New Interpretations of Old Careers
The Internet has been taking the economy and businesses by surprise. It is shifting traditional dynamics and breaking down boundaries as it goes. Today, anthropology majors and college dropouts are running billion-dollar companies, while Martha Stewart has taken Wall Street by storm.
In this new arena, Internet companies are fighting over the limited pool of experienced professionals. In addition, what was once the exclusive domain of people who know how to code C++ is opening up to non-techies. Companies are realizing that while it is key to build and maintain their product, they need non-technical people to work and communicate with the mainstream Web population. As the companies move from the garage to Wall Street, there are more and more opportunities opening for people with traditional job titles looking to make the move into the Internet or high-tech space.
Sales is one traditional career that has transitioned smoothly into the Internet world. Media buyers, account executives and insurance salesmen have found their way to companies such as CNET, Oracle and Yahoo, and are now selling business software, Web advertising space and e-commerce solutions. What these Internet salespeople have is not necessarily a strong technology back-ground, but a combination of savvy, leadership skills, management experience and strategic-planning ability. Knowledge of technology and the Internet is just an added bonus. Want the good news? Sixty percent of all U.S. companies planned to increase their sales and marketing staffs during the last half year, according to a survey by Sales Consultant International, a recruiting firm. And the demand is particularly strong in the new technology fields, with 80% of telecommunications companies and 65% of information-technology firms planning to hire sales and marketing personnel.
Traditional journalism has done more than just transition into the Internet world. It has taken on a new format as the Web has developed into the latest medium. "Articles" have morphed into "content", and writers and journalists are sought after to present ideas effectively on the Web. Among other things, that can mean dealing with the medium's special needs, including hyperlink navigation and writing in digestible, page-sized chunks to compensate for the difficulty in reading long blocks of text on a computer. In addition, more and more technology companies are hiring free-lancers and editors to create copy to market products, services and their sites. Compensation varies widely depending on the type of site and the content involved. According to CNET, some contract writers and editors can earn more than $50 an hour, while other companies pay piece rates.
Marketers are highly sought after in the Internet space, and that bodes well for traditionally-trained professionals. Like brick-and-mortar companies, Internet organizations are looking for brand, client and product marketers. And actually the Internet space allows for even greater flexibility. E-commerce, partner and e-mail marketing are just some of the areas opening up. Also, PR and media professionals are also finding jobs at Internet and high-tech companies as many of them are now emerging and establishing their own public relations and media departments.
Product managers have long been in charge for the timely and budgetary rollout f consumer goods and services. Now there is a new arena for product managers to show their expertise. Site managers, project managers and account managers are just some of the job titles that have been popping up. As with their traditional counterparts, they lead teams of developers, designers and marketers to roll out new Web sites and Internet applications. This new breed of product manager brings the same qualifications to the table as his or her traditional counterpart: good communication and management skills, team focus, and great organizational and problem-solving skills.
Graphic designers have generally found their way into media and product design. But in recent years, the Internet has opened up a whole new exciting world for designers and artists. What makes this even more exciting is that the role of graphic designers has become extraordinarily broad, ranging from laying out static Web pages to taking on traditional developer roles, including designing user interfaces, animations and much more. On the low end, the skills needed to be a good Web designer are pretty much the same ones needed to be a good designer in any media. In particular, you'll need a firm grasp of the design principles involved in creating attractive pages and workable interfaces. You'll also need to be handy with standard computer-based design tools. For more advanced applications, you will need to know the latest Web design programs such as Cold Fusion and Dreamweaver.
There are many more employment areas that translate from the traditional world to the Internet world. HR specialists are turning into Internet Recruiting Trainers. And an editor-in-chief is now a Web managing editor. So, there really is no reason not to take your brick-and-mortar career and turn it into an Internet position. Recruiters do say, however, that if you are interested in doing this, you should have at least an understanding of the Web, if not some experience with the Internet. But this can mean as little as having worked on your company site, dealt with high-tech clients or attended Web-oriented lectures and classes on your own. The bottom line: If you can translate your old job and you are good at it, you will be able to succeed it in the Internet space.