!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: It's a hot job, but is it you?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's a hot job, but is it you?

Earlier this year, Mary Ellen Slayter used her regular column in the Washington Post to offer some cool-headed advice on how to approach the question of whether to chase after a hot job, i.e., one that employers are expected to be recruiting heavily for over the next several years. (Information on job trends is available in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.)

The main issue is whether you actually care about the job. Slayter reports being taken aback by misguided questions like one "from a young man who wanted to know if he should study to be a nurse or an electrical engineer."

Slayter counters with questions of her own. Her recommendation is that someone trying to decide whether to pursue a particular occupation ask himself or herself:
  • What kind of hours do I want to work? What shift? How much overtime?

  • How much time am I willing to spend in school equipping myself with requisite skills?

  • Is the pay range really something I can live with? The key here is to write out a realistic budget for yourself that reflects your projected spending. Does the job you're considering provide sufficient income? (Take into account reasonable expectations concerning raises and promotions.)

  • Does the job play to my character strengths? For instance, a nurse must not only have solid medical skills, but also have a strong inclination to be nurturing.
As Slayter points out, the best way to inform yourself about what a particular line of work is like, is to talk with people currently doing the job. Another common tack is to arrange an internship so you can observe up close what the job entails.