Apparently most people agree. The labor market right now is “boxier” than it has ever been and companies, for the most part, are looking for highly specialized workers who can come in and solve problems with a minimal amount of ramp-up time and training. In fact, if you haven’t already checked them out, you might want to click here to read some of comments my last posting attracted. As always, feel free to weigh in with your own observations, too, and help deepen the dialogue!
Today, however, let’s examine this topic from a slightly different standpoint. As exasperating as it can be from a job seeker’s perspective to feel “boxed in” by the market, many companies are struggling with this issue, too, and are looking to recruit key people to come in and tackle certain problems — but they may not know exactly what to call these folks in today’s market. Or how to find them.
Remember, the biggest bottleneck in the economy right now isn’t the lack of jobs. It’s the gap between what companies feel they need, skill- and talent-wise, and what the current labor pool has to offer. It’s not a demand problem, in other words, as much as it’s a supply problem. Doubt me on this? As evidence, the vast majority of the job hunters I chat with believe there are only about 3,000 to 10,000 open positions in Washington State right now, at most. And yet, when I ask them to run a simple search on a site like Indeed.com, their jaw drops to discover that there are over 100,000 active job postings right now in this state alone! Click here to see for yourself. And sure, we could chip away at this number by agreeing that some percentage of these listings (5%? 10%? 20%?) are duplicates or perhaps not “real” jobs, but mere resume-fishing on the part of employers. But to be fair, we’d then have to ALSO acknowledge that only a small fraction of all jobs ever get advertised. So if there are over 100,000 posted positions on one website alone, how many actual jobs are there open in Washington right now, including the unadvertised ones companies are filling via recruiting firms or by word-of-mouth?
At any rate, that’s not really the main point of this post. I just wanted to underscore that there are lots of new business needs that have emerged and that are “still in search of a name” so to speak, which makes it tough for employers to find and recruit appropriate candidates. Try the following examples on for size, which I’ve rounded up in just a quick sweep of some of the local company websites I cover each month when compiling leads for my newsletter:
Customer Success Manager (Tableau Software)
Director, Knowledge Process Outsourcing (Russell Investments)
Customer Evidence Marketing Consultant (Projectline)
Programmer/Writer (Microsoft, Expedia, Edifecs)
Customer Care Development Coach (Clearwire)
Project Manager, Integrated Planning (Kforce)
Experience Designer (Adobe)
Manager, Business Analysis, Global Good (Intellectual Ventures)
Head of Earned Media (ZAAZ)
Consultant, First Sale Appraisement (Expeditors)
Office Planning Purchasing Coordinator (Nordstrom)
Sr. Statistician, Lifestage Planning & Traffic Analytics (Amazon)
Mobile Terminal Acceptance Test Manager (T-Mobile)
System Epic Organizational Readiness Lead (Providence)
Coding Compliance Educator (Catholic Community Services)
Change Control Specialist (Simplion Technologies)
Distribution Requirements Planner (Honeywell)
Analyst II, Indirect Branding (T-Mobile)
Global Employment Brand Manager (Starbucks)
Director, Green Building Portfolio Optimization (Paladino & Co.)
Now perhaps some of these jobs have been around for decades and I just haven’t heard of them. But if I’ve never come across a single person who does any of above things for a living, after 18 years as a career coach, I reckon it’s highly unlikely there are tons of people who fit these “boxes” just running around out there on the street. How about you? Have you ever met somebody who did any of these roles, specifically, for a living? Do you have teenage children at home saying things like “Dad, I know YOU wanted to be an astronaut — but I just can’t wait to be a ‘Customer Care Development Coach’ when I grow up!” or “Mom, what classes do I need to take in school to become a ‘Coding Compliance Educator’ someday?”
To be fair, there are definitely some newfangled-sounding jobs out there that represent a change in name only. For example, you’ll see lots of companies out there looking for a “Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)” — which is basically just a fancy new name for “software tester” that was invented my Microsoft (best I can tell) to make the job sound sexier than it really is. You’ll also notice that “telemarketers” now tend to be called “inside sales professionals” and that “business analysts” are often now referred to as “business intelligence” specialists. Yes, I realize there are some subtle distinctions here and there, but my point is that these types of careers aren’t necessarily brand-new ones the world has never seen before. This makes them a bit different than those occupations (e.g. web analytics, online community manager, life coach) which have only come into existence (in a significant way) since the turn of the millennium.
The takeaway? Pay attention to these changes in the market, since new boxes are opening up every day that represent new ways for people to make a living. While some traditional career paths have fallen on hard times, or gone away completely, entirely new occupational niches are getting generated, every day, based on changes in market demand and the inevitable rise of new technologies and methodologies for getting things done. And if you reinvent yourself into one of these new pockets, where there appears to be strong demand but little competition, it might be just the career booster rocket you need to get things back on track!
P.S. One last thing — if you’re interested in the topic of this post, you might also enjoy the article you’ll find here called “10 Jobs that Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago” that was recently posted on Yahoo! Finance. Make sure to read some of the comments below it, too, to enjoy some of the spicy debate that always takes place around this issue!