Category Archives: Positioning for the Next Decade

Are College Grads Their Own Worst Enemy for the Job Market?

For the longest time, people went to college to earn a four-year or six-year degree in a field that (1) interested them, and (2) paid a decent wage.

Those days are long gone. Today, folks enrolled in bachelors or masters degree programs must consider fields/professions that (1) have a livable wage with benefits, and (2) interests them. As I wrote in Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (Second Edition), employers are increasingly going to need employees who have specialized skills and knowledge that can be put to immediate use. Such people will have associate degrees with experience; certifications with experience; and licenses with experience. The fresh-out graduate with a B.S. or M.S. in hand and no experience may very well be the one with the disadvantage in the many sectors of the job market going forward. The community college/junior college, business/trade school, and online higher education options will see higher enrollment and more demand for graduates from these institutions. Certainly undergraduate and graduate degrees will be required for nearly half of all job openings, but the sweet spot in the coming decade is with 2-year AA degrees or 1-year certifications that are strengthened by experience in the specific field.

The top 5 fastest growing occupations in the U.S. from 2010 to 2020 are estimated to be as follows (Source: Texas Workforce Commision, Labor Market and Career Information):

  1. Personal care aides (growth rate: 70.5%)
  2. Home health aides (growth rate: 69.4%)
  3. Biomedical engineers (growth rate: 61.7%)
  4. Brick and stonemason helpers (growth rate: 60.1%)
  5. Carpenter helpers (growth rate: 55.7%)

Before anyone advises students to change majors or drop out of school altogether, consider this: of the top-paying 5 occupations for the coming decade, only 1 is in the fastest growing list. That’s right, just one. According to CNBC, to maintain a basic lifestyle after retirement at age 65, people earning less than $100,000 a year will need at a minimum 8x their annual salary in savings and investments. For people earning more than $100,000, that number jumps to 10x to 12x their annual salary just for the basics. If travel or vacation homes are part of your retirement plans, that multiplier goes higher. And now more than ever, that planning has to start with what you expect to get out of a higher education.

The top-paying 5 occupations for the coming decade are as follows:

  1. Biomedical engineers ($81,540 annual salary)
  2. Diagnostic medical sonographers ($64,380 annual salary; ranked No. 11 on the fastest growing occupation list)
  3. Occupational therapy assistants ($51,010 annual salary; ranked No. 12 on the fastest growing occupation list)
  4. Physical therapy assistants ($49,690 annual salary; ranked No. 8 on the fastest growing occupation list)
  5. Meeting and event planners ($45,260 annual salary; ranked No. 10 o the fastest growing occupation list)

With the aging of the population and so many baby boomers retiring in the coming decade, it should not come as a surprise that four of the five top-paying jobs integrate solidly with geriatric/elder care.

But also consider that nearly all of the following job titles didn’t exist 5 years ago, and as you read through the list, think about what they all have in common (source: Forbes Magazine and

  • Apps developer
  • Data mining/data analytics researcher
  • Educational admissions consultant
  • User experience designer
  • Social media manager
  • Chief listening officer (yup!)
  • Cloud computing operations center manager
  • Elder care services consultant
  • Search engine optimization manager
  • Milllenial generation consultant
  • Content developer/manager
  • Product blogger
  • Disaster recovery IT manager
  • Cyborg anthropologist
  • Interior redesigner (staging expert)
  • Chief sustainability officer
  • Energy manager
  • Senior citizen move manager
  • Patient advocate
  • Online reputation manager

What nearly all have in common are focused, specific skills that are developed through on-the-job experience; you just can’t get a degree in “Patient Advocacy” or “Product Blogging.”

And as I wrote in 50 MORE Things You Can Do NOW to Help Keep Your Job, your continued success on the job and in your career is predicated on your “software” skills, specifically:

  • Excellent communication skills up and down the organization
  • Excellent relationships with people up and down the organization

While career strategies and plans are always subject to sudden or lengthy economic conditions, as I experienced in the mid-1980s when I was in the oil and gas industry, your excellent communication/relationship/and critical thinking skills all contribute to your ability to transition from one job–or career–to another.

New FREE eBook "Positioning for the Next Decade" Available from Donn LeVie Jr.

Donn LeVie Jr.’s new FREE eBook, Positioning for the Next Decade, is available from

Award-winning author, consultant, and former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. has just released a new and free eBook entitled POSITIONING for the Next Decade: Creating and Promoting Your Professional Brand in an Evolving Global Job Market. Request your free copy at

Rapid changes in global demographics, economics, and technology are influencing how domestic and international corporations restructure and allocate all forms of capital. Not the least of these strategic and tactical shifts involves the workforce arena where the effects reverberate through the entire employment chain. Hiring managers now more than before seek candidates who can quantify their achievements as problem solvers, “game changers”, and solutions providers to a myriad of challenges.

Assumptions about the workforce generally have been derived from studies and observations in the West and in mature economies; however, rapid-response opportunities are presenting themselves at an increasing rate in emerging economies as well as other mature economies within the block of G-20 nations.

This eBook surveys the key global demographic, technological, and economic changes that are shaping key trends in the organization, which in turn dictate hiring trends in the organization. Armed with this information, readers will learn how to brand their professional skills, knowledge, and experience into both a portfolio of supportive documentation and a strategy that positions them as the hiring manager’s candidate of choice.

The eBook demonstrates how such a strategy works in parallel for permanent positions as well as contracting and consulting opportunities.