home from school during the fall of 2020 was a wonderful boon for those of us home with kids because of the pandemic. 

Now that much of the aid is ending, we have to find a new normal. If you are home with kids because of the pandemic and do not yet feel ready to get out there in the workforce while sending your kids back to school, what are your options at this point?

Collect State Unemployment 

Federal benefits are ending for everyone in December. However, if you have recently been furloughed and have not collected your 12 weeks per year of unemployment, you can still apply for state unemployment if you are out of work through no fault of your own and you meet the requirements for wage and work history. If you feel that you have not gotten a fair deal during the pandemic, you can always appeal decisions made by the DES at their appeals page online.

In December 2020, according to CNET, congress is now in negotiations and may approve a new $908 billion stimulus bill which would provide four more months of $300 weekly bonus checks for unemployed workers. If this happens, you may be able to hold off on looking for a job, but still keep in mind some of the tips below to stay relevant in your chosen profession.

Consider Working From Home

Whether you are home with small children because you are worried about daycare exposure to covid or home with elementary aged children trying to do online school, you are in a difficult spot trying to care for them and work at this point. 

One of the requirements of collecting unemployment is making at least 3 contacts per week looking for a job. Even if you are not filling out certification for the DES, the practice of making contact with others is still important. Continue spending a portion of your week looking for work by making contact with others.

If you have an outgoing personality and love talking to people, try applying for customer service positions or call center jobs where you work from a script that they provide to help consumers with the issues they have. You may find that conversations helping others in a daily work-from-home job is enough to keep your sanity as an extrovert staying home. Check out Work at Home Call Center Jobs by The Balance to find these opportunities.

There are also businesses out there who need a helping hand with administrative work and technical types of work like coding and design. If you have some experience in a field where you can work from home professionally, keep your eye on sites that provide gig work such as UpWork and FlexJobs.

Reach Out

Remember that no matter what type of work you want to do from home, keep making contact with others by phone weekly. If someone seems receptive about your job search, give them a call or send a text every few weeks to give them updates and ask if they have any friends or colleagues that they can put you in touch with. Talk about your passions and what you are good at, but don’t exhaust the other person’s time and energy either.

Talk to Everyone

Job leads often come from those whom we know. Additionally, speaking with other adults and staying connected to those in your field can often give you a boost emotionally. We all need a group of peers cheering us on and letting us know that we can keep going and it will get better. As you are home with kids who may not appreciate your efforts or understand how much work you are doing for them, remember not to stay in isolation. Being alone at home with children can be tougher than any job out there.

Networking Sites

Remember to make use of networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, and putting your resume and information out on sites that are looking for you such as UpWork, FlexJobs, GlassDoor, Monster, and Indeed can make all the difference. You can even get regular job alerts from Google jobs which pulls from everything that you are interested in.

Keep Pursuing Your Professional Goals

Netflix may make you feel better temporarily, but staying busy in a way that ties in to your professional goals is also important. If you are passionate about cooking or healthy lifestyle, start a blog or start making YouTube or TikTok videos. 

If you were a manager for something specific, teach lessons online about how to gain your skills or how to develop your talents in this area. If you are a furloughed teacher, tutor online. If you are a graphic designer, design for a non profit organization. Technical coder who always wanted to write your own program? Now is the time to tackle your pet career projects.

Whatever your professional goals, keep pursuing them in your daily life. Share bits of what you are doing online to keep others interested in your job search. Videos get more views than pictures, so go ahead and put out an interesting video about what you are passionate about. When you talk to others, always mention what you are doing to stay sharp in your field and keep your passion strong for the work you want to do. 

After You’re Employed

Once you do find a job, some things are going to slip through the cracks. Working from home and handling childcare responsibilities at the same time is a gargantuan task. You may have to let your normal household standards go a bit lax during your work week. Remember not to beat yourself up for doing the best you can. There will be days where it seems impossible to make things work, but give yourself time to learn new ways to manage. With experience, it will be easier to help your household thrive under a new normal.

Seek Help

If you have any kind of legal dispute about your unemployment benefits or want to know how to appeal a decision by the DES, contact a knowledgeable and experienced unemployment benefits attorney. With 40 years experience with this system, at Hopler, Wilms, and Hanna, we understand how to walk you through each step of appealing decisions and gaining benefits that you are entitled to.

Find Out More

For more information about unemployment benefits and how they work during the time of Covid, watch our informative Webinar replay video with Peter Hanna, one of our managing attorneys whose focus is unemployment benefits. He is joined by Regina Graham, Deputy Chief of Appeals Referee with the Division of Employment Security. 

They discuss in depth what kinds of benefits have been available since March and when the temporary federal unemployment benefits end.

Webinar Replay – Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina: What Employees and Employers Need to Know


  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/01/labor-department-when-parents-qualify-for-paid-leave-unemployment.html
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