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What 2017 search trends tell us about the current job market

Image: California Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use
A retail clerk shows cannabis plants to customers at the Harborside cannabis dispensary in Oakland, California, on Jan. 1. Copyright John G. Mabanglo EPA
Copyright John G. Mabanglo EPA
By Nicole Spector with NBC News
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2017 saw a big spike in searches for jobs in hurricane recovery, the cannabis industry and remote work, but do those jobs even exist?

With a new year just begun, many of us are prepping to change jobs or even get on a new career path altogether. And if history is any indicator, we're going to start researching opportunities and submitting our resumes pronto. Job search site Monsternoted that January is the busiest month for job hunting, with January 4 being the top day in 2017 (in 2016 it was January 6). What sort of vocations are we seeking? It varies from person to person, but a recent report from fellow job search site Indeed shows that certain fields saw a boom in interest in 2017.

The report found that in the U.S., the job field that saw the most substantial rise in user searches was hurricane relief, with a soaring growth rate of 682 percent. Second in search command was tech and software, which grew by 467 percent. Taking third was cannabis/marijuana, with a 401 percent growth. The fourth most popular job search term was "remote/work from home" (up 385 percent), followed by "no experience required" — up by a staggering 1140 percent.

Job Searches Were Tied To Disasters

That job searches pertaining to hurricane relief skyrocketed isn't exactly surprisingly in the wake of a historically catastrophic (and costly) hurricane season.

"In the U.S., many [people] rushed to help after hurricanes slammed the nation," says Paul Wolfe, SVP of HR at Indeed, adding that most jobs Indeed sees related to disaster relief are "disaster relief project manager and field inspectors for project management and engineering services organizations serving affected areas in the US, and hurricane relief team members for Blackmon Mooring."

As The Cannabis Industry Blazes On, People Want In

Job search popularity in the cannabis industry also isn't a shocker as the nascent industry of legalized marijuana blossoms in a number of big American cities.

"The marijuana industry is still young with new companies starting from scratch, learning the ropes and offering job seekers opportunities as we've seen from the explosive job growth within the industry in 2017," says Christine Hodgdon, director of HR, Native Roots Dispensary. "Experienced professionals will find greater opportunities at higher levels within the industry moving forward as the major players jockey for market share and top talent. Of course, with the current high industry turnover in front line dispensary, production and grow operations, we are constantly hiring."


'No Experience Required' May Point to a Strong Labor Market

That the hunt for remote jobs is gaining steam makes sense as flexibility becomes a more valued job perk (especially among millennials), but why the astronomical rise of the job search term "no experience required"?

Daniel Newell, director of Tri-Cities One-Stop Career Center at Ohlone College, thinks this spike can be chalked up to "the healthy economy and the job market being in favor of the job seeker," adding: "Employers are understanding that in many roles, job seekers can be trained on the job and that 'some college' or job seekers pursuing a certificate or associate degree can do the same job just as well."

Are These Even Jobs Out There?

At the end of all the day (or 2017, anyway), do our searches line up with what jobs are actually available? A new report from Monster indicates both yes and no. These are the jobs that were most frequently posted in 2017:

1. Registered nurse

2. First-line supervisor of retail sales workers

3. Light truck or delivery services driver

4. Retail salesperson

5. Customer service representative

6. Software developer, applications

7. Sales representative, wholesale and manufacturing

8. Computer user support specialist

9. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver

10. First-line supervisor of office and administrative support workers

We see two tech jobs but nothing that has to do with hurricane relief or cannabis. Of course, a budding cannabis business may need a delivery services provider, just as a retail salesperson can very well have no experience, or at least, no formal training. Furthermore, a sales rep can often work remote, as can a customer service rep.

Perhaps the jobs we're looking for are out there, after all ... if we do a little work.

Work at a Company With a Conscience

The point is to conduct your job search with an open mind. If you want to work in hurricane relief services but for whatever reason that's not an option, consider learning about what your prospective company does in terms of corporate social responsibility.

"If you're looking for a new job and they had offices that were affected by the recent disasters, ask them how they handled it," suggests Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster. "Do they partner with an organization? Find out their values and what so you can be sure they align with yours."

If You Want to Work Remotely, Apply and Then Negotiate Flexibility

Salemi also advises job seekers looking for remote work to not rule out gigs that don't offer remote hours in the job description; if you're a good fit for the job, you may be able to negotiate the issue.

"Interview with a full time job and ask if it's flexible at all," says Salemi. "There's a labor shortage right now, which is great for the job seeker. The [hiring company] just may be open to your ideas."

January is All About You 2.0, but There's No Perfect Time To Look For A Job

Amid all the New Year's hubbub, you may be in a rush to revise your résumé, but if you can manage it, there's no harm in waiting another month or two to dig into the job search.

"January is an awesome time to look for a job," says Salemi. "But there's never a bad time or a perfect time to look, so don't give up, be persistent, and keep your eye on the prize."

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