employer’s market

monopoly_man

Monopolies are bad for free-market economies.  We know this and laws are enacted to prevent them.  Of course they don’t always work (here’s looking at you healthcare), but generally as a society we go to great lengths to protect ourselves from them.  Why? Because companies tend to get greedy and take advantage of the situation.  And no one likes to feel trapped and at the mercy of someone else.

Right now I bet there are thousands of workers out there feeling trapped in their job – being taken advantage of – feeling like their in the throes of a monopoly.  In this case, the monopoly is the employer and what she has is money; money you need.  And with 6-8 people for each available job opening, there is virtually no where else to get it.

More and more, I’m headed towards this situation.  Like many of you, I was forced to take  a pay cut. If anything my responsibilities have increased and I have another year of experience under my belt.  And for a while, I just felt fortunate to still have a job.  But my company has started hiring.  And that’s great news – except that they haven’t re-instituted our pay cuts as they promised.  And I don’t feel any more secure in my job.

The fact of the matter is that it’s still an employer’s market.  If I want to stir the pot, I do it at my own peril.  Because there is a line outside waiting to gobble up my seat.  And my employers know this.  There’s no competition for my services.  I’ve been de-leveraged.

While maybe it’s the noble thing to fall on my sword – to demand what I feel is right, I’m personally not ready for that. But what I will do-what we all can do-is fully prepare ourselves for when the job market turns bullish.  Because that time will come and if you time it right you’ll be able to use the market momentum to catapult into a better situation.

1.  Get your resume ready. I mean, have it ready to print/copy at a moments notice.

2.  Get your portfolio ready. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but it does apply to me as an architect.

3.  Build a personal website. Doesn’t have to be fancy or cost you anything,  just something minimal that lets your personality bleed through a bit.  If someone Google’s you, this is what you what them to find.

4.  Make some personal business cards. You know the ones you print at home.  These will have basic contact info.  Keep them on you at all times.

5. Make a short list of companies you’d want to work for. Do the research now, and get all the contact information together. These will be the very first people you contact.

6. Keep an eye on employment and your industry. You should know what indicators should trigger an alarm in your head that the time is right.

Good luck.

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apple

As a business, Apple, Inc. amazes me.  Not that I’m the first or anything.  But learning that after Q3 this year Apple has sold a record number of iPhones and iPods and has $37 Billion dollars of cash in the bank has left me wondering:  How could one company be so successful in an economic era that is compared to the Great Depression?  People are spending hundreds of dollars on premium gadgets – and in a time that most of us should be sharpening our budget pencils.  I’d be correct to say we have an addiction.  But, really, what it comes down to is the value of being the leader of the pack.  It’s recession proof and a good spot to be in.

Would the real economy, please stand up

This weekend I read no less than two articles spelling doom and gloom for the economy.  I also read no less than two articles, complete with graphs and indexes, pronouncing the recession is over, all is well, and I can go back to sleeping soundly at night.  And these are just a small sample of opposing economic viewpoints that I’ve read over the past weeks, months.  And I’m tired of being nauseous from the emotional roller coaster.

Can we please stop the dichotomy?  Are we on the road to recovery, or is this upturn a false front for another free-fall?

I’m no savvy financier (despite my office location on Wall St.) and yes, I do know the stock market has rebounded.  I know that unemployment lags – I’ve read all the jargon. But, i’m just an average Joe with a savings account and an IRA, who feels like any day could be his day to have to make the long wait in the unemployment registration line.

So, for the sake for all of us strung along, would the real economy, please stand up?

Information management

I don’t have a photographic memory. And as I spend hours a day of web time pouring through feeds and news sites and all the great links they take me to, I realize that I need a system for processing, filing, and tagging information I want to easily access in the future. What’s the best way to filter and organize all the information I’m bombarded with on a daily basis? What’s the separation of personal and professional learning?

I’ll think have more on this later.

digital music

Last night I had an “ah-ha” moment with digital music.  In a span of a few minutes, I purchased from Lala The Killers new album(which I highly recommend), watched it automatically download to my computer, inject itself into my iTunes, and then with a touch of a button sync into my iphone.  With just two button clicks my purchased music existed in three different locations: my Lala account (which I can access anywhere I get internet), my computer, and my iphone.  Ah, what a great time we live in.

To be fair, other online music services(and I have used many) have such automated functions – Emusic and Amazon to name two popular sites – but last night I had LaLa, iTunes, and my music folder open and stretched between two screens while watching all the action happen in real time and I literally let out a “Wow”.  Plus, the fact that Lala keeps the music in the cloud simply makes the process seem more productive.  

We really have come a long way since the “back-of-alley” Napster days.

I’ll miss the vodka shots

I live in Bay Ridge, a small, Brooklyn neighborhood famously known for its’ mob history and the filming of Saturday Night Fever.

I walk around my neighborhood a good bit – especially the 20 or so blocks between my girlfriends’ apartment and mine. What concerns me recently is the rising number of businesses closing shop. But not only that, the vacated space remains just that. I can think of some that have been empty for 2-3 years now. And no, this isn’t just the natural attrition and turn over that seems to accompany New York. This definitly feels economically driven. Now, don’t get me wrong – I walk by dozens of restaurants and bars that seem perpetually empty, so it’s not as if I’m all that surprised. I’m just a concerned resident who wants to remain feeling safe during those late night duane reed runs. But, hey, some good news is that Century 21 is expanding. That is a good thing, right?

To complicate my feelings, a local barber shop that I went to for 3 years up and vanished. I’ll miss the complimentary vodka shots during the holidays. But it’s all good. I now get to go to some fancy place near my work and pay $25 a cut. Yay for that.

Professional

Ok, so this is a semi-rant.

Oftentimes, when it comes to my job, I’m very critical of myself. Some of it is justified; some of it is not. One area I’m particularly sensitive to is professionalism. How I interact and communicate with clients, bosses, and coworkers is important to me.

But today I realized that even full-fledged business men don’t always get it right.

Our client wrote a beligerent email, going over the PM’s head and straight for the partners. Beyond the fact that it was pure posturing to avoid paying us, and that its content lacked any true substance, it was damn rude and unprofessional. The email lacked a subject and salutation and wasn’t formatted in a way that expressed the seriousness it tried to convey – not even close. In fact, I would think that an email that has the audacity to call you incompetent wouldn’t be an email at all. In the end we were disrespected but they come out looking like the crocks they are.