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Jobs of the Future: Choose Your Own Adventure

The jobs of the future are coming faster than we think. In the Harvard Business Review, Anne-Marie Slaughter offers some helpful advice on finding the perfect profession in the new economy. Look at the world around you, she says, and design your own profession that connects the various strands throughout the economy:

Look around, find out what is already being done, and then connect existing initiatives, programs, projects, and organizations to one another in ways that allow them to be more than the sum of their parts.

So what does all this mean for job-seekers in this uncertain economy? Forget the titles on the org charts and the advertised positions. Design your own profession and convince employers that you are exactly what they need.

This ingenuity among job-seekers is key to restoring job growth. It is clear that the blue model of lifetime jobs within large businesses is crumbling, and that it will be replaced by a more democratic and individualized system that will offer less stability but greater freedom than the old model. Today’s economy, grim though it appears, does offer opportunity to those who can get creative. Rather than searching for a foothold within an established company, explore the world around you and figure out what people need. Then seek out people who need the services you can provide.

The jobs of the future are coming, but they won’t be handed down from on high.

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  • Anthony

    Technologies that connect people to knowledge services…and many new functions (infostructure) are just waiting to be claimed (Anne Marie Slaughter); but they won’t be handed down. “Information and communication technology is blowing the old categories into bits.” We ignore developing systemic/global/economic/social arrangements at our strategic peril WRM.

  • lhf

    This is an unfortunate continuation of the Steve Jobs line. Most people – the vast majority of people – are not going to be even close to being able to do this. Most people are going to have jobs that they do because they need the money. One huge problem today with those, mostly men, under 30 is that they defer any employment in the hopes of getting the “perfect” job. This is foolish and it is foolish to encourage this.

  • bob sykes

    I had to go back and the HBR article. It has to be one of the most asinine, puerile lunacies I have ever read. Talk about New Age superstition.

    First, there is the grotesque misuse of language. A “profession” is a socially sanctioned institution that one joins; one does not create a profession for oneself. Like some lawyers (most are employees), many but not all doctors, a few engineers, et al.

    Then there is the lunacy of thinking anyone can be a professional. Professionals are marked by advanced training, usually beyond the BA/BS, licensure and an intense work ethic. These people are driven. They are literally the one-in-a-million.

    Gates and Jobs did not create professions; they created businesses. Apple is famous for its creative elite and their idiosyncratic lifestyle. But they are a vanishingly small minority. Virtually everyone, even at Apple, the rest of the million, show up a specific location for a specified time period and do assigned tasks. It may be an office or an assembly line or a construction site, but they must go there when told and do the job.

    Anthony Cordevilla and Charles Murray have argued that our ruling class is disconnected in every way from America, and Ms Slaughter’s article is a fine example of that disconnect.

  • BillH

    Anne-Marie Slaughter talks newspeak like a dyed in the wool bureaucrat and/or NGOcrat. I would love to be able to ask her for an on-the-spot example, real or hypothetical.

  • MJB

    I join those who understand just how foolish Ms. Slaughter’s ideas are. The path to success is not new: Chose an industry that interests you, prepare yourself, go work, try to be the best, and then look around for opportunities. And the sooner you get started the better.

  • Stan Coerr

    I am a big fan of Slaughter- she is extraordinarily bright, great speaker, gets things done.

    So…why is she a professor? Because that job is easy, safe and secure. She can branch out from there, as she advocates the rest of us doing. If only we could.

  • bill phelps

    Maybe I’m to old to keep current but I have seen things like this before and probably one more time before I kick the bucket. A career is a job with promotion and/or earning potential. One needs a job to support the family, pay the mortgage, school the kids, etc. All the rest is new-age wine, rebottled.

  • Strepsiades

    What do you expect when tenured geriatrics advise twenty-somethings about the vagaries of the marketplace?

    Slaughter used to teach law at a school in the northeast that you might have heard of. And it was because that school routinely inflicted professors like her — brilliant, but all too often resident in cloud coo-coo land — on aspiring lawyers that said school considered various measures to compel class attendance. Ultimately, the school did not go that route. Its classes remain as sparsely attended as a Cubs game in September, and the school’s rankings remain in the top 3. Two cheers for detente.

    I read this post to be an intentionally ironical one about education reform. Judging by the responses, it has made a compelling argument for legal education reform and, perhaps, higher education reform altogether – hire law professors who have practiced for years, rather than the .05% who graduated from a top 5 school and clerked for a Supreme Court Justice, and end the practice whereby scholarly law articles are “peer-reviewed” by law students who’ve never practiced.

    In other works, more praxis please.

  • Luke Lea

    America has always offered plenty of opportunities to people who are smart. It’s the other nine-tenths of the population that we need to be worrying about. Boutique employers don’t pay better wages.

  • Toni

    What was notably missing from this piece was $. Who cares what people call themselves? The crucial question is, are they making any money at it?

    That HBR published (or posted) something so vague, so devoid of concrete details is astonishing. If this is what passes for bright business thinking there, Harvard is coasting on an old reputation it may no longer deserve.

  • Luke Lea

    By Associated Press

    WASHINGTON – Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

    The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

    “Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too ‘rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

    “The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

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