Employers added 2.65 million workers to their payrolls in 2015, marking the second best year for job growth since 1999.
As 2016 kicks off, the outlook for jobs remains rosy. “The overall job market is very strong. There’s more security for job seekers and people can try out new things since there’s more access to jobs,” says John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm.
Certain industries have more room for growth, however, and those companies are actively recruiting people. “Workers don’t have to apply like they used to,” Challenger says.
Below are the five industries that are expected to be active employers in 2016:
As the tech boom continues expanding in the U.S., so have the number of jobs. “Right now there are labor shortages and one of them is in technology,” Challenger says.
Programmers, database managers and IT support staff are in demand, as companies — not just in the tech industry — are struggling to find workers to manage and update their computer systems and develop new applications. “Technology now is so pervasive, so ubiquitous, that demand for people to manage and develop software programming has outstripped supply,” Challenger says.
Corporations are also looking for workers who specialize in cyber security, as data theft and disruption of services become more of a threat.
Another area in tech that’s expanding is social media marketing. These days, people have more money to spend on consumer products, and companies are competing with each other to reach customers in the most effective ways possible. With so many people on social media, marketers are scrapping dated methods and trying new avenues. This requires new hires who specialize in social media marketing and are effective at drawing people in.
As the baby boomers get older, medical services are going to be in greater demand. There are also more individuals with access to health care because of the Affordable Care Act. One result: The healthcare sector is projected to boast the fastest employment growth and add the highest number of jobs between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists, other healthcare jobs like nursing assistants, home healthcare aids and technicians of varying kinds are in demand. Areas where technology has really progressed — ultrasounds and MRI equipment — are in high demand.
As the Fed begins to hike interest rates, financial industry margins should begin improving and boosting profits, allowing companies to increase hiring.
The biggest area of growth is actually in compliance and risk management, not banking. Driven by scores of new regulations and massive fines that have cropped up since the Great Depression, financial institutions are now spending heavily to ensure that they’re going by the book. Investment managers, hedge funds and banks are all frantically looking for people to add to their compliance teams amid discussion of shortages of candidates with ample experience.
“Financial-services firms are finding it challenging to attract experienced employees in risk management and compliance,” Laura Sejen, managing director at Towers Watson, told the Human Resource Executive Online.
Certified financial planners are also hot commodities.
Because unemployment is at a seven-year low of 5 percent, companies are beefing up recruiting and staffing departments. “They’re hiring people to help them find people,” Challenger says. And recruiting isn’t just sifting through cover letters anymore. Recruiters are now pouring through LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to add to their roster of professionals.
Companies are trying to hire people who already have jobs, so potential hires have the upper hand and it’s going to take a lot more time and effort to woo them away. Recruiters and talent managers need to have savvy customer service techniques, a slick sales pitch and superior communication skills now that “workers are in the drivers seat,” Challenger says.
Professional Business Services
The strong economy is causing a big spike in demand for skilled workers such as accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers, architects and engineers, according to Challenger. On the plus side, those jobs typically pay well because they require a certain level of education and experience.
Professionals in those fields can work independently, but companies are also looking to fill those kinds of jobs. “Every company needs an accountant, bookkeeper, financial reporter and financial analyst,” Challenger says.
According to Career Builder’s 2016 U.S. Job Forecast, companies are planning to hire skilled workers outside of the U.S. in response to the labor deficit. Nearly 20 percent of companies plan on hiring workers with H-1B visas in 2016, which are for skilled foreign-born workers. That means job opportunities are ripe for skilled Americans.