Nothing about the job market has felt “normal” lately—but that isn’t going to stop things from changing yet again as we move into a new year. (Surprise!) If 2020 and 2021 were about dealing with an unprecedented situation and figuring out how to cope, 2022 is going to be about how to move forward.
Job seekers have more power than ever
One of the biggest developments of 2021, job market-wise, was the “Great Resignation”: employees making the decision to leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, leaving an unprecedented number of openings. That puts more power in the hands of job hunters, who may have more leverage with employers who need to fill a lot of positions, fast. This leaves room for qualified candidates to negotiate for flexible work arrangements, more benefits, or more salary.
This is also good for people switching careers, or working with issues like resume gaps. Employers may be willing to offer more opportunities to people who have the skills but not the experience.
Adaptation is the name of the game
One of the biggest lessons for all of us in recent years was that we need to be flexible because you never know when something huge can show up and change everything in a matter of days. Employers have taken that lesson to heart too—and many have changed how they recruit and hire. Some companies are hesitant to offer concrete work arrangements or permanent positions, when their offices and budgets may be in flux. 2022 may see more openings for temp-to-hire or contract work. This means job seekers may need to modify expectations a bit. The right next opportunity may not be a traditional, permanent job offer.
For some job seekers, that’s fine. For others, who prefer the stability of guaranteed full-time work, it isn’t ideal. The key is deciding for yourself what works for you and your career plans. If you’re thinking about adapting to this new market and taking a temporary or contract gig, there are upsides—like bridging a resume gap, building experience, or making sure that you have steady work in the interim.
It’s also important to be clear on what this involves when you talk to a potential new employer. If a job is listed as a contract job, it might be genuinely temporary, or it might be that the company is looking for an “audition,” so to speak, with the potential of making the role permanent. It’s okay to ask about that and be clear that at some point that if things work out, you’d be interested in getting more commitment from the company down the line.
Some industries will thrive, while others struggle
Not every industry is recovering from the pandemic at the same speed or level of success. For example, travel and tourism are recovering in fits and starts, while fields like healthcare and tech are expanding and hiring more robustly than ever before.
As you start your own job search, research is going to be key. Are you about to be looking for a new job in an industry that’s still struggling, or not rehiring at the same rates as others? Is it time to consider transferring your skills and experience to a job in one of the booming sectors?
COVID-19 precautions may be an issue
Some employers will require Covid-19 vaccines. And some won’t, depending on their size and government regulations at the time. It’s become a politically charged issue, but politics aside, it will be an issue for job seekers. At the very least, companies are likely to require at least a disclosure of vaccination or testing status, if not a vaccine itself.
Many employers are putting their vaccination, masking, or testing requirements upfront in job postings or on their websites. If that information isn’t readily available and these policies are important to you, definitely ask as early as possible in the application process. That will limit frustration later if you get to the job offer stage, only to find out that the company’s Covid policies won’t work for you.
As we look towards a new year full of better opportunities and new career horizons, being adaptable is the key. It’s important to keep an open mind about what you’re looking for, and what companies may be looking for from you. There will be the same kinds of highs and lows that come with any job search, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about how the year will unfold.