Pick an Industry Before It Blows Up

Go to the front of the line by finding the next industry or specialty about to grow and make it look like you were made to have that job.


In the wake of the economic recession, pinpricks of prosperity are beginning to shine through. No single industry is necessarily bouncing back to pre-recession vigor, but there are some industry segments that are starting to get back into shape. The challenge is to identify those areas of your industry and focus your job search accordingly.

Say you’re an IT person who is looking for a new position. Technology is huge, overlapping every industry. Identifying the high-growth areas in tech can help you focus the companies and positions you target; the language you use in your resume, cover letter and interviews ; and the skills you emphasize.

This will require some research and an open mind. Read industry journals and blogs. Attend relevant conferences and events, and listen carefully to the buzz. What topics come up again and again?

“You’re going to need to do a little bit of homework, and the homework is doing some research in terms of what are the growth rates. Look for indications from industry analysts, even the stock market, in terms of where growth is appearing,” said Kathleen Brush, author of “Leadership = Motivation = Innovation + Productivity.”

Cheryl Palmer seconded the critical need for research, and recommended using the Bureau of Labor Statistics as a tool. “Check out the Career Guide to Industries on the BLS Web site to find out if an industry is growing, declining or staying flat,” said Palmer, a career coach, professional resume writer and founder of Call to Career. “This guide will also tell you which professions in that industry [are] growing the fastest.”

Once you have identified an area of growth, it’s time to cast your resume in a new light.

“Repackage similar experiences or close experiences on a resume,” said Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered, a job information site and career coaching service. “You can demonstrate to an employer that you have a lot of similar experiences, while maybe not the exact experience.”

Rosenberg recommends taking a hard look at your resume to ensure that it’s reflective of what your target companies are looking for and not what your present or former employers found important.

“One of the things that I see consistently — and this is across industries — is that candidates tend to write a resume about what’s important to themselves, rather than what’s in it for [the companies they are targeting],” he said. “That even comes down to the language used in a resume. Many times, resumes are written in the language of the old employer, using jargon and words that were typical of their former employer.”

Job seekers should always keep their ears open — sometimes literally — for the kind of information that will help them determine the most promising employment paths.

Going back to the IT example: Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and one of the people who runs the Web 2.0 Summit. He spoke about the conference, held recently in San Francisco, on the NPR radio program, “All Things Considered.” When asked for his opinion about the next big thing, O’Reilly, who is credited with coining the term “Web 2.0,” said, without missing a beat, ” the transition to mobile.” He went on to discuss the applications of mobile technology that he believes will be major influences on businesses and consumers alike.

Of course, O’Reilly isn’t the only person to identify mobile as being the hottest trend in the tech industry, and “All Things Considered” is certainly not the only venue on which it’s been discussed. But that’s the point: Job seekers should look for convergence points and use that information to inform their search. The person who connects all of those data dots can package and promote his experience and skills so that he appeals to companies’ growing interest in a critical area.

This strategy can, and should, be generalized to any industry, and can help job seekers get ahead of the curve and comfortably into a new position.

Debra Donston-Miller covers work-life issues and difficult job-search situations for Ladders.