November 2, 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 Scranton
University of Houston - Downtown
American Public Power Association
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
State University of New York at Potsdam
Arizona State University
University of Oregon
University of Southern California
Nelson Rusche College of Business
Allison Lauenstein: Skills that stand out show that the candidate has had some experience leading projects and project teams. Marketing is a collaborative effort, and it is critically important for upcoming managers to understand how to manage and motivate a team to achieve its objectives.
Allison Lauenstein: Listening and asking questions are some of the most important skills. As Marketers, you not only have to listen to what people say, but you have to try to understand what they are not saying. How do their actions differ from what they are saying?
Allison Lauenstein: Project Management and being able to connect the dots around the data and insights are critical. You have to analyze a situation and uncover insights from the customer, the competitors, and the industry.
Allison Lauenstein: Leadership and collaboration will go a long way. The best ideas can come from anywhere, and it's not always about who has the best idea but who can execute the idea the best. Good marketers must understand that if you cannot successfully execute or effectively communicate a great idea, it may not be so great.
S.Sinem Atakan: The most important skills for marketing graduates, especially given the remote working conditions due to the pandemic, are self-motivation, communication, and digital marketing skills. Creativity and analytical skills are always important in marketing, but pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to work independently and motivate yourself even when external forces are not directly present. Communication skills are crucial to work remotely and be on the same page with your team members. Digital marketing was big but getting even bigger with this breakthrough changes in consumer behavior. Hence, the rising stars of the marketing job market will be graduates who can combine all these skills seamlessly
Soyoung Joo: Communication and time management skills are valuable skills for marketing managers.
Soyoung Joo: Creativity and intellectual curiosity (willingness to keep learning) can be added to the above soft skills.
Soyoung Joo: Being able to interpret the consumer data and identify the true needs and wants of the consumer is imperative for marketers.
Soyoung Joo: Being able to work well with people from diverse backgrounds can be added to the above skills.
University of Scranton
School of Management
Abhijit Roy: In general, companies will look to see whether or not the candidate can overall market the company's products. Given the depth and breadth of marketing jobs, the specific skill requirements will vary. For example, a sales manager position will require individuals with high interpersonal skills, advertising positions will look for individuals with creativity, while marketing research positions will demand strong analytical skills. Overall, most companies today are looking for individuals with strong digital marketing and social media skills.
Job market candidates must look for the job descriptions in the ads and ensure they have relevant matching skills that they can include in their resumes.
Abhijit Roy: These are very important, yet harder to quantify skills, not only for marketing professionals but for business graduates in general. They include the ability to make sound decisions under pressure, having a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) as embodied by having empathy towards coworkers and subordinates, delegating appropriately, mentoring, communicating, time management, maintaining positivity despite setbacks and adapting to unforeseen challenges, being flexible, being persuasive and assertive at appropriate moments, yet being collaborative, seeking feedback, and the ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts when needed, amongst others.
Soft skills are typically more instrumental in enabling candidates to fit into an organization's culture and be strong candidates for promotion. Most marketing jobs involve candidates representing their brand initiatives and building strong client relationships, so interpersonal, and other soft skills are often valued more than hard skills. The strongest case for having excellent soft skills is that they are more easily transferable across various jobs and industries.
Abhijit Roy: The Marketing field has undergone a major paradigmatic shift with the growth of digitization. Hence, hard/technical skills in performing data-driven marketing, social media and data analytics, data visualization, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/Search Engine Marketing (SEM), content creation and storytelling, and omnichannel communication are critical hard skills that are in great demand today.
Abhijit Roy: The above skills are in high demand and also currently pay the most. Still, I strongly recommend that students focus not on skills that will help them earn the most but on the skill sets that each individual possesses and think of how they can best leverage that in the marketplace to have a long sustained, and enjoyable career.
Dr. Richard Conde Ph.D.: Showcasing the balance between people management and analytical skills. Marketing today relies on a substantial amount of data, which requires marketing managers to possess strong analytical skills. At the same time, leaders have to motivate, inspire, and guide employees. In the last 3-5 years, I have seen a greater emphasis on analytical skills.
Dr. Richard Conde Ph.D.: Leaders need to lead. A leader who is curious, vulnerable, transparent, and inclusive generally has better success. The challenge is to teach leaders to be authentically curious. That is a big challenge in leadership.
Dr. Richard Conde Ph.D.: First, understand A/B experiments. Marketers are consistently comparing different campaigns, and the ability to create thoughtful experiments is critical.
Second, go beyond averages and percentages and learn linear and logistic regression and more advanced analytical tools. The exposure to more complex analytics allows for more thoughtful outcomes and interpretation.
Third, be exposed to a programming language like R or Python. Not that you are going to code, but it allows you to speak the language of data.
Dr. Richard Conde Ph.D.: It's a combination of skills, plus the patience to build those skills. Great people and leadership skills always seem to trump most other variables. I would encourage individuals to invest in their leadership skills and consider partnering with a leadership coach.
Jean Beaupré: If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it is the importance of resilience and flexibility. New graduates will need to remain alert, curious, and ready for inevitable change. Communication skills like active listening, teamwork, and writing will never go out of style and are consistently valued by organizations of all sizes and industries. In light of increasing globalization and emphasis on gender and racial diversity, successful professionals will have high cultural intelligence (CQ), contributing to strong negotiation and interpersonal skills.
Business communication graduates will need to possess comfort with technology, including the ability to self-teach the new and proprietary applications they will indeed be expected to use. Finally, they should be prepared to support why communication initiatives are vital to business outcomes strategically. Effective communication practices have been connected to organizational innovation, efficiency, and profitability; communication professionals should have the capability to make that case using data and evidence.
Jean Beaupré: Given the current status of remote work, we can expect that hiring agents may cast a wider net when recruiting in the coming years. As a result, new graduates should not limit themselves to their immediate geographic area. Instead, they would be well served to research industries that are predicted to grow, such as healthcare and technology. Flexibility and openness are essential in job hunting as well; often, opportunities can be found in positions, companies, or fields that new graduates overlook, based on preconceived notions.
Jean Beaupré: A generation ago, you could count the methods for communicating at work on one hand. Today, we have email, social media, video conferencing, texting, direct messaging, intranets, and more. These options are likely to expand in the future, as technology companies compete to meet professional, communicative needs. In my view, a significant challenge for those working in communication will be to maintain focus on the basic principles such as understanding your audience and not to assume that new technology will make communication simple. On the flip side, technology has facilitated ample data availability, so the opportunity exists to showcase communication as a vital contributor to business outcomes further and reliably.
American Public Power Association
Media Relations & Communications
Tobias Sellier: There are exciting opportunities to work for community-owned, not-for-profit, hometown public power. From engineers and customer service representatives to lineworkers and administrative professionals, there are many opportunities. And utility employees, being essential workers, even during these challenging times, there are still many jobs that will need to be filled.
Pauline Stamp Ph.D.: Absolutely. Students have learned a variety of new skills and competencies, including adaptation, flexibility, software programs, zoom etiquette, patience, grace, self-reliance, self-care, concentration, and the art of Mindfulness. They have also had to grow up fast and learn some hard lessons without preparation, including lack of resources and money, illness, death, homelessness, food insecurities, depression, anxiety, fear, and isolation.
Pauline Stamp Ph.D.: Yes. Online. "Online" is now a place.
Pauline Stamp Ph.D.: The student/graduate that can seamlessly transition from F2F to C2C to written communication and skillfully be productive, regardless of the modality, will be in very high demand. Students/graduates need to be constantly learning new software and technology, and learning how to use these tools, skillfully, in every situation. Communication has always been the #1 driver of success, that will never change - the way it is conducted will always change.
Arshia Anwer Ph.D.: The coronavirus had a short, negative impact on the public relations industry as a whole, resulting in layoffs in the field and reduced spending on promotional activities by large corporations. However, during the end of summer and now in early fall, markets are looking more optimistic, and the economy is bouncing back, and with it, opportunities in the public relations field are looking brighter. Some of our alumni who lost their jobs in March or April have now found similar positions or have resumed the positions they were in before the pandemic. Similarly, some of the Manhattan College Communication Department's most recent graduates have already found positions in the public relations field.
Arshia Anwer Ph.D.: New York is one of the best places to find work in the public relations industry, as it has main or branch offices of all the major global marketing communications conglomerates, and has a large variety of boutique agencies that cater to almost any niche area in the field. Job searching in New York also provides closer access to the Philadelphia and Trenton, NJ areas, which are two other popular places for finding jobs in the field. Other cities that are in the top places to find jobs are Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle on the west coast, Washington, D. C., and Boston on the east coast, with Austin, Atlanta, and Tennessee in the south emerging as popular areas where agencies are seeking to put their roots down.
Arshia Anwer Ph.D.: Public relations, and marketing communication, in general, has been at the forefront of using technology developments - like the use of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, machine learning and use of databases to analyze big data, the addition of digital and social media channels in engaging publics, and leveraging globalization to reach increased audiences all over the world. Public relations practitioners are learning and using all of these new areas and tools in the course of their work. The industry is also evolving, with the emergence of smaller specialist agencies that provide expertise in a single tactical tool or service, like search engine optimization or data analytics.
John McGrath Ph.D.: I believe we are at a significant turning point in the Marketing --and business-- fields. The students who will succeed will have three qualities that make them stand out. First, they will have to be self-starters in learning new skills and certifications and promoting themselves to prospective employers. Second, they will have to be resilient in the face of disrupting technological and social change. Finally, those who exhibit conscientiousness and understanding in their dealings with others will stand out with employers in this time where Zoom has distanced us from everyday human interactions.
John McGrath Ph.D.: I believe new grads may buck the trend toward moving to the major cities for job opportunities for two reasons: fears that large cities' density may contribute to COVID-19 and future pandemics and the new capability to work remotely from anywhere. As a result, young people are actively searching for quality of life in smaller regional cities all over America.
John McGrath Ph.D.: This is the largest disruptive event since the social, technological, and political upheavals of 1968. Technology, particularly the ability to work, learn, and contribute remotely, will change America in ways we may not even imagine right now.
Sergio Lopez Ph.D.: There are some skills that have not changed in the last few years (such as problem-solving, creativity, or analytical thinking), but in addition to that, they will need a great capacity to connect and move into the social networks while dealing with very diverse people. To communicate in a language different than English will be a key skill. This does not necessarily mean to be fluent in another language (Spanish, Chinese..), but to be able to use the technological tools to communicate with others.
Sergio Lopez Ph.D.: More than geographical places, areas of work. Technology, for sure, is going to forget about locations.
Sergio Lopez Ph.D.: Technology will require the ability to integrate ways of doing things. The key will be to "do it both," such as being able to interact in a face-to-face context as well as in online environments. If there is something that COVID has brought us, and that will surely remain after we go over it, it is the human capacity to adapt in new ways of interaction and communication.
Dr. Donald Siegel: In our field, computer skills and proficiency with technology and data are in great demand (e.g., data analytics and engineering applications)
Dr. Donald Siegel: States and cities that are growing (e.g., Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and cities, such as Phoenix, San Antonio, Denver, Austin, and Atlanta).
Dr. Donald Siegel: Technology will be used as a substitute for labor (computerization and artificial intelligence) and also enhance service quality and efficiency.
Jesse Weiner Ph.D.: There will almost certainly be an enduring impact on graduates, but exactly what that looks like, remains to be seen. Some industries, such as academia, may have many lean years ahead, but I expect that most industries will bounce back, and many will flourish. However, many industries may find themselves transformed, and working remotely (or partially remotely) may well become a new norm. The transferable skills with which classics majors graduate (analytic thinking, critical reading, and writing) prepare them well to succeed in a variety of professions and to adapt to an ever-changing workplace.
Jesse Weiner Ph.D.: Assuming they do not pursue PhDs in the field, classics majors aren't trained for a particular industry or vocation. Instead, they use their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills to work as teachers, business leaders, museum curators, publishers, and bankers, and they succeed brilliantly in a wide array of other fields. Studies have shown that classics majors score higher on the LSAT than graduates in any other discipline. Recent students of mine have gone to become lawyers, business consultants, book editors, Latin teachers, managers of nonprofits, and entrepreneurs; others now work on Wall Street or have joined the Peace Corps. Some have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in fields ranging from creative writing to marine biology. The "hot spots" for any particular profession will, of course, vary, but, as we recover from the pandemic, I expect opportunities will abound around the country.
Jesse Weiner Ph.D.: I suspect that no profession will remain untouched by technology in the near future. At a most basic level, teaching, learning, and working in a wide variety of professions will increasingly incorporate remote and online components. Projects in digital humanities have expanded the use of technology in classics classrooms, such that today's classics majors enter the job market with considerably more training with digital tools than their predecessors.
T. Bettina Cornwell: I think everyone, and especially those launching their careers during this pandemic, will be impacted. Importantly, these and other extreme events may well be a part of our future. New graduates will have experience with crisis planning, and this will support their future resilience.
T. Bettina Cornwell: This pandemic has taught us that place will be less important in many careers. We have proven we can work from anywhere. The future place decision is likely near, but not in big, expensive cities.
T. Bettina Cornwell: While everyone "kinda sorta" had an online presence, our experiences have elevated the importance of a meaningful online face. Technology providers, already advancing at a breakneck pace with AR, VR, IoT, AI, and streaming solutions, will up their game. Some people, brands, and companies in marketing were literally left in the dark, and most have learned from their experience. Thus, we can expect both supply-side and demand-side interest and investment in technology.
Dr. Yuliya Strizhakova Ph.D.: There is an ongoing immediate impact on graduates as most businesses are not hiring and are in some form of a hiring freeze. The same applies even to internships. Others might have closed down or furloughed their employees, till they get more certainty about their future. As the pandemic eases - hopefully, sooner rather than later - consumers will start to slowly readjust to what we considered our "usual" pre-pandemic way of life.
However, it does not mean that all businesses will get back to where they were immediately. We have seen that already, with restaurants opening up but only getting 20-30% of their customers after reopening. However, the pandemic also opened up opportunities for many businesses - specifically, digital, mobile, and virtual companies.
Before the epidemic, I used to discuss the omnichannel retailing landscape with a continually increasing power of everything online. Now, the same concepts apply to numerous other disciplines. I also think companies that were hesitant about work from home for their employees were forced into this "work from home" experiment by the pandemic. Many of them have come to realize that their employees can work more productively and be happier if they do work from home.
They do not waste hours and energy on the commune; they sleep more; they exercise more; they spend more time with the family. Simultaneously, they can be more efficient with their tasks, get to work at flexible early or late hours, have productive meetings virtually without wasting resources on travel. I would expect that companies will be much more open to working from home, or more flexibility, even after the pandemic, as long as employees can do their work successfully.
Dr. Yuliya Strizhakova Ph.D.: I would define places here as technological, virtual, mobile, or digital more broadly. Geographic spaces may be even less relevant now, than before the pandemic. In marketing, we have seen the majority of job opportunities in digital, social media, mobile marketing, and marketing analytics/research even more for the pandemic. Right now, those skills are even in greater demand. Opportunities in logistics and customer service have also increased due to a massive demand for online ordering but insufficient supply. Also, having a joint degree in marketing and science, technology, or healthcare would broaden opportunities.
Dr. Yuliya Strizhakova Ph.D.: First, as I stated earlier, employees will be expected to be able to work in the virtual world, navigate different digital tools, be self-motivated, and flexible. This is becoming a norm already now and will be more so in the future.
Second, more and more products will be integrated with technology and traditional tech products, such as clothing, shoes, accessories, learning tools, healthcare, the legal system, food, and name.
Third, technology - as we have already seen- makes us more "narrowly" targeted. It may be great for us when we see relevant ads to what we are searching for, but it is not great for news, politics, social justice, diversity. Tech companies will need to adjust and find a better balance between narrowcasting and providing a more balanced stream of information on these critical issues.
Fourth, more and more customers are getting used to ordering everything online, store pick-ups, home delivery. Traditional retailers and malls have been in trouble, even before the pandemic, but will look even more different in the next five years. Customer service will play even a big part in this space. Social media, online reviews, digital sharing of all formats will be evolving and changing.
Finally, research and analytics will probably be even more advanced and improved because of technology in the next five years.
Gerard Tellis: Because so much has moved to the web, having a good video presence in Zoom will be critical to getting a job - enthusiastic, gracious, and professional.
Gerard Tellis: In addition, because most high-tech, new industry jobs have remained steady or increased and because these have abundant data, skills in big data collection and analysis will be important.
Gerard Tellis: Because budget and employment have been cut, the ability to be efficient and accomplish more in less time will become highly valuable.
Marlene Kahla Ph.D.: Yes, there will be an enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on graduates in ways such as:
a. They will learn to effectively use several types of platforms such as, Microsoft Teams, YouTube and Zoom, in addition to Twitter, Flickr, Periscope and blogs for business purposes. They will learn that, for business purposes, they will need to develop plans, rather than spontaneously use any of the platforms, as they would for personal activities;
b. They will learn to effectively live stream an event, and place it on social media such as Facebook Live;
c. They will become keenly aware of the hiring company's standards regarding its employees, customers, and how employees interact with the customers in a corona virus world, i.e., in a business-to-business scenario, employees of a manufacturer may be required to have written permission from a customer to tour the customer's plant or facilities. Whereas, prior to corona virus pandemic, verbal permission was the acceptable method.
For example, a large feed company may require that their sales reps receive written permission from a customer's (feed store), customer (cattle raiser), prior to touring the cattle raiser's operation;
d. In a day-to-day work setting during and following coronavirus pandemic, employees will be more keenly aware of the company's directives regarding reporting both business and personal travel.
For example, some companies may require that employees not travel by air, or report where the employee plans to travel including family trips;
e. They will learn to become more creative as they encounter challenges with technology, i.e., a downed tree in a storm cuts a fiber optic cable needed for conferencing, and they need to be able to participate in a specific virtual conference to ensure that supply chain effectively gets products to where they are required;
f. More than ever, they will learn that their time is not everyone's time. For example, a human resource director for a major drilling company is driving into the office in Houston, Texas at 7 AM central time as she is teleconferencing, hands-free of course, with the CEO of that company, in Dubai, as he is leaving his office in Dubai for the day. Before coronavirus pandemic, the CEO would make an occasional visit to the Houston office;
g. After the coronavirus pandemic, some level of normalcy will return to the job market, and companies will question so many air travel hours when conferences can be held virtually. Hotel stays and mileage will not take so much of the company budget. Many office locations may be closed, while a few key places remain open with fewer people. More students may pursue learning a trade. The post-pandemic world requires people, products, and services, yet they will transcend technology more than prior pandemic times. (see https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/04/09/the-aftermath-of-covid-19-will-cause-alarming-changes-to-our-careers-and-lives/#2a43ed594e52);
h. Although over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment, new jobs emerge, i.e., contact tracers, temperature takers, health monitors, and workplace redesigners. (see https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/new-types-jobs-emerge-from-covid-19.aspx)
i. Technology enables the job market to become more fluid as people and companies address new challenges each day. Change is the new normal. Graduates that embrace change will do well. More training will be via videos and modules than prior pandemic times.
Marlene Kahla Ph.D.: Companies throughout the United States need good marketers.
Through acceptance of video conferencing to conduct business, many graduates will work at least 50% of their jobs from home. As the pandemic levels off, some companies continue to have their salespeople meet with clients on a person-to-person basis at least 50% of the time.
After quarantine, people started looking to move away from large cities into smaller neighborhoods, simpler lives, and work from home. The trend is to move away from states with high tax rates.
Southeastern United States, coastal states, and central may see a surge in employment availability.
Marlene Kahla Ph.D.: Technology will enable the development of flexible, resilient business models.
More online shopping, contactless payment, robot deliveries, and self-driving vehicles reflect technology trends as the pandemic wanes. More people will be working from home, more often, and education, at all levels, will incorporate increased use of technology into their business models.
Technology enables economic indicators that once reflected growth in an industrial revolution to transform as indicators of a technological revolution. Through technology and grids that support access to technology, job descriptions changed in a matter of weeks during the initial months of coronavirus in the United States.
CEO's discovered that their employees became as productive from home offices as they had been in actual offices in buildings in urban settings. And, instead of driving in traffic for nearly two hours each morning and evening, employees used that time to become more productive on their laptops and video conferencing.
The ripple effect of more technology and productivity is that the utility bills and associated overhead in the large offices became significantly lower than when everyone was physically coming into the office.
Technology will enable people to become healthier, too. Less driving, less stress, more walking and running will help build a healthy workforce.