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ResumeBear: 9 to 5 Did it go out with the Trash?

ResumeBear: 9 to 5 Did it go out with the Trash?

By Pedram Tabibi

The image is familiar enough to most: A worker at his or her desk counts down the minutes and seconds to 5 p.m., goes home and enjoys the rest of the day.

However, the image of clock hands turning to 5 p.m. and someone leaving work is more of an illusion these days, and the reality is 9-to-5 jobs are slowly fading away.  Conversations with my peers and recent experience spurred this topic.

My recent conversations with young Long Islanders show that most work extensive hours not just to get ahead, but to get by.  Be it a young doctor, attorney or analyst, the 9-to-5 job is not very prevalent among the young professionals I know.  I have heard many stories from friends about 12-18 hour work days, irregular work hours, and the necessity of doing so to be competitive or stay afloat.

With a new business, for example, this is to be expected to a great degree. Interestingly enough though, I have spoken to many young professionals in other fields, be it retail, real estate, mortgage, banking and other industries who are also working intensive hours, which are not always paying immediate dividends.  Given the current economic recession and expected changes to the types of jobs available in the future, more and more people will likely work longer and/or irregular hours.

Part of this trend toward longer work days and work at all times of day can be attributed to the technological age young professionals are growing up and developing in.  With cell phones, emails, instant messaging and a host of other advanced technology, gone are the days of leaving a message at an office and expecting a response within a few hours or the next day – work travels around everywhere with people.

As a young attorney at Meltzer Lippe, I am fully aware that my position may require work at any point of the day, and as attorneys we work hard to take care of our clients at any time of day and take pride in doing so. On the one hand, young professionals may have a more challenging road ahead as they enter a work force that works harder and demands more.  At the same time, it may provide an extra push to many and foster growth and quicker development.  These rising work trends may also help emphasize effective and top-notch work in a timely and efficient manner, something attorneys, for example, are well aware of.

I came across an interesting Newsweek article about the vanishing 9-to-5 job, which discussed how the recession is accelerating a cultural shift in the corporate world to more flexible workdays. The article discussed how the traditional U.S. workday continues to fade, where one in five Americans now works mostly nonstandard hours – nights, weekends or rotating shifts. Experts believe that statistic will balloon in coming years as more employees tailor their work schedules to preference, position and personal life. The impact of this shift on young professionals may be especially interesting, as they enter the work force at time of change and turmoil. The article also mentions how this trend will continue to grow, especially as the U.S. economy becomes less reliant on manufacturing and more dependent on knowledge-based industries such as finance, marketing and law. While individuals are needed at a plant to run an assembly line, an advertiser can come up with a great sales pitch either at work during the day or at 10:30 p.m.

So what exactly is replacing the traditional 9-to-5 job and what types of jobs will young professionals be given more opportunities in?  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website has interesting statistics about employment projections from 2008-2018.

Professional and service occupations are expected to provide more than half of the employment growth through 2018 and production occupations are expected to decline.  The occupations expected to add the most jobs are registered nurses (582,000 additional jobs), home health aides (461,000 additional jobs) and customer service representatives (400,000 additional jobs). Education and training requirements for jobs is also increasing as occupations requiring a post-secondary degree are expected to account for nearly half of all new jobs through 2018.

Among the employment areas expected to see the largest wage and salary growth between 2008 and 2018 are management, scientific and technology consulting services (an 82.8 percent increase in such jobs), computer systems design and similar services (a 45.3 percent increase), physician’s offices and home health care and nursing facilities (24.4 to 73.8 percent increases).

Many of these jobs types fall outside of the assembly line or typical office job, and be it the ease with which computer systems work can be done anywhere or the individualized hours for home health or nursing jobs that are geared towards individuals, the large projected increase in these job types further signals a decline in the traditional 9-to-5 job.

Young professionals should be aware of these economic trends for several reasons.  On one hand, it is less and less likely they will work the traditional (and increasingly past) work hours, and this may cut into their personal, non-work lives. On the other hand, the increase in non-traditional work hours jobs may, as the Newsweek article suggested, do the opposite and allow young professionals to utilize the growing flexibility in work hours to live their lives the way they want to.

In either regard, young Long Islanders should be especially interested in these economic projections because they forecast employment fields that will fully develop at the same time many young Long Islanders are entering the full-time work force – the “real world” so to speak.  These economic trends are also an indicator of the available types of jobs in the next decade, and any young professional could (and should) use these trends to their advantage, whether working directly in any of these fields and starting a tie-in business that will flourish at the same time these employment areas grow.

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  1. There are pros and cons to each sort of schedule, really, and while I think the flexible schedule works for some types of jobs, I don’t want to see it go out with the trash. While it can be annoying having to be there at a specific time and having to wait until a certain time to leave, despite how much work I actually have, I like being able to clock off at the end of the day and not have to worry about work until the next morning. I see my dad getting work calls at all waking hours or the day, and having to answer work e-mails after dinner, and that’s not the sort of job I want.

  2. Let’s face it, to be successful in today’s business environment, “9 to 5″ thinking simply doesn’t cut it. With the exception of government offices (I used to do business in city, state and federal office buildings, so I know from whence I write), where most employees are gone from their desks at the crack of closing, in most businesses, closing time is simply a target number. You stay until the work is done and the client is taken care of. And employees that don’t… well, don’t be surprised if the promotion goes to someone else. I do sympathize, of course, with someone who has to pick their kids up from daycare, etc. But the reality is that the employee who works the hardest will likely get ahead.

  3. Have you tried being interviewed as early as 3am? Well I have. And it was a disaster.

  4. I never did like the 9 to 5 schedule as it meant, in many cases, doing routine work. Young people entering or nearing the workforce should pay close attention to these trends as it will help them to make better choices.

    Susan, in her comment above, made a good point. With more and more young professionals working longer and varied hours, they are going to need someone to run their errands and do other work that they do not want to do or have time to do.

    Sadly, the young professional will be working more and enjoying it less and still not get ahead because their expenses will match their income.

  5. So in this wondrous future when everyone is working endless hours doing some kind of work that requires a post secondary degree, they aren’t going to have time to walk their dog, pick up the cleaning, or go grocery shopping. Right now in NJ, you can hire someone to run errands for you for $40 an hour. What will those services cost in the future, and what will you have to make in order to be able to afford them? Companies are going to have to allow a lot of flexibility for people to be able to “have lives” outside of working or managing the details of their personal lives.

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