These are the jobs of the future and they’re already here

When does the future of work become the future of work is now?  Mya Systems makes a chatbot that conducts interviews. They work at the cutting edge of Natural Language Processing and are making waves in HR Tech spaces. (full disclosure: I contract with them to design chatbots). They’re also hiring for cutting edge jobs like this one: Language Annotator. It’s a contract role for a current student, ideally someone in the liberal arts!  They’re looking for a student with literature or philosophy background with strong communication skills and an understanding of machine learning. Bonus if they’ve got foreign language skills. This post touches my machine-learning-obsessed-and-liberal-arts-loving soul.

The job:

This is a hybrid job. Hybrid jobs combine soft skills with digital skills, and they are the jobs of the future. You’ll find hybrid jobs through out the job listings; popular hybrid jobs right now are product managers and data translators.

These are the jobs we need to train students and alumni for in order to prepare them for an automated workforce. The future of work is already here.

What if career services didn’t do resume reviews?

Results from an informal survey from the Career Leadership Collective which asked career services professionals: Which of the following do career teams spend way too much time and energy on?

Here’s a career coach confession: I hate resume critiques. This attitude was wildly inconvenient during my days as an MBA career coach in university career services. At the beginning of the school year my days were filled with helping students revise resumes. As the year progressed many coaching sessions slipped into tiny requests for additional reviews. Few people enjoyed the resume critique experience, me included.

Resume writing is a niche skill that few people master in the course of their career. The process is fraught with frustration. Students spend hours trying to get it right while career coaches spend hours telling them it’s not quite right. All of this so a recruiter can spend 6 seconds reviewing it. And now it’s no longer guaranteed that your resume will be reviewed by a human, as algorithms are increasingly being used to analyze candidate resumes.

The unpleasant experience of resume reviews is usually a student’s first exposure to career services. It’s a lame first impression for a department whose goal is to help students. Worse yet knowing how to write resumes does little to prepare students for a future in which 2.5 million new job types will be created. If career services exists to prepare students for future careers, resume reviews shouldn’t dominate staff’s time.

There’s plenty of advice about the need to rethink what career services can offer students. That advice needs to include rethinking resume reviews.

What if career services didn’t teach resume  writing? 

The resume of the near future will be a document with far more information—and information that is far more useful—than the ones we use now. Farther out, it may not be a resume at all, but rather a digital dossier, perhaps secured on the blockchain (paywall), and uploaded to a global job-pairing engine that is sorting you, and billions of other job seekers, against millions of openings to find the perfect match. – The Resume of the Future

Telling career services they should stop teaching resume writing and avoid resume reviews isn’t a popular opinion. I raised the idea once at the beginning of the year in my last job. My bosses both looked at me like I was crazy. They promptly ignored my question. I meant it as a thought exercise. I also meant it as a way to interrupt the autopilot that each MBA career office kicks into at the start of a new school year.

When I’ve raised the issue with colleagues respond, they often respond with “But who will teach resume writing?” A quick answer might be YouTube. Another option is VMOCK and jobscan.co, two platforms which are using machine learning to give resume feedback and guidance at scale. Both platforms provide immediate, visual feedback, including language suggestions, at a scale no career coach can match. 

Resume feedback by jobscan.co

Resumes aren’t dead. But in a world of resume reviews by algorithm, LinkedIn networks, and personal websites, they sure don’t hold the key to a successful job search and career like they used to. Career services should cut back on resume reviews now while focusing on the skills that better prepare students for the changing nature of work.

Below are a several focus areas to fill the space of resume reviews and better prepare our students for the future of work. These skills prepare students to adapt to the new workforce, succeed in the college job search, and every job search after.

Upskilling and lifelong learning

It’s something that has been a bit of a mantra in the educational field. Everyone is going to have to be a student for life and embark on lifelong learning. The fact is right now it’s still mainly a slogan. Even within jobs and companies there’s not lifelong training. In fact what we see in corporate training data at least in the United States, is that companies are spending less. As we know right now people expect that they get their education in the early 20s or late 20s and then they’re done. They’re going to go off and work for 40, 50 years. And that model of getting education up front and working for many decades, without ever going through formal or informal training again is clearly not going to be the reality for the next generation.” –How Will Automation Affect Jobs, Skills, and Wages?,

A bachelor’s degree is no guarantee for future job security. Students need to plan for lifelong learning beyond university. That includes understanding options for learning new skills. From online courses to bootcamps to nano-degrees, students need to training on how to identify skill gaps and match them with programs that close that gap. Whether it’s trying out virtual real-life projects, such as those at QLC, or pairing their studies with a coding bootcamp, students benefit from exploring these learning opportunities before they are on the open job market. This goes double for career services that serve alumni populations

Strategic Research and Data Collection

From LinkedIn and Quora, to Glassdoor and AngelList, students are swimming in public data about companies. Students need to be taught methodologies for identifying and evaluating opportunities using a variety of sources. Let’s reframe informational interviews as a tool for learning and a method for collecting qualitative data through in-depth interviewing. Teach students how data helps them investigate a company to gain insights they can use to outsmart their competition, negotiate well, and plan their next career move. 

Digital Marketing

Clean Google search results, LinkedIn profiles, and personal websites are must-haves in today’s job search. Newer HR technology, like Entelo, analyzes a job seekers’ digital footprints to determine if they’re a fit for a role. Students need to create an integrated online presence that shows off their skills as they move throughout a lifetime of multiple career changes. Since the majority of a job search is done through email, students also need to be taught how to write concise, impactful messages to diverse people they’ll interact with in the job search. In a crowded world of emails, texts, and Slack messages, students must learn how to capture a contact’s attention and make the right ask to reach their goals. 

Conversation and persuasion skills

“We face a flight from conversation that is also a flight from self-reflection, empathy, and mentorship.” – Sherry Turkle, author, Reclaiming Conversation

Emotional intelligence and communication skills are top skills for the future of work. For the job search, they’re essential. Yet the ability to have face-to-face conversation is on the decline thanks to increasing use of digital technology in in our professional and personal lives. We must ensure students know how to have authentic conversations with all the people they’ll meet in the job search. Then we need to build on those skills to teach persuasion. Persuasion touches so many pieces of the job search, from informational interviews to negotiation. To persuade effectively, students must identify what they offer and choose the right message and method to communicate it to their audience. 

Creative Storytelling

Ditch the elevator pitches. Elevator pitches imply that students will always be pitching in the same context each time (you’ve only got 20 seconds to impress the CEO who’s probably checking her phone in the elevator anyway). They were designed for a time when access to important people was limited – a time before Twitter and LinkedIn allowed anyone to reach out and be seen by executives and founders. Moreover, pitches are static. Today’s job seekers  are multidimensional with changing interests and goals over the course of their career. By teaching storytelling, students learn creative tactics to adapt their message in any context and stage of their professional life.

Virtual Presence

Students interact in virtual spaces like Snapchat and YouTube regularly. Let’s teach them to polish their virtual presence so they can present and collaborate in remote environments. With virtual interviews and interest in remote work among college graduates on the rise, students need to learn the skills to succeed in virtual teams. Let’s teach them how to work and build relationships in remote environments, where often their only connection to the team is Slack gifs. 

So, to all the career services staff who dream of spending less time on resume reviews, I challenge you. At your next staff meeting, ask the question:

What if we didn’t teach resume writing or conduct review resumes? How  might we teach students instead? 

You might just come up with a new model for the future of career education.

Like this? I speak on the future of work, jobs, and career services

21 uncomfortable truths about your industry

20. That travel and hospitality schools, barring few exceptions, are training the young for jobs of the previous generation, instead of all the new types of positions opening up in travel and allied sectors. In fact, the deans, professors and teachers are more clueless about the current and future of the travel industry than the students they are teaching. – 21 Uncomfortable Truths That I Have Learned About the Travel Industry

The founder and CEO of Skift, a global travel intelligence company, wrote a killer post on the uncomfortable truths about the travel industry.  Having worked several years in the travel industry, it was refreshing to read it. Most of these truths are usually confined to conference conversations after a few drinks. They’re rarely shared publicly. Judging from the shares and comments on the article, it’s clear it resonated with others too.

I would love to see this list for other industries.

Your employer is probably spying on you

FAQ from Teramind, a software that records, logs, and monitors employees.

Corporate America enjoys spying on its workers. According to Wired, “94 percent of organizations currently monitor workers in some way.” Even worse, you likely can’t escape it. From The Creative Ways Your Boss is Spying on You:

Try to hide from this all-seeing eye of corporate America—and you might make matters worse. Even the cleverest spoofing hacks can backfire. “The more workers try to be invisible, the more managers have a hard time figuring out what’s happening, and that justifies more surveillance,” says Michel Anteby, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Boston University. He calls it the “cycle of coercive surveillance.” Translation: lose/lose.

Last year I wrote a post called, AI is going to make your asshole manager even worse. Nothing I’ve read since then has convinced me otherwise.

Is it appropriate now to inquire during the interview stage ask what technology the company uses to spy on workers? If not now, when will it be appropriate?

Also, who monitors the executives? Who monitors the monitors?

The quality of your head movements will help determine if you get hired and I’ve got nothing but questions

Yobs.io isn’t the first HR tech company to promise better candidate selection technology through AI and predictive analytics. HireVue has been using algorithms to review and assess video interviews for companies like Unilever and JP Morgan, and they’ve got $93 million in funding to do it. AI technology is rapidly changing the job search.

Yobs.io, however, positions itself as a platform that can identify a candidate’s soft skills and improve team dynamics. Their tech implements “quantiative soft skills analysis in the recruitment.” It claims its platform “determines the emotional state of your candidate which reflect the real-time soft skills that they will take to the job everyday.” Their algorithms analyze facial expressions, word choice and tone, and even head speed to predict candidate success in an organization.

I find it hilarious that employers are banging the drums about the need for employees with soft skills yet they’re increasingly willing to hand over the process of selecting people with those same skills to a machine.

I work on interview chatbots and conversational AI in my contract work. I find it fascinating. I enjoy watching the algorithm improve and seeing its limitations. However, technology that uses personality assessments and predictive analytics to make hiring decisions fills me with questions. They’re questions that I rarely see addressed in tech media or HR industry coverage. They’re questions in need of answers that aren’t marketing copy.

Just look at that engagement level! Source: Yobs.io website

Here’s the ongoing list of questions I never see answers to:

How are companies evaluating whether hires by AI are better than human-led hires? Is this technology trusted for use in all hires, including executive management? Moreover, do the AI engineers have the soft skills they’re designing algorithms for? Does it matter if they don’t? Do the managers who oversee the implementation of this technology also have the soft skills they seek?

Also…

Why should my head speed be part of my interview evaluation? How much weight is my head speed given in the algorithm? What is a quality head speed and how does it affect my ability to do a job that I’ve trained for? Who decides what interview tone is appropriate? Would a monotone AI engineer with an abnormal head speed, a high rate of neuroticism, low rate of extraversion be an acceptable hire (trick question, of course they would, they’re the most in-demand occupation)

And…

Who loses out on an opportunity during the tuning phase of the algorithm? Algorithms don’t work perfectly out of the gate. What feedback loops exist inside the organization’s that use this tech to ensure they’re not getting false negatives? How do HR tech companies who claim to reduce bias prove they actual reduce bias rather than reinforce it?

Humans are flawed. But so are algorithms and even the data we use to build them. Just because it can be measured (head speed) doesn’t mean it needs to be. Asking the hard questions about new technology is important, especially in high stakes situations like job interviews and career progression.

Also, I’m parking this fab find here: Yobs.io uses the big 5 personality traits (OCEAN) to predict candidate fit. There’s a fabulous overview of the Big 5 that includes psych student videos explaining the big 5 concepts. Highly recommend watching these videos, especially when they discuss the person-situation debate.

Employees who are already living the future of work

Curious about how AI technology might change your job? The NYT offers a glimpse at how algorithms are changing traditional roles. In retail, fashion buyers who are normally tasked with making purchasing decisions, are increasingly using algorithms to do the task. These algorithms make fashion decisions and predict the next big trend, a task normally associated creative geniuses. With so much consumer data, predicting trends and stock levels is left to the machines, no intuition needed.

“Retailers adept at using algorithms and big data tend to employ fewer buyers and assign each a wider range of categories, partly because they rely less on intuition.

At Le Tote, an online rental and retail service for women’s clothing that does hundreds of millions of dollars in business each year, a six-person team handles buying for all branded apparel — dresses, tops, pants, jackets.”

The result is two-fold: the industry is using fewer buyers in the decision-making process and retailers are increasingly hiring people who can “stand between machines and customers.” The article notes that there are plenty of areas where automation can’t do the job. Negotiating with suppliers, assessing fabric transparency, and styling all need a human touch.

Instead of replacing all the humans, algorithms are changing how we work.  As a result, future roles (and managers) will demand employees who understand understand how to use algorithms to make decisions that improve the final product, while also understanding the limitations of the technology.

In the future of work (which is already here and we need a better phrase), we’re going to need a lot more of these employees.

The student loan struggle is too real.

This tweet summed up all my feels on the soul-crushing burden that is student loans:

It should surprise nobody that this tweet currently sits at 47K retweets. On a follow up tweet she adds that these are all federal loans, not even private ones.

This is the reality of being buried by student loans. Scroll through the responses too and you’ll see even more people crushed by higher education debt.

 

Do employers care about your online certificate?

Recently I came across a certificate in Higher Education Administration from Northwestern. For $19,975, I can “deepen (my) understanding of the field and expand (my) networks.” Details on career outcomes or paths are notably absent. Instead the page offers the basics of college career services: “access to ongoing professional development support, one-on-one career coaching, academic advising and networking opportunities.”

The certificate reminded me of a Northwestern ad I saw last year promoting a $10,000 global mobility online certificate. The ad was marketed towards future international education professionals. As someone who has worked in international education for over a decade, I got a bit riled up. Aside from the fact that you don’t need a $10K certificate to get a job in international education, the program’s career preparation promises were lackluster at best. The lack of testimonials from employers raving about the certificate, or explaining how the certificate signaled a candidate’s competitiveness, was telling.

Despite my frustrations with certificates with lackluster career promises, I recognize the role certificates play as career paths and institutions adapt to changes in the market. Certificates are revenue generating programs which help institutions shore up revenue from diverse sources. Certificates also provide an attractive option to employees who want to upskill or change careers. They usually take under a year to complete. Certificates are frequently associated with a university brand name. While affordability varies by institution and certificate program, they’re cheaper than a full degree and they qualify for financial aid.

However, data on career outcomes from non-degree credentialing – i.e. certificate holders – is hard to come by. Employers’ attitudes towards certificate holders are difficult to pin down, which makes it hard to know if certificates hold their value in the market or even determine the ROI on a $20K certificate.

Thankfully we’re a bit closer to understanding employer attitudes to non-degree credentials thanks to a new report by Burning Glass Technologies. A recently released report, The Narrow Ladder: The Value of Industry Certifications in the Job Market, examines how employers use certifications (not certificates) in the hiring process. Using their vast database of over 700 million job postings, Burning Glass Technologies examines the types of certifications that employers value, along with the skills and salary bump employees receive post-certification. It’s well worth a read for anyone who advises students or mid-career professionals about their upskill options.

“It’s not that the “non-degree” credentials are rare; more than a quarter of the employed U.S. population holds a license or certification, on top of any degrees they may hold. Certifications can be precisely tuned to industry needs, and they hold the promise of reducing the need for employers to rely on imperfect proxies, like college degrees. In certain occupations, certifications outline career ladders that define industries and give employers and job seekers alike guidance about what skills are necessary to advance.
Those occupations, however, are the exception, and if the nation is to close the skills gap, perhaps they should become the norm.”

Though the report focuses on certifications, its analysis provides material for examining certificate programs as well. Most importantly, it provides a clear difference between between certifications and certificates. The report examines employer attitudes towards certifications, which are “awarded by a certifying body, often an industry association or trade group, based on an examination process assessing whether an individual has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job.” This differs from certificates, which the report defines as “short-term, professionally oriented credentials awarded by an educational institution (as opposed to an industry body) based on completion of specific coursework.” 

This distinction is important since few people outside of mobility circles realize the difference. There is a critical difference between these types of upskilling. With such similar terms an employee looking to upskill could be forgiven for thinking a university certificate in higher education administration will provide the same signal to future employers and salary bump as a CISCO Cisco Certified Network Professional certification (it doesn’t). The former is a revenue generation program from a university with little focus on skill building and an unclear career trajectory. The latter is an industry-approved career training model with clearly defined career paths.

What struck me most from this report was the role that certifications played in outlining both the skills and career paths that job seekers and employers agree on. Certifications are built from industry needs. Here’s an example of the skills needed for a AMA Digital Marketing Certification:

Are university certificate programs mapping their content offerings to industry needs? Maybe but we don’t know. The report also finds that employers value certifications that improve technical skills. Do employers feel the same about certificates? Hard to know.

On top of that, the report finds that employers vastly prefer certifications over certificates.

In 2015, the demand for certifications is approximately 1.5 million job postings, whereas only about 130,000 postings ask for certificates.

Is it possible that employer demand for certificates aren’t as in-demand as universities promise? Again, we don’t know, but this stat and the lack of employee perspectives in program marketing for certificates is telling.

Among the most important takeaways from the report, however, is this nugget:

Relatively few certifications actually have market value, and there is a shortage of easy-to-find information to sort out which credentials are pathways and which are blind alleys. More transparency in the certification market can significantly improve the returns people receive on their certification investments.

Finding out which credential pathways are legitimate is difficult. I’d argue the same for certificate programs. Will a certificate in higher education administration make a candidate more desirable than a candidate with 5+ years working in higher education? Will a certificate provide a salary bump or launch a job seeker into a more senior role? Will a certificate ensure the skills learned are still relevant in the next five years? The lack of this data makes it tough to answer these questions.

Since we don’t have those answers yet, it’s up to the job seeker/future certificate student to ask the hard questions before taking on a certificate. So for job seekers thinking about getting any certificate – online or in person – ask yourself these six questions before committing:

  • Does this certificate add to or improve your technical skills?
  • Does this certificate put you on a path to a hybrid job?
  • Does this certificate map to industry needs?
  • Does this certificate frequently appear as a requirement in your future job posting?
  • Will this certificate give you a salary or title bump? 
  • Will this certificate be relevant in five years? 

If you can’t answer these questions on your own or through a Google search, ask admissions. You’re investing in a certificate; it’s perfectly fine to ask about career outcomes. Ask to speak to participants in the program (don’t rely on testimonials). Look at LinkedIn profiles of certificate holders to understand their career paths. If you don’t get a clear answer, consider other options that are either cheaper (i.e. MOOCs), bootcamps, or certificate programs that detail the results.

Employees will need to upskill throughout their career. Certifications and certificates are one of many paths to do so. To make sure they’re actually beneficial to job seekers, we need a lot more data like the recent report from Burning Glass Technologies.

Higher education should do their part by ensuring their certificate programs bring career outcomes data – or employer perspectives towards their certificate – to the forefront of their marketing and information websites. Because right now career outcomes from all these certificate programs basically look like this:

Certificate programs career outcomes page