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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Which Jobs Are Sorely Lacking Experienced Candidates?

Minimum experience standards for hiring tend to be stiffest during times of high unemployment, as many who got jobs through walk-in job applications in the mid 1990s might tell you. A brief article by Chad Brooks of Business News Daily brought my attention to an attempt to describe those vacant job positions most elusive to the millions of American job seekers. Although it amounted to an advertisement for Career Builder of North America, the infomercial confirmed my suspicions that college advocates are wary of naming which positions are sorely lacking graduates of the right major and internship pedigree, if not outright seniority in experience.

I then found the official Career Builder summary of the Harris Interactive study; it turns out that Career Builder merely set the study parameters but left all the grunt work (data collection, tabulation, presentation) to Harris, the same company which pays consumer survey takers in "HI Points." Although none of the Harris Interactive studies commissioned by Career Builder are peer reviewed, would be willing to conduct a thorough peer review for a nominal fee.

I actually completed Harris surveys for points from 2004 through 2012 but cancelled when it became more difficult for me to qualify into surveys; my demographics did not change, but perhaps the survey sorting algorithm did. I had earned enough thumb drives and umbrellas by then to be satisfied, as point redemptions were for prizes only and not for cash. That also coincided with Harris changing its HI Point redemption to magazines only, so there were no more practical goods to be had, just propaganda.

And speaking of propaganda: According to Career Builder President Brent Rasmussen's summary of the unpublished data set allegedly comprised of responses from around two thousand respondents, the ten most difficult-to-fill jobs cited by HR staff are, in no particular order:

  • Sales representative

  • Machine operator/assembler/production worker

  • Nurse

  • Truck driver

  • Software developer

  • Engineer

  • Marketing professional

  • Accountant

  • Mechanic

  • IT manager/network administrator

Be mindful that these are HR personnel's recollections during the latter half of May and the first week of June 2013 about all vacancies they remember from 2010 through 2013. Again, consult the actual press release for stratification of those jobs by net change in positions (both repeating and first-time vacancies) and percentage growth (relative to its own job type but not relative to all job growth). I could reproduce the numbers here in a long table but don't want to syndicate a press release. By reading this before you read the report, you have a more critical framework by which to interpret the findings.

At the end of the press release, Rasmussen shills "formal education and on-the-job training" as the means to land these nearly-unattainable jobs. However, those millions of under-employed college graduates working minimum-wage service jobs deflate the notion that formal education means anything without an appropriate amount of hands-on experience -- and placement for such training is often irrespective or coincidental to education.

Of the thousands of job vacancies I've read since January 2008, no more than 3 percent indicated on-the-job training as part of the duties, thereby implying in the remaining 97 percent of vacancies that the new hire must hit the ground running without any time to catch up on any knowledge they lack from his or her internship days.

Also from my experience analyzing job vacancies, I find engineering, network administration, sales, marketing, and accounting positions are difficult to fill because employers are boycotting graduates with fewer than two years' full-time experience.

So if you're enrolled in formal studies, then don't get your employment hopes up until you've completed at least four part-time semesters of internships or equivalent. If you've hit senior year without a single internship, then I understand you might want to finish your degree anyway -- just don't be too disappointed to know you've missed the boat on the best opportunities.

Machine operator vacancies are similar in that the most successful candidates are placed early in their adult lives, except in their case, optimal placement occurs in the late teenage years through their high school CAD/CAM instructor and/or vocational school. Industrial firms are skeptical of candidates who haven't been doing such work continuously since high school, although there may be some temporary assembly positions available through a labor temp agency. Assignments will vary from one week to the next, however.

It is challenging to source qualified candidates for truck driver because the majority of the population either wants to spend more time with family instead of being on the road or wants to drive for a living but cannot obtain a commercial driver's license due to a horrible driving record. Nursing candidates are usually placed as nursing assistants while still in nursing school and work 24-hour or longer shifts much like ER doctors, thereby causing sleep imbalances and irritability with family when trying to balance home life with the innate need for sleep.

Software development is distinct from web development because the two disciplines have different tools. For example, PHP for a web server is a subset of the stand-alone PHP executable libraries. Try invoking the "stdin" class on web-only PHP and tell me whether it accepts user input; you'll get an error instead.

Just as in Java or C++, one must install a gigabyte or more of class libraries and the compiler of a given programming language to develop and test applications. The most effective self-promotion tactic in the field is to develop and sell your own apps; good luck standing out, because you have worldwide competition, unlike in the case of the aforementioned jobs.

If you're that hard-up for work, then there's always the understaffed pizza chain to give you a stressful dead-end job with plenty of opportunities for conflict with the angry, imperious public and a poverty wage. The managers will respect your lack of self-respect for applying at such a last-resort place despite being nominally qualified for much better.

They also won't hold it against you if you paraded around town holding a "for hire" sign, which is actually a hellaciously bad public relations move which only attracts snide remarks from customers who recognize you working at the pizza place.

Fast food chains are generally not that bad to work at unless you're a manager -- in which all the franchise accountability falls onto you -- or if you work in an ungodly place which has the cashiers also wait on walk-in diners and process delivery orders in which the GIS glitches and the customer slurs his or her credit card number, thereby preventing an expedient order while the in-person customers line up for service. Again, stay clear of the pizza places unless you've not been interviewed for any other job under the sun such as used car dealer.

I advise signing up for a temporary staffing agency to obtain placement at assignments where you can build face-to-face contacts. Ask the floor manager about internship opportunities for when your temporary stint is over. The success rate of this approach might be low but will remain higher than that of cold calling or attempting to convince obstinate internship coordinators at over-enrolled university programs.