November 6, 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.
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Julie Stich: Jobs in benefits are not specific to any geographical area, and it is a job that, especially during this pandemic, can be done remotely. It should be noted that larger companies will be more likely to have in-house benefit departments. Smaller organizations may outsource this function and will; therefore, be more dependent on consulting firms, which tend to be in larger metro areas throughout the U.S.
Julie Stich: Employee benefits administration is an area that benefits tremendously from technological improvements. The tech industry continues to develop new approaches for data collection and analysis, record keeping and compliance, and works to improve and streamline benefits enrollment for employees. Also, technology is crucial for communicating with employees about their benefit plans, whether it's via social media, videos, Zoom, an app, or internal websites. Benefits technology is definitely an area of growth right now.
SAG-AFTRA spokesperson : While entering the acting profession is always challenging, this year has made the process uniquely difficult. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of opportunities for acting work during the pandemic. Most professional voice acting work has been unscathed by the pandemic, and scripted dramatic television and new media work is currently rebounding. As always, acting in commercials represents a viable way for new talent to break into the profession. Remote auditions are opening up opportunities for talent who otherwise might not have had access to certain jobs. For those willing to audition regularly and eventually join SAG-AFTRA, the acting job market of 2020 offers wide opportunities.
Rachel Raymond: Entering the workforce for 2020 graduates will be more difficult this year, given the higher unemployment numbers we see across the US. With the uncertainty of Covid-19, companies will be more conservative in increasing headcount across their organizations. Graduates need to think strategically about identifying jobs that are in industries more likely to thrive by the current economic conditions: digital services, remote learning, online gaming, healthcare, remote call centers, delivery and transit (Amazon, Postmates, Instacart), and collaboration technology (Zoom, Citrix), are just a few.
Many graduates will be competing for positions against experienced professionals willing to apply to entry-level jobs. Don't discount internships and apprenticeships as they frequently lead to full-time employment and help graduates gain additional experience for their resume. Through the selection and interview process, hiring managers will interview self-starters who are comfortable embracing a work-life integration mindset, and who can be agile and flexible with the new, remote, working environment. Onboarding and training have become increasingly difficult for many organizations, so new hires need to understand those challenges. Recent graduates have a proven record of successfully navigating new technology and working in any environment - coffee shops, trains, traveling, etc.- so be sure to highlight those traits through the interview process.
Rachel Raymond: We expect to see growth in the artificial intelligence/machine learning space and big data and augmented analytics. However, even with new technologies emerging, many larger organizations still heavily depend on older technology platforms and solutions, and are looking for skilled associates who can help maintain those systems.
Rachel Raymond: I think there is always an impact on graduates during economic downturns. However, how graduates manage their careers and make decisions, during more robust years, can have a considerable effect on their long term professional outcomes. Graduates today may have to sacrifice what their 'ideal job' looked like to them a few months back and be realistic about what they need to do to get into the professional field. Getting into an area that is somewhat relative to your long-term professional goals is better than waiting for two years without any opportunity. This is not meant to be discouraging, and I recommend continuing to strive toward your long term goals. Still, I think most people are surprised at opportunities they sometimes stumble upon that they have not considered otherwise. Leverage your networking skills, find a mentor, take some chances, and be flexible.
Mick Joneja: Corporations are looking for more ways to automate many steps in the hiring and onboarding processes, while balancing it with excellent candidate experience and personalization. For companies to successfully achieve automation through methods and technologies, candidates must take the time to build their professional profiles fully. Ensuring candidates can provide as much color and details about their work history, skills, and desired experiences will help ensure each candidate is matched to the right role. No time is wasted for both the company and the candidate.
Mick Joneja: We see similar trends to the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis of 2008, regarding the workforce supply and demand in many US industries. Because of the recent spike in the amount of talent, companies have become inundated with a significant increase in applicants. For those graduates entering the workforce now or shortly, it will be vital for them to find ways to set themselves apart, while being open and patient during this unique time.
1.Graduates need to use their networks to make personal connections to increase their chances of being considered for those more desired, entry-level roles. Student organizations with alumni networks, family friends, and career service centers with strong relationships with local companies are great places to start. Appropriate and professional persistence is essential when candidates are requesting introductions through their network.
2.Many companies that were financially impacted during the epidemic have restructured their corporate offices, and have found more creative ways to combine roles and work more cross-functionally. Candidates need to be more open to positions that may come with a mixture of different types of related work and see it as a way to grow their skills while learning their new role and integrating themselves into the company. Temporary roles are also the right way for candidates to get their foot in the door, exceed expectations, and transition into permanent positions.
3.The implementation of short, project-based work and gigs is becoming significantly more common, where various leaders need additional help on critical initiatives in short periods. Once hired, those beginning their careers should look for these opportunities to quickly diversify their backgrounds and internally network across new divisions.
4.While conducting your job search, or after getting settled into your first position, consider online courses and certificates related to your desired profession and industry. Not only will you gain new educational experience, but the progress also shows work ethic and dedication to continuous development.