Category Archives: Economy

Free career intelligence 5 ways

Here are 5 ways to get free career intelligence.  This can help you find and land a job.

1. Every day I give away useful business intelligence.  I am an expert in a few job markets. I’m a recruiter. Every time you talk to a recruiter, grill them.  If a recruiter calls you out of the blue, you have a right to be very nosey.

2. HR (human resources) people give away business intelligence.  They are experts in their company and will tell you how you fit in.  If you ask they will often tell you where you stand in the job competition. Hiring projection for 3 to 6 months into the future are often on the tip of their tongues if you just ask them.

3. Salespeople are incredible sources of information.  They also like to talk a lot.  Take a salesman from your own company, a supplier, or a place you want to work, out to lunch. Or just talk to them. You’ll find out more than you would think possible.  Often they can tell you about all the competing companies in your area.

4. The web. Indeed.   Monster.  CareerBuilder.  Look for “trolling” job ads.  What ads are there for months?  Often they are renewed weekly, but they are the same ad forever.  Those are jobs that constantly need people.  Sort by company and look for ad clusters.  Is a company creating a new project team?  Often they advertise for 3 different jobs while they have other unadvertised openings for the team that will be created. The manager job may be unfilled.  Or another team has an opening because the manager for this team came out of that team.  Keep all the possibilities in mind.

5. Every industry has a trade magazine or ten.  Subscribe.  Many are free.  There are even more industry trade publications appearing as email magazines.  There are specific trade publications for cement, computer banking systems, turkey processing, pizza shops, jewelry making, dog kennels, dairy farmers and more.  Even if you just read the cover you will be better off than if you didn’t get the magazines.

Open your eyes.  Look around.  Where do the experts go to become experts or to show off their expertise?  That’s where you need to go to get career intelligence.

Something to do today

Subscribe to 3 trade publications.

Quitting for more money is new?

America believes in education: the average professor earns more in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week. (Evan Esar)

News Flash from the Wall Street Journal:

People are changing jobs to get more money!

Even worse, the best employees, the most valued workers, are the ones most likely to quit for more money. These are the best paid people that are quitting for more money.

Seriously, that was in the WSJ.  It was a first. And it still applies today.

The reason it made news is because all the old surveys and studies show you will be dissatisfied with money but not quit over it unless it is way low.  You are supposed to quit because you dislike your boss, the company policies, your duties, or your advancement opportunities.

Some studies are showing that people are now quitting for money more often.  This is probably caused by years of 3% raises.  All of a sudden money is more than a dissatisfier, it is a reason to change jobs all on its own.

I’m not suggesting YOU quit only for money.  I’m just letting you know that I’m willing to learn something new.

Maybe you should get a copy of this posting and put it on your boss’s desk.

Something to do today

Do you dare put a copy of this posting on your boss’s desk?

Just a thought.


Coming up

Back to job hunting

Signing bonuses are returning – yes the economy is better

The return of signing bonuses and paid relocation are strong signs of the strength of the job market.

This article goes beyond our local experience.  We are seeing the same thing.  There is a greater tendency to offer a relocation package and/or a signing bonus when a skilled employee takes a job.  Our strength is in information technology, accounting, and sales.

So, yes, as this article states, the market for technical jobs is much better.

Why the best people have the hardest time finding jobs when laid off

The best people have the hardest time finding jobs when they are laid off. It is a fact. It is not for the reason you are thinking.

This is my experience.

I was the only person out of 300 that knew for sure that layoffs were coming.  I had a mole in the headquarters in Dallas.  I asked my boss, Mike, when the layoffs were going to start.  He said, “There won’t be any layoffs.” Nevertheless, he checked with Dallas and was told there would not be any layoffs.

He was wrong, and I knew it.  My source sat 50 feet from the division president who was laying plans.

So I told Mike, “If there are layoffs, I want to be in the first group you let go.”

Mike assured me that it wouldn’t be necessary.  There would be no layoffs.

I started looking for a job and started a small recruiting company.  A week before the layoffs were announced I gave my 2 weeks notice.  My company, AGI, had its first contract.  Mike acknowledged that my timing was perfect.  The only thing that could have gone better was waiting a week so I got severance pay.  The new job security was a lot better than any severance pay.

Everyone who was laid off in the first group got a job immediately.  Everyone.

There were more layoffs.  The people laid off 6  months later didn’t find as many open jobs as the first group.  Those laid off a few months after that were unemployed for a lot longer.

The funny thing is that the best employees were laid off last.  But they couldn’t find jobs.  Why?

By the time they were laid off, there was a serious business malaise.  All the local companies had staffed their urgent projects.  Now everyone was afraid to hire more people.  So the best people had the hardest time finding jobs.

Isn’t it strange that the best workers, the most loyal staff, the absolutely essential people all had a hard time finding jobs? The reason is that they were let go at the absolute worst possible time.  Every job was filled months before. They were hurt the most by their own loyalty.

Are you concerned about layoffs?  Even if you are planning to stay, start setting yourself up for a job. Start setting yourself up for a promotion. Work harder than ever.  Take over new tasks.  Figure out how to make the company more money. Write a resume and hand it to your boss.  Ask for a promotion or an award for doing so well.  Don’t worry about a raise. Worry about getting recognized for exceptional performance where you are.  Then figure out if you really should look for a new job.

Give up and go elsewhere when things are bad

I found a great job for someone and was told”

“If I leave, deliveries will stop, sales will stop, and a lot of people will be out of work. I’m going to have to turn down this job.  I owe it to my boss and coworkers to see them through these hard times.”

Is this you? What’s next?  Layoffs 3 weeks later.  Suddenly it really is self sacrifice because you are laid off.  And you may lose the house too.

First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. (Greek proverb)

I am not saying to abandon ship when you are needed.  I am saying that you must be aware of what really is happening.  You finding a new job may free up enough money to save another person’s job.  The shock of your resignation may be what finally gets through to the big boys that things are going badly.  Sometimes a company is going bankrupt no matter how heroic everyone is. Reality is not always what you think it is.

When business is bad it taints your whole outlook.  You see problems everywhere.  In your distorted world, no business can be thriving.  You are wrong.  Some are growing.  Don’t be afraid to join them. I guarantee that you are replaceable. If not, the problems are so severe you should leave anyway.

There is an alternative. A while ago I was talking to an accountant at a company that was in bankruptcy.  He said, “I am earning more money than ever before.”  They REALLY couldn’t afford to lose him, so they gave him bonuses and guarantees. If you are the hero, make sure you are compensated and protected.

When business looks bad, it may be time to leave.  Don’t let the lens of self sacrifice or fear fool you.  Many times what is best for you, leaving, is also best for the company. If you really are indispensable, get paid and protected for it.  If they might fire you for asking to get paid for your risk, you are not indispensable.

Something to do today

Is business bad?  Find someone you trust who has business experience.  Talk with them about whether you should stay where you are or find a new job.  You may just need an outsider’s perspective.


Coming up

How to ruin a phone interview

Start a new job excellently

New and better or cheaper

How everyone else sees you

The difference between fertilizer and ****

Give up and go elsewhere when things are good

(Before you lynch me, read tomorrow’s column about giving up when times are bad.)

Most revolutions happen as things are getting better.  That happened in the Marxist revolutions and the revolts against the Communists.  It happened in the American revolution.  Things were getting better and people rebelled.

People seriously think of quitting their jobs as things get better.  As life gets worse they are afraid to change.  They want more stability, not more change. When life is bad, they tend to stay where they are. It’s easier. When life is getting better is when they think of change.

In reality, it really is time to change when life is easy and the economy or your company is soaring.  That is when people start slacking.  You are most likely to get noticed when you are the new guy on the block with something to prove.

In your current job push hard. If you aren’t getting raises and promotions, ask for them.  If not now, when? But start looking.  If you are pulling ahead as a superstar, others outside your company may be even more interested than those who know you well.

It is probably time to get a new job even if you are getting raises and promotions.  Career advancement, pay raises and opportunities usually come more quickly to those willing to change jobs in good times.  There is an immediate raise upon taking the new job.  There are also faster raises for the first 3 years.

Yes, it is a fact.  People who change jobs get raises and promotions faster for a few years.  It may be that there is no history to judge against, only current need and performance. It is likely that you are “irreplaceable” at the position you have had for 5 years so they don’t want to promote you or give you a new opportunity.  Whatever the reason, raises and promotions come faster for the first 3 years with a company.  Someone already there and doing the same job will NOT get the same pay raises, promotions and opportunities you get by coming in fresh.

Another reason to leave when life is good is that when life is good, people are hiring.  It is much easier to get into that company or job you always wanted. There is money to pay for your eager attitude.  It is easier to find a job when you are employed than when you are laid off.

Life is good now for 90% of Americans.  Think about changing.  Position yourself for change even if you don’t make a jump to another company.  When the economy eventually turns ugly for your company, those who have been making minimal progress will be laid off

Something to do today

Really assess where you are.  Are you coasting?  Have you relaxed?

Then start pushing hard in your current job.  Set a personal goal and meet it. Get ahead now while others coast.


Coming up

Give up and go elsewhere when things are bad

How you create your future with your passion

“The future is not something we enter.  The future is something we create.”  (Leonard Sweet)

I have worked for more than 30 companies.  Each one could have been a new career.  Okay, so I was 12 when I got my first newspaper delivery job, but I could have kept at it. I could have become a delivery supervisor or a reporter.  My job as a movie theater usher could have led to a lifetime working as a theater manager. I could have gone back and gotten my MS or PhD in Geology.  I could have worked my way back onto the remaining oil rigs after 3/4 of them were shut down in one month, and continued there.  Instead, I got into computers.

The job world really does reward you for your experience and what you persist in.

Shrinking and growing happens in all industries.  After each war, as the military shrinks, generals become colonels and majors.  Most officers just leave the military. Patton and Eisenhower took demotions after the first world war. They stayed with their beloved career.  They rose again. turned into dot.bomb in 2001. 2002 saw thousands of computer pro’s unemployed. That changed. In February 2006 more US workers were into computers than there were working with computers at the peak of the boom.  Persistence during the bad times has created a lot of opportunities.

One friend of mine sold a computer company for millions.  Then he lost all that money in Enron and other bad investments.  So he retrained in VB.Net and took a job for $24,000 per year.  A year and a half later he was earning $70,000 per year.  He has another company doing amazing things for the iPhone now.

If you are in a field you love and are willing to roll with the good times and endure the bad, you will be able to stay in that field.  Your pay may vary from great to poor, but in the end you create your future.

Industry hopping and career changes aren’t bad if you are still looking for your love.  If you have found your love, embed yourself within that industry.  You may have to switch companies and jobs, but let your experience build until people look at you and say, “We have to hire him, he’s worth two of anyone else.”

Something to do today

Learn more and do more if you want to stay in your industry. Be a ball of enthusiasm and a tower of dedication.

If you don’t want to stay in your industry, get into a new one NOW.


Coming up

Give a monkey a gun

Salary toy

Working for the Fortune 50

Scrabble and muck and get ahead

When to give up and go elsewhere

One way the economy is really affecting hiring that is critical, but few notice

10 years ago the average car buyer visited 4.1 dealers before buying. Today he visits 1.7 dealers. The buyers are better informed. They can even find the dealer invoice amount, dealer only incentives and other bargaining information before they buy. The speed of decision making has dramatically increased.

3 years ago companies we deal with sometimes took months to consider who exactly they should hire. There was no hurry. Candidates were plentiful and not moving into new jobs quickly. Slow hiring was not a problem.

Now the need to fill particular jobs is more acute. I’m talking about the highest demand jobs.  Even in this economy there are critical jobs that desperately need to be filled. Companies need to hire quickly.

Even after an offer is accepted, more candidates are being courted by the company they are trying to leave and the companies they turn down. That courting often continues for months after they start their new job. For these critical jobs, 20% or more of the people that accept a job, get stolen by someone else before they start.  The speed of decision making is increasing as well as the need for good decisions.

Companies are less and less likely to seriously consider you unless you are serious about a move. They won\’t allow you two weeks to decide if you want a job. If the company waits that long then they may lose their two backup candidates. The companies just can’t wait.

Since companies and candidates are moving faster now, I\’ll give you some guidelines about how you can make decisions quickly over the next few days.

Something to do today

You are at least considering leaving your job. Write down why. It will help organize your thoughts.


Coming up

How to make a quick decision

Support net preparation

Personal brainwork

Job research

Company research

Why do I make less (or more) money? And how do I get more?

A raise is like a martini: it elevates the spirit, but only temporarily. (Dan Seligman)

Harrisburg, PA is a money pit.  Washington, DC is a cash mountain 2 hours away.  Many jobs pay twice as much in Washington, DC.  Let’s make it worse.  An hour north of Harrisburg, in beautiful rural Perry County, pay is even less than in Harrisburg.

I have moved people to Harrisburg for less than half their previous pay.  Those people were thrilled.  Their commute was cut from 3 hours a day to 20 minutes.  They got to choose a great school district for their kids.  They sold their highly mortgaged 3 bedroom house on a postage stamp lot. By moving they got the option of buying a bigger house free and clear or getting a mansion with a mortgage.

State government jobs pay pretty well around here.  This is the state capital.  Corporate management, computers, sales and other jobs pay less.  Here’s why:

You get paid what is necessary to keep your job competently filled.

In Washington, DC highly skilled people only have to think of switching jobs and they have 3 offers.  The cost of living and commute times are so horrible that no one really looks forward to moving to DC, except from Boston or San Francisco.  If DC companies don’t pay a fortune in salary, everyone will leave.  DC residents will quickly go to another company or move to Omaha.

In Harrisburg, PA a project manager, marketer or COO will have to really look for a job.  They may get lucky, or they may look a year. There is no feeding frenzy by employers.  Of course if you want a lot more money you can move to DC.

Where you live, companies pay what is necessary to keep your job competently filled.  That is all.  A few companies demand greater results and pay more. Your salary is really dependent on the cost to replace you with someone who is competent.

So how do I get more money?

Get so much better than competent that you can’t be replaced at your current salary.  Raise the benchmark performance for your job. Get a promotion or at least get recognized as exceptional.  Make sure your boss knows how much you are worth.

Something to do today

Find out how much you should be earning from several sources. Google “salary” and try three different services for the exact same job. Then think about why all three came up with different numbers.


Daydreams, plans and the future

Inventing your next job

Religion, politics, sexuality and job hunting

Why superman would lose his job today in a layoff

Superman would be fired today. As a matter of fact, Superman is the target for layoffs in many jobs. In today’s business environment there are times your job cannot be saved, especially if you are superior.

Peter was a highly skilled and paid IBM mainframe computer systems administrator.  EDS asked him to become a Unix computer expert. He took the courses and started gaining experience.  Nine months later he was laid off.  EDS decided they could hire a kid out of college for half of what they were paying him.  His high level IBM mainframe skills were not needed in Harrisburg.  EDS paid him well for 20 years, they didn’t figure they owed him anything.  Peter was “laid off” for following the career plan his company suggested.

There are 3 basic reasons one person is laid off and their coworker is not.

  1. You made too many mistakes. You were really fired for cause.
  2. You had fewer skills or less seniority.
  3. You were incredibly skilled, but too overpaid for the new role they needed filled.

Most people see number one or two coming.  They consider them fair even if it hurts horribly to lose a job.  Number three is the toughest one.  You are fired for your excellence.  Someone cheaper and less skilled is kept.  It feels wrong, but from a business point of view, it may be essential.  You can’t overpay to get a job done and stay in business.

Never lose sight of what exactly you are doing for your company TODAY.  If technology or cheap labor is turning your job into a commodity, start major retraining today.  As a matter of fact, never stop retraining and improving your skills.  It may seem like a lot of work, but if you are being paid more than $10 an hour, there is already someone else offering to do your job for less.  Make sure a cheap worker doesn’t have the skills to replace you.

Something to do today

If you have survived layoffs in the past, figure out why.  If you have received substantial raises or no raises recently, make sure you are still a keeper.

And as a thought about finding your next job:

There are three kinds of death in this world. There’s heart death, there’s brain death, and there’s being off the network. (Guy Almes)


Later: 20 second interview prime time

Should I trust an HR recruiter?

Should I trust an agency recruiter?

You can learn from spammers, but don’t spam