Your Next Job

GARY BARNETT LOOKS OUT FOR NO. 1--AND WE AREN'T talking national football championships. Late in 1997 the talented coach of the Northwestern Wildcats told the world, ""I'm here, and I will be here for the next 10 years of my contract . . . I stand by my promises.'' Never mind that his naked grab for the head-coaching job at the University of Texas had just flopped. This year, in a mid-January e-mail to his Northwestern players, Barnett pledged that ""I will be back to take us to Pasadena'' for another Rose Bowl--even as he was still under consideration for the top job at the University of Colorado. Sure enough, last week Barnett bolted out of Evanston, Ill., for Boulder, where he'd coached as a young assistant. So what if his national reputation took a hit, with one columnist writing that Barnett's restaurant in Evanston is running a special on snake. Barnett told NEWSWEEK he behaved ethically, and that ""everything I said I totally believed at the time.'' But on his way out the door, Barnett taught his Wildcats a lesson about the economy they'll join after graduation: in a job market as hot as this one, it's Me First!

Coaches on the make aren't a new species. But the cheekiness of Barnett's move is one small sample of what employers face across the country: a newly emboldened American work force. We're living through the tightest U.S. labor market in three decades--a hiring bonanza that is transforming the nature of work. The current hypergrowth in jobs can't last forever; fast-food restaurants won't be paying signing bonuses during the next recession. But the most remarkable changes in the workplace--and our attitudes toward it--will redefine careers well into the 21st century. Just as the Great Depression produced a generation of frugal worrywarts, those of us benefiting from the long jobs boom of the 1990s sport an often brazen self-confidence about how we connect to our jobs. Former Labor secretary Robert Reich, now writing a book on ""The Work of the Future,'' sees signs of the shift in the exploding number of self-employed workers (up to 20 percent of the labor force, he figures) and in corporate employees' newfound willingness to hopscotch among jobs. ""Loyalty is dead,'' Reich says.

WHAT'S BEHIND THE shift? Paradoxically, this new self-reliance is partly born of fright. Despite stunning prosperity, companies still face ferocious cost pressures--from Wall Street analysts who'll punish them for missing earnings estimates, from overseas rivals using cheaper labor and from a fear of raising prices in an inflation-free economy. Sadly, one thing hasn't changed: employees are usually the first costs that get cut. Despite the boom economy, last year corporations laid off 103,000 workers, the highest level in five years, according to outplacement specialists Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimate that in 1995, the most recent year for which they have data, workers faced a small but chilling 3.4 percent chance of being laid off. That risk has increased anxiety and forced workers to constantly re-evaluate options. If you can't count on Coca-Cola to keep providing your paycheck, why not consider that offer from Pepsi? Or just place a big bet on You Inc., selling your services to companies that are increasingly eager to give people work without giving them a job.

This shifting notion of how we work has twinned with the blazing economy to render the old ways of career planning obsolete. Once it made sense to talk of hot industries and hot cities. If your fortunes as, say, a bank supervisor in Phoenix looked dim, it might have been worth knowing that good jobs awaited pharmaceutical salesmen in Florida. That information is less valuable today: nearly every industry in every city is short of workers. What is worth knowing? That more Americans are creating entirely new styles of employment. They're found in the expanding ranks of self-employed Free Agents who find financial and professional independence in everything from personal training to urban planning. Or they are the new Nomads, workers who never seem to stop job hunting. There's an emerging class of Globalists, too--those have-laptop-will-travel workers who straddle time zones in today's borderless economy. Even the more traditional denizens of Corporate America are getting a makeover. Bosses are learning how to manage, retain and motivate this demanding, footloose work force. And despite reports to the contrary, the Organization Man--or, increasingly, Woman--isn't dead, either. But instead of conforming and running scared, they're designing new entrepreneurial ventures inside the corporate nest.

The most striking--and frightening--feature of this new landscape is how much it demands of us. Once expertise in a single discipline, like marketing, was enough to ensure a secure corporate future. But today's free agent needs skills in selling himself (how else to drum up business?), finance (to win that bank loan) and technology (is this computer upgrade a wise investment?). Even folks who opt for life in the corporate fold face new pressures to gain experience that's transferable to other companies or industries. Workers will also have to master a series of new technologies during their careers. Nomads face a different kind of calculus: do my current stock options and 401(k) plan outweigh the raise I'd get if I left? The new career styles also create anxiety because many people will spend a lifetime migrating among them. Maybe in the future you're a job-hopping Nomad in your 20s, a rock-solid Organization Person in your 30s and a self-employed soloist in your 40s or 50s, when your skills peak.

It's also clear that most of these styles haven't evolved from the old smokestack industries and may not offer much solace to blue-collar workers. By 2006 manufacturing jobs will account for just 12 percent of the labor force, down 5 percentage points in the last 20 years. Still, for people who don't aspire to--or who lack the means to enter--the college-educated white-collar world, the news isn't all bleak. The explosion of new technologies is creating opportunities for America's newest skilled worker: the trained techie who lays the cable and repairs the chips that connect our wired world.

That technology isn't just changing what work we do, but how and where we do it. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought people together in factories, the Information Revolution is pulling us apart. The ability to work at home, day or night, gives us more flexible careers but also blurs the line between company time and family life. That line is a big deal to younger workers, many of them children of divorced parents. As a solid economy gives them more choices, many simply won't surrender their lives to any job. The people in the stories that follow don't have all the answers, but they're on the right track. Different as they are, they have common traits: savvy, self-confidence and a willingness to gamble on themselves. Their tales reveal the kind of deft maneuvering we'll all be asked to make in the new world of work.

PHOTO (COLOR): PATTY BARTEN: Corporate life isn't the dead end it's so often painted as. You just have to live it differently now. After 20 years at Motorola, Barten enjoys power and scope.

WHERE THE JOBS AND DOLLARS ARE. . . It's a dynamic ever-changing economy. Plenty of fast-growing, high-paying jobs didn't even exist just a few years ago. Who could have predicted the booming demand for Webmasters, desktop publishers and wireless engineers?


1 Atlanta 1,800,000 2 Phoenix 1,500,000 3 Houston 1,500,000 4 Dallas 1,400,000 5 D.C. 1,300,000 6 Los Angeles 1,300,000 7 San Diego 1,200,000 8 Seattle 1,100,000 9 Orange County 1,100,000 10 Tampa 1,000,000 11 Orlando 1,000,000 12 Denver 1,000,000 13 Minneapolis 900,000 14 Boston 800,000 15 Chicago 800,000


States with largest change Mississippi 17.6% Utah 15.3 D.C. 14.8 Tennessee 14.3 Louisiana 14.0 North Carolina 13.7 Arkansas 13.6 South Dakota 13.4 Iowa 12.2 Oregon 11.8 States with smallest change Alaska -1.4% Hawaii 1.1 California 1.5 Maryland 4.8 New Jersey 4.9 Maine 5.2 Rhode Island 6.2 Virginia 6.3 Florida 6.4 Connecticut 6.8

HOT JOBS ANNUAL SALARY Chief information officer $100,000-$200-000 Wireless engineer 80,000-120,000 Software-development mgr. 60,000-100,000 Computer-systems architect 60,000-100,000 Database manager 60,000-80,000 Director of e-commerce 50,000-80,000 Webmaster 50,000-70,000 Tool-and-die worker 40,000-70,000 Teacher trainer 35,000-60,000 Telemarketer/customer rep. 20,000-35,000 FASTEST-GROWING JOBS, 1996-2006, PERCENT INCREASE Database manager 118% Computer engineer 109 Systems analyst 103 Personal/home aide 85 Physical-therapy assist. 79 Home health aide 76 Medical assistant 74 Desktop publisher 74 Physical therapist 71 Occupational therapist 69

. . .HOW THE WORK FORCE IS CHANGING 92% of job seekers who had been laid off found jobs with equivalent or better salaries in 1998

28% of all full-time workers in 1997 had flexible work schedules compared with 12% in 1985

8 million people held down more than one job in 1997 compared with 3.8 million multiple-job holders in 1965

10.5 million workers were self-employed in 1997 compared with 7 million workers in 1970

26% of the workers in a recent job survey had been in their current job for 12 months or less; 15% had been in the same job for 3 to 4 years

3% of the nation's college freshmen indicated interest in a law career in 1998--the lowest number ever

A SNAPSHOT OF SHIFTING DEMAND Goodbye, coal-mining and factory work. Hello, retailing and health care. Better go job-hunting at a smaller company, too.

THE VIEW FOR THE BEGINNERS Small wonder no one has time for truth and beauty in college anymore. The 1998 stats reveal some pretty career-minded kids.