In every recession, some companies and industries decline, never to come back. As painful as this process is, it is a natural component of our economy. Periodically, we clean house and get rid of companies who are not competitive. For the employees of these companies, the process is painful, frustrating and depressing. Making the situation even more difficult is the fact that the recovery will not bring back a lot of the jobs that were lost.
We have industries in decline and the recovery will not happen overnight. The US auto industry will be much smaller in the future. Cuts made at GM and Chrysler will lead to more foreign made cars and less domestic made cars. For people in the auto industry, this means jobs are going to be few and far between. Other industries are undergoing similar transformations.
The strength of our economy is the ability to bounce back and reinvent itself. Time and time again, we have had industries decline and collapse, only to be replaced by other industries. This has led to mass migrations of people to areas with better job prospects. One of the strongest images of the Great Depression is the small farmer packing up and moving from the mid-west to California. This pattern continually recurs. I grew up in Pittsburgh and watch hundreds of thousands of steel related jobs disappear in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. It’s part of the reason Steeler fans are everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of people have moved to other parts of the country.
We’re going to see the same type of transformation over the next several years. This could happen quickly, or it could take a while – in either case, it will happen. If you are a job seeker, letting go of a job, employer, industry and home can be extremely difficult. Many people struggle with imagining what their possibilities really are. They also are reluctant to start over completely in a new field.
If you are considering a career change, picking a new field or industry can be difficult. There are some tools that can help. One tool that can help narrow the search and uncover jobs you may not have heard off is O-Net. O-Net is a website that allows you to search skills and identify the jobs that match your capability.
O-Net provides detailed information on the jobs it recommends. This includes information about the skills, education and experience required. It also provides an assessment of the demand level for the positions to help you focus on careers with more demand than job seekers.
Breaking into a new field can be difficult. It’s humbling to go back to an “entry level” status after progressing successfully in an alternate career. In the long run, starting over can pay huge dividends. The new career can also provide a faster career path. An experienced professional starting over should move up faster than someone without experience, and in a growth industry, there will be more opportunities to progress upward.