You’ve all seen those article headlines: 10 best, 10 worst, 10 steps to take or avoid, top 10 vacation spots and so on. That’s because we’re apparently suckers for lists (sometimes the number isn’t 10, but the concept still works). For serious job seekers, however, the lists of topics such as best and worst places to live, look for employment, etc., can provide useful information–as long as they’re considered rationally.
An article by Danielle Kurtzleben on U.S. News & World Report (Jan. 20, 2012), gives one take on the situation. The writer notes that “vicious cycles of debt and irresponsible lending helped to cause the Great Recession, and now another vicious cycle of housing weakness and unemployment is keeping many cities from recovering.” Those of you living in California probably won’t be surprised but also won’t take much comfort from the knowledge that 7 of the 10 worst cities are in California, including the top 5.
Obviously, if you live in or near one of the listed cities, you might be thinking about the possibility of moving somewhere that has more positive employment activity. Of course, that assumes that if you’re currently a homeowner, you’ll be able to sell your home and finance a move.
On the flip side, if you live elsewhere and are considering relocating for a new job, you’ll want to keep in mind the existing conditions in the area you plan to move to. You might also see what information you can dig up on trends in that area that might make it less attractive down the road. For instance, are major industries in the area trending downward, and could that have an adverse effect on your industry, even if it’s currently doing reasonably well?
A common difficulty with economic and employment-related data is that we usually don’t get it until months or years after the period it’s describing. Also, predictions for periods of 10 years or so are projecting so far into the future that they can become outdated long before the end of that time. That said, it can still be useful to consult respected sources for information on which cities, regions, industries and occupations seem to have the brightest prospects at this time. One good source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The 2012-2013 edition of the OOH is scheduled to come out sometime in March 2012 and will be available online for free.
You can collect vast reams of information these days, thanks to the Internet. The point is, whether it’s the top 10 worst cities to find a job or the 10 best places to get a good education for your children, you’ll eventually have to call a halt to the information-gathering and begin taking some kind of action. You will probably never be able to acquire all the possible information and base your decisions on having a complete, 100% reliable picture. That’s the ideal, but the reality is not able to match it. Use commonsense to decide when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns and start moving forward with your job search plan.