National and local job trends are part of most employment news. It's a good idea to keep up with employers and hiring trends, especially if you are currently switching careers or looking for a new job.
But keeping an eye on an even bigger picture-global developments, trends and their implications, e.g., ramped up job out-sourcing, creation of overseas tax havens for large-scale employers, labor-shuffling trade agreements, or spikes in workplace-robot exports from Japan-is a big part of being job smart.
Just as smart is understanding a trend after identifying it, because whatever causes one trend is very likely to cause another, e.g., aging population as cause of demand for healthcare workers is also likely to reduce demand for snow-boarding coaches, nursery school teachers and nightclub DJs.
Job trends encompass more than hiring and resource trends - the very nature of work is changing. Rapid technological changes are uprooting entire industries and changing the way we interact in the workplace. The savvy job-seeker and employer will follow the trends on both sides of their key supply and demand equations, with a close eye not only on quantitative changes, but also qualitative changes in the attributes of jobs, workers, management, workplaces, their goals, constraints and resources.
For example, developments such as virtualization dramatically shape career paths and our daily experience of work. In this example, work has been changed because many employees now work remotely. However, the process of virtualization not only shifts employees' physical interaction, but also the very nature of work. The shift away from personal interaction has accelerated the use of project and scheduling tools, which have then shaped the very concept of employment. Because of this workplace development, employment itself is now often more project-based and has also shifted towards greater reliance on contingent labor.
Job trends such as the above-mentioned example are important to follow, and not only from an academic standpoint. In planning one's career, it is important to consider these developments to ensure the long term marketability and vitality of your skill-set and experience.
The last thing you want is to identify and try to follow or ride a positive trend only after it is over. The best is, of course, to be among those who create it when it's good and escape it when it's bad.
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