Career Tips for International Students

10 Things to Remember When Searching for Jobs in the First Quarter of 2021

Dear Coach Kwan,

I feel like 2020 was a really difficult and unstable year for jobs. What should I be aware of this year to help me be prepared?

A Soon-to-be Graduate International Student


First of all, I’m so proud of you for making it through this unprecedented year! I know many of you are anxious about what the job market looks like this year. What is important is staying on top of trends and patterns within the job market, so you have your best chance of employability. Luckily I have some optimistic news to share! An employer survey conducted by Manpower has collected some useful trends for 2021 to keep in mind as you prepare yourself for your career adventure!

So here are the 10 key recommendations that will help you plan your job searching more effectively for the first half of 2021:

1. Be Flexible
Remain aware that the United States is still recovering from the damages of the pandemic. Stay flexible as you may have to use your skills in fields of work you haven’t thought about before. Now is a great time to work on any soft skills like communication and team collaboration as well as project management skills in an Agile environment.

2. Know Which Industries Are Hiring
It is important to work with what is available to you to have the best chance at successful employment. Tech jobs and factory jobs are currently stable fields of work to apply to. Tech jobs are utilizing a lot of remote work and factory jobs are almost back to full production pre-pandemic and needing employees due to high product demand from consumers.

3. Know Which Industries Are Not Hiring
It is also important to remain aware of which industries have not stabilized quite yet. The service industry is currently reported to still be a difficult field to apply to at the moment due to concerns and mandates of large gatherings. As the pandemic is neutralized, expect a large bloom and demand for employees in the service industry!

4. Stay Up-to-Date with the Job Market
It is important to be prepared for what employers are forecasting so you can be ready to tackle industries that open up. According to the employer survey from Manpower, hiring outlooks are improving around the world, and that there is hope for more stability by July 2021. It is important to note that employer forecasts around the world may look different. For example, in the first quarter, hiring trends in APAC and Americas are predicted to be recovering while employers in Europe report more cautious quarter-over-quarter hiring improvements.

5. Be Aware Of The Seasons of Recruitment
Each season of the year has a different recruitment demand. Applying when is best for recruitment will give you a higher chance at landing that job!

6. The First Half of The Year Is The Best Half of The Year
For full-time, long-term jobs, the first half of the year is the best time to apply! Winter is an ideal time to apply since new budgets have just been set. The spring season is also a great time to apply but keep in mind, college graduates tend to flood the market so be aware that the springtime can pose some more competitive atmosphere.

7. Know Employers Recruitment Deadlines
Most employers want everyone hired by June 1st. So make sure to give yourself enough room and time to apply!

8. Summer Slows Down
Summertime slows down for recruitment season with many employers vacationing or not everyone fully integrated. Part-time work is always available and the summer is a great time to polish a resume or continue with your networking!

9. Fall is for Filling in
The fall season is typically reserved for holiday employment or vacant spots still left that need to be filled. If you need work employers always need additional help around the holidays. The fall season can also be a great time to continue preparing yourself to apply to full-time long-term jobs in the winter.

10. Be Prepared for Anything
These trends will remain consistent but it is always important to stay vigilant and aware. It may be the summer and an employer may be hiring. So always be ready to apply. With 2021 also being a year of regrowth and healing, many companies may be looking to hire all year, so continue to polish your skills to be as flexible as you can be and prepare to apply!

2021 is looking brighter but will still be a year of flexibility and adapting. Jobs will continue to bloom as the pandemic is further tackled and handled with care allowing for a lot of possibilities. Millions will be applying and many employers will need those employees to kickstart businesses again. Make sure to polish your resume and your LinkedIn profile so when you are ready, you will be prepared and professional! Now is a great time to research jobs and work building skills needed to give you the best chance at being a candidate for hire.
Wishing you lots of success in 2021 and new job offers!
Coach Kwan

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About Coach Kwan

Kwan is an experienced human-capital consultant and a career coach for International Students. Originally from Thailand, Kwan moved to the U.S. and joined one of the world’s top consulting firms in Chicago. With 15+ years of experience at global companies like BMW, Accenture, and Deloitte, she helped companies develop L&D initiatives that impacted employees from 16K to 200K worldwide.

Today, as the Founder of ICAway /i-see-a-way/, her mission is to empower International Students for employability and serve International Educators as a trusted advisor. Kwan holds an Executive MBA through a Sasin/Kellogg School of Management Global Partnership and certification of Senior Professional in HR by HRCI. Connect with Coach Kwan on LinkedIn