In the wake of COVID-19 layoffs and hiring freezes, an unexpected—and possibly fleeting—circumstance has occurred: job seekers have the advantage. There are more job openings now than pre-pandemic, and employers are eager to fill them. Experts predict the economy will expand 7% in 2021, the biggest growth since 1984.
Yet unemployment is at a record high. Vaccination rates are rising, restrictions have eased, and federal stimulus money has boosted the economy, but many workers are hesitant to go back to work. Lack of child care, still-plentiful unemployment benefits, and the risk of new COVID-19 variants keep workers at home.
With fall approaching, a motivated worker can not only find a great job but possibly pivot into the job they’ve always wanted. Here is why it’s a great time to make a move.
Why is it a great time to pivot careers, change careers strategically, or find a better job?
Record Number of Jobs Available.
Demand for workers is enormous as employers urgently seek to fill open positions. Some job sectors report returns to pre-pandemic levels. U.S. manufacturing activity has reached its highest level in 37 years. The industry has more than half a million job openings. However, even with so many jobs available, workers aren’t biting. The opportunities won’t last forever. Eventually, workers will need to get back out there. If you act now, you can beat the competition and improve your chances of success.
Less Competition for the Best Jobs.
First-mover advantage is in full operation. Those who move now have a competitive advantage by being the first to dive back into the job market. If you’re interested in reaching for a “stretch” job in a different field, now is the ideal time. With talent shortages reaching record highs, more employers are willing to take a leap of faith and train a candidate who’s a great culture fit but light on experience.
Wages are Rising.
Many employers are raising wages to attract applicants. Historically low-paying jobs, like those in food service, now have to compete with higher-paying jobs in manufacturing, where those desperate employers are increasingly willing to train new workers. A March SCE Labor Market survey reports a hike in the lowest wage workers are willing to accept, which means workers are catching on. Looking for a job now, even one very similar to the one you have, might mean finding a higher wage.
Incentives, Incentives, Incentives.
Even a pay increase isn’t tempting enough to get some people back to work right now. Employers are using incentives that range from free appetizers for applicants to college subsidies for children and spouses. They are thinking beyond the paycheck and brainstorming new benefits and compensations to attract employees. The war for talent is hot right now, and employers are willing to offer not only higher wages, but also signing bonuses and life-changing educational opportunities to retain employees and get new applicants in the door.
There are many suggested reasons workers are hesitant to return to work, but it’s doubtful those reasons will last forever. The pandemic had a massive impact on work trends, but experts predict a return to somewhat “normal” in the fall. For employers, that means back-to-school will hopefully mean back-to-work. Forbes expects the job market to “go wild in the fall” and for the opportunities to last until the holiday slow-down. The timing is perfect to snag a better job.
The forced necessity for remote work created unexpected benefits. Many workers discovered they liked working at home or in their favorite coffee shop, and they’re unwilling to give up that perk. Why would they go back to work when they can be just as productive at their kitchen table?
Another attractive pandemic perk is the ability to put in eight hours over the course of an extended day and still be able to carpool, get to a doctor’s appointment, enjoy a workout, or cook dinner without having to scramble is appealing to many. Employers desperate to fill jobs are willing to negotiate. Instead of demanding workers accept a job “as is,” employers are eager to work around the schedules of desirable employees. There has never been a better time to seek a job that fits your life and schedule.
What Do You Want to Do with Your Life? Is a Career Pivot the Answer?
Did the forced downtime during the pandemic give you time to think about what you truly want out of your life…and therefore your job? If so, now is a great time to capitalize on your search for purpose in your work.
Even if you don’t feel you have the experience, education, or qualifications to snag the job you have always felt meant to do, there is no better time than now to consider a career change.
Need help understanding your potential or exploring your career options? Contact PrideStaff for skills tests and assessments.
Employers are desperate to attract high-potential workers, and they are rethinking the way they hire. Some employers, like IBM, are no longer requiring vast amounts of experience. Instead, they are willing to train their new employees. IBM’s apprenticeship program began in 2017 and is flourishing in the post-pandemic world by “making managers more accountable for mentoring, developing and building talent versus buying talent.” Obed Louissaint, IBM’s senior vice president for transformation and culture believes, “Something fundamental is changing, and it’s been happening for a while, but now it’s accelerating.”
The opportunity to grow within a company is a huge factor in employee retention. Many top companies are now offering to train and mentor employees and offering great pay. Companies are rediscovering the value of investing in employees. Salary and benefits are easy to measure, but the aspects of a job that are less easy to quantify, such as work environment, growth opportunity, and flexible hours, have more impact now than ever.
Necessity is the mother of reinvention. The pandemic gave workers time to pause and reflect. To honestly think about what they want to do with their lives. To think about what matters to their families, and maybe even to realize that life is short. Work is necessary, but now many want to find work that is meaningful, work they can connect to their purpose in life. This employee shift in perspective means employers are scrambling to provide what workers want—and need.
Change has become the new normal, and both workers and employers have been forced to adapt. The upside of all this change is that employers have come to value adaptability and resilience in employees. They are willing to hire workers who want to change careers, recognizing that the deep-seated need to find meaningful work will benefit both sides of the equation. If you want to make a career pivot, now is the perfect time. Pre-pandemic, employers might have filled positions with someone already qualified, but now they are willing to think outside the hiring box and give that opportunity to an inexperienced, highly motivated career switcher.
Job Seeker Tips
Want to capitalize on “first-mover” advantages but feeling a little rusty? You aren’t alone.
The job market changed during the pandemic. However, change brings opportunity. Here are a few job tips to help ease your way into the post-pandemic work world:
Brush up on technology.
Out of necessity, the work world went digital, increasing the technical skills that savvy workers need to have to be successful. Platforms like Zoom and Slack gained popularity. Consider increasing your comfort level with technology during your application process.
Use your network.
Your social network, that is. LinkedIn is a great place to find jobs, but not the only one. Ask friends on Facebook if they have any recommendations, and don’t shy away from online career fairs. Many employers are increasing their social recruiting. If you start looking, they might find you first!
The abrupt necessity of working remotely during the pandemic made geography less critical in the job search. Widen your search region and explore the possibilities of working from home.
Consider temporary work.
No matter what job you are in, there is probably a recruiter looking to fill that kind of position right now. You may even have marketable skills you haven’t been using. A great recruiter will be able to evaluate your job skills and suggest opportunities for you. Some employers offer temp-to-hire, an excellent opportunity to see if the position is a good fit before committing.
Higher wages, creative incentives, and the opportunity to find meaningful work will tempt even the most hesitant worker to explore the opportunities in the job market this fall, and the first-mover advantage in the job market is clear. The job market is primed for those who want to pivot careers, change careers strategically, or find a better job in the same field. Strike while the iron is hot—and before the competition gets hotter—and find the best job for you.
PrideStaff can get you started!
Our experts will meet with you to understand your skills, experience, and career goals—and then match you with opportunities to fit your needs. Put our recruiters to work for you! Contact your local PrideStaff office today.