Many people may be adding “find a new job” to their list of resolutions in 2016, and the good news is that it’s a job-seekers’ market. The national unemployment rate dropped to 5% last month, the lowest it’s been since 2008. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 271,000 new jobs were created, many of which were in technology, health care, and retail, building on a trend that’s been gaining steam this year, as twice as many employers are looking to fill jobs as there are candidates who are applying.
To determine which jobs are most in demand heading into the New Year, CareerBuilder partnered with Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) to analyze a range of 700 occupations. The results were calculated by drilling down to the number of job ads companies post each month and comparing it to the number of people actually hired, as well as factoring other data points, such as job growth and salary from a labor market database that pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources.
CareerBuilder found that over 100 occupations in the U.S. have more job posting activity than hiring month to month. Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, said in a statement: “While many of these jobs are in the technology and health care sectors, there are also plenty of opportunities in areas such as marketing, sales, and transportation.”
It’s not surprising that registered nurses clinched the top spot. Of the nearly 300,000 unique job postings this year, only 97,549 positions were filled. This number is likely only to rise as recent findings from AMN Healthcare indicate that more than half of current registered nurses are over the age of 50, and 62% are considering retiring in the next three years. Couple this with the fact that the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 69,000 qualified applicants in 2014, partly because of a shortage of faculty, and you’ve got the making of a crisis, according to Marcia Faller, RN, PhD, chief clinical officer at AMN Healthcare.
Software developers are also in high demand. As a group, these knowledge workers tend to move around very frequently. A separate CareerBuilder survey found that 42% of those in the information technology sector are likely to leave their jobs within one to two years, which only betters their chances of earning more. Recent findings from Dice indicate that money is motivating 59% of the over 1,600 technology professionals surveyed who said they’d even move to a different city to get a higher paying job.
And why not? A WorldatWork survey found that salaried U.S. workers could expect a 3.1% increase in pay in 2016. Getting a new job has the potential of boosting that base pay between 10% and 20%, according to some estimates. For software and app developers who earn a median hourly wage of $45.92, that represents a hefty raise.
Earlier this year, we found out that truck driver is the most common occupation in the U.S., according to research conducted by National Public Radio. This represents a major shift in employment since 1978, when the most common jobs were farmer, secretary, and machine operator.
According to CareerBuilder, monthly job postings for heavy or tractor trailer truck drivers exceeded 1 million, yet only 106,355 workers were hired monthly. These workers make around $19 per hour, which CareerBuilder’s CEO Matt Ferguson cautions could be too low.
“The availability of jobs across industries underscores the need for companies to evaluate where their talent deficits are and become more strategic about how they fill these needs,” he said in a statement, “whether that means reskilling their current workers, offering higher salaries to attract workers, or using data analytics to target talent with the right skills.”
Some of these positions might not be filled due to job seekers feeling uncertain about their prospects. CareerBuilder’s corporate communications manager Mary Lorenz advises those looking for a new job not to underestimate themselves when applying for these in-demand positions.
“Job seekers often feel discouraged from applying to a job if they do not meet 100% of the qualifications listed in the ad,” she tells Fast Company. “However, our research shows that more employers are willing to hire candidates who do not meet every single qualification and train them on the job.”
Indeed, we’ve seen how some companies are recruiting more engineers–and diversifying their ranks–by training. Saama Technologies recruits candidates who don’t have computer science degrees but do have quantitative skills in math, physics, statistics, or even psychology to go into a four-month paid training program before hiring, in an effort to hire more women and minorities.
Lorenz recommends that job seekers emphasize their soft skills. “The vast majority of employers consider soft skills to be just as important as hard skills when evaluating prospective hires, and some even consider them more important,” she says. To bolster the EQ (emotional intelligence) of their resume, Lorenz suggests providing specific examples from past work experience where they demonstrated these skills.