4 Tips for Navigating the Job Market

The types of available jobs are changing fast. Here’s how to move with the tide.

Published: Jul 23, 2021

Brittany lost her job in the spring of 2021. The only thing more frustrating for her than unemployment was seeing constant headlines about the labor shortage in the United States. If that were true, why hadn’t she found a job yet?

According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 9 million Americans in May wanted jobs and couldn’t find them. Companies said they had the same number of open jobs that they couldn’t fill. Why the disconnect, when job supply and demand seem to be equally matched? The data show that the types of jobs available in excess aren’t the types of jobs people are looking for anymore. For example, 70% of job seekers who last worked in hospitality say they’re now looking for work in a different industry.

Whether you’re looking for a job now or plan to in the near future, here’s how to cut through the noise and find your place in the market.

9 million Americans in May wanted jobs and couldn’t find them. Companies said they had the same number of open jobs that they couldn’t fill. Why the disconnect, when job supply and demand seem to be equally matched?

Weigh the pros and cons of remote work.

55% of job applicants say they want remote jobs. Because of this high demand, there may currently be more available jobs in industries or at companies that require you to show up in person.

While many people feel that the benefits of remote work (such as time savings without a commute, easier access to physical exercise, and better work-life balance) outweigh the costs (such as less visibility and more isolation), consider the pros of onsite work, too. The opportunities to socialize can be huge for mental health as well as for growing your professional network. And more face time can accelerate your career—showing up often leads to a greater chance of a promotion or a pay bump.

Change your skill set.

There’s been a flurry of company-sponsored upskilling as organizations vie for market dominance, but many individuals have sought out upskilling on their own. “A layoff or furlough is a great time to participate in certification programs, continuing education, and other trainings to improve your employability,” says Val Olson, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

Or if you’re employed, you can join the 45% of Americans who get a side hustle to diversify their skill set. Just make sure that your side gig doesn’t pose a conflict of interest to your main job, and that your boss knows you’re still fully committed.

Go where the growth is.

“The pandemic accelerated trends such as digital commerce and automation, and many people are switching occupations as a result,” Olson says. Because of the faster pace of change in the market, certain jobs are projected to have higher growth rates than others. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tech jobs like data analysts, software developers, and roles creating and supporting artificial intelligence are on the rise, according to U.S. News and World Report. But there’s also a booming demand for mental health professionals, due to widely reported burnout and new online platforms that are making therapy more accessible.

Career experts say to pay attention to reports about growing demand and figure out how your skills could add value in that area.

Learn if the grass is actually greener.

Many people report working longer hours since the start of the pandemic and are now seeking jobs that prioritize work-life balance. But career experts recommend verifying that there actually is a healthier culture at your prospective employer before jumping ship. Speak to as many people as possible during the interview process to get an honest portrayal.

If you’re currently employed, consider taking steps to improve your balance and wellness in your current position, and you may find that you don’t need to join the millions of people looking for a job after all.

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