Jobs Opportunities Exist – You Have to be Timely and Cost-Competitive to Land One

By Diane Stafford


Are you fluent in Spanish or Chinese?

Are you an engineer?

A social media expert?

An I.T. expert in health informatics?
Can you sell ice to Eskimos?

Answer yes to any of the above and you have good job opportunities in 2013.

The slow-moving recovery, unlike previous rebounds from recessions, hasn’t replaced most lost jobs, and likely won’t. Times have changed. There’s a new reality. But employers are eager for talent. The key is that you have to be what they need — and the above skills are among those that are being sought.

Here’s the Big Picture:

The job market of 2013 is globally competitive. Computers and satellites make it possible to live on Maui and “work” in Missouri. Depending on what you do, the world is your oyster, both for customers and employers. But that also means hirers may have access to a lot of talented people who do what you do. You have to be cost-competitive and timely.

Conversely, the 2013 job market also is hands-on. A patient can’t be vaccinated over the Internet. If you can — and want to — work in a rural health clinic, serve diners in a restaurant, or climb utility poles, there are many jobs that have to be done on site that are begging to be filled. And many of them require relatively short training periods to be employable.

Don’t see a “Help Wanted” sign or “Now Hiring” posting for what you want to do? You can, in 2013, also find more entrepreneurial resources to help create your own job than ever before. Colleges and universities, think tanks, job clubs, chambers of commerce and professional associations all have ramped up their educational offerings to help startups succeed. Financing for new businesses remains challenging, but there are angel investors looking for the next greatest thing since sliced bread. A great idea, strong research, a sound business plan, and pitches to the right funders can bear fruit.

To be sure, everyone isn’t an entrepreneur. Most workers are more comfortable filling jobs that someone else has created. That’s why “hot job” lists are written and read. Spend a few minutes Googling “hot jobs” and you’ll get dozens of ideas.

"Hot job" lists are helpful, though, only if you fit the employers’ needs. For example, the health care industry has been the job-growth leader throughout the recovery. If you read the statistics assuming that only means jobs for doctors, nurses and other health care practitioners, you’re not thinking big enough. The industry is huge. It needs back shop accountants, computer programmers, insurance coding experts, marketing professionals, maintenance and security personnel, too.

Other “hot job” lists might include as many as eight out of 10 job titles that require specific computer skills. Being a C++ programmer isn’t good enough. You need to be trained and, preferably, experienced in the exact programming or network administration role that a hirer needs to fill. Many an I.T. professional continues to scan the help-wanted listings because of outdated skills. The same need for specific skills is rife in engineering. Despite an oft-stated desperate need for more engineering talent in America, you have to bring the precise kind of engineering to the table that an employer seeks.

Going Global

Back to the big picture: Being bilingual or multi-lingual is a huge plus. Remember, this is a global economy. Businesses do business abroad and need to communicate with customers around the world. And even a hands-on work environment — like patient care in a hospital — needs translators who can communicate with a diverse array of patients.

Being social media-savvy opens doors. Nearly every enterprise, nonprofit, government and for-profit, wants people who can spread its message through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other ways of reaching customers via smart phones, tablet computers, laptops and desktops.

And then there’s the skill and willingness to sell. Good sales people, particularly those unafraid to work on commission, are gold for employers. Of course, for this or any job, you have to sell yourself first.
Employment, especially in the dominant service economy, is built on relationships. Never forget that networking — creating those relationships — is more important than whatever condition economists say the recovery is in. Good workers with good reputations have an edge no matter the economy.

Diane Stafford writes about business and workplace topics for the Kansas City Star.