Trends in the Job Market for the New Year

For those planning to seek a new job in the new year, where are the best places to look?  It is challenging to identify overall trends because companies in the same industry may be facing very different challenges.  Sometimes a company is cutting positions in one area but hiring in another due to specific needs and skills sets required to support the business.  Here are some significant opportunities to consider as you plan a job search in the new year.  With recent rises in the stock market, indications are that people expect the new administration to be business friendly which should increase opportunities in the year ahead.

Small and Mid-Sized Companies – It is easy to assume that there are more jobs in the largest companies but in reality there is more hiring in the small to mid-sized companies and these are the organizations that are growing.  Do your research to identify smaller organizations in your target industry and location.  Smaller companies are often looking for a broader set of skills.  They don’t hire someone to do one very specific thing, they need strategic thinkers who can grow and change with the company.  Project management, strong communications skills, the ability to work across functional areas and to ability to change directions quickly are critical in this environment.  These opportunities represent positions that provide broader cross-functional exposure to the business and you are closer to the decision making process.

Supply Chain – Jobs in this field continue to be hot.  Whether it is in supplier management, category management, procurement, operations, transportation or logistics, these skills are in demand.  While once found only in manufacturing environments, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for supply chain knowledge and experience in financial services, healthcare, retail, distribution and technology organizations.  Often effective management of the supply chain is one of the few areas for companies to still identify savings and efficiencies.

Marketing – We are seeing many firms investing in their marketing functions again.  Skills in the new technologies are critical – web marketing, social media, etc.  Product management and brand management are also critical needs.  We are seeing an increased demand for marketing analytics for market research, consumer insights and timely information to make business decisions.

Finance – The biggest demand we are seeing for finance professionals in the corporate finance world.  Companies of all sizes need to close the books every month, plan, implement and monitor the budget, analyze the results and support business decisions.  Strong financial skills are still in strong demand.  The ability to review large amounts of data, identify trends, issues and opportunities is critical in this field.  There is a significant increased focus on compliance issues.  Successful finance professionals are also managers who learn the business and understand the direct impact of financial decisions.

Healthcare – Americans are getting older and health care continues to become more complex.  There is a strong need for business skills within the healthcare industry whether it is project management, product management, supply chain or finance.  With increasing amounts of data, skills that allow you to manipulate and analyze the data are critical and employers need talent that can identify the trends and issues in massive amounts of data.  This is also a highly regulated industry so knowledge and experience have increased value.

Across functions we are seeing increased demand for strong analytical skills, communications skills, project management, working with teams as well as negotiation and persuasion skills.  You often need people in other parts of the organization to do something in order to meet your deadlines without having any authority over them.  Negotiation and persuasion skills can make or break your success in many organizations.  The ability to analyze data and make recommendations based on the data findings is critical.  Employers are also seeking the ability to summarize significant analysis into key salient points and action items for senior management.

Hiring Trends

Retirement Wave

The predicted wave of retirements over the past few years did not materialize as expected due to the economic downturn.  With shrinking 401K’s many retirement eligible employees continued working.    The backlog of retirements is now significant in many organizations.  With the stock market recovering, many companies will be faced with significant hiring needs.  Experience will be key for much of this hiring but the company knowledge among the retirees cannot be replaced.

Movement of the Complacent

When the economy was considered unstable, many employees stayed in jobs they considered less than ideal for the security.  With the stock market rebounding, many of those less than satisfied employees will be seeking to make a job change and there will be more opportunities in the market for them to consider.  Companies who have experienced low turnover the last few years may see a surge in movement in the year ahead.

Emphasis on Flexibility

Companies are looking for new employees who are flexible and resilient.  Business changes with time and economic fluctuations.  They need employees who can weather the storms while continuing to be productive and creative about new ways to get things done.  It is not about the candidate who can do one thing but rather the candidate who can grow and change with the company and its changing needs.  Demonstrating your flexibility is critical.  Often employees can learn more and gain more visibility in the company that is growing and changing than in an organization maintaining status quo.

Those who network effectively and consistently should be very successful in their job searches in 2017.  There are definitely opportunities available for talented individuals.




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