2010: A Year in an Unstable Job Market

Where to look for a job in 2011.

Dec. 27, 2010 — -- The job market has been of the biggest stories of 2010. There are 15 million people unemployed, but when you add up people who are discouraged, have stopped looking or are underemployed, that number jumps to more than 26 million. It's safe to say that job seekers won't be sorry to see the ball drop on 2010.

Construction, financial services, local/state government, traditional publishing and printing, and even the US Postal Service took some of the hits this year. Yet, on the bright side, 1.2 million jobs were added in the private sector, but we're still down more than 6 million jobs since the recession began, so we have a ways to go.

As we look ahead to 2011, there are a few key areas to focus our attention:

Temps: More than 300,000 temporary jobs were added this year. There was a time when being a temp meant you couldn't get a fulltime job; today there's no stigma attached to it. Some people even prefer it because of the flexibility that comes along with it. Experts predict that in a few years, more than 25% of all workers will be temps. And it's still one of the best ways to get your foot in the door for a permanent position.

Health care: No matter what becomes of President Obama's health care law, health care is one of the very few industries where there are more jobs than prior to the recession. In 2010, more than 400,000 jobs were added in health care. The opportunities are diverse: from trainers to therapists to nurses, all of which require specialized training.

Retail: Retail has been coming back. Even with seasonal workers ending their positions after the holidays, more than 55,000 jobs were added this year. Demand is up a bit for sales and customer service after severely slashing those positions when people and companies weren't spending. That need is expected to grow as long as consumer confidence grows too.

Hospitality and restaurants: The leisure and hospitality industry added 150,000 workers as tried and true establishments that offer good value saw a healthy gain in business. Lessons from 2010 for the job hunter moving into 2011:

Expand your mind. Just because your industry took a dive, it doesn't mean your career must sink too. Experience in supply chain or project management in construction or publishing could be shifted to the same type of work in health care or even retail. Think about what you can do and how you can use those skills in a new industry.

Multiply your skill sets. Being good at just one thing won't cut it anymore and surely doesn't enable you to stand out among the competition. Use temp work, volunteer assignments or even raising your hand to tackle a project outside of your normal realm at work to develop such expanded skills.

Redefine job safety and security. If we've learned anything it's that there's truly no such thing as long-term job security. Instead of being angry and fearful, we'd be better served by adopting a free agent mentality. You are the CEO of your career, which means keeping your network up, marketing yourself, and always looking out for number one.

Consider starting a business. We used to think that the easiest and safest route was getting a steady job with a guaranteed paycheck from someone else. That's no longer the easy or safe route. Consider some form of entrepreneurship as a potential goldmine for 2011. Click for tips on launching your own business in the New Year.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the CEO of Women For Hire. Connect with her at www.twitter.com/toryjohnson or www.facebook.com/tory.