Where Will the Jobs Be? 6 Ways Job Seekers Can Stay Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

Craft a thoughtful, data-driven approach to your job search.

With the economic turbulence caused by COVID-19, many job seekers, including college students, are wondering where to look for potential new opportunities. While the job market is greatly in flux and hard to predict, savvy job seekers may think about how the pandemic is shaping society to attempt to predict where the jobs might be in the future. By looking ahead, they can build connections with the strongest employers and prepare themselves for new opportunities which might emerge.

But how can a job seeker guess what fields are growing?

1.    Past Trends Can Still Predict Future Hiring

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with its Occupational Outlook Handbook, can give a sense of fast-growing jobs and industries based on past trends. Some of the big-picture trends are not changing, even with COVID-19. The aging of the US population has not changed, and so there will still be strong hiring in healthcare to meet the population’s needs. Technology continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors, so the need for computer programmers or data scientists will likely continue to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has broad-level research reports on hiring, but these are based on surveys of employers and don’t give as much detail on specific companies that might have jobs open. Your local or state department of labor may also have news or job postings to help guide your search.

2.    Reading The News

Thinking about the impact of COVID-19 can give you more clues about who will be hiring. There will be rapid hiring for certain jobs as a direct result of COVID-19, including for the more obvious roles, such nurses, doctors, respiratory technicians, and other staff in healthcare. As states reopen, other, less obvious jobs may become available, such as those in laboratories, testing facilities, and public health agencies. The most prominent new job – which is actually an old, but previously obscure job – is contact tracing, and includes interviewing people who have tested positive for COVID-19, to identify the people that they may have contacted and potentially infected, then tracking down each of those people to encourage them to self-quarantine. New York State alone has estimated they will need to hire 30 tracers for every 100,000 people in the state.

Other types of employers that may be expanding could include pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms, medical device manufacturing companies, research firms, and even companies that produce supplies like syringes. Health insurance is one of the few industries which have been unscathed financially, since they have not had to cover expensive elective procedures for their members.

Slightly less obvious, growing industries might include shipping, logistics, and supply chain jobs, to distribute food and other products in a new manner as more people stay home and fewer hotels and restaurants are open for business. Companies that provide food or package delivery, like Amazon, FedEx, or UPS, are likely to be rapidly hiring; companies like Zoom that provide solutions for remote work will grow too; and online learning firms will likely expand. Retail businesses that are considered essential may need staff, too, as will industries that involve cleaning or sanitizing facilities.

3. Watching Who’s Getting The Money

Another way to get ahead of the curve is to look where funding might be distributed by the government. Looking at current and proposed legislation, we can see that millions of dollars will be going to state and local governments to bolster public health efforts. Looking at potential funding opportunities, you might find out who has received grants… and where there’s grant money, there may be jobs. This list created by Cultivated Culture has a good graphic of where the money is going; and the NIH has a list of their funding opportunities you can keep an eye on.

4.    Crowdsourced Lists

Several websites allow anyone in the public to contribute “inside information” about whether their company is hiring, laying people off, or having a hiring freeze. While you might want to take these with a grain of salt, they can be helpful also, especially when many people provide similar information. Some include Candor, Career Thought Leaders, and Blind.

5.    Following the Job Market Researchers

One of the best ways to try to get a sense of which jobs are open is to keep an eye on companies that actually analyze job postings. One example is Burning Glass Technologies, which gathers and analyzes millions of job postings. Their “Filling the Lifeboats” report gives ideas about who is actually hiring now.

The new Opportunity Insights tracker measures the impact of the virus on jobs. Indeed.com, the job board aggregator, also has gathered some insights, as has LinkedIn.

6 . The Old-Fashioned Way

Networking with people you know is still one of the best ways to find leads for new jobs. If you are job-seeking, now is a great time to reconnect with people you know, whether those are current or former classmates, friends, family, or other contacts. Just because we are socially distancing doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Reach out, and let people know you are in transition and seeking a new opportunity. Having a team of people who are on your side to help you through this challenging time never hurts, and you never know if you may know someone, who can introduce you to the person who hires you for your next job.

Even amid uncertainty, job seekers can still craft a strategic approach to their search by doing their research and following the trends. While the employment landscape may look different a year from now, follow this framework to stay ahead of the curve.


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