Beware the hot jobs of 2024

Beware the hot jobs of 2024


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?)

Nick’s Reply

hot jobsLet’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!

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Are top execs different?

Are top execs different?


I’ve read your Fearless Job Hunting books and I think you make a lot of good points that I believe will help the majority of people — but I’m not so sure about top execs. I’m not convinced that the same tactics would work for someone like me who is looking for a position on a board of directors. In this particular case, a direct approach would presuppose that you knew the company was missing the particular board position that you wanted to fill. This is rarely going to be the case.

Such a company would almost always use a headhunter and/or the personal networks of the other board members in order to fill the vacancy, but in your book you acknowledge that marketing oneself to headhunters is a very “hit and miss” approach. Do you have any specific ideas for people hunting such “one per company” positions?

Nick’s Reply

top execsCommon sense tells us that very few subscribers to this newsletter sit on boards of directors, simply because there are relatively few board-level executives in the world. So why am I writing a column about this rarefied level of management jobs? Because I think it’s an object lesson for everyone.

Time and again, I take a poke at top execs to make the point that everyone — everyone — has terribly misconceived notions about job hunting and hiring. Even the most successful top-level executives are clueless about how to land the right job.

Top execs make the same mistakes

It’s not an exaggeration, and this executive’s question proves it. It’s very difficult for anyone — even at the highest levels — to think clearly about job hunting simply because it’s stressful and even painful. The prospect worries people, so they don’t think straight. At the higher levels, job hunting is even more challenging, not only because there are fewer jobs, but because top execs incorrectly assume there’s something fundamentally  different about the executive-level job search process. No matter what level you work on, the process is basically the same.

It’s interesting how you describe the job you want. To me, every job is a “one per company” position. In other words, there are precious few “right jobs” for an individual, and precious few “right people” for any job. The shotgun approach, which promises to cover as much territory as possible so as to increase the chances of success, is just a fallacy. Matching a person and a job is just not a numbers game (even if you do get lucky). The best way to find a good match is through good relationships with people who work in the industry you want to work in, whether it’s for a technician’s job or a board seat.

The inside track is personal

I’m not missing what you’re saying: If the job isn’t there, why make contacts at the company? The reason is that the people you talk with (board members and other executives) have knowledge, insight, and contacts no one else has — including headhunters. You’re absolutely right: Companies will use their personal contacts to fill such vacancies. It’s important for you to focus on contacts because getting on the inside track is personal. Consider them a growing resource that you develop throughout your career. You never know how or when you’ll benefit from them. However, you will benefit.

When a board member taps an old friend for a board seat, that executive is not likely waiting around for a tap. The offer stems from a relationship that has developed over a period of years. So you see, you’re right about one thing. Employers do indeed use their network of personal contacts to make hires. What you’re wrong about is that “the direct approach” won’t work at your level. It will. (As an exec, you might be surprised to hear that garden-variety workers tell me you have to be a manager or executive for this to work!) But the direct approach is a long-term investment. It may not yield an instant payoff. It’s just one step toward your goal, and without taking that step, you will forever lose to people who introduced themselves long before any position came open.

Top execs (and you!) can do it

As you note, headhunters do fill such positions. But they do the very thing you are suggesting won’t work. They contact board-level executives who are not themselves currently looking to fill or find jobs. These top execs are conduits to others who are looking. So, pick up the phone. Make the calls now — and make them regularly throughout your career. If you don’t, you will always be floundering in the wakes of people who have strong, long-term connections to one another.

You see, top execs don’t have it easier or harder than anyone else. Everyone has the same challenge: to make new friends in your field (or target field) all the time. When you’re actively looking for a job, don’t just look where the jobs are. Go to the right people, and they will lead you where you need to go. (For more on this, please read I don’t know anybody.)

For more information about board-level management, I suggest you check my friend Larry Stybel’s web site. It’s a resource for board-level executives, but it’s also an illuminating experience for everyone else who wonders what the atmosphere is like way up there.

Thanks for your kind words about Fearless Job Hunting I think you’ll find it useful when you get into the interview. For the next two weeks, all Ask The Headhunter PDF books are 50% off for the holidays. Just use discount code=WINTER50 at checkout. ORDER NOW!

Just how important is it to make your job search personal? If you have an experience that shows how crucial this can be, please share it to motivate others. Naysayers are welcome to post their stories, too.

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