The Top Paying Jobs of 2014

Advanced degrees = Advanced salaries
It’s hardly a surprise.  The highest paying jobs seem to go to those who paid high tuitions.
According to CareerCast’s 10 Best-Paying Jobs of 2014, seven out of 10 of the highest paid professions are in medical professions.  (We’re looking at real jobs and careers here and not movie stars or professional athletes.)

Most of these jobs are found in the health care industry and require advanced degrees. This means that a six-figure salary can often come at the expense of six-figure debt. For instance, general practice physicians make an average of $187,200 a year, but according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the medical school class of 2013 graduated with a median debt of $175,000, and 86% of all graduates left with some debt.

The highest paid salary on the list went to surgeons, who make an average of $233,150 a year; general practice physicians came in second. In ninth and tenth place were podiatrists at $116,440, and attorneys, at $113,530, who also face a lot of education before they can practice.

There were only two high paying jobs on the list that don’t require graduate degrees: petroleum engineers and air traffic controllers, who on average make $130,280 and $122,530 respectively. The report cautioned, though, that “for those who choose a different path [than graduate education] to attain one of the best-paying jobs, be prepared to exchange paychecks for a high level of stress.” It described air traffic controllers as dealing with “some of the most stressful working conditions.”

Despite stressful working conditions, jobs as air traffic controllers are hardly up for grabs. The industry predicts only a 1% growth outlook by 2022.  Petroleum engineers, however, can look forward to a 26% growth outlook in the same period.  All of the health care professions on the list anticipate growth of 14% or higher. “As baby-boomer doctors … reach retirement, there often aren’t enough new doctors,” explained CareerCast publisher Tony Lee.


Don’t Ask Me Where I’ll Be in Five Years

A friend gave me this exercise recently, and it stumped me. It was almost embarrassing to realize that a driven, future-focused person such as myself couldn’t give a good, honest answer to where I want to be 5 years from now.

Then I realized that the trouble was not with me, it was with the question: I don’t want to be anywhere in 5 years–I want to be doing. This almost trivial semantic shift cracked open the floodgates.

But first, let me give you some science and some metrics.
I Don’t Know What Makes Me Happy (and Neither Do You)
In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert points out that we (humans) aren’t very good at predicting our own happiness. There are multiple reasons for this. One is because we’re not very good at predicting things in general. Another is that we tend to have flawed memories of the past, hence our predictive base of information is already distorted. (For example, movie-goers’ memory of their movie enjoyment correlates better with their prediction of enjoyment than with their actual reported enjoyment at the time of watching).

Given that I do want to be happy 5 years from now, this puts me in a tough position. Luckily, I’m pretty happy right now, so I’ll start by trying to create some metrics around the types of activities that make me happy.

Metric 1: Degree of Selfishness
Every day I do some things for myself and some things for others. The “others” bucket includes my family, my company, and the rest of the world. It’s a pretty big bucket. It’s easy to get lost in that bucket. It’s also easy to be so intimidated by that bucket that you pretend it isn’t there. Balancing between self and other is hard, but it’s vital.

 Metric 2: Discount Rate
Sometimes you’re putting money in the bank, sometimes you’re making withdrawals. Everything you do has some present value (which may be negative if you’re investing) and some future value (which is positive if you have a good rate of return).

There’s a ton of interesting math that goes into the problem, but in general people value a dollar tomorrow less than a dollar today. (Ten dollars tomorrow, however, might be worth it.) The same calculations happen with my time and energy.

I am, by nature, an investor. I am future-focused. The risk here is that if I spend all my time investing, I don’t have any time left to fully enjoy the present. When pondering what I want to be doing in the future, I have to consider how much I want to be investing versus enjoying the fruits of today’s labor.

So where will I be in 5 years? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Hopefully what I’ll be doing is a good mix of helping myself and helping others, investing and enjoying.


The Most Important Two Words in Your Interview

As a staffing professional at BarryStaff, I often help candidates to land interviews with our clients.  When I know that my candidate is facing stiff competition from other people applying for the same job, I recommend that they quickly follow up their interview with a hand-written Thank-you card sent to the interviewing Manager who will be making the hiring decision.  Recently I read the below article which confirmed my belief that, even in this high-tech world this personal touch is still very powerful.

The Power of Two Little Words in an Interview

When we are unemployed, looking for work and spending our full-time trying to secure interviews and our next job, it can feel like we are being ground down and that no-one cares about us. It can be very easy to forget two simple words with meaning that can set you apart from the rest of the jobseeker pack.

The two words are: “Thank you.”

Let’s look at the scenario. You’ve actually secured a job interview. You go to the interview looking your sharpest, you navigate the hypothetical scenarios, talk about your background relevant to their position and ask some probing and intelligent questions at the end of the interview that are sure to make you stand out. You finish the interview with a firm hand shake and a smile and then you say, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today.”

This is an excellent start, but you’re not finished.

As soon as you get home, you pull out your box of thank you cards that you keep at the ready, and you jot a thank you note inside focusing on how excited you are by the opportunity to work for this amazing organization. You thank the recruiter for their time. And you sign it. You put the card in an envelope, fill out the envelope with the recruiter’s name and address info, you put a stamp on it and you mail it the same day. This is important. Snail mail can take a couple of days and in the private and not-for-profit sector, hiring decisions can happen fairly quickly.

“We live in a world of email and much faster communication,” you say, “why should I send a snail mail thank you card?”

Because no-one else will!

Your objective at this stage in the hiring process is to stand out. And a snail-mail thank you note will certainly do that. Once you’ve secured that first interview you’re over the hurdle of getting your foot in the door. So what does a snail-mail thank you note do?

1. There is now a hard copy message sitting on the recruiter’s desk – it could sit there for days, constantly reminding the recruiter who you are and that you want the job.

2. It shows that you respect other people’s time and that you feel gratitude and are willing to show it. These are sometimes tough to measure in an interview but very, very important to team-building and group cohesion.

So after your next interview, don’t forget the thank you card – you’ll be glad you sent it. It may be old-fashioned, but it works. Remember, I’m rooting for you.