A new year can be full of fresh resolutions and prosperous opportunities – but how does 2024 fare if you’re looking for a new job?
Three career experts and coaches spoke to FOX News Digital explaining how to navigate a market that’s "fierce" with competition, looming with layoffs and pending impact from the Federal Reserve rate trajectory.
"It's going to be a mixed story for job-seekers, because there continues to be tightness in the labor market. And that is driven by the fact that you simply don't have enough people to do all the jobs," RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes said. "You have a lot of people just not participating in the labor market… [and] employers are focused on, 'wait and see' this year, they want to be very careful with their resources."
"I just see this up and down, companies are playing their balance sheet versus what they think the economy is going to look like," Ramsey Solutions personality and "From Paycheck to Purpose" author Ken Coleman added.
"It's going to be more competitive this year than it has ever been in quite a long time," LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill also said. "Last year, we were looking at there being two open roles for every applicant on LinkedIn. This year, we're looking at two applicants for every open role."
The Big Three automakers, Google, Disney and other media and tech companies have already seen layoffs since December, and other grim statistics hang over the labor market: the latest jobs report showed a record high 8.6 million people now hold multiple jobs to make ends meet and a historically low labor force participation rate at 62.5%.
"We saw a lot of the big tech companies, they would staff up big time. They're borrowing money, a lot of venture capital and things of that nature, and when the stock price is up, they'll go spend money in the form of talent and see if they can kind of juice that opportunity. And then when the stock price drops or the economy gets a little bit more uncertain, they immediately go to the public company strategy of we're going to cut costs, and that is starting with employees," Coleman explained.
In RedBalloon and PublicSq.’s January Freedom Economy Index, which surveys more than 70,000 U.S. small businesses every month, 80% of those polled said they don’t plan on spending large capital this year and 65% report not planning to fire nor hire staff.
"These employers are saying: look, I don't want to make major hires or even minor hires until we see how the elections play out, until we see what the Fed does, until we see how the economy settles out… They're very tentative, and tentative is not good for the economy," Crapuchettes said.
"I'm not an economist, but what I can say is that the pressures that are in the market right now, I truly believe we're going to see more people seeking opportunity to make more money," McCaskill noted. "A record number of Americans are considering moving on from the job that they have. And the No. 1 reason why is money. The No. 2 reason why is work-life balance. I think we're going to see a lot of movement in the market."
While facing unemployment or a potential layoff, Coleman emphasized the importance of caring for your mental health, while Crapuchettes and McCaskill encouraged brushing up on your skill set.
"Losing your job has the same detrimental effect on your emotions as losing a loved one. And it's really key to understand that when giving someone advice on this, if you've been laid off recently, you need to understand that that's a massive emotional shot that you've just taken, and you've got to recover from that," Coleman said.
"We've got all these emotions… just let them all out. Doesn't mean they're over with. But we got them out. Let's do something fun. And then let's also have a gratitude exercise," Coleman continued. "Let everybody know, ‘Hey, I got laid off. I'm ready to get back in the game, or I will be shortly.’ And let's get the word out. And then the final thing is, after you get the word out, I would be aggressively looking for something in the short term."
"It's an opportunity for you to learn new skills, but not learn new skills at that high-priced university level. I think going back to school doesn't make sense. But going to a coding bootcamp and getting skills that are very much in demand [does]," Crapuchettes said. "Every disruption creates opportunities. And if you use those opportunities, you might put you, and yourself, and your family on a better trajectory. And so that would be my encouragement, is go figure out what jobs are in demand and go find some skills that are going to benefit you for the rest of your career."
"Don't panic, pivot. Take a look at your skills. Really figure out what your superpowers are and how you talk about them every single day," McCaskill added. "Let the people in your professional community know what you're looking for."
The career experts named "resilient" job sectors like manufacturing, trades, retail, government, education, healthcare and hospitality as places where openings are likely to be available.
As of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report, the economy has 8.79 million job openings – but before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the highest on record was 7.6 million.
"Post-pandemic, we peaked [at] over 10 million open, unfilled jobs in the economy. And we're still at unprecedented levels in the U.S. economy. Generally, Americans have short memories, but it was not that many years ago that the number of open jobs in the economy would have been a headliner, blow-up number, and now we're used to it," Crapuchettes pointed out.
"But I still think that there is going to be more demand than there is supply of labor. And so, job-seekers will remain in the driver's seat."