With holidays fast upon us and the end of the year looming, a lot of us are looking to 2021 with hopeful energy about the future. For some, the new year might feel like the right time to make a career change, or level up in our professional lives.
The events of 2020 have brought profound changes to all of our lives. For many, their work lives have been upended or drastically changed. Working parents have had to balance childcare and remote schooling on top of downturns in many industries. These challenges have led to substantial decline in workforce participation by parents with children under 18. The percentage of working fathers dropped by 5.6% and working mothers by 4.9%, compared to 2019.
Newly remote workers have also seen challenging changes to the shape of their work life. Most experience longer workdays, working on average nearly an hour more per workday and contending with a 13% increase in meetings.
For small business owners, 2020’s upheavals created an unprecedented need to adapt or fold. Among small business owners, 92% reported that they were forced to “reinvent” their business model to survive pandemic setbacks. Sadly, many were not able to weather the storm. In fact, nearly 100,000 small businesses closed permanently due to Covid-19.
These significant changes can leave any job-seeker with some major questions about what their search and their future career prospects will look like into the next year. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christian Sutherland-Wong, CEO of Glassdoor, who was a guest on my You Turn Podcast. We spoke about many aspects of the current job market, and what’s to come in the future. Sutherland-Wong offered some excellent advice for those looking to make a change to their professional life during this uncertain time, and this inspired me to put together 5 tips for job hunting in 2021.
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1) Diversity, equity and inclusion will play a greater role in hiring than ever.
A major takeaway from my conversation with Sutherland-Wong was that those entering the job search in 2021 should expect issues of diversity, equity and inclusion to have a growing role in hiring and in company policies moving forward.
The summer of 2020 was an important time of tremendous upheaval. Compounding the pandemic, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others spurred nationwide protests, demanding that we all take a hard, overdue look at racial inequality in America—and worldwide.
There have been far-reaching reactions throughout corporate America to try to rectify institutional bias and address diversity, equity and inclusion (often referred to as DEI) in hiring and other company practices.
Sutherland-Wong has seen the effects of these protests in how Glassdoor users are discussing hiring. Sutherland-Wong reports that since summer 2020, Glassdoor has seen a 66% increase in users mentioning diversity and racial equity in their reviews. This has led Glassdoor to explore how their products could help users evaluate the commitment of potential employers to diversity and inclusion.
Glassdoor has since launched new tools for assessing and rating companies for their handling of issues related to DEI. Integral to these new tools is the ability of users to now share demographic information.
“What we want to be able to do as we collect this data is shine a light on not just how a company is rated overall by the average reviewer, but specifically, how certain people of certain demographics or certain groups rate a company,” Sutherland-Wong told me, “so then users of our site can get a feel for People who are like me, how do they rate a company?”
Accordingly, Sutherland-Wong believes that one of the great successes of Glassdoor is that they have been able to hold companies accountable when it comes to equity in the workplace. He explained that “companies cannot hide behind not being great employers when it comes to diversity and inclusion.”
Whether you are a candidate who is part of an underrepresented demographic in a certain field, or you feel that your voice should be amplified in the conversation about diversity and equity, it is valuable to understand the vital role that DEI will play in hiring practices and company policies in the future. It’s important that we all understand that we have a role to play in creating a more equitable future in the professional space.
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Job Hunting Tip: Do your research using Glassdoor’s new DEI tools to ensure that you are directing your job search toward companies that align with your values, and that provide an equitable and inclusive work environment.
2) Do not be afraid to negotiate your salary or ask for a promotion.
For many, the uncertainty of the current climate might make them feel risk-averse and reluctant to seek a promotion or a raise, or to negotiate a higher salary during the hiring process.
Sutherland-Wong’s advice: don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
During our conversation, Sutherland-Wong offered the very helpful reminder that while it can be hard to see outside the scope of the pandemic at the moment, this too shall pass. Try to take the long view, and understand that this moment will ultimately be what he refers to as a “blip” in your greater career trajectory. This mindset will help you get the perspective you need to make a change, or seek better compensation for your work.
Although the hiring manager holds most of the power throughout the interview process, Sutherland-Wong reminds us that “by the time you get to the offers stage and they are giving you an offer, the power is starting to switch back to you now.”
If you’ve successfully interviewed and reached the salary negotiation phase of hiring, remember to feel empowered in your role. “They want you,” he says, “therefore, it is worth thinking through: is this the right offer for me?”
When it comes time to negotiate, research and data are your friend. Throughout our interview, Sutherland-Wong emphasized the value in doing your research and having data to back up your point of view in the job search, from interviews to salary negotiations.
Though some companies may be weathering financial challenges, negotiating your salary is not a faux pas—it’s as important as ever. Do your research about the value of your role and comparable salary ranges. Strong data will still help you make your point.
Here are some ways tips for putting together a plan for negotiating your salary:
If you’re still feeling wary about entering into a salary negotiation, it’s worth noting that salary negotiations are on the rise. In 2019, 55% of new hires negotiated their salary, which represented a huge 16% jump from 2018 numbers. Plus, it’s likely that a hiring manager will be anticipating a negotiation, given that 70% of managers state that they expect candidates to negotiate.
If you plan to stay at your current job, pandemic downturns shouldn’t stop you from getting a salary increase. A recent study showed that 57% of organizations have already paid, or still plan to pay salary increases in 2020.
Even in these tough times, Sutherland-Wong says, “Companies are absolutely willing to pay the right for the right person.”
Job Hunt Tip: Don’t let pandemic setbacks prevent you from seeking the salary you deserve. Take the long view to get perspective on your career, and use data to support your position in any negotiation.
3) Look toward industries that are growing despite pandemic setbacks.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has a major negative impact on many sectors, there are certainly industries that have been thriving through 2020, and are projected to exceed expectations into 2021.
In Sutherland-Wong’s words, “While there are industries that are closing up shop, there are also industries that are booming.”
Christian identified three sectors that have seen tremendous growth and are expected to continue to expand in 2021 and beyond: e-commerce or online retail, tech and healthcare.
If you are looking to make a career change, it would be advantageous to look toward careers in these sectors:
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2020 was a challenging year for the traditional retail sector, with major legacy brands such as J. Crew declaring bankruptcy. Retailers that depended on in-person shopping took major hits from the Covid-19 shutdown.
Still, it was a strong year for e-commerce. Many retailers, like Bed Bath and Beyond, facing the downturn in traditional retail, opted to close stores in order to shift their operations to an “online-first” model.
The e-commerce space was already seeing steady growth before the pandemic, and saw an immediate boost from Covid-19 and lockdown-related factors. With consumers in 2020 using less of their budget for travel and dining, and many reluctant to shop in person, e-commerce has thrived. As of 2020, e-commerce accounts for 14.1% of total retail sales. This number is expected to grow to 22% by 2023. By mid-April 2020, online retailers saw up to a 68% increase in revenue versus 2019.
While in-person shopping has begun to bounce back, many are still favoring online shopping into the holiday season. In fact, a recent survey found that 58% of shoppers preferred to shop online for Black Friday deals, up from 51% in 2019. Customers who preferred to shop in person accounted for 41%, down from 61% last year. All these factors point to e-commerce as a very safe bet to weather the economic difficulties of Covid-19.
Another reason e-commerce is a great space for those looking to make a career change is that e-commerce companies offer job options for many skill sets and career paths. These companies also offer the opportunity to see business from many angles. So whether you’re looking for an entry-level job in systems technology, or
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