Job Feast Or Famine?

Unemployment rates are down, job creation is up. In the wake of an election year, job prospects always look good, but is this the calm before the storm? What career opportunities really lie ahead?

says Sonnenfeld. “You need to communicate what your interests are beyond the job.”

Sarah Stringer, director of career development and placement services at Alabama’s Tuskegee University, strongly recommends preprofessional employment experience, such as internships or co-op programs. “They want people to hit the ground running. That’s just cost-effective for employers,” says Stringer.

GETTING PREPARED
For those fighting to hold their ground in the job market, the key words are diversity and creativity. Here are some tips to help you stay in the game:
Whatever your field is, keep up with the state of the art. Take advantage of any new training opportunities your organization provides.
If you’ve been considering returning to school for a post-graduate degree, wait no longer.
Network whenever possible.
Be involved in your field both in and outside of work.
Develop good relationships with coworkers. “Interpersonal relations are very important now, with the extra anonymity created by the Internet and voice mail,” says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Keep an eye on new technologies and how they’re evolving.

At the start of the new year, take time to assess where your career is and where you want it to go. Some cities are even actively recruiting to fill empty slots and attract new talent, Columbus, Ohio, is the first U.S. city to implement a national recruitment program for the thousands of high-tech careers available.

Try to be open to relocation if it can advance your career, says Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds & You’re Hired! She says that employers today are looking for people who have a good balance of “hard” and “soft” skills: the former includes technical skills, like computer expertise, while the latter includes nontechnical abilities such as problem solving and a willingness to take personal initiative when necessary. Finally, Ryan advises that the best jobs are the ones you enjoy, excel at and which combine your interests and natural strengths,.

But before you become hopelessly pessimistic about holding your place in the job market, spend time improving your skills so your company will regard you as an asset, and continue to make yourself more marketable overall. Being multitalented can only benefit you.

Where the jobs are, and aren’t
Some of the occupations with the largest projected increases and declines in employment: 1994-2005
JOBS GAINED:
Cashiers 562,000
Retail salespeople 532,000
Registered nurses 473,000
General managers and top executives 466,000
Systems analysts 445,000
Home health aides 428,000
Teachers, secondary school 386,000

JOBS LOST:
Typists and word processors -212,000
Bookkeping, accounting and auditing clerks -178,000
Bank tellers -152,000
Computer operators (except peripheral equipment) -98,000
File clerks -42,000
Personal clerks (except payroll and timekeeping) -26,000
Data entry keyers (except composing)-25,000
Source: Employment Outlook: 1994-2005. Job Quality and Other Aspects of Projected Employment Growth, Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 1995.

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