Unemployed

Why We Work — A Labor Day Message.

What is Labor Day? On Wikipedia, it's a day to honor the contributions we've made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So let's do that. Every Labor Day, I take time out to review where I am in my career and all the reasons why I work. Why do I do this?

  • It gives me perspective. I look back at where I've been and what I've done professionally — what I've accomplished and what failures I've had.
  • It makes me appreciate all that I have in my life. All the great people I know and work with — all of my wonderful clients, past and present.
  • It shows me the way forward. Based on where I've been and where I am now, I get a better view of where I have to go.

So many people who work tend to dread going to work. In fact, we all do at one time or another in our lives. A lot of pressure, a big project that's behind schedule, a problem child you're managing on your team. It sucks to get up so early, get stuck in traffic traveling to work, too many interruptions when you get there, watching the sun go down at your office, and reversing the process on your way home.

During this Labor Day, please remember a few things about your career:

  • You have a job. There are a lot of people out there who don't have one. They're nervous and scared — it's September and the clock's ticking.
  • You have a paycheck. You get to pay your bills and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • You GET to work. So many people complain about how "They HAVE to go to work."

You GET to practice your craft. You GET to interact with qualified peers who help you run the ball over the goal line. You GET to grow in your job, to be better, smarter, and more agile.

This Labor Day, I want you to sit back, spend a few moments, and remember how lucky we all are to have a job.

"Success is not a destination, but the road that you're on. Being successful means that you're working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That's living your dream." — Marlon Wayans

P.S. If you know someone who is currently unemployed, I want you to call them up and ask how you can help them. Not only will they greatly appreciate it — it will bolster your gratitude and appreciation for your current job. Trust me, it works.

"If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend." — Doug Larson

 

Ask Rich Gee: Career Questions From Quora.

Frequently, I am asked questions from people within the website Quora — I try my best to answer most — but candidly, there are too many. Here are some of my best answers to great questions concerning people's careers:

What is more difficult in the long run, working for a company or running your own business?

Both are difficult and rewarding in their own ways:

  • Company - you have a boss to keep happy, you have set work hours, you get a regular paycheck, you get a paid location to work at, you get benefits, and you also get jerk bosses, the chance to lose your job instantly, cancelled projects, and frequently depressed coworkers.
  • Business - you have a clients to keep happy, you have flexible work hours, your paycheck is based on how hard your work and hustle, you get to work at home, you get to pay for your own benefits, and you also get no jerk bosses (but jerk clients), the chance to lose your clients at the drop of a hat, cancelled projects, and you might be frequently depressed.

All kidding aside (but I was telling the truth) - both have their ups and downs, sometimes you feel in control with both, and sometimes you feel out of control with both.

I've done both - 20 years in corporate - 14 years coaching - and both are hard/easy, rewarding/frustrating, but all in all - it's a great ride.

My suggestion? Start a company.

How long does it take to settle in at a new job?

On average - 3-6 months. Not only do you need to meet, develop and hone relationships with key people, you need to learn the whole business - how it works, what are the levers/movers, what are the clients like, etc.

You also need to see how the company reacts to emergencies, slow-time, reactive decisions from management, and industry shifts.

I hate to say 'settle in', because when I'm settled, I'm bored. You need to constantly challenge yourself - do new things, meet new people, etc.

Where on their resumes might long-term unemployed job candidates address their current career gaps?

Are you not getting traction with your current résumé? (a lot of opportunities/recruiters/hiring managers passing on you?)

If not, don't do anything. If so, and if the gaps are frequent and wide, you might want to fill in those gaps. Some suggestions:

  1. You didn't sit on the couch all day and watch Jerry Springer. You probably did something - volunteered, side job, etc. Let them know.
  2. Did you try to start a business? Did you do side work (consulting) that you were paid for? Let them know.
  3. If you really didn't do anything for a LONG time and your résumé isn't getting traction, you might say you helped out a sick family member at home - most of the time recruiters might ask a small question, but it's happening more and more every day as our population ages. I know this might be a 'white lie' and a fireable offense - but if you are consistently striking out, you have to do something to change the dynamic.

#3 might rankle some readers — but there are a lot of people who are lost right now looking for a replacement job and they've gone YEARS without employment.

What kind of advice would you give to a 40-something starting a new job where she'll be working alongside 20-somethings?

  1. Listen more than preach. You are not their 'sensei' right now, you just work with them. Also, be patient.
  2. Ask questions. They might know more than you do. And they probably do.
  3. Don't talk about your kids, your injuries, your parents, or any other 40+ year-old concern. 20 year-olds don't care.
  4. Don't try to 'be cool'. Be yourself. Be interested, but be yourself.
  5. Let them make their own mistakes. If they ask you for advice, then you give it to them. Ultimately, they will look to you as their 'sensei' if you do it right.
  6. Try to do things that they do. If they invite you out for drinks, go. If they mention a band, listen to them. If they talk about a movie, check it out.
  7. Compliment them. We tend to forget to do that with our younger counterparts.
  8. Work out, stay in shape, eat healthy, and keep a close eye on your wardrobe style. You don't want to dress like Lou in MadMen. Also keep an eye on your hairstyle.
  9. Look at your glasses style. Too many guys and gals wear really old frames they wore in high school. Get with the program and style up.
  10. Grow an interest in some of the things they might be interested in - music, movies, books, theater, etc. If you show a sincere interest in their passions, they might ask you about yours.

Extra-Credit: Keep up with TECHNOLOGY. I'm 52 and get so angry at people my age who have problems, disregard or disparage simple technology I use easily. YOU LOOK OLD immediately if you have frequent problems with email, the web, your phone (get a smartphone), etc.

Not Laid Off? How To Help Your Unemployed Friends.

One of the signature emotions of this particular recession, besides the populist rage that boiled over this week, is a bit of survivor’s guilt. After all, if you still have the same job or salary that you had a year ago, you’re among the lucky ones. With a different career move or two, you might have wound up among those whose household income has suffered a huge hit. You probably have friends and former colleagues in this unfortunate spot.

So what can you do to help them? Plenty, it turns out.