September 17, 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.
Florida State University
Saint Xavier University - Chicago, IL
The University of Findlay
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Mount Union
Franklin and Marshall College
University of North Carolina at Asheville
Penn State Behrend
California State University Channel Islands
Drexel University, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
C. Darren Brooks Ph.D.: The positive is that many companies are recruiting and hiring. The most noticeable trend is the is the impact of remote work and more specifically, how this has changed the nature in which many companies are interviewing, onboarding of new employees, and employee mobility. In terms of interviewing, interacting with potential employers via web-enable platforms requires job applicants to be attuned to details such as lighting, sound volume, environmental distractions that are not common with in-person interviews. Additionally, many employment events such as job fairs are virtual resulting in a much different experience for both the applicant and the employer. Getting comfortable with communicating in a clear and cogent way remotely is a key skill to develop. In fact, our Career Center at Florida State offers job search and interviewing sessions to help students and alumni develop better virtual interviewing skills.
Onboarding is another area that has seen a change as a result of the pandemic. While onboarding new employees through online programs what is a more recent change is the lack of physical support during the onboarding process. We know that onboarding is a critical period for employees as they are getting to know the company, job expectations, culture, how work is done, etc. Managing the onboarding process in a remote environment requires more deliberate action on the part of HR, supervisors, and the employee. In other words, we cannot rely on an employee walking down the hall to ask questions about an assignment or who to contact to obtain essential job information. Planned, regularly schedule interactions during the first few months to ensure expectations are understood, that the employee feels a part of the organization, and job-related questions can be addressed can help to alleviate feelings of uncertainty, frustration, stress, and alienation.
Lastly, we have noticed employment mobility decreasing over the past four to five years. In fact, data on migration and geographic mobility monitored by the U.S. Census found that as recently as 2018 only 9.8 percent of adults reported relocating which is down 10.2 percent from 1985. Based on my research and consulting work, there are numerous reasons for this trend. First, individuals are making family-based choices not to move based on family considerations such as being nearby to assist with an aging parent or having a desire to stay close to family. Second, work and family balance have emerged as a key factor when deciding to relocate for work. More specifically, the decision to relocate for a job is no longer driven solely by financial reasons. Stability in the home and the need to accommodate the needs of other family members is equally important, such as dual income earning households or the illness of an elderly parent. Consequently, this complicates the decision-making process of whether to move. Lastly, communication and networking technology have enabled work to be performed without necessitating physical presence at a particular location. Given the psychological and financial costs of relocating and the fact that many jobs are being performed remotely, individuals are more likely to make decisions not to relocate and disrupt their personal lives because of their ability to connect to work via technology.
This is not to say that people are unwilling to relocate for work. However, it does mean that, as a result of more organizations moving work remotely, employers may have more challenges in relocating talent in the foreseeable future. In some instances, it may require employers increase salaries or enhance benefits in order to attract employees to move. Another option is for employers to establish offices in secondary cities outside the home office location. This option may afford an employee the opportunity to be closer to their preferred geography. For example, an individual living in Birmingham, AL may not be willing to relocate to Chicago due to factors such as the higher cost of living, family considerations or the weather but would be willing to move to Atlanta, GA or Charlotte, NC. Having a secondary office in one of these cities may be an acceptable alternative. Lastly, being flexible to hybrid location alternatives. While this is generally applied to certain types of jobs, allowing an employee to work remotely two or three weeks out of the month at home, then one-week in the company office may offer an opportunity to balance the needs of both the employer and the employee.
 Agovino, T. (2020). Americans aren't moving: The decline in worker mobility presents a challenge for employers in a tight labor market. Retrieved on December 11, 2020, SHRM
C. Darren Brooks Ph.D.: As jobs become more complex and require additional knowledge and skills, more advanced qualifications are becoming more the norm. However, this will largely be determined by the type of work a job prospect is seeking. Professional and technical positions often require advanced certifications, licenses, or degrees in certain areas such as a certified public accountant or a certified professional in human resources or a course in SQL. In order to be competitive in a post-pandemic job market, job seekers should research the field(s) of interest to understand what would be considered minimum requirements for a job to evaluate if they should invest in additional licensure or preparation.
C. Darren Brooks Ph.D.: This is a subjective question based on an individual's occupational interests, however, from my perspective a good job is one that allows you to apply your knowledge, skills, and experiences and provides some fulfillment in your life. Of course, there are many factors that influence your job choices such as your skillset, experience, pay, and the needs of the market for your skills, etc. However, as employers adapt to the evolving market demands, fields that will see higher levels of growth and new job opportunities are in the areas of healthcare, financial services, information technology and data security, software development, energy, data science and mathematics, analysts, and management. Specifically, my research suggests job growth over the next 3 to 5 years in the fields of:
-Healthcare. We are seeing demand in this field for both clinical and administrative jobs. Interestingly, according to the BLS, the area of home health is one of the fastest growing career areas with approximately 1.2 million jobs being created between 2019-2029. Additionally, administrators in healthcare industries are project to see a 32 percent growth in job opportunities over the next decade.
-Technology. This is a broad area that contains everything from software development to information and data security to artificial intelligence. As technology continues to become integrated with all jobs, including lower skilled jobs, technology professionals will continue to be in demand.
-Financial Services. Given the importance of financial management for individuals and organizations, financial management jobs are anticipated to grow by 15 percent over the next decade.
-Management. Managers, human resource professionals, consultants, and management analysts will continue to grow as organizations need professionals to help lead and manage turbulent times and changes in consumer demand. The BLS estimates approximately 500,000 new jobs will be created in this area over the next decade.
-Data Science/Operational Research/Mathematics. There are numerous occupations within this category. As a field, the need for jobs that analyzing data to inform organizational decisions is projected to see an increase of 31 percent.
Margie Bernard MBA: Because our COVID-19 pandemic is the worst challenge now facing Americans, our U.S. health care industry is transforming all systems and staff to better meet diverse patient population needs today. Across the U.S., students should expect that demand for qualified health care professionals and leaders will increase 17% to 24% yearly through 2030 since the supply of talented team members is shrinking due to retirements.
It's important to know that 30% of individuals now living in our country will be age 65 or older in the next seven years. This segment of our society will require truly compassionate teams of medical assistants, therapists, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, financial personnel and leaders who can seamlessly come together to deliver community-based care. Children and adults will need expedited team support to access timely appointments for wellness exams and treatment of pre-existing conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Across the U.S., we will see a 56% jump in patients newly diagnosed with all types of cancer in the next 10 years.
These demographic changes underscore why our U.S. health care industry offers many students excellent career paths when young graduates realize that delivering quality team outcomes begins with prioritizing a 'we' rather than 'me' philosophy.
Saint Xavier University's (SXU) mission of serving wisely and compassionately is critical within the work of our Graham School of Management (GSM) and School of and Health Science (SONHS) students studying healthcare administration, especially because their future careers involve giving excellent service to diverse patients every day.
Margie Bernard MBA: The most critical skillset relates to all aspects of communication, especially written and verbal. Understanding how to listen is vital since patients tell us about their needs through words and unspoken gestures, such as nods of agreement. Leaders under pressure to increase quality, reduce costs and eliminate errors want new hires who grasp work instructions quickly before medical emergencies happen. Teams reading your work should find correct spelling, grammar and words since poor messaging really does put patients' health in harm's way.
Respectfully collaborating with all team members by learning 24/7 is also essential to build career success in our health care industry. Since IT analytics, electronic medical records (EMRs) and financial dashboards are constantly displaying data notifying workers what tasks need attention, young graduates must be motivated to translate such information into meaningful action plans without constant supervision.
Such duties mean leaders must create a culture where communication across diverse work teams is encouraged around the clock so that timely decisions can be made. Coaching, counseling, strategic planning and budgeting skills are vital along with knowing of how to effectively resolve patient and staff conflicts that surface every day.
At Saint Xavier, our students focus on the most effective techniques to evaluate EMRS, patient surveys, quality measure reports and financial data, using health care analytic tools that will support making the best leadership decisions in leading high-performance care teams.
Perhaps most important are the skills gained from high-impact learning practices in the classroom. At SXU, our students believe that the topics covered in healthcare management courses provide them with a huge career advantage, especially when it comes to the new problem-solving skills they master each day, which rapidly translate into new action plans they implement with patients and colleagues. Students learn how to support geriatric patients who have changing emotional and physical needs, decrease the stigma individuals face when mental health conditions are diagnosed and gently support
family members who must make end-of-life care decisions.
Margie Bernard MBA: A certificate on how to make Lean Process Improvements, which is something we offer to our graduate management students. This methodology teaches young graduates how to add value to every patient's experience while assuring that wasteful workflow actions or steps are driven out.
Team projects you have helped to complete look excellent on resumes. Make sure to emphasize why results achieved can enhance the lives of patients, family members or community residents this year.
Completed courses in accounting and finance show prospective employers that
you know how to save rather than spend organization resources on the job. Key principles covered
in such classes will also help to grow amounts you keep in your wallet and savings account as well.
Amy Rogan: I worked in journalism for 21 years. In my time as a newsroom manager the number one thing I looked for in an applicant was work ethic. I can teach you to write, shoot, edit, and everything else but I cannot teach work ethic. That is the number one skill graduates need as they enter the workforce. It's a skill that's in short supply and it's the foundation of any profession. It doesn't matter if there is a pandemic influencing the industry or if journalism is simply evolving, work ethic is the constant.
I stay in contact with other journalists still in the business and they echo that sentiment, along with the willingness to learn and to stay humble. Cultivate that passion that drives journalists to serve their communities by helping people stay informed and support our democracy.
Storytelling is the next most important skill. Whether it's in a tweet, a two-minute package for TV, or a 3-part series in the paper, journalists need to be able to tell a compelling story that keeps the attention of consumers despite the many other things vying for their attention. Know your audience, understand your story, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If not you, who will ask those questions?
Then of course, multimedia skills. Translating that great storytelling into compelling photos, video, audio will make a graduate that much more attractive to potential employers. At a recent conference I asked a panel of newspaper editors and publishers if an applicant has multimedia skills does that influence their ability to get a position. They all said--if you have multimedia skills your resume goes to the top of the pile.
Amy Rogan: Certainly, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major effect on all industries including journalism. I think the pandemic has changed how journalists conduct and record interviews and produce stories.
Technology was already allowing reporters to act more independently by allowing more mobile flexibility. I believe this is where the industry will continue to develop for digital reporters, including broadcast and print.
Trends in journalism include more interviews via video services such as Zoom, and finding ways to shoot interviews safely. As has happened a number of times in our industry, what's happening in the world affects the technology we develop and use. Whether it's covering a war from the front lines, or learning the best way to safely conduct an interview (via video call or in person) during a pandemic, the times have always influenced the technology in our business.
But journalists are also fighting an uphill battle to deal with a public that now sees the Fourth Estate as the enemy of the people.
Political leaders have had conflicting messages about the pandemic, which has made it difficult for journalists to report actual facts about a pandemic shrouded in secrecy. This in turn has made it difficult for the public to know who to trust for information about COVID-19.
Finding trusted resources over the last four years has been difficult for the general public. It is overwhelmed with a multitude of media outlets which makes the fight for media literacy increasingly difficult. So new journalists need to develop thick skin quickly, become even more tenacious in the pursuit of facts, and maintain strong ethics and commitment to accuracy to protect their reputation as a trusted news source.
Amy Rogan: There are any number of ways to break into journalism. There is no one true path. If a journalist is interested in television I recommend they look for assistant producer positions or assignment editor positions. Many people who think they want to be on-air talent figure out they really enjoy producing much better.
Digital content producer is another good way to work a journalist way into on-air television work. It's also a way to work into newspapers as they are now more digitally dependent.
Larger organizations have more specialty digital positions in research or digital analytics. But starting out in a small market allows you to learn a lot and work your way into bigger markets and responsibilities.
Dr. Barbara Joyce: A good job out of college is one that the graduates want, a job that is meaningful, that uplifts and inspires them, a job in which they use, and continue to develop, their talents and skills, and, of course, a job that provides them with the material resources and benefits they need to enjoy life. Credit where credit is due, Stephen R. Covey writes of the importance of those elements in his book Principle-Centered Leadership. I like his work a lot.
Dr. Barbara Joyce: One of the advantages of a BA in Sociology is that it is a liberal arts degree and not a professional degree. In addition, Sociology has the broadest subject matter of any of the social science disciplines, so our graduates can take their skills and knowledge into a broad range of careers. Since the range of possible careers is so great, labor market trends are not particularly relevant to Sociology graduates.
Daniel Miller Ph.D.: It seems almost certain there will be enduring impacts, but it's difficult to predict exactly what they will be. One potential negative impact could be a lack of practice in the kinds of face-to-face interactions required in a formal business or work context. These kinds of interactions are develop through modeling and use, students graduating during the pandemic will have lacked some of this. The pandemic has also negatively impacted hands-on collaborative projects and hampered the placement of students into hand-on, face-to-face internships, all of which could adversely impact students trying to step into new jobs, particularly if those occur in face-to-face contexts post-Covid.
There may also be some positive impacts, however. Many students will have gained flexibility and versatility with regard to such things as interactions with co-workers, their willingness to explore and try out new technologies, with structuring projects and workdays, in the development of innovative models of collaboration, etc. While this also gestures toward the second question, to the degree that businesses, companies, non-profits, etc. retain remote-work policies moving forward, Covid graduates may also find employment opportunities opening up beyond their immediate geographical contexts.
Daniel Miller Ph.D.: One of the biggest things to understand is that there likely won't be a typical "day at work" post-Covid. That is, organizations will be all over the place with their organizations and structures following the pandemic. While some will likely seek to go back to their pre-Covid organizational and work models, many (maybe most?) will continue to incorporate elements of the structural changes imposed in response to Covid.
This means, in particular, the graduates are likely to encounter at least some positions in which remote working is a constitutive feature of their jobs. This will bring both costs and benefits to grads, and will provide both challenges and opportunities. Graduates will have to have familiarity with the technologies necessary for remote work, collaboration, and communication. Some will have the opportunity to work remotely full-time, or most of the time, which brings with it flexibility but also requires excellent individual time-management skills. The flexibility that comes with remote is also accompanied by the risk of "work creep," which we're all already familiar with from our mobile devices. The breakdown or softening of the boundaries of the traditional 9-5 workday brings with it the risk of increased after-hours and weekend video meetings, increases already-existing expectations that employees will check and respond to work-related emails in off hours, etc.
Many companies will likely also realize (or have already) that they can cut costs by shifting their employees to remote work options, which will be popular with many employees, for the reasons already noted, as well as others. However, I think one significant downside to this is that some costs traditionally incurred by businesses and other organizations will be passed on to employees. Employees will be increasingly responsible for providing adequate internet service, technical hardware, and suitable workspaces, which would traditionally have been provided by employers. I don't think most employers are going to suitably increase wages or otherwise subsidize these new costs passed on to employees (and will use the economic downturn associated with Covid as a reason not to), and many likely will not maintain IT departments or related resources to serve employees. Adding to all of these costs is the fact that, since the passage of the Republican tax bill in 2017, employees cannot deduct non-reimbursed business expenses on their personal taxes. Finally, shifts to increased remote work will continue to exacerbate and extend inequalities have come into stark relief during the Covid crisis, disproportionately affecting women, parents will children, and communities of color negatively.
Daniel Miller Ph.D.: As the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and other organizations have repeatedly found, students graduating with degrees in the liberal arts (the areas in which I teach and have competence) have the skills and capacities that employers desire (e.g., critical thinking skills, strong verbal and written communication skills, synthetic and analytical thinking skills, etc.). But the technical capacities necessary to communicate and used these skills will be more important than ever. I would anticipate that graduates will have to be comfortable moderating and running meetings on online platforms. They will have to know how to design and share presentations that are well-suited to online and remote platforms. They will have to be able to multi-task in presentations, tracking on-screen discussions as well as simultaneous chat options. Along with all of this, they have to have a greater awareness of creating online and virtual content that is accessible to all users. I would think that graduates who can communicate these skills to employers will be far better situated than those who cannot.
University of Mount Union
Department of Political Science and International Studies
Michael Grossman Ph.D.: There will definitely be an impact. I suspect the virus will continue to influence how we work and even job availability for at least the next 5-6 years. Students will need prepare for more remote work, for more "gig" jobs until businesses fully recover, and even after. The virus has shown the potential for a different model of business and I suspect many organizations will continue with at least partial remote work to save money.
Michael Grossman Ph.D.: It is less about licenses or courses and more about experiences. In this regard, internships are crucial.
Michael Grossman Ph.D.: It's all about practical knowledge. Employers are less interested in your major or the classes you take. They want to see that you can do the work they need you to do. So internships are important. Also employers want to see you can be trained and can think critically, write well, and speak well. So in this regard more liberal arts focused curriculum is important.
Cynthia Krom: Clearly, there is more remote work - whenever possible, people are working from home rather than going to a workplace. That is not always possible - a machinist needs to be where the machines are, a police officer needs to go where the crime is, and a doctor needs to go where the sick people are. So it isn't just a matter of white collar v. blue collar. It totally depends on the job itself.
Now that many people are realizing that remote work can be workable, I think you will see a long-term shift. Even when the pandemic is over, I believe many offices will reduce size and allow people to work from home at least several days per week. So we are more likely to see office sharing, etc. I think this will also result in a population shift, since people will not need to be close to their workplace. That means that companies will now compete for workers all over the country (or the world), and that workers will be competing with people who are not in their immediate geographic area. For workers to stay competitive, they need to be sure to be up to date on their skills, have seamless remote access, and be very self-motivated and disciplined. They have to compete on more than just price, or workers in the USA will lose their jobs to cheaper alternatives.
Cynthia Krom: Professional certifications matter. If your profession has a certification, you need to have that certification to be competitive in this new world. So, a public accountant needs to have a CPA, and a corporate accountant needs to have their CMA. A fraud examiner needs their CFE. Find out what is available in your profession and take whatever courses or exams are needed to be at the top of your game, because everyone else will.
We don't really know what will be happening with professional licenses with remote work. A psychotherapist may be licensed in New York, but remotely treating a client in New Mexico. Technically, they probably need a license in New Mexico. But who will control that? Will it just be the professional responsibility of the therapist to only practice where licensed? Will their malpractice insurance only cover them if the client is where they are licensed? What about a physician operating on someone a thousand miles away using robotics?
In terms of courses not related to professional certification or licensure, technology is where it is at. First and foremost, polish your Zoom skills. Zoom is now your face-to-face workplace and you need to be a pro. YouTube has great videos about lighting for Zoom, even with reflective eyeglasses. Perhaps your IT department is able to help with connectivity issues and learning remote technologies. And, as we have all recently seen, you need to learn how to turn off filters that make you look like a kitten! For nearly every field, you have to know Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) or similar programs. You need to know how to work collaboratively on projects through things like Google Drive. If you are not fluent in the basics, you are showing up for a horse race with a little pony.
Cynthia Krom: Well, the things already mentioned. Certification, licensure, skills. You have to keep current in your field, whether or not continuing professional education is required. Just knowing accounting isn't enough anymore - you need to know data analysis. You must demonstrate that you are able to successfully work independently, lead a team, and have integrity. Many people are also cultivating a side hustle, but you want to be really certain that any moonlighting does not present a conflict of interest for your main job or you could find your side hustle as your only hustle.
Sonya DiPalma Ph.D.: Companies will offer more remote positions as cost-savings benefits and work hour flexibility provide a win-win situation. The upside brings more employment opportunities since geography isn't a major factor, however the downside brings more competition for the same reasons. You will be expected to use the online collaboration tools selected by the organization, such as Trello, SharePoint, or Slack. We should see an uptick in hiring by tourism and travel companies as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccination and travel increases domestically and then internationally.
Sonya DiPalma Ph.D.: Be personable and a person someone wants to talk with and work with on a continuing basis. Listening and note-taking skills will be critical. Great employees listen well and ask good follow up questions. Be versatile and adaptable. If you find some downtime between projects, ask how you may help with another project.
Sonya DiPalma Ph.D.: With more positions going partially or totally remote, you'll need to be self-disciplined and proactive. Doing the bare minimum will not get you by in either a remote or a traditional professional work environment. You can expect more flexibility with remote work hours. For instance, if you have small children or you're an early riser, then working early mornings starting at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. may be possible, or if you're a night owl, late evenings may be an option. But once your schedule is set, your hours are likely to stay this way for some time. You will be expected to log into a portal to clock-in, and some online collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams can notify your supervisor when you're dormant. In-person meetings will probably occur on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Linda Hajec: From the standpoint of the business student, I think the trend that will most significantly impact them is in the area of remote work. Certainly there are entire businesses and even industries that are being impacted either positively or negatively by changes in what people are able and willing to do as far as being in public places, so there will be a shift as come companies that used to have a strong annual recruiting pattern may scale back and other companies are scaling up to handle the shift in business. But the individual employee is likely to see a very big change in the recruiting process as well as the work environment, regardless of the sector they enter. Employers in many sectors have discovered that at least the early phases of recruiting, if not the entire recruiting process, can be done remotely. What this means to the applicant in the job market is that they may benefit from being able to complete more of their job search without having to leave home. But it also means that the traditional do's and don'ts of interviewing now have to include being aware of your bandwidth and background for an online interview, and thinking about looking at the camera on your computer instead of looking at the image of the person you are speaking with on the screen. The benefit is that students entering the job market used to juggle interview schedules between cities, missing classes, and sometimes became fatigued, so this approach to recruiting may make it easier to handle the whole process overall as long as the candidates can find a great place from which to hold their end of the conversation.
The other trend that I think job candidates need to be prepared for is remote onboarding. Students that were entering the workforce in 2019 were able to report to a location and go through the hiring process with human resources, meet people in various departments with whom they would be working, and perhaps shadow someone for a period of time. Co-workers tended to look out for the new hire and would check in on them as they passed by their work area. As many companies continue to have a partial or fully remote work environment, new employees will complete the hiring process remotely, and may spend their training period reading and learning more independently. I think this is going to really put pressure on students that perhaps have been hesitant to ask questions. New employees are going to have to keep the notebook by their side at all times and write down things they are not sure they understand so that when they have the opportunity to ask, they do. New hires should always have kept track of questions and asked them; but being remote will make this even more critical and perhaps even a little harder to do, so it's going to have to be a very conscious decision to make sure that happens. No one is going to schedule a Zoom meeting to say, "Hey, how's your first week going? Are you finding everything OK?" the same way they might have stopped at your desk on their way to lunch. New employees are going to have to make that happen for themselves.
Linda Hajec: I think the basics are still important - the feedback from employers still says that they want to see excellent skills in Excel - but if we are talking about changes as a result of the pandemic, job candidates that can also show a comfort level with remote meeting software will feel more natural and less awkward going forward. If you are going to meet on Zoom, make sure you know where to find the features on the screen and if you need to, practice with someone who knows you are just needing to mess around with the settings.
The last thing you would want to do is accidentally exit your interview halfway through because you didn't know where the "share screen" button was. Being familiar with other online collaboration software such as Teams or GoogleDocs is important, too. Even companies that are not working 100% remote are finding great use for these kind of sites, even just to house documents such as policy manuals that they want to share with a group of employees. The fact that a group can work together an collaborate asynchronously is a reality that many companies had not faced before, so the employee needs to be prepared to remember to follow up on team projects instead of waiting for a meeting to see where everything stands.
Linda Hajec: I guess that depends what you mean by "good." Business students are earning great salaries across many industries and in different disciplines, but when I hear "good" I am also thinking about enjoying the work, learning every day, and having an employer who wants to make sure you have those things, too. Since everyone's definition of that kind of "good" is a little different, I'll leave that up to the individual as to what is a 'good' job. If you mean where is the market 'hot'? Students that seem to be the most sought after right now have a strong information systems background.
Yes, a Management Information Systems degree is of course a great degree, but there's a shortage of accountants in the country right now and the ones with a minor in information systems are being snapped up sooner by employers. Marketing students have so much creative talent, but the ones that can also show background in data analytics are the stronger candidates. Any of the business disciplines are made stronger by adding in classes in technology - extra courses in Excel, data analytics, and even light programming. Employers see the value of having people on the team that can translate data into information.
Ekin Pehlivan Ph.D.: Really depends on the sector. A common thread for all is relearning or rethinking how we communicate, determining the fine line between work-norms & home-norms and figuring the optimal ways to manage our time when we are missing the structure that a 9-5 office experience may normally provide. That being said, I envision there will be many jobs without significant changes, either because those jobs were already adaptable to the disruption the pandemic brought or because there simply is no feasible way of working differently.
Ekin Pehlivan Ph.D.: Our most recent survey with employers, really emphasize that technical skills are not the priority for most. Almost all mention communication and problem solving skills are the most desired, followed by critical thinking and professionalism. Given the nature of the digital economy, data literacy is one technical skill that would be relevant to almost anyone in the upcoming years. In certain areas learning automation (operations or marketing), and databases (SQL) would also benefit new graduates.
Ekin Pehlivan Ph.D.: I think a description of a "good" job opportunity is dependent on so many factors, almost all subjective. What I recommend my students usually, is that they try different things before graduation and find something that makes them feel a purpose other than (and in addition to) making ends meet. For this reason we started a program on our campus where students are hired to help non-profits and small businesses in our area of service. In this program, students get to gain and practice skills that can help them succeed in a corporate or freelance capacity. The students get to experiment without fear of losing a job and find what they would like their entry level positions to look like. While doing this they also help organizations and individuals who have the need but not the resources to get the services from professionals.
Joseph Hancock: Graduates wanting to work in sales will be digital savvy and understand technology. It will be essential to have soft skills and personalize sales in a manner that will suit the current climate of potential distance buying. Your customers will be global citizens and anyone in sales will need to be one as well! Many students have not brushed up on their soft skills in the areas of customer service, they are too enthnocentric and have been raised by helicopter parents. New graduates need to think for themselves, understand they are working across cultures, generations and not everyone thinks like they do. My words of advice, stay current by reading about new methods of customer service and practice through role play. I think we have forgotten role play can be extremely important for feedback on how we can improve.
Joseph Hancock: New graduates will need to be self-disciplined and self-motivated. No one is going to hold your hand and tell you "get to work" or you will soon be looking for a new job. The new world may be one where you don't go to an office, but instead work right from home, scheduling appointments and doing your own calendar. My last years working for Target in a regional field position taught me that no one was going to motivate me each day, I had to motivate myself. Also, it can be lonely working from home as a new graduate, so find outside interests and ways to make friends. I am from the old fashion ideologies that getting a hobby is extremely important, and that hobby is not going to the gym or watching television. It includes something that enriches your life to be a better person in society.
Joseph Hancock: Technologically savvy is necessary, so what will set you apart are your soft skills, patience, the ability to think beyond yourself. Again, don't be ethnocentric, be multi-centric. I believe technology only exposes us to a virtual world of acceptance, and really if you are going to be sales, you need to be cultured beyond the computer and social media. Understand others and their needs, be a person who tells the potential employer how you are going to go the extra mile to care for customers and make sure their needs are met through your excellent customers service skills (and give solid examples). Most importantly, know what you are selling and realize that the person you are talking to, might know more than you! There have been so many times I walk into a retail store only to have the store associate or manager talk to me as if I know nothing about the product they are selling. Ask your customers questions do not just talk at them, talk with them.