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Archive for March, 2009

Time to take action

March 29th, 2009 Comments off

It’s time to take some career action

Career Opportunities podcast logoTime to take action
By Douglas E. Welch

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Over the last months I have been concentrating on what you need to be thinking about during the economic downturn. Today, though, I want to talk about what you should also be doing. Sometimes fear can cause us to seize up, like a deer in the headlights, instead of focusing on action. It is time to take action for the sake of you and your career. Whether you are recently laid off or still at work, here are some action items to focus on.

First, just because others are being laid off doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist for you. With less staff and cost-cutting, some companies may be looking to hire more freelancers to fill the holes in their organization. Freelancers carry less of a burden in benefits and bonuses, even though they might require slightly higher salaries. If you have been thinking of striking out on your own, this could be the time to do it. Sure, it might be a bit more frightening to try freelancing now, but if you can find a diverse collection of clients, it is certainly a possibility. Freelancing in a down period also puts you in place to be offered a full time position once the economy recovers, should you wish.

Despite all the layoffs, certain skills are still in great demand. Almost all the job listings that cross my desk go wanting. There is a great demand for programming talent, especially web-based programming. Project management skills also seem to be important in today’s market. You may find that this downturn has made your skills more valuable and you, more in demand at another company. Don’t think you are stuck with your current employer. You might have more opportunities than you think.

One good aspect of this current downturn is that there are more job search resources than ever before. When I was looking for a job 25 years ago, the Sunday edition of the classified ads was my only resource. I would scour through them, pen in hand, circling companies where I might apply. Then I would have to wait until next week to do it all again. Now, the job search world comes right to your computer and provides you easy ability to search, slice and dice job listings. Even more, these tools can be working for you 24/7 using automated and customized search tools, RSS feeds, email subscriptions and more. This is one area in which a job search is light years ahead of what it once was. Take advantage of it.

There are many more opportunities to network and socialize among your fellow job seekers and hiring businesses today, too. These groups, both online and face-to-face allow everyone to share information and advice and help each other find a job. That said, beware socializing only with other job seekers. This might sound harsh, but you want to avoid falling into the “unemployed” or “victim” mindset. There is always the possibility of this environment turning to complaining, anger and depression. If the mood of a particular group starts to turn dark, you need to remove yourself to avoid damaging your own attitude.

Remember, when you are unemployed, it is a perfect time to mix things up a bit. Change your schedule around. Attend evening events you might have avoided in the past due to an early commute. Work your job search when you are at your highest level of productivity. If you are most awake from 3-5 in the afternoon, focus your energy there. Use your mornings to get some exercise or answer email and phone calls. Schedule lunch meetings with friends who are still working so you have an excuse to clean up and get out during the day. Even follow your normal work schedule, if that is what works best for you.

You’ll find that nearly everyone, including me, say to treat your job search as if it is a job in itself. While your search is certainly important, you should also remember to enjoy the fact that, for this short period of time, you have greater control over your time. You are free from silly bureaucratic busy work. You don’t have to punch in/punch out. You don’t have to do things you don’t want to do. In some ways, this time and the control over it could be the most important resources in finding your next job. You have a chance to explore what you want out of a job and a career. You have a chance to think “what if” and put it into practice. Your future is in your hands, for better or worse. Now is the time to explore it.

Finally, remember that you are not looking for “the next job.” You are looking for the next, BEST job possible. Good career builders don’t just take what is given them. They evaluate what is best for them and their careers at each step. Careers do not happen, they are built. From this succession of BEST careers, comes the career you deserve.



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Noted: TedTalk: Richard St. John: Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes

March 25th, 2009 Comments off

I found this short (3 min) Ted Talk to be a nice reminder of what important items can lead to success — however you define it.

About this talk

Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

About Richard St. John

A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes.

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Recently on the Career Opportunities Forums

March 24th, 2009 Comments off
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Jobs Offered (recently from BarCampLA Mailing List)

March 23rd, 2009 Comments off

Jobs Offered (from BarCampLA Mailing List)

  • Product Manager, Content Promotion: 3+ years Technical Product Management experience in an online content environment (flexibility for a Director position for a qualified candidate)
  • Program Manager: 3-5 years Project Management experience within software, Internet or consulting fields
  • Digital Operations Manager: 3+ years Product Marketing related experience in a web publishing or digital advertising supported organization
  • Linux Systems Engineer: 3+ years experience designing, developing and operating resilient high-capacity Web Serving environments. Functional experience in Ajax, Java, PHP, MySQL preferred; CMS sub-system development and support (Alfresco, Liferay) a plus
  • Application Engineer (Tomcat/JBoss): 3+ years experience designing, developing and operating resilient high-capacity Web Application platforms and support MySQL Database environments. Functional experience in Ajax, Java, PHP, MySQL preferred; CMS sub-system development and support (Alfresco, Liferay) a plus
  • Executive Producer: 3+ year digital media background managing and programming content plans for consumer-facing web sites

See complete details at http://tinyurl.com/career-op323

* You can find more job openings at : http://jobs.welchwrite.com
* Join the Career Conversation at http://careercommunity.welchwrite.com

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The gift of unemployment is time

March 20th, 2009 Comments off

Use the time your are given

Career Opportunities podcast logoThe gift of unemployment is time
By Douglas E. Welch

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As you might tell from recent columns, I am doing everything I can to keep our career conversation on an optimistic level. You can’t ignore the problems in today’s economy and workplace, but you can focus your attention where it does the most good. That said, it can be hard to be optimistic from day to day as you face the realities around you. If you aren’t out of work yourself, chances are you know someone who is. The media keep hammering us left and right with this statistic and that report. Instead of focusing on these external issues, though, I find that focusing on the internals — who we are and what we do — seems to generate the biggest results. We can effect our daily lives and our individual selves, even if we can’t fix the bigger problems.

Family

One of the first areas you should focus on is your family. Everyone is probably nervous and out of sorts. Expenditures are being delayed and life is a bit on hold until you get your work situation settled. You may not notice it, but this type of stress gnaws at everyone invisibly until some large blow up occurs. Everyone is trying to put on a brave face and “be strong” but cracks can start to appear. Now, more than ever, you need to do something fun with your family or everyone is likely to break under the strain.

After you spend hours every day looking for a new or better job, turn off the lights, shut the door to your office and do some living. Make meals together. Eat together with your family. Spend time curled up on the couch together watching some fun movie. These types of activities cost you little, but help to remind you that life is not all doom and gloom. You still have a family that supports you and you can still support them in these important ways.

The odd part is that although many of us have more time than ever before to spend with our families, we don’t do it. We find a hundred different activities, job search related and not, to hide among. These are often the same people who professed a desire to spend more time with their families when they were working. Take this one big advantage in being out of work — time — and spend it in the most important way possible. Be productive in your job search, yes, but take solace in your family and your home life. Do something you have been meaning to do for months or years. Make the most of the time that is given you. You will be back in the daily grind before you know it. This time will disappear and you will regret it.

Skills

Another important use of your time is gaining new skills. Once again, you have the time to engage in these pursuits and you need to take advantage of it. Start you own self-study course in a new programming language, project management training, engineering or architecture, whatever you think will be useful, but also interesting to you. Take some college courses, if you can, to expand your skills and knowledge. This isn’t a time to be standing still. If you are not learning new skills, you are falling behind. Where your work was often the challenge that drove you to learn new skills, now you must be self-directed. You must seek out new challenges and new opportunities to learn. Each new skill you acquire is one more positive item you can note on resumes, highlight in interviews and take pride in for yourself.

Thinking

Finally, spend more time thinking…about everything…work, life, hopes, goals, dreams. Day-to-day work often drives out any time to think about such things. Don’t dwell on the bad things, though. Think about what you want, what you need, what you want to accomplish and perhaps even new directions you can pursue. Too many of us are so intent on watching the road ahead of us that we can sometimes forget to ask if that is where we really want to go. Use this time as an opportunity to re-evaluate your work and your life. You many find that you were on the right track all along, but you could also find that you need to take a hard turn at the next crossroads and go a different direction.

Unemployment gives us a great gift — time. Don’t squander it. It will be gone far too quickly. Take the time to enjoy the small joys in life that can get ignored when we are on the career fast track. Use this time to build the career you deserve.



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Archive: A tech in every meeting – Jan 20, 2006

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

Career Opportunities podcast logo

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I am sure you have all experienced it. Some department comes up with a great project and now, only when they are ready to implement it, they come to you to figure out how to make it work. The want to know what computers to use, what software and, by the way, this has to have some custom software written that has never before been created. Once again, you as an IT worker find yourself in the unenviable position of giving these people 100 different reasons why the project is infeasible, exorbitantly expensive and perhaps even counter productive to the goals of the company. In many cases, they will accuse of you of being an obstructionist, a technology dictator and sometimes, even worse. You must be lacking in vision to not see the elegance of their plan. In reality, though, much of this conflict and strife could have been avoided, if the department had included a high-tech worker at the very beginning.

A dividing line

When I worked in the corporate world, I often noticed how high-tech workers were sequestered away from the “creative folks.” Like some form of high-tech janitor, they were expected to be somewhat invisible until called in to clean up some technology mess. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is often what yields the big technology mess in the first place. Instead, high-tech workers need to be integrated into the flow of every project, much like you would with engineers, artists, architects, project managers, etc.

Every project these days, from a new high-rise building to a new consumer product to a new fashion line, has a technological component. There is no escaping this fact. Computers and other technology are an integral part of life unless you are living in the wilderness and even then, you might still be using a computer. Computers control the heating and cooling of buildings, they make your new Tickle Me Herbert doll laugh at your stupid jokes and they control the equipment that manufactures your new dress before it ever shows up on a rack at Target. You ignore technology at your own risk and yet, thousands of projects do just that every day.

There are many reasons for this. Often creative workers believe that including high-tech workers at the start of the project will limit their vision and prevent them from creating something entirely new and different. Others see high-tech workers as “worker bees” who are only there to implement their ideas, not comment on them. Some people put no thought to technology at all, considering something unworthy of thought, as it has nothing to do with the “Art” they are creating.

It must be done

If your company isn’t integrating high-tech workers into their projects today, I can assure you they are suffering many, if not all of the headaches mentioned above. Projects that are rolling along with the creative speed of a freight train suddenly come to a crawl as they hit technological walls that were never imagined. Products that require new manufacturing processes have to wait until tech workers can be brought up to speed on the project and begin to develop solutions to their unique technology problems. The lack of high-tech worker integration takes an essentially parallel project process and suddenly reduces it to a serial process.

Had high-tech workers been involved from the start, they could have been developing the necessary technology as the project grew, instead of being seen as a choke point that brings the project to an utter standstill just at the time when everyone else wants to see it become reality. Organizing projects in this outdated fashion puts unfair pressure on high-tech workers and exposes them to anger and disdain when in reality the process is at fault and not their technological skills. They are simply suffering from an outdated process that ignores the last 20 years of technological advancements.

If you want to make your high-tech department shine, you must find ways to integrate high-tech workers into every project at the earliest possible moment. It is only by providing your insight and knowledge at this point that you can ever hope to provide the best technology solutions for your company. Doing so will raise your profile in your company, expand your influence, challenge your skills and build a better high-tech career.

Question of the week: In what ways can you offer guidance and information to the project groups in your company today?



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Put yourself at the crossroads

March 14th, 2009 Comments off

What to do when you’re laid off

Career Opportunities podcast logoPut yourself at the crossroads
By Douglas E. Welch

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When you are laid off from a long-term position, the most natural thing in the world is to want to withdraw. You want to hide away, nurse your wounds and sometimes, curse those you blame for your situation. While this may be a natural response, it is also a dangerous one. At this time, most of all, you can’t crawl into a cave and disappear. In fact, just the opposite is required. You need to go out, see and be seen, and re-engage with a world you might have been avoiding lately. If you want to find a new or better job you need to put yourself at the crossroads and make sure you talk to everyone who passes by.

When you are in any job for a long period of time, it is easy to disengage with the outside world. You spend your time working and often playing with your co-workers. You might stop going to local meetups, user group meetings, seminars. After all, you are getting all the interaction you need. Why go anywhere else?

As you can see, though, when you are laid off, you are going to be wishing you had kept up with all those activities. Instead, you find yourself without any support structure. You have no one to call on for advice or commiseration. When left adrift like this, no wonder you just want to be alone. Of course, being alone does nothing to find you a new job.

What should you do when you are laid off? Do what people did in the 1920’s and 30’s when they needed a ride somewhere – they found the busiest crossroads around and stuck out their thumb. You wouldn’t look for a ride on some back country road and you don’t look for a new job sitting alone in your room. While you should be spending a certain amount of time developing your resume, searching the help wanted pages (both offline and online) and looking for all the traditional opportunities, you also need to be engaging with your community. You need to get out to meetups, user group meetings, lectures, conferences and anywhere else you might meet someone who needs your skills in their business – which could even be a kid’s birthday party. You have more time to attend these events during a layoff then when you were working and you certainly have more of a need. Don’t see these events as frivolous. They are necessary and I believe you are more likely to gain a new job using these connections than by any other method.

Let’s address another issue of a layoff – embarrassment. All of us feel some level of embarrassment at being out of work, even when it was through no fault of our own. Being out in public means having to admit you are out of work. Don’t mumble. Don’t shuffle your feet. If someone asks what you do, say “I’m looking for a new position doing x, y and z for such and such a company.” There are lots of people out of work these days and your sense of embarrassment is misplaced. Being out of work is a natural part of any career.

When someone asks you what you do, it is your opportunity to step up and make sure they know who you are and what you are seeking. Prepare this. Practice this. Use it at each interaction. Yes, you are at an event to hang out, to learn, to talk, but also meet people who might be able to provide you the next stepping stone in your career. Remember, just like looking for a job on web sites and in the newspaper, there is a purpose to being here.

If you are unemployed, or even more likely these days underemployed, get yourself to the nearest crossroads and stick out your thumb. Get involved in your community, both the community where you live and the community made up of your peers, friends and family. Your next job is out there, but if you hide away from the world, it won’t come looking for you. You have to go out and find it.



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Great Quote on Pessimism

March 12th, 2009 Comments off

I lean toward pessimism myself, but I find much wisdom in this quote heard in a recent Ted Talk podcast.

“Pessimism is a luxury of good times. In difficult times, pessimism is a self-fulfilling, self-inflicted death sentence.”

–Norwegian social scientist Evelin Lindner

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Time to turn off the news and get something done

March 6th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoTime to turn off the news and get something done
By Douglas E. Welch

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We all know its bad out there right now. We already know this. Yet, every day we are beaten over the head with story after story about how everything is “going to hell in a handbasket.” It seems the media, in all its forms, is doing its best to drive us mad with worry. To what end? Ratings? Public Service? Money? For me, the time has come to turn the damn thing off. Constant reiteration of our troubles only deepens our anxiety and drives us closer to the point where we can no longer function for all the doom heaped upon our shoulders. So, turn off the television (or watch something fun), stop reading the daily newspaper and trim your Internet reading of anyone who seems determined to turn this downturn into the end of the world.

Am I telling you to bury your head in the sand? Of course not. What I am telling you to do is to stop dwelling on these problems, many of which are out of our direct control. Instead take all the time spent on the angst, the worry, the panic, the obsessive checking of the Dow Jones and do something productive with it. Do some hard thinking, as I am always asking of you. Take concrete actions towards your goals. Make connections. Talk with your friends. Start a business. Write a book. DO SOMETHING…ELSE!

Much of my current problems with the press and the government come from the fact that they don’t seem to understand one great lesson of the Great Depression. They trot out the Depression for comparison to today’s trials. They make nice charts and graphs showing this correlation or that, but they never say the most important thing about it…we recovered. We made it through the Great Depression. We have made it through countless smaller challenges over the years. Today, though, we are infected with an overwhelming sense of apocalypse. I refuse to buy it and anyone who tries to sell you that message should be looked at for ulterior motives.

Growing up in a small town in the 1970’s you wouldn’t think that I worried much about the economy, but the 1970’s was one of the low points of my life. We had an energy crisis with gas lines, odd/even gas station fill-up schedules, furnaces turned low, even during the most bitterly cold months. I know what it is like to have a parent lose their job as the sole breadwinner in the family with no hope for full time employment for years. I know what it is like to drop from a nice middle class existence into poverty. I know what it is like to look into the cupboards and find nothing there, even though you are still hungry. I know what it is like to realize that you suffered form malnutrition, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Yet, after living through that, I am still optimistic. Why? Because just like its big cousin, the Great Depression, we came out of that 70s economic downturn.

Was it fun? Was it easy? Will we bounce right back in a few months this time? Of course not. It is going to be hard. There will be pain and suffering. Some of us will have our lives damaged more than we might like, but most of us, many of us will come through this a bit older and (hopefully) a bit wiser, but relatively unscathed. We must remind ourselves constantly of the words of an ancient tale about King Solomon, “This too shall pass.” 1

So, today…right now…turn off the news — set aside the newspaper — and take some action to move forward with your life. We all have much more life left to live and this economic downturn is not going to stop the days from passing. Life goes on and it is truly what you make of it. The power to move forward and to thrive comes not from Wall Street, Silicon Valley or Washington DC. It comes from action. It comes from taking one step after another after another. It is time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Time to stop bemoaning our bad luck. Time to stop fearing each new day. It is time to get something done!

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass



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Doug’s Neat Friends: Kim Sudhalter of Urban Legend PR

March 4th, 2009 Comments off

I meet a lot of great people in my work and I always like to highlight them here, when I can.

Kim Sudhalter is the owner/operator of Urban Legend PR here in Los Angeles. She is “good people” as they say and can help you gain the notice you, your business or your non-profit need to survive.


Rather than try to describe her work, I will quote from her web site and let her speak for herself.

If you need PR assistance, please give her a call or drop her an email and let her know you heard about her via my blog.

Urban Legend PR is a full-service public relations, branding and marketing company. Our focus is on promoting businesses that are working to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles and other major cities. Examples include:

  • Historic districts & building developers
  • Boutique restaurants & hotels
  • Community events
  • Non-profits

With a strong background in corporate entertainment and consumer product marketing, we utilize “big business” branding techniques to market any type of company. In addition to providing strong media relations support, we offer strategic counsel, media training, speech writing, event planning, product positioning and destination marketing services.

Link: Urban Legend PR

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