Is The US Job Market Tightening? How To Get Ahead and Stay There

The US labor market has been remarkably resilient over the past few years. Even as inflation has come down, the unemployment rate has remained below four percent since February 2022.

But there are signs that the US job market is tightening as companies continue to cut staff numbers and concentrate on efficiency, following widespread layoffs last year. And while the unemployment rate is stable for now, the bulk of vacancies are in the hourly-paid gig economy with white collar jobs harder to come by.

Job-seekers are finding their job searches are taking longer, and that employers are doubling down on salaries, flexibility, vacation days and other perks as the balance of power shifts back to hiring managers.

At a time of continuing global uncertainty, and in an election year, it’s hard to predict which way things are going to go. The Fed says it’s likely to cut interest rates in 2024, which would be a boost for the labor market, but there’s no indication yet as to when that’s likely to be.

Change is inevitable

One thing is for sure, though –– whatever sector you work in and wherever you are located, the world of employment is being inexorably impacted as AI and machine learning take over many mundane tasks, with clerical and secretarial roles worst affected.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report shows that 44 percent of workers’ skills will be disrupted and 60 percent of workers will require training before 2027.

Change is inevitable and things will not go back to the way they were.

It’s understandable that many US workers feel threatened by AI, but while some jobs – or parts of jobs – will undoubtedly be lost to technological advances, tasks requiring uniquely human skills will still need to be done by people.

Rather than putting your head in the sand about how and when AI is going to impact your job, it makes sense to figure out how best you can adapt.

A good starting point is to research courses you can take to learn new skills applicable to your job or sector. Find out where the gaps are (or are likely to be) and work out how you can fill them.

Having a flexible mindset and being able to demonstrate agility are traits employers want to see. Perhaps the job you have now won’t exist in a couple of years, but there will be a new role you can move to within the same organization?

People skills are crucial

Employers recognize that no matter how many tasks can be done with the assistance of AI, people skills are crucial to growth.

These so-called “soft skills” are centered on communication and collaboration, with effective leaders – especially those working with a hybrid workforce – needing to be both clear and empathetic. Investing in improving your communication skills is something you’ll never regret.

The position of External Relations Officer at the Center for International Private Enterprise is one requiring project management experience alongside organizational, critical thinking and communication skills. In this role you’d be reporting directly to the Chief of Staff in Washington DC.

Customer service, research, problem-solving and project management are all in-demand human skills you can enhance and develop by harnessing the power of AI.

In Los Gatos, CA, Netflix has a number of openings including one for a Contracts Manager with at least eight years’ relevant experience for its Legal Department. Netflix needs someone with strong analytical capabilities and judgment, a strategic thinker with good problem-solving skills and the ability to manage conflicting priorities efficiently.

Sales skills – the building of relationships and the nurturing of customers – are needed in every industry and never go out of date. The same goes for languages, so if you’ve always thought about learning Spanish or Mandarin but never done anything about it, maybe now is the time.

Tribal Tech in Alexandria is looking for a Meeting Planner to provide support for advisory council meetings, workgroups and conferences for American Indian/Alaska Native grantees. The successful candidate will be able to think creatively, and demonstrate strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as excellent customer-service skills and cultural sensitivity.

As well as upskilling, it’s important to keep an open mind about the industries and roles in which you’d be prepared to work if your current position were to cease to exist. Bringing your expertise in a given sector to teach AI is one obvious possibility, but you could also consider growth areas such as cybersecurity. As always, if you think a job move may be on the cards for 2024, it’s important to update your resume and keep your professional social profiles current. That way, if you find yourself in the job market either out of choice or otherwise, you’ll be ready to start applying for new positions.

To see all the employers hiring at the moment, check out The Hill Jobs Board

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