Friday, January 16, 2009

A little off the sides, please

According to this post in BNET, some companies are making the decision to cut back on labour costs, but not cut back on the labour. Cutbacks include working a four day week, cutting back on benefits, asking people to take their holidays or a furlough (a furlough means to grant a temporary leave of absence; a layoff is a temporary suspension which rhymes with "you're fired"), all in an effort to keep staff.

In academia, administrators have asked professors and administrators to take a pay cut--or imposed, not asked--and frozen salaries and plans to make new hires. There's even an article on the BBC magazine about the Prime Minister asking that public employees voluntarily contain their pay raises to keep inflation down, and an argument as to why it might help the economy. But when it comes to less money, should you? And how do you know if you can?

When the economy was boiling, we were asked to figure out what types of salary would be fair, and people wanted to know how they could negotiate. In industries with lots of competition for jobs--i.e. academia--we told clients: make a budget. Your needs, please debt repayment and some realistic savings are your minimum. You can't accept anything less.

You need a budget: for salary negotiation, whether up or down in these economic times, to understand where your money is going and to make some rational decisions about what you can and cannot afford. A budget can help you in both good and bad times, and now, just like writing your resume, it can help you in the job search since it can give you valuable information about the position, or positions, that you are eligible for with your financial responsibilities.

So, again, look to the free options on your campus, get your student budget and your proposed graduate budget in order and figure out what you can do to start living a lifestyle that doesn't allow your money--which includes your job--to make you into a prisoner.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Resequencing the Monster

ERE takes a critical look at the Monster remodel, celebrated in commercials and the salvation of unhappy workers everywhere. But no one has ever satisfactorily answered the question for me: can you really get a job from Monster?

I used job boards, including Monster, in the last days of the previous millennium, and I got one call back--for a job selling insurance, though my post clearly said "Librarian". I also told the pushy interviewer that I wanted to be a librarian, not an insurance salesperson. I even asked if they had a library, and he said no, but this job was just as good. If I had been an insurance salesperson, I'm sure it would have been. Like a military recruiter, he was determined I would be candidate fodder, until he went, "heh, you don't live in Jersey", and hung up on me.

That is my sole experience with the Most Wanted of Job Boards: one call for a job that I was completely not interested in and had stated so on all of my documents submitted to the site.

Now, I am completely happy with my experience on niche boards. It's how I got my current full-time job, and all my fill-in-the-lines gigs, but I wonder: has anyone, ever, gotten a job on Monster. All job seekers, not just librarians, send me an answer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's the worst that could happen?

I have posted some doom and gloom here before, but I am not going to do that today. I'm going to ask you one question to make yourself feel terrible, think about it and then fix it: if you don't have a job once you graduate, what is the worst that could happen?

Not that you are unemployed. That is the experience of many and will happen more than once in your lifetime. Think: Will you not be able to pay your rent? Will you lose your car? Will you not be able to pay your line of credit, student loans, credit cards? Will you not be able to eat? What is the worst that could happen?

Once you know the answer to that question, take some steps to fix that problem, right now.

If the worst that could happen is you will lose your place to live, what can you do to stop that, right now? Can you have the discussion with your parents or a sibling about moving in with them? Can you get a roommate? Though the cost of moving might eat up some of what you will save on moving to a cheaper place, can you find less expensive housing? Some of you may lose your place to live once you move out of campus housing, so what steps are you taking to deal with this issue?

Now, once you have some ideas, who can you talk to about fixing that problem. Open up the discussion about the basement bedroom with your parents. Get the forms for remission on your student loan or interest free status, now, fill them out and put them in an envelope ready to be mailed or processed. Use the services on your campus in regards to debt repayment, budgeting, or talk with someone at your bank--just pick up the brochures--that give you the information you need to deal with the problem. Don't freak out during finals about where you will be sleeping in a few weeks. Take care of it now.

If you can fix the worst of your problems, you will have time to invest toward your other problems and your job search, not to mention less aggravation for your grad school induced ulcer. Dealing successfully with one problem gives us a boost in optimism, a belief in our own self-efficacy and a feeling of relief. All of those can help your mental outlook.

If you want to feel optimistic or prepared, take hold of some of the problems in your life, which you directly control, like where you will live, sleep, eat and pay, and come up with an actionable plan, or solve them entirely.