Normally there’s a question from a reader here, but this week’s column was stimulated by a news reporter who’s doing an article about hot jobs in 2024. She asked me what will be the hot jobs in 2024. That is, what jobs will need to be filled the most, and which will be most secure? I think it’s a worthy topic as we get ready to enter the New Year (and who knows what kind of economy). She posed her query as a series of more detailed questions which I’ll try to answer, if I don’t transgress and go off on a tangent. (Who, me?)
Let’s take the reporter’s questions one at a time.
What will be the hot jobs of 2024?
1. What jobs do you predict will be in highest demand next year?
I never think in terms of highest demand or “what’s hot.” I want to know who are the very best people in their field and business. They will always be successful and hire-able even if they suffer a job loss. Being great at what you do gets you the attention you need to be successful, no matter what’s “hot.” Jobs aren’t hot; people are. People should select work that drives them, rather than jobs that drive them away.
A classic example is COBOL programming. COBOL has been a dying computer language — but it will take forever to expire. Computer Science students have long avoided it, assuming their colleges even offer it. But I could place every expert COBOL programmer I could find — for top salaries. Companies have huge legacy systems written in COBOL that must be maintained. It isn’t a hot job at all. But the best COBOL programmers have jobs for life if they want them. They are hot people.
What jobs will always be hot?
2. What jobs do you think will be most needed in the future?
Sorry, I don’t make predictions about the needs of business. If I could do that, I’d be rich. Anyone who pretends to know the future — well, I advise against paying them a fee to help you pick a job! The same goes for stock pickers. No one can fathom the myriad factors that determine the future.
Which jobs will see layoffs?
3. Is there a sector at the moment that has a falling job market that will result in people losing their jobs?
Look around — it’s happening everywhere. People are getting laid off for many reasons, and not always because they are not performing well. Industries and companies go up and down, but it’s silly to try and predict which ones will be up and when. All we can really control is ourselves.
Few industries (or companies) totally disappear in a downturn. The best still seek out — and keep — the best workers. They’re the people who are employed to help companies pull out of the doldrums. Are you of that caliber? If not, find a type of work where you are motivated to be that good. Or, don’t waste my time — or any company’s.
I’m not saying you can avoid losing your job or being unemployed, but if you’re very good at what you do, your career expectancy is much longer than that of the worker who jumps from one hot job to another. In down times, corporate failures are opportunities for great workers who can fix things.
Hot jobs and job security
4. What industries will offer the most job security?
There is only one piece of advice I’ll offer. If you like your work, get better at it. Be one of the very best. Work for companies and with people that are best-of-class, whether they work in hot jobs or not. (Life is short! Throw your lot in only with the best!) Be known as the kind of worker companies need even when business is off and you’ll be least likely out of a job.
Retention is not always related to which industries (or jobs) are “safe.” If a person wants safe, they should go crawl into a hole. The world changes every day. There is no security anywhere except the security you make for yourself. That’s why many people quit regular jobs to start their own businesses. While entrepreneurship is always risky, your own business may be the safest place because you can make choices quickly and change direction as necessary.
Don’t be a dope. Don’t take a job because someone tells you it’s safe. If you take work that you love and really want to excel at, no matter what happens in the future, you will have developed skills and confidence (and a reputation) that will enable you to move on successfully. I think that’s the only kind of security you will find.
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Which hot jobs will make you happiest?
5. Out of all the jobs that people may want to secure now for the future, in your HR experience what’s the job where people have been the happiest?
I don’t work in HR, nor have I ever, so please don’t call me HR. I’m a headhunter. I find people are happiest in jobs to which they are driven by their own interests, because those are the jobs that are self-motivating and thus most rewarding. The more you like your work, the more likely you will invest in your skills and abilities, and that will build your motivation and confidence. When you have smarts, motivation, and confidence, you will also be persistent. You will excel and you will survive most any catastrophe. There are no bromides; there are only the personal choices you make. Listen to what others tell you, and you’re doomed because you may “arrive” at a hot job, but you’ll have no idea what you’re doing there.
I believe professional happiness comes from being among the very best at the work you’re doing.
I sent these responses to the reporter, but I have no idea whether they will be published. Though I digressed from her questions, I hope the folks who read this column will find my observations useful, or at least entertaining! If you’re going to search for a new job in 2024, please check this oldie but goody: Job Hunting With The Headhunter: Go around the system!
What‘s hot about you? Do you have a hot job? What jobs do you think will be the hottest in 2024? How do you plan to stay employed in 2024?
Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and whatever you celebrate this winter, I hope your holidays are merry and bright!
Please note: I’m taking a couple of weeks off to round up reindeer, so the next edition will be January 9, 2024!