After a trying year, there’s some hope on the horizon for 2021. Federal Reserve leaders are predicting that unemployment will fall to 5% at the end of the coming year. (In April, it had reached a record high of 14.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though it has since fallen to 6.7% as of November).
With the first COVID vaccine currently being administered to healthcare workers and employees and residents of long-term care facilities, people are starting to be more optimistic about 2021. We checked in with career experts on why people should be feeling positive about their job search next year. Here’s what they said.
1. There will be more clarity about the future.
“2020 has been a year fraught with uncertainty. The early days of the pandemic put us in completely uncharted territory with many of us struggling to adapt to working remotely and many more losing jobs due to a decline in business,” writes Erin Thompson, a Senior Product Marketing Manager. “While the effects of the pandemic are still in effect, the biggest difference in 2021 will be increasing clarity as to what the future looks like.”
One positive change she predicts is an increase in hiring as the vaccine is more widely distributed. She also believes there will be “growth in jobs that are more 'future-proof.' In many industries, the pandemic has merely accelerated change that was already in motion. Jobs that become available in 2021 are likely to be well suited to the new and future economy.”
“As the landscape changes and things look more hopeful, companies will feel more secure planning to take on new people,” Tara Clark, a career coach and Writer for Career Climb, agrees. “In addition, there will be pent up demand in many industries due to shutdowns and the transition to a remote work environment.”
2. Businesses will create new positions.
The pandemic has revolutionized the work landscape and introduced new needs for the workforce. Because of this Ellysa Smith, an HR Engagement Curator, believes there will be newly designed roles.
“With the pandemic, technological advancements have sped up, and this means that new positions are emerging,” she writes “Job seekers should be excited because this means that current skills can be transferred into those shiny appealing new roles that offer the opportunity to be engaged and try something new.”
Kelli Anderson, Career and Mindset Coach and the Founder of Mindset Mamas, is excited about these changes. “2020 forced companies to pivot and make major changes, causing resource needs in areas they hadn't considered before (e.g. Director of Remote Work),” she writes. “I believe 2021 will be the year that job seekers can successfully pivot into new careers that actually make them feel satisfied and fulfilled at work because more employers are now open to change and a different perspective.”
3. There will be more opportunities to innovate.
Along with new roles comes a greater opportunity to innovate — from the way businesses are run to the responsibilities of different positions. “If the need and opportunity to innovate and redefine exists, then so do the jobs to support that business growth and renewal,” writes Randi Levin, Transitional Life Strategist.
“As we have all become more familiar with uncertainty and bending the rules of how, and where, and even why we do business, companies will need to redefine themselves to survive and thrive in a new world. The question is, ‘If we are no longer locked into doing business as we were before, what is possible now?’ The answer to that question is the rainbow after the storm of 2020.”
4. More jobs will be remote.
Thompson foresees significant growth in how many remote jobs will be available in the coming year. “Many companies have adapted well to remote work and have no plans to return to a 100% office-based workforce,” she writes.
In general, she says, there will be more flexibility at work; she believes that even companies that have employees return to the office won’t require them to be on-site every day of the week.
5. Employment gaps will no longer be red flags.
“It’s a great time to look because we all went through this upheaval together,” Clark adds. “As a result, you’re not embarking on a search with an employment gap or a career transition alone; millions are in the same position, and this makes it less of a ‘red flag’ than it was in years past. I say we can all take advantage of this time to get on the career path we want to be on because, with the whole world in flux, it’s a great moment to define your future.”
6. There will be more opportunities to find fulfilling work.
Jacquelyn Lloyd, an HR Consultant, sees the coming year as a time to re-energize and reconsider their careers, saying “Perhaps the most exciting change job seekers may experience in 2021 is an internal mental shift on how they want to work, where they want to work, and the legacy they want to leave.”
“Over the past year, candidates have had the chance to reflect on their current or most recent positions and their previous or current employers' attitudes and decisions during 2020. Finding an employer that shares your values is really important for both success and happiness.”
“The pandemic has caused many to pause and evaluate their priorities and the things they consider important in life,” Genny Heikka, Motivational Speaker and Life and Career Coach, agrees.
“As a professional in the coaching industry, I've seen many women take this time to invest in themselves so they can get clearer on the unique value they bring to the table and what kind of impact they can make moving forward. The focus and increased confidence that often results from this self-discovery journey really empower women to approach the job market from a position of strength. When you know who you are and your distinct edge, it informs what jobs you apply for, how effectively you can connect who you are to what you do (or want to do) and the confidence and enthusiasm you bring to the interview!"
No matter what their predictions for the job search in 2021, most experts suggest expanding your skillset and ensuring that both hard and soft skills are clear on your resume to increase your chances of getting hired.
“Soft skills and hard skills will be in demand, so make sure you are emphasizing both since companies that went lean in the wake of the pandemic, will be looking for cutting edge ways to rebrand, and emerge anew both internally and externally,” Levin says.