Predictions for 2018? Only one.

Pop quiz, everyone. Multiple choice. Prediction for 2018:

  1.  The best year in the job market in recent memory.
  2.  A year that disappoints.
  3.  Damned if I can tell from here!
  4.  The end of the world.

OK, it’s not D. Remember when the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012? It’s five years since – borrowed time if you’re a Mayan, I guess – and we’re still here, so D’s not credible. On the other hand, read the newspaper front to back for just one day, and you might buy into the possibility that the start of the Mayan calendar could have been off by a few years and we’re heading into the real 2,012th year next month. If that’s the case, thank you for reading my column all these years, and if we’ve lived a life free of evil, we’ll be led by the goddess Ixtab into paradise, sprout from the earth like fruit trees in a blissful orchard, and my career coaching services will no longer be needed.

Now let’s get serious (although I’m really liking that blissful orchard idea). D’s out and anyone who chooses A or B is either guessing or thinking they know what they’re talking about. There are good arguments to be made either way (and I could make either argument), but anyone ready to bet the farm on either one – and also state now the reasons – has a high likelihood of being an ex-farmer 52 weeks from now. Things are mixed up now, period.

So with D out, and A and B not good unconditional bets, we’re left with C. While that may not be the answer you’re looking for, it’s what we’ve got to work with. And though that points to uncertainty, that’s OK because, as I’ve declared before, in times of uncertainty the only thing of which we can be certain is ourselves. That works out quite well, thank you, because it makes crystal clear what we have to do. Anyway, here are some reasons the answer is C.

The most dynamic sector of the workforce – worldwide – is clean energy. According to the Renewables 2017 Global Status Report, there is rapid expansion in all developed nations in the three major areas of renewable energy: power, heating and cooling, and transport. Sizeable growth is seen in both capacity and investment flow.

Good, so far. But in most subdivisions, while the US ranks in the top five countries in installed capacity, we’re totally absent in per capita numbers. That, plus the fact that we pulled out of the Paris Accord, could lead one to speculate that this is not a growth area in our job market. So why are the two fastest growing jobs in America (by percentage), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, photovoltaic installer and wind turbine service technician? I have my theories but not enough room here to lay them out. Fact is, we’re moving forward in renewables and, for example, the state with the most energy produced by wind – Iowa, 36.6 percent – is right up there with the country that leads the world: Denmark, 39.6 percent. (2016 data). There’s the kernel of my theory, by the way: growth will be led by states and the private sector. So on the one hand, we’ve got growth but on the other, we don’t seem to be in a global leadership position.

See? Neither A nor B is certain.

More. From 30,000 feet, the American job market looks strong in several sectors – tech, healthcare, and E-commerce – to name three. Incidental to this is the good news that 17 of our 30 fastest growing jobs pay at or above the national median. But here’s the kick: these sectors are all creating jobs at the expense of other sectors (or sub-sectors). The net-net is undisputed job growth, but those caught unaware will be on the short end of the stick.

Which brings us back to C – and the message not only for today, the last day of 2017, but also for 2018. In times of uncertainty the only thing of which we can be certain is ourselves, which means only one thing. Get into playing shape – resumes updated, job search and interviewing strategies developed, career planning contingencies firmed up, and career networking in place – and be ready for whatever comes. We must – repeat, must – be certain of the only thing we can: ourselves.

With that I wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2018.

See ya’ next year.

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