Things are looking up. Economic conditions are improving, and people are more open to considering a job change. In fact, 80% of workers expect to change jobs this year, according to the 2020 Candidate Sentiment Study by the American Staffing Association and ClearlyRated. The prospect of accelerated job search activity should put every employer on alert for two talent imperatives. Watch for opportunities to fill vacancies but do not allow complacency to put your current talent bench in jeopardy. There are likely members of your own team in that ready-to-jump talent pool, so don’t neglect retention initiatives. In both scenarios, it is critical to arm yourself with the latest intelligence on demand trends and salary specifics to ensure you are pricing positions appropriately. While some sectors experienced wild swings in demand over the past year, there are three key sectors that did not ⎯ nor do we anticipate ⎯ any significant slowdowns in the coming year: manufacturing/logistics, office/admin and technology. 


Manufacturing & logistics

When much of the world was ordered to stay home during the pandemic, essential businesses remained open to produce and deliver the goods Americans craved. With click-to-buy orders estimated to exceed $400 billion this year, it’s no surprise that optimism is on the rise for 2021. Based on research by the National Association of Manufacturers, nearly three-quarters of American manufacturers feel positive about the outlook for their companies. At the same time, 62% expressed concern about their ability to attract and retain talent. Here's a closer look at some of the most in-demand roles for the year ahead.


An essential part of any production operation, assembly roles are becoming increasingly digitized. As innovation continues to transform America’s factories, more and more assembly jobs will require both technical skills and a willingness to partner with robotic coworkers. 

Forklift operators

The safe operation of a forklift is a skill that is always in demand. Competition will likely be most fierce in states like California, Texas, Illinois and Georgia, which host the greatest number of opportunities. Beyond pay rates, a strong focus on worker safety is absolutely essential to retain the best talent.


With the surge in ecommerce, expect to see continued strong demand for the people who move goods from production to distribution. As is the case with assemblers, the art of matching product to order is getting more sophisticated as robotics and augmented reality tools accelerate workflows. 


Office & admin 

The surge in ecommerce and the shift to remote work in 2020 gave new meaning to the term “homework.” While the location of work may change for some in the future, the need for both customer and employee support will continue. We expect those needs to drive demand for both customer service and administrative professionals. In addition, completely new roles, such as contact tracer and temperature checker, can be expected to ebb and flow in sync with local Covid trends. Here are some of the most in-demand office and admin roles for the year ahead.

Administrative assistants & office managers

The multitasking masters at the heart of business operations, administrative and office professionals are projected to be in high demand throughout 2021. This is especially true in healthcare offices and other businesses that contracted in the past year. Task creep is often a factor in administrative roles as colleagues and bosses look to these professionals to pick up any slack that surfaces within resource-constricted teams. With increased responsibilities come expectations for increased compensation.  

Customer service representatives (CSRs)

“How may I help you” conversations have changed significantly in recent years. Even with chatbots and AI to handle routine inquiries and new channels to engage customers via the web, texting, and social media, CSRs are in high demand. From telemedicine and financial services to online shopping, more customers mean more queries. Call centers must be prepared to provide answers, along with a positive experience. That requires the ability to listen with patience, respect, and empathy (and an expectation of higher pay for higher-level skills)



The technology sector was not completely immune from the pandemic, but the impact was more positive than disruptive. As other businesses set up shop remotely, the need for basic technical support and new tech tools grew exponentially. Beyond that, digital transformation accelerated across the board. The surge in demand for virtual working, learning, and living kept technology professionals fully engaged. With no expectation of slowing growth, here's a closer look at some of the most in-demand technology roles.

Cloud engineers

The cloud helped newly remote businesses thrive. Supporting that growth are the developers and QA testers who focus on creating and adapting applications and solutions for the cloud.

DevOps developers

Masters of all things ASP.NET, demand for DevOps developers is skyrocketing, with an average time-to-fill for these roles north of 50 days. 

Front-end developers

Transforming websites to deliver easy-to-navigate, visually compelling user experiences, the majority of front-end developers have less than five years of experience. All are in high demand, with an expectation of 15% growth forecast over the next 10 years.

Security analysts

A global pandemic did nothing to slow hacking. There has been an alarming increase in the frequency and severity of cyber attacks. With a single data breach estimated to cost $8.19 million — it’s no wonder security analysts are among the most sought-after tech professionals on the job market today. In fact, the BLS estimates an astounding growth rate for information security analysts of 31% between 2019 and 2029. 


What’s the most important tool needed to secure talent in 2021?

Anyone looking to secure new talent in 2021 has likely heard numerous pitches for cool new technologies that will appeal to Gen Z or work better in a remote world. You may be curious about screening protocols and interview techniques. What you need more than any other tool (or gimmick) is knowledge. You need to understand your local talent market. You need to know who is available now and who is willing to make themselves available, given a compelling proposition. You need to know how to price positions to be competitive and appealing. Some might say you need to be an expert on salary expectations and market trends. Alternatively, you can simply work with a recruiting partner to ensure you have the information, insights and expertise needed to make the right hiring decisions. Talk to us today.