November 11, 2020
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.
Khara Schuetzner: They will need technology skills, communication, animal behavior knowledge, and business management. Pet ownership is on the rise; according to the American Pet Products Association, 67% percent of U.S. households own a pet.
Khara Schuetzner: Dog Training, you can find work where you are living. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers has a job board. You can become a supporting member to access it.
Khara Schuetzner: During the pandemic, some dog trainers were scrambling to get classes online. With more households getting pets, I see technology being needed to assist pet trainers and owners in keeping pets mentally stimulated. There are already some products such as the Pet Tutor and Furbo on the market to assist in dog training.
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
Yvette Gonzales: In this year of Covid-19, the pet care industry has taken a hit. Since pet care services are provided in-person, travel restrictions and the movement to work from home has changed the face of how our business is done. Meet and greets, which are normally done in person, may now first be done via a Zoom conference, and dog walks are now initiated via porch or driveway pick up. The lack of business and recreational travelers has very much put a halt to long trips for clients, so the pet sitting portion of businesses has come to mostly a standstill. Once the world begins to travel again, our business will see a boom as clients are anxious to get back out and travel the world, this will mean our industry will see an increase in new hires, it's also believed that many new businesses will form, as those who lost their jobs during the pandemic may now turn into entrepreneurs. Grads entering the workforce pre-vaccination will find the opportunities in pet care to be limited; however, if the desire to begin a new business venture is still appealing, now is the perfect time to get organized, begin to market their business, and be assured they won't be immediately overwhelmed with clients. It's good to begin slowly so that when the rush begins everything will operate like a finely tuned machine.
Technology has allowed pet sitters to advance their skills online as well as stay in touch with clients and colleagues this trend will continue post Covid. GPS and online scheduling programs allow for pet parents to easily book services, as well as track their sitters/pets' movements, allowing for greater ease of service and peace of mind.
Yvette Gonzales: Now and forever, graduates will need to possess excellent communication skills, both written and face to face. This includes high-level listening and critical thinking abilities. Also, any training in Pet First Aid/ CPR, dog/cat behavior, and animal communication are very welcome. Basic accounting and business management are also pluses.
Yvette Gonzales: The wonderful thing about the pet care field is that the need is great everywhere in the U.S. People have pets in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Yvette Gonzales: Although things may be slower for the near future while they wait for widespread vaccinations to become available, I believe our industry will continue to go and thrive.
Beth Stultz-Hairston: While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted professional pet-sitting and dog-walking companies, as it has a variety of other small businesses, we expect an influx of new job requests to come in once travel resumes and more pet owners return to the office (especially since so many people have adopted pets during this time!). For those who want to start their own pet-sitting companies, now is the perfect time to take steps to prepare to launch their businesses (e.g. learn more about the industry, research local competition, select a business name, get liability insurance, etc.). For pet lovers who desire to work for another pet-sitting company, instead of starting their own, it will be important for them to highlight not only their pet-behavior knowledge and pet experience on resumes and in interviews, but their flexibility and attention to detail as well, as companies are instituting new health and safety precautions to ensure pet-sitting services can be provided as safely as possible in the COVID-19 age.
Beth Stultz-Hairston: Experience with a variety of pet types is a big plus, as is a knowledge of basic pet behavior. While prior pet-sitting experience (or animal-care experience such as volunteering at a shelter or pet rescue) is a plus, soft skills are very important-and should be highlighted when sharing details on past work experience on your resume. Good customer-service skills, attention to detail, strong interpersonal skills, effective time management, and the ability to work independently are qualities that would appeal to hiring managers at pet-care companies.
Beth Stultz-Hairston: As the pet-sitting industry grows and evolves, more and more pet-sitting companies are using specialized pet-sitter software to track bookings, accept payments, etc., and most pet sitters and dog walkers can use this software from their smartphones. Social media and online marketing have been increasingly important to businesses in the pet-care industry, and skills in these areas can prove particularly valuable when pursuing a career in the industry or seeking a position at an established pet-care business.