5 Predictions for Job Seekers in 2020

Professionals shaking hands

In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

But ‘tis the season to look back at the year that was and try to figure out what the next 12 months have in store. This time around, we’re not only entering a new year, we’re also kicking off a new decade.

How will the first year of the 2020s play out? What can you do to make the most of what’s ahead?

Here are five predictions about why 2020 could be your best year ever.

1. The impact of boomer retirement is real — and it’s ratcheting up

Let’s start with an easy one: At some point in 2020, we’ll all be a year older. For increasing numbers of baby boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — that means retirement.

An estimated 10,000 boomers retire every day. That creates a lot of job openings, and there simply aren’t enough people in line to fill them.

“The reality is, we’re running out of people in a lot of markets,” says Aerotek Market Research Analyst Eddie Beaver. “Just about everywhere in the country, anyone can find a job — if they keep an open mind. Finding the right job might mean exploring different career paths or learning new skills.”

The takeaway? It’s a good time for you to consider new opportunities.

2. Workers will leave jobs for better opportunities — and higher wages

With unemployment at a 50-year low, people aren’t afraid to leave their current job for greener pastures. 

“People leave jobs for all kinds of reasons,” Beaver says. “They’ll quit for flexibility, career advancement or a higher salary. Some of them get a better offer from a recruiter.”

Beaver adds that these “quit rates” — tracked in the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey — reached record levels in 2019 and show no signs of leveling off in 2020.

The tight hiring market also offers good news when it comes to pay: The latest government jobs report shows 3.1% wage growth from last year.

If you’re interested in more — money, flexibility or career advancement — chances are good you may find it in 2020.

3. Qualifications will loosen and on-the-job training will increase

Unfilled positions have forced many employers to rethink job qualifications and their vision of what a “good candidate” looks like. Where previously they may have required specific certifications or experience, their focus is shifting to identifying quality employees who can be trained to do the job.

Beaver has observed this trend across all sectors, particularly in manufacturing and construction. “The old school thinking was that you were lucky to have a job,” he says. “Today employers look at it differently — they’re lucky to have you.”

That new mindset expands the range of jobs you can consider. Don’t shy away from those “qualified applicants only” postings, especially for a job you really want and know you can succeed at.

4. Automation will lead to more interesting — and safer — work

While automation may eliminate some positions, it will also change existing jobs and create new ones.

For example, a robot may perform the most dangerous tasks in production jobs, freeing you to focus on quality control and assurance. New software may perform basic accounting functions, allowing you to move up to trend forecasting and reporting.

Consider how you can add to your existing skills and keep pace with new technology in your field — and how your employer can help. More companies are willing to provide professional development or tuition assistance to retain and upskill staff. Not sure you’re keeping up with new technologies and skills? Recruiters who specialize in your field typically know what kind of growth and development opportunities local employers offer.

5. Growth will span all sectors and regions

Job growth will be positive across most industries, with some sectors expected to perform better than others.

  • Healthcare has been leading the way for the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Job growth extends to patient-support services like medical billers and pharmacy technicians.
  • Service-sector jobs continue to grow. The soft skills you develop in customer service positions successfully translate to a wide range of jobs.
  • Although the manufacturing and construction industries can experience fluctuations in hiring, experienced workers are always in demand. Employers are offering more training — onsite and through partnerships with community colleges — to develop the workforce they need.

With more employers recognizing the challenge of keeping workers in high cost-of-living locations, companies are opening up offices in less populated — and less expensive — areas. If you’re willing and able to relocate, you’ll have more options for where and how you live.

There’s never been a better time to be in the job market

For Beaver, all signs indicate that the current job market is the new normal, making it a job-seeker’s market for 2020 and beyond. That’s why he advises people to start having conversations about taking the next step in their career.

“There's never been a better time to talk to your employer,” says Beaver. “Or connect with a recruiter who supports your industry. They talk to dozens of people like you every day about getting more money and gaining more skills.”

With an outlook this strong, perhaps making predictions isn’t that tough after all.