Do you *really* need to quit your #job?

woman's face on clock with silhouettes

Surely, there’s something better than this…

Okay, I know the drill – you’re not all that keen on your job. Maybe there are changes going on that feel like they’re holding you back.

The promotion you expected didn’t happen – and worse, the people you thought were your friends are turning against you and blocking progress on all fronts.

The raise you needed didn’t come through. Maybe the company fell short of quarterly goals. Or you fell short on your own goals.

The great ideas you have, don’t seem to get the kind of reception you’d expect them to get. I mean, they’re great ideas – why isn’t anyone listening?

Plus, you feel creatively drained. You just don’t have the outlets for your own personal expression in the workplace that you had during school, or you have on your own free time.

You’ve got ideas – great ideas. And you’re sure you can make a “go” of it. Step out on your own. Take it to the streets. Follow your dreams. Write the novel. Create the art. Play the music. Code that app or the game or some other technical innovation. Eventually, the money will follow. Right? How long are you supposed to put your dreams on hold, anyway?

I get all that. I’ve been there. I’m still there, now and then.

Here’s the thing, though – bills have to be paid. And obligations have to be met. Unless you’ve got well-heeled friends/family who can house and feed you indefinitely, or you’re willing to live on less, the years it takes to go from great to everybody-knows-your-great-and-will-pay-you-to-keep-being-great can stretch on and on… sometimes 10-20 years. In between, there’s a ton of hard work, dedication, focus that’s required, just to keep going, let alone break out of the crowd.

The question is, do you want to struggle to eat and live safely, at the same time you’re struggling to refine your craft?

Everybody under-estimates the amount of work and time it takes to get anything new off the ground. Everybody does. Just ask the Greatest of the Great. And everybody overestimates how receptive the rest of the world will be to their idea and offerings. Just look at the dot-com bubble. Everybody was so sure they had the next best thing since sliced bread. But what happened? The bubble burst like a spoiled egg thrown at your car windshield. And we all suffered for it, whether we were involved or not.

The thing about having a job, is that it keeps you fed and housed. It also keeps you respectable. It keeps you in a positive “that person is a contributor” role that strengthens your position in society, which is important when you start making the rounds to pitch your idea to others. I know plenty of people say, “You have to commit fully” when you launch a new idea, and that implies you have to stop doing everything else.

But take it from someone who’s done the bohemian thing, only worked when I wanted to, and had no investment in the 9-5 work scene, other than when I was working a temporary gig. It’s a whole lot easier to create, be creative, innovate, and have the room to think and dream and evolve your concepts, when you have food in your stomach and a roof over your head — and you’re pretty certain neither of them are going away tomorrow.

Obviously, there’s no guarantee of anything, but you get my point.

But what about your dreams? What about your innovations? If they burn brightly enough within you, and you’re committed enough to them, you’re going to find a way to do them, even if you are working full-time for someone else. You have time before work. You have your commute time. You have your lunch hour. You have the commute home, and then the evening. How much time do you fritter away on Facebook, Twitter, movies, sit-coms, gaming… all that stuff that helps take the edge off your existential angst? Channel just a smidge of that drive into creating something of your own, on your own time, and watch what happens.

To date, I’ve published over 20 books. 13 of them I wrote myself. They’re well-designed, if I say so myself, and I’ve enjoyed creating and publishing them. I’ve produced a ton of original artwork, and that’s also brought me joy. I have a comfortable home where I have a study of my own, with bookshelves full of books I’ve been able to afford, because I always had a job.

Having a full-time job isn’t a dream-killer. It’s a resolve-sharpener. And I firmly believe that if I had had all the time in the world, all the leisure, all the leeway to do as I please, I never would have gotten all that done.

So, if your job isn’t inspiring you to take your creative activity to new heights… join the club. I don’t know of many people who feel that way. But if your irritation with your day job isn’t inspiring you to take matters into your own hands and make the most of every single spare moment in your waking hours, directing it towards the work of your dreams… well, quitting your job isn’t going to fix stuff for you.

If anything, it might actually make it worse.

Posted in art, books, career, dreams, employment, happiness, job, money, publishing, reality, success, time, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Awesome on purpose

Anyone can be cool, but awesome takes practice - by Lorraine Peterson
This is one of the magnets I have on my refrigerator. A birthday present from my partner, a few years back. And it’s true.

People strive to be cool. They struggle for it, they ache for it, they build their lives around it.

But awesome? Most people can’t be bothered to actually work at that.

Awesomeness is about your person, your character, the way you are in the world. It takes work to achieve that quality. It’s not necessarily in-born, and it’s mighty easy to completely lose. It’s also particularly necessary in the workplace. At the office. At 3:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, when everybody just wants to go home, but you’ve got to get something handled before end-of-day.

But if you’ve got awesomeness, you need to own it. Don’t hide it. Be it. Be awesome on purpose, because someone, somewhere is really going to need someone to do that for them. Especially if they’re not feeling all that awesome, themself. At 3:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, when they just want to go home, but they’ve got to get something handled before end-of-day.

Never under-estimate the importance of awesome.

And never under-claim it, if you’ve earned it.

Posted in career, employment, good, happiness, job, success, work | Tagged , , , , , , ,

I’ll have a cookie – for a change

sugar cookiesIt’s Thursday night. For some strange reason, it’s been a long week. Perhaps because we’re nearly 2 weeks into the new year, and I feel like I’m still catching up with what I missed during the week I had off work between Christmas and New Year’s.

Time off is a strange thing for me. I always feel like I’m somehow on the clock — on an internal clock that measures whether or not I’ve been occupied for a sufficient amount of time. Over the years, I’ve contracted for extended stretches of time, billing by the hour, watching my time very carefully. I guess the habit just got ingrained. And it’s actually a good habit to have, because it both makes you mindful of how much time you’ve spent… as well as how much time you have left.

“Time is money,” they say. Maybe, maybe not. But time does matter.

I spent my time extremely carefully. I guard it jealously, and the first few hours of the day are mine, all mine. I rise early — 6:30 a.m. is late for me — and I exercise religiously each morning. I ride an exercise bike for 20 minutes while listening to music, an educational podcast, or some motivational speaker. Then I lift free weights for another 10-15 minutes. I try to stretch, as I’m making my coffee and egg, but I don’t always get that done. What I do get done, has been sufficient to shed 20 pounds in the past year. I haven’t been deliberately dieting or making significant changes to my food intake. I’ve just been exercising more. Oh, and eating less sugar, candy, and cookies.

Long story short, I’ve had headaches for year that didn’t respond to your normal dose of Advil or Tylenol or other remedies. Even a common migraine medicine didn’t help me that much. Turns out, my own particular headaches are best solved by cutting out chocolate, cookies, and candy from my diet. And while it might not seem like such a fantastic thing, to go without the sweets and treats, it actually has helped me keep my weight steady, as well as helped me drop the pounds over the past year.

But tonight, I had a cookie. It was one of those Scottish shortbreads that are tasty and delicious. I can afford to have one. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was, this time last year. I’ve got it covered, because I’ll be back at the exercise, first thing tomorrow morning. I plan to swim in the afternoon, too.

Plus, I can use a little break, tonight. It’s been a long week of business-as-usual on one hand, and uncertainty about what’s to come, as layoffs have commenced at my company. I don’t hear much from live people, mostly what’s reported online, and the numbers that people have been reporting have been somewhat fantastical (e.g., massively overstated). But there’s a general sense of not-knowing-what’s-next, as inevitable organization changes take place.

I can’t say I’m happy about the layoffs. At the same time, I’m not overly concerned. I am contacted regularly by recruiters, and I have depth and breadth of experience and a solid skillset that makes me extremely versatile. Plus, I work my ass off, and I’m driven to do a good job, no matter what the learning curve, no matter what the hurdles. So, in all honesty, I can state objectively that I’m an awesome employee who’s a great team member and a real pleasure to work with.

People like me always land on their feet. Especially people like me. Since 1988, I’ve been steadily employed without a significant break in my employment record. There was that week or so in 1993, when the company I worked for tanked, and I was let go with 1/3 of the total staff. But I was back at it, looking for work, asking everyone I met, if they knew of any job opportunities. I found something right away.

I always do.

Heck, I moved across the country from California to Boston in 1995, and I had a job lined up in less than a week. This was before the internet, before email, before Skype, before anything that made it possible to instantaneously communicate with anyone. I lined everything up from the other side of the country, using Boston phone books at the local library, along with the fax machine at work (which I technically wasn’t supposed to use, but did anyway), sneaking long-distance phone calls at the office when my superiors weren’t around, and printing copies of my resume and cover letter at the local Kinko’s (remember them?).

And it all paid off, too. I arrived in Boston on Wednesday night, plugged in the phone on Thursday morning and got on the horn with recruiters, then went out and interviewed Thursday afternoon and Friday. I had no idea where I was going in Boston. I gave myself an extra hour of time to get to my appointments, because I didn’t want to be late and I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. I didn’t even know for sure if I was getting on the right bus or “T” trolley. I made the rounds and made my connections. And by the following Tuesday, I was working. Earning. Making bank.

Plus, I had a paycheck from my last job waiting for me at the apartment in Boston when I arrived.

I planned. I prepared. I used my head. And I got to work.

Problem solved.

And I’ve been working steadily, ever since. I’ve had a bunch of jobs in the Boston area, but I can’t recall having more than a few days off between positions. I generally arrange for my last day to be a Friday, and the following Monday be my first day on the new job.

So, no, even in today’s climate, I’m not particularly frightened of being let go and getting stuck out of work for extended periods of time. I know people in tech who have been unable to find work for 6 months at a stretch. But people like me don’t get stuck out of work very often. If anything, we have a hard time just taking a break. That’s partly because of temperament — always needing to be moving forward, always needing to be occupied and contributing, which makes us useful to most companies — and partly because the world just has a lot of work for us to do. We’re a rarity, actually, we people who are willing to do what it takes to get things done, who aren’t big on excuses but love our results, who truly believe we have an obligation to work our hardest to make a difference, and relish the challenge of doing that.

People like me are valuable. We’re needed. Because we’re not in the majority. And work still needs to get done.

So, just like exercise insulates me from the deleterious effects of a tasty Scottish shortbread, my work ethic and track record buffer me from the insecurities of a shifting job market. The Folks in Charge can do as they will. I’ve got things covered on my end. I’ve had plenty of experience being solely responsible for my own employment status. Thus, even if things change… they probably won’t.

Posted in career, employment, happiness, job, work | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Fun with Glassdoor

woman looking up from laptop

They want me to work where?

A while back, I signed up with Glassdoor, the company ratings and reviews site, where you can see what other people think of working at their employer. You can see the salaries they’re making – if they’re above or below the average for the industry – and various other rankings. It’s anonymous, and it’s free. And there are different perks you can get, if you fill out a bunch of info about companies you’ve worked for. I like their model – they benefit build their business from the quality content you add to their site, and they compensate you for it in valuable and meaningful ways.

Glassdoor has really saved me some headaches, over the years, when I was looking around on Indeed.com for what’s cookin’ in the up-and-coming tech jobs scene.

I check Indeed regularly to see what kinds of jobs are out there (and which skills pay the best), so I can make sure I’m keeping my skills up-to-date. I actually use it less for finding jobs, these days, than I use it to keep apace with the most in-demand skills. It makes no sense, in these challenging job market conditions, to sit around and hope (against hope) that my established skills and past experience and even my connections are going to be enough to keep me afloat in the future.

I have to keep current — and even if I’m not going to invest a ton of time in learning the latest JavaScript framework, it’s kind of silly for me to not at least find out what others are using — and hiring others to use. You want to at least be conversant in the latest emerging technologies, right? The tech industry isn’t frittering away time “evaluating” the latest time-saving framework that can automate or standardize a whole lot of headaches we used to have to deal with from scratch. They jump all over it, even the biggest of companies. And the good money goes to the people with the initiative and the chops to put those new tools to good use. If you can converse intelligently about those new directions, so much the better when you’re sitting across from a hiring manager. I try to keep up.

But I digress.

Glassdoor has turned into my employer-screening tool of choice, just as Indeed is my skillset strategizing tool of choice. Over the years, I’ve been tempted a number of times to nibble at some posted Indeed job-seeker bait. I’ve even seen some unicorn-ish jobs posted, for a up-and-coming company just down the road from where I live. That seemed potentially glorious, considering how much time I’ve lost to commutes to such distant realms as Paris, Munich, Boston, Lexington, and Waltham. I like to drive to/from the office as little as possible. I’ve got much better things to do with my life than look at other people’s tail-lights. I’ve had 15-20-minute commutes before. They can be life-changing, and for the better.

Thing is, for that unicorn-ish position, when I dug into the Glassdoor reviews, the burnish of the job description got a bit tarnished. Hunger Games level company politics. Connected people getting promoted over capable people. Infighting and bickering. Silo’ed cliques of competing interests sabotaging each other. OMG, it was so much fun reading the descriptions. I’ve been working the 9-to-5 since 1987, and given what I’ve seen, I could easily fill in the blanks with scenarios I’ve witnessed, myself.

I’ll do this now and then, just for kicks. Even if I’m not actively looking for a job. It’s always a good idea to be familiar with companies in your area and your sector, so if someone contacts you on down the line, you can have a clue about whether the company is a good prospect for you or not. And reading all those reviews is a lot of fun. Even if the reviewers are embittered, hyperbole-prone corporate wage slaves wringing the last drops of delight from what limited vengeance they can wreak, there’s still a lot of insight to be gotten from the reviews. Or if they’re clearly brown-nosing and sing the praises of their employer at the tops of their lungs, there’s also insight to be gained from that. If you’ve been around long enough, you know how to read between the lines.

Just imagining the dramas, the intrigue, the “interpersonal challenges”… the Game of Thrones types of jockeying for position… and the wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who don’t dare change jobs, for fear of what it might do to their long-term retirement planning… If you’ve got a good imagination (and I do), it’s good for a lot of fun.

The thing that makes it particularly enjoyable, is knowing that I’ve dodged a bullet, when I’m tempted by a job that sounds like a great fit for me… then I read a politically careful review of a place that just screams “Get out! Save yourself while you can!” It spares me the hassle of ever having to initiate a conversation with anyone at that company — and let’s face it, internal recruiters and hiring managers can be very persuasive, and you can end up going down a rabbit hole before you know what hit you. I’d just as soon not even go there.

So, I don’t.

Thank you, Glassdoor, for saving me the time and energy of getting sucked into job-search boondoggles with companies that I should avoid.

Thank you so much. It’s always fun.

Posted in career, employment, hiring, interview, job, job search, recruiter, success, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Job Searching – The Opportunities

space-shuttle-takeoff

Getting off the ground is the hardest part – and there are resources that can help you do just that.

So, yes, job searching is stressful. Nobody likes to get laid off. And even if you can’t stand where you’re working, or you’re going after your dream that suddenly looks like it’s within reach, starting a job search actually takes a lot of energy – and focus.

I’ve read that when a rocket takes off, it uses up over 80% of its fuel, just getting out of the earth’s atmosphere. Once it’s in outer space, it doesn’t need as much fuel. And the same can be said of job searching.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can cut down on the stress. I should know, I’ve done it a bunch of times — while I was already happily employed… while I was unhappily employed… while I was under the impression I was going to be laid off… when one contract was winding down, and I needed to find the next one I’d take… and when I was relocating across the country (and back) and needed to line up work. Even when I was living overseas and wanted to stretch a semester into a longer stay — and had to find a job to pay my way.

I’ve been at this job search business for most of my life — and in terms of making a living and paying expenses, it’s been over 30 years. So, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to cut down on risk and crisis, and find the opportunities.

The number one thing that’s helped me along the way, has been independent input from people who were on my side. Advice from friends and family wasn’t always helpful because

A) They were too concerned for my well-being to have an objective view. They were more concerned with keeping me safe, than helping me get to the next level.

B) They didn’t have an insider’s view on the workplace or the job market.

More than anything, I’ve always needed an insider’s view. And guess who’s always had that — and been more than willing to share that with me?

If you guessed Recruiters, you’re right.

See, here’s the thing — recruiters are compensated by how well they do their job. They get paid when they place people. And if the people they place are “duds”, they get “dinged”. If a new hire doesn’t stay past a certain point (if they bail in the first three months), the recruiter/agency can lose part of all of their commission. They don’t want that. And talking a new hire into staying in a position that they realized isn’t for them is terribly time-consuming. One of my former recruiters had to do that with me — she barely convinced me to stick it out at a position I found over 20 years ago, when I was still in a career transition period. All the time she spent negotiating with me and convincing me to stay in the extremely challenging position I’d signed onto, was time she couldn’t spend placing other people, so I’m sure that was expensive for her.

Ultimately, it works in their favor, if they find a good fit, to begin with. So, they’re motivated to get you into the right job, from the get-go. And the less they have to do, to keep you in that spot, till they collect their entire commission, the better off they are.

Another opportunity comes from sites like Glassdoor, where employees rate their employers — past and present. I’ve used them to my advantage in the past, seeing what salaries were like for people in the position I was applying for, as well as screening out companies that were apparently more trouble than they were worth.

My research in the salary ranges really paid off, in that I was able to realistically set my expectations for a starting salary — and since I came across as being very clear and certain, I was actually able to get more than I originally went in thinking I could get. Just knowing what the average rate was, enabled me to set my initial ask higher than any ask I’d put out there in years… and I got it. Because I knew enough to ask realistically.

Equally important are the times I was able to disqualify potential employers that had attractive jobs posted on Indeed, by checking them out on Glassdoor. High turnover rates. Infighting. Poor management that changed its mind every couple of months. Cronyism and/or hiring junior management to save $$$. Plenty of reasons to not go anywhere near those companies… even if they were much closer to home, which meant a shorter commute and more work-life balance.

Some things just aren’t worth it.

For me, between the job boards, the employer insight websites, and recruiter connections and feedback, there’s plenty of opportunity out there to find the right fit, the right match… or avoid the wrong ones like the plague. There’s no guarantee you’re going to find that unicorn job, but no situation is ever perfect, in my experience. And even the ones that start out perfect, have a way of morphing into something different along the way.

But you have to make the best of it, find the opportunity where you can find it, and work with that.

Ultimately, that’s going to look better on your resume, than if you have a long progression of fantastic unicorn jobs, where nothing ever went wrong for you. Hiring managers don’t want to know how you’ve avoided adversity for your entire career — they want to know how you overcame it.

But if you can connect with resources and people who can steer you clear of the tar pits, to begin with, so much the better. After all, you want to your fuel getting into outer space, not battling ground conditions.

Posted in career, employment, hiring, job, job search, recruiter, resume, success, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sharing: A job called Job Searching

The article is an insight to the professional emotions and skills a person exhibit during job search. Interestingly, the person does not get any regular compensation or regular motivation for doing so.

via A job called Job Search — nocaptionblog

Posted in career, employment, interview, job, job search, recruiter, resume, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Shared: Post Grad Job Search: What if Passion Just Doesn’t Cut it?

The whole “find your passion and make it earn money for you” approach is, in my opinion, severely mis-guided… and also promoted by people who are sheltered in certain environments, and haven’t been on the real-world job scene for quite some time.

Personally, I’ve always found it best to find a good-paying line of work that allowed me to pursue my passion independently – without meddling from good-intentioned parties. There’s nothing like being able to follow your own dreams, while making a good living. You just need to find a balance.

The worst career advice I ever heard as a twenty-one year old near college graduate was to discover my passion and make it my job. Words that for so long inspired individuality and wisdom in my search for purpose start to feel a little empty when put into practice. When your family members have invested […]

via Post Grad Job Search: What if Passion Just Doesn’t Cut it? — MISS COLUMNIST

Posted in career, dreams, employment, happiness, job, job search, money, reality, work | Tagged , , , , , ,