Riding the Wave

The job market is good and your prospects are high. Here's how you can bulletproof your career.


Another sleeper industry is risk management. Individuals who can determine credit worthiness through the use of high-technology and data crunching can write their own paychecks. “Those with co-branding and smart card experience who can manage every facet of the credit card cycle are in highest demand,” says Susan Allard, a partner at San Francisco-based Allard Associates Inc., an executive recruiting firm specializing in the banking and credit card industry. “As companies continue to target diverse groups, we are also seeing a call for such minority candidates at e-commerce, insurance, mortgage and mutual fund companies among others.” Starting salaries range from $45,000 to $60,000. Top graduates with backgrounds in statistics, economics, computer science, applied mathematics and other technical fields all qualify with top college grads getting the nod for these coveted posts.

For collections professionals, the path has not always been as pristine. Long regarded as a career wasteland, collections is becoming a hot training ground for top executive posts. With personal debt at an all-time high, soaring delinquencies and bankruptcy filings, banks and creditors are looking for folks with quantitative skills who can call in the markers. As company charge-offs continue their dramatic rise, so will the average top salaries for these executives, which have jumped 50% in the past four years to $165,000.

Back in 1987, the Hudson Institute’s Workforce 2000 study set American employers on their heads with word-and proven research-that the workplace landscape would be increasingly peppered with more shades of black, brown, red and yellow than the customary white. In response, companies launched elaborate diversity management programs to accommodate the cultural and ethnical evolution that would take place. Eleven years later, the Indianapolis think tank has revisited the critically acclaimed study with Workforce 2020. Armed with new data, the report not only reinforces its original research which asserted that more women and minorities would be entering the workforce, but also counters some serious misconceptions about the landmark study.

When first released, a flurry of media- generated “myths and half-truths” abounded: jobs in manufacturing would disappear; technology would be dumbed down and destroy jobs; wages would decrease and the middle class would shrink; the majority of tomorrow’s workforce would be nonwhites and women; and global trade would harm American workers. Yet, in the throes of the “Innovation Age,” the revised study warns that today’s workers and businesses should heed the following warnings:

  • Manufacturing jobs won’t totally disappear as the demand for U.S. exports remains strong in emerging countries. These workers will also have to compete globally for their jobs and must upgrade their technological skills in order to compete.
  • Successful workers will acquire the technological skills necessary in order to advance. Many will transfer into the service industry that will generate jobs fueled by aging baby boomers who represent a large majority of the consumer market.
  • Whites will continue to replace other whites in the workforce. Representing 76% of the workforce today, they will still hold 68% of the jobs in 2020. Minorities will constitute little more than half of new
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