Tag Archives: Careers

It’s Not About What You Wanna Be When You Grow Up: It’s More About Who You Are

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It’s the age-old question we’ve been asked and often asked ourselves: ‘with do we want to be when we grow up?’ The question then translates to ‘what do I have to learn in order to get the job I want?’

Back in the days, once you got a skill and got a job, you stuck with that job. In the 21st century, things changed and to keep up with the changes (or if you’re looking for that promotion) you keep up with the latest developments in your job, earning and learning more until you finally retire.

But now the times have changed. Instead, there’s no longer that one job / one skill mindset (unless you’re talking about something really specific with specific ‘work/skill tracks’ – such as law enforcement, military service or specified services – such as government work.  For the majority of folks, the workforce environment is changing – and fast.

The rise of this new workforce approach is not new: it’s rather odd, dating back to World War II, where housewives were hired by larger factories seeking replacements for servicemen. Major corporations enjoyed this approach: temporary workers earning wages, but with little to no protection and largely kept at work owing to a specific need of meeting governmental orders for munitions and supplies.

Once the war ended, it was business as usual, with regular jobs and workers back in place. But the memories of those years were not lost on companies who, years later are enjoying the new norm of temporary work. This rise, coupled with governmental sponsored heath insurance, made micro-jobs even more attractive to both workers seeking to become more entrepreneurial and attain flexibility, and companies seeking to reduce the miscellaneous costs of health insurance, retirement and unemployment insurance

The side effect is tremendous worker competition to secure work.  Now, with a greater work pool, employers can afford to offer far lower (read: “competitive”) wages to meet specific jobs – and with that, the virtual elimination of regular jobs is now far more focused on ‘project’ driven work – projects within a company that need to be fulfilled but are done so though the efforts of employees hired to work just for the project and then usually released.

So what does this mean for the worker to be / student seeking work down the road?

Futurists and human resource executives say that our work lives will consist of doing several long-term projects or tasks at once. “Instead of identifying your job role or description, you [will be] constantly adding skills based on what is going to make you more employable,” says Jeanne Meister, New York-based co-author of “The Future Workplace Experience”.

If you’re younger, this will likely mean the ability to pursue flexibility and interests rather than getting a more traditional role – say in accounting, marketing or finance. More and more, it’s now a matter of employers looking not for specific job titles to be fulfilled, but rather reviewing and seeing what skills and abilities individuals bring to the table to undertake projects.

The flip side is however, many HR departments are not up to the task: how does one readily codify what skills outside of the usual listed ones that employees have? Do hobbies and interests outside of the workplace count and if so, how does one capture these into something meaningful and relevant to the project demands at hand? Thus, although this approach sounds ideal for employers, the problem remains: in order to make money work has to get done, and how one contracts out for the work and insures that the right people are on hand to get it done. And sadly, as with any era of changes, the old approaches and people are not immediately up to the task. Many HR departments – and recruiters – are not entirely up to the task at hand.

At least, not yet.

In the meantime, future employees need to determine what arena they’re interested in. As one example, rather than say to yourself, “gee, I want to be a doctor when I grow up’, potential employees need to talk about a greater goal; in this example, “using empathy in a medical setting”. Sounds weird; so what’s the difference?

Everything.

Now, you’re no longer limiting yourself to being ‘just a (traditional) doctor’, but rather opening up to a wider range of opportunities and potential directions. Rather than just being a ‘doctor’ you could consider other services and opportunities based on your own personal abilities and skill-sets. Are you good at writing, budgeting or able to mange people? Maybe you should go in the direction of health administration. Perhaps having worked as a babysitter and later, as a part-time daycare / caretaker while attending college, you should utilize your skills of relating to younger children into the realm of pediatrics.  (These are just basic, simple examples used for illustration).

We’ve reached a point now where’s it’s not so much just what you’re taught in school, but what you’re truly good at beyond just the textbooks and classrooms. So how do you line up with you’ve got and what you’re about with getting a job? There are a variety of ways which you, the potential employee could do, but sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best.

Take a piece of paper, relax, turn off the phone and jot down what you enjoy, what you’re good at and ask yourself: what do you want to be doing five years from now?

It’s worth noting that many skills are not readily taught and that more often than not, much of what we have and use on a regular basis we generally don’t realize we’re doing, or recognize as a valid job skill. Able to talk to people and break down barriers? Capable of writing a good phrase or word? Skilled in learning a new language readily, or discerning social trends and attitudes?  Capable of analyzing problems and coming up with meaningful and effective solutions? Add it all up and chances are you’ll find a career direction or path that you could both live with – and make a living.

To be certain, there’s a lot of uncertainty (!).

For instance, the more successful workplaces are going to be those who work to retain the skilled employees with both the abilities and the institutional knowledge (albeit that process will, over time, become more selective). The question is: how does one do these selections to meet both long-term and short-term needs?

It also remains to be seen what impact the elimination or drastic change of the ACA will do to the rising rend of micro jobs. With micro-jobs, there is a growing tendency for employees to push for more C to C (Corporate to corporate) or 1099’s (i.e., contract employees) as opposed to stand W-2 employees (with full benefits); having health care coverage is something that employees will seek as a matter of survival and depending on where you reside, can make a difference in career choices and locations, creating even greater job market disruption and social instability with folks moving about the country, if not the world.

Are universities up to the task? Are colleges going to move with the times and change-up the traditional assumptions of education? And what should those changes be? It’s worth noting that more and more, the trend is moving toward a greater emphasis on humanities, coupled with technical training: how much should this balance be? Or are we simply looking at this all wrong? Do colleges still play a vital role as they once did?  Clearly, some humanities skills are going to grow in value – such as writing and the ability to ‘cross-connect’ and understand different cultural norms, vis-a-vis ‘Cultural Morphology 101’; perhaps the curriculum of the 21st century should reflect this growing reality.

Critics point out several key points worth noting. For one, the uncertainty factor rises: if you’re working on a project by project basis, then it gets all the more difficult to remain rooted within one location, something which will have a direct impact on your household and family, not to mention the social net as families become more dispersed and communities become more fragmented. Witness, for example, the growing trend of workers moving out of the country into countries with lower costs while offering basic medical services: http://nypost.com/2016/11/28/its-easier-to-live-the-american-dream-in-bucharest/

Another issue is that of continuity: some companies will feel even less empathy toward their employees and with that, greater employee turnover will take place, creating greater workforce alienation and the likelihood of company failures as institutional memory is lost and internal problems compounded by outside / foreign competition.

Although the notion of micro-jobs sounds great for companies and can appeal to some employees attracted to entrepreneurship, clearly it’s not going to be for everyone and there are a lot of ‘kinks’ to work out in the coming decade(s).

One thing is for sure: your job is no longer yours, but maybe, just maybe your future is there – somewhere – for the taking.

(For more on this, check out “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees” by Jeanne Messier and Kevin J. Mulcahy).

New Future Careers (A Slightly Cynical Overview)

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For quite some time, I’ve been reading a number of reports, white pages, books, blogs and whatnot about the future state of work. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s pretty much a crap shoot however you look at it. And so, like many others, I’d figure I’d give my insight into the future career development trends.

It used to be that there would always be jobs that could be considered ‘safe’ and ‘stable’. No more. With the constant and exponential advance of technology now becoming so prevalent, what were once considered safe careers are going to require – at the very last, some major revamping on some folks part, while other careers are going to – within the next 10 or 20 years – simply disappear. So how can you tell where things are going to go? What’s a good job to have now that’ll be there later on? Kind of a silly question when you think about it, especially when you consider that on average, a person can expect to hold anywhere from 3 to 5 CAREERS, let alone more than a dozen jobs – at a minimum – given today’s economy.

So,…

Want to know what jobs are really going to be hot? Where you should look to catch the next wave? Look no further and read here!

Let’s look into the crystal ball to see the future (we’re talking about 10 to 20 years; any more and it gets tricky).

And please, try not to laugh too hard, get shocked or disgusted: this is merely a ‘suggested listing. Take it or leave it as you please.
Professional Assassin

It’s a rough and tumble world: hiring somebody who can make ‘incidents’ look like accidents will truly be irreplaceable. This kind of work can be applicable to both the private and public world. Fort example, as elections become more demanding and costly, removing pesky political candidates seeking ‘meaningful’ change can be irritating if not upsetting to your electoral base; make it look like a heart attack or a car accident.

Similarly, working for that promotion can be so much easier when your competition suddenly chokes on their morning muffin or has that sudden heart attack at their local coffee place. When you think about it, if you could ‘eliminate’ your competition at the cost of a year’s salary knowing that you’ll be able to get it all back – and more – within two years (and depending on your career track, maybe even move up higher in the food chain) maybe the ROI (Return On Investment) is something to consider. Just remember to ask yourself if you can live with yourself afterwards and deal with the morality later on.

Unlikely to happen? Well, think again. Statistically speaking the U.S. national homicide solution rate is around 50%. In others words, on average, 1 out of 2 homicides goes unsolved. The figure varies from start to state, so before you think that folks are going to get caught – well, yes, there’s always a good chance as not everyone can go out and commit a ‘successful’ murder: but surprisingly, the odds do favor folks more than many realize: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2013/01/rates-of-unsolved-murder-by-state.html

And please spare me your shock: assassins over the course of the centuries have often been employed and extensively used. In some time periods, it was often de’rigor (witness the Italian Renaissance of the 1400’s) as assassins were not so much used just for killing, but also for defense against possible options of entry, methods of poisons or other dangers. Sometimes the best defense is hiring those who know the inside tricks: who better to know a professional than another professional?

Law Enforcement / Criminal Intelligence

With the sudden expansion of assassinations, who else better to solve murders than a detective?

But criminal intelligence will be much, much more than just detectives solving crimes. With the rising influence of the Internet and crimes being committed long distance and across boundaries, having an innate sense of patterns coupled with a strong knowledge of the law and technology / database processes will be fundamental in this growing job field. Having good shoes can always help, but more and more it will more a matter of professionals able to research, review and seek out information online and from a wide variety of sources (in addition to good old fashion direct contact) – and often all done at the convenience of a computer terminal.

The good news what with folks turning more and more to computer usage and the growth of the Internet, law enforcement agencies are better able to share information and with some good old fashion sleuthing and persistence, you could be one of the good guys who gets the bad guys.

Research Analyst

Along the same lines, Research Analysts will become very useful for journalists, attorneys, people seeking electoral office or other gig level professionals. Knowing the dirt on your opponents, seeking market opportunities and potential patents and licenses to exploit will be invaluable in the coming 21st century. Likewise, publications seeking to do a story will need background and having somebody on hand to do just that – whether it’s the office intern trying to make a name for themselves.

Social Media Expert

You are only as good as your reputation and word – and given the prevalence of the Internet, how you appear on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. ultimately impacts your business and your professional standing. Having the expert(s) on hand to help guide you through the jungle of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will become important as there are a number of routines, services / website worth focusing on (and others that are on the way out) as well as ‘tricks’ you need to know to have a positive impact. The good news is that SEO’s are becoming more common, and with that, more career opportunities are starting to open up.
Writers – Creative

Nothing can readily replace good, creative writing (but then again, there’s also television, so it evens out). Fact is, the most despised, abused and neglected part of many marketing, film or other work involving a mediocrum of creative work is that of writing. Still, if you can live at shit wages and live the life of a professional dealing with routine neglect and abuse, there’s a future in here – somewhere, I’m sure but don’t ask me; I still haven’t found it.

Artists – varied

Ditto for graphic artists, although now it helps to have a good computer / graphic design background if you’re going to have any sort of ‘serious’ career (although I’m not sure a lot of artists are going to be happy over this. I sometimes wonder what would Picasso do with an Apple,…?).

Alternate Energy Professionals

Whether you’re a salesman selling solar panels or a journalists writing about new energy trends, having a good knowledge of alternative energy systems will be a crucial skill in the coming decades. Knowing the cost effectiveness of various energy processes, how they actually work and where each energy system would be most effective and applicable will be a vital role throughout the world, regardless if you’re looking into credential or commercial applications. many lesser developed nations are turning to alternative energy solutions owing to the greater return on investment that alternative energies offer and the ease in which they could be installed. In some instances, military forces worldwide are looking into this function as operations become more far-flung and with rising logistical challenges, having a self-sufficient force in the field can offer a serious tactical advantages.

Nurse

As the population grows and ages, the need for professional care takers will be needed, whether at the home (for the few select ones) or for larger medical institutions. This will become even more acute as universal health are grows and service demands rise. In addition, rising violence in some locations may offer greater need for emergency staff capable of assistance that could save lives, especially with those assassins and crazed morticians running about.

Morticians
Speaking of morticians,…

Somebody has to bury the bodies; as the population grows so too does the demand for burials. Granted, it ain’t your grandfather’s mortuary service anymore and morticians are now being franchised ala McDonald’s, but still the skills will come into ever greater demand in the coming decades. Thing is, however, it’ll likely evolve into a ‘cut throat’ business so I’d be careful about hanging out with morticians after work.

Non-Profit Professionals

As governments become more and more stretched to the limits of spending, social gaps are growing and with that, having the skill set of non-profit management will become more prevalent and necessary.

Non-profits increasingly carry the load of many governmental agencies, as governmental agencies increasingly sub-contract out what normally would be covered by governments. Thus, having the ability to fund raise, effectively manage and maintain cost-effective non-profit service and keeping those costs down will be vital skills to have in the continuing century as public service weakens even as public needs continue to rise.

Mercenary

In today’s world, security is becoming paramount and possessing the skills to kill (aside form being that of an assassin) will become ever more needed. Whether you’ll wind up with a Blackwater (now known “Academi”) subsidiary or working as a security guard for some corporate entity, having muscle on hand is always good for some folks as there are a lot of weird and dangerous people out there (perhaps including assassins or hungry morticians).
Jobs that are on the way out:
Programmer

While it is good – if not important – to understand programming, owing to the number of programmers found throughout the world the cost/value ratio of programming is dropping. To be certain, it will always be vital to have on hand good / expert programmers, but increasingly, as with any over-flooded market, having too much of a skill set is bound to thin things out and thus, unless you’re really good with solid experience, changes are you’re going to find it hard to get by on just being a programmer alone.

Add to this how many HR departments really don’t have a clue what it is they’re looking for (Java script? Are you f**king serious?) along with now many programming jobs being simply ‘off shored’ for pennies to the dollars (witness the story of the gentleman who offshored his work to programmers while still collecting his salary and making a profit in the process – that is, until his HR found out and gave him a test for his programming skills, which he failed and was promptly fired).

Financial Analyst

For those of you who despise Wall Street and their minions of money, you can cheer; soon, many of these so-called financial whizzes will find themselves on the receiving end of pink slips. What’s replacing them, however, may be even more scary: computers.

Wall Street is fast becoming a land of algorithms and high-speed / power processing. Much of what financial analysts do today on Wall Street can – and in many instances already are – being replaced. If you’re a financial analyst reading this, better sharpen up your resume or learn about computers while you still can. So now we can look forward to getting endless emails about potential investment opportunities as you face your home foreclosure.

Attorneys

Increasingly, attorney’s are a dime a dozen. Granted, nothing can replace a ‘good attorney;’ but as computers and advanced legal services go online with computer algorithms, you’re really not going to need as many attorneys to conduct legal review and/or research. Utilization of the law requires much more than just key words or phrases; legal analysis is a tricky realm to navigate but increasingly, it’s being mapped out and navigated (some have even suggested that in the coming 10 to 20 years, it may be a big as nearly 9 out of 10 lawyers today will no longer find work!). Word to the wise: IBM’s Watkins (http://www.ibm.com/cognitive/outthink/).

In time, the cost of having access to an advanced legal service is going to be more cost-effective than maintaining legal experts on staff. Soon, even many in-house secretaries and paralegals may soon themselves facing new and uncertain futures owing to templates and online services replacing much of what is being done in-house, along with Siri-like secretarial assistants and document imaging / file management systems. Still, somebody has to make the coffee and clean the office dishes (wait a minute; that’s why we have unpaid interns!).
Knowing the direction of trends and where things are going is something that the graduating class of 2025 (if not sooner) had better keep in mind as clearly things aren’t what they used to be. Change doesn’t have to be bad; just to be willing to see change and to adjust for it is, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his “Origins of Species”, necessary for survival.

That and a twisted sense of humor.