Career Development Director Expects Better Job Prospects for 2021 Graduates

PAM WELLER, director of the Career Development Center

No doubt the job market was hit hard by the COVID pandemic, however Pam Weller, director of the Career Development Center at Minnesota State Mankato, expects better job prospects for new graduates compared to a year ago.

“It does seem like we are in a better place this year than we were last spring. With the vaccine being rolled out, businesses beginning to open, and jobs starting to be added back to the economy, there is an optimism that did not exist at this same time last year,” Weller said. “This has translated into a more positive college hiring outlook. Things are moving in the right direction.”

According to the latest report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hiring of new graduates is expected to rebound by 7.2 percent for Spring 2021 compared to the decrease in hiring that was predicted in Fall 2020.

Weller said strong areas for hiring right now are related to information technology and computers, healthcare, shipping and delivery; operations, supplies and logistics, sales, and online businesses and services. Weaker areas are those areas especially hurt by the pandemic like travel and leisure, entertainment and hospitality; oil and gas, construction, and retail.


Quick Q&A with Pam Weller

Q: How scary is the job market now compared to a year ago? What have we learned over the past year?
All indications are that we are in a better place now than we were a year ago when it comes to the job market for new graduates. We have all had time to learn how to navigate this new reality, things have settled a bit, and we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In general, employers have done a good job of mitigating some of the negative impacts that might have made for worse situation.

Q: How can those entering the job market best prepare and present themselves as attractive candidates to A: COVID weary employers; what skill sets are employers seeking in this new normal impacted by the pandemic?

Many of these things are not pandemic specific, but apply regardless of the job market climate:

  • Make sure your resume and cover letter are complete, professional, and error free. 
  • Emphasize specific experiences that illustrate your ability to work remotely—being a self-starter, taking initiative, being a fast learner, and are adaptability.
  • Audit your social media! 3 out of 4 employers say they check these before hiring a candidate.
  • Be a proactive job seeker–reach out, keep engaging with your references and network, and follow-through with any job leads you have. 
  • Put yourself out there virtually. Look for professional and alumni groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, use pertinent hashtags in your field, and share content relevant for your career aspirations.
  • Be patient! This is important now more than ever. Know that hiring processes have slowed and don’t panic if the employer does not get back to you in a timely fashion.
  • Become comfortable interviewing by phone and video. 
  • Take care of yourself and make sure that you have good support people to lean on.


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