March 6, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Iowa, College of Law
College of Saint Mary
Jacksonville State University
University of Minnesota Duluth
Northern Arizona University
University of Michigan
Montclair State University
Texas Tech University
University of South Alabama
Melissa Norman: For the most part, the legal market is bouncing back quickly from the pandemic. Certain practice areas have been especially resilient, such as business and corporate law, bankruptcy, cyber-security, technology, and health law.
Melissa Norman: Any job that the student gains experience and transferrable skills to help them continue pursuing their goals. The great thing about a law degree is that it is very versatile. Students can practice law in a law firm, work in compliance for a bank or in athletics, do policy work, be involved in government, and many other things! As long as a student is growing and learning, they are in a "good job."
Melissa Norman: There are many factors to take into consideration when thinking about earning potential. Large firms (501+ attorneys) tend to be located in larger cities and have high starting salaries, but may also come with a high cost of living. Smaller rural firms may not have as high salaries, but the cost of living may be much lower. Students should take a careful look at the salary, cost of living, and their financial needs. To have the most employment options available, students should try to earn the best grades possible. Other co-curricular activities can also be helpful to bolster a resume such as journal involvement, moot court, and internships. Effective networking can also work magic!
School of Business and Management
Dr. Louna Al Hallak: Most students who got job offers before the Covid-19 pandemic have been forced to wait longer, while some have been withdrawn.
luminate.prospects.ac.uk on how the Coronavirus pandemic affected students revealed that 26.1 percent lost their work or internship opportunities, 29.2 percent lost their jobs. In comparison, 28.2 percent lost their job offers.
The results of that survey are enough reason why students should be upset about the Covid-19 situation. According to some students, who took part in the survey, the cancelled job offers would be their ROI. Additionally, 64.9 percent of final-year students feel negative and demotivated by Coronavirus pandemic's effects.
It will also help if the colleges' and university's career departments liaise with employers to develop better outreach strategies to communicate with students and remove any fears that employers are not hiring anymore.
Creating more job adverts and making them visible could help reduce the tension among graduates and students waiting to join the job industry. Ninety-two percent of students who took part in the survey state that it would be better if employers could make these job adverts public.
The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic isn't going to last longer if companies and recruiters develop better recruiting strategies that would cover fresh graduates. It's just a matter of time, and things will resume normalcy. Of course, some businesses will take longer to be back on track, but it's all about patience.
Dr. Louna Al Hallak: After the Covid-19 pandemic, what's the best job out of college you should be looking for?
There is an increasing demand for tax specialists in the United States, especially during the tax season (January - mid-April).
And one of the reasons why tax specialists demand tax is that taxes in the United States will be complicated after the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses and companies will recruit more tax specialists to help complete all tax compliance processes, including paycheck protection program loans.
Besides companies and businesses, individuals will also need some help filing their returns because most withdrew from the retirement account without any penalties.
The number of job posting looking for tax specialists increased 22 times between December 2020 and January 2020
The demand for receptionists is also growing steadily. Yes, most businesses weren't in business in most parts of 2020, but they are now back. Most companies are looking for a post-pandemic recovery, and they are actively looking for receptionists.
However, you need to note that tax specialists demand might surge, especially after the tax season comes to an end. You can still dive into other career opportunities like receptionist roles and scale from there.
Dr. Louna Al Hallak: -Hold on to Your Existing Customers
It helps to focus on your current customers rather than spending resources, attracting new prospects as a small business. This is significantly cost-effective because your existing customers are already used to your products and services and more willing to work with you.
Appreciation gestures such as giveaways and special coupons will drive your long-gone customers to their next purchase. This shows them how important they are to you and your business.
Building strong relationships with your current customers will go a long way to gain new prospects to enhance business growth. Because people are likely to associate with others of the same intent, it's important to offer your current customers a referral incentive.
-Change Your Pricing Strategy
Price plays a vital role in decision making. Therefore, an alteration to the prices of products and services should conform to your market condition and income goals.
A rapid price increase will attract more profits only when it doesn't negatively affect sales. Be sure to understand your competitor's products' price from a buyer's view and how your product stands out from similar products to help you set prices accordingly.
Instead of a drastic hike in prices, consider increasing your prices more often. While a small shift in price may not seem like a big deal, it will affect your business's profit margins.
-Look for New Opportunities
Initially, people believed that the change in jobs was the fastest way to boost income potential. While there is no assurance your earnings will increase, there are many estimates that confirm the possibility. According to one estimate, an employee receives a salary raise of up to 20 percent upon quitting a job.
Unsurprisingly, employees consider finding new jobs to do what they are passionate about and not a salary boost. Changing jobs will create advancement opportunities to help you learn and grow. New skills or promotion can mean increased revenue potential.
-Level Up with an MBA Degree
MBA's are a plus for career switch and thriving opportunities. Students with MBA programs have higher chances of winning an aristocratic management role in an established business. In fact, 50 percent of MBA graduates are board directors or senior managers.
With an MBA degree, you gain a new perspective on business management. You also get the chance to relocate to a foreign country while studying. This will improve your cultural perception and international business career. Lastly, you can find agencies to work for, and if things go well, you might get employed after graduating.
When looking for the best countries to study an MBA, search for the states offering exceptional MBA's and the best specifications based on your needs. It also helps to consider the initial investment like accommodation costs, tuition fees, and the chances of getting hired after graduation.
The chances that this group will graduate into a global downturn is unpredictable. For that reason, they should acquire the necessary guidance and support to help them leverage the job markets during these challenging times. Graduate recruiters and career services can help monitor the effect of coronavirus pandemic.
College of Saint Mary
Department of Mathematics
Jing Chang Ph.D.: I think working remotely or working from home is the biggest trend in the job market in the next few years. Experts say that the whole world will probably face a post-pandemic transition in the following years. Wearing a mask, keeping social distance, and avoiding big gathering are probably going to be part of the new normal. As a result, employers would encourage their employees to work from home to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. For example, higher education will promote remote learning, especially general education courses which may have large class sizes. Upper-level major courses with smaller class sizes will be less affected. K-12 schools will probably have a hybrid mode. Minor health issues will be more likely to be done via Telehealth.
Jing Chang Ph.D.: In my opinion, if you are going to be an educator, some type of online teaching training or online teaching experience will be most beneficial. Online teaching is not a new way of teaching. Actually, many of my peers including me have rich experiences in online teaching. However, most of the online courses we have taught are asynchronized, which is different than synchronized online teaching provided by K-12 schools and colleges during the pandemic. So, I think some type of online training would be helpful to all educators or potential educators.
Jing Chang Ph.D.: To be honest, I do not have the first-hand information about salaries in my field. To better answer this question, I did some research online. I found that math-related job market has steady growth in the past several years and is expected to keep growing in the future. I also found that salaries in this field are also increasing. This growth may slow down during the pandemic, but it will not be stopped.
Dr. Breann Murphy Ph.D.: The biggest trend we will see in the job market for communication in 2021 is the emergence of converging media. Digital media and telecommunications has become more prominent as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, the job market will become more focused on looking for individuals who know how to embrace a virtual culture. With communications, especially with public relations, the field is now shifting to a more integrated marketing approach, meaning that brands need to hire and employ people who understand how to craft clear messages and also have the ability to listen and monitor online communication.
A communication professional needs to be able to help define a company's purpose, while at the same time meeting the needs of its customers. This quality is now more important than it has ever been. Also, having a social media presence is becoming more important. Social media has become a major source of news and information for publics, and it acts as a more personal outlet for communication between a company and its customers. This platform is a way companies can build trust with their publics.
Dr. Breann Murphy Ph.D.: For communication, the biggest technical skills that stand out to employers are good writing skills, strong people skills, and experience in digital media. Communication professionals must be good writers, since the field is in the practice of message construction and delivery. Also, communication professionals must be good writers across all platforms. Since the world has now embraced more digital media as a result of the pandemic, communication professionals must know how to write for a variety of platforms, such as websites, blogs, and social media, and they must know how to adapt their writing to different audiences.
Also, certifications in digital media analytics is becoming more important to employers. Since employers are embracing a digital presence, they need people who know how to monitor and interpret the data and having a digital media analytic certification helps a potential hire stand out from the crowd of applicants. Additionally, employers are now wanting to see more examples of work and writing samples that potential hires have done in the past.
Dr. Breann Murphy Ph.D.: Communications has been an in-demand profession for the past few years, especially in regard to the need for people who know about public relations and integrated marketing. Salaries have really been based on experience and the need for this profession. Having a college degree for this profession has become more important. Recently, it is noticeable that the salaries for communication jobs has been steady. There has not been a dramatic decline or increase in salaries. We may see a change after the pandemic. However, communication is a job that can be done remotely if needed, and we may see salaries reflect this later on.
Mark Navin Ph.D.: It's possible that 2021 graduates could face a very good job market, or at least one that is rapidly improving: Real GDP growth has recently been strong, and economists think there's a good chance for substantial growth in 2021 (perhaps over 7%). But we're likely to need continued stimulus (such as President Biden's covid relief package) and we also need to find a way to avoid mass evictions and foreclosures when people's rent and mortgage bills finally come due. If we can solve those problems, then I suspect that there will be substantial demand for new college graduates.
Mark Navin Ph.D.: When we talk about 'soft skills', we're usually referring to good aspects of people's character, rather than mere techniques that they can learn. People often need particular 'hard' skills to land a job, for example, knowing how to use a piece of software, or speaking a certain language. But if you want to keep your job, and if you want the opportunity to advance, you need to be flexible, resilient, creative, cooperative, courageous, reliable, and honest. It takes a long time to cultivate these deep skill sets, because they require not only that you know what to do, but that you become the kind of person for whom acting rightly comes naturally. Indeed, classical moral philosophers like Aristotle thought that cultivating these virtues was a task that we face for our entire lives. There are good reasons to think that liberal arts education can help student to cultivate many of these 'soft skills', and I'm glad that my college (Oakland University's College of Arts and Sciences) has recently implemented (what it calls) the "CAS Advantage" program to help students and employers see the skills that liberal arts graduates possess.
University of Minnesota Duluth
Labovitz School of Business and Economics
Ekaterina Elgayeva Ph.D.: The expansion of remote work is bringing about a number of key trends within the job market that will continue to gain momentum in the years ahead. To start, companies will likely adopt social recognition programs as incentives to performance metrics, wherein employee performance will be increasingly assessed through measures of employee interactions, rather than the standalone, traditional annual reporting metrics that have been in place to date.
Second, company cultures are being rapidly transformed through increasing implementation of wellness programs, which underscore the significance of employee well-being and the significance of mental health in relation to engagement and performance.
Alongside these trends, organizations will place significantly more emphasis on relational coordination, which fundamentally roots to the innate necessity to maintain social connections in times of isolation and dispersion, and so companies are beginning to prioritize the development of communities that generate social capital - the resources vital to employee learning, performance, and well-being - to cultivate a sense of belongingness within the context of remote, distributed work.
Ekaterina Elgayeva Ph.D.: This is a time when employers are seeking prospective employees to have a robust repertoire of soft skills - in other words, skills that emphasize relational coordination through capacities of emotional intelligence, value alignment, and a growth mindset that encompasses a high degree of adaptability and flexibility.
A core soft skill that brings together all of the aforementioned skills is professional networking. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reports on the findings of a study on professional and personal networks, suggesting that during the pandemic - on average - our networks have been depleted by 16%. There are monumental implications to this statistic and yet, for recent graduates entering the workforce, this is a prime opportunity to leverage networking - as a skill, capacity, and a professional ethos, more generally - in order to differentiate themselves in the eyes of prospective employers. In other words, creating a networking strategy can be a recent graduate's individual competitive advantage. The www.linkedin.comoffers a substantive roster of resources to support this skill development in an actionable way. Additionally, www.6seconds.org and www.pmi.org can amplify networking capabilities in ways that set recent graduates apart within their industry and chosen job sector.
Ekaterina Elgayeva Ph.D.: While the answer to this question is highly dependent upon a recent graduate's major and field of interest, a general recommendation is to seek a level of alignment between an organization's culture and one's value system. This alignment is critical to ensuring a high degree of job satisfaction, engagement, and commitment to the work. A terrific resource to explore the level of prospective alignment, both occupationally and in the context of the chosen industry is thewww.onetonline.org. Across multiple industries and sectors, machine learning has become very prevalent in organizations' understanding of customer preferences, development of marketing strategies, and overall long-term organizational effectiveness and success. With that said, jobs that emphasize a data analytics and visualization component, coupled with a keen understanding of interpersonal dynamics through application of facets of emotional intelligence - inclusive of empathy, compassion, and relational coordination - are likely to create a powerful combination for candidates entering the job market across a variety of industries and sectors.
Northern Arizona University
Jana Carpenter: I cannot imagine that there will not be an enduring impact on all of us. What does it cost a young person to lose all the experiences they expected from a Freshman or Senior year? How much has the quality of their education this past year been less-or more.
I do a lot of work with students who are looking for internships and FT jobs-and the number of internships is definitely smaller, although there are a significant amount of jobs for college grads. I am not sure they have the confidence and experience to go for them. The best students will do fine and the average students will lag behind.
Jana Carpenter: A day of work will depend on the industry. Some companies have stayed open and may have gone to curb service or created a portal for orders, etc., but they still are working side by side with people daily, and learning from them.
Other companies may never go back in person-better return on shareholders: lower overhead and higher production without sales people traveling to customer. It is the customer experience and loyalty that will suffer. And with chance encounters in the coffee room or hallways so much collaboration and ideas will never blossom. Every encounter has to be on Zoom, and planned. It will be a loss of innovation.
Jana Carpenter: The same skills that also impacted success in sales: critical thinking, problem solving, diligence, persistence and creativity coupled with excellent listening and verbal and written communication skills.
Jennifer Niggemeier: Compared to a year ago, employers have far more experience recruiting, onboarding, and working with employees in a virtual space. And many employers will continue to offer remote work given how successful it has been for many organizations. As a result, for many positions, applicants no longer need to be 'anchored to place' when applying to positions.
Jennifer Niggemeier: Self-awareness of one's strengths, areas of growth, and working style are foundational to being an effective employee. Understanding of and appreciation of the different strengths and styles others bring to the workplace are the next keys to being an exceptional colleague, and manager.
Communication Department And Black Studies Program
Jayson Baker Ph.D.: The nature of work will be changed for some to come. How to work in asynchronous groups distributed across different time zones, markets, communities, and stress test productivity. New graduates need to leverage how they learned through synchronous asynchronous course delivery systems (Zoom, etc.) to excel in small group work teams distributed across geographies.
Jayson Baker Ph.D.: Courses that enable students to build a portfolio of creative and professional work. This is the evidence they will need for prospective employers. The key here is graduates need to recognize that undergraduate work is not perfect. Discuss their work as what they would improve on what they have done. Use the work not as a "finality" but as a evidence of how creative people critically think and continuously seek to improve.
Jayson Baker Ph.D.: The most important skill is learning how to lead across diverse communities. How to earn buy-in from different constituencies within an organization, how to be sincere in integrating the goals and agendas into a common mission.
Charles Feldman Ph.D.: There will be an absolute impact on food system graduates. The food system (US and global) has been proved fragile if not entirely broken by the pandemic. Graduates in the food genre will have an opportunity to straighten out industry logistics. But, effort will be needed (and job opportunities will be found) to redirect food consumption from processed, manufactured products (though convenient now) to locally sourced independent farmers. Attention will be needed to address environmental issues, particularly food sustainability. Already many large food manufacturers and others have listed sustainable practices as a highly valued criterion of their mission statements. So, graduates will be needed to redirect and make new connections for farmers, help solve sustainable production issues and dietitians will be needed to redirect diets changed by the Covid episode. Food safety is another area that needs attention. The hospitality industry, which is now suffering, will resurge with less competition, so strategically this segment should not be forgotten.
Charles Feldman Ph.D.: Food is a people business. No way of getting around this. There has to be continuing interaction between people and product development. Food production is also a very labor-intensive business. So, lots of person-to-person, and person-to-commodity contact. Manufacturers will require strong safety measures to keep their employees and product safe. This means more jobs in safety and quality assurance.
Charles Feldman Ph.D.: Students in the food industry become highly valued when they could explain to employers how to step out of the traditional box and effect change. Leaner production, less baggage and more flexibility will help food producers adjust. A graduate student must be alert to present and future changes in the environment. Trends in the food industry move very quickly. Proactivity, environment scanning and keeping abreast of the most current research and trends are essential - and this increases employment market value!
Dr. Eric Rasmussen Ph.D.: I think this is the question we're all asking ourselves right now. The impact of the pandemic on the job market is out of anyone's control. What we can control is our ability to help students acquire a skillset that is versatile enough to give them flexibility in an ever-changing job market. A degree in public relations is well-situated to help give graduates the best opportunity for finding meaningful employment.
Dr. Eric Rasmussen Ph.D.: Not everyone is fortunate to land their "dream" job right out of college. For those whose search for their dream job takes a little longer, any relevant job in their field can help build skills and provide valuable experience to be used as young professionals seek to move toward their ideal job. The field of public relations is broad enough that experienced gained at one job can be used to make a person more marketable for a variety of related jobs.
Dr. Eric Rasmussen Ph.D.: Earning potential increases with both experience and expansion of one's skills. Jobs in communication are constantly evolving, so graduates need to evolve with the times. While the fundamental skills of writing, critical thinking, and strategic planning will always remain important, specific job skills related to new media that are relevant today may not be relevant 5 years from now. Those who are able to continue to learn and develop new skills will encounter many more open doors.
Dr. Kelly Collins Woodford: Remote work - Many companies that once refused to consider remote work, even as a reasonable accommodation for ADA purposes, have learned that workers can work from home and remain productive. The cost savings associated with reducing the office footprint, particularly in large downtown areas, as well as the reduction in the lost time associated with commuting is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. As recent graduates begin entering the workforce, it will be interesting to see if those new hires are able to easily integrate into the workforce and gain mentoring from colleagues they have only met on screen. The kinds of advice and support recent graduates were able to obtain by merely walking down the hall or into the breakroom, will now be something that new graduates will have to actively seek.
Flexible hours - Along with remote work, many companies have been forced to allow workers to utilize more flexible work schedules. The old 8-5 paradigm has shifted to accommodate the needs of workers working from home, particularly workers who have children in remote school settings. Interestingly, studies have shown that the convenience-based work schedules lead to employees who, overall, are more productive and happier.
Service-sector workers - The service sector has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The decrease in service-sector jobs is likely to continue for the foreseeable future particularly in hospitality and tourism, entertainment, sports, and air travel. How fast the service sector rebounds is really tied to the success of COVID-19 containment efforts, including the impact of vaccinations.
Dr. Kelly Collins Woodford: The soft skills graduates need really has not changed because of the pandemic, but the importance of those soft skills has changed.
For example, as we saw last spring, the ability to be flexible and adaptable to change is critical. To be adaptable, graduates will need strong critical thinking/problem solving skills.
Importantly, graduates must be able to work independently. We often see students who want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. Graduates in the current market need to be able to use their critical thinking skills to figure out how to accomplish goals and have the ability to work independently to reach the goals.
Also important are interpersonal skills needed to be a successful member of a team, whether the team is remote or in person.
With flexible hours and remote work, time management has also increased in importance.
Dr. Kelly Collins Woodford: Several surveys have indicated that the wage increases that were projected for 2020 generally did not occur because of the pandemic. Those surveys have also shown that fewer employers are planning to increase wages in 2021. With the current unemployment rates, salaries are not likely to increase in the near future, though some employers have slightly increased wages to compete with enhanced unemployment benefits to lure workers back to work.
The increased use of flexible scheduling is a benefit worth noting, particularly for working parents, and that flexibility for some is as important, if not more important, than a salary increase.