Sunday, November 22, 2009

The most worthless list on the web

The web is a hotbed of useless information, but I've found one common "news" item that is actually more useless than any blog. Even this one.

Everyday you will see a common news item on the Yahoo! home page, and many other well-known home pages. The link will be in your face the moment you log on, along with the latest pretty, rich white girl who went missing and the latest stupid thing Sarah Palin said.

The title is always the same. It will be something like "The 10 Hottest Jobs in America." Sometimes there will be a different spin on it, such as "The 10 Hottest Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree." I really sleep better at night knowing that air traffic controllers don't have to go to college.

The list will have jobs that are in demand, well paid, or both, during the hour the list was written. The list is also worthless to anyone who's really serious about a career.

These lists are all the same, so here's a Reader's Digest condensed version of them:

*Four of these careers will be in health care--nursing, medical technology, maybe some sub-specialty that requires an M.D. Which is just fine, if you don't mind having people's lives in your hands. Those of us who can barely handle our own lives need to look elsewhere.

*Three will be in finance. They will be hot because of the economic conditions, whatever they may be--investment banking when times are good, bankruptcy experts when times are, well, now. Since the demand for these jobs varies with the times--and anybody who's been out in the real world for a few years knows how fast the economy changes--it makes little sense to hitch your wagon to one of these stars.

*Two will be in IT, but they will be so specialized that only a handful of supergeeks will qualify for them. That MIS degree from your local business school won't help you here.

*Then there's the "cute" career--one that's on the list for a laugh. Pet psychologist, blackjack dealer, the funnier the better. They might even get a quote from the one person who makes six figures in such a field. They don't tell you that these careers aren't as fun, or as lucrative, as this one person's experience suggests. That would ruin the joke.

Why are these lists useless? Simple. Everybody is reading them. People read this stuff, rush headlong into these "hot" jobs and create a glut on the market. Then, when the economy takes a turn, they're stuck in a career with no opportunities for advancement--if they have a job at all.

You could argue that anybody who goes into one of these "hot" careers looking for a shortcut to easy money gets what they deserve--and you'd be right. But isn't it also irresponsible for the media to encourage such thinking?

No comments: