Bright spots in the bad economy: 5 places to look for jobs right now

needle.jpgThere’s no doubt the big career story of the moment is the November unemployment report, which stated that the U.S. experienced the biggest monthly job loss since 1974. In total, we’ve lost over 2 million jobs in the past year. This is, obviously, very bad news for job seekers (although, according to Fortune magazine, slightly less bad for those with a college degree — hat tip Keppie Careers).

I believe that constant news about the bad economy leaves job seekers with two choices: 1) focus on how bad the job market is and feel paralyzed, or 2) understand that it’s bad and look for opportunities anyway.

I’m going to recommend door #2. To help, I spent some time this past weekend looking for bright spots in the bleak job market. It wasn’t easy; there’s a lot of terrible news out there. But there are definitely opportunities in this recession.

Here are five of them:

1. North Dakota. Besides loving the movie “Fargo,” I can’t say I know a lot about North Dakota. Until this weekend’s article in the New York Times, I definitely didn’t know this cold state is a hot spot for jobs. According to the story, ND has about 13,000 unfilled jobs and is desperately seeking skilled workers. Click here to visit the state’s official job site.

If North Dakota isn’t your cup for tea, check out BusinessWeek’s list of 20 other locations it defines as the best places to ride out the recession.

2. Women-owned businesses. Nell Merlino, creator of Make Mine a Million $ Business, is launching a new initiative, the Make Mine a Million Dollar Race, which challenges women entrepreneurs to hit one of three business revenue goals—$250,000, $500,000, or $1 million—by the end of 2009. The goal? Economic stimulus and jobs, jobs, jobs. BusinessWeek just interviewed Merlino about the program.

The best way to find a job with a growing woman-owned business (or any small- to medium-sized business) is through networking, because most smaller companies don’t recruit through college career services or major online job boards. Talk to people in your personal and professional networks (parents, friends, professors, community members, etc.) to meet entrepreneurs, or attend events hosted by such organizations as Make Mine a Million $ Business, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Downtown Women’s Club or local women’s business clubs and organizations in your area.

(Note: Merlino’s program also has a component for high school and college-aged young women, called Make Our Daughters a Million, to encourage young women to begin entrepreneurial ventures. I’ll be facilitating a workshop as part of this program on Thursday, December 11, in Hollywood, Florida. Click here to learn more and register to attend.)

3. Your Monopoly board. The Associated Press just published a helpful Q&A (picked up in many local papers, including my hometown paper — shout-out to The Norwalk Hour!) about which industries are still hiring. The article advises job seekers to “look to your Monopoly board” for two of these industries: railroads and utilities. “Others are just as old school,” the article goes on, “like the logging and mining sector, and food, drink and tobacco manufacturing. The oil business is still adding a few jobs, as is pipeline transportation. General merchandise stores also did some pre-holiday hiring.”

The recent news that President-elect Obama is planning to create an enormous public works construction program to stimulate the economy supports the Monopoly theory. If you’d like to land one of those new jobs when they’re created, start studying now to understand what types of skills, experience and knowledge will be required. (For instance, you could set up a Google news alert for phrases such as “public works,” “national infrastructure” or “expanding broadband access.”)

4. Australia (the country, not the movie). I blogged recently about the new visa arrangement between the U.S. and Australia that makes it easy to study or work Down Under. The city of Sydney, in particular, is making a big push to attract twentysomething American workers. (Full disclosure: I am doing some paid consulting work with Tourism New South Wales, the organization promoting this program.)

Sydney is eager to receive resumes from young Americans with a variety of professional interests, ranging from environmental studies to hospitality to marketing to finance and beyond. Visit MySpace MySydney for a job search tool and information about how to get a visa. I lived in Australia for two and-a-half years and can honestly say it was one of the best experiences, personal and professional, of my life.

Another city seeking American workers is Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Click here for a recent story in New York magazine about young Americans working in this “hotly speculative Middle Eastern insta-metropolis.” I can’t say this story made me want to jump on a plane to Dubai, but, for some young people, this growing community might be an interesting option.

5. Accounting. Last week, blogger Penelope Trunk cited a study by recruiting agency Robert Half saying that, “accounting firms have been so chronically understaffed that we’d have to have a five-year recession for them to catch up.” It’s true that hiring has held steady at accounting firms across the country. Read this article to learn which accounting-related skills are most sought-after and visit this job board to find entry-level accounting positions.

Where else have you seen bright spots in the job market? Please share!

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24 Responses to “Bright spots in the bad economy: 5 places to look for jobs right now”

  1. Dan Schawbel

    The 2 million number sounds like a lot to people, but many don’t really understand how bad things are until it hits home. Then theres panic, fear and loss of hope. Recently, someone in my group at work got laid off, which sent chills down everyones back. We hear about losses everyday, but when it strikes someone you know, it’s a different ballgame.

    Good sign of hope Lindsey.

  2. Lindsey Pollak

    @Dan – I’m sorry to hear about the layoff in your group. I’ve been through that and it’s really hard. I’ll keep trying to find hope and opportunity in this difficult time. Thanks for commenting!


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  7. Claudine

    North Dakota? Wow. Great post. Exactly the info I needed for my students. As a career services consultant for a large IHE, I can attest to the utility companies still hiring. They are facing retirement of more than half their workforce in the next 5 years and are struggling to hire qualified workers.

  8. Lindsey Pollak

    @Claudine – Thanks for the comment. Great that you are hearing good job news from the utility companies as well. We need to get these positive stories out there so people know where to look for positions.


  9. Kari Quaas

    Lindsey – Great post! All I can say is that employers continue to post their job opportunities on our website, Some jobs are starting now and many start in the spring and summer, but they are posting them. Give seasonal jobs a try for something new, and best of all, many of the jobs have free or reduced housing.

  10. Lindsey Pollak

    @Kari – Thanks for the heads up on CoolWorks. I’ll check it out and hope job hunters will too. Thanks for commenting!


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  12. Paige

    I’ve been talking to others about your recent post about the thriving jobs in Australia…and people find it so interesting. Now I can add North Dakota to the list!


  13. Resume Writer

    When I was in college, I majored in Finance and my career counselor insisted upon my taking as many accounting courses as I could (I ended up three credits short of a minor). She said that it would be valuable and something that I could always fall back on, and she was right.

    The networking advice above is pretty valuable. I tell my clients that they can do the posting, recruiters, and all other search strategies, but nothing beats a pre-cultivated network for landing on one’s feet quickly.

    William Mitchell, CPRW

  14. Lindsey Pollak

    @Resume Writer – Thanks for adding your comments and perspective to the discussion!


  15. Hayli @ Rise Smart

    Believe it or not, there are still six-figure jobs out there. Unfortunately, the competition is stiffer than ever, but networking can definitely help a job seeker rise above. Also consider independent consulting after logging in several years’ experience in your field. 1099s are budget-friendly and can make more money through multi-tasking.

  16. Lindsey Pollak

    @Hayli –

    Great additional suggestions, thanks so much!


  17. Andrea Santiago

    Hi Lindsey –
    Lots of great information here . . . what about jobs in the healthcare field? The healthcare industry added 34,000 jobs in the month of November, even as half a million jobs were cut in other industries! The medical industry continues to add jobs each month. Working in the healthcare industry is a great way to recession-proof your career; not to mention the fact that medical jobs can be extremely rewarding both financially and personally!

  18. Lindsey Pollak

    @Andrea – Thanks for mentioning healthcare opportunities. That’s definitely another bright spot in the economy. Unfortunately, I faint at the sight of blood! (just kidding…I know there are plenty of jobs in the field that don’t require needles…)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  19. David B. Wright

    There is also a growing market for virtual assistants, and not just offshore. This can be a great way for someone with good administrative & multitasking skills to be able to work from home. Lots of small business owners / home businesses are seeing the value of outsourcing some of their lower-value activities to virtual assistants. Many entrepreneurs prefer to have assistants at least in the same country, if not the same time zone.

    To your success,

    David B. Wright
    Author, Get A Job! Your Guide to Making Successful Career Moves

  20. Lindsey Pollak

    @David –

    Thanks for the tip. I know many people who are using virtual assistants. It’s definitely a growing career. Any tips on how to begin a career in this field?

    Thanks for the comment,

  21. LayoffGossip

    People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
    And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And is providing you that platform.

  22. Bruce Ling

    Hi, it’s also very hard to find the work in China. I hope it will warm up in the next six months.

  23. joboutlets

    I have a very close friend, who graduated from Harvard. Worked for ML for over 8 years, last year he’s laid off too. OMG, now the banking industry is badly hurt, how long it would take for those financial background like him get back to the job market. Banking jobs are not there as much as before as easily seen on and other job sites in the region

  24. William Mitchell, CPRW

    The federal government is always a good place to look. It isn’t always easy to get on, but once you’re in, you’re in. Also, I hear pharmaceutical sales is still a booming profession.


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