Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Job Going Begging

Yesterday I received an unsolicited e-mail urging me to apply for a certain job opening. At first, I got a warm feeling. Even though I’m happy with my present job, it was encouraging to know that another employer considered me an attractive potential hire. However, once I started reading the message, I realized that the job in question was totally inappropriate for me. Nevertheless, the message also provided some interesting insights into the current job market.

The message began as follows: “I am [name withheld], Recruiter for a rapidly growing, community-based Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I came across your online resume, and would like to speak with you about our available Occupational Therapist position.”

In case you’re wondering, I am not an occupational therapist and never have been one. So why did I receive this unsolicited e-mail? The answer may be found in the recruiter’s statement “I came across your online resume.” My online resume contains the word “occupational” three times—all of them within the titles of books I have worked on: the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Guide for Occupational Exploration, Third Edition, and the O*NET Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 2001-2002 Edition. In my LinkedIn profile, the word “occupational” appears five times—once in a book title and four times describing the contents of my books.

Evidently, this recruiter was employing an automated program. The searchbot scoured the Web for resumes containing the word “occupational,” harvested e-mail addresses from these resumes, and then generated an e-mail urging all of these potential recruits to get in touch. This searchbot (or the recruiter’s method of using it) apparently was not clever enough to look for the word “therapist” or “therapy” in the same resume, because otherwise I would not have been included in the e-mail blast.

I’m guessing that this error was unintentional—that the recruiter did not anticipate that the word “occupational” might appear on resumes in contexts other than occupational therapy. And, in fairness, I doubt that the searchbot harvested the e-mail addresses of a large number of occupational information workers, because there aren’t many of us. Also, consider that this error did not cause much trouble for the recruiter; those of us who received the message in error are unlikely to stuff her inbox with angry replies.

What else does this message tell me? It shows that, in this time of high unemployment, at least one job is going begging. And that’s not surprising, because this occupation is projected to grow by 33 percent between 2010 and 2020—much faster than average—and to create 5,710 job openings per year over this period. Several other health-care occupations have similar growth projections, but this one requires a master’s degree and therefore the pool of qualified applicants is small compared to, say, the pool of potential home health care aides.

There’s probably some significance that this job is in a small city: Alamogordo, New Mexico, population around 31,000. A famous dictum says that all politics is local. Not all jobs are local, when many can deliver a product or service from a remote location; however, almost all health-care jobs involving direct patient care are totally local. That’s one of the reasons they are growing even as many other jobs are being lost to overseas workers. But part of that job growth is in remote cities and towns that have trouble attracting new residents. I have never been to Alamogordo and cannot judge how good a place it is to live, but I can understand that its size and remote desert location might discourage some potential job applicants.

There are probably many other health-care jobs requiring advanced degrees that are going begging, so if you’re casting about for a career goal, give these occupations some consideration. And if you are an occupational therapist, enjoy small-city life, and are open to the idea of relocating to the Land of Enchantment, get in touch with me right away. I’ll forward to you the contact information for this job.

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