The Job Outlook in Uncertain Times

With the financial troubles prevalent throughout the US today, many of us face uncertainty in our jobs as well. Today (Sept 15th 2008) the Dow tumbled 500 points, the biggest one day loss in seven years. Merrill Lynch is no more and Lehman Brothers is going bankrupt. Together with the bubble bursting in the housing market and the financial woes of Fannie Mae, these are troubling times indeed.

So I pondered today, how would I react if I lost my job? I have a background in sales, but with the weak dollar and financial problems most Americans face, they simply aren’t buying as much. People were using their housing equity to purchase goods, but that time is now past leaving a rather bleak outlook for sales positions in general.

If I did go back into sales, what would I sell in this economy? Certainly not cars! With gas prices as high as they are, I doubt people are beating down the doors at the local SUV dealer. I would imagine that the home improvement industry is also in trouble so that means selling flooring is out.

I searched around the net and found several articles touting great jobs that don’t require college degrees! My initial excitement waned as I noticed that one article listed an “Airline Pilot” as its first pick. Ok… I’ll just read an e-book on how to fly planes and then I’ll go apply at United Airlines. Becoming an airline pilot may not require a college degree, but I’m sure it requires something that I don’t have, like a pilot’s license and years of experience?!

Another article listed nursing as an option for those without a college degree. Again, nursing may not require a bonafide degree from Harvard College, but I suspect that most hospitals require some sort of training before they will allow you to poke their patients with sharp objects. And I bet that training isn’t cheap nor quick.

Perhaps you have a college degree but jobs requiring your skill set are limited, or have decreased in demand. I know that a lot of poor saps from the mortgage industry are now applying for commission sales jobs paying far below what they’re used to making. My buddy just got a job selling women’s shoes at a department store. He is not happy.

If you do your research and look hard enough, there are actually quite a few jobs out there with the potential to make 40k and up that don’t require college degrees. People will always go out to eat, and the bars will always be packed no matter what the condition of the economy.

Bartending is one option to consider. For people with a sales background bartending can be an easy job to move into. You’re mixing drinks and chatting with people. Aren’t most salespeople good at doing both? And depending where you work, the tips can be very generous.

The food serving industry is also an area where jobs are plentiful. It may not be the glamorous, professional position you’d always pictured yourself in, but the tips can be good and when you need a job fast, it’s always an option.

Personally, if I get laid off I’ll probably go back to school and earn an advanced degree in something like computer science. In the meantime I would do what I had to in order to make ends meet, even if it means a smaller paycheck. If you’re looking for a job don’t lose heart, the economy will turn around eventually. Keep your mind open and look in areas you might not have otherwise considered.