Posts tagged ‘jobs and careers’

January 14, 2014

Best growth outlook is for low-paying jobs

by Grace

The outlook for jobs does not hold up much hope for some college graduates.

Elder care and other low-wage jobs will be among the fastest growing career fields over the next decade. Postal carriers and journalists might have a harder time finding work.

The fastest growing job for the next decade requires no formal education and pays an average annual income of $19,940.

Personal-care aide will be the fastest growing job from 2012 to 2022, among categories with more than 25,000 positions, the Labor Department said in a new report. The field will grow by nearly 50% to 1.8 million jobs.

The gloomy prospect for postal workers and reporters is directly tied to technology advances.  Email has replaced most paper letters, and the rise of robo-reporters has cut into the need for human writers.

Postal and media sectors are likely to shed jobs in the next decade.

Employment among U.S. Postal Service workers is expected to decline 28%.Reporter and correspondent jobs will contract nearly 14%.

Here’s a look at journalism jobs pulled from the Wall Street Journal “sortable table of the career fields that will grow and shrink in the next decade”


Since my college kid is seeking a job in journalism, I had a brief panicked moment before I realized the job levels are reported in thousands!  Maybe I can find slight comfort in looking at jobs with even fewer projected job openings, such as film editors, high school history teachers, and chemical engineers.  However, in terms of expected percent changes for jobs requiring a college degree, journalists rank right at the bottom of the list.

December 27, 2013

Investment bankers will be allowed to take it easy one weekend every month

by Grace

Investment bankers will be getting more time off, according to an email newsletter from eFinancialCareers.

Jeff Urwin, global head of investment banking at J.P. Morgan, has confirmed reports that the bank will indeed introduce “protected weekends,” where analysts and associates are barred from even entering the office during one weekend every month.

Wow, one whole weekend free from work.  How rare is that for anyone nowadays?  But wait, you don’t need to be in the office to work.  You can sneak in a little deal-making by working remotely.  I’m sure some of the more competitive bankers will continue to be productive every weekend even if they’re banned from the office.


More hiring will be needed.

But that’s not all. Urwin also reportedly told employees that J.P. Morgan will hire roughly 10% more junior investment bankers in 2014, likely due, at least in part, to the need to fill in the gaps created by the protected weekends. No matter what the cause, J.P. will extend more employment offers in the coming year.

A good sign for job growth?

Both of JPM’s moves fall in line with those made by Goldman Sachs, which also announced it would be dialing back the workload thrust upon its junior workers and will hire more in 2014.

Whether they want to or not, other banks will surely need to follow suit. Goldman and J.P. Morgan didn’t make these decisions out of the kindness of their heart. They did it because the pay at the junior level isn’t what it used to be and talented people are getting burned out and leaving the profession early. Or worse, they are heading to Silicon Valley before ever step foot in the building.


December 23, 2013

The jobs gap between college and high school graduates continues to grow

by Grace

College graduates continue to fare the best in this feeble economic recovery.

College graduates claimed the bulk of last month’s job gains, while high-school grads with no college lost jobs, highlighting a persistent divide in the recovery.

While both groups have seen improvements in unemployment rates, 3.4% for college grads and 7.3% for high school grads with no college, there is general agreement that progress has been slow.

Underemployment is a problem.

… Of course, though college grads are getting the lion’s share of the jobs, it doesn’t mean those are good jobs. Overall employment gains have come from lower wage jobs, with many graduates underemployed.

The divergence in jobs growth is clear.


Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.

The number of college-educated workers with jobs has risen by 9.1 percent since the beginning of the recession. Those with a high school diploma and no further education are practically a mirror image, with employment down 9 percent on net. For workers without even a high school diploma, employment levels have fallen 14.1 percent.


December 4, 2013

The effects of raising the minimum wage

by Grace

Raising the minimum wage may feel good, but don’t count on it to reduce poverty.

A town near Seattle may raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Massachusetts is debating raising the hourly minimum to $11. And in the nation’s capital, Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that could raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

Most minimum wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24.


… Less than a quarter of minimum wage workers live at or below the poverty line, while two-thirds come from families above 150 percent of the poverty line. In fact, the average family income of a minimum wage worker exceeds $53,000 a year.

How do workers making $7.25 per hour live in families making over $50,000 a year? Because most of them are not the primary income earner in their families—many are students. Over half of minimum wage workers are under 25, and better than three-fifths of those report being enrolled in school. Two-thirds of minimum wage employees work part time.

Raising the minimum wage would reduce entry-level jobs.

The larger problem facing poor families is a lack of employment opportunities. Only 9 percent of individuals in poor families work full time, while 25 percent work part time. Fully 67 percent do not work at all.

Raising the minimum wage would make this problem worse. Employers would respond to the higher costs by creating fewer entry-level jobs, making it harder for disadvantaged workers to gain the skills necessary to move into higher paying positions.

Raising the minimum wage would not reduce poverty rates.

A higher minimum wage would help some workers, but few of them are poor. The larger effect is hurting the ability of potential workers living in poverty to get their foot in the door of employment. A minimum wage hike might help politicians win plaudits from the press, but it wouldn’t reduce poverty rates.

November 18, 2013

College students think they’re ready for the workplace, but employers disagree

by Grace

College students consider themselves well prepared for the workplace, but hiring managers disagree.

Nearly 80% of current college students say they’re “very” or “completely” prepared to put their organization skills to work, just 54% of hiring managers who’ve interviewed recent grads would agree, according to a survey of 2,001 U.S. college students and 1,000 hiring managers, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of education company Chegg. …

Some of the biggest disagreements are about the students’ ability to prioritize, write well, collaborate, persuade, manage projects, and communicate.

… The biggest mismatch came in students’ ability to communicate with bosses and clients—70% of students thought they were primed for the challenge; only 44% of recruiters agreed.

Schools don’t seem to be doing a good job of teaching critical thinking.

“The notion that college graduates exit universities and lack the ability to clearly organize and communicate information suggests institutions are failing to meet their mandate of forming critical thinkers,” according to the report’s author….

Ruth Brothers, consultant and former human-resources executive, believes students need “more hands-on, applied learning” and coaching on interview skills.

How about if schools focus more on teaching “factual knowledge”, which is “intimately intertwined” with critical thinking skills, as a way to close this job skills gap.

… Dan Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a leading expert on how students learn. “Data from the last thirty years leads to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not only because you need something to think about,” Willingham has written. “The very processes that teachers care about most — critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving — are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment).”

Interviewing skills may be the least of these students’ problems.

Related:  Five skills that will help you find and keep a job after college (Cost of College)

October 9, 2013

Second-tier status can mean second-tier salary for grad school

by Grace

The decision to go on to get a graduate degree should be made with specific career goals in mind.  Among other factors, a school’s reputation affects post-graduate job opportunities and salary.  From a MarketWatch story titled “10 things grad schools won’t tell you” comes this advice.

“Our second-tier status may hamper your career — and your pay.”

“The name of your school matters a lot,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for, a website that compiles compensation data. Indeed, salaries can be much higher for grads of top schools, especially for people getting M.B.A.S and law degrees, says Bardaro. Data from PayScale shows that the median pay for M.B.A. grads two years after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School is $125,000 a year, growing to $167,000 by the time they were 10 years out of school. M.B.A. grads from the less highly regarded University of Massachusetts Boston Campus earn a median $62,300 annually two years out of school, and that pay grows to $75,400 when they’re 10 years out. The University of Massachusetts didn’t respond to requests for comment.

People considering graduate school who don’t want to attend or can’t get into or afford a brand-name school should look for schools with notable alumni in their industry, says Bardaro. Such alumni might bring cachet to a school that isn’t necessarily Ivy League, says Bardaro. And if the program has a strong track record of placing people in a certain industry, that could also boost the student’s chances of finding a well-paying job, she says.

When my husband was deciding where to go for his MBA, one of the most important factors was a school’s reputation for helping its graduates find employment in specific sectors and locations.  Given the recent devaluation of an MBA, today it’s even more important to determine carefully the return on the time and money for a business school education.

Here is some advice from Megan McArdle.

… When young people ask me whether they should get an MBA, I give them the same advice that I got in the late 1990s: unless you can get into a top 10* (or have a very specific job that you know you can get by attending a regional program), then don’t. You’re too likely to end up with massive debt and no very good prospects for paying it.


September 19, 2013

Colleges are promoting the liberal arts as a path to a good career

by Grace

Some colleges are focusing more on helping liberal arts majors “translate their studies into the work world”.  This move is spurred by concerned parents and is seen as a way to save the liberal arts.

For years, most liberal-arts schools seemed to put career-services offices “somewhere just below parking” as a matter of administrative priority, in the words of Wake Forest’s president, Nathan Hatch. But increasingly, even elite, decidedly non-career-oriented schools are starting to promote their career services during the freshman year, in response to fears about the economy, an ongoing discussion about college accountability and, in no small part, the concerns of parents, many of whom want to ensure a return on their exorbitant investment.

Parents’ expectations are a driving force in getting schools to pay attention to jobs after graduation.

… “I think families at these, dare I say, fantasy schools — they’re used to kids getting what they want, and they expect that to happen at graduation.”…

Boosting career services can help preserve the liberal arts says Andy Chan, “Wake Forest’s career-development guru”.

… If universities want to preserve the liberal arts, they have a responsibility to help those humanities majors know how to translate their studies into the work world.

What are schools doing?

Working more closely with parents to get feedback, internships, job connections, and donations.  Parents with business experience are considered a valuable resource for both their expertise and money.

Transforming some traditional humanities courses into a sort of corporate training platform, with more emphasis on training in career “core competencies” like communication and collaboration.  A history class, for example, moved to a teamwork approach as a way to highlight the development of career skills.  This approach stirred some criticism with complaints ‘about the explicit career education. “I felt like I signed up to take a history course, and sessions on professional skills were not what I was looking for,”’

Improving the message to employers.  The study of liberal arts studies can develop qualities desired by job recruiters :  “fearlessness, communication, analytic skills and teamwork”.

Are these added expenditures adding value?  Whether these efforts actually make a difference is unclear, but they are certainly an example of the boost in administrative expenditures that are a significant factor in driving up college costs.

The problem with a liberal arts degree is that ‘rigor has weakened‘.  Notwithstanding the current spin on this topic, traditional liberal-arts studies are designed to instill the skills that employers seek  — critical thinking, logical reasoning, clear writing.  But there is a problem with today’s college curriculum.

… Many liberal-arts graduates, even from the best schools, aren’t getting jobs in large part because they didn’t learn much in school. They can’t write or speak well or intelligently analyze what they read.

Related:  Liberal arts skills are profitable for college graduates (Cost of College)

August 26, 2013

Obamacare may boost some careers

by Grace

From MarketWatch comes positive news amid recent negative reports about job losses caused by Obamacare.

… lost in the debate over whether the law will result in layoffs and shorter hours, recruiters and hiring analysts say Obamacare is certain to create a number of new positions — and not just in health care.

10 careers boosted by Obamacare

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants

When an estimated 25 million to 30 million people gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act next year, many of them will likely pay a visit to the doctor . . . Demand for physician services is expected to increase at least 2% to 3%, especially for regular checkups and other preventive medicine . . .

. . . physician assistants and nurse practitioners, who can perform many of the same services at a fraction of a doctor’s salary, are filling the ranks. The BLS forecasts PA jobs will grow 30% to more than 108,000 from 2010 to 2020; registered nurses will increase 26% to more than 3 million. . .


The law requires employers to offer insurance to employees who work an average of 30 hours a week or more, at a cost for workers of not more than 9.5% of their annual salary. The responsibility of tracking work hours and health spending will fall to payroll departments, or companies that provide paycheck services such as ADP, human resources professionals say. Indeed, ADP’s new business bookings for its employer services, including payroll, grew 9% in the third quarter, CEO Carlos Rodriguez said when the company released earnings in May. . .

Computer programmers

Under the Affordable Care Act, doctors and hospitals must use electronic medical records, but taking their old paper system into the digital age is a giant technological construction project. “You need an army of programmers to put these things together,” says Osborne, of Staffing Industry Analysts. Indeed, the number of medical records and health information technicians employed in the U.S. has grown 7% to more than 182,000 since 2009, before the ACA was enacted, according to BLS data. Employment in other occupations, meanwhile, decreased or stayed flat during the same period, Osborne says. . .


The Affordable Care Act is now required reading at many law schools. If there is one thing about Obamacare that everyone agrees on, it is that the regulations are highly detailed, complex and still in flux — requiring experts to continually break down what they mean and how they should be followed. As a result, many companies are bringing in attorneys: “Everybody’s in sort of a muddle about it, so there is going to be an army of people at least in the short-term trying to figure out what people are supposed to be doing,” Osborne says. . . .

Medical billing coders

With millions of new patients comes millions of bills. And even before those bills come in, the work is piling up for physician and hospital billing offices, which are racing to prepare for the new ways they will have to submit patient claims to insurance companies. . . .


Employers, especially those who will offer health insurance for the first time or dramatically overhaul their plans to comply with the law, are struggling to figure out what type of coverage makes the most sense for their workers. Teams of consultants are being brought in to analyze the health risks and needs of their employees and design health benefits to suit them. . . .

Customer service reps

Opening the new exchange marketplaces, where consumers will be able to purchase health insurance, will also require huge customer support staff. Known as “navigators,” these employees will combine a form of customer service with health insurance knowledge. . . .

Occupational therapists

Insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to people with disabilities in 2014, so more of them will likely have health insurance. Occupational therapists, which help optimize disabled people’s homes and workplaces to meet their mobility needs, were already in high demand: The unemployment rate in the field is just 1%, according to Osborne, at Staffing Industry Analysts. . . .

Human resources

Between administering companies’ health plans, tracking employees’ hours to determine whether they are eligible to enroll, and making sure the employer is in compliance with new regulations, human resources departments have been swamped gearing up for the ACA. . . .

Wellness and fitness coaches

The law puts pressure on employers to reduce their health spending by making workers healthier. That movement is taking the form of new worksite-based wellness programs and classes, such as Weight Watchers and fitness challenges. Often, companies will hire coaches to help strategize with employees and design personalized nutrition and fitness programs, and offer workers incentives to participate. Indeed, health educators, who teach people about healthy habits and develop programs to promote those behaviors, are on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s list of fastest-growing jobs: The field will grow 37% to nearly 87,000 positions in 2020, according to the BLS. Many of these coaches, who specialize in helping people manage chronic conditions and diseases like diabetes, are employed by wellness companies that sell their services to employers.

More research is advised.

College students may want to research these fields as they decide upon their majors.  Some of these occupations seem to have more staying power than others, keeping in mind that technology will continue to undercut employment numbers in many areas.  I shudder to think of the growth in bureacracy.  And I wouldn’t count on Obamacare to put a significant dent in the huge slump in jobs for lawyers.


July 30, 2013

Professional certification may sometimes help career growth

by Grace

The question of how much value certification adds to career growth has not been definitively answered.

Many professional certifications seem to add little value in terms of career opportunities.  I got a hint of that when I typed “certifications are” in the Google search box, only to see these four Autocompletes pop up.

certifications are useless
certifications are worthless
certifications are a waste
certifications are bullshit

Human resources certification
While the future of certification as an option to a college degree is yet to be decided, there is evidence that some types of certification programs may help.  Human resources is one area where this is true.

PayScale reviewed the impact of the PHR and SPHR certifications on the careers of HR professionals and found that acquiring the certification sweetened the careers of most HR positions. Either certification led to faster career growth and higher median pay. The positive impact of the credentials could be seen across job titles, industries, genders and geographies.


Penelope Trunk thinks this could be explained by the overly cautious temperament of human resources professionals.

… I don’t know what to make of this, except that LinkedIn has research to show that human resources attracts people who are most averse to risk. So it makes sense to me that people who are scared of risk would need to trust a certificate rather than their instincts when making a hiring decision.

Another consideration is that the PayScale study, since it did not seem to correct for many other factors, may simply reflect correlation and not causation.  Perhaps the smartest, most capable human resource professionals are also the ones who tend to seek certification.

AOL CareerBuilder gives us a list of 8 Professional Certifications In High Demand, but while most seem legitimate I question how all of these made the cut.  It makes me wonder if sponsored endorsements were involved.

1. Professional project management
2. Foreign language
3. Corporate training
4. Desktop support administration
5. Personal fitness training
6. Professional sales
7. Web design and development
8. Certified clinical medical assistant

Sales?  Having some experience in the field of sales and marketing, I would be surprised to learn that many sales professional are relying on a certificate for career advancement.  Typically, sales professionals are judged by their numbers, not by proof of completing a certification process.

On the other hand, I know someone whose employer strongly values the Professional Project Management (PMP) credential.

July 29, 2013

With the rise of robo-reporters, what is the outlook for jobs in journalism?

by Grace

As more news stories are written using algorithms that compile data and format it for publication, what is the outlook for careers in journalism?  Or for many other writing jobs?

While journalism students have a right to be concerned, this particular technological disruption could be a positive step for those reporters willing to step up to the challenge.

… the use of algorithms on routine news tasks frees up professional reporters to make phone calls, do actual interviews, or dig through sophisticated reports and complex data, instead of compiling basic information such as dates, times and locations.

“It lightens the load for everybody involved,” he said.

Reporters currently involved in writing basic, mundane news stories may find themselves out of work.  Overall, the total number of workers in this industry may decline, perhaps partly offset by the rising number of computer scientists needed to create these programs.

Narrative Science, a pioneer in robo-writing, recently announced plans to expand into other business areas.  The idea is to turn data into insight.

As an example, think of customized end-of-day portfolio summaries instantly produced for upper management and investors, audiences that may want to see the same figures in different formats. Furthermore, rapidly generated texts can be produced at scale, such as individual portfolio summaries for firms with a long client list. Other examples included investment research, in one case producing 35,000 reports per month for a company that previously struggled to manually produce 10. The takeaway: “If you have data, we can tell a story.”

Narrative Science uses Quill, an “artificial intelligence engine” that “discovers” ideas.

Businesses Need Insight, Not Just Numbers

Quill gives you the power to move beyond the numbers and leverage true insight. Quill is an artificial intelligence engine that generates, evaluates and gives voice to ideas as it discovers them in the data.

Let Quill Do the Writing for You

Receive Data
Quill imports your data and builds an appropriate narrative structure to meet the goals of your audience.

Create Story
Using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms, Quill extracts and organizes key facts and insights and transforms them into stories, at scale.

Deliver Insight
Quill uses data to answer important questions, provide advice and deliver powerful insight in a precise, clear narrative.

According to the BLS, the job outlook for reporters, writers, and editors is average or below average.

Related:  For a journalism job, consider majoring in economics or math (Cost of College)


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