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Finding a Job in the Time of COVID-19

Dr. Rhonda D. Blackburn

President, United States Distance Learning Association

During this time of COVID-19, it is critical to know where you can find a job. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor was projecting an additional 8.4 million jobs would be added to the job market, mostly in healthcare and analyst positions. 

Today, with 30+ million Americans losing their jobs and looking for opportunities, keeping an eye on what is ahead is critical for securing your next job. 

Though there are more projected jobs upcoming for people with high school diplomas, most of these are service-oriented jobs that pay minimum wage. As you move up into higher credentials, you will find positions that require more skills and knowledge. Therefore, with the job availability for all levels of education, it is important to know what type of careers are available. 

The U.S. Department of Labor projects 60-75 percent of jobs will require science, math, and technology degrees and certifications. 

Where the jobs are

Knowing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs are plentiful, let’s break down the occupational categories where these jobs fall. 

The nursing and medical field, and analytics are two of the top occupations available now and they will continue to grow within the next decade. You will find careers as a personal care aide and home health aide, along with occupational therapy assistants, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and genetic counselors. 

Though all of these careers will require a science background, there are also many in the math, engineering, and technology fields, including statisticians, mathematicians, analysts, programmers and software developers, solar and wind turbine technicians and installers, and information security analysts.

Close to home

So how do you find a job in your local area? Start by checking what kinds of companies are near you — education, health care, industry, manufacturing, and service, to name a few. Depending on where you live, this can be overwhelming. 

Pick a few companies you are interested in and look at the career section for each one. This will give you an idea of what types of employees employers are seeking. You can also search on job sites, like Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, Jobs.com, Ladders, Glassdoor, Monster, and many more! Find the one that works best for you. It may take playing around with them to see what site offers the features you prefer. 

Once you determine what site you want to use, you can search by your location to see what jobs are available. This will give you an idea of what positions are trending. The job descriptions will give you an idea of what prerequisites and skills you will need to enter that occupation. They will list the credentials required and experience needed.

Loving what you do

Are you confused about what type of job you want? There are many career assessments that can help you determine your best career fit, and many of these provide estimated salary and education requirements for different occupations. 

Some are free and others are relatively inexpensive; usually no more than $10. by taking one of these assessments, you should receive several types of job recommendations that fit your interests and skill set. You can take this and compare it to the list of career opportunities within your geographic area.

As you go through your career exploration, you will likely find many of these career options within the STEM field. Your local community college will also have a career center and advisers that can help you get started. They will also have certification programs that can help you jump into a job quickly and then continue your education to improve your outlook on the future. Depending on what you are looking at, some may have rolling starts or multiple times throughout the year where you can join the program.

With information on your self-assessment, what occupations are near you, and what programs are available at your local community college, you are equipped with the knowledge you need to find a job or move your career forward.

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