College Grads: Here’s a Crystal Ball to Your Future Career

by paulfalconehr.com on October 6, 2013

(Hint: Choosing the Right Industry Has Never Been More Important in Launching Your Career!)

If you’re a recent college grad, the first questions you’ll be asked after graduation will focus on your (1) job, (2) company, and (3) industry. It’s time to reverse that order, though—never before has the industry that you select played such a critical role in your long-term career trajectory. While you’ve been working on your degree over the past four or five years, globalization and technology have been wreaking havoc on certain long-established and traditional industries, while creating tons of new opportunities in others. So if you’re contemplating how to put your degree to best use—whether you studied econ or accounting, history, English, or philosophy—then consider the importance of the industry you choose to launch your career.

Crystal Ball to the Rescue!

The good news is that there’s a tool at your fingertips that will help you identify the dominant and growth-oriented industries that will have the greatest demand for new hires with your skill set and interests over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook projects job growth (a) by the role/title you’re pursuing and (b) by industry from 2010 – 2020. So if you’re interested in a career in human resources, public relations, or communications / social media, for example, you can easily determine the projected job growth for these specific titles by industry.

Okay, let’s take you through this step by step . . .

STEP ONE: You’ll find the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website at www.bls.gov. Be sure and bookmark this for future reference—It’s a fabulous resource, and if you simply know its name, you’ll be well ahead of 90% of your peers.

STEP TWO: Click on the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 link (or you could also access it directly here: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/).

STEP THREE: Once you arrive on the Handbook landing page, you’ll see a list of “Occupational Groups” in the left margin that include Business & Financial, Community & Social Service, Computer & Information Technology, Healthcare, Legal, Military, Education, and the like. Now this is where the fun begins and things really start getting interesting . . .

STEP FOUR: Select your field / occupation of interest. Being an HR person myself, I headed straight to “Business and Financial Occupations” and found everything from Human Resources Specialists to Accountants & Auditors to Event Planners to Real Estate Appraisers, and I was off to the races with my HR selection.

By clicking on the “Human Resources Specialist” title, I got a quick overview of the field that looked like this:

Quick Facts: Human Resources Specialists

2010 Median Pay $52,690 per year $25.33 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 442,200
Job Outlook, 2010-20 21% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 90,700
[spacer size=”20″]Now keep in mind that the average position in corporate America will grow somewhere between 12% and 13% over the next ten years, or roughly 1% per year. The fact that the HR Specialist role will be growing at a rate of 21% shows that it’s moving at a clip about twice as fast as the average job in America over the next decade—encouraging news!

Your Pot of Gold is Waiting for You Here at Step 5!

STEP FIVE: Here’s the most important part: Click on the tab at the top of the page that reads “Job Outlook.” At the bottom of that page, you’ll find a section that reads “Job Prospects,” and you’ll find the following call-out box as well:

Employment projections data for human resources specialists, 2010-20

Occupational Title

SOC Code

Employment, 2010

Projected Employment, 2020

Change, 2010-20

Percent

Numeric

Employment by Industry

Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists, All Other

13-1078

442,200

532,900

21

90,700

[XLS]

[spacer size=”20″]

The spreadsheet above will now project—by industry—how the HR Specialist role will fare from 2010 – 2020. Once you click on it to open it up on the BLS site, you’ll find in Column I the percentage change (growth or loss) of the HR role over the next decade in that particular field.

Relative to the 12 – 13% job growth average over the next ten years, which is the average for all roles in corporate America (growing by roughly 1% per year), here’s what job growth for HR folks looks like by industry between 2010 and 2020:

Title

Percent change

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services

73.5

Home health care services

72.1

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities

65.7

Wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite)

41.4

Software publishers

35.7

Waste collection

30.3

Telephone call centers

22.3

Wired telecommunications carriers

-4.8

Motion picture, video, and sound recording industries

-9.1

Federal government, excluding postal service

-12.8

Newspaper publishers

-21.7

Postal service

-27.8

[spacer size=”20″]Overall, there are 300+ industry categories to consider. Looking to get your foot in the door in the movie business? Be careful because the trend is negative by the tune of about 1% job loss per year (i.e., -9.1%). Has newspaper publishing always been an area of interest where you wanted to launch your HR career? Not so fast—it’s creating job losses at 2% per year for HR peeps just like you.

Then again, you’ll see that if you focus on wireless vs. wired telecom, your percentage change morphs from -4.8% to +41.4%. Likewise, if you shift away from newspaper publishing to software publishing, the growth index jumps from -21.7% to +35.7%. See how that slight shift in focus could provide you with enormous opportunities while keeping you in the same field? Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Finally, look at the top three areas—they’re all traditional “STEMS” (AKA “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) categories, especially surrounding healthcare. So just because you’re not a math/science major doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from the overall job growth trends in those particular fields. (That’s why I recently moved out of the entertainment industry and into the bio-pharmaceutical field.)

Of course the path you ultimately decide to take may be a product of your network connections, local economy, and the like. But don’t launch your job search without having at least a general idea of growth prospects and trends in both your intended discipline (e.g., human resources) and target industries.

Final Tip

Oh, and don’t forget that every employer is looking to gauge your level of “informed candidacy” as well as what’s known as the “candidate desire factor.” They’re expecting you to know what you want and why as well as how you’ll get there. One mention of the fact that you’ve researched the dominant and growth-oriented industries in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, and they’ll be impressed beyond belief! It’s a great resource, a fascinating area of study, and as close to a crystal ball as any of us will come in this day and age.