Will It Be Easy to Find a Job in 2017? 10 Expert Predictions

now hiring sign

A man walks by a “now hiring” sign | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New year, new job. Making a big career change is on the top of many people’s to-do list for 2017. Nearly one-quarter of workers are hoping to find a job in the next 12 months, according to a CareerBuilder survey, while 34% of workers surveyed say they regularly keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Workers might be ready for a change, but they’re not necessarily optimistic about their prospects. Just under 25% of people say they expect 2017 to be a worse year for job seekers than 2016, Spherion Staffing found, while 27% say it should be better. A third are nervous about how the economy will affect their job prospects and 20% say the results of the presidential election affected their job search plans.

Although some people might feel uncertain going into the new year, the 2017 job market is shaping up to be a strong one. Business owner optimism is up, which could spur hiring, employers say they plan to hire more college grads this year than last, and workers with the right skills are in high demand. For people who are considering a career shift, now could finally be the time to dust off your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, and get that new job you’ve been dreaming about.

To find out what job seekers can expect over the next 12 months, The Cheat Sheet reached out to career experts. From who will be hiring to what skills employers are looking for, here are their job market predictions for 2017.

1. More businesses will be ready to hire

Handshake between two colleagues in office

Two men shaking hands | iStock.com/Saklakova

With a businessman set to occupy the Oval Office, many companies are going into 2017 with renewed confidence. Following November’s presidential election, small business optimism soared, according to the NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, with more companies expecting to expand and increase hiring. That trend should continue into 2017.

“2017 should be the best year for job seekers in quite some time,” Joe Weinlick, the senior vice president of marketing at Beyond.com, said. “Professional and high demand workers benefited from a tightening labor market in 2016, but many people continued to struggle to find jobs. Trump promised jobs and has delivered a few, but the biggest impact he can have on the labor market is to give people and businesses confidence. When businesses are confident, they hire.”

2. Salaries will be flat

payroll documents with pen and calculator

Payroll documents | iStock.com/TheaDesign

Businesses might be ready to hire more workers in 2017, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to pay their employees more. Companies in the United States expect to increase salaries by about 3% this year, roughly the same boost workers saw in 2016 and 2015, according to WorldatWork’s 2016-2017 Salary Budget Survey.

“Organizations are still planning and awarding salary increases but the amount of the increases remains flat and is not changing year over year,” Kerry Chou, WorldatWork senior practice leader, said in a statement. “In the U.S. in particular, this may be related to inflation, which remains low. The demand for larger salary increases just isn’t there and low unemployment has not been enough to motivate organizations to increase salary budgets.”

3. Manufacturing jobs will bounce back

ford manufacturing plant

Ford Mustangs go through assembly at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant on August 20, 2015 in Flat Rock, Michigan | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Donald Trump has promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America. Whether he’ll be able to fulfill his campaign pledges remains to be seen, though automaker Ford recently said it would expand a Michigan plant, adding 700 jobs, rather than move production to Mexico, following criticism from Trump. (A slowdown in demand for certain types of cars also influenced Ford’s change in plans.)

Whether because of Trump’s influence or other factors, experts predict 2017 will be a good year for those looking for work in the manufacturing sector.

“For the past few years we’ve had a ‘tale of two job markets’ with healthcare, IT, and other skilled workers being courted by recruiters, while people without advanced training struggled to find decent work,” Weinlick said. “2017 could be the year when the two job markets finally converge. Healthcare and IT will continue to be the most in demand sectors, but manufacturing and logistics are coming on strong.”

4. Job searching will go mobile

young woman sitting on floor at home with cell phone

A woman using her phone | iStock.com/m-imagephotography

New technology will make it easier than ever for job seekers to find and apply for positions. Companies will also be making use of apps to recruit and screen applicants, Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, said.

“From building your network to handing out business cards and vetting job openings, there’s an app to help you maintain your job-search momentum, regardless of your location. Arm yourself with the latest apps to search while on-the-go and ensure you never miss a great opportunity,” Augustine said.

Job search and networking tools like Snagajob, BumbleBizz, and Switch work like dating apps, only for your career. Getting these apps on your phone, along with standbys like LinkedIn, is a can’t-miss step in your 2017 job search.

5. Dawdlers will lose out

Young businessman with a briefcase and glasses running

A businessman running with a briefcase | iStock.com/master1305

As job hunting goes mobile, those looking for new opportunities will have to up their game. Being fast on your feet is essential in today’s job market. Job postings come and go with lightning speed, and when a prospective employer reaches out, you need to respond quickly.

“If a recruiter reaches out requesting your resume, you need to be able to respond immediately — not when you get home that evening,” Augustine explained. “The ugly truth is that you’ll be forgotten moments after the recruiter hits the send button. Store a copy of your resume on your smart device, so you can forward your resume to a recruiter or respond to an interview invitation at a moment’s notice.”

6. Flex work opportunities will grow

working on laptop at a coffee shop

A person works on a laptop at a coffee shop | iStock.com

If your career goals for 2017 include cutting your commute, you’re in luck. Opportunities for flexible and remote work should increase over the next 12 months, according to Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, a job search site for people looking for telecommute, freelance, and flexible jobs.

“Overall, 2017 looks primed for the growth of flexible work options,” Reynolds said. “Over the last several years, we’ve seen steady growth in remote job openings: 36% more remote jobs were posted in 2015 over 2014, and 26% in 2014 over 2013. We expect similar results this year, which bodes well for 2017 as a strong year for remote jobs.”

Mortgage and real estate, HR, accounting, and pharmaceuticals are among the industries that saw big growth in the number of remote job postings in 2016, according to FlexJobs.

7. Hiring will be up for new grads

guy holding graduation cap and degree

A college grad holds a diploma | iStock.com

The class of 2017 has reason to cheer, since companies should hire more new grads this year than last. Hiring will increase 23% for 2017, according to Michigan State University’s Recruiting Trends Survey. Hiring will rise by 19% for those with bachelor’s degrees and 37% for those with associate’s degrees.

Advertising and marketing, mortgage banking, health care, accounting, and investment advising are among the industries where companies plan to increase hiring of new grads by double-digit percentages. Average starting salaries will range from $35,626 for pre-K and kindergarten teachers to $62,428 for electrical engineers, according to the report.

8. Job hopping won’t hurt you

sign board saying 'Dream Job This Way'

Sign pointing to a dream job | iStock.com

Job hopping used to be a career no-no. Switch employers too often, and you’d risk being branded fickle and unreliable. But employers’ attitude about job hopping is changing. In 2017, a diverse resume won’t necessarily be the handicap that it may have been in years past. However, job seekers must be prepared to explain their career history to hiring managers.

“A less-than-stellar economy over the past decade, plus the influx of millennials to the workforce, has helped to lessen the stigma around job hoppers,” Augustine said. “If you’ve bounced from gig to gig over the past five years, the important thing is to be able to tell a story about your experience, what you’ve learned from each position, and how these roles have helped you clarify your job goals and build the skills necessary for this opportunity.”

9. Responsible workers will be in demand

candidate in a job interview

A candidate interviewing for a job | iStock.com

Job hunters may underestimate how much little things, from resume formatting to email etiquette, affect their chances of getting a job. People who can work hard, show up on time, and dress professionally are in short supply, according to experts.

“In talking with recruiters about the top skills that they are looking for, it is amazing how often we hear that hard working, responsible workers are in demand,” Weinlick said. “Simple things like showing up for the interview on time and dressed appropriately, writing a relevant thank you email and mailing a personal note, and making sure that resumes and cover letters are free from grammatical and spelling mistakes can make a great difference in demonstrating to a potential employer that you’ll be a good hire.”

10. Tech jobs will continue to boom

computer programmer writing code on computer

Programmer looking at code | iStock.com

The job market for people with tech skills has been hot for the past few years, and it should continue to boom in 2017. When LinkedIn looked at the most in-demand job skills over the past year, those involving computing, data analysis, and software development dominated the list. But candidates who can’t quickly adapt to employers’ changing needs will find it harder to find work in this field.

“Standalone or single-role type jobs” are on their way out, according to Gene Richardson, chief operating officer at Experts Exchange, an online community of IT professionals. For example, “If you are a software developer and don’t understand how to run well-formed SQL commands and evaluate if there is a optimal way to run them, then your days may be limited.”

On the other hand, employers are on the hunt for people with skills in cybersecurity, big data, and machine learning and artificial intelligence, Richardson said. And startups and tech companies won’t be the only place to find jobs. “Every industry from marketing to finance to policy makers are hiring for data analysts that can make informed quantitative decisions,” Richardson said, while virtually all companies with a digital presence need to hire more people to work in IT security.

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