Job Hunting

Is It Time to Switch Industries?

While some industries are taking down their "Help Wanted" signs, others, notably health-care and energy, are hiring.
Sarah JohnsonAugust 26, 2008

This year’s job market hasn’t been pretty. Financial services firms have been making thousands of job cuts amid the credit-market slide, and at 5.7 percent, the unemployment rate sits at a four-year high.

However, furthering the trend in recent years, finance and accounting workers generally don’t have to worry about job security. They can still feel confident as CFOs continue to struggle with filling their teams with truly talented people.

“We’re seeing the demand for full-time people as strong as it was in the beginning of the year,” says Glenn Dubiel, a vice president covering the southern region for The Mergis Group, a placement firm specializing in finance and accounting professionals.

In a survey of 500 finance and accounting professionals by placement firm Ajilon Finance, 65 percent believe they have the same or better job opportunity than they did a year ago.

Most are not overly concerned about losing their jobs. In a poll of 318 accounting and finance workers, 75 percent told Mergis that their positions likely won’t be cut in the next year. However, the 14 percent who said they are likely to be dismissed represents a notable minority.

Indeed, now may be a good time to switch industries if yours is not doing well. Real estate and mortgage firms, for example, are either not hiring or taking their time bringing in new employees, says Dubiel. Jobs in the manufacturing, construction, IT, and retail industries also have gone down in recent months.

On the other hand, the health-care and energy sectors have wide open-doors for people seeking career changes.

The health-care sector has added 368,000 jobs this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The aging of baby boomers has raised the demand for health-care workers, and health-care organizations need more accountants as well to keep track of the new business.

And the energy job market is going strong because of the boom in natural gas production and increased investments in alternative energy.

Recruiters expect to see the most requests for filling C-level jobs in the health-care and energy fields, confirms ExecuNet, a career and recruiting network. Those two industries will see the greatest growth in six-figure jobs over the next six months, ExecuNet predicts, followed by life sciences, high-tech, and business services.

For people looking to make an industry leap, Dubiel cautions that while it could produce greater job security, it also could mean taking a pay cut. The higher the position and the narrower the niche, harder it will be to make a change at the same pay.

However, the down market in some industries brings an opportunity for people to reevaluate their careers and consider investing in training that could expand their worth to employers outside their current field, Dubiel contends.

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