2021 is here, much to the relief of billions worldwide who endured a trying 2020. A new year does not guarantee immediate changes from the difficulties of the previous 366 days; instead, 2021 will be a year dedicated to recovery efforts.
Of the many areas of society impacted by COVID-19, the job market experienced particularly notable effects. 2020 ended with a much-improved unemployment outlook than the United States experienced in the spring, but the rate lingers much higher at the beginning of the new year compared to where numbers were at the end of 2019.
With nationwide unemployment around 7 percent, and COVID-19 case numbers reaching highs while the country awaits the vaccine, the job-search market of 2021 will be crowded. Attacking the market vigorously is essential, but not may not be enough on its own to find the right position in the new year. Having a detailed and actionable plan is essential.
UPDATE YOUR RESUME
While this might seem obvious, in this age of job applications being sent primarily online -- and in particular, through job boards like CareerCast -- it's easy to recycle an old resume. Use this time to modernize your resume, which includes streamlining it as much as possible. A summer job held in the 1990s isn't relevant in 2021, so make sure to only include the most up-to-date and most relevant information.
This includes emphasizing anything you might have done recently outside of the workforce to improve yourself.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR PANDEMIC PERSONAL BETTERMENT
Did you use the downtime brought on by the pandemic to gain a new skill? Perhaps you studied another language with a smartphone app, used a new social media platform. Emphasize personal betterment in your 2021 resume and application process to demonstrate your perseverance and discipline. It may not be directly related to a position for which you are applying, but speaks to your attitude.
What's more, something that was an obligation brought on by the pandemic can be a positive for a job application. Perhaps you had to take on homeschooling duties to help a child in a virtual-learning school. Aside from a presumably new-found respect for teachers' work, you have demonstrable experience taking new information and relaying it to a specific audience. This is a skill that can be applied regardless of profession.
COVID-19 altered the dynamics of the job market, completely flipping the forecast from one favorable to seekers, to a landscape that's more to the benefit of employers. Whereas a year ago, a job seeker might be able to be more choosey with applications, the market is the exact opposite. Consider leaving your comfort zone and applying for positions you might have bypassed previously.
That doesn't mean look for less in compensation or fewer responsibilities, but rather, see what other industries you can apply your skill sets toward.