2010 jobs forecast is upbeat, especially for D.C. area
By Vickie Elmer
Sunday, January 3, 2010
A "résumé tsunami" is forecast for the year ahead -- and you may want to swim into it.
Look for 2010 to bring more jobs and more job hunters, including many who already have paychecks -- and even some hiring bonuses and good raises around the Beltway.
That's the outlook from Deloitte Consulting's quarterly survey of U.S. employers and other employment experts, who are upbeat about hiring prospects, especially at federal agencies, and training budgets for this year.
"Washington's unemployment rate is traditionally three percentage points below the national average. Now we're four percentage points below," said Cynthia Ward, president of the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area, a professional group. This month, "budgets will be inked, organizations will know what they can do," she said. "There should be a spike in [hiring] activity."
With that in mind, take note of these seven surprising trends that will hit with gale force this year:
1. Opportunities will reappear.
Some sectors will be hot, though others won't even reach tepid. Watch for ample openings in health care and education. Many of the 50 colleges and universities in the area are booming, said Ward, as people seek new credentials or career paths.
Expect another "huge time of hiring in the federal government" as retirement, compliance requirements and continued stimulus spending create jobs, said Maria Grant, Deloitte Consulting's federal human capital practice leader. She also expects including "massive, massive shortages" in staffing of federal contracting and purchasing.
2. It could become safe to jump ship.
Workers who stayed put during the downturn are raring to move on. In one survey of more than 900 North American workers by Right Management, 60 percent said they intend to leave their current job this year; an additional 21 percent are considering a change.
"People become more confident in the recovery" and then start to hunt, said Ward, who works as a vice president of Lee Hecht Harrison, a career transition and leadership consulting firm.
Some employers will encourage defections. A quarter of companies that participated in a survey by OI Partners-Miles Lehane said they will recruit from their competition to fill gaps in management ranks. "There's competition from one agency to the next," said Patrick Nealon, a Deloitte Consulting federal practice director.
3. Raises may be attainable.
More than one-fourth of organizations plan to boost pay this year, nearly twice the level that said raises were likely in the January 2009 survey, according to Deloitte. Yet 54 percent of employers surveyed plan smaller-than-usual salary increases, which is consistent with a slow comeback.
Raises in Washington may average 3 percent this year for salaried staffers, higher than in most other areas, according to Hewitt Associates. Those in hard-to-fill jobs could win more -- and even a mid-year boost as bosses start focusing on retaining talent.
Benefits could grow, too. Applicants may have more luck negotiating an extra week's pay or tuition reimbursement. Employers also will use flexible work arrangements -- including telecommuting and compressed workweeks -- to keep workers happy.
4. Bonuses may be big.
If you're talented and connected, you could collect more than one bonus this year. Start with a signing bonus from a new employer -- they're available in more fields than nursing now.
Many employers are offering referral bonuses to staffers who submit someone's résumé -- if that person is hired, said Grant.
The third bonus may be a performance bonus for achieving certain goals. These year-end or early-January payouts were scaled back in 2009 but will be back in some sectors this year.
5. Training will be valuable -- and affordable.
Online learning, employer-sponsored classes and government-funded programs will open doors to training in 2010. A third of employers say they are focused on training and staff development as their top talent priority, more than are aiming at staff reduction, Deloitte reports.
If you're unemployed or working part time when you'd rather be full time, check with a local Workforce Investment Board or state unemployment officials on Pell grants and other educational resources. "We have a great deal of training money from the American Recovery and Investment Act," said Andy Moser, Maryland's assistant secretary for workforce development and adult learning.
6. Competition will remain fierce.
There will be more jobs, but also more competition from people who sat on the sidelines last year and have rejoined the hunt. "We get hundreds and hundreds of résumés for 15 openings for undergraduates" in Deloitte's Washington area office, Grant said. Added Moser: "It's a really dynamic market -- and a really competitive market, too."
7. You'll still need to create your own opportunities.
Don't depend on your boss, your employer or your best friend for career advancement or openings. Develop your reputation, your network and your credentials.
Become "the known job candidate" visible in professional associations and active on committees. Go to every networking event available, Ward recommends. Spend most of your job hunt time connecting with others, Ward said, adding: "Jobs change hands through people talking to people."
-- Special to The Washington Post