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Job Advice for 2013 from Uncle Marty Nemko: California’s Favorite Job Coach

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

Marty Nemko is one of the deans of job coaches in California. He has been advising job seekers in person and through radio and newspaper columns since 1986. Entering his 27th year, he has lost none of his enthusiasm for placing people into jobs, and following up for successful placements.

Many Bay Area residents know Uncle Marty from his career advice on the radio, for 24 years on KALW and more recently, from 2009-2011, on Sunday nights on KGO radio. On KGO, Marty featured the 3-minute “career makeover”. Marty would walk callers through redoing their resumes or recognizing their transferable skills or improving their interviewing techniques.  If they felt stuck in a job, he would guide them in ways of improving their skills or seeking out a new employer or field. He was usually upbeat, recognizing the competition in the labor market but emphasizing the range of positive actions available to most job seekers.

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 7.37.12 AMMarty brought a wide range of job experience to the job coach field. He graduated from Queens College and served as a researcher at Rockefeller University in the early 1970s. He went on to get a doctorate from UC Berkeley in education and psychology, and taught at several California universities. He settled on job counseling, in good part due to the importance he saw in employment, both for social stability and individual satisfaction.

“My father was a Holocaust survivor, and I saw how work was his redemption. He found in work a way of not living in the past”, Marty explains. “ I saw in others how work gave structure and dignity to their lives.” Marty is focused on helping persons find “contributory work”—work that is of social value, as it is in such work that individuals find meaning they need.

Marty maintains an active job counseling practice, as well as an active radio and publishing practice. He writes regularly for U.S. News and World Report and for AOL.com. For the latter, he posted earlier this month his “Biggest Job Trends to Be Ready for In 2013”. Among Marty’s job  main trends in 2013:

  • The biotech sector will explode. “Indeed if I had to give one word of career advice to the next generation of science and math oriented students it would be ‘biotech’”. (not “plastics”)
  • The Affordable Care Act will create lots of jobs.”Career implications? Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest HMO…is a major beneficiary of Obamacare and jobs there should be plentiful. Care will continue to be downscaled: More physical therapy will be done by physical therapy assistants, same for occupational therapy. More MD work will be done by physician assistants and nurse practitioners.”
  • Health care IT jobs will explode.  “To improve efficiency,  many jobs will be created in health care IT: patient portals, telemedicine, mobile apps, technology-enhanced diagnosis, and especially electronic medical  records and billing systems to manage the labyrinthine Obamacare system.”
  • Education will be reinvented:  “Online lessons taught by top instructors and multimedia will replace homework, with regular class time spent providing one-to-one coaching, the human touch.”
  • Telework will become mainstream: “Telecommuting will increase as employers want to save costs of office space and time-crunched workers want to save the ever-longer commute time.”

Asked about how the job world has changed since the 1980s, Marty has a quick and firm response. Finding a job is exponentially more difficult today than it was in the 1980s. A perfect storm of forces have come together in the United States in technology, globalization and economic downturn internationally to result in tens of applicants if not hundreds of applicants for most jobs.

From a job search perspective, this tight labor market means that job seekers must work harder and smarter. In the 1980s, a job seeker could send out a cover letter and resume and likely get a response. That’s the past. Today, a job seeker needs more innovative approaches: preparing a “hyperhonest” cover letter, sending a white paper with ideas for improving sales, getting in the door by volunteering or taking a lower level job.

One additional Uncle Marty thought for 2013. Much of the work-life balance writing is overstated in 2013. There is no substitute for putting a lot of time into your work life. The same is true of job search.

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