Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

Entrepreneurship and Ruling the World

Posted by iammarchhare on 4 September 2009

I came across Kate Phillips article on “Why Entrepreneurs Rule the World”, and I wanted to share it with you in parting.  It’s a little long (but not any longer than some of mine 🙂 ), but well worth a read.  An excerpt:

Once upon a time… the world was full of small business people and independent entrepreneurs. Every town had a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker.  A blacksmith, a barber, and a farmer (or two).  A shepherd, a weaver, and a preacher.  There were no factories, no corporations, and… no employees.

One thing is clear to me: no matter what rung of the ladder you are on, jobs are going out of style.  Fast.

For years now, the trend has been away from hiring employees and towards hiring independent contractors.  Why?  Huge savings in benefits, also huge savings in waste.  Rather than paying for people’s time, contracts allow employers to pay for the *result* they want.  Deliver this, we’ll pay you “X.”

We’ve put our faith and trust in the wrong places, counting on an employer or a company to sustain us, when we should have been developing our own value in the market place.  We can no longer count on jobs to sustain us, rescue us, or bail us out.  Employers are doing their best to keep their own head above water, do not count on them to rescue you.

In case you didn’t get the memo: Jobs are Dead.

…Two years ago I attended an orientation at my daughter’s high school.  One teacher spoke about “how we’re going to help your children prepare for the job market.”  They would learn to write resumes and cover letters, fill out applications and interview for jobs.

I inquired afterwards what was being done to prepare kids for a world in which jobs are going away.  What do the kids learn about businesses?  About self-employment options?  Is there a class teaching entrepreneurial skills?  Could I volunteer in such a class?

You could well imagine the response from the teachers.  Of course, no one has trained them to think this way either.  We’ve all been brainwashed into believing that there is a job “out there”.  There are opportunities “out there”.  However, it is up to each of us to take ahold of our destinies and our lives and move on in a new economy.

It is not an economy of our own making.  However, opportunities rarely are of one’s own making.  Rather, opportunities present themselves and we either jump on them or let them pass on by.

Me?  I’m moving!

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Posted in Consulting, Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

Posted by iammarchhare on 20 August 2009

CareerBuilder on MSN published “You Said What?!”, which lists 43 things that real job applicants have said in a job interview.  Some of them just make you scratch your head, but others are real jaw droppers.

I guess I now know why there are professional agencies out there to coach people.

You may be a techie, but don’t underestimate the value of people skills.

Posted in Employment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on 43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

Making Extra Cash

Posted by iammarchhare on 18 August 2009

TechRepublic posted “10 ways techs can make extra cash” a while back.  There are some good ideas there, and even gives you sites that cater to specific categories.  Some of these can even help drive people to their own business.

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Should It Be Hard?

Posted by iammarchhare on 29 June 2009

From the “Don’t Make It Hard” files: The right way and the wrong way to make things hard.

We should clarify the phrase “don’t make it hard”.  Some things are meant to be hard.  It is a tool.  It is used  to better our own (personal or corporate) positions.  For example, you want it to be hard for your competitor.  You want to create what Seth Godin calls “The Dip” for those who would otherwise take your market share.  You want it to be hard enough for candidates who apply for a job that the bottom feeders are weeded out.

May I use an analogy?  Cement is a good all purpose agent to build structures.  Cement, or concrete if you prefer, makes excellent sidewalks and driveways under the proper conditions (I’ll spare the long story about my own driveway).  However, it can also make a horrendous mess if poured incorrectly.  It also isn’t good for using a chisel on in order to chisel out a statue, similar to marble.

Both cement and marble are hard.  However, they have different purposes.

There is a small company looking for staff, but they have had a vacant position for some time now.  That may be hard to believe in this economy.  It isn’t because of cost necessarily.  They are just looking for a good quality fit.

Are they being too picky?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Time will tell.  Most likely, they will find that quality person and fill the spot.

Barriers to entrance is one way that making it hard can be good.  You want the best for your investment, after all.

Of course, that type of barrier depends upon knowing what you want.  One way you can make things hard is to have an “Ambiguous Scope”.  A common cause of an ambiguous scope is the client doesn’t know what they want.

Contrast the example of the small company above with another company looking for a contractor to fill a need for a short-term task.  Initially, it seems they know what they want.  The funny part is that it should be a rather straight-forward little project.  Emotions and politics have clouded their judgment.  They will probably pay too much for too little because what they are asking for doesn’t match their real concerns.  As you dig into it, you begin to realize that the contract may not be in your best interest to pursue.  Red flags are being thrown, flares are going off, and your gut tells you it’s not a good idea.

In other words, you begin to realize that they are making it hard – on themselves.  Without going into specifics, they cannot see the forest for the trees, so they are lost in the forest even though there is a pathway in sight.

There is a time to make it hard – for your competitor, for prospective long-term relationships (yes, there are hopefully barriers to entry for marriage as well as employment) and even for criminals.  However, when you make it hard for yourself, those in a long-term relationship with you (which presumably includes employers) or customers, then you are adding unneeded stress to everyone around you and potentially harming those relationships.

Posted in Business Strategy, Consulting, Requirements, Risk Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Should It Be Hard?

The 5 Economic Storms

Posted by iammarchhare on 5 June 2009

It seems like the recent economic news is a continual rollercoaster ride!  Rosy predictions bring up hopes, which are dashed by some report or other.  What is the truth?

Well, if you believe as I do that a lot of the media grabs on to small things and hypes it, you will be on the lookout for someone who seems to have a clearer picture of what is really going on.  Maybe you will agree with them or not, but at least it is something more concrete than looking at a percentage of a percentage point difference and saying the recession is over.

Enter Martin D. Weiss, PhD, who wrote an article posted 11 May 2009 on the Money and Markets web site.  He lists “Five Economic Storms Raging NOW!”.  You know most of them, such as the one about big banks’ risk of failure, but do you know how bad it really is?  Let’s take the #1 and my favorite: Plunging Jobs:

Storm #1.
Plunging Jobs

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that job losses were running at a slightly slower pace than in the first quarter. So Wall Street cheered.

But it’s a joke, and the 539,000 additional Americans out of work aren’t laughing.

Nor are the 23 million people — 15.8 percent of the work force — who are officially unemployed … are struggling with lower paying part-time jobs … or have given up looking for work entirely.

Look. In December 2007, there were 138.1 million jobs in America. Now, there are only 132.4 million.

So even if you accept the government’s tally of the narrowest unemployment measure, 5.7 million jobs have been lost.

Plot those figures on a chart and the picture is absolutely unambiguous: Jobs in America are collapsing. Right here and now!

Where’s that “slightly slower pace of collapse” they’re raving about? You’d need a microscope to see it.

Check out the other 4 economic storms at the Money and Market site.

Frankly, the US is spending a lot of money for very little result.  Worse, we are leaving a debt to our grandchildren’s children.

Contrast this with what the Bible says a “good man” or righteous person does, which is leave an inheritance that will last to his children’s children (Pr 13:22)!

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The 5 Economic Storms

What I Like About Being an IT PM

Posted by iammarchhare on 22 May 2009

The LinkedIn group Project Management Institute Group had a general news discussion about “Why do you like Project Management?”  That got me thinking.  Specifically, why do I like being an IT project manager?

BTW, if you aren’t a member of LinkedIn, consider this an unofficial unauthorized plug.  They have great pointers to other information and sometimes some lively discussions.  There are more groups than just the PMI one, but obviously that is where I hang out most often.

Anyhow, there are some core items that I enjoy that aren’t necessarily tied to PM.  I like giving customers what they need, for example.  Now, I’m not necessarily into giving them everything they want, but I do want to make sure what they get is what they need to do their job.  It needs to make their life easier, not harder and not more frustrating.  I want to give them the best service for the price.

Obviously, I could do the above by being a developer, a desktop specialist or a system engineer.  However, one thing that being a PM affords is the ability to learn more about both technology and the organization.  Since project management cuts across organizational lines, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the folks in finance, marketing and other areas that I normally would not have the opportunity to even meet.  Being a PM gives me exposure to technologies that likewise I would not have the opportunity to learn about.  If I was still in either desktop/LAN support or development, then I would probably not get the same amount of exposure to either other departments of an organization or different technologies.

What do you like about being an IT PM?

Posted in Employment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on What I Like About Being an IT PM

Consulting Maxims

Posted by iammarchhare on 21 May 2009

If you are reading this, then it is likely I’m either still on the road or recovering from the road trip.  However, this gives me an opportunity to point you to some backlogged bookmarks I’ve built up.

Many PMs are consultants, so TechRepublic’s article on “18 maxims of successful IT consulting” might be of interest to you.

And, if you are not a consultant … well, rethink that, will you?  As I’ve quoted before, we are all consultants in this economy.  Companies can let you go at any time with no reason.

Posted in Consulting, Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Consulting Maxims

IT Jobs – Some Things to Think About

Posted by iammarchhare on 20 May 2009

I’m still on the road, but if you are laid off, thinking you might be laid off or just generally uneasy, you might want to read this article.  Technology Ladder posted an article by Kevin Fogarty that “Tech Employment [is] Down, Not Out”.

Fogarty points out that medical IT jobs. VOIP and IT security jobs are growing sectors.

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on IT Jobs – Some Things to Think About

Creative Job Seeking

Posted by iammarchhare on 6 April 2009

Sometimes it isn’t the technology that gives you the edge

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I read an article this weekend on Yahoo! Finance about how some “Jobless make TV ads pitching themselves for work“.  The articles starts out focusing on Jayna Dinsmore who had sent resumes, networked and blogged, but still finds herself unemployed after 5 months.  No one has been hired as of yet with this experimental TV show, but it is still new.

“Exposure” is what Dinsmore was looking for.  Executive producer Ken Masson calls it “cutting edge”, but it isn’t the technology that is cutting edge.  No, it is the use of the technology that is cutting edge.

Targeted marketing, whether it be a product you are trying to sell or a job you are trying to land, won’t be replaced any time soon.  Technology has made it much more possible to target specific groups of people with specific interests.  Sometimes, individuals can be targeted because of past browser history, past purchases, etc.  In the end, it is a much more effective means of marketing.

However, there may be times you need the shotgun approach rather a more narrow aim at a target.

Sometimes, good ideas are fresh not because of the technology but because of a new twist on what’s already there.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.  Just find a new tire for the wheel you have.

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Creative Job Seeking

Don’t Try to Get a Job

Posted by iammarchhare on 2 April 2009

I got a pointer that Seth Godin was guest posting on another blog, so it was with considerable interest that I read his post on the What Would Day Say blog.  He argues don’t try to get a job.

There are a few philosophical reasons, of course, but one that really hits home is that the opportunity costs are the lowest they will ever be.

You know, it’s funny because just yesterday before reading it, I was talking to someone who started their own business.  He said he started when the economy wasn’t so hot either, although it certainly wasn’t at bad as it is now.  What he found is that you start out stronger because you have solid coworkers and solid clients.  If he had started prior to the Dot Com Bubble, then he easily could have been one of those who had the carpet yanked out from under them.

IT project managers are usually an independent lot anyhow.  We’ve had to endure higher executives who didn’t understand what we did or what value we added.  We’ve had to run against the stream occasionally when a team went dysfunctional and developed the herd mentality while running full speed towards the cliff.  We’ve been unpopular when we said, “You can have it quickly, or you can have it work.  Which do you want?”  Let’s face it: You cannot be a successful PM and be a pushover.

Many PMs are contractors already, I’ve noticed.  It probably has a lot to do with layoffs, either to Dot Com-type situations, outsourcing or just plain businesses going belly-up.  Perhaps it is easier to hang up a contractor shingle than deal with the full-time routine.

Someone not long ago stated something very wise, I thought.  “No job is stable.  We are employed at the whim of our employer, and they can let us go at any time for any reason.  Let’s face it, we are all contractors.  The days of doing 20 years somewhere and getting a gold watch is long gone.”

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »