Need A Job? You Might Have To Think North Dakota


So now we know. We are in the 12th month of a nasty recession, we have lost billions in net worth, and we have lost at least a couple million jobs in 2008.

If you are one of those, you are trying to figure out where to hang your hat next. And even if you are still gainfully employed, you are certainly looking over your shoulder and scanning the horizon for possible exit routes.

Where the Jobs Are
The next best place to look for the next gig may not be nearby. Figuratively, or literally. Want a good place to find a job? Try North Dakota. That’s right, North Dakota. The New York Times reported this weekend that North Dakota has 13,000 jobs open currently and the prospects for keeping a job in that fair state exceed almost anyplace in the nation. The state struggles to live down the stereotype of being very cold and very weird. Add to that its geographical remoteness, and it just doesn’t seem that appealing to most of us, and that’s my point.

Think Fargo, figuratively. Your next best shot at a good job is probably in a different region—or different field—from where you are now. As a career research web company, has been researching sectors that expect job growth and three emerge:

1) Government (including Education)
2) Healthcare
3) Energy

If you are working in manufacturing, retail, financial services, consulting or media, transferring to one of the three sector highlighted here could feel like moving to North Dakota. But that may be exactly what is required to keep you employed.

Size Matters
Here’s another thought. Tremendous opportunities exist at smaller companies. Your job has been eliminated or threatened due to consolidation. Lehman Brothers, AIG , General Motors ,Sears , CVS and Avis are giant companies that are shrinking. But in every one of their sectors, other smaller and more agile companies are poised to steal market share and customers. And they are looking to fill open positions or upgrade existing ones.

It takes a clear world view (in other words, you have to agree with my analysis of the job marketplace) and a strong handle on one’s ego to make a move to a lesser known, smaller company. I have spoken to many men and women who have made such a move and without exception they are happier (more secure, more fulfilled, and less stressed by corporate politics). Going from Bank of America to a small private investment company or from Viacom to a small web site company can feel like moving from New York City to Fargo, but it could be worth the trip.


Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of, Inc. Mr. Sorenson, 52, oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company. He is widely regarded as an expert on media strategy and industry trends, with experience spanning radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Internet. From 1998 through 2004, Mr. Sorenson served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel. He has won more than twenty Emmy awards as a writer, producer, and television executive.

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