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Finding Job Opportunities in a Down Economy

William Schulz III, Ph.D., associate dean at Walden University's School of Management.

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With unemployment rates hovering at a staggering national level of 9.5 percent, it is clear we are in the middle of a long and difficult period of joblessness even though there are longer-term impending labor shortages in key industries like health-care and education.

As the baby-boomer generation ages and hits retirement, they will need increasing levels of health-care. Even as current local budget shortfalls force funding cuts for teachers, long-term demographic shifts ensure that there will be a continuing need for educators -- including at the post-secondary, doctoral level.

These are trends that are beginning to manifest nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health-care jobs are expected to grow by as much as 55 percent between 2006 and 2016, adding approximately 3 million new health-care jobs to the economy. The education sector is undergoing a similar shift where the field is on pace to increase by almost 11 percent, adding nearly 1.5 million jobs to the economy by 2016.

The good news is there continues to be an active job market, and there are jobs present despite the uncertainty in the economy. A primary difference between the job market now and just a few years ago, however, is that competition for individual jobs is stronger -- which requires more of an entrepreneurial spirit and drive for individuals to harness those opportunities, making this the perfect time to return to the classroom and capitalize on new careers in fields that are in dire need of human capital.

For all the job seekers in this situation, how can you use it to your advantage? How can you harness the tools accessible to you and make a move into a career field where there is not only growth but also opportunity?

1.       Stay well-informed. Information is key. In order to take advantage of labor trends, you need to have the full picture, which can only come from avoiding the myopic view of a singular news source.

2.       Package your human capital. You are your best advocate. Your resume and cover letter can open doors to new opportunities or make you unmarketable. Make sure your cover letter explains more than just your experience and describes the unique problems that you can solve for a company given your prior work and education.

3.       Go back to school. Research continues to show that increased education and human capital development leads to more long-term choices and increased career earnings. Increasing your education to develop key skills and relevant applied knowledge can help you further your career and put you ahead.

Though the economic situation may seem dire for job-seekers, those with stronger educational credentials and relevant experience are having more relative success in the job market than those without such credentials and experience. In short, the marketplace for skilled workers is a "buyers' market," and those with a mix of relevant and up-to-date knowledge and experience have more of a chance to be noticed than others. With labor and economic markets remaining in flux until after the mid-term elections and with uncertainty about the business climate continuing, there is no better time to add to or enhance the skills that you have and improve your resume.

Jobs are present despite the uncertain labor markets. It will take an entrepreneurial spirit, drive and knowledge for you to harness those opportunities and step into a new career. Above all, your education is the key. Keep yourself educated, and you will find the opportunities.

William Schulz III, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean at Walden University's School of Management. Dr. Schulz specializes in strategic management, entrepreneurship, workforce development and building leadership capacity. He has served as the secretary of the Institute for Behavioral and Applied Management (IBAM) and is a former chair for the United States Association of Small Business & Entrepreneurship's (USASBE) Entrepreneurship Education Division.

Last Updated: 30/08/2010 - 10:49 AM

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