2016 was a year to remember, mostly for the wrong reasons. After the euphoria of the previous year, the job market saw major corrections. Massive layoffs hit the headlines. The fastest growing sector—IT and ITES—hit the brakes, reducing jobs for fresh graduates. The demonetisation googly severely affected construction, wedding services, SMEs and other businesses running on cash payments and salaries. Let’s look at what the trends forecast for your career in 2017.
Welcome to the democratisation of technology! Once the realm of startups and pure technology companies, it is now an essential component of every business. If you are a techie, these are golden years as every business knows that to remain competitive, they need to invest in building strong tech teams to find newer and better ways of solving problems, reducing costs and delivering better products. Traditional companies in manufacturing, FMCG, services and agriculture are all chasing the good engineering talent pool that you belong to. This trend is here to stay for the next few years so invest well in your engineering and coding chops.
EVOLVING STARTUP JOBS
2017 will be different when it comes to jobs at startups. The massive hiring by deeply funded, billion-dollar valued e-commerce startups has stalled. As e-commerce takes a reality check and heads towards consolidation in size and profitability, expect them to shed jobs. Look out for interesting roles in technology-led startups in education, health, finance, media, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things. Though no single startup will hire in large numbers, the overall scene for finding a new job or getting a promotion looks good if you are open to challenges.
JOBLESS ON CAMPUS
If you are a fresher graduating from campus, you have it tougher than your seniors in getting a job through your placement office. The IT/ITES sectors added lesser jobs in 2016 and the trend will continue. As automation cuts jobs across industries and as startups find it difficult to get funding, the top recruiters will prefer to stay away from campuses. Big packages, mass hiring and offers will go down. Put on your formal shoes and invest in off-campus job hunting in your final year.
If 2016 was the year you could freelance in and out of paying projects, businesses have now learnt that only task-based jobs are suitable for outsourcing to freelancers. The focus is on skills that you can bring as a permanent employee. The rewards will be higher for demonstrating high creativity and analytical skills. Showcase your team relationship skills, adaptability and good personal judgement and you will stand out from the crowd.
MIXED TEAM FOCUS
There is increased emphasis on teamwork over individual brilliance. Invest in developing your soft skills, verbal and written communication abilities and learning how to work in a complex team environment. Companies realise that no single individual can keep herself abreast of developments at work and hence encourage people to form high performance teams. At the same time, these teams are built and dismantled continuously to solve evolving challenges. Opportunities will come by in the form of gigs, temporary staffing as well as permanent jobs as companies rationalise hiring costs.
CULTURE FIT IS IN
It is no longer only about your skills. Firms realise they can’t afford to attract or retain you simply by paying a market salary. It does not work for them if you are not happy or engaged at your work. Employers are now looking for a culture fit when they hire you to be happier and more productive in your team. This has two implications. Firstly, a longer multi-round interview process when you are job hunting. Secondly, if there is a vacancy in your current team, it will take longer to fill up and your workload will be correspondingly higher until then. On the positive side, you are likely to end up in jobs where you will be happier and contented.
AGILITY IS THE NEW STABILITY
In the good old days, career stability meant finding a big brand to work for and doing a decent job there. Now, career stability no more means a single employer but a dozen or more over your working life. Thus, like a flying bird, stability lasts only as long as you are flapping your wings against the wind. You need to constantly upskill and keep testing yourself against the market to see if there is demand for what you do. If you are in a niche profile that only your employer needs, you will crash and burn very soon.
AUTOMATION IS YOUR NEW FRIEND
If you haven’t been gobsmacked by automation at the workplace yet, you soon will. Software testing, that once accounted for 30% of IT jobs, was on its last legs in 2016 as automation took over. With evolution in computing power and speed and emergence of deep connectivity, artificial intelligence and robotics, access and implementation of technology has become cheaper for businesses pushing them to automate processes and cut costs and time. While many jobs will disappear, you need not go with them. Learn to reskill yourself to deliver output of a higher order of magnitude.
HOT JOBS FOR 2017
Businesses want people to digest the data they generate. If you have a science, math, stats or engineering degree and are keen to work with numbers, spreadsheets, databases— learn the skills in your first job and ride the wave for years.
Tech continues to integrate with our lives through our phones, Internet, smart appliances, computer and mobile games and wearables. If you are a techie and developer you have multiple platforms that require your app development skills.
The world of money is ever green. Businesses need and value skills in counting, monitoring, deploying and advising on money matters. If you are an accountant, auditor or a financial services professional this is a good year to get a salary hike.
The healthcare sector is booming and will continue to. That’s good news for you as a doctor, nurse, pharma employee or if you are involved in the fitness industry. Consider jobs in growing spaces like home care and physical/occupational therapy.
Who needs managers? Apparently, everybody. Are you a people person and effective in handling teams and meeting targets? From back office operations to facility management, from production lines to services companies you are in demand.
As the economy tightens up, sales people become more valuable. If you are good at motivating your sales team and getting in the revenues, you are on a good wicket. Invest in customer relations and teach your team how to find customers.