Category Archives: Economy

$250,000 too proud

bus wreck

Over negotiating can be a wreck. Watch out.

How hard do you negotiate? If you are critical to a project’s success, shouldn’t you be really well paid? The job market is hot.  A lot of employers are not finding the right person.

Here’s an example I was part of:

Mike’s expertise selling into FEMA was critical.  Their product was more than an idea, but not a proven solution.  Mike was already calling on FEMA contacts even though he wasn’t officially on payroll.  The feds wanted their product.  This would be a big win for everyone.

Mike had been unemployed for 8 months and was running out of money.  This was juicy.  If Mike quit or was fired the day after he started, he’d still get $250,000.  The commissions would double that. Still, he was worried he wouldn’t get everything he deserved.  The contract wasn’t tight enough.  What about bonuses in year 4?  He brought in the best lawyer he could find.  The company balked at his demands, his lack of flexibility.

Then the lawyers and the dragging negotiations wounded Mike’s pride.  A venture capitalist said the wrong thing.  The CEO didn’t want to completely get rid of the non-compete agreement since there was a one year severance guarantee.

Mike quit the negotiations. The product was cancelled.  The company was closed.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.  (Harris)

What hurt the most was that it took Mike six more months to get a different job.  That job paid half as much with no commissions or bonuses.  He had to clean out his savings accounts and sell his cars to survive.  Mike told me, “My pride cost me $250,000.   That was the best offer I ever had. What was I thinking?”

This was an extreme case.  The problem was pride.  When you know you are essential to a project, you want to be treated with respect.  Sometimes that respect kindles the flame of overarching pride.

The job market is really heating up.  I am seeing more examples of this destructive pride.  A manager once told me his policy is, “If two people are absolutely critical to a project and they disagree violently and refuse to compromise or go down one of the two paths, FIRE THEM BOTH.”

Don’t forget, even if you are irreplaceable, the project can be cancelled.  There are always alternatives for an employer.

Don’t let destructive pride make you expendable.

Something To Do Today

Have you ever withdrawn from a job or promotion pool because it took too long to get a decision?  Realistically look back.  What did you gain?


Later:      How fast?



Down by 20 at halftime

How to get great desirable permanent employment

Flag behind a prison fence

In America great desirable permanent is available for you. Do you want it?

To have great desirable permanent employment, you have to look in the right places.  Here is how you make sure you are working at a permanent job.  My experience first.

Our company made a record profit.  The industry was booming.  The company was sold for an unbelievable amount because its future was so bright. Our new owners were literally brilliant and had built a powerhouse with a strong diversified cash flow.

95% of the employees were laid off by the end of the next month. We were in a boom no one thought was a bubble.  The bubble burst.  The company had to lay off almost everyone. I lasted until the end of the next month.

The only thing that make life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty, not knowing what comes next.  (LeGuin)

10 years later I was employed by a huge computer company.  The world was good.  This was a permanent job.  I had been there 9 years. I was safe.

Then I got a letter from a friend at corporate headquarters.  There were going to be layoffs in 3 months.  I asked my bosses. They denied it.  My contact said, “I read the memo.”  I quit for a new job one week before the layoffs were announced.

What has happened to permanent employment?

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.  (Ditka)

Permanent employment does exist.  It exists in your skills, networks and planning.

Union negotiations, trade laws and employment contracts are all useless against the tides of change.  Your guarantee of permanent employment comes only through your own efforts and flexibility.  Permanent is what YOU bring to the table.

Even people who have been in the same company for 20 years have switched careers 3, 5 or 10 times.  During my 9 years at EDS I had 4 very different job paths in 9 years.

Look at where you are.  Prepare for the changes that absolutely will come.  Learn new skills.  Pay for your own training if you have to.  Get certifications.  Pay for the tests yourself if your company won’t.  Get trade magazines for your specialty and industry.  Bring ideas to the table where you work.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. (London)

The world is changing.  You can either benefit from the changes or lose everything you have.

Permanent success means constant change.  Make your job permanent, though your career changes.

Something To Do Today

List what you can do to become a “Permanent” employee.  Meaning you always have a job.


Later:              $250,000 too proud

How fast



Down by 20 at halftime

Dangers using the job supermarket

Job Supermarket

When I was in Spain in 1977 I knew of no supermarkets there.  You had to go to a small store and ask for exactly what you wanted.  The owner would bring out what you asked for from behind the counter.  There were no food aisles to roam.

By 1979 supermarkets were taking over the country.  Huge places filled with choices.  You could literally make shopping an all day event, and forget to come home with what you needed. Then you would go to that local store and ask the owner for what you forgot, if the store was still in business.

Now let’s talk about the job supermarket.

In 2003 and 2009 jobs were few and far between.  Candidates were happy to accept any job offer if they were unemployed for a few months.  Employers were being very picky.  Salaries were often dropping.

In 2005 and 2014 a job boom started.  Employers were starting to beg for workers in 2007 and 2015.  People who couldn’t get a job in 2004 or 2010 were getting multiple offers.  People fed up with the way they have been treated for years are changing jobs.

Unfortunately in 2007 and again in 2015 some people are going job hunting, changing jobs, and forgetting to improve their situation.  Employers get very wary of people who hop between jobs

The moral:  Be careful you don’t make it impossible to get a great job because you were seduced by sparkling packaging on inferior jobs in the job supermarket. If you aren’t careful the stores you could have gotten a job in will be like the stores in Spain, they’ll be out of business as far as you are concerned.

If you go out and quickly change jobs only for a small salary increase, you will probably be disappointed.  By the time you figure out why you are disappointed, it will be too late to switch jobs again.  Two new jobs within a year just doesn’t sit well with most employers.

Don’t lose your head.  If you want a raise, tell your boss without threatening him. Show him what others are earning.  Educate him. Don’t forget to listen to him.  He may tell you a few things you need to fix to be worth a raise. Giving your boss a month or two to fix a problem gives you more time to improve your marketability.  Figure out what will really be a job improvement.  Take control of where you want to go instead of letting 50 sparkling job ads seduce you.

As the next few years continue to heat up, use the opportunities available to get where you would like to be. Don’t settle for a raise.  Demand an opportunity in your current job and your next job.

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created, created first in the mind and will, created next in activity.  The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination. (Schaar)

Something To Do Today

In your job journal make two lists.  1.  The things you like about your job.  2.  The things about your job that could seriously be improved.

Next write down what can be done in this job and in searching for a new job to seriously improve your situation.


Next:     Rigor Mortis – signs of job death

Later:    Resumes: trash or treasure

Great and glorious job search!

My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today, I knew it then as purpose.  (Davis)

Can your job search be like General Grant’s assaults on the Confederacy? You certainly can’t start from a worse personal position than he did.

Robert E. Lee said, “We all thought Richmond, protected as it was by our splendid fortifications and defended by our army of veteran, could not be taken.  Yet Grant turned his face to our Capital, and never turned it away until we had surrendered.”

Abraham Lincoln was strongly urged to remove Ulysses S. Grant from command by Grant’s two senior leaders.  Lincoln replied, “I cannot spare this man, he fights.”

Grant’s first army unit as a General had driven away two other Generals in the previous month.  The unit was insubordinate, untrained and outright rebellious.  Yet they followed Grant.

The year before the US Civil War, Grant was an alcohol abusing store clerk who only kept his job because he worked for his father-in-law.

What changed in Grant? Passion, focus, and high purpose.

Do you have a career plan? A job search plan? One that really suits your talents and skills?  If one plan of attack fails are you willing to immediately switch to another?  As the job market changes are you ready to take advantage of previously unseen opportunities?  Are you constantly preparing?

Your passion may be your family, church, job, or club. It is probably a combination of them.  If you take the time you spend on your job, concentrate, plan and execute, you can do wonders.  If you slackly follow orders, give the minimal possible and expect to get a raise before you work harder, you will stagnate.

Where can you go to succeed?  What can you do?  Do you have to relocate your family? Do you need a new job?  A new career path? What can be your great purpose at work?

Acres of Diamonds can give you some directions along that path. You can read it or listen to the author tell it at this link.

Something To Do Today

Read or listen to Acres of Diamonds .  Read it.


Later: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Where the jobs are and where the money is

It is true for every job and skill, as well as for IT.

Only about a third of the IT jobs are in the tech industry.  The best paying industries are not necessarily the ones that are hiring the most IT guys. The industries hiring the most IT guys may not want the latest and hottest skillsets.

This article shows where IT jobs are, and where the 5-year growth in jobs is projected to be for IT computer jobs.

The highest industries for growth will not be looking for the latest internet skills.  Automotive and manufacturing will be looking for people working in established technologies.  That is where this article says the new jobs will be.


The 7 highest demand job categories are…

After years hearing about the lack of IT professionals, you’d think those are the hardest jobs to fill. But a new report by human resources firm Manpower indicates they are not.

Electricians, welders, and other skilled trades professions are the biggest headaches to hire for in the US and globally…

Read the full list here.

How to find the most jobs, that pay the best, and hire fastest

What is hot today? Follow the money.  To which industries is money flowing the most heavily?  What are people investing in?  Where is the greatest potential for growth?  Where will it be the easiest to get hired and promoted?

If you really want to know, you need to go to Investor’s Business Daily. The chart is called, “IBD’s 197 Industry Group Rankings”. The latest copy is  It wasn’t in their paper today, so I had to go online and get a free 4 week subscription to see it. Go to and look under the link for “197 Industries Table” I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if they put it in the papers on only some days.

The chart lists all the major industry sectors in the USA.  Then it ranks them according to how well stocks have performed in the last 6 months.  The industries at the top of the chart are the ones everyone is investing in.  The ones at the end are the ones being abandoned.

It says that the medical software industry is the biggest loser.  Oil & gas transport is the biggest winner.

Just because money is flowing out of an industry does not mean it is doomed.  It does mean that it will be hard to find a new job in that industry.  It means that you have to show a strong ability to save big money or make big profits to get hired. In the losers, being a bankruptcy specialist guarantees a job.

I always try to fish where the fish are abundant.  I hunt where the animals I seek are the thickest.  I job search where the jobs and promotions are plentiful.  Time to do a little research to make sure you are looking where the jobs are plentiful.

The contest does not always go to the strong, nor the race to the swift, but that’s the way to place your bet.


Something To Do Today

Print out or cut out the 197 Industry Group Rankings chart and pin it to your wall.  Study it so that you understand each column.  Compare what is hot today to what was hot a year ago.  Are you hunting where the jobs are thickest?

Tomorrow:  Olympic class talent

In a job search it feel like “It’s a blizzard! There’s nothing I can do.”

The most important step in winning is to show up.

If you are looking for a job, it always seems there is a blizzard going on.  You are stuck at home and nothing is happening because of the snow and cold. You send out a hundred resumes and get no calls back.  Recruiters won’t help you.  No one is advertising jobs with your skills.  There’s nothing you can do.  You feel cold, helpless, and can’t see any hope of success because of the blowing snow.

No matter where you live, the blizzard is over.  Spring is here.  The job market is hot.

How many US metropolitan areas were importing workers in September of 2006?  At a 4.5% real unemployment rate, metro areas start importing workers.  Take a guess, how many were below that?

195. Yes, 195 places in the US were importing workers.  And the situation has gotten even better in the last 2 months.  In the DC area the unemployment rate in some counties is well under 1%. As a matter of fact, the national unemployment rate is below 4.5%. There is a real scarcity of workers.  That means there is opportunity.

Does that mean you have to move?  No!  That means you have to continue to job hunt.  If you keep trying intelligently, you’ll get a better job.  Workers are getting imported from  low paying areas into higher paying cities all over the US.  They’re leaving jobs behind that have to be filled.

Having trouble getting a job?  Here are some areas to re-evaluate:

  1. My job skills.  Can I make them more attractive? Can I get certified?
  2. That pesky resume.  Its job is to get you an interview.  Is it working?
  3. Am I showing up?  Are you contacting people about jobs?  Sending resumes?
  4. Are you relying on the right sources of job leads?

Now may be the time to refresh your approach.  Take a look at where your industry is going.  Sharpen your job tools.  Then keep applying.  The blizzard and cold is ending soon.  Jobs are opening up all over, like daffodils in the spring.


Something To Do Today

Use the 4 questions above to re-evaluate your job search.  I’ll go through them this week

The healthiest way to look at jobs unfilled

Needlessly unfilled jobs get me mad.  They keep you out of a job.  They lower profits at the companies that desperately need the right person.

This article calls the over qualification of a job opening “zombie thinking”.   I like the solution Lou gives to solving the problem.  Unfortunately it has to be solved by the employer, not the job seeker.

What will happen in this summer’s recession

I expect there to be a minor recession this summer.  We will be out of it before the year ends.

Three things will surely happen to companies in the next recession:

  1. Companies will have layoffs and close.
  2. A lot of people will retire.
  3. Musical chairs will become the biggest game in corporate America.

In a recession, companies close down divisions and lay off people.  Many will offer early retirement to their older and more expensive workers.  A lot of those retirees will decide to really retire.

I saw one estimate that half the US workforce is over 60 right now. I’m suspicious of that number.  However, there are a lot of people who will retire and won’t look for another job.  They are highly skilled.  Someone has to take their place.  Prepare now and you will find the coming decade to have incredible possibilities.  There will be more openings at high levels in companies than there have ever been in the history of America.

Take advantage of the future retirements.  In your company and division decide who is going to retire in the next 3 years.  Someone will fill their job, and then a domino effect will happen.  It will look like musical chairs as everyone scrambles to fill open seats created by the guy who just got promoted.  Musical chairs in the corporation is going to be incredible.  Prepare now and position yourself.

There is no such thing as luck. There is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.  (Robert Heinlein)   

Something To Do Today


Figure out who will be retiring where you work.  How can you take advantage of it?


Later:  Some jobs give you a bad reputation, no matter how good you are.