CareerBuilder | March 19, 2021
We’ve shared the silver linings of work from home, as well as the impact of the pandemic on women. This month marks the 1-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic and we’re looking back at what’s changed in the workforce in the past 12 months.
The rise of transferable skills. The pandemic forced many industries to halt indefinitely, almost overnight. From leisure and hospitality to restaurants and retail, workers in high-touch and in-person roles were suddenly unemployed. And while a focus on skills had been rising pre-pandemic, this strategy became front-and-center. If you had experience with customer service in a hospitality or serving role, you could pivot to at-home customer service jobs. Or, maybe you helped manage retail operations and could pivot to warehousing or logistics roles. The pandemic taught both job seekers and employers that workers’ skills aren’t necessarily tied to one industry and a linear path of experiences or job titles.
Focus on what you know and are able to do and less on exact matches with job titles or education. More employers are valuing soft skills, transferable technical skills and offering up-skilling or training opportunities.
Work from home options. Another huge lesson learned: many, many jobs can be done remotely. Employees across all industries have been pushing for more flexible and remote work for years, and the sudden need for everyone to setup shop at the kitchen table or at makeshift desks opened employers’ eyes as well. In the past 12 months, companies of all sizes have given up their physical office locations in favor of a fully remote workforce, while others are increasingly open to workers who aren’t in major metropolitan areas. Work from home job searches and job postings have increased 70% as employers are de-prioritizing geography and employees continue to demand remote work.
More empathy in the hiring process and at work. It’s your favorite story to scroll past on social media – someone shared how they nailed an interview with a kid on their lap or someone else bonded with a recruiter or hiring manager over pandemic-induced challenges. It's being curious about where someone is taking a Zoom meeting or asking your coworkers how their mental health is doing. It’s employers understanding that unemployment gaps (especially in 2020) do not make candidates unemployable. We’ve all learned, in the past 12 months, that factors beyond our control can dramatically impact our jobs. You should expect a potential employer to have a response to “How did your company respond to the pandemic?” that reflects care and support for their employees.
A sustained focus on diversity. The summer of 2020 brought diversity and inclusion to the forefront of every hiring and company culture discussion. As the country reckoned with social justice movements, companies looked inward at their ranks and their hiring processes to identify opportunities for improvement. You can (and should) expect your current or potential employer to have diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as it’s now a common practice for employers to take a stand and join cultural conversations.
Employee support. From health and safety measures to better benefits in support of shifting employee needs, there is an expectation for employers to invest more in workers’ wellbeing than ever before. This has taken the form of childcare stipends, home office improvements, hero or hazard pay for essential workers, and expanded paid leave options.
The world of work has changed forever, and in many ways, for the better. Remote work and flexible hours are now part of standard work packages. Managing day-to-day life alongside meetings and spreadsheets is commonplace. Relying on skills instead of specific, linear career paths to land jobs is normal. Feel confident as you apply for jobs and know what to expect from a future employer.