Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!

Thriving in your career requires the ability to be nimble and pivot as the job market changes – or better yet, the ability to anticipate those changes.

Living in a world where new technology is constantly being developed, careers continue to shift and require updated skills. In addition, as Boomers retire and new generations rise up, the demographic shift will have a significant impact on the job market and career opportunities.

Because of these factors – and unforeseen circumstances – we’ll see the emergence of new jobs, growth in existing categories and positions that ultimately fade away. One of the most visible employment trends has been bubbling under the surface for decades, but has recently become very high profile – remote working.

Although working remotely was possible even before we had forward-thinking technology, a 1990 report from the Federal government conducted a telecommuting study with 2,000 federal workers and discovered that:

  • People were more productive
  • Individuals had a better quality of life and work/life balance
  • Expenses were reduced
  • Commute times were shortened

Although some supervisors may have been skeptical about letting their employees work remotely in the past, the professional world universally recognizes the benefits of teleworking. In fact, it has opened a whole new talent pool for hiring managers, who are trying to place highly-skilled professionals into difficult-to-fill positions.

If you’re interested in the evolution of remote work, you can find a fantastic timeline on the We Work Remotely website that shows how we arrived at today’s remote life. You can also check out some telework tips we shared last month.

But it’s not all about remote work. There are many other career opportunities that are experiencing growth – or are on the cusp of a hiring explosion. Let’s take a look at some of the jobs that are projected to be among the fastest-growing professions:

  • Solar panel installers
  • Wind turbine techs
  • Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs)
  • Nurse practitioners and physician assistants
  • Genetic counselors
  • Public health jobs like disease contact tracing
  • Post-secondary health specialties teachers
  • Software developers
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) specialists
  • Data scientist
  • Full-stack engineer
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Cloud engineer

As we’ve all learned in the last few months, the world can change drastically in a short period of time. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that the information shared above is based on current projections, which can certainly shift.

Healthcare: Whether you’re looking at becoming a front-line provider or working behind-the-scenes in healthcare technology, the medical field will continue to grow to support aging Boomers and emerging health concerns (like COVID-19).

Technology: Of course, there are jobs that already exist in the technology space. But there are many evolving opportunities, such as engineers for autonomous vehicles and AI specialists.

Sustainability: The high demand for solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians demonstrates a shift to cleaner energy sources, leading to a healthier environment.

In spite of record-high unemployment, many companies continue to hire. With jobs ranging from short-term gigs to long-term career opportunities, you’ll find a variety of options on these lists from CNBC and Yahoo!

Taking Action

When you want – or need – to pivot to a new career, there are a few key steps to take. Most of these aren’t rocket science, but sometimes it’s nice to see a quick overview that someone else put together for you.

Evaluate your current situation. Whether you’re still in school, feel like your current job isn’t quite what you hoped for or you’re out of work due to the economy, the first thing you need to do is take a deep dive into what makes you happy. Make a list of those things that are fulfilling and meaningful to you – it could be ongoing intellectual challenges, mentoring others, increased solitude, more creative freedom or less time staring at a screen.

Put your research skills into action. Spend time on job boards like Glassdoor and Ladders, access UIS career development sources and hit the websites of major corporations. Instead of searching by job titles, use keywords that are meaningful to you and see where they take you. That will let you approach career discovery from a skills and interests standpoint, rather than just a job title.

Imagine the future. This is different than dreaming. This is digging in and doing. Although looking at existing opportunities (as mentioned above) is important, it’s also critical to ensure that any career switches you make will transition well into the future. Seek information from global think tanks to see what experts are predicting or visit sites like SHRM to view their take on employment shifts.

Ask questions. One of the most important things you can do when considering a career change is to talk to those who currently hold positions that you may be interested in. Ask them what they like and don’t like about the job. Find out what they would have done differently now that they can look back with hindsight. Get to the good, the bad and the ugly so you can have a clear picture of the job’s potential.

Consider if you can pivot in your current position. You may love the company or non-profit you’re working at, but the day-to-day job isn’t what you’d hoped for. Do some low-key asking around and research on other career paths within the same organization. Sometimes, you don’t need to leave your employer to find fulfillment.

We know that our alumni are well-prepared and driven to succeed. We’re proud of everything you’ve already achieved – and can’t wait to see what you accomplish next! We hope that this article lays the foundation for new adventures. In the meantime, tell us how UIS helped prepare you for your career by reaching out to Maggie Owen at mowen7@uis.edu to tell us what’s going on. We may decide to share your story here.