2021’s Worst Industries for Job Seekers, and What You Can Do


2020 was a year that caused every industry to face new challenges. And not only did it turn many people into new job seekers, it’s given all job seekers new challenges to face as well.

Whether you’re looking for your first job, laid off, or thinking about breaking into a new industry, it’s important to note the effects that the pandemic has had on the labor market — and how you can avoid drawbacks to your own career.

In the US they’ve recovered 12 million of the 22 million jobs that were lost between February and April. But around the world there are still many industries suffering cutbacks and unavoidable vacancies. In this article, we’ll take a look at the industries most beset by COVID-19.

We’ll also offer some advice for job seekers on how you can reimagine your job search in 2021. It’s a new year, with new obstacles as well as new opportunities. Let’s have a look!


Most Affected Industries


Tourism, Travel, and Hospitality

With increased restrictions on borders, and lockdowns on domestic travel, it’s no surprise that this industry is struggling more than any other.

Even during a few brief periods of relief, where guidelines were relaxed, people were afraid to travel — resulting in a sustained lull for businesses like hotels, resorts, cruise lines, airlines, and the myriad of luxury services that go with them.


Some restaurants were able to quickly pivot to delivery-focused services and meals-to-go. Some even began selling and delivering ingredients to quarantined customers.

But despite the agility of some businesses, unfortunately many have struggled to keep their doors open, let alone retain their staff!

This means that cooks, kitchen staff, bartenders, wait staff and hostesses have become positions with a tenuous grasp on job security (and availability). And as we enter a new year with record high cases, this industry is sure to struggle even more.


Let’s be honest: the retail industry was already struggling against the convenience and variety of online shopping. With devices like Amazon’s Alexa you only need to say what you want to buy out loud to your digital assistant, and it could be on your doorstep the same day.

But if online shopping was the 1-punch, the pandemic is the 2-punch in the combo that’s threatening to knock retail off its feet.

Even massive conglomerates like J. C. Penney, Gap, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Pier 1 Imports have had to close their doors across the board. 

Some other notably affected industries are cinemas, theatres, transportation, and factory work.


What You Can Do To Avoid The Struggle


It’s important to be realistic and understand what industries are impacted (and how). But that’s not to say all is lost! Here are some strategies you can use to skip the struggle!


Network Like Never Before

As more and more people lose their jobs, maintaining connections to those that are still working in your target industry has become more important than ever.

It may even be time to push your networking skills even harder, and try to make as many new connections as you can. You should be doing your best to tap into what’s often called “the hidden job market”.

The hidden job market is the wealth of opportunities that aren’t equally available to all. For example, in today’s job market, employers already know that there’s huge demand for work. They can afford to be selective and approach the talent they want directly, as opposed to making a public job posting.

Keep your connections close so opportunities like these don’t pass you by.

Pro Tip: Your out-of-work connections can also be a valuable source of leads, since they are likely also looking for work. Share what you’ve found openly and they’ll be more likely to share with you as well!


Be More Flexible

If you are dead set on an industry that’s facing obstacles right now, then you need to remain open to new solutions.

This means considering taking a different position than usual, or one that requires you to learn new skills. This can actually be a great opportunity for you to upskill your skill set and become a more well-rounded and diversified worker for your chosen industry.

You may face reduced working hours, or added responsibility due to reduced team size. You may need to make a lateral move, or even pick up a “lower” position for a while.

The point is, though, that if you stay inside the industry and you prove that, even in the darkest times, you brought value, then you’ll be an even stronger candidate for your dream job when the dust settles.


Pivot Your Career

There’s no point banging your head against a brick wall when you can just go around it.

Many of you are going to find it nearly impossible to get back to your original job, or pick up the job you wanted in a dying industry. And that’s ok, things change. But you can change, too!

If COVID-19 has made a substantial impact on your career in one industry, it can be a huge motivator to take a leap into a new one. It shouldn’t be your only reason to change, but if you’ve already been thinking of switching tracks, now is the perfect time.

Use your downtime to research what skills bring success in the new field and explore them. Talk to people and find out if it’s right for you. And, of course, be sure to consider the impacts the pandemic is having on this new direction.

Alternatively, you could start your OWN business! Right now it’s clear that many of the things people want and need are getting harder and harder to accommodate.

If you can find a solution to a pandemic problem, there is HUGE growth opportunity for you and your idea! Ask yourself “what’s missing, and how can I replace it?”



2020 was a tough year, and 2021 could be even tougher. But just because certain industries are struggling, doesn’t mean you have to, too!