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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Workforce Explorer

I'm driving to an industry meeting the other day, the Puget Sound Career Developers Association (PSCDA), and I'm dreading the speaker. It was raining, freezing cold, and I have to drive INTO traffic to get there (an anathema to a work-from-home type like me). But I go. True to form, traffic is horrible. It takes me 45 minutes to go 5 miles. Remembering my commitment to networking (gotta walk the walk), I soldier on.

Our association president bravely talks up the speaker, an economist with the State of Washington. I'm thinking, man, he's really putting his heart into this introduction; it's not going to be pretty. What could a dryer-than-my-chapped-lips economist, a state employee no less, have to tell me about employment? I was a corporate recruiter after all, I'm out there on the cutting edge, blah, blah, blah. I was dead wrong.

Jane Field, our speaker, opened my eyes about an amazing website that I will use and talk about for years. You’ll get sick of hearing about it, really. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the state has put together a website using actual data from employers. Quarterly, each employer reports information including salary, hiring forecast, job duties, etc. to the state for each position they employ. has compiled these facts into a *free*, easy to navigate and extremely useful website.

Want to know the average hourly wage for a Purchasing Manager in the State of Washington? It's $45.97. Wonder what their top work task is? It's maintaining records of goods ordered and received, according to the employers who complete the state's paperwork.

Ever wondered what actors make in King County? About $35.11 per hour, on average.

How cool is that?

The site is packed with helpful information. Want to sell paintbrushes in SE Washington? The biggest hobby, toy, and/or game store employer in Asotin County is Wasem's Artist Supply and their phone number and address are provided.

The site is perfect for career changers who want to research an industry and equally great for someone moving from one part of the state to another, to learn the lay of the land.

I'm sure as I explore Explorer further, I'll find even more things to love about it.

My apologies to Jane. I misjudged you. Economists from the State of Washington ROCK!! And while I'm not sure if Jane's personality is representative of others in her occupation, I found her downright entertaining.

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