Rise of Super Apps

Most of us could not live without our smartphones.  It helps us stay connected, find directions, remember the lengthy lists of duties and responsibilities, and entertain ourselves throughout our day. About half of the world has made the transition and more will surely follow.  According to the Mary Meeker internet trends report, 51 percent of the world or 3.8 billion people are using the internet in 2018.

For most of us, we use single apps when on our smartphone.  We select one at a time to address whatever need we might have or amusement we desire.  Over the last 20 years, the prevailing model has been to develop single purpose apps that focus on one issue and make it is easy and intuitive as possible.  This design characteristic not only made the apps small and easy to use, but also made them scalable to larger markets over time.

A counter-trend arising in China and other developing regions is the super app.  Mike Lazaridis, the founder of Blackberry, described a super app as “…representing a new class of mobile applications that make you wonder how you ever lived without them.” More specifically, it is a closed ecosystem of “many apps” that people would use everyday “…because they offer such a seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience.”  So, the super app combines the major functionality that one might use on a regular basis, such as logistics, local delivery, commerce, payments, and social interaction and concentrates those functions into a single application. For advertisers, it keeps users within the same app longer and for users it brings their major needs together in a streamlined, integrated, and easy-to-use package.

As human resource professionals, what can we learn from super apps?

One of the most important lessons pertains to the need for multiple skills within the same package.  While there are still some occupations that the most important worker parallels the single app by having one key strength the organization relies upon regardless of the presence or absence other capabilities, most workplaces demand employees align more with super apps by meeting a number of workplace needs.  For example, a recent ARG survey of 250 talent executives inquired to which skills are needed at your organization regardless of the level and role of employee (see Figure 1).  Willing to learn new knowledge, skills, and abilities received the most support with almost 80 percent of executives indicating that this was the number one area of need. Communication scored a close second place with 72 percent of talent executives expressing concerns over internal communication skills. It is interesting to note that technical or job-specific knowledge fell in the middle at around 55 percent and leadership potential appeared in the bottom third.   

Figure 1: Skills in Demand by Talent Executives
Figure 1: Skills in Demand

Another strong similarity pertains to importance of hard and soft skills.  Just as most jobs have multiple skill-based needs, a strong contributor will possess both, hard and soft skills. While hard skills were thought to be more important than soft skills in the past, thinking has transformed.  In most workplaces, hard and soft skills are equally important.  However, both are not in equal supply.  A 2016 LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers in the U.S. revealed that 59 percent believe that soft skills are difficult to find.

Finally, with the complexity of the modern workplace and challenges in the labor market, job expectations are only going to be more diverse and complex in the future.  As more automation and robotics can be used to address workplace needs, employees will have to offer broader capabilities. In some ways, possessing the skills necessary to be able to address complex and changing needs will give human employees an advantage over their machine competitors.

Pros and Cons of Contingent Workers

A little over ten years ago, I participated on a human resource round table to discuss the future of the workforce. Most of the participants focused on demographic changes in the workforce and only at the end did the conversation turn to how traditional employment will transition to a more temporary workforce in the future. The majority of the participants acknowledged that some information technology positions align with the trend, but they felt that the move to a more temporary workforce overall would not be an issue for employers until well into the future.

Today, the contingent workforce is a reality. Contingent workers include freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2017 that approximately ten percent of the workforce functioned in a contingent capacity. Some of the other findings included:

• contingent workers were more than twice as likely as non-contingent workers to be under 25;
• contingent workers were more likely to work in professional, construction, and extraction occupations;
• compared to traditional workers, independent contractors were more likely to be older, temporary help agency workers were more likely to be Black or Hispanic or Latino, and workers provided by contract companies were more likely to be men; and
• almost 80 percent of independent contractors preferred their status over traditional jobs.

Many analysts and researchers feel that the BLS underestimated the total and that the actual, contingent workforce is much larger (https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/experts-puzzled-new-bls-contingent-workforce-data.aspx). In keeping with that idea, according to Deloitte, more than four in ten workers or 40 percent in the current workforce may be functioning in a contingent capacity.

Employers have embraced the contingency approach due some relatively sizable benefits. The major benefits include:

cost savings – while the hourly rate might be higher in some cases, the absence of benefits and paying for unproductive time reduces overall labor costs;
workload management – allows organizations to staff up and down based on business needs;
broader labor pool – by including more talent in the selection process, an organization has more selection options;
workforce stability – contingent workers allow traditional workers to remain with the organizations during periods of economic downturns or other financial adjustments; and
administrative reduction – by employing contingent workers, an organization reduces it administrative burden associated with traditional employees.

While the advantages are compelling, what is not discussed as much are the disadvantages of growing the contingent workforce. Some of the major disadvantages include:

commitment – contingent workers typically lack commitment to the organization when compared to traditional workers;
high turnover – contingent workers have a higher turnover rate;
security issues – access to confidential or propriety information creates more of a risk for an organization than working with traditional workers;
cultural misalignment – when joining an organization as a contingent worker, there can be issues with integration, cultural alignment, and even morale;
knowledge retention – organizations have found that more temporary workers create dilemmas for documenting and retaining job-specific knowledge;
skills issues – while contingent workers can bring hard to find skills, organizational experience can vary on the quality of the skills.

Contingent workers provide a central and key element of the modern workforce. As an organization weighs its options, it is critical to use some form of cost-benefit analysis to ensure that its staffing decisions are the right ones.  Consequently, a successful implemention process should include examining what processes need to change or adjust to best address the differences in needs and behaviors.

Buyer’s Market

Most of us have experience the joy of finding a “bargain” or a better price than expected on a good or service that we desire. Causal conversation, office stories, social media, as well as reality TV all include stories of diligent and savvy shoppers who use their wits, technology, and negotiating skills to find and make an incredible deal. While there may be a variety of reasons for why we feel we have gained the “upper hand” as a buyer, the key element in the availability of deals is simple supply and demand or the gap between how much of something that is available compared to how much it is desired.

When we speak of a “buyer’s market,” we are describing a purchasing environment where the buyer has some type of advantage over the seller that benefits the buyer. For example, when there are more units of a product then what is desired by consumers, then the price of the product tends to fall. Conversely, when one refers to a “seller’s market,” there is less of the product than what is desired by consumers and consumers compete with each other for the limited availability of the desired product.
Labor markets respond to supply and demand shortages in a similar fashion where some periods favor employers, while other times favor candidates. When there is excess demand and limited supply of labor, the price increases and employers have to compete with each other for talent. Similarly, when there is excess supply of labor and slower demand, employers have the upper hand and have a multitude of choices to acquiring new labor with less resources.

Based on the current level of unemployment and economic growth, potential employees occupy a more influential position. As employers deal with increased levels of competition for labor, talent acquisition strategy becomes more important. In other words, how a firm positions itself in the labor market and the effectiveness of its actions determine how successful it will be at attracting the best talent possible. Various factors influence the success of an organization’s strategy, but this post will focus on one of the roots of strategy formulation: perception.

What an employer thinks of its own organization plays a key role in how an employer positions itself vis-à-vis its peers, enacts its talent acquisition strategy, and interacts with potential employees. Put simply, if an organization thinks it has an advantage with candidates and it does not, then it will more than likely adopt the wrong strategy. Organizations, like most of us tend of have a slightly “rosier” view of its actions, image, and strengths.Figure 1: Comparison of Employer and Candidate Perceptions

In order to demonstrate the differences in perception between employer and candidates, the results of a recent survey of 20 employers and 500 candidates in the southeast within the service industry appear in Figure 1. The survey asked candidates to rate their perceptions of the employer’s image as well as posed the same questions to the employer’s hiring managers. All five questions differ between employer and candidate with the largest differentials pertaining to commitment to social and environmental support, total rewards, and work environment. A variety of factors create differences in perception and this small sample is not sufficient to draw strong conclusions. Nevertheless, some areas for consideration include:

• measurable and regularly reported information tends to have more alignment between candidate and employer perceptions;
• social media affords candidates more insight into workplace environment;
• candidate ideas on what is fair and equitable may be different from the employer’s perceptions; and
• social and environmental initiatives may require more than communication as candidates look for ways to not only join an employer with a commitment to supporting the community, but also desire to actively participate in the process.

Some important things to keep in mind based on these results include the following:

• employers have to define who they are to the labor market or someone or something else will;
• positive characteristics should be communicated through a variety of media; and
• intangible characteristics may require more communication.

Managing Expectation Gaps

Most of us deal with managing expectations or our belief of what will occur in the future on a regular, if not daily basis.  While expectations come in different sizes or orders of magnitude, they all possess the capability of impacting our feelings, attitude, and interaction with others.  For example, think about how our expectations regarding regular things, such as traffic on our commute, friendliness of a cashier, interaction with our spouse, behavior of our children, or even flavor of a meal can impact our moods, if our expectations are not met.  The heart of the issue with even these simple examples is the gap between the expected and actual outcome.   In essence, the expectation gap encompasses those situations when reality does not meet our desires.

In the workplace, a wide expectation gap not only impacts morale, but also leads to lower levels of productivity and staff turnover. How does this happen? In the simplest sense, as the gap widens employees feel more disappoint and anger. As the anger increases, an employee may stop performing his or her work and begin interfering with others.  While some employee expectations may be unrealistic or addressing their desires may be impossible, a successful manager will ensure that he or she has a good understanding each employee’s expectations and assists in managing those expectations.  

So, how strong are we as managers at assessing expectations? In order to gain a basic snapshot of the alignment between employee expectations and manager perceptions, the result of a recent survey of 500 employees at three levels (support, professional, and manager) in ten customer-focused organizations will be utilized to further our discussion.  The data was collected through an ARG study that inquired regarding employee expectations for the following categories: nature of work duties, workplace environment, supervisor’s leadership capability, fairness of advancement, and rewards.

Figure 1 summarizes the indexed results of employee expectations for all categories, manager perceptions of employee expectations, actual level of realized expectations, and gap between employee expectations and actual level realized.   Overall, the survey indicates that:

  • support staff possess the highest expectations compared to professionals and managers;
  • managers perceptions of expectations align the closest with employee expectations at higher levels in the organization (professionals and managers);
  • managers of managers perceive higher expectations than those expectations actually present among their direct reports;
  • support employees have the largest expectation gap; and
  • professionals and managers realize outcomes closer to their expectation than support staff.
Figure 1: Comparison of Employee Expectations and Manager Perceptions

While by no means are these findings definitive, they provide a basic outline of where expectation gaps may arise in organizations.  If support staff tend to have higher expectations related to work environment, leadership, and advancement as well as have less of their expectations met, managers need to make sure that frequent, honest, and transparent communication establishes a realistic level of employee expectations.   Similarly, if managers of managers have a better idea of the expectations of their direct reports, there may be a training or mentoring opportunity for less experienced managers.   Finally, expectations can change very quickly with the level of connections present within social media.  Getting to know your workforce and their expectations at all levels is not a “once and done” process, but an on-going journey.

Employer Branding

A common question in today’s market is “How can I hire the right people when I need them in such a competitive market?” While some organizations have household name recognition or limitless compensation resources, most of us have limited market presence and resources.  This does not mean we are not great places to work or fail to offer a superior work environment or opportunities, it is just we are not known to potential candidates.  In order to counteract the “hidden gem” problem, a growing number of organizations are turning to employer branding.

What is employer branding? In the simplest sense, it is the application of the marketing concepts and tools utilized to gain customers to attract and hire potential employees.  An employer’s brand is the perception that current, past, and potential employees have regarding what it is like to work for your organization.  These perceptions include most major elements of the workplace experience, including culture, work environment, management style, opportunities, and rewards.  Just like with many major products or brands, certain words, phrases, or descriptions will correspond with each employer and the associated workplace.  Moreover, when combining perceptions, a hierarchy develops that current as well as potential employees rank employers. 

While all employers have a brand by design or not, it requires serious and continuous commitment to have a successful brand that attracts and secures the most desirable candidates. A successful branding process typically includes:

  • becoming familiar with the characteristics of your organization;
  • assessing the characteristics and needs of your potential candidates;
  • gaining insight into the brand and approach utilized by your competitors;
  • defining your value proposition or what makes your organization superior to your competitors; and
  • developing and executing your brand and branding strategy.

Your Organization

A first step to launching as well as maintaining your organization’s brand is to conduct a comprehensive and open assessment of what is positive and negative about your organization.  Very few, if any organizations will only have positive traits, so it is important to have a realistic image of the traits present within your organization.

Potential Candidates

If your organization subscribes to the idea that potential employees would be lucky to work here, many strong candidates will opt to look elsewhere.  In the current labor market, organizations have to be selling their workplace and not expecting high quality hires to focus on sell themselves.  Consequently, it is important that employers have a good understanding of the preferences, needs, and interests of the high quality candidates that they are interested in recruiting,


Since most employers do not have the luxury of being the sole, desired employer, it is critical to understand what your competition is offering and how you can demonstrate your competitive advantage compared to opportunities in their workplace.

Value Proposition

Based on the strengths of your organization and knowledge of your competitor’s practices, what you offer potential employees that differentiates your organization should be defined and the associated communication materials developed.


Defining your competitive advantage provides the basis for your brand, but your strategy puts your brand into practice.   In the most successful organizations, the brand strategy impacts potential candidates as well as current and past employees.

Leadership Styles and Perception

Figure 1: Perception on Styles
Figure 1: Perception on Styles

A common question during interviews as well as performance reviews is: what is your leadership style? Although this is a pertinent issue for a variety of reasons, one of the core, underlying issues of leadership style pertains to how well a leader can adjust his or her style to maximize the results from those he or she supervises.

The leader’s repertoire of styles provides a collection of different approaches and styles that can be drawn on depending on the situation, environment, or needs. Alan Murray sums it up well in the Wall Street Journal Guide to Management: “Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.”
As the market returns to some form of normality, talent will be harder to attract and retain. Consequently, as employees have more options outside of their current employer, a greater burden will be on managers to accommodate different preferences and needs. While the recession afforded managers less accomplished at using different approaches the opportunity to continue with more singular approaches, expectations have changed.

With that idea in mind, I recently reviewed a survey by HCS on the use of multiple leadership styles. I was curious about to what degree do managers possess this critical trait of a repertoire. Figure 1 summarizes the results of their 2015 survey of 1,500 employees, managers, and executives in multiple industries. The survey asked employees to identify the number of styles used by their supervisor, supervisors to rate themselves, and executives to rate the supervisors that report to them. As expected, the results differed by level.

More than 80 percent of respondents indicated that their manager possessed one style, while two styles equated to less than ten percent of respondents. Across industries and organizations, respondents agreed that most supervisors have one style. The self-responses from the supervisors were more generous in assessing styles. Approximately 25 percent of supervisors felt that they possess more than three styles.Similarly, managers that oversee the same supervisors signified that roughly 22 percent utilize three or more styles.

What do these results mean? There are several things to consider:
• We need to make sure that leaders recognize the importance of utilizing multiple styles;
• The lack of recognition of style use and effectiveness may result in managers not self-selecting for development; and
• Like many areas, perception differs from reality depending on level.

Success with Pay for Performance

Figure 1: Performance Review Process Elements
Figure 1: Performance Review Process Elements

As discussed in the last post, perceptions regarding pay for performance may vary by level in an organization. Although most would agree that no one believes their system is perfect, perceptions on how well this compensation strategy accomplishes it stated goals varies.

So, what are some of the steps taken by organizations where perceptions approximate each other across levels?

When examining successful programs, a number of practices correlate with those that experience success. Some of the major characteristics include:

• Ensuring support of performance and the utilized system at all levels of the organization;
• Considering performance management as a living system, not just a review process for allocating money;
• Making efforts to incorporate performance into regular discussions and interactions;
• Providing constant and consistent training to ensure that supervisors and employees understand how the system works;
• Evaluating managers on how well they provide feedback and coaching to employees;
• Seeking to link employee actions to organizational goals;
• Using an automated system that tracks interaction, outcomes, and reviews; and
• Utilizing multiple levels of review of scoring.

When examining specific process components, several areas are critical. Utilizing a national survey by HCS of 400 firms with more than 250 employees, the most common practices among successful organizations pertained to preparation, format, and review processes. The results of the survey appear in Figure 1.

As shown in the figure, most successful organizations train staff and supervisors. Approximately half (55 percent) offer quick prep sessions to remind supervisors of the process and helpful hints before the reviews are conducted. Almost 60 percent provide real time assistance during the review process to assist with resolving any review issues.

Although around only 25 percent utilize 360 degree evaluations, self-assessments are a key part of the process in approximately 58 percent of respondents. More than 60 percent give quarterly feedback and more than 90 percent require narrative in the review. During the review process, around 68 percent conduct calibration sessions, while almost 75 percent utilize multiple level validations.
Although each organization is different, these elements seem fairly universal among those that are successful with pay for performance.

Differences in Performance Perceptions

As the recession pushed organizations to practice care in spending while attempting to hang on to their highest value talent, pay for performance experienced a renewal. Faced with limited resources and increased demand for efficiency, leaders appealed to their higher level performers to do more with less based on the assumption that a targeted approach would be less costly and would make sure the money benefited those most valuable to the organization.

Now, as the economy improves, organizations seem to be questioning if pay for performance actually worked. Meaning, did it actually help to retain and reward the best talent in the organization? Similarly, if they failed to implement it during the downturn, many are asking if it is too late to join those already providing performance-based rewards in order to increase competitiveness in the future.

In all fairness, the recession did not spawn pay for performance and the mixed results of its use predates this decade. However, like other crises, leaders tended to risk change when experiencing sudden or dramatic uncertainty.

Over the last several months, I have been examining some of the experiences of those that implemented pay for performance during the downturn. Although the research did not explore every facet of these programs, a simple, yet central question kept reoccurring: do leaders and employees have the same perceptions of the pay for performance programs? Based on a sample of six major organizations that completed at least three rounds of reviews in the last five years, leaders, supervisors, and employees were asked a series of questions on their perceptions of the program’s effectiveness. A few of the major findings related to the mission, understanding, and results of the program appear below:



Approximately 75 percent of leaders felt the program accomplished its stated mission. In most cases, the stated mission involved recognizing and rewarding high performers. Slightly less supervisors agreed with the question, while a little less than a third of employees agreed. These results would not be atypical of other leadership initiatives that come from the top down. Most pay for performance programs experience a communication as well as execution gap between levels.

The next two questions focus on the communication and understanding elements of the program. Not surprisingly, leaders possessed a high level of confidence that employees understood the system, while supervisors were less confident at approximately 56 percent.

On average, about 38 percent of employees agreed that they understood the tool and how compensation related to it. Similarly, leaders and supervisors felt confident that employees not only understood the program’s tools, but also know what actions and behaviors result in a higher score and more compensation. Supervisors appear the most confident. Given their role in ensuring that employees know how to improve, this result is not surprising.

The last question addresses the outcome of the program from a process standpoint: did the right people receive the reward? Similar to the other three questions, employees feel that the intent did not match the outcome. Roughly 31 percent of employees indicated that the reward went to the biggest contributors.

Some might argue that the results point to the inadequacy or even inappropriateness of pay for performance as a method of recognition and reward. Although it could be an element in that debate, I would argue that the results point more to a lack of appropriate appreciation of the complexity of managing human performance. Like most elements of management, ensuring that results reach potential is not easy. In the next posting, I will explore some of the actions of those that were more successful with their programs.

What Do Candidates Want?

Figure 1: Reasons for Training
Figure 1: Reasons for Training

After years of uncertainty in the labor market, things seem better. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the first quarter of 2015 possessed more than five million job openings. To put this in context, the last time the US labor market approximated this level of openings was first quarter of 2001. So, as we enter this “better market” seeking to gain the best talent possible, what do potential candidates want?

According to the Towers Watson 2014 Global Workforce study, the most important factors for joining an organization rank as the following:

Base Pay/Salary
Job Security
Advancement Opportunities
Learning and Development Opportunities
Challenging Work
Reputation as a Good Employer
Vacation/Time Off

Clearly, compensation matters and serves as a core element to any offer for employment. Not only is more money one of the key ingredients for enticing a candidate to join a new organization, many desire to recoup their losses in income advancement form during the recession.

While job security is important to most of us, employers might assume that job security became a less critical element during the downturn as employees were socialized to a more unstable environment. The most recent generation to enter the workforce only knows uncertainty, while a significant percentage of current managers were promoted and led during this economic crisis and share a similar mindset. However, it is interesting to note that job security scored second only to compensation. Put simply, even among those that have not known stability, it matters. Forty-one (41) percent of those surveyed still considered job security as a key reason to join an organization.

Growth and development occupy the third grouping among responses. Most of us recognize that being part of a “learning organization” assists with attracting and retaining key talent. Capable employees want to not only be good at what they do, but also learn new things. A recent HCS survey (Growing Talent 2014) explored motivations for learning and found that developing more marketable skills held first place: 38 percent of respondents (see Figure 1). This is not surprising given the level of uncertainty in the market over the last seven years. Gaining more marketable skills not only improve external market possibilities, but internal ones as well. Similarly, opportunities for internal advancement encompassed the second most reoccurring category with 22 percent of respondents, while improving job performance accounted for 21 percent of responses. Assisting the team occupied the last option and garnered about 15 percent of responses.

Challenging work appeals to all of us. As a key predictor of engagement as well as satisfaction, the work needs to challenge as well as fulfill an employee. A fulfilled employees feels they have made a contribution to the organization, team, and customer.

Reputation continues to grow in importance as the Internet increases the availability of information about employers. Over the last few years, more than a few employees have launched discussion groups centered on what like as well as dislike about their employers. Employers have responded with alumni groups and other outreach to past employees. Clearly, this is an area that is going to grow in importance in the coming years.

Finally, time-off still matters. Although not a big predictor of retention, the availability of time off still matters when the employer is courting the candidate.

When considering your next offer, remember pay is not the only motivator.

Career Choices

CAREERMost of us at one point or another provided career advice to someone. It might be a friend, coworker, sibling, or child that wanted to better map out their future while maximizing the value of their skills and abilities. However, one might argue, how can you provide that kind of advice today when the world is so complex and ever changing. Moreover, as the world becomes more interconnected through not only transportation and communication, but also increasing levels of education and business acumen, competition grows and requires us to reinvent who we are and what we do.
Although this may seem overwhelming, the employee-employer as well as the contractor-employer relationship based on providing mutual value. The real key to responding to the aforementioned changes pertains to having the skills, abilities, and experiences that employers find most valuable. I ran into a past client in the Atlanta airport this week and we talked about this very topic. We discussed how tough the job market is for new college graduates and he shared a profound thought with me. He made the argument that the market has changed, but still values the most those categories of skills that have been paramount for a long time: specialized trades, sales, and management.

He defined trades broadly as any specialized skills that uniquely qualify someone to successfully complete a set of similar tasks. That would include diverse, but specialized occupations, such as plumbers, builders, surgeons, nurses, accountants, information technology developers, mechanics, engineers, consultants, and designers. Sales encompasses anyone, regardless of the industry that induce others to buy products or services. The management skill area pertains to anyone that can manage and lead people to accomplish a set of common goals or outcomes. Moreover, as would be expected, the combination of these skills only amplifies the rewards.
What does the data show? In the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics summary of the highest pay jobs, occupations requiring specific medical expertise represent 14 of the top 20. The remaining highest paying jobs include chief executives, engineers, engineering managers, IT managers, marketing managers, and air traffic controllers. Similarly, US News and World Report ranks health care occupations in seven of their top ten with information technology rounding out the other three. Several career planning sites listed non-health related occupations only outside of the top 20 of most rewarded and fastest growing jobs.
Of the three skills categories, lets focus on one area: what he referred to as trades and we might call specialized skills. Specialized skills are still rare and will clearly be in significant demand in the near to mid-term future. Moreover, new labor market supply is not correlating well with the fastest growing segments of demand. For example, a late 2014 BLS report points to this gap by finding that there are more available, but unfilled jobs in the United States than there were before the economic downturn began at the end of 2007. Moreover, employers are hiring and firing less than before 2007 to hang on needed skills. A big portion of the gap in the available market pertains to the absence of STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) skills among US workers. A recent Brookings report (http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/2014/job-vacancies-and-stem-skills#/M10420) summarizes the evidence for the shortfall. The report finds that:

  • STEM skills, particularly those associated with high levels of educational attainment, are in high demand among employers;
  • job seekers possessing neither STEM knowledge nor higher education face extraordinary levels of competition for a scarce number of jobs; and
  • the gap between supply and demand is especially acute in certain metropolitan areas, where the average vacancy for STEM workers takes months to fill.

So, you need to give advice for those seeking to plan or change a career, having a trade, inducing others to buy, and leading others seems like fantastic advice.