When choosing your university major or deciding on what job to get, many articles will tell you to ‘follow your heart’ and ‘do what you love.’ I have a friend who studied philosophy for that reason. The question he asks most often today is, ‘would you like fries with that?’
The thing is that twenty years ago, when people said that kind of stuff, a western-style education gave you a leg up over nearly everybody. Today that’s a bit different. The world has opened up, through such things as online work sites that everybody can join, outsourcing and high speed internet connections. And that means that everybody from everywhere has a shot at a large chunk of the jobs that are available.
That does have its advantages – for example, as a freelance writer I haven’t lived in any country longer than a few months for years now. At the same time, it also means that you’ve got to be more careful about what path you choose. Especially if (unlike me) security is more important to you than mobility.
In case you’re not quite sure in which direction to head, consider these five positions that companies had the most trouble filling in 2015:
Yes, maybe in years gone by what you needed was a university degree to get ahead, but nowadays with so many people graduating, it’s actually people who know what to do with their hands that are the most in demand. For two years running now ManpowerGroup has identified skilled traders as the group that businesses have trouble filling. So you might be better of choosing carpentry or metal working rather than psychology or history – especially as I don’t see robots doing the plumbing, do you?
Okay, admittedly in a few decades every truck will be driven by Google. Until then, however, the US is desperate need of drivers. So maybe don’t stop at just getting your car license, go the extra mile and get licensed for all sorts of vehicles. Though you might want to look into how to change careers down the line for when Google does take over the world. Hey, at least you’ll have both the money and the time to study whatever you’re going to do next, right?
Like children? Then think about becoming a teacher. The great thing about this job is that it too allows you to travel. They’re looking for teachers in most countries and a heck of a lot of them pay better than the US does (I kind of suspect they went to 12 in this list just so that they could include the US).
If you’re an optimistic extrovert and don’t mind the idea of working on commission, then try sales. One thing to note: Make sure you get a basic salary. Otherwise it’s far too stressful. I can tell you that from experience.
Okay, yes, to most people it does sound a bit boring, but you have to remember that without the back the front is just a façade!
I’m also available for children’s parties. (I did say freelancing isn’t that secure).
Seriously though, if you have an eye for details, this can be a very lucrative field. A good administrative assistant is the difference between a company that strides purposefully ahead and one that is chasing its own tail. Now you might not get a prize for helping a company do that, on the other hand you do get a pretty good shot at ending up in management, so there is that.
Did you notice the same pattern I did as you read through these? It would seem that the trick is to choose a job that has to be done on location. That way it doesn’t matter if some guy half a world away will do it for a tenth of the cost as nobody is willing to pay to bring him over to your neighborhood. And that offers you some job security in a world of ever greater uncertainty.
That has to count for something, because though job fulfillment and meaning are nice, having a full tummy and perhaps a Ferrari is far nicer.
Jonathan Emmen is a freelance writer based in Europe.