The year 2020 will always be known as the year of the coronavirus, which set the global job market spinning on its head. With job losses and unemployment rocketing sky-high, it’s no wonder it is challenging to look for a new job or enter the job market for the first time.
According to Marketwatch, young workers and new graduates are likely to be hit the hardest if the US sinks into a recession. Before the pandemic, 2020 was touted to be the most robust job market in years supported by a buoyant economy. For the 3.5 million students graduating from high school and 1.3 million students graduating from college, the pandemic has imposed important job hunting implications for these graduates.
Outlook for High School and College Graduates
Younger Americans and those without a college education disproportionately work in leisure, retail, and hospitality, which have been hardest hit by the pandemic. For those graduating high school, with fewer jobs available, going to college makes a lot of sense as they ride out the fluctuating job market, hoping that the economy and the market will stabilize in two to four years.
But what about new college graduates looking to enter the job market for the first time who are competing with experienced workers who were laid off? College graduates who were not already fully employed were not in a position to benefit from the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package designed to help employers keep their staff employed. Graduates may be better off going back to school to pursue another degree or postgraduate studies in the hopes that this will help them land a higher paying job further down the track.
Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, suggests that while hiring has slowed across the country since mid-February, it’s more difficult for college graduates who are hoping to start their careers. The Atlantic reports that the number of postings on Zip Recruiter for entry-level jobs has fallen 73% since the pandemic. The number of openings for internships has also declined all jobs typically filled by college graduates.
It’s the larger, higher-wage organizations that stopped hiring more so than small, lower-wage organizations. New graduates may end up taking on jobs that pay less and aren’t aligned with their studies until conditions improve.
Who’s Hiring Now?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 661,000 job gains in September 2020. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9%, mostly in leisure, hospitality, retail, health care, social assistance, and professional and business services. Naturally, there is an abundance of opportunities for healthcare workers due to the pandemic. The unexpected rise in online shopping provides plenty of openings for drivers and warehouse workers. Amazon alone needs 175,000 full- and part-time positions in their fulfillment center around the US.
How to Find Jobs
Of course, the hard part is finding a job but don’t despair; the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop recently rolled out an Employment Recovery Center entirely focused on post-pandemic job searching. Glassdoor has released a list of the top companies with hiring surges due to COVID-19. They have also released a list of in-demand job titles allowing you to search for openings in your area.
Be proactive and search the top job sites, and remember to use keywords that bring up a search for the type of job you’re interested in. There are over 500,000 current job openings on HelpOneBillion from companies who want to hire now. Consider social media using hashtags like #hiring to find immediate openings and adding #readytowork to your resume to alert potential employers of your immediate availability.
What About the Future?
If you are in a position where you can afford to hang tight for a while and further your education, here are some careers you might consider as a longer-term job-hunting strategy.
If you want to make a decent living, getting an education is vital. There are very few jobs that earn more than $35,000 per year with only a high school education. However, not everyone can afford the price tag that comes with a college degree, and not everyone wants to go to college for four years. There are many higher paying jobs accessible to workers with an associate degree, certificate, or apprenticeship.
Karen Siwak, Executive Director of Resume Confidential, says. “There is an increasing labor supply-demand disconnect in hard-skills areas such as electricians, plumbers, engineering technology robotics, and I don’t see this ending any time soon.”
Trade school may be the answer to how to break into the job market in 2020 and 2021. Keep in mind; trade school is not just for males.
Here are some careers that commonly attract women that don’t require a full undergraduate degree and pay well.
A Diagnostic Medical Sonographer typically pays a median annual salary of around $68,750 with expected job growth of 14% up until 2028. A Dental Hygienist pays a median salary in the region of $76,220 with predicted job growth to reach 11% by 2028. A Radiation Therapist attracts a median annual salary of $85,560, with a 9% expected job growth.
Science Technology Engineering and Maths Career Paths (STEM)
In a world that sees cutting-edge technology and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the forefront of innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) jobs are in high demand. This is an area where we see more STEM investment looking to transform and diversify economies as a solution for growth and sustainable development. STEM is not an area that traditionally attracts women where society, in general, sees jobs in STEM as more suited to men. Yet this is precisely where the opportunities lie for women looking to break into the job market.
A career path for women in STEM is wide-ranging and well paying with loads of future opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-growing occupations are in STEM-related fields, presenting women with more options than ever before. STEM roles pay well with the median salary in mathematics at $101,900 per year. A software developer’s median salary is $103,620 a year, and nurse practitioners are topping out the pay scale with a median salary of $107,030 a year.
Roles in Mathematics are the fastest growing in STEM careers, with 28% more jobs expected by 2026. Engineering opportunities are also growing, with an additional 32,000 new jobs expected by 2026 due to the US infrastructure’s obsolescence.
If you find it difficult to find a job right now and want to consider a STEM career, here is a list of the top ten colleges offering degrees in STEM.
- Colorado School of Mines located in Golden Colorado
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering institute.
- Michigan Technological University focuses on technological research, inventions, coding opportunities, and testing of new technologies.
- The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology offers Bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs.
- Montana Tech stands out for its commitment to programs in STEM, offering undergraduate degrees in geophysical engineering, petroleum, metallurgical, and mining engineering.
- Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus offers technology and science programs in the biological sciences, applied quantitative science, applied math, exploratory math, robotics engineering.
- Georgia Tech is known for its extensive research with access to numerous interdisciplinary research institutes and centers.
- The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology emphasizes science and engineering in all of its programs.
- Harvey Mudd College is one of the premier engineering, science, and mathematics colleges in the US where their graduates become leaders in their field.
Careers in Cyber-Security
There is undoubtedly a skills shortage in the field of Cybersecurity in the US, which begs the question, “Why are there so few women in cybersecurity?” Cybersecurity has long been a male-dominated field, yet there are plenty of job opportunities for women if they choose to pursue them.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million job openings in cybersecurity by 2021. There are also plenty of opportunities in the tech industry for women right now. In 2019 cybersecurity unemployment in this sector was at zero percent, paving the way for women to continue to pursue cybersecurity as a career.
What makes cybersecurity an attractive stepping stone to employment for female graduates is that employers seek diversity in their workforce, which means more women are expected to be hired in cyber-related fields. Because there is a major skills shortage in this industry, cybersecurity roles pay extremely well, where graduates with a bachelor’s degree could expect an average salary of around $116,000.
For those women with a background in STEM or wanting to work in STEM fields, there are multiple incentives and scholarships to attract women to a career in cybersecurity.
There’s no doubt the pandemic has affected the job market; however, it’s not all doom and gloom. Working remotely from home has completely changed the way we work. Organizations have found that roles that can be done from home have opened a whole new world for job seekers of all ages and experience levels.
With remote work likely to become more of a norm than an exception, this has completely opened up the job market for women. If you live in a small town somewhere in the US and you have the requisite skill sets, you don’t need to move to the cities to find the job opportunities that weren’t previously available to you because of location. Twitter announced it would allow employees to continue to work remotely forever, and Facebook expects half of its employees to work from home within five-to-ten years. Google will allow its employees to continue working from home until 2021, and according to Gartner, 74% of CFOs expect to move a percentage of employees to remote work permanently. With remote work comes the flexibility to work hours that fit in with family commitments.
If you seek a job that pays more but don’t want to complete a four-year degree, there are jobs out there that emphasize skills and experience over education. Known as new collar jobs or middle-skill jobs, employees can often get the skills they need for the job through vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or a two-year degree program.
Hospitals, state governments, schools, manufacturers, IT companies, and other organizations have begun to search for employees with the right skills rather than the right degree. Some companies even offer paid training programs for job candidates, which are similar to apprenticeships.
As you can see, there are still plenty of opportunities for women in the job market right now; it may mean thinking outside the square and or investing in further education.