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Hey, Long-Term Jobseekers…Humble Up!

March 5, 2010 3 comments

So how’s that job hunting advice you’re getting from every corner of the world working out for you? There are so many “experts” out there telling you how to find a job it must make you sick.  And I bet most of the advice you’ve been given you already knew…’cause you’re smart, because you’ve looked for jobs before, and because you’re used to being employed.  So check it out: Your challenge finding a job has very little to do with your qualifications and experiences; it most likely has nothing to do with how you’re interviewing or how your resume looks;  and it’s certainly not because you’re not trying; in fact, you’ve been hustling your ass off.  So WTF? Well I think it really just comes down to one thing: The odds are against you, my unemployed friend. And you unfortunately have very little control over those odds.  Sure, you can increase your chances…and you should definitely keep working it.  But there are just too many people out there looking for work right now.  So here’s what I have to say – and I know I’m going to catch some heat for this one:

Suck it up, tighten your chin strap, and pray for some humility.  You may not ever get back the job you once had…the job you really want.  So do something else…anything…just do it, though.    Ever wanted to learn a trade? Become an electrician, become a plumber…they make coin.  Always wanted to travel? Get your truck hauler’s license and jump the big rig.  Do you support a cause, have passion for a not-for-profit? Offer your services to them at a rate that doesn’t even come close to “market.”  Were you a Director? Apply for Senior Manager roles, or even Manager roles.  Worried about degradation?  There is no such thing right now.  If it were me, I’d go work at Starbucks, or Boarders, or Home Depot.  Shit, I’d flip burgers or wash dishes at Denny’s if I had to.  And don’t tell me that’s “easy for you to say because you have a job.” Bullshit!  I’ve washed dishes before and it’s good honest work.  It doesn’t pay diddly, but it pays a hell of a lot more than what ever you’re making sitting at home watching Ellen.

What’s the worst that can happen?  You make some money, you get out the house, you get some benefits.  I’m sure you realize this, but the longer you’re unemployed the more your social and mental health will deteriorate (see recent article, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America”, in The Atlantic).  Your pride is also getting in the way of the economy’s recovery.  Your continued dip into savings doesn’t help anything – any wage you earn, irrespective of how small, stimulates the very fabric of our economic engine.  Hell, you might even learn something about yourself in your new endeavor that’s powerful in ways you never imagined.  But above all else, you will have something to show for your time away – your time “in transition.” You’ll show your determination, your spirit, and your humility.  And those are all great competencies for a prospective job candidate in my book.

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This Week’s Wordle…

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I wish I had more time to read all the HR publications and references out there.  HR Executive Magazine, for instance, lands on my desk once a month and then often just sits there staring at me for another month or so before I find a chance to pick it up.  I thought I’d create a Wordle, from time to time – maybe even make it a feature – of interesting pieces I ultimately have a chance to read.  That way you can get a quick glimpse of what stands out in the article and determine whether you want to read it in its entirety.  I imagine some interesting themes may begin to emerge.  Plus I won’t have to use any additional brainpower to create a thoughtful post.  Not a cop-out…just pragmatism. 

This one is based on an article from HRE on sorting out where to place your bets on the job boards (“Betting on the Boards”).  Hope you enjoy it!

Executive Comp Programs Shouldn’t Make You Blush

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

The Wall Street Journal had a great article this morning entitled “No More Executive Bonuses.”  The author’s argument is that “the problem isn’t that they are poorly designed.  The problem is that they exist.”  Now I’m an “executive” in my company – you can read about what my bonus plan is by picking up a 10-K.  I can assure you that said plan has not been terribly lucrative in the recent past.    As the plan’s primary architect, I have to say it does a fairly good job of matching stakeholder value with annual rewards to executives.  But I can also tell you that even as someone who stands to profit from this plan, I have always struggled a bit with one element in particular.  What it doesn’t encompass is the tremendous amount of work executives – and all employees – put forth even when the business is in the tank (especially when it’s in the tank for reasons beyond the company’s control).  In other words, company success does not always equate to level of effort, sacrifice, and contribution on the workforce’s part.  This particular issue relates to some of the “faulty assumptions” highlighted in the article – fault with which I cannot argue.  These faulty assumptions border on “criminal” when it really gets right down to it.  And it demonstrates an age-old issue in Corporate America…we do things because it’s always been done that way. 

Why not simplify the approach we take to paying our executives…and senior management…and managers?  Why not focus more on total compensation through base pay.  It may mean more variability to base pay from year to year, but no reason company performance and individual contributions can’t be incorporated into base pay planning.  It means the Board of Directors and Management need to have the cojones to hold others accountable for their contributions (or lack thereof) – something they need to get better at any way.  It means we’ll have to attract executives who aren’t necessarily in it for the selfish, ego-boosting reasons – a good thing for sure.  But it also means there’s a bit more equal footing on pay-for-performance.  It’s time that corporate America wake up to the fact that no one person – or exclusive group of persons – is solely responsible for an organization’s success.  I’m not talking about socialism here – I’m just talking about realism.  I’m also not saying executives shouldn’t be paid a lot of money – I’m just saying the moolah should come with sustained results measured by factors other than what can be derived from a set of financial statements. 

The only problem – well, the biggest one – is that the executives themselves usually create these plans (with the help of the Board of Directors and Compensation Committees who are all cut from the same cloth.)  What’s going to change that?  It starts with the selfless initiation of the executives to “get over it.”  They might as well because I’m convinced the time is rapidly approaching when the market realizes their lofty compensation expectations don’t have to be met in order to attract exceptionally gifted leaders.  Then perhaps…just perhaps…HR/Recruiting can get back into the game by a) actually finding and hiring those people and b) designing a pay-for-performance comp plan which is easy to administer, understand, and doesn’t make you blush.