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As many of you know, I’ve been looking for full-time work for about a year now.  The life of a consultant has been pretty good to me, but I need a lot more stability and less stress.  While I have to keep looking for gigs as a grant writer, social media consultant, and web content writer (hints!) to pay the bills, the job search has been my main focus.  Here are a few thoughts and observations.

First of all, I was shocked at how hard it was to find even good listings in early 2008.  I didn’t realize it then, but the recession had indeed already started.  I wish I had say more about my experience directly at the time, but those of you who are longtime readers know I was very concerned about the economy through 2008.  I wish I had more blankly stated what I was seeing in the job market, but my lack of experience left me unable to be sure.

The job market is a lot better now, and there are many more listings.  The problem is that it seems that a lot of managers have “network fatigue” – they aren’t interested in yet another informational interview in their day.  Information about the state of the market is getting harder to find as a result.

Filling the gaps in information are an increasing number of job search firms are offering to help.  I can’t tell yet if this is worth the money or not, and I’d love to hear what other people have to say.  The most common form is a full-service operation that helps with resume, contacts, and everything.  I’ve also heard there are smaller operations that focus on resumes alone or information on companies taken from public records.

What has likely changed the most are attitudes of people involved.  Gaps in a resume, or periods of time without employment in the profession desired, used to be a very bad thing.  It’s common enough now that it’s rarely questioned.  There is a growing acceptance that entire careers are changing, too, meaning that experience in a related field might count a lot more than it used to.

I’ve heard that as small businesses become the driving force in the economy, people with broad general skills such as mine are being recognized as more valuable than those with specialized skills.  Smaller companies need someone who can do whatever needs to be done, which my resume shows very clearly.  I’m a lot more hopeful than I was even a month ago on this score.

The economy is something to worry about, but we need to focus our concern where it matters most.  We measure things like GDP in Dollars, but an economy is really nothing more than the sum total of the talent and effort of people.  Restructuring is all about getting people into jobs that reflect the new economy.  It’s not easy, but it appears to be moving forward.  I’m hopeful.

If anyone needs a strategic thinker who can develop new products, write patents, write successful grants, and/or develop a social marketing plan, let me know – I do need work.  Thanks!

11 thoughts on “Jobs

  1. I find it a little troubling that job search firms are charging money to job seekers to help find them jobs. In the “olden” days when I was first a temp, companies would pay a finder’s fee if they recruited the right person through an agency. Now, I guess with the labor market reversed, recruiters are trying to make money on the other side.

    I do think that, in time, when the economy restructures, we’ll see plenty of value placed on good, liberally educated people that know how to learn, rather than having one skill set in one particular field. It’s the nature of of the “new economy” to be learning and growing all the time, so the person who embraces this and has a positve attitude toward lifelong learning will win.

  2. Would like to hear a bit more about informational interviews. Also it looks like things are looking a little up. It is also good that you can do consulting.

  3. I’ve been pretty negligent about the comments on my posts. Sorry about that – too much going on.

    I’m very concerned that the information needed to make the restructuring happen is being privatized, with people having to pay to get it. This means that social classes are hardening, with much less chance for movement. Seems like a big problem in a nation that’s always prided itself on movement between classes.

    Informational interviews are just plain hard to get. Even a year ago, you could pick up the phone and have a decent chance of meeting someone to get an overview of where they are. Not any more. I have a sense that managers are weary because when I do get a return, it’s been handed off to their assistant. I think it’s only reasonable that once everyone starts to network it becomes a lot less effective, so it’s hardly surprising.

  4. I understand restructuring somewhat. Communications? Yes! Health Care? Yes! Growing green jobs? Yes! New housing types? Yes! Where I don’t quite get it is that so many things stay the same i.e. stratified. My old middle class with good/great benefits 24 year job is still being done by some body 2 years later. The first year by an older unionized worker. The second year by a sub contractor with no benefits. The VPs in charge are still earning 240K + per year. It is almost like the company was run more for the management than for other stakeholders i.e. low mid level employees, creditors and perhaps the general public.

  5. Very rarely was I or anyone asked how the job(s) could be done better. On my own I discovered the best chemical product for what use. The best rare tool for use. Sometimes the best use of limited time and/or material resources. Even now through the internet I discovered/learned a new procedure that may have been helpful. All I can do is pass it along to an old friend.

  6. Well, Dan, you caught me. I don’t talk about exactly what’s involved in restructuring because there are so many things that feed into it. Consider this from a previous post:

    In a report from the Dallas Fed, we can see that while consumption ran about 62% of the economy from 1980 to 1996, that number crept up to 65% by 1999 and then rocketed to 70% by 2003.


    If we consume less, which is to say put more money into durable goods like houses or save/invest it, we’ll have a very different economy. A lot of the service economy will go away, for one thing. What replaces it? The people who make durable goods or find good investments around the world.

    There are other things that can happen to. Shifting health care from an employer cost to something the government pays is a big restructuring. We might go to 32 hour weeks to spread the work around, too.

    It’s easy to imagine that we’ll just have different jobs in a changed economy, doing different things like making more stuff or doing more research. But there’s even more to it than that. Anything that makes us more efficient – defined by whatever new economic situation we’re in now – is part of the puzzle. Energy efficiency is pretty obviously a part of that, but there are many things that are not obvious at all.

    I’m slow to speculate because I don’t have the crystal ball. I’m glad health care and energy on the table because they seem a bit obvious. But everyone changing jobs also looks likely to happen and we’re not talking about that at all. Changing to what? Hell, I don’t even know yet – no one does.

    I’d like to think we all could get together and talk it out and at least have a clue. I sure can’t do it by m’self.

  7. Erik, Thank you very much for your response. I do get it consumer purchasing was 70% of the economy and now government will become a bigger part of the economy than it has in the past. But I am not sure more money will go into housing or other durable goods (i.e. large appliances) maybe just a larger percentage. But then again perhaps energy and basic food (which is basically energy) may increase. I do agree that the hospitality industry will definitely decrease. However services will be a very large part of the economy and taxation of such will probably need to occur.
    I am not optimistic enough and/or have not read one piece that thought the 32 hr workweek is coming. At least not voluntarily. Perhaps households will be down to one income and we’ll have more of a domestic economy around food prep and child care again but honestly I don’t see males excelling at that and it seems now that women for various reasons are often more suited now to the new economy. I agree greater efficiencies

    will happen more in line with japan’s system. One can travel there and see a bit of the future I could see their small type of store coming back.

  8. I used the 32 hour workweek as an off-the-wall idea that might actually be a good idea – but I agree it’s not in the cards.

    There are so many things that could possibly change, and they all interact with each other. If we did have more small retailers and fewer brand names, as Starbuck’s is apparently moving towards (!) there are a zillion implications – including the possibility of a lot more work in wholesaling. That sounds a bit wacky, but it’s possible.

    I still think that more manufacturing has to be in the cards. Maybe not a lot more, but if the dollar comes out of all this weaker, and I think it has to, we have to make more of our own stuff.

    Government growing doesn’t please me one bit, but I think you’re right – it’s a done deal.

  9. Yes I think manufacturing coming back would be a good thing and as you know here and in Japan it is mostly automated/robotic.
    Sometimes I think now that when you refer to restructuring part of me should just substitute the phrase vertical intergration. It has occurred to me that restructuring is a very nebulous phrase. Some caveats about vertical intergration, the chicken and pork industry is vertically intergrated and we have fewer producers (Jefferson’s freemen/yeomen) fewer breeds, different better and not better quality control standards.
    The one thing I do read over and over now is that Americans are saving more. I think that is a very broad statement and better suited to macroeconomics. Of course the baby boomers are getting past their years of obligation (work, mortgage, children, education) but many are unable to save in fact many are dipping into their savings i.e. these furloughs can amount to a 20% reduction in pay. Also more private employers and not even giving 25% matches to 401Ks. So yes Americans as a whole are spending less not more and those with the means to do so are saving more. Case in point I recently soaked, washed and reused the charcoal filters above our stove in the past I replaced them and only cleaned the metal screens. Manufacturing, trucking, retail and government did not get a part of the $20 that was once spent annually.
    Someday come back to this train of thought please. I miss Steve Perry on Minnpost and many of their blogs only attract comments if there is a political name attached to the story.
    Oh and I think rural government will become more vertically intergrated fewer courthouses,fewer extension offices, consolidated school districts. The Catholic church has been vertically intergrated with fewer priests, there are larger and larger parishes and churches and I think this has probably been to their detriment as group cohesion changes.

  10. So I have an idea. One could write a fictional (sci/mystery) book or chapter(s) about restructing the auto industry (or transport). You have who & what died/failed, where (the industrial heartland), the when (2008-2010) how (surplus inventory, credit crunch, poor models) and create a charachter to explain why. One could create a villian if they wanted but I’d probably leave that more to higher ups i.e. presidents, financiers etc. etc.
    You could have the character follow the new trail of false leads i.e. hydrogen power until that suspect dies or another fatality occurs i.e. union death/ ford or japanese get hit hard. then you turn up more promising leads i.e. electric power with good batteries or creating effeciencies in all components body, engine, drive train etc. etc.
    Maybe it would more be an act of pre speculative fiction. I write this in good faith not bad.

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