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Top 10 Jobs Lists, Hot Jobs, and Your Future

Posted by Patra Frame

3 ways to evaluateYou’ve seen the lists: Top 10 IT jobs, Hot Jobs by 2025, Fastest Growing Jobs, Top 25 Jobs, Best Employers, and so on. You probably have looked at a number of such lists. And you know they are good click-bait. How are they useful in your job search? Career planning? Read on.

Do a quick online search and you will find many such lists. Which are worth your time? Which may be fun but are worthless for your future? How can you tell?

1. Ask yourself these questions about any such lists:

  • Who did the research?
  • Where did they get their information?
  • How extensive is the sample size (number of people or organizations surveyed)?
  • How current is it?
  • How relevant is it to my specific job search or planning goals?

Not all lists will provide all this information, but the more data you have on each area, the more likely the results will be useful to you.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys employers all across the country for information on hiring activities and specific jobs. Their data is comprehensive and deep. A job board writing about ‘hot jobs’ may use only the data on their board and that only from either employers or job seekers and only for a short period. Their data is often a small snapshot tied to the job board’s strengths and weaknesses. You can find any of the many variations in between these two examples – but you must be aware of the actual data you are seeing and what limits it has to use it effectively.

2. Analyze the data.

When you look at lists of ‘hot jobs’ or ‘top 10 jobs in field X’ or ‘best employers’, you are looking at information about the past and immediate future. These lists may be very useful guides in an immediate job search and offer insights into how to present your current skills. Such lists are an opportunity for spotting trends that will affect your work. Many help you assess the technological changes which are most likely to influence your career. Some also show the impact of economic patterns. Seeking out information in each of these areas is important for your future success.

At ClearedJobs.net, we often have people who ask us what jobs will be most lucrative for their security clearances now, next year, or in the future. While some information exists about the jobs recruiters are having the most difficulty filling, the data beyond that are generally unreliable. Certainly, in several locations, the answer from recruiters is any job with a polygraph needs more applicants. Not much help. Others may tell you that an ‘X’ security clearance will add Y dollars to your salary – but those are pretty generalized numbers which tell you very little about what, if any, the impact is on your preferred role, employer, and location.

If you review lists of jobs for a time within the next few years – top jobs for 2020, say – you have interesting and, in good surveys, very valid information for your job search and for career planning. These lists help you focus on what you need to do now to grow into the next job and to identify trends that will influence your field fairly soon. They may also influence your choice of preferred employers – either because they are likely to have these jobs or offer the development options you need to be prepared for them.

Job lists for ‘the future’, 2025 or later, are a more general guide to what is changing in your career field and/or into totally new jobs to consider. The good ones make you think and help you prepare for the future. Some of these lists offer you a way to project longer term what you may want to learn, skills to develop, and/or provide ideas for new career options.

Best employer lists may also be a resource. Those for a specific city often are quite variable. Some of this has to do with how many of them are tied to who applies in any specific year plus who creates the list based on what factors. Best employer lists for the USA or a major region are less variable, in part because they are often compiled starting with research by the publication which does the list. These lists can be useful in identifying possible employers for job search. Here it’s important to understand what ‘best’ is measuring and be certain those items are important to you.

In addition, you should also look at the survey data itself. How big is the survey? Who did it collect data from? How and when was it done? Surveys done which include extensive employer data are most useful for job search and shorter term career decisions because they involve who is hiring for what positions with what requirements. Surveys done by professional associations are also useful for these reasons. Surveys done in a city, region or state are useful if you live in that area or want to. But beware – sometimes ‘hot job’ lists are actually lists of what jobs are being sought by job seekers. That is great info for employers, but rarely tells you more than whether there is a lot of competition in a field.

Surveys which look far into the future – 10 or more years – offer great ideas for your longer term career research. But they are less reliable as a guide to specific steps now, as much can change in a few years. In the late 1990s many ‘hot jobs’ lists were preoccupied with Y2K problems, yet no one was doing much job/career planning that forecast all the intelligence and security jobs which grew after 9/11/2001.

3. Now you know, what do you do?

In many cases the best use of lists like these is to up your awareness. Read them when you see them. Search for them when you are in job search or career thinking modes. Use them as a guide to further research.

If a job on a list interests you, learn more about it. Look at requirements in existing job postings and see how yours match to assess any needed skill development, certifications, or education. Where a list mentions jobs you have never heard of, especially in your career field, do some searching to learn more and see if they may be a path for you.

If you are in transition from the military or federal service, these lists can offer new ideas for your next steps.

There is a CareerOneStop option to create lists specific to your interests. This includes searching for the jobs with the most forecast growth or those with the most jobs by local area or state, for example. You will find education, other requirements, and pay info here too. In your research, this can be a valuable tool.

Don’t forget to look at lists of jobs that are in decline or marked for extinction. If yours is on such a list, better to know early and figure out your options before opportunity disappears. While current lists of jobs that will disappear or dramatically change due to AI tend to have questionable time lines, there is broad agreement on what many of the jobs are. And few of us ever really think this can happen to white-collar work, much less our own fields. If you are in one of these jobs or fields and have more than a few years left in your working life, assessing next steps now is critical to your future.

Choosing to learn about the underlying practices in ‘growth jobs/top jobs’ lists offers you the ability to mine them for information to help you succeed. It is a smart career planning practice as well as an immediate job search idea generator.

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 07, 2018 8:56 am

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