Hot Careers in a Cooling Economy

By Paula Santonocito

Record high oil prices. The subprime mortgage crisis. A volatile stock market. If the current economic environment has you concerned, you’re part of what might be called the worried majority.

The economy is now the number one issue on Americans’ minds, according to polls conducted by CBS News/The New York Times, USA Today/Gallup, Fortune magazine, and others.

But how does it translate to your career?

Help Wanted Now

Yes, there have been layoffs in the news. And some industries face difficulties. Still, experts point out that, overall, the employment outlook is far from bleak. In fact, several fields desperately need workers, and many companies are hiring.

Jobs in software design/development, nursing, accounting, and sales top the list. What’s more, these jobs continue to pay well. Rob McGovern, founder and CEO of Jobfox, and founder and former CEO of CareerBuilder.com, the nation’s largest job site, tells SMW that despite all the talk of a recession, it’s not being reflected in companies’ hiring efforts.

Going Forward

Technology and nursing remain the hottest fields, and accounting sparks the third-most job ads. With the downturn in the financial markets, the fact that accounting is in third place might come as a surprise. But McGovern points out that Sarbanes-Oxley (which changed financial reporting requirements for public companies) has created a tremendous shortage of accounting professionals.

Yet, will this hold true in a recession?

According to McGovern, companies will require workers regardless. There might be a slight drop; if there’s currently a 30 percent talent shortage in the accounting field, for example, in a recession it may drop to 20 percent, he says.

McGovern also doesn’t anticipate widespread layoffs, especially in fields where there is high demand. Employers have a new attitude, he says. The worker shortage, driven by the retirement of the baby boomers, makes it difficult to find new employees, so organizations are reluctant to let people go. Aging baby boomers impact job opportunities in other ways. The situation translates to an ongoing demand for nurses, as well as medical technologists and technicians, also on the Jobfox 25 Most Wanted list.

In the tech field, a different dynamic is at work. After years of offshoring jobs, an onshoring effect is occurring: Companies are bringing tech jobs back to the United States.

Opportunities for Single-Minded Women

The Most Wanted professions offer single-minded women new possibilities from the standpoint of career stability. But in-demand jobs generally offer something else: flexibility. “Smart companies are learning to accommodate people,” McGovern says. This might mean a four-day workweek or greater choice with regard to personal time off. McGovern tells SMW that at Jobfox, for example, there are fewer official holidays and more personal days.

Many companies also allow employees to work from home, on either a full- or part-time basis. Even the nursing field has changed its approach, offering a variety of shifts and work arrangements. McGovern points out how there are also new kinds of jobs in nursing, like in-home care and outpatient opportunities. And that’s not all. Today, employers are really getting focused on worker tenure, McGovern says. In addition to offering flexibility, employers are offering ongoing learning opportunities.

Finding a Match without Getting Burned

Stability. Flexibility. Education and training.

Although it may sound ideal, it’s nevertheless critical to choose a career that’s right for you – as well as an employer that is a fit. “We humans, we work for 10,000 days of our life. That’s 2,000 Mondays,” says McGovern. “Choosing a place that gets you is important.”

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