It's an uncertain job market out there, with many of us looking for career moves outside our first chosen path. Whether you're making a career change or reentering after spending time raising a family, it can be a challenge to understand where you fit. Here is a breakdown of assets you bring to the table and the best industries for your skills. (Your job may not be as safe as you think. Don't miss How Secure Is Your Job?.)
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Are you the person everyone looks to for advice, or to solve a problem? Maybe people tell you that you're always so friendly and helpful. These are people skills, a coveted attribute companies look for in employees. Since all of have to work with other people - and often customers - throughout the day, someone with people skills is a real asset to any organization.
The obvious choice for someone with people skills is in any customer service capacity, so look for jobs in retail or other service industries. For an entry-level job, consider a job as a home health aide: the Department of Labor expects a 50% increase in jobs in this sector by 2018.
For better pay, explore other careers in the health care sector, like medical assistant to occupational therapist but be sure to check the education and licensing requirements for these positions in your state. The health care industry is a great option for someone with people skills, as it's a key requirement in this sector. (Why not get career advice from stars who have made it back to the top? Check out Top Celebrity Career Comeback Tips.)
Are you that person who always knows how to fix a computer problem? Maybe you've acquired your skills through education, or just because you have a knack for all things tech - either way, your skills are sought-after by just about any employer.
The software engineering sector is expected to grow by 21% by 2018, making this industry an obvious place to look for jobs if you have computer skills. If you're not formally trained, consider going back to school; a bachelor's degree is preferred for the best jobs and pay, but certification often suffices. If you have an artistic flair, consider web and/or graphic design as a career path. (Stuck in a dead-end job or just looking to get ahead? Don't miss 8 Career Risks That Pay Off.)
You're that guy or gal who always sees the big picture, understands how the pieces work together, and can see a solution to complex problems. Where others are overwhelmed, you see a challenge in difficult issues and can break them down to manageable pieces - you have analytical skills that many employers look for.
Consider a career in the legal profession if you have what it takes to analyze. This industry requires you to look at real-world conflicts, and analyze the law to come up with a solution. There has been a strong recent increase in hiring in the legal sector, up 29% year over year in July 2010 according to a recent Monster.com study. If you prefer to work with your hands and not wear a suit, consider transportation and material moving (up 27% in job postings) or production (up 22%) as these sectors require sharp and analytical minds to improve safety, efficiency and solve problems.
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Do you have an eye for detail? Maybe you're that person who always notices when a painting is hanging just a little crooked, or when your change at the store is a penny short. Detail-oriented people are an asset to any workplace, and in high demand in certain industries.
If you have an eye for detail, accounting just may be the place for you. Sure, most people think accounting is boring, but this industry is expected to grow jobs at a rate of 22% by 2018, making it a smart move for those with detail-oriented skills. Accounting jobs range from entry-level bookkeeping positions to six-figure earning CPA jobs. If balancing the books is not your thing, look for jobs in production, where attention to detail is vital, and job postings are up about 22% from last year.
Do people always laud you for your creativity? Creative skills are often undervalued as a job attribute, but there are industries where this talent is highly sought after.
Obvious choices for those with a creative side are careers in the arts or in interior design. For better job prospects in this tough economy, consider graphic or web design, where creativity in combination with computer skills are in high demand as more business is moving to the web. If you have the resources and stamina, consider going back to school to become an architect, where jobs are expected to increase by 16% over the next eight years, and creativity is in high demand. (Be creative in your job applications too!
The Bottom Line
If you're unsure about where your skills will take you in this tough job market, think outside the box. Match your skills with industries where demand is up, and you may find yourself on an exciting new career path. (For related reading, take a look at 4 New Job-Search Trends.)