Demand is not always “demand”. Sometimes it’s fake.

Right now there is “demand” for software developers, anyone with a STEM (scientific, technical, engineering or mathematics) degree, writers, graphic artists, cashiers and nurses. … Oh really. Ask anyone with these skills and you’ll see just the opposite – they can’t get jobs. Why?

Once upon a time … I walked into a store to buy some stuff. The manager waited on me and started ringing up the sale. I asked how he was doing. He told me he was having a hard time getting cashiers – cashiers were really in demand in the retail sector. It was so bad he told me, that he had managers ringing sales. Trying to be nice I asked if he considered paying cashiers what he paid managers. He told me, “I could never do that, it would cost to much.” I said nothing as he (the manager) continued to cash me out.

So there’s no real “demand” for cashiers. There is demand for low paying cashier jobs.

What about all the STEM jobs you keep hearing about. Well I have two degrees, one in computers science. I’ve worked as a software engineer using my graphic skills to design user interfaces with code behind them. So I follow the tech industry. It turns out, that so many people have gotten tech degrees, that 41% of people with STEM degrees are not working in a job that requires a STEM degree.

Say what?!?

It turns out that universities keep advertising the need for STEM degrees. I suspect it’s due to the math, and other STEM departments trying to stay employed. I loved taking calc, and got A’s in calc I-III, but no one is beating down my door because of that.

Before we move on to writing, graphic designers and nurses, here are some links to why “demand” for STEM is provably fake.
http://www.cis.org/more-us-stem-grads-than-jobs
http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/

The bottom line is that is looks like tech companies want H1B visa workers because they are cheaper. The is no shortage of tech or STEM workers.

Now on to nurses and teachers.

There is a lot of talk about the need for these workers as people are getting older and … a lot of older teachers are retiring. But is this real “demand”? It turns out that many newly graduated nurses can’t find jobs … huh?
This article helps put that into perspective. http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2013/01/15/the-nursing-shortage-myth/

For teachers, a lot of states are broke and cutting teachers. While some areas need teachers, others are cutting. So, there may be local demand.

Writers and Graphic Designers fall into this category – with one exception.

Both skills have local demand – like teachers. Graphic Designers in California or New York are in demand. Writers too find local hot-spots. But unlike teachers, writers and designers can work via the internet! And that gives them an advantage over many other trades.

I wrote this article because someone on LinkedIn asked if Graphic Design was in demand. She asked this, “is there an oversupply of graphic designers”? Well Gabriela, no and yes.

Writers and Graphic Designers face huge competition on the web and in local markers – but – using both gives you an advantage. I get almost 100% of my design business online. And I’ll tell you that working form home allows you to build a portfolio – and get paid – even before you have completed a degree. So let’s look at designers & writers and demand.

Plumbers have an advantage because you can’t snake a drain over the web – at least not yet. So your local market is where you sell services that require face-to-face interactions. If you are willing to meet customers, you can get some local work that can’t be outsources over the web or where the buyer wants a local person. So as you take classes, think of what design work needs to be done locally.

For example, I print stuff. Vehicle lettering, installing shop graphics and mural painting needs to be done locally. Using your design skills, think like a plumber! What type of design work really can’t be outsourced to the web. Yes, anyone can order signs and printed mugs via the web. But some shop and signs need to be applied on site.

Next, what do you love to do that you can compete with on the web. I print T-Shirts … but deal right? While many designers “think” they can design shirts, they don’t know about specialty inks. So I can test print a design and even set-up production specs for any print shop around the world. That is my value add. I’m in Michigan, so how do I get so many design jobs in Ireland, Australia and the UK. I speak English, and, I can print the shirt I am designing to catch any issue before I send the design to my client. Most designer have never printed a shirt. So look for your web-niche as you take your classes. What can you learn that other’s don’t.

Lastly, getting a job. If you want a job, having a portfolio of paid work will help you land a job. Demand, sometimes, is a purple squirrel. Have you ever seen a purple squirrel? How about a leprechaun or a unicorn? They’re all myths. In the software industry a purple squirrel is a job ad where the employer wants a person to know EVERY technology and then some. They look like this:
Sr JAVA DEVELOPER
Must know STRUTS
Expert in PHOTOSHOP, ILLUSTRATOR, INDESIGN, DREAMWEAVER, PAGEMAKER, FRAMEMAKER, AFTER EFFECTS, FLASH …
Must be an EXPERT in JUGGLING
Requires five PhDs.
Must have THREE EYES

If you laugh, with high unemployment, you’ll see many ads for Graphic Designers were the employer lists unrealistically high requirements. One way around that, is to have the softskills employers want. And one is entrepreneurship. A student with a portfolio is less likely to be hired compared to a person with a portfolio of PAID work samples. The PAID work portfolio shows proof that someone PAID you for the work. Proof of entrepreneurship – you got your ass out there and sold your work – also known a grit. Anyone can have a portfolio – few have grit.

So¬† … I say you can MAKE your DEMAND with these three things.
Think like a plumber – what can you do well that needs to be done locally?
What can you add value to in the internet market?
If you want a job – start selling your work while in school and you’ll BE in DEMAND as you graduate.

I hope that helps you decide that looking for demand may be the wrong end of the stick. This is a profession that is filled with competition – no doubt. But I think you can create demand for YOU.
I have a degree in PR and Computer Science, but am a self taught Graphic Designer. So, Gabriela, if you get that degree, I expect you to kick my ass and be the most demanded Graphic Artist ever. If you love art and design, as I suspect you do, look for demand pools – areas of demand. As you work on your degree, keep a journal of demand. A journal where you record what design services are in demand. I think that will help you more because you can take classes that give you demanded skills that customers want to pay for.

~ Eric