How Workers Should Prepare For the Job Market in 2022

RgStudio / Getty Images
RgStudio / Getty Images

One of the most dramatic storylines to come out of 2021 was the unprecedented state of the labor market. America learned terms like “the Great Resignation” and “the Big Quit.” Businesses that were eager to reopen after pandemic shutdowns couldn’t hire enough staff to meet the demand, no matter how much they offered to pay. Corporations across the country doled out big signing bonuses and imaginative benefits to average applicants.

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Will 2022 remain an applicant’s market? What new trends will emerge — and what should today’s job hunters do to prepare for tomorrow?

GOBankingRates asked the experts.

Labor Shortages Will Continue To Steer the Job Market

Nikki Attkisson, CEO of the Powdersville Post, the flagship publication of the South Carolina Media Group, believes “it will still be a job-seeker’s market in 2022.”

There’s plenty of data to back up that assertion. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business recently predicted that labor shortages will continue to be a running theme throughout the new year.

“That means more opportunities for first-time job seekers to land decent positions if they play their cards right,” Attkisson said.

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That Could Lead to Higher Salaries in Lower-Tier Fields

The labor shortages that defined 2021 have been forcing salaries up in higher-paying fields all year long. In 2022, that trend will likely filter down the food chain.

“Job seekers can expect higher salary offers in many industries, not just in tech, science, or medicine,” said Paul French, founder and managing director of executive e-commerce recruiting site Intrinsic Search. “Labor shortages resulting from an amalgamation of factors such as retiring workers, an aging workforce, and limits on immigration will continue to push employers to raise salaries to attract top talent. It is important to know your worth to leverage this prediction.”

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Businesses Will Focus on Employee Experience and DE&I

Higher salaries are only part of the response to the economy-wide labor shortage that appears poised to continue into 2022. Another big part will be a focus on employee experience.

“Companies are now making it a priority to ensure that their employees are happy, they have a sense of belonging, they feel a sense of fulfillment, and that they have the resources, tools, and the support that they need,” said Dr. Shirley Davis, president and CEO of HR strategy firm SDS Global Enterprises. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion is going to continue to be a primary focus in 2022 for job seekers. 80% of workers have also said that they want to work for a company that is diverse and that values equity and inclusion. Companies will need to make sure DE&I is embedded in everything that they do, including their values, policies, practices, performance expectations, leadership development, and cultural competence.”

Freelancers and Inexperienced Workers Will Find Opportunities Beyond the Entry Level

The high rate of turnover caused by the Great Resignation is forcing many companies either to pay a premium for more experienced employees or to hire cheaper newbies and train them on the job.

“I expect many of them will opt for the second option,” Attkisson said. “Alternatively, they might increase their reliance on freelancers to offset some of the workload. Both first-time job-seekers and freelancers share a common advantage over more experienced full-timers. If they could just keep their compensation expectations marginally lower than those of full-timers, they will easily have the edge in the market.”

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The Hiring Process Will Speed Up

It’s very likely that 2022 will see an expedited hiring process as employers move faster to secure talent in a tight labor market.

“Speed of hire is now a competitive edge,” said Lisa Hennessey, chief people officer for Happy Money. “For job seekers, this will mean that you may have multiple companies running you through their recruiting process quickly to beat the competition to offer.”

Hennessey suggests that you manage the expectations of hiring teams and be transparent with your timeline.

“If you receive multiple job offers, it’s okay to let the companies know that you have other offers to consider and will need time to evaluate which opportunity is best for you,” she said. “Be careful not to take too much time as it could be considered a lack of interest in the company or role or the perception that you may be pitting offers against each other. Companies want to know they are engaging with someone who is honest and transparent, just as much as you want that from them.”

Skills That Match the Realities of the Times Will Be in High Demand

It’s no secret that the pandemic changed the way America went to work. In 2022, many changes that were supposed to be temporary fixes will start to become permanent.

“With the emergence of the Omicron strain and following travel bans, it seems like the coronavirus and the isolated world as we know it today is here to stay,” said David Farkas, founder and CEO of The Upper Ranks.

Hennessey agrees.

“While many companies initially planned to be back in the office this fall, we’re seeing an increasing number of employers announce that their return to the office is postponed indefinitely — largely in light of the COVID variants. I anticipate this trend toward remote, hybrid, and fully distributed work will only continue to climb in 2022.”

The workers who have the skills needed to implement those transitions will be in high demand.

“So, the applicant’s proximity to the company location is no longer relevant, but their skills are of utmost importance,” Farkas said.

Because of the shift to remote work, e-commerce and online marketing, Farkas believes the following skills will be among the most highly sought after in 2022:

  • Data analysis

  • Social media marketing

  • Website development

  • Campaign management

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Tips for Job Hunting in 2022 — and Beyond

Brian Snedvig, CEO and founder of resume and cover letter service provider Jofibo, provides the following tips:

  • Start creating a shortlist based on interview timelines: “It can take more than three months to complete the interview process and some people simply don’t have that time. It makes sense to start creating a list of companies you are confident, or perhaps even sure because of research and networking you have already done, have a short interview process.”

  • Your name is your brand — make sure it appears the same everywhere: “Assume that employers are doing Google searches on your name and reputation. If you haven’t already, you should make an effort to ensure that employers in 2022 can locate your name in the same way, both online and offline. Consider utilizing the middle initial or full middle name if you have a common name. Consider using it at conferences you attend or present at, papers or articles you create or collaborate on, or in one-on-one or group chats.”

Avishai Weiss, career and recruiting expert at PeopleSmart, offers this:

  • Take the time to apply with intent: “Don’t just mass mail your resume to every open role on the market, but instead, select the positions you’re actually interested in and communicate the why in your cover letter.”

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This article originally appeared on How Workers Should Prepare For the Job Market in 2022