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1.9 Wanted: A Jack- or Jill-of-All-Trades

Want to “future-proof” your career? Read employer and worker surveys to discover your potential competitive advantages. Know current trends and be able to adapt to changing demands in the labor market. Learn from the mistakes of others to secure a job even in a tough economy. One good source of such data is the annual EDGE Report by Robert Half International and CareerBuilder. This survey of 501 hiring managers and 505 workers is one of many that provide clues as to how to make yourself valuable to recruiters.91 Here are excerpts:

Employers complain: Qualified applicants are in short supply, 47 percent of managers said; 44 percent of résumés come from unqualified applicants.


Most desirable hire: Thirty-six percent of hiring managers want “A multitasker who thrives on a variety of projects”— that is, a flexible team member capable of taking on “hybrid” roles (multiple responsibilities, even absorbing some of the duties of former colleagues); 31 percent of recruiters desire “a go-getter who takes initiative”; while 21 percent wish for “A creative thinker who solves problems.”

Where the critical jobs are now: 1. Customer service,

2. Sales, 3. Marketing/creative, 4. Technology, and 5. Public relations/communication

Future opportunities after an economic rebound:

1. Technology, 2. Customer service, 3. Sales, 4. Marketing/ creative, and 5. Business development

Employers are slow to hire: Finding a comparable position after job loss takes more than three months.

Perks workers expect when the economy picks up:

Technology upgrades, 79 percent; tuition reimbursement or subsidized training, 61 percent; flexible schedules, 47 percent.

Twenty-seven percent desire telecommuting.

Another important study focuses on the economic value of bachelor’s degrees. The authors confirm the commonly held belief that college graduates make a lot more over a lifetime than those with high school diplomas (a whopping 84 percent more!), but the researchers see huge variations in incomes. The median highest earning major is 314 percent ahead of the median lowest earning one. This range extends from $29,000 for counseling psychology to $120,000 for petroleum engineering. The study’s authors conclude: “In some ways, then, a student’s choice of undergraduate college major can be almost as important as deciding whether to get a bachelor’s degree at all.”92 Although you shouldn’t choose a major solely based on financial rewards, lifetime earnings and future opportunities should be part of your considerations.


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