|Your Next Job: page 2
This shifting notion of how we work has twinned with the blazing economy to render the old ways of career planning obsolete. Once it made sense to talk of hot industries and hot cities. If your fortunes as, say, a bank supervisor in Phoenix looked dim, it might have been worth knowing that good jobs awaited pharmaceutical salesmen in Florida. That information is less valuable today: nearly every industry in every city is short of workers. What is worth knowing? That more Americans are creating entirely new styles of employment. They're found in the expanding ranks of self-employed Free Agents who find financial and professional independence in everything from personal training to urban planning. Or they are the new Nomads, workers who never seem to stop job hunting. There's an emerging class of Globalists, toothose have-laptop-will-travel workers who straddle time zones in today's borderless economy. Even the more traditional denizens of Corporate America are getting a makeover. Bosses are learning how to manage, retain and motivate this demanding, footloose work force. And despite reports to the contrary, the Organization Manor, increasingly, Womanisn't dead, either. But instead of conforming and running scared, they're designing new entrepreneurial ventures inside the corporate nest.
The most strikingand frighteningfeature of this new landscape is how much it demands of us. Once expertise in a single discipline, like marketing, was enough to ensure a secure corporate future. But today's free agent needs skills in selling himself (how else to drum up business?), finance (to win that bank loan) and technology (is this computer upgrade a wise investment?). Even folks who opt for life in the corporate fold face new pressures to gain experience that's transferable to other companies or industries. Workers will also have to master a series of new technologies during their careers. Nomads face a different kind of calculus: do my current stock options and 401(k) plan outweigh the raise I'd get if I left? The new career styles also create anxiety because many people will spend a lifetime migrating among them. Maybe in the future you're a job-hopping Nomad in your 20s, a rock-solid Organization Person in your 30s and a self-employed soloist in your 40s or 50s, when your skills peak.
It's also clear that most of these styles haven't evolved from the old smokestack industries and may not offer much solace to blue-collar workers. By 2006 manufacturing jobs will account for just 12 percent of the labor force, down 5 percentage points in the last 20 years. Still, for people who don't aspire toor who lack the means to enterthe college-educated white-collar world, the news isn't all bleak. The explosion of new technologies is creating opportunities for America's newest skilled worker: the trained techie who lays the cable and repairs the chips that connect our wired world.
That technology isn't just changing what work we do, but how and where we do it. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought people together in factories, the Information Revolution is pulling us apart. The ability to work at home, day or night, gives us more flexible careers but also blurs the line between company time and family life. That line is a big deal to younger workers, many of them children of divorced parents. As a solid economy gives them more choices, many simply won't surrender their lives to any job. The people in the stories that follow don't have all the answers, but they're on the right track. Different as they are, they have common traits: savvy, self-confidence and a willingness to gamble on themselves. Their tales reveal the kind of deft maneuvering we'll all be asked to make in the new world of work.