How COVID-19 is Shifting the Job Market for Soon-to-be-Grads

Carol Katarsky Updated on March 24, 2021

The job market is always changing. Grads with certain degrees and/or skill sets will find themselves in more or less in demand as the economy and technology evolve and shift the need for workers in certain fields.

Usually, those changes happen gradually over time, but big events can accelerate change. Just like the growth of the automobile killed off buggy-whip manufacturing, we’re already seeing the COVID-19 pandemic have an impact on certain fields.

Keep reading for the scoop on how the pandemic has affected which jobs and skills employers of all kinds will expect from grads they’re hiring.

Jobs expected to grow

Some jobs that were already on the rise got an even bigger boost as the pandemic and its related impacts changed how people buy and consume goods and services. Experts on economic trends identified the careers below as some of those that are expected to see the most growth through 2028, in part due to COVID-related changes:

  • These folks help keep the supply chain humming, so goods arrive on store shelves (or direct to your door) on time and in the right quantities. Current median salary is about $75k. Jobs are expected to grow about 5% or 8,400 new jobs, by 2028.
  • Registered nurses, including specializations such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, etc. Typical salary range is $73-115k; up to 500k new jobs anticipated by 2028.
  • Physician assistants. This job does much of the work of your doctor and requires a master’s degree. The payoff is a median salary of $112k and anticipated job growth of 31% job growth or 37k new jobs.
  • This already in-demand job is especially useful since it requires skills that can be easily transferred between industries —a huge plus in times of economic volatility. Median salary is 136k; anticipated job growth is 8% or 21k new jobs.

(Note: Figures regarding salary, projected growth, etc., are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.)

If you’re a recent grad looking for work now and the fields above aren’t related to your major, you’re not out of luck. The news has been full of stories about people who lost jobs during the pandemic, but Glassdoor found several jobs with burgeoning demand over the past year.

Among them, are grocery and warehouse managers, IT specialists, and public health professionals.

See also: Majors That Pay You Back

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Fields that lost jobs—for the short term

As you’ve likely noticed, most careers that require a lot of in-person contact are hurting right now. Jobs as varied from restaurant workers to massage therapists and event planners have been decimated as people hunkered down at home and moved to digital for almost everything.

Will it always be like this for jobseekers in those fields? Probably not. But there’s no consensus on how long it will take to bounce back. A lot depends on how quickly people get vaccinated and get used to going out again.

Another factor is whether people have found online alternatives for whatever service they were receiving in-person. For example, jobs that are hands-on by definition, such as an optometrist or chiropractor will probably bounce back faster. Careers where online options have become more common or expected, such as education/training, may rebound slower or see some of their growth focused on jobs that provide the service online.

See also: Chasing the Dream or the Green?

The right skills always land the job

Maybe the fields above aren’t interesting to you or don’t fit with the major you’ve already selected. That doesn’t mean your job prospects aren’t also affected by the larger changes the pandemic has created within the job market.

We’ve all seen how important it’s been for businesses to be able pivot and be flexible when the unexpected strikes. Whether your chosen field is logistics, personal training or anything in between, employers are going to be looking for the following skills from potential hires:

  • Adaptability and creativity—If we’ve learned anything during the past year, it’s that things can change quickly and unexpectedly. More than ever, employers are looking to hire people who can demonstrate an ability to adapt to new situations when needed.
  • Tech literacy and coding skills—It’s a digital work world. An employee who struggles to adapt to a new software program or balks at process that’s been digitized will slow down a team.
  • Data literacy and critical thinking—Employers need people on staff who can predict trends and how events will impact the business so they can help the company respond.
  • Leadership and emotional intelligence—We’re moving into a work environment where fewer people are likely to have consistent in-person interaction, making it more important for employees to be able to connect with colleagues working remotely. “Connect” in this case means more than a Zoom check-in to discuss a project timeline. Being able to read how someone is feeling—whether they’re stressed, burning out, or dealing with other challenges—and to help them is an increasingly critical skill
  • Lifelong learner— The business environment is changing faster than ever before. Being able and willing— even eager—to learn and adapt will be key to anyone’s long term success.

See: The Majors Most Likely To Land You a Top-Paying Job

Know what to expect when you graduate

Your degree is a big investment of your time and money. To get a better understanding of how far your post-graduation paycheck will go—regardless of your chosen major or career path— check out our NitroScore calculator. It helps you calculate your likely financial picture based on your student loan amounts, your school and major, and anticipated salary. 

Published in: Your Financial Future

About the Author
Carol Katarsky

Carol Katarsky is a contributing writer for Nitro. She is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience writing about both finance and education. Her corporate and non-profit clients include AIG, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Project Management Institute. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and one cat more than she should. Read more by Carol Katarsky

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