Are You Ready for the 2021 Job Market? It’s Time to Find Out.

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COVID-19 has changed how we work, how we interact, and how we live. Based on recent economic indicators, the impact of the coronavirus will continue well into 2021.

But we all still have to work and provide for our families, right? And that means being prepared to head into the 2021 job market.

Do you feel ready at this moment? Are you maximizing every possible opportunity? It’s time to find out. Here are seven best practices to help you step up your game in the 2021 job market. 

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

You need a solid game plan to conquer this challenging new job market. Is your resume up to date? Do you have a cover letter? Are your updated career documents tailored to the roles you’re targeting? A one-size-fits-all approach might seem easier, but it’s not the most effective way to land a job.

Instead of throwing your resume at every job post and seeing what sticks, plan out your strategy in advance. Follow these steps:

  1. Conduct a thorough review of your career documents for accuracy and relevance.
  2. Before submitting anything, carefully analyze your resume and cover letter to ensure they meet all of the requirements of the roles for which you’re applying. Customize them as needed.
  3. Set a minimum number of roles you want to apply for each week, and track your efforts on a spreadsheet.
  4. Create a top-10 list of the employers you want to work for, and then find out everything you can about them. Use these details to engage with your target employers.

As awesome as your accolades might be, you won’t be the only talented candidate in the mix. Take that into consideration as you plan out your initial steps. You have to transcend the efforts of your competitors. By establishing a solid plan for your job search, you will improve your overall standing in the 2021 job market.

The Law of Attraction: Build Your Personal Brand

Branding is not just a business concept, but a professional one as well. One of the key principles of the Law of Attraction is, “You attract what you are.” Whether or not one agrees with this framework, the idea itself makes a lot of sense.

Thanks to the pandemic, most of us are confined at home for extended periods of time, resulting in an explosion of social media platform usage. With over half of the world’s population utilizing social media, isn’t it safe to assume this includes your potential employers?

While a professional appearance is paramount, how you engage with others is even more essential. Employers don’t want you to just look the part, but to successfully execute in your role. How do you present yourself to others publicly on social media? What does your conduct say about you? What types of connections are you making on social media? What types of people, aside from the ones you already know, are you attracting to your profiles? What are your comments like? What are theirs like? Are you making professional connections or just personal ones?

A study conducted by the Human Capital Institute found that 51 percent of HR pros recognize social media as a highly effective means of sourcing quality hires. That means employers are definitely watching, so keep your social media conduct in mind at all times.

Workforce Development Gets a Technological Upgrade

The pandemic may have kick-started major changes to how work gets done, but major shifts like digitization, remote work, and machine learning, will persist well into the post-pandemic future. One particular area that is sure to change for the good is employee learning and development.

In recent years, companies have become more intentional with taking their employee development curriculums from the classroom to the computer — and that is especially true now, with so many roles transitioning from office-based to virtual. Candidates who are already familiar with online training programs and virtual conferencing platforms will have a significant advantage in this new environment. Furthermore, advances in machine learning are changing the way employees learn, allowing for the creation of more customized training and professional development experiences.

The evolution of training and development can present new career opportunities for professionals, too. For example, employees skilled in software engineering, data modeling, computer programming, and other related areas will be critical in getting these virtual training programs off the ground. Similarly, the increasing demand for virtual curricula is a tremendous opportunity for instructors and other training professionals, especially those who already have experience delivering content online.

What can you do as an individual to remain aligned with the path of workforce development?

  1. Be prepared to work remotely by ensuring you have a fully functional computer with a webcam, a noise-canceling headset, a quiet working environment, and familiarity with online conferencing software.
  2. Get comfortable with virtual learning. There are thousands of free online courses you can try out to get properly acclimated.
  3. Do your research to stay apprised of what your target companies are doing. Check out recent press releases on what they are up to. What new innovations have they adopted? What adjustments have they made to their organizations since the onset of COVID-19? Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about what your target employers are doing.

The business world is continually evolving, and as someone who is part of it, you have to pay attention to these changes as well. Proactivity is the best way to take advantage of opportunities as they come.

Skills Inventory: Leverage Your Virtual Resources

When was the last time you received skills training within your field of expertise? Weeks? Months? Years? If a significant amount of time has passed since the last time you amped up your skills, maybe it’s time to conduct a skills inventory.

Perform a preliminary review of the roles you are interested in. Take a look at the qualifications and preferred skills listed for each role, and then compare them to your current skills. Do you meet every qualification and preference or just a few of them? Are your skills dated by today’s standards? Either way, it is a great time to improve your skill set.

The internet is a tremendous resource for information, and you’re sure to find free and paid programs that can help you brush up on your skills. Do you have an interest in project management or lean Six Sigma? Use your downtime to get certified. Are you currently working in the finance or insurance sector? Earning a new license can make you a more attractive candidate in your industry.

With all the free and low-cost educational platforms available today, nothing is preventing you from beefing up your resume with new training.

Readjust Your Scope

Sometimes, job seekers become stuck because they don’t realize they can expand beyond the current confines of their careers. The skills you have acquired in each role are often transferrable to other fields. For example, if you have worked in the banking industry your entire career, the skills you have developed are likely applicable to many roles in finance and insurance, too.

Sometimes, moving to a new industry can even lead to a higher-tiered role because your expertise may be more valuable in a different field. Don’t allow yourself to stagnate by limiting your career options. You’ll never know unless you give it a shot.

Game On: Managing Your Mindset

Your job market viability is not determined only by your background and your efforts, but also by your mindset. If you are in a negative mindset and are discouraged with your job search efforts, it’s a good idea to put your plans on pause. You might think you are doing a great job concealing these feelings, but the truth is your interviewers are likely picking up on your negative energy.

Stop what you are doing and ask yourself why you feel the way you do. We cannot control the external factors of our daily lives; we can only control how we manage ourselves and how we react to adversity. What do you feed your mind on a daily basis? Do you watch news reports all day about how terrible the economy is? Do you read negative blog posts about the pandemic? Or do you watch inspirational videos and read uplifting content that supports your short- and long-term goals?

Let’s hope it’s the latter. Conduct a self-assessment to make sure you are not the negative Nancy or Ned that every HR professional dreads to encounter. Their jobs are challenging enough without someone zapping the little energy they have left. Check yourself, and do it quickly.

Emerging Marketplaces: Take Advantage of New Trends

Dozens of industries and technologies are poised to have a tremendous impact on the post-pandemic world, including:

  1. Healthcare (e.g., telehealth and remote diagnostics)
  2. Education (e.g., remote learning and online content)
  3. Security (e.g., surveillance technology and cybersecurity)
  4. Retail (e.g., online grocery shopping and eCommerce)
  5. Finance (e.g., branchless banking and contactless payments)
  6. Food services (e.g., restaurant/grocery delivery and cloud kitchens)

Take full advantage of the recent shifts in these marketplaces. Research these industries to determine if there are any emerging roles that may fit you. Do you have skills that would make you an asset in one or more of these fields?

It’s important to expand your horizons when dipping your toe into the 2021 job market. You never know what opportunities await you. Hopefully, these best practices have helped you adjust your scope and open your mind to all of the possibilities you have yet to explore.

Feel free to try one or all of these suggestions to see how you fare as you tackle this new job market. You owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to ensure that you land the role you deserve.

LaShina Mack is an independent recruiting professional and organizational leader at Resume Renewed. Follow Resume Renewed on Instagram or Twitter.

By LaShina Mack