September 9, 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 Oregon
University of Redlands
Arkansas Tech University
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
University of South Carolina
Saint Xavier University
Arizona State University
University of San Francisco
Central Connecticut State University
University of Dubuque
Arkansas Tech University
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Foster College of Business
Candace Esken Ph.D.: Management analysts, or consultants, should have strong skills associated with data analytics and problem-solving. Any evidence of these skills on an applicant's resume is a key indicator of being a strong candidate. For example, proficiency with various statistical data analysis software programs or data management systems helps a candidate's resume stand out. It also helps if an applicant has several years of work experience in a related field.
Candace Esken Ph.D.: Excellent communication skills are absolutely essential for management analysts. Usually, these skills are best demonstrated during the interview process with little room for error. In addition, applicants should have strong interpersonal skills because much of their job requires them to work with managers and employees of various organizations. Furthermore, soft skills such as leadership, confidence, and time management are highly valued.
Candace Esken Ph.D.: The most important hard skills for management analysts are problem-solving, data analysis, and presentation skills. The central focus of their work revolves around solving problems for clients by analyzing large chunks of data and drawing meaningful conclusions. Analysts also spend a great deal of time creating sophisticated presentations to enhance communication with clients. Management Analysts should be especially skilled with excel and PowerPoint.
Candace Esken Ph.D.: Analysts who have both sets of critical hard and soft skills, a tough combination to deliver, will have the most earning potential. Typically, once an analyst has proven themselves on several projects and built a credible reputation, they will have opportunities for increased earnings. Furthermore, analysts with an MBA degree typically earn a higher salary and receive larger signing bonuses.
Dr. Shalini Gopalkrishnan: The top skills will be " learning to learn," "Analytical skills," even for nonanalytical jobs, understanding technology trends, communication, storytelling and learning how to manage time, and quickly assessing and summarizing information.
Dr. Shalini Gopalkrishnan: In International business, the top places in the USA are areas where the Multinationals are, so check out the global 500 and see where they are located, and that is where the jobs are. The usual suspects, New York, California, Chicago...
Dr. Shalini Gopalkrishnan: Technology has already made inroads by reducing travel (not due to covid alone, but before that, too) and using video conferencing tools, AI (Artificial Intelligence ) will enable smoother conversations across cultures, VR (Virtual Reality) will allow people to immerse empathetically in other cultures to understand the business methods, Blockchain will allow intrafirm authentication.
Helen LaVan Ph.D.: This answer varies, depending on whether the graduate is an undergraduate or graduate. For undergraduates, ideally, there should be an internship and involvement in University activities.
Undergraduate students who must work while in college should strive for positions where they learn skills related to their chosen primary and work-readiness skills. Undergraduate students who work at the same employer during all four years of undergraduate school should strive for promotion within that one organization. For graduate students there should be involvement in community and professional associations.
The community activities should be related to the chosen career area. Gaps in employment are no longer as much of a problem as previously. There are published ways of dealing with gaps in resumes.
Helen LaVan Ph.D.: Some organizations will see how productive individuals can be working remotely and permanently convert some jobs that would ordinarily be at the workplace to remote jobs. Online skill-enhancing opportunities, such as entirely online degrees or certificate programs, will enable some individuals to develop or change their career areas.
Helen LaVan Ph.D.: Some individuals may seek job-related opportunities, including promotions, because they hold incorrect beliefs about the job market's nature. For example, I recently reviewed options for our Master of Science in Human Resources (MSHR) graduates within the Chicago Metropolitan area. The number of posted opportunities surprised me.
This does not include, perhaps, even half of the options not posted on job posting boards, such as exclusively on employers' career pages or with external recruiters only. Individuals may have depression and will begin to self-medicate and will persist in these behaviors. Since more individuals will be working remotely, employers and coworkers who might have noticed these behaviors in the past will not see and refer them to resources.
Benjamin Clark Ph.D.: State and local budgets have been and will continue to be struck because of Covid-19. Congress has been throwing around the idea of state and local government support in a new stimulus package, but nothing was going to happen before the election. This may be the key to contracted or expanded hiring by states and local governments.
Trend-wise, remote work may be one of the things that come out of the pandemic. Many of our students have been able to do internships remotely very successfully. Many employers are finding that remote work offers the flexibility that many employees have been yearning for. Thus, I would expect that more jobs will be location-neutral when hiring springs back to life. This will give employers more options for candidates-particularly in places that are very expensive or in places where people have historically been hesitant to move.
Benjamin Clark Ph.D.: There are two things on this front that I think will become more important and prevalent. The first one is the virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, etc. As people become more familiar with them, they've become less hesitant to use them. Will this eliminate all travel and face-to-face meetings in the long-run, nope. But they will make some of these interactions more comfortable and less costly. The second thing isn't so much a technology as it is an output of technology-data. Understanding, using, manipulating, and analyzing data will be one of the critical things is moving forward that comes from a wide range of technologies. I'm not even talking about AI, deep learning, or data science here-though those will likely become more important to administrators, too.
Benjamin Clark Ph.D.: At some point, the Baby Boomers will retire. We've been talking about that for twenty years now, and many of them have hung onto their careers longer than prior generations, due to recessions and just living longer, healthier lives. However, highly skilled workers will be needed to replace these folks moving forward. The changes in technology may replace some jobs. Again, the management of that tech and the data they produce are vital areas younger generations can step in and immediately provide value.
Jill Robinson Ph.D.: The entertainment industry employs graduates from various disciplines, such as theatre, music, law, art, and business. The rapidly changing, consumer-driven demand reinforces the idea that students may well hold jobs not even invented yet. Those wishing to pursue more performance-based careers must bring more than talent and big dreams. They need patience and perseverance, as it can take years to make enough money to survive in this field, leaving many to work elsewhere while trying to get their foot in the door. They must have a flexible mindset to deal with inconsistent income and schedules that can change at a moment's notice. That flexibility also extends to openness for continuous learning beyond college and throughout their careers. The ability to network is critical, so current students should look for internships and volunteer activities to access those in the industry. Joining professional associations and working in event planning are other routes to expand networking opportunities.
Jill Robinson Ph.D.: Technological advances have driven change in the entertainment industry since it first began. We will continue to watch plays in person, but we will also manage content on all our devices. There will also be more changes in how practitioners do their work. They won't need to fly across the country for a meeting when they can meet online. In the past, I have been passed from Los Angeles to New York for a one-hour session. Moving forward, such expenses may no longer make sense. Organizations will need to use their resources wisely, where they will have the most significant impact.
Along with technology, the impact of COVID-19 is a mixed bag for the entertainment landscape. While Netflix has seen revenue increase, up 28% compared to the same time last year, Live Nation, which produces live entertainment, has seen the floor drop out, leaving them with a whopping 97% decrease in revenue, which puts their very survival at risk. Many in the industry believe---or at least hope---live entertainment will rebound and continue to draw crowds post-virus. The question is, when will fans feel comfortable returning to such venues? These factors suggest that what we have traditionally thought of as the entertainment industry could look very different in the next five years.
Bethany Swindell: Your biggest asset is your network. Treat everyone with humanity and integrity and remember that every moment is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Bethany Swindell: In the homeland security field, emerging technologies present new opportunities yet insert risks. Balancing cybersecurity with civil liberties, privacy, and ethical impacts on national security is an ongoing struggle. UAVs are my research interest, and the continually evolving drone technology presents many opportunities for the field.
Bethany Swindell: Many factors influence the salary - location, specialty, sector, etc. Starting salaries provide livable wages and should only increase with time and dedication to career advancements. Stay on top of trends in the field and continue training to build your resume and improve salary prospects.
Dr. Stephen Shiring: Historically, within the Hospitality Management and service-related industries, the need for skilled, experienced, and competent managers is standard, regardless of the business cycle. For example, in both expanding and contracting business cycles, one constant is effective management. Therefore, hospitality management graduates' needs will continue to be in demand over the next five years.
Our most recent Department of Hospitality Management career and internship fair hosted on October 13, 2020, had recruiters hiring for industry segments such as food and beverage, restaurant and food service, tourism, hotel and accommodations, transportation and logistics, real estate, sports, leisure and gaming, private clubs, resorts, entertainment, contract services and destinations.
While one segment may contract, the hospitality industry is so large that other parts continue to experience expansion.
For example, while our lodging industry recruiters were somewhat cautious in their recruitment needs, contract management companies, especially in the segment of healthcare, were hiring.
Dr. Stephen Shiring: Communication system technology continues to evolve. The ability to quickly connect the consumer with the service/product provider will be the most important. Making the transaction in transferring the product to the user will drive it. This includes guest or consumer "recovery" systems, if a less than desirable experience occurs in the transaction.
Dr. Stephen Shiring: People are mobile, and travel will continue.
Food is such an emotional experience, shared with family, friends, and business associates, which will never change. Entertainment is part of our existence, and consumers will seek it.
Hospitality Management is used as an "umbrella" term to encapsulate the segments of the Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism, Special Events, and the Service Industry that accommodates people in their quest to satisfy this person's wants. As an employer, the hospitality industry offers our graduate's management career opportunities as an entrepreneur or within global operational systems, including corporate support centers, supply chain and logistics management, restaurants, tourism, special events, hotels, resorts, clubs, beverage operations, theme parks, contract food services, gaming operations, catering, cruise lines, sales, and other travel-related venues, and service-related careers.
Other service industries have discovered the transferable skills students graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management bring with them to the workplace. These skills include a focused management concentration, excellent hands-on work experience, customer service skills, a dedication to accomplishing organizational goals using a team-focused approach using a diverse workforce, and assuming the individual responsibility to get the job done while ensuring the customer is extremely satisfied - are the same skills a successful business requires, regardless if it's in banking or restaurants.
As our alumni are currently employed in all hospitality industry segments, they are also being hired in banking, health care, insurance, real estate, and specifically Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Our current hospitality management students are now actively recruited and sought by these industries for both internship opportunities and management career positions -- and this hiring trend will continue to grow over the next five years.
Joel Stevenson: I would not enter the job market at this time. I would apply to the Masters of Human Resources Program at U of SC. If I could not get into the program, I would take an HR job and apply again to the Master's Program. Reason...with a Master's in HR, the starting salary is right at $85,000 per year. Cost and amount of time it takes to get your Master's, $25,000, and 15 months.
Joel Stevenson: Don't know about the technology, but I know that the success of EVERY COMPANY is GOOD WELL-TRAINED PEOPLE.
Joel Stevenson: Don't know of a better starting salary than the one mentioned above-a lot of room for advancement.
Saint Xavier University
The Graham School of Management
Dr. Faisal Rahman Ph.D.: Graduates need to be extremely comfortable and competent in using technology in every aspect of their job. Also, they should have course work in data analytics. COVID-19 is reshaping every sector of the economy. Graduates need to understand the changing needs of the customers and employers and how to communicate with them.
Dr. Faisal Rahman Ph.D.: Location-wise, the larger cities like NY, Chicago, and LA are still good. Nashville and Austin. Location is less important because a lot of work is done remotely.
Dr. Faisal Rahman Ph.D.: Huge. Technology will continue to redefine where and how we are going to work. Larger companies like Microsoft are making it an option for all employees.
Arizona State University
Supply Chain Management Department
Hitendra Chaturvedi: Real and quantifiable results on work performed stand out rather than just words. Working with people and showing effective cross-group collaboration stands out. Having the courage to show that a project you worked on failed, but you got valuable lessons from it stands out. In my books, if there is a spelling mistake on that single page of the resume that is supposed to represent you, it will immediately force me to practice my basketball shooting skills with the garbage bin.
Hitendra Chaturvedi: Enduring? Not sure because we have short memories. Next 2-3 years? Absolutely! Students have to learn to show their best in interviews and meetings on the square box of a computer screen, and that is something they have not been taught to do. Moreover, I also believe that living at home where you are still a son/daughter has also made adult and grown-up type interactions less frequent. This has caused many students not to speak up, and I worry that it may show up in competitive interviews with potential employers. I do not think these graduating students will have any problem adjusting to working from home.
Business Management and Information Technology
Michelle Burton: The enduring impact on business graduates, I foresee, is the change in how business and education will continue to be conducted via virtual formats. Those who continue their higher education will see traditional on-ground environments not return to the previous setting for most, but rather through "safer" distance learning environments.
Once graduates enter the workforce, I believe, they will embrace a virtual environment there, too, depending on the organization and industry. A large majority of businesses have already transitioned to a virtual format in a short time, that those businesses have laid a foundation and will continue to operate in very similar methods. For those businesses that have not had a negative impact on operating virtually, they have the opportunity to continue to decrease overhead, without impacting its workforce or bottom line. If anything, a virtual working environment can be a huge cost saving for some businesses, which is why working virtually will be the way of the future for the business.
Michelle Burton: Business graduates should be able to locate employment opportunities in almost every state in our nation, depending on which industry a graduate desires to embark on. Usually, larger cities have more opportunities for business graduates. A few degree specializations that a business graduate might embark on include accounting, administrative assistant, bookkeeping, finance, entrepreneurship, healthcare administration/management, healthcare management, human resources, international business, marketing, and public administration. With so many options, the choice depends on the graduate's desired industry and degree. I would suggest that a new graduate research their desired industry and see what the top areas are for that particular industry, as trends change for top locations periodically.
Michelle Burton: The business graduate will have to have a firm understanding and capability in technology to be competitive in a virtual business environment. This is the time to sharpen skills or even become Microsoft Certified. I would even suggest knowing the required software products of a particular industry so they can have an edge on the competition. Businesses that stay up on technological trends have higher success rates than those that do not, which is why it is essential for a graduate entering the workforce to become and or remain technology savvy.
Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III: I believe there will not be many organizations hiring for many positions due to restructuring and layoffs.
Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III: Nonprofits will still be a great place to find a position. Also, the public sector will hire, as well.
Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III: I teach a graduate course called Emerging Technologies, and there is no doubt that tech is here to stay, and graduates will have to be more adaptable to the changes tech will bring in the workplace.
Central Connecticut State University
Manufacturing & Construction Management Department
Jacob Kovel Ph.D.: Right now, there looks to be little, if any, impact on our graduates. In Connecticut, where most of our graduates end up, construction was deemed essential. As such, the economic shutdown had minimal impact on the industry. Yes, there was some slowing, but most companies continued to work at near full capacity.
Jacob Kovel Ph.D.: In general, the construction industry is strong throughout the world. It is one of the few industries that really cannot be outsourced. Additionally, it is an area where many governments, at all levels, spend money. Finally, there is a nationwide shortage of trained professionals in the industry, as well as a shortage of skilled tradespeople. Combined, all of these lead to a strong job market almost everywhere.
Jacob Kovel Ph.D.: Much of the technology's impact on construction is in the area of information flow. Software options continue to be developed, and that won't stop. Is there going to be some big innovation in the actual construction process that will change the industry in the next five years? I don't think so, but you never know. The closest thing to that would be the increased use of prefabrication for some building components.
University of Dubuque
Department Head-Business & Accounting
Dr. Ricardo Cunningham: According to a July COVID-19 research survey from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 83% of employees have made business practice adjustments as a result of COVID-19, and of the businesses who have made adjustments, 50% are no longer hiring or delaying new hire start dates. The survey numbers indicate an anticipated decline in hiring for most sectors, and business majors coming out of college this year will face a more challenging job market.
In addition to the impact on the employment market, I suspect that the way jobs will look, feel, and operate going forward will be somewhat different as well. With employers now recognizing that their work can be accomplished remotely, many are opting out of expensive leases in favor of work from home arrangements to reduce overhead. Many of the jobs that were once location-bound may no longer be or will be altered to a hybrid format, which can, in exchange, offer the flexibility to a millennial and generation Z workforce that largely rejects the rigidity of the traditional office environment.
Dr. Ricardo Cunningham: Although the pandemic has hit the entire US, according to the SHRM survey, 14% of employers have hired more employees in response to COVID-19, with the most significant percentage coming from employers over 5,000. Work opportunities are likely to occur in geographic growth regions of the South and the West, but the emergence of remote work may limit the impact of regional employment. New graduates, however, should not neglect the Midwest in their post-graduate job search. Unique to the Midwest is a growing professional and business services sector with many entry-level opportunities for new grads. Couple job availability with the modest cost of living in most Midwestern cities, and it provides young professionals with relief from the high cost of living coupled with wages that don't keep pace on the east and west coasts.
Dr. Ricardo Cunningham: 75% of employers have employees who are working remotely during COVID-19, with employers such as Facebook and Twitter, among others, telling their employees they can work from home permanently. Advances in communication technologies (video conferencing, remote working software) combined with the increase in Internet access and bandwidth have allowed companies to stay productive while employees stay safe working from home. As employers and employees become comfortable with remote work, the stigma of the work from home employee will diminish.
Technology will likely be leveraged as a cost-saving measure for organizations. Positions that once required significant travel may opt for remote connections where possible. Professional development opportunities may shift remotely as well, eliminating the need for conference registration and travel cost, which are often high budget lines in many organizations. I predict that the Distributive workforce, in which there is no dedicated office space, and everyone works from their own space, will become an emerging trend over the next five years.
Loretta Cochran Ph.D.: I think one of the biggest challenges to new graduates is the change in internships - those opportunities shrank quickly. Internships are essential in that they provide much-needed work experience and access to hiring managers.
Loretta Cochran Ph.D.: Add to that, the increased competition for professional employment due to layoffs & furloughs. Those early and middle managers are now competing for entry-level jobs.
Loretta Cochran Ph.D.: Technology related to remote work will be in continued high demand. Location is less of a limiting factor but having access to high-speed internet is now a critical factor - much like water and electricity.
There will be increased pressure on human resource professionals to show their value in the bottom line. Emergency response/risk management is now a primary concern for Human Resources in all industries - not just historically hazardous ones. That's an area of specialization that hasn't previously been recognized as a growth industry. Purchasing/sourcing/procurement/supply chain optimization has also found a new place in the career limelight.
Jonathan Hicks Ph.D.: Students in 2020 and 2021 will have had a unique vantage of evolving forms of human communication. Much like elder Millennials watched home phones be replaced by cell phones and typewriters be replaced by computers, so too has Gen Z been able to see conventional classrooms shift. In the years to come, this will influence how they manage both people and their workspaces. Some students have quickly grown to prefer technology infusion; others have reaffirmed their commitment to face-to-face communication. Either way, their adaptability has been tested authentically, and they will carry those lessons with them for decades to come.
Jonathan Hicks Ph.D.: In the short term, outdoor recreation facilities/sites will likely be the most stable, as fresh air and social distancing are more comfortable to achieve. Park visitation has increased significantly during 2020. Subsequently, so have the demands increased on outdoor recreation managers to provide increased programming, facilities, and maintenance. Such efforts require staffing, and recent graduates will be ideal candidates to fill those roles. Geographically, warmer climates with longer tourist seasons will provide the most stable permanent employment; however, many of those locations have also been among the most likely for COVID outbreaks. Graduates should consider such factors when making employment decisions.
Jonathan Hicks Ph.D.: Hybrid classrooms that fuse in-person instruction with remote learning are going to be significantly more normalized. Schools invested a lot of money in that technology and will continue to utilize it moving forward. This will make education more accessible while also increasing educators' challenges to provide experiential learning so critical to professional development. Similarly, recreational opportunities will be more likely to be delivered virtually and remotely. Experiences from tours to escape rooms may shift to online platforms. However, certain staples, including everything from theme parks to national parks to youth and professional sports, will likely continue to be predominantly driven by in-person experiences.
Greg Prussia Ph.D.: I think there will only be a short-term impact on opportunities for graduates. Once systems realign to a post-pandemic environment, some will have to play catch-up once hiring picks up, but this lag effect will be limited.
Greg Prussia Ph.D.: Urban centers will likely provide the best prospects for business graduates. Areas with a tech focus will also have substantial hiring potential opportunities.
Greg Prussia Ph.D.: Graduates will need a combination of hard and soft skills to land the most high-paying jobs in general business. The focus on STEM and business analytics is undoubtedly essential, and graduates with a solid background in these skills are crucial. Still, leadership and "human" skills are needed to round out the most qualified graduate job candidates.