The New Year is approaching quickly and that often provides a tangible cue for job seekers who may be looking for a new start. It even prompts some of us happily at work to consider other options out there, even if only briefly. That's just what the rekindling of a calendar turn is all about. So in that vein, what is 2014 going to bring us as it relates to job opportunities, work/life satisfaction and how companies are employing workers?
One leading workplace trend will be the continued increase of choices around alternative ways to work. We saw huge strides made in 2013 with regard to the level of dialogue around workplace flexibility. There were new books and articles espousing ways for jobs and lives to work together (Anne Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg among the biggest), social leaders taking initiative (Arianna Huffington and Working Mother magazine among the many), and companies making headlines (Yahoo! and Best Buy to name a couple). Some were beneficial to the cause, some were not, and some offered a little of both.
Here are my three forecasts for the upcoming year that will be important considerations should a job search be in your future. Use these insights for awareness and benefit as you plan to land a position in the New Year that meets both lifestyle needs and professional goals and aspirations.
1. Workplace flexibility will gain more footing as a social issue, both in terms of employee demand and public policy. It will be more and more difficult for companies to ignore the task of implementing at least some element of alternative work options since a growing number of organizations are doing just that. To be and stay competitive, flexibility is a valuable recruiting tool. San Francisco recently became the first city to enact legislation for working parents and caretakers, but the demographics of employees wanting flexibility aren't just those with kids. This will be an employee retention advantage for companies, and an opportunity for job seekers to ask for a more accommodating work situation.
2. Staffing companies will become less transactional and more like long-term "agents" for job seekers. Most professionals realize the value of working with a recruiter when they need a job -- that certainly makes sense. But as the employment landscape shifts to focus on filling major gaps in skills and worker availability, staffing firms will want to keep tabs on the very best talent. Building an ongoing relationship and discussing ideal job prospects periodically with recruiters -- even when you aren't looking for a job -- will keep a professional top of mind should an opportunity come available. This will be a win/win/win for future job seekers, recruiters and the companies they serve.
3. Changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act will lead companies to staff in more non-traditional ways. Aside from whether or not a company will offer health benefits with a job, it might not be obvious how this is an important consideration for the job seeker. But here it is. There are endless unknowns around the long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act which is making companies wary of how they structure their employment model. I don't think it will reduce the rate at which companies hire as much as how they do it. Job seekers interested in working non-traditional jobs (whether related to time, place or duration) will have more doors opened by companies looking for different ways to employ. This will allow companies to fill their ranks, and offer more broad-minded professionals a chance to work.
The main message here: Keep an open mind to the options. There are all kinds of opportunities for company and job seeker alike -- small organizations and large companies, the employed and unemployed, Millennials and Boomers, working parents and those wanting to "opt in" -- by just looking at the way we work a little differently.
Our recent Mom Corps survey found that nearly half (48 percent) of all working adults surveyed agree that they would consider alternative work options like temping, contracting, part-time or a consulting gig instead of a full-time job. And there are all kinds of reasons for this, both personally and professionally motivated -- flexibility needs, a desire to vary expertise, making a career change, wanting to get back into a professional environment, etc. Professionals can work on a project basis to gain a varied skill set, or they can work in a temporary role with the mindset to position themselves for permanent employment with the company.
Leveraging the natural movement of workforce and economic trends is one of the best ways to make the most of your job search. What do you predict for 2014? Do you have plans to expand your skill set or make a more work/life friendly move? Let's keep the dialogue going.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.