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University of Wisconsin, Parkside
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By the time someone asks us, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" we are old enough to have expectations about work and its place in our society. At a naive level, when we are very young and inexperienced in the world of work, our expectations are generalized - "I want to be a pilot; a mother; a teacher; a doctor, and so forth." with little ability to define what the role entails or how to achieve role occupancy. As we grow up, we shape our expectations to take into account and balance our own ideas with what we perceive to be the expectations of our significant others -- parents, spouses, grandparents, best friends, teachers, and so forth.
In this chapter we explore what's out there by examining the "big picture," or societal influences on career norms. In other words, we will see how the sociological concepts of "society" and "norms" permit us to understand and to assess with reasonable accuracy the job market.
There is a little bit of society in each of us and as individuals, there is a little bit of us in society. In other words, we're talking about "the society in the individual" and "the individual in society." We are very much influenced by what's out there around us whether it may be parents, the economy, and so forth. First of all, VanderZanden (1992:33) defines society as "a group of people who live within the same territory and share a common culture." Of course, there is more than one way to define society. For example, Talcott Parsons (1951) defined society as a "social system" with each subsystem or social institution being interdependently linked. A social institution is "the principal instruments whereby the essential tasks of living are organized, directed, and executed," (VanderZanden, 1993:49). To illustrate, schools are a good example of a social institution with its main role being to socialize and to educate youthful members in a society. Other social institutions are law, economy, religion, family, government, and so forth. Getting back to Parsons' social system, he took from the biologic analogy - if one subsystem or social institution breaks down, it has a domino effect on the other subsystems or social institutions in society. (Are we beginning to sound too sociologese? Sorry!) Let's provide an example of interdependence: Because of economic demands, more women are becoming part of the labor force in this country which means they cannot afford to stay at home to take care of their children like they used to (i.e., the days of "Leave it to Beaver," Dick and Jane). As a result, the family as a social institution is affected. Young babies are placed in child care centers. The latch-key kid emerges. And, you have the "Super Woman" syndrome develop.
Another example is the intersection between school and work. If the workplace increases the entry level educational requirements for young people trying to enter the workforce, then the schools are impacted. Upping the ante for more education means that the schools will have to respond to young people being in school longer and for specific kinds of training and knowledge. Therefore, the social systems approach to society tells us that what happens in one social institution has an impact on the rest of them.
In simpler times (a few hundred years ago), societies were not as complicated as they are now. The three big giants in sociology -- Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx -- all had their own theories of how we got to here from there. First of all, Durkheim (1964) talked about primitive societies as "mechanical solidarity." In this kind of society, everyone knew each other and they all worked toward a common goal, (i.e., planting and harvesting the crops together).But as society became increasingly complex, it was not possible for one group to produce all their needs. What emerged according to Durkheim (1964), was a "division of labor." Individuals began to specialize in certain trades with very particular talents. No one individual or family was totally self-sufficient any more. For example, you relied on someone for milk, another to bake bread, another to provide vegetables, and so forth (we think, you get the picture now).
Max Weber (1947) saw the change from the primitive society to modern society as a change from the traditional and charismatic kinds of leadership to one he called "legal-rational." According to Weber, red tape is everywhere. We have become increasingly bureaucratized. (Do you agree or disagree -- are there more forms to fill out? Is your name being substituted for a number?) In addition, Weber (1958) claimed that modern-day capitalism emerged from the Protestant work ethic. A religious ethic became the rationale making it okay to make money (lots and lots of money). Life according to Weber has become increasingly dehumanized and demystified or what he termed "rationalization."
Finally, Karl Marx (1964) examined how society is just a series of class struggles in a dynamic (dialectic) process. He also noted that the entire society revolved around the economy or what he called the "infrastructure." The poor and oppressed (the proletariat) would one day realize their alienation and misery (class consciousness) and revolt against the powerful (bourgeoisie). Marx focused on worker alienation -- how unhappy workers were and how exploited their labor had become.
What we have explained here is in a "nutshell" how we got from the past to the present. It is amazing how accurately the three sociological giants' future visions were (as they relate to our present day society). This certainly won't be the last time we mention, Durkheim, Weber and Marx. But here, we simply wanted to explain what they had to say about society and its present form.
Whatever way we might describe our present time -- Durkheim's organic solidarity, Weber's rationalization, Marx's alienation or some other concept, we can agree that change is occurring. Alvin Toffler (1970) called it "future shock" when people are not prepared for the future; when the future crept up and surprised individuals before they were prepared for it. John Naisbitt (1982) used the term, "megatrends" to describe today's changes. In terms of today's work roles, even when parents, friends, peers, teachers and others offer us conflicting expectations, current economic conditions of the job market introduce uncertainty and conflict for most. A review of the literature indicates that several career changes within a lifetime are the norm rather than the exception. One result of this complex set of factors is that messages about work and careers increasingly take place against a background of anxiety and anomie (normlessness occurs when society appears to be in a state of flux where things are constantly redefined).
Durkheim (1951) is famous for his study of suicide and the effects of "anomie". Anomie translates into "normlessness." When there is a lack of agreement on what's right and what's wrong, a kind of confusion and chaos emerges. Today, an excellent example of anomie is the issue of abortion (i.e, pro-choice/anti-choice; pro-life/anti-life). But, relating more to the job market, many have written about modern-day anomie; for example, Naisbitt (1982:279) states: "We are living in the time of the parenthesis, the time between eras. It is as though we have bracketed off the present from both the past and the future, for we are neither here nor there." Similarly, Peter Drucker (1980:4) describes this anomic condition as "a time of turbulence is a dangerous time, but its greatest danger is a temptation to deny reality . . . They do not mesh with 'what everybody knows.' . . .But a time of turbulence is also one of great opportunity for those who can understand, accept and exploit the new realities." Thus, both individuals believe that such periods carry with it an uneasy uncertainty, yet we can challenge the moment by exploring what it can reap.
Getting back to you and the job market, there has been little effective research on career change, and even less information has been effectively disseminated to society, at large. The media have tended to report primarily unemployment, economic setbacks, affirmative action progress (which presents anxiety for white males whose jobs are threatened thereby), and affirmative action setbacks (which present anxiety for non-white males and for females whose job opportunities are threatened thereby). In other words there's a little bad news for everybody.
The Baby Boom has come of work age, and there are generally more qualified job applicants than there are opportunities, particularly at the upper levels. In an economy where the desired jobs are scarcer than the demand for those jobs, jobs assume an importance not attached to them during periods of adequate job opportunity. As the "baby boom" passes through this phase of its life cycle, we are likely to see the same kind of disruption we saw as that cohort passed through our public schools. For example, Aburdene and Naisbitt (1992) note as the baby boomers get older, there will be a new and different focus on menopause. They believe, as the baby boomers have always done, they will make a significant mark on this life passage. Another megatrend that Aburdene and Naisbitt (1992) focus on is the role of women in politics to influence issues such as child care, elder care, cancer, and so forth.
So, the sooner you realize the fierce competition you're up against, the better off you'll be. The first step in planning a career is to assess what's out there.There are a variety of techniques and strategies you can use to collect data on your future career field. This is where sociological tools will come in handy. (Chapter 2 told you about some of these research methods). Although it's equally important to decide what you really want to get out of your work life, sooner or later you'll have to find a slot into which you fit.
Even though there's a strong emphasis in this country on the entrepreneurial opportunity, "90 percent of American workers are employees" (Slocum, 1974:75). So, most of us are going to spend at least some portion of our working life in formal work organizations.
We live in turbulent times.No profession can claim unaffected by the nagging uncertainty of what tomorrow's social and economic climate will mean to its jobs. Once our mothers dreamed their sons (and more recently, their daughters) would become doctors, lawyers, or engineers. Those professions meant guaranteed secure financial futures. Today that guarantee is a little shaky.We begin with predictions from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992). According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the number and kinds of jobs needed in tomorrow's economy will depend on the interplay of populations trends, labor force trends, employment changes, and so forth. For example, "the age structure will shift toward relatively fewer children and youth and a growing proportion of middle-aged and older people well into the 21st century" (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1992:8). Based on this information, gerontology would be an excellent field to go into. So demographics is an important consideration. "Demographic" is a technical description of the whole population. Demographers count people and describe their characteristics, (does that spark an interest? Maybe you'll want to become a demographer).
Consider doctors. Here's what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992: 147) predicts for physicians:
Employment for physicians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 due to continued expansion of the health industry. The population is growing and aging, and health care needs increase sharply with age.
Job prospects are better for primary care physicians such as family practitioners and internists, and for geriatric and preventive care specialists, than for those in some nonprimary care specialties such as surgery and radiology. There are shortages of physicians in some rural and low income areas.
The good news is that there's going to be a continuing demand for physicians. The bad news is that competition is getting keener. Future graduates of our medical schools may have far less choice in where they practice and what field they specialize in.
What about lawyers? Are they better assured professional choice? Here's what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992:104) predicts:
Persons seeking positions as lawyers and judges should encounter competition through the year 2005, although for lawyer positions it is expected to gradually lessen as employment grows. . .Employment of lawyers has grown very rapidly since the early 1970's, and is expected to continue to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Increased population and growing business activity will help sustain the strong growth in demand for lawyers.
Establishing a new practice probably will continue to be easiest in small towns and expanding suburban areas, as long as an active market for legal services already exists. In such communities, competition is likely to be less than in big cities, and new lawyers may find it easier to become known to potential clients; also, rent and other business costs are somewhat lower. Nevertheless, starting a new practice will remain an expensive and risky undertaking that should be weighed carefully.
Curses?Mother's dreams are foiled again! Maybe the outlook is brighter for engineers.Here's what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992:65) predicts:
Employment opportunities in engineering have been good for a number of years. They are expected to continue to be good through the year 2005 because employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations while the number of degrees granted in engineering is not likely to increase much beyond present levels.
Employers will need more engineers as they increase investment in plants and equipment in order to expand output of goods and services and to further increase productivity.
Many industries are less likely to lay off engineers. Many work on long-term research and development projects or in other activities which may continue even during recessions.
Alas and alack, the outlook is not much more secure for engineers.So what should you be when you grow up? First, don't crawl back in bed, pull up the blanket, and refuse to graduate. As a wellknown author once said, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times" (Dickens). But what is "normal"? What is to be expected? What can we expect?
Many of the concepts used for analysis in this chapter are identified with structural functionalism. This theoretical framework assumes that human beings are rational in their interactions. That is, that they act and react in order to accomplish some goal.
So, what is "normal?" Sociologists use the term, "norm" to describe what most people agree is acceptable or unacceptable. Norms are expected sets of behavior identified with social roles. It is a rule that is not articulated, that we learn from watching others or from admonition by parents, teachers, or peers. Sex roles are made up of a collection of norms or rules for behavior that have grown up around some central core of expectations about how males and females should behave. When we say that norms are not articulated, we mean that we are not usually conscious of them. They tend to just be there, grown out of the millions of social transactions in which we have taken part. One of the reasons that both African-American and female groups have spoken so often of "consciousness raising" in recent decades is that they have been attempting to make us aware of these non-articulated norms. We can't change them if we don't realize they exist. For example, the norm for male executives has long been to refer to "their" secretaries by first name, while the norm for the secretaries has been to refer to the executive as "Mr. X." This particular norm reinforces not only occupational status differences, but also sex-role discrimination. Thus, this particular norm has come under attack by feminists in recent years.
I heard a phrase last year, spoken by one African-American woman to another: "Wake up and smell the coffee." What a lovely way to say it. As I understood it, it means that there is something going on here that you haven't noticed. Look and listen. Wake up - think on a conscious level. Smell the coffee - use your senses to hear the stillness. There is something more here than the words are telling us. So smell the coffee. That's what this book is about. Let's wake up and smell the coffee.
Challenges to group norms are threatening to group survival. The norms are the rules by which the group functions. Without norms, the group will degenerate into chaos and anarchy. Sounds like anomie again, doesn't it? There have to be rules. Well, yes. Counter norms are rules that we set up when we are trying to shake off old rules that we believe have become too rigid. For example, Mother says it's wrong to say the "F" word. If you say the "F" word at school, you will be punished. If your friend's mother hears you say the "F" word, she won't let her little girl play with you. There's a norm. We are assuming that "you" are a child. So people are willing to state the rule verbally. "Don't say the "F" word. It's naughty. Now assume that you are an intelligent child. You might ask why the "F" word is naughty. Why can't you say it? You'll probably get an answer like "Don't sass," or "Because I said so." Now that we stop to think about it we can't recall a single instance when we've ever read why obscene language is "naughty." And we don't think anyone has ever told us. We just know that it is. That's a norm.
The defiant use of the "F" word is one of the best examples of counter norms we can think of. If your parents didn't care whether you used it or not, it wouldn't have been any fun to use it in the first place. There is no intrinsic thrill in the use of any word that we have been able to discover. So the word can only produce that defiant thrill, if there is a norm that says you mustn't use it. It's breaking the rules that makes it fun. But notice how limited you are. You have to say the very words the norm says you can't say. If you walk around shouting "SQUEEG" no one will be impressed. They'll just think you're weird. You have to use the "F" word or some other equivalent that people will recognize so they'll know you're breaking the norm.
But, there's a catch. You are as tied down by the "F" word norm when you use the "F" word as you are when you don't use it. That is the nature of a counter norm. A counter norm counters the norm. In other words, it is the opposite of what the norm dictates, or at least clearly not what the norm dictates. If you vary your behavior too far no one will know you're breaking the norm. In sex roles? The female who does the exact opposite of what the female sex role norm dictates to prove that she won't follow it, is as bound by the norm as the one who does follow it. She is bound to the opposite or clear counter norm. This is again one of our reasons for refusing to acknowledge fully the existence of sex roles. If we focus exclusively on sex roles, and then try to guide our behavior in ways that will not trap us into those sex roles, we are in grave danger of using counter norms, of acting only to prove that we can act differently.
Rigidity in norms (and their counter norms, which by definition, are just as rigid) result in pain for all of us. Society is a constant balancing of the needs of individuals and the needs of the group. And on a larger scale rigidity harms all sub-groups who are perceived as one individual. How tired we are of being asked what women really want? How would we know? We are not "women." And what we want right now might not be what we want tomorrow or next year. Yes, we share some wants and characteristics with other women. But there are some we share with teachers, some with Democrats, some with lovers, some with all sorts of other groups, too many to count.
Each of us must decide which norms we choose to follow, which to reject. Not to decide, is to decide. If we do as we are told, we have decided to accept. If we refuse and choose our own way, we have decided.
Seek your own teachers and your own way. But whichever way you choose, read. For if you do not, someone else will control the sources of thought to which you are exposed. Read. For if you do not, you will never discover how many men and women of all races and creeds and places have asked those same questions before you. Read. For if you do not, someone else will phrase the question. And therein lies the power. Read. For if you let someone else phrase the question as a struggle between male and female, you will be trapped in the vision of their belief system. Read. Black and white. Male and female. And discover the fruits of the earth.
1. Give an example of a sex role norm that might require consciousness raising. To identify such a norm think of rules or beliefs that might be true about either a man or a woman and how that rule or belief might represent a stereotype.
What are the rules in our culture about sports?
What are the rules about scientific ability?
What are the rules about the expression of emotion, say crying?
What are the rules about success?
What are the rules about asking for help?
What are the rules about changing your mind?
2. Do you think that women read more fiction than do men? What might that tell us? How would it depend on the kind of fiction? What would traditional sex roles tell us about this?
3. One of the characteristics of social movements is that they foster ingroup solidarity, the better to challenge the attack on which the movement is based. How would this relate to my discussion of norm violation when I questioned the existence of sex roles?
4. What is funny about our use of the "F" word? Think about this one for a while. We used the terminology on purpose.
5. Is it a mark of intelligence to throw off all the old rules and go your own way?
True, you can no longer bask in the security of a lifelong career.The norm today is at least three to five major career changes during the span of the working life.But if stability is threatened, the result may be greater opportunity than ever before.According to Bolles (1992:13), "Eight times in our life-time (on average) we have to go through this painful process (referring to the job hunt)." Such changes should be welcomed as a challenge rather than a threat. (Easier said than done, huh?) So, chances are your first job won't be your last. (Now, isn't that a comfort?)
This brief glance at occupational uncertainty may be scary at first.It violates our security needs, and it violates the occupational norms, according to which we decide what we're going to be by age 17 or 18; and that's what we remain throughout our whole working life.There are many such norms of occupational expectations. A woman was expected to become a wife and mother. A man was expected to accept everincreasing responsibility and climb the ladder of success.The work place is not ready yet to adjust to the woman who has been a wife and mother, and now plans to enter a career.It is no readier to accept the man who quits a good management job because he wants to be a "Mr. Mom."
Most of us experience considerable confusion when long standing norms are violated. Edward T. Hall (1959) might help us to explain all this. He points out that emotional reactions are strongest when behavioral expectations are learned out-of-awareness, through modeling, with no verbal rules.
|Level of Learning||Level of Awareness||Degree of Emotion|
|Technical||Consciously aware of reasons for norm and how it works||Minimal|
|Formal||Aware only of rules "Little boys don't cry."||Greater|
|Informal||Behavior is out of awareness -- norms have never been verbalized||Greatest|
We find it difficult to explain our confusion and frustration. We just know things shouldn't be that way.Here's one place sociological theory can help you cope with the realities of the job market.
Consider carefully any fears you may have about career uncertainties in the future. Become conscious of those fears and look for rational explanations of their cause.Our parents' expectations don't include major career changes.Our educational programs are still geared to the single career concept. Our financial obligations depend on career continuity. Now, at a conscious level, you can build career plans which take these factors into consideration.
Realize that your parents' expectations are based on their own career patterns.Those patterns may no longer be available to you or anyone else.Don't try to meet impossible expectations.
Vary your educational program.Don't specialize too early in your studies.Remember that you'll need to keep other career options available.
Recognize that career change is normal, and be on the lookout for clues that you should diversify or seek new opportunities.If you plan ahead, chances are you'll have adequate time to adjust your financial needs, and avoid any real discontinuities in your career.
If you analyze the fears behind your emotional response, you will find your anxiety level will be far more tolerable.Then career change can become a challenge instead of a threat.It's really only a threat out of habit.Actually, it's rather stimulating to know that you needn't be stuck with a career decision forever.Naisbitt (1982:260) put it quite nicely: "In today's Baskin-Robbins society, everything comes in at least 31 flavors." Similarly, Drucker (1968:275) states: "The problem today is not the lack of choices, but the abundance thereof. There are so many choices, so many opportunities, so many directions that they bewilder and distract the young people." For most of us, there will be ample opportunity to change and when we feel the need of a new challenge.
1. John Venturesome is a 32 year old businessman who has always been a "good provider." He has been rising through the ranks in his corporation; his wife takes care of their three children (she has never worked outside the home). One day John comes home to tell his wife that he has quit his job in business to go back to engineering school. He had always wanted to be an engineer, and they can afford it. John's wife is emotionally upset. What career norm has John violated?
Would you expect an emotional reaction to this kind of norm violation? Explain.
2. Suzy Reentry has 3 girls, 15, 12, and 10.Suzy has returned to college to get a degree in accounting.She likes her classes and doesn't mind the rush to get the household chores out of the way.Suzy can't understand why the girls have been so sullen since she's gone back to school.They don't really need her all day anymore. What career norm has Suzy violated?
How could this norm violation account for some of her daughters' reactions?
3. Carol Competent has been promoted to department head of productions. She is the first woman to hold that position in her company. Carol has noticed that the male department heads are uncomfortable when she meets with them at their monthly meetings. What career norm has Carol violated?
Do you think the company officers are conscious of the real causes of their discomfort?
4. Dick DeadEnd, director of social programs in the personnel department of a large financial corporation has just turned down a promotion to line management which leads to the top of the organization.Dick prefers directing the program he cares about even though there's no chance for promotion in his own department.His friends all think he's crazy. What career norm has Dick violated?
In what ways is Dick's relationship with his friends likely to change?
The publication by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Outlook Handbook provides one major source of information on the job market.This publication can normally be found in the library reference section, in your university student placement office, and are available for a nominal cost from the Government Printing Office.
Besides the important function of predicting the outlook for many occupations, this publication is a good source of information on the kinds of jobs available, the skills and training required, where to job hunt, and reasonable salary ranges.To give you an idea of the scope of information, we have selected a few occupations that are possibilities for a number of different undergraduate majors.Most of the information has been taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1992-93 edition.Firms in your own area of the country should be able to supply you with similar information. (See Appendix B). For a much broader selection of occupations consult the handbook in the library or placement office.For updated salary information consult your student placement office.
Assumptions -- Although the Occupational Outlook Handbook is a valuable resource, you should be aware of important limitations as you consult it;As we mentioned in Chapter 2, every study has limitations built into the study design.Some of these weaknesses, the researcher has no control; for example, in predicting the outlook for various jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992:440) has made certain assumptions based on:
Which of the assumptions made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (to predict occupational outlook) has been most undermined by recent events, such as the AIDS threat, the Baby Boomlet?
If this assumption were to prove invalid because of social and political events, what changes might we expect in the job market?
Whenever you use any demographic data source be sure to check carefully the assumptions. A violation of the assumptions could affect seriously the predicted results.
How will you know when the assumptions no longer hold?You will have to pay close attention to many data sources.The local newspapers give daily clues to news events which may affect the job outlook.And the business section carefully follows market trends.What do market trends have to do with job outlook?
Well, let's take a quick look at how the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992:8-14) calculates the predicted outlooks.These are the main variables they take into consideration.
Population trends (estimates of how many people there will be) by age, sex and race. Labor force trends (number of people we expect to be working, based on the employment/unemployment predictions). Employment change (labor force increase/decrease) Industrial profile (long-term shifts, the fastest growing industries) Replacement needs (number of people leaving occupations)
Now let's see how the variables used to predict job outlook are affected by market trends.
According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (1992:1) "Employment Situation: December 1992," "Employment edged up in December and unemployment was unchanged. . . The unemployment rate held at the revised November level of 7.3 percent, after falling from its June high of 7.7 percent."
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (1992), "women will continue to join the labor force in growing numbers. The number of women in the labor force will increase faster than the total labor force, but more slowly than between 1975 and 1990." But in the Department of Labor's third quarter 1992 publication of "Employment in Perspective: Women in the Labor Force," they state: "the economic slowdown that started in the third quarter of 1990 and has continued through 1991 and 1992 has been reflected in a general worsening of the employment picture for women. Black, Hispanic, and white women have been affected by the deterioration in the labor market."
Young dual career families are going to have a major impact on the consumer market.This trend suggests that these couples are willing to carry a higher debt level than ever before, especially given the current housing market costs.They are going to spend more of their "discretionary income" than they will save, reflecting fears of high inflation rates.(Discretionary income is the income you have leftover after paying for the essentials, such as basic food, clothing and shelter needs, and taxes, of course.) The dual career family will demand consumer frills and necessities that are sophisticated, high quality, easy to care for, energy efficient and time efficient.Job outlook is likely to be good in industries that meet these demands and whose markets are in recreation, leisure, luxury, and necessities.
When you consult demographic sources on job outlook, you'll want to know:1) what their assumptions were, and 2) what variables they used in predicting outlook.You can then make reasonable decisions about whether current social, political, and economic trends have affected their predictions, and in what ways.Of course, you'll also want to know how valid their data base was.In the case of documents published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may have confidence that all reasonable precautions have been taken to assure validity of the data.You'd better be a little more cautious of predictions made by journalists in popular magazines, by newspapers, and even, occasionally, in professional journals.Good data collection is timeconsuming and expensive. Many sources cut corners.Remember, caveat emptor.
For example, occupational classifications used by the U.S.Bureau of Census include within each major category a classification called "n.e.c.", i.e., not elsewhere classified.It may be ten to twenty years before these occupations receive official classification.Electronic computing occupations were added to the Census only in 1970, though computers became an important part of the economy in the 1950's.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will have a much smaller time lag, since its primary focus is on careers.This means you'll have to pay close attention to the source of any published data, so that you can estimate reasonable time lag.
In the 1992-93 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no listing for the burgeoning profession of law office administration. Many of the occupations which do not yet appear in official forecasts are occupations in which women and minorities are finding opportunities to enter the labor force.Some examples of these new fields are energy auditor and teletext marketing. These newer occupations do not have traditional organizational structures built around them, and are thus more accessible to marginal occupants. (A marginal occupant is an individual caught between two or more groups belonging wholly to neither, partly to each other).The good news is that occupations are opening up.The bad news is that there's no news about them.
Since most of the books and magazines which report on job availability and opportunities base their conclusions on the publications of the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they will reflect the same time lag and assumptions as we have examined here.
1. Look up your career goal in the latest edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Is your career goal listed? (If not, why not?)
2) What new discoveries has the handbook taught you? Are there things that surprise you, (i.e., entry level salary, educational requirements).
3). What is the outlook for your career goal? Good, bad or ___?
4) What is the entry level salary? (Is that good or bad for you? Why?)
In addition, you might write to the professional associations listed at the end of each outlook to see what "freebies" and information they will send you.
If you have some idea of the job you'd like to have, you can check the trade publications in which such jobs might be advertised. For example, if you were interested in any job related in some way to acting, you might look at any of the actors' trade publications, such as the weekly Dramalogue or the daily Variety.Both have articles on casting, workshops, special programs, and varied advertisements for jobs.Not all the jobs may suit your taste. Some are directed to actors who are in between acting jobs.
SERIOUS Actors Only! If you are serious about your career as an actor, you can put your acting ability to practical use selling photocopy supplies over the telephone. Drama Logue (1980:7)
See, you're not the only one bewildered and confused by the job market. Imagine how these "serious" actors feel.
Almost every profession has several trade publications.Advertising workers have Ad Week; sociologists have Footnotes or the Employment Bulletin; people in marketing have Marketing Communications and so on.If you don't know the trade publications in a field which interests you, ask in the Placement Office or talk to people who work in that field.Such publications are an excellent source for uptodate information on the field.Through them you can learn the current jargon, which is certainly valuable in future job interviews.
Because of Affirmative Action requirements job openings must be posted and/or advertised where women and minorities will have an opportunity to know of the openings.However, many corporations prefer to promote from within, giving their own employees opportunities for advancement.This means that many advertised positions are entry level or require highly specific technical skills which must be recruited from outside.
Don't be discouraged.Most writers claim that no more than 15% of available jobs are advertised in the newspaper.That means there are lots of jobs out there you'll have to find some other way.
Creativity will lead you to seek out unexpected sources of information local professional meetings, committees or organizations for women in the field (if you're lucky enough to be female, of course), committees on minorities in the field, student organizations, etc. And the chutzpa will lead you to walk right up to strangers you meet in these improbable places, and say "Hi, there.I'm interested in this field and hope they like people.
Attend every professional meeting you can; and keep right on introducing yourself to people.Every time you get someone to exchange business cards, agree to tell you about their job (most people like to talk about themselves), or meet you for lunch you've made a valuable and important business contact.The no's can't bruise anything but your ego.And the yes's provide you with the beginning of a network.
What's more, many corporations and public agencies have regular posting of job openings for their employees.If you make friends with someone who works for the organization, you'll have access to important job information. An example of a house organ is SPACES, The weekly News of Opportunities at TRW Defense and Space Systems Group. Even though you may not find the exact job you want, or don't yet qualify for the job you want, such organs are an important source of information on what is available and on salary range.In other words, you can gain a lot of good information to aid you in your career planning by regularly browsing through corporate publications.This will help you to give more knowledgeable answers and to ask relevant questions on future job interviews.
Internships, field experiences, work-learn programs is another good way of learning more about your particular career field. There are many programs on college campuses where you can earn college credits working in the field of your choice for a semester or two.
Whichever technique or strategy you use to explore your career options, "one thing is certain: there is no proven path for finding a job. Another rule of thumb is that there are no shortcuts. Last but not least, the early bird gets the worm."
Skills in searching through data will help you assess the job market.Many traditional sources have limitations as actual guides to what's out there.All data sources have biases and limitations.Consider these biases and limitations in weighing their projections for job availability.
Remember, also, that creativity and bravura in searching out job opportunities will pay off handsomely, since many jobs are never advertised outside the organization itself.Develop professional contacts to increase your exposure to job information.
N.B.Personnel departments and employee relations departments have developed advanced stages of paranoia about requests for information on career paths, job opportunities, and affirmative action plans.They expect fullscale attack by armies of wildeyed, hungry students any day now.
If you want information that is available only through specific corporations or agencies, have the courtesy to do adequate preliminary research before you call them for an appointment.Check with your Student Placement Office and this book before you go.You represent not only yourself when you speak to company officials, but also your university and students in general.Make a good impression for all of us.
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Job title: Public Relations Specialist
Most relevant skills: Writing and speaking well, creativity, initiative, good judgement, ability to express one's thoughts clearly and simply, decision making, problem solving, research skills, outgoing personality, self-confidence, understanding of human psychology, enthusiasm for motivating people, competitive yet flexible, team player
Entry: Research assistant; Account Assistant
Middle: Account executive, Account supervisor, Vice president
Senior: Senior vice president
Outlook: Keen competition
Salary Range: Median annual earnings $30,000
Mid 50% earn between $21,000 and $41,000 annually
Lowest 10% earn less than $15,000
Top 10% earn more than $52,000
Suggested educational requirements: B.A. combined with public relations experience, usually gained through an internship.
|-----||1.Harriet Housewife is a 40 year old mother of three.She has returned to school to study biology. Her mother keeps asking, "Why do you have to go to school?"Harriet Housewife's mother is reacting emotionally to the violation of an occupational norm by her daughter.||-----|
|-----||2.The Occupational Outlook is a monthly magazine on jobs.||-----|
|-----||3.New occupations are included in Bureau of Labor Statistics reports as soon as job analysts come across the job title.||-----|
|-----||4. Reading the want ads in the local paper every day is a good way to find the job you want sooner or later.||-----|
|-----||5.A professional education (doctor, lawyer, engineer) guarantees future job security.||-----|
|-----||6.Even with the current swing back toward traditional marriage, a majority of married women will have careers for most of their lives for the foreseeable future||-----|
|-----||7.Inflation has taken such a huge chunk out of discretionary income that market for consumer goods is dropping precipitously, destroying jobs in those industries.||-----|
|-----||8.Changes in economic and demographic trends affect the assumptions upon which job outlook forecasts are based and must be considered when using these forecasts.||-----|
|-----||9.Trade publications in most fields are full of gossip and hype useless for jobseekers.||-----|
|-----||10.Most good jobs are found through contacts.||-----|
|-----||11.Professional meetings are good places to meet people who can help in your job search.||-----|
|-----||12.One good way to identify job areas is to visit the personnel department of large corporations and ask about career opportunities.They'll help you sort out your goals.||------|
Correct answers and career forecasts for this selfdiagnostic may be found in the next section. It should be noted that the logic of the justification for your answer is more important than the answer itself.
10-12 points right: Stop that!! We're supposed to know a lot more than you! You'll go a long way in the job market.
7-9 points right: You've been playing in the real world (unless you answered at random) with this book you'll do okay.
4-6 points right: The process of getting an education has effectively isolated you from the real world.It's time to climb down out of the Ivory Tower and get back in touch.Start with this chapter and practice, practice, practice.
0-3 points right: You're a good candidate for a job in fantasyland. Read this chapter carefully, do the exercises, and check out the recommended materials. You've got along career climb ahead.