April 3, 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.
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Wesleyan Advantage ProgramWebsite
Sue Schlichtemeier-Nutzman Ph.D.: More employees and contractors will continue to work from home. They have spent a year establishing a workspace and setting up their systems. A Stanford University study found that 42% of the U.S. workforce has been working full-time from home during the pandemic. Several forecasts have found that 30% of those now working from home say they would quit if forced to return to the office... after the pandemic. Ninety percent of a sample of 130 human resources leaders surveyed by Gartner in February said they plan to let employees work remotely at least part of the time, even if the vaccines are widely adopted.
A new hybrid (three days/two days perhaps) is likely.
Sue Schlichtemeier-Nutzman Ph.D.: I tend to look at skills and competencies as "relational" and "content-oriented". Relational skills such as excellent communication (oral and written), leadership, conflict prevention and resolution, cultural competency, and self-accountability will be critical.
The Consumer Confidence Index surged in March, according to the Conference Board, rising from 90.4 in February to 109.7 one month later. The Present Situation Index and The Expectations Index have also risen markedly. So, as consumers feel better about buying and attempt to return to some of their previous purchasing habits, businesses will face unique competition. Ordering some items online will probably never change. But, "the old regular" places of making purchases can lure customers back with employees who have good relational skills. "New" places of making purchases will have the opportunity to retain customers who have re-habituated during the pandemic.
Sue Schlichtemeier-Nutzman Ph.D.: The average salary for Communication majors in the Lincoln area is about $55,000 (lower for new graduates). According to National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Communication graduates (public relations, advertising, etc.) were expected to see the largest increase in average starting salaries in 2020, up approximately 8.5% from the previous year. Some organizations were not able to make that jump because of the pandemic, but most businesses are now realizing that Communication majors are essential to their continuation, growth, and success.