Sunday, November 15, 2009

Attention College Grads: Ignore the Job Reports!

I remember back when I was in college (give or take, oh, about 10 years ago), I would read reports that projected which occupations would be the fastest growing over the next few years. These reports still pop up regularly today, with predictions and statistics and dialogue about which jobs will be most highly in demand. Problem is, with the nature of a dynamic economy that we have, I can't see how it's possible to predict which jobs will be hot even just a couple of years out.

Take, for instance, this story by the Associated Press that was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The gist of the article is that there is now a glut of teachers looking to get jobs in schools across the country, when just a few years ago a shortage of teachers was predicted. Whoops.

In my mind, all of the demographic predictions, economic analyses, and expert opinions can't give a definite answer as to which careers will be in most need in a few years. I think college students and recent grads, heck, even seasoned workers, need to determine what they want to do and go out and do it and do it the best they can, rather than trying to follow these ever-changing predictions and simply trying to ride the next wave of hot jobs.

Think about how many people wanted to be a real estate agent just a few years ago. Now it's one of the most challenging fields to get started in due to the housing crunch. Jobs in "green technology" were pretty much unheard of just a few years ago, now there seems to be a strong growth in these positions. And consider how many law school students are graduating and can't get jobs since law firms are suffering as spending on legal matters has dropped precipitously.

In a nutshell, the folks producing these job-prediction outlooks should get new jobs...

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