Girl Talk Career Blog

May 15, 2010

Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 9:05 am
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Bear with me on this career redundancy thing Girlfriend. My first post about this topic was Are Secretaries Doomed to Obscurity? (no). Are there any careers out there that are fast becoming obsolete? Yes. There are many, a legion of them in fact. Hopefully you don’t occupy any one of them but if you do you should by now be able to see the change coming and of course that means you’re already planning for it. Let’s take this in stages.

How to Figure Out if Your Career Path is Redundant

That’s an easy one. Research the Canadian or U.S. Labour Market stats and find out where the current job market is headed for the next decade. Since I live in Ontario I went under Job Bank Canada and found information about the Ontario job forecast. Having done my homework (teacher, remember) here are certain careers that are pretty much guaranteed not to end up on the redundancy list. Now this list is so rudimentary and simplistic as to be hilarious but I’m not going to blog the entire Canadian Labour Market here. Although I did include a link (above). I also referred to Career Builder which, although certainly not a government document by any means and therefore not something I would put as much stock into as Government Labour Market stats, it seems to have pretty thorough coverage of lots of professions and trades.

That said, here is a brief, simplistic list:

  1. Teachers.  Well, who knew? That includes college and university professors of course, ECE teachers and teachers of skilled trades. One thing every generation needs is knowledge and transferring knowledge never goes out of style.
  2. Mental Health Workers. Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. Sadly most people’s stress and addiction levels are higher than ever. Happily for the mental health professionals they will likely always be in demand.
  3. Medical Health Professionals. Nurses, (RNs, RPNs) doctors, surgeons, etc. For obvious reasons we need those folk to stick around.
  4. Environmental Sciences Workers. All kinds of environmental jobs exist nowadays. The trick is to find a career path where your skills remain current and transferrable, possibly from one environmental industry to the next, not an easy thing to do.
  5. Law Enforcement. Cops. Enough said.
  6. Firefighters. For obvious reasons.
  7. Politicians. It’s debatable whether or not we need them even in a democratic society but since there’s no getting rid of them suck it up, buttercup and learn to live with them. The only thing about life as a politician is that you are easily voted in and easily voted back out again, Helen Guergis and Michael  serve as beautiful examples of this phenomenon. I suggest an alternative career path to fall back on. How about becoming a secretary?
  8. Administrative Assistants. No kidding. This is why I really tore into Cynthia Norton in my blog Are Secretaries Doomed to Obscurity? (no). There is a steady, predictable growth rate in this area for the next decade so don’t be afraid to invest in an education and a career in this area.
  9. Accountants. This includes CGAs, CA, investment bankers, mutual funds brokers, bookkeepers, you know all those people who know a thing or two about taxes and legal stuff to do with money. In other words a career I will never understand.
  10. Informational Technology Workers. Okay that was a no-brainer. No, not the occupation, the fact that this one is on the list. There is always going to be a huge global market for this one so if you are computer-minded and you like this career area, go for it.
  11. Mechanical Engineers. On my list that includes mechanics, people who can fix autos and trucks and so on, who make auto and equipment parts and then fix them when they break.
  12. Manufacturing. We need people to make our goods.
  13. Trades jobs.  Plumbers and electricians and millwrights fall into this category.
  14. Logistics. And we need drivers, pilots and ship captains to get them here. I remember a truck driver tell me that a number of drivers he knew complained that there weren’t any jobs. He said that was nonsense and there were plenty of jobs if the drivers were willing to take short-term and long-term work and consider long haul, which apparently some drivers aren’t too keen on. That was 20 years ago. So far as I can tell there are still plenty of trucks on the road today.
  15. Professional and business services and sales. Wow. That covers a lot of careers. I’ll let you dig into that one yourself if that’s your interest.
  16. Research and Development. Well duh. If we don’t have people working to cure cancer, diabetes and everything else that shortens and reduces the quality of life we’re all going to lose hope.
  17. Religious/Spiritual Leaders. Hey, you gotta have faith in something beyond the material world. Of course I’d hardly call a spiritual calling strictly a career. You also need to have that thing they say is a “calling” and it seems to be that very few people genuinely have it.

Careers Without Futures
Now that solid career growth is out of the way let’s have a look at careers that are quick to get downsized and may even face complete redundancy over the next several years:

  1. Journalism. Dying industry. Yes social media is a big fad right now but that’s not what I’m referring to. This is the old-style type of journalism where people are still writing for paper productions in an increasingly paperless world. There are journalists who still aim to get their own columns in newspapers and the like and some will. The lucky few always do. Newspapers and magazines will always be around but as far as journalists go well they’re pretty much indispensable and the market is simply inundated with them.
  2. Public Relations. That one has pretty much been swallowed up by media relations and communications. Now that is a much broader and more technologically advanced area than you might think. Like everything else PR/Communications has become multi-faceted and requires advanced computer knowledge, as well as ongoing software acquisition. If you’re an expert with advanced knowledged in a specific niche that is hard to fill (such as science and technology) then you’ve got yourself a keeper especially since academic and professional requirements for that role are usually quite superior. If the PR doesn’t work out you can easily move into something else. But if you’re into marketing just not at that advanced level, you’d better start looking elsewhere.
  3. Museum/Art Gallery Careers. To be sure there is usually a need for curators, who are business administrators and tend to have MBAs. People with PhD’s are well sought after and generally have secure jobs in museums but not necessarily in galleries. The problem with anything artsy and cultural is that these institutions rely so  heavily upon government funding that a recession hits them hard and layoffs are serious. Which departments are hit the hardest? PR and education, believe it or not even though museums are all about public education. But both of these organizations also rely heavily upon volunteers and volunteers they have aplenty. Hey if someone is willing to work without pay and still do a reasonable job wouldn’t you be more likely to use that person than paying someone for the same or similar work?
  4. Sports careers. (Except sports medicine which is a medical career and OT or occupational therapy).Layoffs abound in this industry. Unless you’re a superstar you’re in one day and out the next. It’s just not the most stable profession. Sports are an integral part of any culture but even the 2010 Winter Olympics had some difficulty getting funding on Canadian soil this year. Yikes.
  5. Anything that depends solely upon government grants. Often these grants are pretty limited and from year to year you never know if you’ll get one. Even serious research and development laboratories (which are actually on my list of good careers) can have problems in this area.
  6. Auto Assembly/Factory Workers. How many times has Chrysler and Ford tanked in the past 10 years and closed its doors on thousands of employees? Enough said.

Now here are some careers I’m on the fence about. Decide on these ones for yourself.

  1. Motivational Speakers. Usually these people have real jobs behind these speaking engagements. That’s because they’ve spent 20 or 30 years building up their expertise in a certain area. Often they have diplomas or advanced university degrees. Then they put their professional and academic knowledge together into a public-friendly speaking package, typically littered with amusing anecdotes and voila! Instant motivational speaker. It’s not usually a career unto itself especially for women. Why not for women?
    I was transcribing an audiotape not long ago and a woman with a PhD in Chemistry was asked to give a motivational type speech about the field to a live audience and to be videotaped at the same time with the intention of selling the tape on a website whose name I can’t remember now or I would post it. After they paid for her travel costs and hotel stay and after her presentation they actually told her it wasn’t likely they would feature her video on their site after all. Why? They told her straight out that “women scientists aren’t perceived to be as believable as men” so people are “less likely to buy motivational or informational videotapes with women speakers“.  OMG. Girlfriend if you’re looking at a career as a motivational speaker keep that one in mind.
  2. Beauty Careers. Yes we need hairstylists, but do we need or just enjoy spa workers and estheticians. As soon as that recession hits Girlfriend where do you tighten your purse strings?  On the little extras like manicures, pedicures and facials.  Sure you need a haircut every 6 weeks but even then you can always go to a cheaply priced franchise such as First Choice Haircutters rather than paying $80 for a half inch trim, can’t you?  Oh, stop already!
  3. Telemarketers. No, no, Girlfriend I didn’t say you had to like them! But are they becoming obsolete or not? More frequently I answer the phone to an audiotaped telemarketer, not even a real person and I end up telling a recording to go to hell. Can you imagine?

Where Do You Go from Here?
If you’re finding yourself in a future-less career or an iffy career or in a decent career hit with a poor demographic right now you have a few options.

  1. Career Change. That’s a big decision but then again it can’t be anymore difficult than becoming redundant. Mind you there’s a difference in switching careers out of boredom and dissatisfaction and a career change due to low salary or a fear of job redundancy. Make sure you change careers for the right reason and that you do so slowly with sensible planning. One thing I will say about the boredom and dissatisfaction link to Penelope Trunk’s blog is that I agree and I disagree with her on a few key points on that one.
    Yes recalling what you did as a kid is fine in terms of what motivates you and inspires you but that doesn’t mean those traits necessarily make for a solid career path now. Of course Penelope isn’t saying that if you liked to draw as a kid you should be an artist. Her suggestion is more abstract (pardon the pun) than that. Instead she sizes up personality traits and suggests you apply those to your future career path. I still have a problem with that one. Personality traits and careers don’t always match and in fact they seldom do from what I’ve seen yet for the most part people adjust and they are grateful just to have jobs and be making money. And that counts for something too. Remember in a recession or anything approaching a tight economy you can’t afford to be obsessed with career satisfaction. I should think it’s far more unsatisfactory to be unemployed due to “boredom” than to have a job and be able to pay the bills no matter how you do it.
  2. Alexander Kjerulf on the other hand tends to agree with Penelope. In his very interesting article where I provided a link he discusses finding a career you love and how to do it. I like the way he also cautions employed people to take their time and make a career move sensible and of course to do so whilst still employed.  But in the same article he argues against a good salary. Say what?
  3. Career Skills Upgrade. If you’re lucky and you work for an organization that offers skills upgrading to its employees or that offers educational incentives, take it. Often technological education is included in these programs and that’s indispensable nowadays. If your corporation doesn’t offer anything of that ilk then pursue ongoing education on your own, even if it’s part time and you need to get a student loan to do it. Just make sure you invest in an upgrade or a new career path that has a good future forecast in terms of hiring in your geographic area and relevancy in the global market.
  4. Become an Entrepreneur. Now this one you have to approach with care. First you need to be able to offer a valid service that is high in demand. You also need a good business plan that includes access to startup money. Virtual administrative assistants abound these days but the problem with that career is you don’t know if your client will stiff you and you then you don’t end up getting paid for your work. There are a lot of scam “clients” around and they can be pretty slick. You also have to have the stuff to be an entrepreneur, a go-getter who can market and sell your product or service. Is that you?

So there you have it Girlfriend! Do’s and Dont’s and Maybe’s for your Career Path.  To your continued success!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] as I said in my previous post Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft it’s always important to know if you’re in an industry or a job that will soon be made […]

    Pingback by How to Be Your Own Change Management Consultant (and a Little Help from David Bowie) « Girl Talk Career Blog — May 17, 2010 @ 3:01 am | Reply


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