Career News from 2011: The Year in Review

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 0 comments
For my final blog of 2011, I decided to repeat last year’s idea of looking back at the tweets I’ve issued on Twitter in order to follow up on some and comment on the significance of others. (If you’re not already following me, my handle is @LaurenceShatkin.)

Green career issues have been a frequent theme in 2011. In January, I linked to “Top 10 greentech predictions for 2011.” Now, looking back, you’ll find that most of these predictions have come true. (This was actually a retweet from @CarolMcClelland, whom you should follow if you’re interested in green careers.) Another tweet on this subject, in October, was about the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for Green Career Information. In March, I linked to survey results from the Solar Energy Industries Association, which projected 26 percent growth in solar jobs from 2010 to 2011, with a net of 24,000 new jobs. Among the jobs they reported on, the best combination of fast growth and low competition was for solar photovoltaic installers and technicians.

Another frequent topic has been recovery from the Great Recession. The news in 2011 has been mixed. In February, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that for the first time since 2008, a college class was beginning the year with average starting salary offers higher than the previous year.
One interesting feature of this recession was its uneven impact on different age groups. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that 34 percent of men in their 60s were holding paying jobs, compared with fewer than 15 percent of males ages 16 and 17. I blogged on this same subject in July and speculated that perhaps Congress has been doing so little to create jobs because the most reliable voters have the lowest rate of job loss. This doesn’t mean, however, that job loss is not a problem for older workers. As reported on the Economix blog of The New York Times (a must-read site for anyone interested in the economy), the small percentage of older workers who do lose a job subsequently endure the longest stretch of unemployment. In fact, the graph that accompanies the blog posting shows that the close correlation between age and duration of unemployment covers the full spectrum of ages.

An important milestone in the recovery was the rebound experienced by the automobile industry, thanks to oft-maligned federal intervention. In February, General Motors reported its biggest profit in a decade and said it would give 45,000 union workers a profit-sharing check for $4,300. In May, GM announced that it had seen its earnings triple in the first quarter and reported that it would invest $2 billion in 17 automobile plants across 8 states, saving or creating 4,200 jobs. In September, a deal between GM and the United Auto Workers union saved or created 6,400 jobs. The deal was especially aimed at accelerating the hiring of entry-level workers and at reducing the leakage of jobs to Mexico.

Despite these positive developments for the auto industry, this has been largely a jobless recovery so far. In March, the Commerce Department reported (PDF) that corporate profits had increased 29.2 percent in 2010, the fastest growth they have experienced in more than 60 years. But a July report from JP Morgan (PDF) revealed that the main force driving the rebound in profits was decreases in employees’ earnings and benefits, thanks to an oversupply of workers and offshoring. This is not how a middle class recovers from a recession. Jobs in construction and manufacturing seem particularly stuck in a post-bubble slump.

The Occupy Wall Street movement drew a lot of attention to income disparities that have come into high relief as the well-off have shrugged off the recession while most of the rest of the nation continue to suffer either unemployment or wage stagnation. Just last week, I tweeted about a study by historians that demonstrates that the Roman Empire had more equal distribution of income than United States does now. A graph posted by New York Times columnist and blogger Paul Krugman shows the dramatic difference between the after-tax income growth of the top 1 percent of earners versus everybody else. Another graph in that same blog post points out the earnings advantage of higher education but also shows its limitations. The hourly wages of college graduates have increased substantially since 1980, in contrast to the flat or declining hourly wages of people with less education. However, those wage increases for college graduates stopped at 2000, and the gains by those with advanced degrees have slowed to a trickle over the past decade. It seems even the upper middle class is not served well by the economy we now have.

I don't want to end on a down note, and it’s always good to have a laugh, so if you missed Stephen Colbert on “The Audacity Of Hopelessness,” enjoy it now. He explains how the Department of Labor computes unemployment figures and why giving up your job search actually helps the economy.

I hope the coming year is a good one for you and for your career.

Time to Quit?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 0 comments
Maybe your New Year’s resolution should be to quit your job.

During this past recession, those of us who were lucky enough to still have a job tended to hang onto them. Now that the nation is officially in a recovery, albeit a slow one, a sign of the upward trend is that workers are starting quit their jobs. The resignations are not coming in huge numbers, but the Labor Department reports that 1.9 million workers quit in October. This continues a trend that has been visible for much of 2011, as the number of resignations climbs slowly upward from its low point in late 2009 and early 2010.

In my career, I have quit only one job, but I have lost several for various reasons. In retrospect, I can see several occasions when it probably would have served me better to quit. Here are some signs that it’s time for you to start looking for a new job:

Your work has minimal impact on the business
. Specifically, you may notice that your ideas get no traction in meetings or when expressed in memos. (It doesn’t matter that your ideas may be good ones if nobody heeds them.) Although you may be busy, you cannot identify any specific achievements that made or saved money for the company or otherwise helped its reputation. I once had a job in product development at a company where this function was peripheral to the company’s mission and didn’t fit into the corporate culture. It was only a matter of time before a budget crunch would come and make them realize that I was expendable.

You have almost nothing in common with your coworkers.
Their lunchtime talk leaves you cold. Their life goals and values are very different from yours. Maybe you feel uncomfortable about their moral standards (either too shady or too prudish).

The core mission of the business doesn’t match your goals and values. This often accompanies the previous item, because organizations tend to attract and retain workers who fit in.

You resent the low level of pay (or benefits) you’re getting and see no likelihood of improvement if you stay.

You resent the low level of autonomy you have and see no likelihood of improvement if you stay. This may result from having either a control freak for a boss or a rulebook that hogties you.

The hours at work or on the road are eroding your family life. Some people thrive on work or business travel and either don’t have a family or don’t need a lot of contact with it. But others find their job draining away one of their main satisfactions in life.

Your heart is not in what you’re doing. You find it difficult to concentrate on your work. You wing it much of the time. You no longer try to improve your work.

You realize that the industry or the employer’s business is doomed. Market forces or technology may be sending your industry into obsolescence. Superior competition may be stealing market share from your enterprise. Inept leadership may be making bad decisions that will send the business into decline.

In some of these situations, you are not under immediate threat of a layoff, but because it’s usually easier to get a job when you have a job, it’s advisable to plan your escape before you’re laid off. In situations where the problem is your rising level of dissatisfaction, it’s better to look for a new job before you gain a reputation as a malcontent or a slacker.

If your resume is out of date, fix it up. Make efforts to build your network or refresh your contacts with people already in your network. (The holidays provide you with the perfect reason and medium for doing that.) Start working on your elevator speech, focusing on your desire for new challenges rather than the negative aspects of your situation.

When you get a job offer, it may possibly provide enough leverage to convince your current employer to remedy what you don’t like about your job. But if the problem is something inherent in the nature of your current job--for example, it doesn’t fit into the corporate culture and mission, or heavy travel is inescapable--then it really is time to move on.

Values of Men and Women, Part 2

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 0 comments
Last week I blogged about differences between the career-related values of men and women. I used data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, which was conducted by the Census Bureau on behalf of the National Science Foundation. Respondents were asked about the importance of various factors (which may as well be called values) that they consider when they think about a job.

Last week I looked at which values male and female respondents most often identified as very important. This week, I’m looking at what the different college major choices of men and women indicate about their value differences.

Of course, the values that the survey covers are not necessarily the only considerations that men and women bear in mind when they make the choice of a major. Some of these values, such as salary and job location, are expressed in job-related terms and therefore can influence the choice of a major only insofar as students consider the relationship between their prospective major and their future job. On the other hand, the job-major relationship is a very significant (often paramount) influence on many students’ major decisions, so it’s understandable that men’s and women’s feelings about careers would be related to their preferences for certain majors. Furthermore, some of these values, especially intellectual challenge, apply equally well to a major as to a job. Therefore, it seems likely that any male-female differences choosing between these values will be reflected in their choices of majors.

I thought it would be useful to look at the correlation between (a) the percentage of graduates of a major who say a value is very important and (b) the percentage of male and female graduates of a major. In other words, I’m asking which values tend to be rated highest by graduates of the majors with the most female graduates and lowest by graduates of the majors wit the least female graduates (and the same question for men). This is another way of getting at the question of which values characterize each sex. It may even be more meaningful than the results I looked at last week, which were based solely on professed preferences. This time, I’m also looking at behaviors--the college majors that were chosen and completed.

Here are the results for women, in descending order. Keep in mind that a score of 1.0 would mean a perfect correlation.
  • Contribution to Society: 0.60
  • Benefits: 0.17
  • Location: 0.12
  • Security: 0.11
  • Responsibility: 0.05
  • Challenge: –0.01
  • Independence: –0.20
  • Advancement: –0.53
  • Salary: –0.59

Now, compare this to the very different order I found last week, looking only at expressed opinions:
  • Benefits: 64%
  • Security: 62%
  • Challenge: 59%
  • Independence: 59%
  • Location: 59%
  • Salary: 54%
  • Contribution to Society: 53%
  • Responsibility: 43%
  • Advancement: 37%

Next, here are the correlations for men. These are actually the same as for the women but in the opposite order. That is, the minus signs change to plus signs and vice versa.
  • Salary: 0.59
  • Advancement: 0.53
  • Independence: 0.20
  • Challenge: 0.01
  • Responsibility: –0.05
  • Security: –0.11
  • Location: –0.12
  • Benefits: –0.17
  • Contribution to Society: –0.60

Finally here are last week’s very different results for men, in descending order:
  • Benefits: 65%
  • Security: 61%
  • Independence: 59%
  • Salary: 58%
  • Challenge: 55%
  • Location: 48%
  • Advancement: 45%
  • Responsibility: 44%
  • Contribution to Society: 38%

What strikes me is that when the two sexes are compared, the rankings I compiled last week (the percentages saying a value is very important) are a lot more similar than the rankings I compiled this week (the correlations). Specifically, the values associated with the majors that the men and women chose (and completed) adhere much more closely to the stereotypes of women as nurturers and men as strivers.

What explains these different findings? Last week, I created only two pools of graduates, one male and one female. Taking the averages of the two pools, as I did last week, washed out a lot of the differences that were present among subpopulations within each pool. But I was able to tease out some of these hidden differences by breaking up these large pools into smaller sets based on their past behaviors--the majors that they chose and completed. In addition, using correlations allowed me to detect the values profiles of those graduates who had gravitated toward majors that were dominated by one sex or the other. These grads may have been a minority--their opinions are hard to detect when you look at overall averages--but they show that the sex-stereotypical values profiles remain a reality for a significant group of people.

The larger lesson to take away is that the simple percentages one sees in many survey results (for example, what percentage of voters is currently backing a certain candidate) can disguise some information that would valuable to know about subpopulations in the sample.

Work-Related Values of Men and Women

Friday, December 9, 2011 0 comments
One topic that never gets stale is the difference between the career-related values of men and women. The group that I worked in at Educational Testing Service had done some research on that topic in the 1970s, before I arrived, and a graduate student intern did some further research while I was there in the 1990s. Each time this was studied, the general finding was that, on average, men tend to be strivers and women tend to be nurturers.

I recently became acquainted with a dataset that has the potential of providing another look at this question. Ever since late July I have been working on creating the third edition of  College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs. I turned in the manuscript this week. The book is based on the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, which was conducted by the Census Bureau on behalf of the National Science Foundation.

One set of questions on the survey form asks respondents, “When thinking about a job, how important is each of the following factors to you….” The values (factors) are the following:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Job Security
  • Job Location
  • Opportunities for Advancement
  • Intellectual Challenge
  • Level of Responsibility
  • Degree of Independence
  • Contribution to Society

Respondents are asked to score each value as very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant, or not important at all.

I thought it would be interesting to see how men and women scored these values differently, so I looked at what percentage of each sex scored each value very important.

Here are the results for women, in descending order:

  • Benefits--64%
  • Security--62%
  • Challenge--59%
  • Independence--59%
  • Location--59%
  • Salary--54%
  • Contribution to Society--53%
  • Responsibility--43%
  • Advancement--37%

And the results for men, in descending order:

  • Benefits--65%
  • Security--61%
  • Independence--59%
  • Salary--58%
  • Challenge--55%
  • Location--48%
  • Advancement--45%
  • Responsibility--44%
  • Contribution to Society--38%

You won’t notice a great amount of difference between the two sexes, but a few things stand out. The biggest difference is their attitude toward Contribution to Society; 15 percent more women than men rated this as very important. Another large difference applies to Job Location; 10 percent more women than men rated this as very important. The priorities of the sexes are notably reversed regarding Opportunities for Advancement, which 7 percent more men than women rated as very important.

You can find slight differences in their attitudes toward Salary and Intellectual Challenge. The former was very important to more men than women by a margin of 4 percent, and the latter more important to women than men by the same margin.

All other differences were trivial--1 percent or less.

These results largely confirm the traditional images (confirmed by the ETS research) of men as strivers and women as nurturers, although the difference of opinion on Salary is not as great as I expected from the ETS research. It may be that women in 2003 perceived themselves as playing a more vital role as wage-earners than they did at the time the ETS research was conducted in the 1970s and 1990s.

The difference in the ratings for Job Location may have a connection to the nurturing role; women may place more importance on working near home so they can more easily respond to family emergencies. However, that’s just speculation on my part. Location may be a stand-in for some other need, popular among women, that I don’t recognize.

Let me stress that these are averages and don’t describe every man or woman. In fact, the ETS research found that in each sex, there was a subset of respondents whose constellation of top values closely matched the one that was characteristic of the opposite sex.

If this general topic interests you, you may want to see what I learned from my research on the work-related values of male students in Saudi Arabia in 2002.

Job-Hunting Tactics to Match Your Personality, Part 2

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 0 comments
In my previous blog, I explained how your personality type can be the key to job-hunting tactics that will be effective for you. I gave examples of tactics appropriate for Realistic, Investigative, and Artistic types. This time, I’d like to consider the other three types in the Holland taxonomy.

If you’re a Social type, you want to make the most out of personal interactions, because you’re good at them and enjoy them. It’s clear that you should join one or more organizations related to your job target. Find a role that is not being filled; communications roles are particularly valuable, because they put you in touch with the largest cross-section of members. For example, you might offer to start a Twitter feed for the organization and encourage members to come to you with news. Also, be sure to leverage your existing social contacts. Make sure that all of them know about your job hunt and have several copies of your JIST card.

Enterprising types may find it useful to start a small business related to the career goal. For example, find out what low-price consumables your targeted industry uses and start selling them on eBay. A sandwich route can get you past the front door of a business and into the offices of people who will be useful contacts. Develop a brief business plan for a small project related to your targeted industry and be ready to explain it. Along with your resume, carry this plan with you, so people who are interested in the former can learn more about your skills from the latter.

Conventional jobs often depend on demonstrating a particular competence, such as typing speed or accuracy with figures. Volunteer work, such as keeping the books for a club, can give you opportunities to develop and document your competencies. Also consider that Conventional types tend to be highly organized and methodical, so you should bring these strengths to your job hunt. Study and follow techniques that are recommended for scheduling your job-seeking efforts, compiling lists of contacts, tracking the progress of the job hunt, and following up on contacts. Conventional-minded people in your network will be impressed with your organizational skills.

Keep in mind that Holland himself emphasized that most of us are not purely of one personality type. Your job-hunting efforts should not and probably cannot conform to the skills and work habits of any one personality type. Artistic types need to impose some organization on their tasks, Enterprising types need to use creativity in their tactics, and Realistic types need to use social skills to build their network. Nevertheless, by paying special attention to the tactics that are best suited to your personality type, you can mount a job-hunting campaign that minimizes discouraging situations and is more effective.

Job-Hunting Tactics to Match Your Personality, Part 1

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 0 comments
People making career decisions often find it useful to think in terms of personality types. I have written two books about this: 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality and 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality. In additional to these two, several of my other books also use the Holland taxonomy of personality types (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) as an introduction to career exploration.

But personality types are helpful for more than just making a career decision. They can also guide you much later in the career development process, by suggesting strategies for the job hunt.

One reason your personality type is relevant to your job hunt techniques is that you probably are looking for a job in an occupation that is related to your personality type, and different kinds of jobs demand different job-hunting strategies. For example, in a job-hunting process with an Artistic job as the target, a portfolio showing examples of creative work is almost always required. Although portfolios are being employed in job campaigns aimed at other kinds of jobs, such as Enterprising jobs, the people who do the hiring for those jobs tend not to expect them.

There’s something to be said for running counter to expectations—for example, using a portfolio when seeking an Enterprising job precisely because it will set you apart from other job-seekers. However, your job-hunting activities should be the kinds of tasks that best suit your personality. If you’re a Social type, you’ll be more skilled at using strategies that maximize your personal contacts with others. If you’re an Investigative type, you’ll be more comfortable emphasizing research techniques that uncover job openings.

Here are some ideas for how to match your job-hunting tactics to your personality. At their foundation, all of them share the highly effective strategy of networking, but they go about the network-building process in different ways.

If you’re a Realistic personality type, you like hands-on involvement. You should visit workplaces related to your career goal or perhaps an eatery where the workers can be found, so you can interact firsthand. Dress accordingly; you may not need to wear steel-toed boots, but you should avoid wearing an expensive suit. You may want to bring a model or sketch or photograph of an idea you have for how to do the work better or how you have done it in a previous job or school project. Use this as a prop when you start up a conversation with a worker. A related strategy is to do volunteer work of a kind that is related to your career goal and that, ideally, allows you to work alongside people who do that kind of work for a living.

If you’re an Investigative type, you probably have good research skills. Use them to identify important employers for your career goal and compile a list of people who work there with whom you can make contact through intermediaries. Savvy users of LinkedIn and Twitter can search these databases to identify potential contacts. Another tactic is to find the blog where people in your targeted industry exchange news and ideas. (Every industry has at least one.) Become a conspicuous presence there; if you can’t contribute useful comments, at least ask intelligent questions. When you eventually get a chance to meet with a useful contact, bring a chart or diagram that analyzes an industry issue or a plan for solving a problem.

Artistic types, as I noted earlier, will certainly want to develop a portfolio and bring it to any meeting with a contact. You may want to brainstorm and develop an original, media-based way of representing the industry or an industry-related issue, such as an animation, a collage, or a Web page. This representation of your ideas may be easier to distribute than a traditional portfolio. The kind of job you’re aiming for may be more open than most to gimmicky methods of making cold contacts, such as printing your resume on a piece of paper shaped like a shoe and sending it attached to a sticky note saying that you’re trying to get your foot in the door.

In my next blog, I’ll cover the remaining three Holland types.

STEM Careers--and STEM Skills in Other Careers

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 0 comments
One indication that an idea is catching on is that the President of the United States refers to it frequently. In recent remarks by President Obama, I’ve been pleased to hear mentions of STEM careers and STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Two recent articles have pointed out the rewards of STEM careers and the barriers to them.

Last month, my former ETS colleague Anthony Carnevale and his research team at Georgetown University released a report about the career experiences of people who majored in STEM subjects. Analyzing Census data, they found that, on average, 65 percent of those holding a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject out-earn those with a master’s degree in a non-STEM subject. And an associate degree in a STEM subject brings in a higher income than a non-STEM bachelor’s for 63 percent of those surveyed.

The Georgetown researchers also found that STEM degrees are excellent on-ramps for careers in medicine and in management, career changes that can lead to higher income than staying in a STEM work role. They note that although the traditional STEM career fields employ only 5 percent of the workforce, the need for STEM competencies keeps increasing in other fields. For example, along with the rapid growth in the number of technology products, there’s a growing need for an appropriately skilled sales workforce. So, even though the STEM career field is growing at a pace exceeded only by health-care careers, the careers that are competing for STEM-competent workers (including many health-care occupations) are among the fastest-growing and highest-paid in the economy.

Given this growing need for STEM-skilled workers in a broad range of occupations, it is not necessarily alarming that (as Carnevale et al. found) 43 percent of STEM grads immediately go off to work in non-STEM careers. To be sure, I’d rather see engineering graduates go on to engineer bridges instead of financial derivatives. Nevertheless, market forces will divert STEM talent to many non-STEM work roles, and many of those roles will benefit our economy.

What is alarming, however, is how many young people don’t even get as far as the initial STEM degree. Carnevale and his team estimate that our K–12 educational system turns out enough students with initial STEM skills to fill the labor market’s need for STEM-skilled workers, but more than 75 percent of them do not go on to develop their potential by majoring in STEM subjects. Furthermore, of those who do major in STEM subjects, 38 percent switch to another subject or drop out of college. This is twice the combined attrition rate for all other subjects.

An article last week in The New York Times investigated the reasons for this massive leak in the collegiate STEM pipeline. The main reason seems to be the inherent difficulty of the STEM curriculums. This is not helped by the high level of competition often found there. It’s significant that the highly selective colleges, which get the best students, also have higher STEM attrition rates. Evidently, the problem is not that the students are poorly prepared or lack good work habits.

GPAs tend to be lower in the STEM majors, and grade inflation in the non-STEM majors may be part of the reason. Another factor discouraging STEM majors may be the emphasis on theory, especially in the lower-division courses. Some STEM faculty members are experimenting with using project-centered curriculums to sustain the interest of the students. The traditional engineering major leads to a senior design thesis, but for many students this opportunity to turn STEM skills to practical applications comes too late.

It’s important to understand that a specific college degree, while it provides useful quantitative evidence for researchers, does not tell the whole story about the skills a young person acquires. A friend of mine dropped out of the engineering curriculum at a highly competitive engineering school and graduated with a degree in a humanities field. He would be considered a STEM dropout, but the STEM skills he acquired in high school and during the two years of engineering curriculum that he completed served as the foundation for a very successful career in technical sales.

You may also consider me a STEM dropout. Although I gave up on a STEM career goal well before entering college, I have had a lifelong interest in science and managed to acquire enough STEM skills to hold my present job, in which I spend a lot of time (sometimes days on end) working in databases and spreadsheets, even occasionally writing programs.

As Carnevale and his team found, the need for STEM skills in non-STEM occupations (even writing!) keeps growing. Educational policymakers need to do more than just encourage students to get STEM degrees. They need to ensure that the curriculum of everyone in high school and college includes STEM subjects and imparts STEM skills.

Who Pays the Price for Globalization?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 0 comments
Along with automation, the force that has caused the largest number of U.S. job losses is globalization. Jobs that used to be done by American workers are being shipped overseas, in a never-ending quest for lower-paid workers. But some American workers are being hurt by this more than others.

To understand who is suffering the most from globalization, it helps to consider what makes this economic environment possible. A major reason is free trade agreements with foreign countries, removing tariffs that used to shelter American industries. The argument for international trade is that it lowers costs for everyone, and I must agree that much (though not all) of the Chinese-made merchandise that fills the shelves at WalMart is priced lower than equivalent American-made goods.

On the other hand, even if you set aside the arguments against globalization (for example, the problem of China’s manipulation of its currency to depress the dollar cost of its goods), you cannot pretend that globalization has no adverse effects within the United States. Even if it’s too late to reverse globalization, policy-makers must recognize whom it damages and take appropriate measures to mitigate the damage.

Therefore it’s significant that last week Congress issued a little-noticed report (PDF here) on this topic, called “Nowhere to Go: Geographic and Occupational Immobility and Free Trade.” The report was written by the staff of Sen. Bob Casey for his role as chairman of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.

The report notes that the chief American victims of free trade are older workers and those with less education. These two groups are concentrated in the manufacturing sector of the economy, the sector that has been undermined the most by competition from foreign countries.

These older workers are closer to retirement and therefore may be reluctant or unable to invest the time required to acquire the new skill sets needed for the industries that remain in the U.S., such as high technology, finance, and health care.

Occupational mobility often requires physical mobility: the ability to relocate to find work. Physical mobility also can allow workers to find new jobs in the same occupation as the job that was eliminated. But older workers are the least likely to move, both locally and over long distances. One important reason for this is that older workers are more likely to be homeowners and therefore may be tied down by the slow-moving real estate market we have been experiencing for several years now. Many are stuck with a mortgage that exceeds the market value of their house. And although older workers tend to have better-developed networks than younger workers, useful for finding work, the networks usually are anchored in the workers’ local community. If the community has few jobs, the network is of little help, but the displaced worker is reluctant to attempt to find a job in another location where he or she has no network in place.

The congressional report outlines the problem well but gives short shrift to solutions. I would suggest the following:
  • Education has to be made more affordable, especially at community colleges. During the Cold War, aid to education was considered a matter of national defense. That has not really changed.
  • We need to invest more in our infrastructure, which supports manufacturing (and, for that matter, all aspects of the economy)
  • We need to run our manufacturing sector more on the German model, as I wrote in a blog a few weeks ago.
  • We need to require that banks renegotiate mortgages for properties that are underwater. Most of these homeowners did not take on mortgages larger than they could afford but rather are victims of a general decline in real estate values. If homeowners can pay off their mortgages, they can relocate to where the jobs are.
Will Congress move on any of these measures? That seems unlikely, but it’s worth remembering that older workers are also the most likely voters.

hime eyes

Saturday, October 22, 2011 0 comments
hime eyes

How to Start a Good Daycare Business: Learn Tips to Start Your Own Daycare Center

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 0 comments
A good Daycare can complement good parenting, so this job calls for a lot of responsibility. Learn what it takes to start your own childcare business including things like preschool forms needed for its inception and what parents want for their children in this facility!

Starting a new daycare business calls for not just resources like money and staff but also consumes lot of paperwork. Daycare refers to a child care unit where parents take their children during the daytime for concern, custody and awareness. With a constant rise of working couples and single mothers these facilities are in vogue today and its popularity will continue to grow. This culture is also extended by non- working mothers to inculcate better preschool learning experience for their child.

Starting any new venture involves paperwork and preschool forms include all such documents which will help you with the licensing forms and requirements for your childcare business. It makes your job easy as you have sorted out documents for your need. It saves you time and effort searching and collating each individual paper over the internet and also speeds up your registration process. However, some additions or deletions to the required set of documents can happen in different places. This can be because of the licensing procedure of each state. One must be aware of the regulations in your area, and according design your business plan.

Children are innocent and naive, so they need special care all the time. When hiring staff for your business you must be very cautious. The staff must possess certain qualifications and you should never bend those rules when hiring. Also, children are very unpredictable, so the staff must be alert and aware for all situations. For example, if a child gets hurt while playing, the staff should be aware of first aid and basic medical knowledge. You must assess the competence of the applicant in such emergency situations other than their knowledge in the interview. You need a person who can gel up with kids easily and is patient and calm in nature. He should have practical knowledge and a natural instinct to child care is a must. Even parents prefer staff which is friendly and personal with the child.

Parents are very particular for their small ones. They check for small things like the nutritional value of the meal served, childcare surroundings and outdoor, behavior of the staff, commutation facility, attention level given to the child, etc. So, if you can provide more than satisfactory services to them, you can be assured for word of mouth advertisement and manifold increase in your business.

Steve Jobs and American Jobs (part II)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 0 comments
Last week I used the iPod as an example of how innovation creates jobs, some of them offshore, but many of them--especially those that pay well--here in the United States. Steve Jobs, who died last week, was one of America’s greatest innovators, and we may well wonder where the next innovator of his caliber will come from. But another question is how and where that person’s skills for innovation will be refined and implemented.

We hear a lot of talk these days that the key to job creation is getting out of the way of the private sector. Tax it less, regulate it less, and it will nourish innovation and create the jobs that our economy so desperately needs right now. Let the marketplace discover and reward breakthrough technologies.

But there’s also a case to be made for the role of the public sector, especially at a time when the private sector is unwilling to invest in jobs and in basic research. I was impressed by the video of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren that recently went viral, in which she says, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you, but I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.” It’s useful to remember that Steve Jobs was the product of a public school education.

Political demonstrators who invoke an earlier era by wearing three-cornered hats seem to forget that this country has a long legacy of innovation that was fostered by the public sector. Samuel Morse developed the electric telegraph in response to a prize that Congress offered for a better form of long-distance communication than the semaphore signals that were in use at that time. His first demonstration of long-distance telegraph transmission, from Baltimore to Washington, was financed by a federal grant.

At last night’s Republican debate, one of the questioners asked, “From the Erie Canal to the Internet, . . . innovation is what’s always fueled economic recovery.  So shouldn’t the focus now be on trying to create the innovative jobs of tomorrow?” None of the candidates present commented that the Erie Canal, which transformed New York City into the paramount port on the East Coast, was financed entirely by the public sector. So was the development of the Internet, by what’s now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The integrated circuit, which made all of Steve Jobs’s products possible, was invented by Jack Kilby, also the product of a public school education. He was working at Texas Instruments, a private-sector company, but TI morphed from a company that served the oil industry to an electronics powerhouse because of contracts from the Signal Corps and the Navy. Development of the computer chip got a massive boost from the space program.

In fact, the Cold War and the space race that grew out of it were responsible for a wide range of innovations that continue to shape our economy. This push also resulted in federally funded improvements to the infrastructure, notably the interstate highway system (which is officially called the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways), along which Steve Jobs’s products were shipped to your door. This effort also expanded federal funding of education through the National Defense Education Act. The accelerated academic program that I was enrolled in while in (public) junior high school was initiated in direct response to Sputnik. And the fathers of many of my classmates had gone to college on the GI Bill and were working at a federally funded New Jersey laboratory that supported the work of the Signal Corps.

The recent collapse of the Solyndra company, recipient of a half-billion-dollar federal loan guarantee, has been used by some as evidence that government support of innovation is misguided at best and corrupt at worst. But when private-sector investment is focused on complex derivatives and arbitrage rather than on basic research and infrastructure, the government becomes the innovation investor of last resort. The money that the treasury lost on Solyndra is miniscule compared to the funds that the private sector lost investing in subprime mortgages.

It will never be cheaper to borrow money than now. We can find workers more easily and hire them for less money than in normal times. What are we waiting for?

Steve Jobs and American Jobs

Friday, October 7, 2011 0 comments
As the nation mourns the death of Steve Jobs, it’s interesting to look at the role that his company plays in job creation, because Apple is one of the highest-achieving firms in one of the outstanding American industries: high tech. I came upon a fascinating analysis of the employment impact of just one Apple product, a device that Steve Jobs essentially invented: the iPod. An article in the Journal of International Commerce and Economics (PDF) looks at how many jobs were directly created by the iPod.

It’s well known that the device is assembled offshore, mostly of foreign-made components, and the authors of the study estimate that the number of foreign jobs in the iPod value chain outnumbered domestic jobs in 2006 by 27,000 to 14,000. In fact, they estimate that only 30 production jobs and a similar number of professional jobs are created by the manufacture of a few iPod chips here in the U.S. However, in 2006 the iPod also accounted for “7,789 nonprofessional jobs (primarily in retail and distribution) and 6,101 professional jobs (primarily at Apple’s headquarters), including management, engineering, computer support, and a variety of other categories.”

More important, in their analysis of the earnings of the 41,000 iPod workers, the authors estimate that here the balance tilts decidedly toward the United States, where the workers earned nearly $750 million in 2006, compared to only about $320 million earned by the foreign workers. “Over two-thirds ($525 million) of the earnings in the United States went to professional workers, and an additional $220 million to nonprofessional workers. While most of the nonprofessional jobs were relatively low-paying retail positions, we estimated that nearly $50 million went to administrative jobs at Apple for which we used the national average wage of $38,000 a year; actual Silicon Valley wages were probably even higher.”

In drawing conclusions, they hold up the iPod as an example of the opportunities and risks that globalization has created. “Apple’s tremendous success with the iPod and other innovative products in recent years has driven growth in U.S. employment, even though these products are made offshore. These jobs pay well and employ people with college degrees. They are at the high end of what might be considered middle-class jobs and appear to be less at risk of vanishing from the United States than production jobs.”

However, these high-value jobs require that future workers coming out of U.S. schools get a really good education. In addition, there is the risk that creative jobs, such as engineers and designers, will be taken by overseas workers as foreign governments and even American companies invest offshore in education and in cultivating creative industries.

The authors of this study don’t address the question of how many jobs the iPod indirectly created--or destroyed. The invention of the iPod set off a revolution in the way music is distributed. As people shifted to buying music on the Web in the form of MP3s, many record stores had to close, and as pirated MP3s circulated widely, record companies suffered declining sales even as the amount of music being consumed probably continued to rise. Although the shift to MP3s probably caused a net loss of jobs, the iPod also sparked the invention of the podcast, which created many jobs, not only for podcasters themselves, but also for the sound engineers who are involved in production of the glossier podcasts. Radio broadcasting has been consolidating into a few megacorporations, such as Clear Channel, but podcasting has helped keep many local sound-production businesses afloat.

Of course, the iPod is only one Apple product that sprang from the fertile imagination of Steve Jobs. The iPhone created a whole new platform for which creative programmers could devise new applications. Many of Steve Jobs’s other inventions will continue to create employment for American and foreign workers who are still to be born.

How To Become a Recruitment Consultant

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 0 comments
Recruitment consultants can come from any walk of life. You may have recently graduated, left the armed forces, or simply want a change of career. The flexibility of the role of is second to none and provides an opportunity for anyone who has the drive and ambition to succeed in this highly competitive market.

There is a lot of money to be made as a recruitment consultant if you are willing to put on the work - this job is not for the faint hearted! There are no formal qualifications although it does help to have an area of specialism. This could be anything from a medical background, engineering degree, or 10 years working in the motor trade. All areas of industry require recruitment consultants so you can make your mark in any area of business. Staying sharp and the ability to think quickly will take you some of the way in the world of recruitment. It's a competitive area and competition is high. Over half of those who join the recruitment industry leave within a year, but those who knuckle down and stick with enjoy very high rewards for their work.

Few industries offer as competitive a salary, especially considering no formal qualification is necessary. You will need to be prepared to knocks along the way and put in the extra hours, but the pay off is well worth it.

If you decide to become a trainee recruitment consultant you will most likely start off as a researcher or resourcer. These jobs are termed 'entry level' and you will be trained thoroughly by experts within your company. They will mentor you in the initial stages until you are confident enough to start going it alone. As a researcher or resourcer your primary task is to assist the current recruitment consultants by sourcing new candidates for temporary and permanent vacancies currently being offered by your recruitment consultancy. At this point the number of candidates you can provide per vacancy is the most important factor, but this will change to the financial aspects of the placement when you move up to being a recruitment consultant.

If you can achieve your targets on a regular basis, within three to twelve months you should be on course to becoming a recruitment consultant. There is plenty of opportunity for career development in the recruitment industry, and your desire to progress will be an important part of it. The size and structure of the recruitment company you work for will also be a factor, the bigger the company, usually the more opportunity to progress.

As a trainee recruitment consultant you may wish to settle into a business niche, stay in a purely sales based environment, move to a recruiter on site position, or move into account management. In time and with hard work you may wish to progress to team leader or a managerial position within your recruitment company or another in the industry. Recruiting skill will always remain at the basis of your career, but the ability to manage people, financial ability, and manage time will help you along the way.

Baa Baa, Black Sheep Is Back - A New Idiomatic Use in the Corporate World

Sunday, September 25, 2011 0 comments
The first line of the famous rhyme Baa Baa, Black Sheep have you any wool remains in my memory but now it has become even more meaningful to me. The term Baa Baa (Baba) means "Father" in South Asia especially India and Pakistan; it is a word of respect used for elders, saints, etc. On the other hand Black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group and is generally perceived to have negative implications.

In today's dynamic world of management the term is back with a new idiomatic use. In order to streamline the activities of the organization, you must keep an eye on both Baa Baa and black sheep. How would you recognize these two in your organization? Here we use the term Baa Baa in the new idiomatic use. He is the person whose experience has reached a certain point where he starts making excuses, avoids sharing new responsibilities and in the worst case scenario starts gossiping, spreads rumors. This could be quite damaging because most of the time these Baa Baas are very influential and have the capability of blocking any new candidate from entering an organization.

Life is full of choices and we are conditioned to see certain paths as "normal", mainstream, comfortable, and acceptable. Yet these are the very choices that make us feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel - always running and getting nowhere.

Mentioned below are some suggestions to stop the conversion of Baa Baa into black sheep.

Counseling is necessary to make Baa Baa realize that they are important people in the organization and equip them with adequate resources and training.

Organization must underline a clear policy for this kind of situation. Job rotation and job enlargement is a good option but not the ultimate solution.

Organize regular meetings with HR and all senior management in order to provide career advice and reinforce the vision and philosophy of the organization. In order to summarize all the above mentioned story in the form of poem is like in the following manner.

Baa Baa black sheep have you any fear. No sir no sir as long as organization can bear. Some one comes and some one goes. But none to those who stab behind the back.

If you have any comments please write to me. It is all about my own views and welcome all your valuable feedback.

Use Common Sense with Assessments

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 0 comments
I worked for 19 years at the nation’s premier testing company, and one thing I learned was not to be dogmatic about assessments. Even the makers of the mighty SAT exam freely admit that their scores do not predict college achievement as well as high school grades do. The SAT scores still have value, however, because when combined with high school grades, they give a better prediction than the grades could alone.

Something similar can be said about assessments that are designed to help you with career choice: Alone, they probably are not the best way to identify a promising career. But combined with other sources of information, they can be very helpful.

Incautious assessment users sometimes forget that psychological instruments are not as precise as a yardstick. Every assessment has a certain margin of error, meaning that although its scores put you into category x, there is a chance that you really belong in the neighboring category y. In baseball games, it’s usually pretty obvious whether a ball has landed in fair or foul territory. But imagine what accuracy would be possible if the ball were ten times as big as a beach ball and even more squishy: Even the instant replay would not resolve a borderline hit.

In baseball, it’s also helpful that the foul lines are at the edges of the area that the batter is aiming for. Now imagine what the game would be like if a line ran right down the middle of the field, and the score of the game depended on which side of the line the enormous beach ball fell on. For good measure, imagine that both right-handed and left-handed batters tended to hit the ball towards the middle. Now you have an idea why I’m reluctant to use the Myers-Briggs assessment. It attempts to place you on one side or the other of a bipolar range (e.g., introvert or extravert), although the normal distribution that is so typical of psychological characteristics clusters most people near the middle. There’s a very high likelihood that your actual location on this continuum is close enough to the middle that the inevitably imprecise measurement of the instrument will assign you to the wrong side of the middle.

Although I prefer to use assessments based on the Holland types, I have to caution that they also are unable to achieve a pinpoint focus. For the Holland types, let me change the metaphor from baseball to hopscotch, where a lot depends on which square your marker lands in. On the playgrounds where I grew up, the squares tended to be at least 10 inches across, but imagine how the game would be if they were only 3 inches across and your marker were a beanbag the size of a dinner plate. Fortunately, the Holland rationale is conceptually more forgiving of ambiguity than is the Myers-Briggs rationale, because it is not bipolar and accepts the notion that bordering types (for example, Realistic and Investigative) share some characteristics. If I can’t tell for certain whether my beanbag fell in the Realistic of Investigative square, I probably would not err greatly by favoring occupations coded RI, IR, or even just R or I.

But the really big mistake would be to rely solely on the assessment, whatever its rationale. Here are some other indicators of your interests and preferences that you should consider:
  • In what school subjects did I get the most enjoyment and the best grades?
  • What activities am I reluctant to drop at dinnertime?
  • What are my favorite sections of the newspaper or of news websites?
  • At a party, what kind of people would I be able to sustain a conversation with?
  • If you could meet the world’s greatest ____________ and get that person to share his or her secrets of success, what field would that person’s achievement be in? (Romance doesn’t count.)
Still another indicator is the opinion of a family member or of a friend who knows you very well. Explain the concepts that the assessment is designed to measure and ask this person which characteristics describe you best.

Making decisions is hard. People naturally tend to seek the quickest and easiest way to decide between x and y. This is one reason why people often perceive an assessment as the beginning and ending of the decision-making process. Instead, use an assessment as the start of a gradual process of self-discovery.

Women Truckers and Sexual Harassment in the Trucking Industry

Thursday, September 8, 2011 0 comments
Women considering becoming commercial truck drivers often ask if there is sexual harassment in the trucking industry. The short answer is yes. However, sexual harassment is present in most industries. The trucking industry is unique in that it is primarily a male dominated industry. Women drivers are a minority in the trucking industry although their numbers are increasing. Currently, approximately five percent of the CDL drivers in the United States are women.

Women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment than their male counterparts. Women truckers may encounter situations at truckstop lounges, restaurants or other public places which make them uncomfortable. This may be simply other drivers talking loud, making jokes of a sexual nature or other inappropriate comments to female drivers. Even if you carry yourself in a professional manner you may still encounter situations like these as some point in your career. These types of situations in public places may not change. However, women can simply leave these areas upon the completion of their business.

The more serious concern is the possibility of sexual harassment in the workplace. New female drivers when initially hired by a trucking company are often paired with male trainers as there are not enough female trainers available. These drivers will be together 24 hours per day for possibly two consecutive weeks or longer. If the trainer makes inappropriate comments or suggestions to the female driver this will be at the very least an uncomfortable situation for the female.

Sexual harassment can be in different forms, but the conduct of the harasser must be either severe or it must be pervasive to be considered sexual harassment. Someone simply asking another for a date is not sexual harassment. Types of unwanted behavior considered sexual harassment include:

Verbal which can include repeatedly asking someone for a date who is not interested. It can also include making inappropriate jokes or sexual comments or about a person's body, requesting sexual favors, making cat calls, talking about sexual fantasies, etc.

Physical which can be any unwelcome, inappropriate touching of a person's body. This includes activities such as unwanted kissing, hugging, touching a person's intimate areas or impeding or blocking a person's movement, Assault, sexual battery or rape are criminal offenses.

Nonverbal which can can be looking up and down a person's body, a leer with indecent overtone, making facial expressions of a sexual nature, or desire noted by hands, lips, body, etc.

To protect yourself, clearly say "NO" to any offensive behavior. Also write down and report any incidents to your superiors so that appropriate action can be taken against the perpetrator. Trucking companies actively seek out female workers and want to retain them. Employers value their workers and are required by law to provide safe working conditions for them.

Manufacturing and the German Model

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 0 comments
I’m writing this blog two days after Labor Day and one day before President Obama’s job-focused speech to a joint session of Congress, so I’m thinking a lot about the problem of high unemployment and underemployment. But the job-related story that caught my eye in today’s paper was the obituary of someone you’ve probably never heard of: Keith Tantlinger.

Tantlinger, who died on August 27 at age 92, was the engineer who designed the modern shipping container in the 1950s. His crucial innovation was a locking mechanism on the corners of the containers that allowed them to be stacked on ships, trains, and trucks. He also designed the corners to be easily grasped by cranes. I once watched a ship being loaded in the port of Hamilton, Bermuda, and marveled at the way the containers were being piled high on the deck rather than just being lowered into the hold, as I thought cargo was supposed to be stowed.

So what did this innovation have to do with jobs? It drastically reduced the costs of shipping goods by simplifying the process of transferring the goods from one carrier to another. Specifically, it reduced the costs of labor, damage, and pilferage. Cheaper shipping made it possible for us to stock our WalMarts with Chinese-manufactured goods and thus was one of the key factors causing the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. In 1969, about one-quarter of U.S. jobs were in manufacturing, but that number is now down at around 9 percent. It contributes to about 11 percent of our economy now.

But it’s important to understand that manufacturing doesn’t have to be a dead industry in the United States. In Germany, it accounts for about 25 percent of the economy and helps Germany’s keep trade balance second only to China’s. What can explain the difference?

One factor is the German emphasis on vocational education, including widespread apprenticeship, even for white-collar jobs.

Another is Kurzarbeit, which allows companies to cut workers’ hours while keeping them on the payroll, with the government making up a portion of the lost wages. Companies thus don’t lose their skilled workers during temporary downturns, and employees don’t lose good work habits and their relationships with bosses and coworkers.

Still another factor is the German banking system, which includes Sparkasse banks owned by local governments rather than private investors and functioning like savings and loans to provide funding for local businesses and homeowners. Their high collateral requirements (at least 20 percent for a mortgage) prevented these banks from engaging in the risky home loans that American lending institutions still have not recovered from.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is the role of workers in the management of German companies. This takes three forms. First, unionization is high, at about 20 percent, compared to our rate of less than 7 percent. Labor unions in Germany tend to influence policy at the industrywide level. At individual worksites, workers influence decisions about wages, hiring, and work conditions through “works councils,” which consist of employees (not necessarily union members) elected for four-year terms. Finally, under the policy of codetermination (Mitbestimmungs), corporate boards are required to include representatives of workers as well as representatives of shareholders. At corporations with 500 to 2000 employees, one-third of the board represents the workers; at larger companies, it’s half of the board.

Although low-skill American manufacturing jobs continue to be lost to overseas workers, advanced manufacturing processes are creating high-skill jobs. I detail some of these jobs in 200 Best Jobs for Renewing America. But manufacturing could regain even more of its lost role in our economy if we borrowed some ideas from the German model.

Making The Career Change to Pharmaceutical Selling

Friday, September 2, 2011 0 comments
The healthcare industry, which includes the pharmaceutical industry, is considered a lucrative business sector judging from the companies' turnover that directly involve in it. There are many factors that drive this industry and without a doubt, solid marketing and selling play a part in driving the whole industry to such height.

Many job seekers started to recognize the handsome payoff that is available through pharmaceutical companies and eager to get their hands on one. It was reported that some pharmaceutical companies can offer as high as six figures income in form of basic pay and total remuneration for a representative.

If the basic pay and other perks are not enough to lure job seekers, the flexibility of time will always nail them to look for a jobs opportunity as a pharmaceutical sales representative. If you are currently thinking to jump to a better career path then perhaps, selling for a pharmaceutical company is worth the consideration.

To begin with, you want to get yourself educated about what the career entails. You can learn from various sources especially in this digital age where everything seems to be just a click away. You can read and listen to the selling best practices. If you like, you can follow what is going on in the industry through social media platform.

When you equip yourself with relevant information about the pharmaceutical industry, it is hard for potential employers not to pay attention to you during a recruitment process. It is a fact that a pharmaceutical sales career is high in demand and that also means fierce competition. Extra preparation will go a long way. There are veterans in this industry who took the initiative to offer free consultation and advice online for potential candidates to get them over the hurdle of building a career.

On the Web, sales career in pharmaceutical industry guides, tips and advice come in various forms like e-Books, e-mail courses, downloadable portable document files, voice recordings and videos. These materials
cover topics relevant to the career such as how to write resumes, personality test and many others. Some providers will go to the extent of doing two-ways phone calls to practice the materials.

Becoming familiar with the information on pharmaceutical industry is a good start, and while you are at it, consider surrounding yourself with people in the industry to make you more adaptable. Perhaps you can start with the local healthcare provider and get their contact. You can also visit places where these people might hang around. Maybe you already knew some of them which can speed up the whole process. The bottom line is to get to know the people and become familiar with their language and styles. Who knows, they might be the door to your next job opening.

Once you have become familiar with pharmaceutical industry and get to know its people who are making careers selling its product, you can measure whether you are fit or not to join in. Most importantly, do you have what it takes to take up the career? The answer to this question might find its way deep into your attitude and mindset. A selling expert once said, "Your attitude will determine your altitude." Enough evidence has shown that great sales performers are made, not born. The competencies that people need to succeed can be nurtured through training but the person themselves must be willing to be trained.

A good pharmaceutical sales rep is consistently self-motivated. The drive for him or her to reach greater height in the career comes from inside-out and not the other way around. Selling itself is a taxing job and for weak souls, throwing in the towel before the bell is an easy option. If they were asked afterwards why they did that, invariably the answers will be, "We are not cut for it." It is true that no one is cut for any given job for that matter and that include the current job one is in.

Teach in a Department of Defense School

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 0 comments
In my new book, 150 Best Federal Jobs, I focus mostly on jobs in the 50 states. I did this so that I could combine data from the Office of Personnel Management--which covers all federal employees, foreign and domestic--with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics--which covers only employment on these shores.

However, I knew there would be interest in overseas federal jobs, so I included an appendix about two important offshore federal employers: Department of Defense schools and the United States Peace Corps. It’s the former that I want to discuss in this week’s blog, partly because a lot of American teachers have lost their jobs recently and may be looking for opportunities elsewhere.

The federal job with the largest civilian foreign workforce is teachers, covering some 8,000 workers in September 2010. Most of these workers (and a few thousand in other occupations) are employed by the Department of Defense in schools that DoD operates overseas for minor dependents of active-duty military and civilian personnel. The schools enroll students from kindergarten through grade 12 and are modeled on American public schools.

Some of these workers are spouses of military or civilian DoD employees stationed overseas; typically they begin in time-limited appointments and may be able to move to a permanent position with experience and appropriate teaching licensure. Others have no marital connection to a DoD employee and apply from the United States.

To qualify for one of these positions, you need a teaching license from one of the 50 states. The DoD certifies you in a field and level that match the certification in your original state as closely as possible. You usually need to sign a mobility agreement that says you are willing to work wherever the DoD needs you. To apply for a teaching position that starts with the following school year, you generally begin the process between September and January 15.

If you are an education major at a college that has an agreement with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS), you may be able to do your student teaching as a federal employee. Some students majoring in school psychology, counseling, nursing, library media, vocational education, or school administration are also eligible for student teaching for DoDDS. Ask your academic advisor about such opportunities. If you apply for spring placement, the deadline is October 31st; for fall placement, April 30th.

For further information about opportunities at DoD Dependents’ Schools, visit the DoDEA Recruitment website or phone DoDEA’s Recruitment Center at (703) 588-3983.

Does the U.S. Face a Skills Shortage?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 0 comments
One subject currently being disputed by economists and educational planners is whether or not the American workforce will possess the skills required for the economy of the future. I’ve been particularly interested in the subject of skills, having recently finished the manuscript for the second edition of 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills, so I have been intrigued to find so much disagreement on this question of America’s future skills readiness.

One of the leading pessimistic analyses can be found in Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, by Anthony Carnevale (a former colleague of mine at Educational Testing Service) and others at Georgetown University. These researchers predict that “by 2018, we will need 22 million new workers with college degrees--but will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees.”

In a critique of this analysis, Paul Harrington (a fellow JIST author) and Andrew M. Sum argue that this predicted skills shortage is illusory. They point out that the Georgetown researchers predict the need for college-educated workers by looking at the number of college graduates in each occupation, with the assumption that these college grads in the workforce will need to be replaced by a new cohort of college grads as the occupations expand or lose workers through turnover. Harrington and Sum prefer to look at the actual skill requirements of each occupation. They maintain that college-educated bartenders and other misplaced college graduates in low-skill occupations will not need to be replaced by similarly high-skilled workers because the nature of the occupation does not require college-level skills.

But perhaps it’s a mistake to focus only on the requirements of occupations; another factor is the rewards of occupations. Additional education produces additional pay, on average, even in low-skill occupations. For example, a bartender does not need a college degree, but survey data shows that a bartender who holds such a degree earns more. As a result, college grads will continue to be diverted from high-skill occupations as effectively as if they will actually be needed in low-skill occupations, creating the potential for skill shortages in high-skill occupations. Such is the argument in still another analysis, by three California economists, David Neumark, Hans Johnson, and Marisol Cuellar Mejia.

However, these three economists do not expect actual skill shortages in the high-skill occupations within the 2018 horizon of the current Bureau of Labor Statistics projections. Compared to the Georgetown team, they count far fewer college grads in the workforce. The California economists base their projections on data from the American Community Survey (ACS), whereas the Georgetown researchers base theirs on the Current Population Survey (CPS). As the California team point out, the CPS overstates the number of people who hold associate degrees by including everyone who gets any kind of postsecondary training short of a bachelor’s. The Georgetown researchers also base their estimates of the mix of college grads in various occupations by looking at figures from 2000 to 2008; the Californians observe that the educational mix of workers in 2008 was anomalous (because of the onset of the recession?) and use the period from 2000 to 2007 instead.

The California researchers are less sanguine about trends beyond 2018, however. By 2030, all the baby boomers will have passed 65. They predict that if high-skill occupational growth and the college graduation rate continue along their current lines, we will face a shortage of appropriately skilled workers.

Career As a Medical Administrative Assistant

Thursday, August 18, 2011 0 comments
If you're on the brink of deciding a career path for yourself, here are a few reasons why medical assistance may be a great field to enter right now:

    * The Department of Labor has ranked medical assistance as one of the fastest growing professions in the 2008-18 decade.
    * Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow much faster than average in the same time period.
    * Medical assistants are expected to enjoy excellent employment opportunities owing to increase in the demand for healthcare professionals.

And we haven't even started talking about salaries, benefits and other perks of this job yet. If we have managed to convince you to at least start thinking about a medical administrative assistant career seriously, then read on for what it means and takes to be one!

Medical Administrative Assistant Career

The core job of a medical assistant is to provide administrative and clerical support to healthcare practitioners, although some of them may have clinical duties as well. These men and women work behind the scenes and away from the arc lights to ensure smooth operations in a healthcare facility.

Employed in a variety of settings that range from huge public hospitals to small private practices, medical assistants perform multitude of tasks as part of their day-to-day work. Although the exact nature of their work may depend on the employer, location and size of the facility they're employed in, typically the general duties of a medical assistant include:

    * Welcoming patients into the facility.
    * Collecting info from patients.
    * Helping them fill out forms.
    * Answering telephone calls.
    * Scheduling appointments.
    * Managing correspondence.
    * Handling book-keeping.

Medical assistants also perform certain duties that are specific to a medical office and these include maintaining patient records, filling out health insurance forms, assisting with billing procedures, handling admissions, scheduling diagnostic tests, and other such tasks.

So far as clinical duties are concerned, they depend on the State law. Some states may allow medical assistants to perform only basic clinical duties, while others permit more advanced procedures. They are required to work under a physician's supervision when performing all clinical tasks, which may include:

    * Recording patients' medical history.
    * Preparing patients for examination.
    * Assisting physicians in examination.
    * Taking down patients' vital signs.
    * Collecting samples for lab tests.
    * Sterilizing medical equipment.
    * Administering injections and medication.
    * Drawing blood and removing sutures.

Medical Administrative Assistant Training:

If you are interested in a medical administrative assistant career, there are several paths you can take to get there. Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself for the job:

    * Get some hands-on training in a clinical facility, although this may be a little difficult in the current job market.
    * Complete a two-year Associate degree program from a community or junior college if you have the resources for it.
    * Enroll for a medical administrative assistant training program at a post-secondary vocational school.

Irrespective of how you choose to get trained for a medical administrative assistant career, one thing that is likely to impress employers across the board is certification. Although certification is not a prerequisite for this job, but if it leads to fatter paychecks and more employment opportunities, then it's definitely worth a shot.

Organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Association of Medical Technologists (AMT) offer certifications to professionals in the field.

Medical Administrative Assistant Salary

According to the Department of Labor, the mean annual wages of a medical assistant are $29, 760. The lowest 10 percent earn $20,810 per year, while the highest 10 percent earn $40,190 per annum.*1

Employee or Contractor?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 0 comments
In June, I blogged about the theory that the employer-employee relationship is being replaced by a relationship in which workers are hired guns. I argued that the “Hollywood model,” much hyped in the 1990s, still has not caught on and is unlikely to because workers value the security and the continued health insurance they get from regular employment and employers value the creative workers they have identified and cultivated.

On the other hand, there is a definite trend toward the pretense of this arrangement--that is, a relationship in which the employee acts like a salaried worker but contractually is a hired gun. The workers behave exactly like salaried employees, putting in the same 40-hour weeks, working at the same site, answerable to the same supervisors, maybe even wearing a uniform with the company logo, but on paper they are independent contractors. As I acknowledged in the earlier blog, this arrangement helps employers avoid carrying the overhead of a large staff of salaried employees. The company also can prevent its workers from unionizing by arguing that most are independent contractors who have no right to collective bargaining. This actually happened last summer at an Ohio company, Baker Communications.

The Government Accountability Office reported in 2007 that 10 million workers were classified as independent contractors, an increase of more than 2 million in just six years, and certainly many of these new contracts were phony. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that the number of workers misclassified as independent contractors is as high as 30 percent in some states. One reason the government is concerned about this trend is that it cheats the tax collector of funds that normally would go to the accounts of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance.

Therefore, the IRS is scrutinizing the tax returns of people who file as independent contractors to make sure that the employment relationship is legitimate. If you are an independent contractor, you need to be sure that your work relationship meets the legal requirements. For example, you can’t be working for the same employer and doing the same work you did on payroll or doing the same work under the same conditions as people who are on payroll.

Ironically, one industry has recently begun to attempt the opposite pretense: that independent contractors were actually regular employees. There’s an obscure provision in United States copyright law, effective this year, that allows musicians to regain control of their work 35 years later, provided they have applied for such control at least two years in advance. You may or may not remember the music of 1978, but it was a very fruitful year for American musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, and the record companies stand to lose a lot of revenue if they lose the rights to the masters of these performers’ songs.

Therefore, the record companies are arguing that the musicians who recorded for them were not independent contractors and that the recordings were “work for hire,” like the books that I write for JIST as a salaried employee. I don’t know whether there are any other industries that face a similar hazard from using independent contractors. It’s likely that most of them write contracts with explicit work-for-hire terms, as I have sometimes signed in my days as a contractor, so this situation is probably uncommon.

On the other hand, even when contractors are unable to carry away the output of their labors, employers need to consider that the contractors may take their talents and work experience to a competitor. Some employers of contractors attempt to prevent this by inserting noncompetition clauses into contracts, but a contractor with very valuable skills may be able to have such clauses removed. (I was able to do so with a former employer, something that I was unable to do while still a salaried employee of the same company.) Furthermore, noncompetition clauses sometimes don’t hold up in court, or the employer sometimes is reluctant to attempt enforcement, because such a clause undermines the pretense that the employee is a hired gun.

High-Skill Cities

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 0 comments

I just sent my editors the manuscript of the second edition of 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills, and the research I did for the book turned up some interesting information about cities. Specifically, I identified several metropolitan areas where high-skill jobs are particularly concentrated.

Let me explain a little about my research methodology. I started by collapsing the 35 skills used in the O*NET database into 9 large skills, based on the correlations between the ratings of occupations in the database. For example, I was able to collapse Reading Comprehension, Writing, Active Listening, and Speaking into one skill called Communication Skills because no two of them had a correlation lower than 0.89.

Next, I looked at the range of ratings that O*NET gives to occupations on each of these skills. For each skill, I divided this range into five equal zones and identified the occupations with ratings that caused them to fall within each zone. Then I took the occupations in the two highest zones (the high-skilled occupations) and computed the total number of workers in each of 300 metropolitan areas. I divided this figure by the total workforce within each metro area to find, for each skill, a percentage figure for the high-skilled occupations in that metro area.

So, for example, here are the top 10 metropolitan areas for occupations with a high level of Communication Skills. The percentage of workers in these high-communication occupations ranges from a high of 39.1% to a low of 28.7%:

1. Durham, NC

2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

3. Trenton-Ewing, NJ

4. San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, CA

5. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH

6. Hartford–West Hartford–East Hartford, CT

7. Gainesville, FL

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

9. San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont, CA

10. Rochester, MN

In the book, I offer the top 20 metro areas for each skill. And I notice that certain metro areas come up repeatedly in the top-20 lists.

Most frequent of all is Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH, appearing on 7 of the 9 lists. Everyone knows that this metro area is home to a thriving high-tech industry, plus numerous world-class universities. The two lists where I don’t find this metro area among the top 20 are the lists for what I call Equipment Use/Maintenance Skills and Installation Skills, which tend to characterize blue-collar jobs.

Another high-skill metro area is Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, the seat of government and host of many companies that serve defense and other government interests. It also encompasses several universities. This metro area appears on 6 lists.

Also appearing on 6 lists are two metro areas in North Carolina, Raleigh-Cary and Durham. Not long ago, these neighboring districts were actually counted as parts of a single metro area. Together, they contain many prominent universities, plus the Research Triangle, famous for its high-tech and bioscience industries.

On 5 lists, you can find the neighboring California metros San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont and San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara. This region is well known for the Silicon Valley and for the world’s highest concentration of start-up companies.

But you’ll also find 5 lists with the metro area where I live, Trenton-Ewing, NJ. New Haven, CT, also appears on 5 lists. Both of these regions are home to outstanding universities (Princeton and Yale) and many research companies that feed on the brainpower that these universities foster. Also, they are both state capitals (as are Raleigh and Boston).

Probably the most important lesson to take away from this analysis is that high-skill jobs tend to cluster around university towns, and therefore one of our national priorities should be to encourage higher education. Although all politicians give lip service to higher education, it may suffer from false economies in this era of budget-cutting.

I hope I can find the time to take this analysis one step further and try to identify metro areas that have a high density of college students but--unlike the metro areas that made my lists--have a low density of workers in high-skilled occupations. Other research I have read, especially the work of Richard Florida, indicates that the presence of universities contributes to economic success but is not sufficient to guarantee it.

What Type of Phlebotomist Salary Can One Expect?

A phlebotomist salary level can vary depending on several different factors. Location (large cities will obviously pay more than smaller towns,) type of facility and level of experience will all play a large role in determining one's salary. Because this career is in such high demand, salary levels will continue to increase and will provide even new graduates with a comfortable income. Even in slow or stagnant economies, there will always be a need for this type of professional. With the laws of supply and demand in place, more companies are willing to pay top dollar for qualified candidates. The art of taking blood is a highly skilled one that must be met with compassion, patience and care.

Phlebotomist Salary for Those Just Starting Out

For those who are just starting out, and who just received their certification/license, an hourly wage of $12-$15 per hour can be expected. As stated above, much of this depends on location and type of facility chosen. Donor clinics, for example, will pay less than top research laboratories. A center in Dallas or New York will pay more than say, a small town in Nebraska. The rate of pay can be negotiated at the time of hiring as well. If a company feels you're worth more, they will pay more. Remember that in many cases, money is not of the upmost importance when first starting out - experience is. The more hours you can get under your belt, the more skilled you will become; then you can almost name your own salary.

Phlebotomist Salary for Experienced Professionals

After a few years under the close supervision of experienced staff members, you will have developed some expertise in your field. You may even become a supervisor yourself and take new recruits under your wing. The more responsibility you have, the more you will earn. A phlebotomist who has several years' experience will earn no less than $35,000, and often this number goes up to over $40,000 for major urban centers and high demand facilities.

A phlebotomist salary is not the primary reason that people get into this field, however. There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction achieved when you know you are helping people and providing future generations with hope and cures that otherwise may not be found. This career is not for everyone, and many people can't handle the sight of blood. Knowing that you are in the minority will give you an immense sense of achievement. Take comfort in the fact that you are doing well not just for the patient you're caring for, but for all future patients. Providing quality care and putting a patient at ease while you do your necessary work sometimes all the reward you need.

Federal Jobs: Pros and Cons

Thursday, August 4, 2011 0 comments
In the wake of this week’s agreement about the national debt ceiling, you may be wondering what impact this legislation will have on careers in the federal government. As it happens, I recently wrote a book called 150 Best Federal Jobs, which is now in the final stages of editing. To prepare this book, I studied the outlook for federal careers and their other advantages and disadvantages. I’ll be interested to see how the Bureau of Labor Statistics revises their projections for federal jobs when their new figures come out early next year.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that the federal workforce has been expanding rapidly and is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. In fact, the paychecks of federal workers make up only a small fraction of our federal expenditures that are running up unprecedented levels of debt.

More important, even before the current round of cuts (plus those that are to be enacted by the “Super-Congress”), the federal workforce was not expected to be a fast-growing industry. Two years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 0.5 percent growth from 2008–2018, compared to 10.1 percent for all industries. If you don’t count Postal Service jobs, federal growth was projected to be a somewhat healthier 3.5 percent, but that still does not compare well to the 10.1 average across all career fields.

On the other hand, I should mention the many factors that make federal employment desirable. This is one of the few industries that were not badly hurt by the recent recession. It continues to offer jobs in a wide variety of fields, jobs that have many advantages compared to jobs in the private sector:
  • Federal jobs tend to be more secure. When agencies need to reduce their size, they usually do so by attrition (that is, not replacing people who leave). Employees can challenge termination or other personnel decisions through a formal appeals process.

  • Hiring and promotion in federal jobs are guided by a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion than you’ll find in most private-sector worksites.

  • Federal jobs offer a wider selection of health-insurance plans than do private-sector employers. Retirees can continue their health-insurance coverage for the same fee they paid while working.

  • Federal jobs offer better retirement benefits than many jobs in the private sector.

  • Federal jobs offer 10 holidays per year.

  • Federal jobs offer 13 vacation days per year to beginning workers, 20 days after 3 years, and 26 days after 15 years. To this, add 13 days of sick leave per year.

  • Federal jobs often permit flexible work arrangements. For example, you may be able to work four 10-hour days per week or do some work from home. Workers are rarely required to work more than 40 hours. This can make a huge difference in some fields, such as law and accounting.

  • High-quality day care for children is often available at federal job sites or sometimes is subsidized at off-site centers.

  • Federal jobs can give you the satisfaction of serving the nation.
Federal employment is not a worker’s paradise, however:
  • The advantages listed above mean that competition for some federal jobs is intense.

  • A few federal jobs require security clearance, which may require background investigations that can drag on for months.

  • The workplace structure tends to be more bureaucratic than in small private-sector businesses. In high-tech jobs, the workplace may be slower to adopt the newest technologies.

  • Sometimes political pressures prevent workers from doing their jobs as they see fit.

  • Jobs may be affected in arbitrary ways by national political trends. For example, last year President Obama froze federal workers’ pay as a political gesture that actually had a minimal impact on the budget.

  • Although the many rules are designed to promote fairness, some workers find ways to manipulate the rules to gain an advantage.
What about pay? The answer depends on how you analyze the data. Federal workers earn more than private-sector workers, but they also are better educated. Most individual federal workers would earn more in an equivalent private-sector job. On the other hand, federal pay is extremely fair. In many private-sector jobs, you have to negotiate your salary and don’t know what other workers’ salaries are based on. The pay for federal jobs is supposed to be comparable to what is current in the private sector, with adjustments for local cost of living, and it is based on your salary grade.

The high level of competition for federal jobs, though listed here as a disadvantage, is an indication that work for the federal government is, on balance, very rewarding.