Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Final Day at my first Dotcom

The Final Day of TV onthe Web

I had been the person who had to fire the first half of the company, so when the time came for the ax to fall on the rest of us, I was ready. It had become very clear that The Powers That Be never intended this little dotcom to survive (for example, the General Manager asked me to prove that we needed marketing in order to achieve sales. I responded that we had fired the Marketing staff in October and now it was December and we had no sales - wasn't that proof?)

With no prospect of success, I had decided to expend all my efforts on training the young people who worked for me. The day before we were all to be terminated, I got the word.

I called my people together and said, "OK, we're all going to be fired but we do have a job to do tonight. I'm going to be there and I hope that all of you will be there as well.
Let's go out proud and show these idiots that this company could have worked."

In fact, not only did the entire staff show up, so did several people who had been let go weeks before. We pulled off our final job - a webcast from a local bar -

I bought drinks for everyone, toasted to the best damn crew anywhere and then two trolls from New York collected all the electronic gear and took it away.

I was still out of work but this time it felt good.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tech-related jobs that didn't exist (officially, at least) 15 years ago | Pew Research Center

August 6, 2014

Reshaping the workplace: Tech-related jobs that didn’t exist (officially, at least) 15 years ago

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
Comcast worker stands among the cables and routers at the company’s
distribution center in Pompano Beach, Fla., from which regional video,
high speed data and voice are piped out to customers. (Photo by Joe
Raedle/Getty Images)

Technological innovation has been changing the jobs people do, and the way they do them, at least since the first spinning jennies went
into service in England’s textile industry in the 1760s. And for about
as long, people have sought to forecast what new technologies might mean
for the world of work — predictions that tend to be either utopian
(2-hour workdays!) or dystopian (massive unemployment).

A new Pew Research Center report joins
that tradition, gathering the opinions of nearly 1,900 experts on how
advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will affect employment
in the future. And again, opinions were divided, with about half saying
robots and digital agents would leave significant numbers of workers —
white and blue collar — idle by 2025, and the other half saying
those technologies would lead to more new jobs than they displace. (Nor
is this issue confined to the U.S.: The Belgian think tank Bruegel recently estimated
how many current jobs in the 28 EU countries were vulnerable
to computerization; the rates ranged from 47% in Sweden and the U.K. to
62% in Romania.) 

Much as we try, no one can see into the future. But we can look to
the recent past to get a sense for how technological change already has
reshaped the U.S. workforce — creating new job categories while others
fade away.

These changes can be tracked using data from the Occupational Employment Statistics
program, a federal-state project that regularly surveys business
establishments to generate employment and wage estimates for some 800
different occupations. The OES program periodically revises its
occupational classification scheme — adding some occupations, dropping
some and changing the definitions of others. While that can make
year-over-year comparisons tricky, the changes themselves can
illustrate emerging and declining job categories.

Tech-related jobs that didn't exist (officially, at least) 15 years ago | Pew Research Center:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Improve Your Resume with This Simple Formula Recommended by Google

Recruiters don't look at your resume for more than a few precious seconds,
but that doesn't mean you shouldn't still carefully craft your resume
to make sure you've got the best chances of landing a job. Here's a
simple formula from Google's HR chief that'll help you put the best
information on your resume.

Improve Your Resume with This Simple Formula Recommended by Google

Sunday, March 23, 2014

15. Nursing - What Are the Highest Paying College Majors? | Fact University

It's nice to know that I was never able to enter the top 10 college majors. I mean, you have to like, add up numbers and things.

15. Nursing - What Are the Highest Paying College Majors? | Fact University: What Are the Highest Paying College Majors?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

David Dennis Interviews Terry Irving

So, You’d Like a Job, Then?

Britain's David Dennis interviews American Terry Irving on 
How to Survive Unemployment

Terry Irving was once a successful American. Through fate, recession and bad breaks, he became unemployed. He managed to survive unemployment, however, and kept putting one foot in front of the other as he put his kids through college, paid his mortgage and continued to live his own life to the max. 

He wrote a great book, filled with practical advice, called The Unemployed Guy’s Guide to Unemployment. In it, he explains where and how to look for work in this dismal economy; what works and what doesn’t; and very practical advice about how to manage with less while you strive for more. Just to be practical, he published it under a pseudonym - Mike Mauss - which he created by combining the names of his cat and his dog. Now, he's decided to come clean.

I am the author of Disregarded: The True Story of the Failure of the UK’s Work Programme about the unemployment situation in Britain. I wanted to interview Terry about his American-centric book and see if he had any tips that would help the British unemployed.

Q) Hi, Terry. I wanted to meet you to talk about your new book: The Unemployed Guy’s Guide to Unemployment. Can you tell me why you wrote this book?

A) That's easy. I became unemployed. For the fifth time in my career, I ended up out of work.  I was hoping that a book like this would help others deal with the shock of getting fired, the stress of living without money, and the difficulty of finding a new job. That, and I thought I could make a bit of change with the book, too.

A new study just came out from Pew that said that one out of four people in the US has been out of work at some point in the past four years and over half know of a family member or close friend who's been unemployed. There are too many people out there who need solid advice and need it now.

Q) In England, we currently have an epidemic of unemployment. I, myself, wrote the inside story of unemployment centres here in the UK. The training system is based around the concept of free labour. Would you have taken part in "shelf stocking" schemes for your benefits?

A) Probably not. I wrote in the book that working at minimum wage is wonderful from an "I will dig ditches to support my family" point of view, but it doesn't really work. A middle class family cannot survive on minimum wage in the US – hell, a poor family can't survive on the minimum wage these days. So every day spent working for less than your "Nut" (the basic amount you need to make to keep your family going) is a day wasted. You don’t have time to look for work that actually pays the mortgage and you're just falling behind a bit less quickly.

Q) The problem with that method is pretty clear. So, how do you support your family whilst you search for work?

A) Well, I didn't direct my book at the real poor. That's a very different life and a very different set of realities. I was looking at the middle-class family where you have a mortgage, school, car loans, credit rating, maybe private schools, etc. Unemployment insurance is pretty irrelevant in this case - it would take five weeks of UI to pay four weeks of mortgage ALONE. And that's without the government taking taxes out, which they do. I basically assume that a middle-class family can get by on savings, credit cards, home equity loans and freelance work.

Q) I would say that, in fact, your book is a guide for those who don't "really" need a job. It's for those who have independent means and just want to bleat about their unemployment?

A) No. David, no one in the US middle class can survive without a job and most families have less than four or five months’ worth of savings. But they still become unemployed so the question is what do you do when that happens? These people aren't independently wealthy. They have been squeezed for decades by the very rich - the 1%. If they get fired, it's a race between getting a new job that pays enough to keep going and the day that all their money runs out. I just give people the tricks to keep going.

Q) Do you feel the "middle class" is neglected, abused? Unable to sustain themselves from welfare and unable to continue their lives until they get back into unemployment? Almost in a "void"?

A) Very well put, David. It used to be that the middle class had jobs that lasted for life. They had houses at the shore and they took vacations every year. Now, they are paying insane costs for their kids' college, getting hammered by the collapse of the housing market and spending more and more on simply getting by. That's all fine if you're working at the sort of job you've been educated and trained for -- a white collar job. However, knock a leg out from under that structure and it can all go to pieces.

Even the lower class (and no one in America will ever admit that they are in the lower class) can't get by on welfare. Bill Clinton eliminated that back in the ‘90s. It was probably a good thing, as it was insanely destructive to the families caught in it. People took all their time to fulfil the bureaucratic demands of welfare, leaving them no time to get off welfare. It was very similar to the situation in Britain-- attend work sessions and classes all the time and have no real time to find the all-important job you need in order to escape.

Q) Welfare was destructive? I would have thought the destruction of industry was more apt to the description of “destructive”.

A)  Nope. People are pretty good at finding new jobs--the industrial sector has basically either moved up to the lower-white collar jobs or into service jobs. People who need to make $30 an hour to get by can't compete in a global economy by making shoes. If you go to the places in the Rust Belt where the big factories closed, you'll find that new businesses, mostly in information technology and services, have popped up.

The industries that are left are producing things that simply cannot be produced in a low-tech society. Things like specialty steel, the first set of computer chips, etc. No, the real squeeze on the middle class has been the insane lowering of taxes on the very rich. That, David, is where the real problems lie.

Q) Let us say, for example, the middle class guy gets fired-- he needs a job-- he's offered a job making computer chips-- does he take it? Or does he turn it down? He has 4 kids, a mortgage, not a quid to his name-- credit cards maxed out-- what does he do?

A) Well, he is going to take a big step back, that's almost certain. The most important thing he must know is that he can't take a job that won't cover the 'nut'. You have to keep looking until you find something that will pay enough to get you by. People say to me, “We can't do that! How do we survive?” and I always say the same thing in reply. I had two kids, two mortgages, credit cards maxed out and I survived for years. You just have to hustle. The trick is to do it without becoming depressed or breaking up the family. I put two kids through good universities, have a 730 Credit Score and a house with a mortgage-- I survived and so can you!

Q) Would you say the family unit becomes more important when you are unemployed?

A) Of course. It's important because it's important. That's where real life is-- not at work--
 and because you'll get by a lot easier with someone helping you than on your own. I'm not saying don't go to work at crappy jobs. You get whatever you can when you can, but your primary focus has to be on getting a decently-paying job with benefits (medical costs are the real killer here).

Q) Medical costs? Of course, those aren't taken care of under the US system of unemployment, correct?

A) No. The main causes of bankruptcy in the US are medical bills and the mortgage. I thought it was wonderful that the Mortgage Bankers Association walked away from its mortgage on a building in Washington, DC; but they tell all the rest of us how paying our mortgage is a "moral duty". It's getting a bit better now, but as a responsible family member, you have to seriously consider whether paying a medical bill is worth destroying your life.

Q) I take it Michael Moore’s portrayal of families being thrown out onto the streets, evicted, families destroyed is, in all reality, the truth?

A) Michael Moore is a lying bastard who uses TV techniques to twist the truth. It's bad, but there aren't families on the streets. Everyone works out something-- kids move in with their parents, people take in boarders, whatever. There's always that opportunity to move to somewhere cheaper. My favorite solution, however, is something called “getting a job” and that is why I wrote The Unemployed Guy’s Guide to Unemployment.

Q) That's the primary focus of your book-- getting back into employment. Correct?

A) I break the book down into three parts. Dealing with the shock of being fired; looking for work; and getting by without enough money. Most people look for work in the wrong way. They answer job ads and talk to HR people and fiddle with their resumes. I have been at the receiving end of those CV/ resume emails and I can tell you that all of that is completely useless. The only way to get a decent job is to network with everyone you've ever met. Someone, somewhere will see how your skills fit their needs. It's unreal over here. I've seen Harvard grad students applying for internships. This is how bad it is in the States-- Al Jazeera just released a list of vacancies and they had 8000 applications in the first three days.

Q)  I was told this by an acquaintance of mine-- he networks heavily to get business. Is that the kind of thing you would suggest?

A) Networking is everything!  People have an idea that the world has changed, that it's all depersonalized. It's not. It's all about who you know, who you've helped in the past and who knows you do good work. It's funny because the only type of people who have absolutely no problem with networking are ... rich people. They will use Daddy's friends to get a job in a split second.

Q) Many people just haven't got the networking skills to do that, Terry. How can people network if they have no idea how to network?

A) How do you know you can't? I doubt you've really tried. Have you contacted the people you went to school with? How about co-workers from previous jobs? Neighbors? People at your church? Have you asked people for lists of others to contact?

Q) Some people swear by cold emailing. Does that work?

A) No. That's just annoying. But if you get an email that says, "Joe X suggested I contact you about possibilities” no one responds badly to that. Usually, they try to think of a job or give some more suggestions of people to contact. Somewhere along the line, someone says, "Hey, that kid would be perfect for this." There you go -- you have found your “in”.

Q) This is a question that might make you cringe. You have been in some high level jobs. How many people have you hired through cold emails?

A) Well, including interns that only worked for me for a week or less, about ten. Sadly, I'm not usually in a hiring position. However, I've found jobs or contacts for others which developed into jobs for probably hundreds.

Q) Mike..sorry, Terry, you've read my book Disregarded. What did you think about the situation in the UK?

A) It seemed a bit dismal and almost Dickensian. My advice for young people who can't find a real job is to LEAVE. If you don't have any debts, you don't have kids, you don't have a house, I would say travel the world, intern everywhere, sleep at friends’ houses and have some fun. You don't need the grief, so why take it? If you can't find something you love to do, then do the other things that you'll never get a chance to do again - like leave home and be on your own.

I described in The Unemployed Guy's Guide to Unemployment walking into Las Vegas with $1.50 in my pocket and getting a job, a place to crash and a meal—all in thirty minutes.  

Q) Where is your book on sale, Mike...err Terry?

A) Almost anywhere electronic – Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, iTunes. Also, if you are unemployed or think you're about to get fired and feel you really can't afford it (honor system) write me at terry.irving@gmail.com and I'll send you a coupon for a free copy.

Q) Thanks for your time, Terry. I hope the book is a success for you!

A) Thank you, David! I'm so glad to see the success your book has garnered!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Getting Fired That First Time

“We’re going to have to let you go.”

In 25 years, I had never failed. I hadn’t ever missed air. I had aced every assignment I’d been given, been promoted and given more money and pats on the back. I mean, I’d earned them. Presidential campaigns, the Berlin Wall, Apartheid in South Africa, Tienanmen Square - I’d asked to do new things and harder things and managed to accomplish them.

OK, some of them weren’t perfect at first but I learned fast and would work until I dropped. The point is that I’d never failed. There had never been that stark realization of failure, the feeling that you can’t breathe, that your neck has locked and you can’t figure out what to do with your hands, your eyes. Listening to the echo in your head just to be sure you haven’t made a mistake - that you didn’t misinterpret what your boss just said.

But you didn’t.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How I Talk Myself Down: An Unemployment Checklist - The Cat Lady Sings

How I Talk Myself Down: An Unemployment Checklist

Ovid Quote
Ovid is my homeboy.
There comes a time in every job search when you start awakening with a
start in the middle of the night, covered in a sheen of sweat and vague
recollections of a nightmare about working at Starbucks and maybe at
some point you were bottle-feeding a kitten that morphs into a baby
piglet. This time usually coincides with the last few weeks of your
unemployment checks, right around the time you’re cataloguing every
mistake you made looking for freelance work during the past seven months
and my God, why didn’t you apply for all the jobs, just to be safe?

Gentle hints from loved ones about maybe getting a full-time job and
freelancing on the side will also start making you reach for the Xanax
you don’t take because you’re an alcoholic and as such have forfeited
every privilege involving anxiety relief except for yoga, and let’s face
it, yoga is a bunch of bullshit when you’re contemplating admitting
you’re a failure because you’re nothing if not dramatic when you’re
panicking. Also, you’re conveniently sick, so physical activity of any
kind is strictly out of the question.

Never fear, reader, because I have a fail-safe plan for talking
yourself down from the recurrent thoughts of how to instigate your own
death and make it look like an accident.

Take twenty deep breaths and slow exhales. For reals. Then, remember these truths:
  • You are not going to die from unemployment
  • There are worse things than working as a barista at 29 31
  • You’re not in rehab
  • You’re also not drunk, so go you!
For the Rest click here How I Talk Myself Down: An Unemployment Checklist - The Cat Lady Sings

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to Begin Your Job Search

Treat a job search pretty much as you would a regular job.
  • Have a specific location,
  • Keep regular hours,
  • Set reasonable goals for each day (5 solid phone calls, touching base with 3 contacts, making dates for breakfast or coffee for two days next week, whatever).
  • Go to work each day and work until you’ve hit your goals.
  • When you’ve hit your goals or when it’s quitting time - quit.

There are two reasons for this - it’s a pretty effective way to find a job and it reassures your family that the world isn’t going to end. When your spouse and your kids see you approaching this seriously but not like a crazed maniac, it’s going to make them feel a little better.
It’s also going to calm your nerves. Yes, you may well be desperate and the wolf may be howling at the door (he’s been there so often at my house, we invite him in for dinner) but dwelling on it is not going to help. You need to think clearly, prepare well and - basically - act and sound like you don’t even need a job.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why Personal Contact is the ONLY way to find a job

Personal Contact

Let's take a quick look at why personal contact is so important.

• People have been using their personal, familial, and friendship networks to find good employees for several thousand years. Résumés and cover letters have been around for, what-a hundred years?

• Yes, personal networking has meant discrimination in the past and still does today and that is a Bad Thing. However, it's not likely to go away and the answer to change is increased networking by women and minorities and regulation to ensure at least some fairness in the hiring process. One of the most successful job programs I've ever seen was City Year in Boston and they spent about a quarter of the trainees' time on learning how to network and then actually meeting with and speaking to executives of major corporations.

The Perfect Candidate is a mythological creature. No one really gets a job because they are The Best. There are a number of candidates who are Qualified--sometimes most of the applicants are Qualified--so how do you decide? You could flip coins or ask sillier and sillier interview questions (which they do) or you could just give up and hire someone from inside the company.

The civil service was invented by the Chinese who tested candidates in Poetry and Philosophy. Do you really think that meant a damn thing if they were assigned to oversee the broccoli crop?

• Personal contact means a greater level of confidence in a new employee. The person who recommends a candidate has their reputation at stake--so they are vouching for this person. If the applicant has contacts within the organization , HR can check them out by talking to current--and therefore trusted--employees.  

• Job Karma. Networking and trying to get jobs for acquaintances isn't evil. Everyone does it because

a) it feels good to help someone who deserves help,

b) it feels successful to have found jobs for a lot of people and,

c) when you need help, there are people out there willing to step up and help you.

• Personal contact is engaging in the real world and not filtering it through statistical filters, written rules, or online persona's. Getting to know people, getting a real feeling for someone through the people they've dealt with in the past, doing favors for people, this is real life.

• Yes, it's frightening. It feels so great to finish an online application and hit the ENTER key. It's solid and definite and you can do it in your pajamas. It's nice to know that you will be judged fairly on your merits and be hired for the position you deserve. It's too bad that all of this is a fantasy. Actually calling people up is hard. Writing to everyone you know and asking for leads and contacts is embarrassing. Sitting down with a stranger and impressing them with your personality is terrifying.

• Finally, personal contact works. Networking works, Buying coffee works, Breakfast meetings work, informational interviews work, interning works, even temping in an organization works. You can hate it. You can say that you're too shy to talk to people. You can say it's unfair and biased. But you cannot say it doesn't work.