The first time I was unemployed, I became an incredible basketball player.
Several players, in fact: a playmaking point guard, a high-flying forward, a 7-foot defensive specialist. Not real ones, of course — these were all versions of me that I created in NBA Live ’99 on the GameCube. Eventually, my team of avatars played for the NBA championship, and it felt — well, kinda awesome at the time.
That period in my life was hardly the most productive or rewarding one I’ve experienced. As I’ve reflected on why I spent so much time playing video games, when I could – should – have been doing so many other things, a few reasons occur to me.
A lack of urgency: My wife and I had very few bills at the time (we were living with her grandmother), and she had a full time job as a teacher. So, from my (mistaken) perspective, I could wait for the perfect job to find me. But here’s what I didn’t know:
- My wife would become pregnant while I was unemployed.
- It would take me 9 months to find a full time job, never mind the “perfect” one.
- Eleven years later, we would still be paying off the student loans that we thought would be “easy” to pay off once I got a job.
I should have felt urgency. I should have been doing much more with my time. There were ways I could have been making money that I didn’t even consider, and there was a tremendous amount of unpaid work that I could have been doing. (More on that in a minute.) Continue reading A Second Chance at Unemployment
Every year, U.S. News and World Report ranks the “best jobs” in the US. For 2013, the “best jobs” were:
- Registered nurse
- Computer systems analyst
- Database administrator
- Software developer
- Physical therapist
- Web developer
- Dental hygenist
Health care and technology dominate the list. What else do these jobs have in common?
- They are well compensated. Some professions, like physicians and dentist, are famously well-paid, but all of these provide you with a solid middle- to upper-class lifestyle.
- They require specialized skills and talents. Not only do they require years of education, they also certain habits of mind in order to be successful. It’s relatively easy (compared to some other fields) to distinguish who belongs in the discipline and who is just a pretender. Beyond the compensation, the specializiation and high degree of skill confers a high level of respect for people who are good at these jobs. (People outside the profession might not even have a clear idea of what they do!)
- They are in high demand. Both health and technology are growing at rates beyond the rest of the economy, which offers both security and a high degree of autonomy for people in these fields. Right now, at my work, we’re trying to hire a web developer, and it’s common for highly skilled developers to receive several attractive job offers at the same time. As a result, developers can be extremely selective, choosing a job that is just the right fit for their preferences.
In summary, the “best jobs” are well paid, highly respected, and secure. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, that’s a complicated question.
What Makes a Job “Good”?
The jobs identified as “best” were ranked by a specific formula:
- 10-Year Growth Volume (10%)
- 10-Year Growth Percentage (10%)
- Median Salary (30%)
- Job Prospects (20%)
- Employment Rate (20%)
- Stress Level (5%)
- Work-Life Balance (5%)
Security (in terms of job growth, employment rate, and prospects) and compensation (median salary) were weighted more heavily in the formula, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the “best jobs” were those that delivered on those qualities. Continue reading Which Is the Best Job?