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What’s the Most Unique Job in Your State?

cask masterToday’s guest post is submitted by our board member John Hollon, VP for Editorial, ERE Media.   Years ago I was running a recruitment outsourcing practice for BrassRing.  We had to find a lot of unique candidates for our clients.  

One of the stranger jobs we needed to source was a whiskey cask master. What do you think about the data below?  What’s the strangest job you’ve ever heard of? Did the research miss any particularly unique jobs that are representative of your state?

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but when I think of Massachusetts, I don’t immediately think of psychiatric technicians.

By the same token, when someone mentions jobs in Maryland, I don’t immediately focus on streetcar and subway operators either.

These two little nuggets are from a report put together by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International  on the occupation that is the most unique to each state, compiled through 2013. It’s an interesting report, although you’ll find that most of the jobs they identify for specific states aren’t all that surprising.

For example:

** The most unique occupation in California is “actor.” (Hollywood has a little to do with that, I would think.)

** Montana’s unique occupation is “forest technicians & conservation technicians,” (not a big surprise) and in Nevada it’s  “gaming supervisors” (that’s not a shock, either).

** In Texas it is “petroleum engineer,” and Hawaii is identified for “tour guides & escorts.”

But for all the obvious occupations that seem to naturally go with a state, there are also some head scratchers, such as:

** Alabama’s unique occupation is “tire builder,”  while in Illinois it is “correspondence clerk.”

** In Pennsylvania it is “survey researchers,” and Vermont is identified for “highway maintenance workers” rather than something like “syrup gathers.”

But what is also surprising about this list is median hourly earnings it gives for each state’s unique occupation.

Texas has the highest wage of $60.70 per hour for petroleum engineers, followed by the District of Columbia (yes, I know it is not a state but it’s on the list) at $55.64 for “political scientists.”

On the low end are “food processors” in Arkansas at $10.59, “textile winding, twisting, & drawing out machine setters, operators, & tenders” in North Carolina at $11.12, and “umpires, referees, and other sports officials” in Kansas at $11.16.

That’s more than a $50 per hour wage gap between the unique occupations in Texas and Arkansas, which shows again that there is a lot more money in oil than in processing food, despite that fact that you can’t get much nourishment out of a barrel of oil.

“Many of the most concentrated jobs represent well-known, longstanding regional industries, while others may come as a genuine surprise,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, referring to the study. ”They are rarely among the largest occupations in a state, but are often the most identifiable.”

That’s true enough, and if you scan the list ling enough you’ll find something else: this list of “unique” state jobs tells us a lot about the nature of America’s diverse economy and why, despite recessions and economic setbacks, it’s hard to keep us – and our economy — down for too long.








Top 10 Career Myths – and how they hold you back (Part 3)

This is the third in a 3-part series about ten career myths that can hold you back.  While I wrote these for an audience of Millennials, most are relevant for anybody who works.  This last section concerns myths about making job changes.

What’s Your Next Move?

You’d better pick the right path because it’s too hard to change later on.  It’s too late to go back to school.

True: Making a career change and/or going back to school can be hard – especially as responsibilities like partners, mortgages and children become part of your life.

False: You have one life and you are the one in charge of managing it.  For most people, there is no one magic path.  You change, the world around you changes.  The work you loved at 25 becomes a drag by the time you’re 30, or 40, or 50.  That’s ok, that’s life.

A lucky few may find their calling at 18 and pursue it joyfully for the rest of their lives.  Most of us will need to shift jobs and careers over the course of a 40+ year working life.  The key is to check in with yourself regularly, be honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not, and to PLAN for a change when needed.  Reflect on your strengths and what type of work is satisfying to you.  When are you in that zone where work doesn’t feel like work? Research your options.  Not every career change requires going back to school, but changing may require dropping back to learner status in a new field.  Again, that network can be so helpful here.

 If you’re not happy at your job, the best thing to do is leave and go someplace else.

True:  Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to leave a work situation that makes you miserable.  If you dread going to work every day, something needs to change.

False: Taking a new job for the sole purpose of fleeing your current one is rarely a good strategy.  A mentor asked me to consider years ago whether I was fleeing FROM something or moving TO something.  This is a very important distinction.  When you decide to make a change, be very specific with yourself about what is the different outcome you are trying to create.  Is it more autonomy, less travel, more time with your family, a more creative environment, a nurturing boss….the list is different for everybody.

Before you leave the job you’re in, have you done your research to determine if there is a way to fix the current situation?  If leaving is definitely the right solution, then take care with your new job search.  Don’t rely solely on the recruiter and hiring manager at the prospective employer for your insight about what it would be like to work there.  Use that network, talk to people who work at the prospective employer.  So that when you make the leap, it’s more about the excitement about what’s ahead rather than relief at what you’re leaving behind.

Prior Posts in This Series:

Top Ten Career Myths and How They Hold You Back (Part 1)

Top Ten Career Myths and How They Hold You Back (Part 2)



Top 10 Career Myths – and how they hold you back (Part 2)

Today’s post is part 2 of a 3 part series on the career myths that can hold you back professionally. Part 2 focuses on managing yourself at work.

Myths About Managing Yourself at Work

You need to be outgoing and liked by everyone to succeed.

  • True: It may be easier to forge productive working relationships if you are outgoing and people like to work with you.
  • False:  It takes all kinds of people to help an organization be successful.  Not all successful people are outgoing and likeable– but they advance by earning trust through their contributions.  It is important to be aware of how YOU are perceived and manage your behavior accordingly.  You don’t have to be Little Mary (or Johnny) Sunshine all the time, but you do need to ensure that your personal brand conveys reliability and quality.  Getting too personal with too many co-workers can become problematic. Building relationships with your coworkers is a positive. Just be sure that there is not a clear distinction from life inside the work environment and life outside the work environment.

You need a mentor to be successful. 

  • True: A mentor who is interested in helping you develop can be important to your success.
  • False: Your success at work comes from your ability to consistently deliver a great performance, and from making it clear you’re able to take on more by doing so without waiting to be asked.  That being said, mentors (plural) can help accelerate your progress.  Some organizations have formal mentoring programs – which often entail a 1:1 relationship with a more experienced mentor.  That’s great if you have that, but it’s not the be all and end all.  A long time ago, I heard a senior female executive talk about her personal board of directors, and I’ve leveraged that concept ever since.  You change and your job changes over time.  Building a network of advisors over time who take an interest in your career and can serve as sounding boards is very useful.

Networking is most useful when you’re looking for a job.

  • True: Networking is one of the best possible ways to find a new job.
  • False: Successful people are continually networking.  And they understand that you need to give to get.  If you only reach out to people when you’re looking for a job, without having some relationship collateral in the bank, your network won’t be as effective. There are lots of ways to network. 
  1. Familiarize yourself with professional associations – national and local  – where people in your field get together.
  2. Talk to your manager about paying for your attendance at these professional conferences as part of your development plan.  If you can’t attend in person, you may still be able to access conference presentations in online forums connected to the event.
  3. Make sure you’re a member of online communities that are active in your profession.  This can be a great way to “meet” people.  I’ve made some great connections by complimenting people on their content in forums then connecting with them by phone or in person later.
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA! You have LinkedIn – you can find your way to just about anybody you’d like to meet.  Twitter is another way to connect with people.  Share interesting information on your feed.  Compliment others on theirs.
  5. Actively look for ways to contribute back to your network – send people information you think will be useful to them, make introductions for them.

You need to focus on becoming the best functional expert possible.  Success means knowing all the answers.

  • True: Growing your career does depend on others’ perceptions of you as reliable and competent. Knowing your stuff is part of being competent.  Investing in expanding your expertise in your field will make you more valuable to your colleagues and managers.
  • False: No one knows all the answers all the time.  One of my favorite tips is from Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.   In it he says, seek to understand before you seek to be understood”.  By asking questions of others and making sure you understand the fullest extent of a situation before you offer solutions, you’ll be more effective.  Most things that happen in organizations require teamwork.  If you’re the smartest person in the room, but unable to work effectively with others, your path will be a lot harder.

Taking risks can be bad for your career.

  • True: Taking uninformed or unnecessary risks can be bad for your career.
  • False:  Since nobody can predict the future, there are risks associated with most of the decisions we make in life.  The difference between good risks and bad risks is the diligence you perform in understanding the pros and cons of these decisions.  Attitude also plays a part in determining the difference between good and bad risks.  Most of us have qualms when it comes to making changes, yet change is what propels us to learn and grow. Expanding your career means you are going to take on new responsibilities without knowing exactly how to perform.  You need to learn to prepare, then trust yourself to learn and respond.  Taking risks is one of those areas where having built your network of advisors comes in handy – not just to help you decide when to make changes, but also to help you be successful once you make a change.