2020 has always been imagined to be a year where our society would advance into a technological movement in every aspect of our lives. We imagined ourselves interacting through holograms, our food to be instant and jobs to be streamlined. Due to a global pandemic, in some ways, we have fallen into the future sooner than we were ready for. During COVID-19 job markets nationwide have been flipped upside down, forcing many industries to reassess how they operate. Some markets have dissolved leaving many Americans to reimagine how to use their skill sets to make a living and survive. The big question is what are businesses looking for when it comes to hiring people during a pandemic?
To answer what businesses desire when hiring, it’s important to understand how businesses are reworking different positions. The unemployment rate has dropped nationally by 8.4% in August. Jobs in the hospitality industry such as hotels, retail, and entertainment have been cut down significantly due to a decrease in demand. As COVID continues to remain present in our everyday lives various industries are trying to meet their consumers where they are at. Restaurants and supermarket chains are creating more opportunities for workers to deliver meals or groceries right to their doorsteps. Big giants such as Amazon and Walmart are in high demand for workers to operate in their warehouses to meet the demands of online orders.
Career advisor India Rias -Thompson assists students at the careers development office at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) with finding jobs and preparing them with work readiness skills. While helping students she has noticed that the traditional way of finding jobs and recruitment has all shifted virtually.
“It falls on the employers to recognize what new skills they need for their workforce so they can continue to thrive in the current COVID 19 environment and post COVID 19 because everything doesn’t stick around,” said Rias - Thompson.
While helping students find new opportunities she noticed a shift in what students need to bring to the table. Hard skills such as job performance are less of a focus, but soft skills like communication are desirable and equitable.
Moving virtually has also limited barriers such as race, gender, and ableism discrimination making room for less reason to disqualify specific groups of people. Americans with disabilities have fewer excuses from employers in how they’re unable to cater to their physical needs when their office can be remote.
“Now that gives us a whole new wave of people who can come in and sit at their house in front of their computer and get whatever work that you need to get done, done,” said Rias- Thompson.
Having remote work as an option may be something companies will have to consider beyond COVID-19. According to the United Nations, a large population of the world is made up of people with disabilities by 15 percent.
COVID has truly tested our values as a country in what is most important. We’re constantly questioning what is a necessity versus non-essential and how employees can get the most out of work beyond money. Rias-Thompson believes that this flip in job markets can allow Americans to reprioritize their values and rework the system that is the American workforce.
“I think it’s a retraining of American culture, a resetting of getting off of the hamster wheel, and kind of looking around to see where we can best use our skills and talent as a workforce?”