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White Collar Jobs For Degree Holders Contract Steeply

Robert has had 7 final stage interviews for R&D positions and been rejected every time. 

He has a PhD and the exact skills these employers were looking for. 

Sarah has a Masters and was looking forward to making a good paycheck to pay off her student loans. 

But she’s been uploading resumes for 6 months without getting one single interview. 

What’s happening? 

The skilled, or white collar job market is contracting sharply and shows no signs of expanding again over the next decade. 

A recent report in Forbes discussed news that UPS drivers can earn up to $170,000 annually and this has sparked controversy and raised concerns among skilled, white-collar professionals. 

This development has highlighted a shift in the labor market that seems to favor blue-collar workers while causing anxiety among their white-collar counterparts. 

Traditionally, challenging economic climates have had a more significant impact on the working class and blue-collar workers. 

However, this time, the situation is different. 

Welcome To The “Richcession” That’s Crushing Degree Holder Dreams

Wealthy and high-paid white-collar professionals are experiencing what experts are calling a “richcession.” 

Companies, in response to a potential recession, have become more cautious in their hiring practices. There has been a noticeable slowdown in the recruitment of white-collar job seekers. 

Research from Indeed reveals an up to 55% decline in listings for tech, biotech and pharma roles compared to a year ago, and an up to 40% decrease in finance, business development and project management related vacancies. 

Employers are seeking candidates with highly specific and hard-to-find skills that align with the requirements of the job. This hyper-specialization has resulted in job seekers being boxed out of opportunities and is expected to continue for the next 10 years. 

Consequently, the hiring process for white-collar roles has become longer and more rigorous. 

Research by Josh Bersin Company and AMS indicates that the average duration for global hiring has reached an “all-time high” of about 43 days. This extended recruitment process is viewed as unsustainable for companies seeking to remain competitive and adapt to the rapidly changing needs of their industries. 

AI Is Already Consuming A Vast Portion Of Skilled Jobs

Adding to the economic uncertainty is the threat posed by artificial intelligence (AI). 

A research report from Goldman Sachs suggests that AI could result in the loss or reduction of 300 million jobs. This has led businesses to reassess the relevance of white-collar roles, with the perception that AI will permanently alter labor demand, potentially leading to the loss, reduction, or transformation of millions of jobs. 

AI is now encroaching upon traditionally white-collar professions such as R&D professionals, Data Scientists, User Experience Researchers and other roles that typically go to the highly educated. 

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has even mentioned the possibility of pausing the hiring of back-office roles that could be automated, stating that AI and automation could replace up to 30% of those positions within a five-year period. 

As a result, companies are scaling back on hiring in departments such as research, clinical affairs, marketing, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and more. 

There is little incentive to add more recruiters if there are no plans to hire additional personnel. Moreover, organizations are increasingly considering offshoring jobs to lower-cost countries. A survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reveals that 7.3% of U.S. business leaders plan to move more jobs offshore following the trend of remote work. 

Economists predict that within the next decade, 10% to 20% of U.S. skilled roles will be moved overseas. What is your plan for getting hired despite these trends? Do you have one? If not, you need to get serious about your job search and career. 

Academia and the skills you gained in academia are not enough to get you hired anymore. You will need to develop business-oriented skills and develop your business acumen. Start understanding what a company’s value proposition is, what products do they provide, what do they sell their products for – as in, what price points? Who are their key partners? 

In sum, the rise of AI, cautionary hiring practices, and the potential for offshoring are contributing to the decline of white-collar jobs and a shift in the balance of power within the labor market, but you can use your degree to stay ahead if you combine it with a strong understand of industry practices and the language of industry. 

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ABOUT ISAIAH HANKEL, PHD

CEO, CHEEKY SCIENTIST & SUCCESS MENTOR TO PHDS

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published 3X bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

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