Best white collar office jobs

The best office jobs in a recession

A team from Microsoft has identified the top 10 office-based jobs for a post-Covid economy

Earning power is crucial to financial wellbeing, and recent events in NZ and worldwide have highlighted the need for people to carefully select their chosen line of work. Even before “the great lockdown” the automation of many roles was already occurring (in other words, robots taking jobs from humans). Covid-19 has only accelerated this trend – and many others. As NZ and the world’s economies continue to stumble through covid-related events, and then ultimately recover, many businesses and people will still emerge as winners. This includes the people working in roles that pay well, are in demand, and are in growing industries.

Blue collar versus white collar jobs

The term “white collar” refers to the white shirts or blouses that many professionals traditionally wear, whose usual duties might include management, administration, and services like consulting. These jobs have often been performed in an office environment, though many white-collar workers might not actually be sitting behind a desk for long each day – such as a sales representative.

In contrast, a blue-collar job typically involves some sort of manual or trade-related labour. This might include manufacturing, retail, food service, and construction. The term “blue collar” refers to traditional blue overalls worn in some of these fields, such as construction. As a result of the covid-triggered downturn, every week there seems to be more job losses announced at another NZ company, and nearly everyone agrees that job losses will get worse before they get better. A lot of the job losses have unfortunately been in areas that may not pay particularly well, such as retail and tourism – “blue collar” jobs. Though that certainly doesn’t mean blue collar work is bad, in fact, roles such as car mechanic and law enforcement made our separate list of the top jobs for a bad economy, while other blue-collar roles such as plumber, come to mind as being difficult for technology to replace any time soon and for usually being in demand regardless of what the economy is doing.

The top office jobs

So what?

Keep in mind:

  1. Through the lockdown in NZ, and similar in other countries, many white-collar employees in resilient or unimpacted industries could simply keep working uninterrupted from home.
  2. Many businesses and industries have thrived through the downturn. This provides an excellent reminder of the need to select and pursue a career in a resilient industry with growth potential.
  3. The list below of white-collar jobs can be learned online, which is not usually the case in blue-collar roles.

Top 10 office-based jobs

A team from global powerhouse Microsoft recently analysed workforce trends data with millions of job listings on LinkedIn – an online professional networking tool. Using this data, Microsoft identified 10 jobs that are in-demand in today’s economy and are well positioned to continue to grow in the future. These 10 jobs were identified by:

  • Having the greatest number of job openings,
  • Having steady growth over the past four years,
  • Paying a liveable wage, and
  • Requiring skills that can be learned online.

The top 10 office-based roles that can be learned through online courses are:

1. Sales representative

This job had the most listings on LinkedIn.

There are reports that sales of many large consumer items, such as boats and recreational vehicles, are spiking internationally, and possibly in NZ too. This might be because many high-earning white-collar workers can’t take their usual holidays or partake in their usual pastimes due to lockdown restrictions, so have a little more spending money as a result. Selling these items can earn a good salesperson good money, and someone will need to repair and maintain them all too!

2. Software developer

Software developers develop and maintain computer software, websites, and applications (apps). There’s little surprise this is an in-demand occupation, as someone needs to develop and maintain the programs to power the post-Covid world!

3. Project manager

Project managers manage the delivery of projects from beginning to end, ensuring timeframes are adhered to and usually improving or adding to the business. They manage the strategic, financial, operational, and technological aspects of projects.

Project managers are required in nearly all sectors of the economy, especially:

  • Construction and engineering,
  • Healthcare,
  • Software development and information technology (IT),
  • Government, and
  • Consulting.

4. IT administrator

IT administrators are generally accountable for maintaining organisational IT networks, servers, and computer security systems. They manage the upgrade and installation of new hardware and software, perform troubleshooting to address any problems with computer systems, and assess viruses and potential threats to a company’s network. IT administrators might also monitor the use of email, create and change passwords, make suggestions for improvements to computer systems, backup data and perform data recovery if needed.

If an IT network fails, the effect on the regular running of the commercial operation can be significant, which makes IT administrators completely essential within any business to ensure business continuity.

5. Customer services specialist

Customer care specialists are responsible for answering all customer questions/concerns regarding their company's products, policies, and services; those in this position work in a variety of fields, from healthcare and retail to everything in between.

Take care. While this role made Microsoft’s list, note that customer services roles can be quite varied. Depending on the field, they may be lowly paid, and over recent years many have been outsourced overseas – think about large corporates who have call centres in India or the Philippines.

6. Digital marketing specialist

This role specialises in developing and implementing plans for promoting an organisation's goods, brand, services and ideas by producing marketing content such as advertisements, social media channels, and blog posts. Depending on skills and expertise, they may also organise events, collect and analyse data, develop full campaigns, and build relationships with clients.

As buyer’s behaviour changes and online shopping continues to squeeze out retail, demand for good digital marketing specialists should continue to surge.

7. IT support and helpdesk specialist

As demand for IT grows, so does demand for those to keep it functioning.

In some companies, the lines are blurred between this and the role listed earlier as #4, an IT administrator.

IT support or help desk refers to a central point of contact (external or internal) who can be consulted when IT problems arise. This specialist would then determine the root cause of the issue and delegate the work to the appropriate department or team.

8. Data analyst

A good data analyst could be the difference between business success or failure. Data analysts identify and communicate trends in data using statistics and specialised software to help organisations achieve their business aims, usually by:

  • Figuring out what’s important,
  • Measuring it accurately,
  • Interpret the data to gain business insights, and
  • Present the conclusions in a logical and easy-to-understand manner.

Data analysts sometimes progress to more senior and highly paid data scientists.

9. Financial analyst

Much like a data analyst, the main role of a financial analyst is to pore over data to identify opportunities or evaluate outcomes for business decisions or investment recommendations. Financial analysts are highly desirable in the current market, as businesses focus on what costs they can manage more effectively to drive future growth. Historically, this has been a coveted role, though at Milestone Direct, we were a little surprised by the inclusion of it in this list as it is one of the areas we’d previously highlighted as increasingly being replaced by robots – as software can be programmed to recognise trends better than the human eyeball.

The best office jobs - teach yourself online

10. Graphic designer

Creative work in the right field is tough to replace by a computer program, and that is one of the reasons for strong growth in this area.

Graphic designers might develop designs for printed media such as brochures and magazines or electronic media such as websites, social media, and television. Pay varies widely depending on skills, experience and employer.

11. Managers (bonus, added by us)

As you would have noticed from the list above, Microsoft’s detailed analysis determined that technology-focussed roles are likely to be the highest growth fields. As demand for these roles grows, the world still needs managers to fill any number of functions including; planning, organising, negotiating deals, performance monitoring, and allocation of resources.

The bottom line, the best office jobs for a recession

As mentioned earlier, possibly the best thing about the 10 of the 11 jobs listed above is they can be learned at least to a basic level with online courses – so if you’re reading this and considering up-skilling there’s nothing stopping you!

Tip: don’t forget about the basics

If you’re looking to broaden your employability and increase your earning potential over the long-run by entering a white-collar role, the first step could be to master basic – but often overlooked – skills. This might include:

  • Typing, a must.
  • Computer literacy skills such as with Word and Excel.
  • Verbal and written communication skills. The heads of many small and mid-sized businesses we’re aware of complain that even university graduates can’t write an email without typo’s, grammatical errors or average manners!

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