A few years ago my cousin Chuck challenged me to help him identify the "happy hunting ground" - the "best" industries - for his next career.;
I laid out some ideas and options for him, and he ended up migrating from real estate to banking, where he's been very happy so far.
This is an updated version of that information which includes the best industries for career changers plus the best industries for high school and college students.
As a layoff survivor, my criteria for choosing a new employer are different than they were before I was laid off. I think I'm smarter - now.
These are the criteria I used for Chuck and they are still appropriate:
The U.S. Department of Labor has discontinued the Career Guide to Industries, until 2016. Meanwhile, they recommend using the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). Using the OOH as my information source, I was able to look at many occupations to pick the ones which looked the most promising. The OOH covers many more industries than the ones below, but I've picked out the largest, most stable, and best growth forecasted, as of 2012.
As you look at this list, remember that these industries don't need only the usual industry professionals we all immediately think of (e.g. doctors, dentists, and nurses in health care), they also need all the usual support and administrative services (finance, HR, IT, facilities, marketing, sales, etc.), too.
For career changers, these industries offer the best opportunities across the USA:
For high school and college students, the following industries offer good opportunities to earn money and gather experience:
For much more information on this topic and many more industries, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.
Having worked mostly for large companies, I appreciated the wide range of opportunities they offered - changing departments, job functions, and even locations while retaining the same salary, benefits, and (a mixed blessing!) senior management. However, employment growth for the last few decades has been in small to mid-sized companies.
Larger organizations typically require people to specialize, which is both good a bad. Usually specialists are paid well, but if something changes in the industry or profession, they can be caught in a deadend, unable to find a job with a different employer, or just plain unemployed if their specialty is replaced by automation or becomes irrelevant.
In my experience, small companies typically offer their employees a wider range of opportunities to try different tasks and build experience for their resumes. Fewer employees mean that those employees need to do a wider range of tasks. So you can end up with a little experience in a lot of different fields by working for a small employer.
My experience with small employers is that the internal "politics" will usually be more visible than they are in a larger employer where the size of the organization limits your ability to know who is doing what, where. In a smaller organization, the politics will probably be more visible, but they can also be more stressful since everyone typically knows what everyone else is doing. It's like the difference between in living in a small town vs. living in a large town.
From a layoff-avoidance perspective, neither is particularly safe, but the larger employers do have a long track record of "off-shoring" (moving jobs to a different country where labor costs are cheaper).
So, the large employer vs. small employer is a trade-off.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.