Category Archives: Careers

Career Advice: Your Climate Plan

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As I’ve noted before, I kind of give less career advice lately. Some of it is that my advice has changed, some of it is that I am evaluating what I can share as a more senior professional, and most of it is the world has changed. However, I can provide some useful insights, repeating and expanding on what I’ve said before.

Work climate change into your career.

Sure I’ve said it before, but I should note that as of this writing in 202 I live in California, which got hot then caught on fire. Then everything caught on fire, and a bunch of states near us had it even worse. The term “climate refugee” got used in the present tense in the news, so I got thoughtful.

Oh and there’s a damn pandemic.

So here’s a few insights I’ve had from being in the middle of this.

Accept this is the reality. Climate change is real. It will probably affect your life and your job. That’s the way it is.

Evaluate possible climate impacts on where you live – and may live. This may not be as clear as it seems, so do your research. For instance there’s several possible scenarios of where I live, meaning I get to contemplate heat, fires, torrential rains, and mudslides (probably not at once). Also keep in mind these are impacts – don’t think in good or bad, because that increased heat to you may mean others wish to move to your area.

Listen to others. Share ideas with friends, follow the news, join a transition community. Connect with others to understand what’s going on – and what may go on. I’ve had more than enough cases of “oh, I didn’t know that” in just the few years to remind me of this.

Have a climate change plan. Evaluate what happens if you have to move due to climate change. Do not assume you won’t – instead evaluate how you might be impacted. Remember impacts could even be “my area is really climate safe and people may want to move here.”

Have a climate change career plan. You’re going to need to ask what you’ll do for a living. Do you have portable skills? Can you work from home and remotely? Where can you move and do what you do?

If you move, remember others my do it as well. If ten years from now you’re leaving a unlivable area, you won’t be alone. Keep track of what happens in your “relocation targets.” Also remember if you arrive late if there’s a rush, there may be challenges.

Team up. Don’t do this planning alone. Even if you’re alone now, when you move you may have a roommate, or an SO, etc.

Those are my thoughts, and I hope they help. Let me know your climate change plans and thoughts.

As for mine? My area has problems, but they’re straightforward, so I have some identified “bug out” areas and a job that can be done remotely. I’ve got it easier compared to some.

But I’m also older. I won’t be around as long as some of you. I hope my advice helps, and that maybe it does some small part to help you adapt to climate change. And perhaps we can work on mitigating it.

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Fan To Pro

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Ah, Fan To Pro. My attempts to give people advice on how to use their fandom in their careers. The first book I wrote — and the first book I rewrote.

Let’s ask just how it came to be, so we can share our stories of why we make books.

Fan To Pro didn’t start as a book. Or sort of did.

Fan To Pro’s origins go back to 2005 and 2006. Several friends and I kept discussing just how much talent there was in fandom. We wondered how we could support people, especially those wanting to use that in their careers. Our solutions were simple: we weren’t sure.

For a while, a friend and I considered a book, but we weren’t sure what to do. How do you take “hey, you could do this for a living” and make a book out of it? It went nowhere.

What did happen was we created a blog, now closed, called Fan To Pro (later MuseHack). This got us into blogging about careers and career news and introduced us to a range of similar people.

At the same time, I called upon my nascent coaching skills and began presenting about careers at conventions. I spoke on general career advice and brainstorming, and the act of speaking helped me mine my knowledge. This was around 2007-2009, after over a decade in my career, and I had a lot to share.

I also was always working on improving myself. I’d go to professional meetups, get training, and read books. I got exposed to the world of coaching and career books, and that led to a realization.

Why not share my geeky career advice from my point of view. Take what I’d learned and seen over the years and collate it into a book. I already had plenty of presentations and experience, after all.

This was an important lesson. I hadn’t realized what I knew or what I could share until I’d tried. Sometimes we don’t know what we know until we share it.

All my friends and family were supportive, so I got down and wrote my book. Also, they were kind of surprised it took me that long to realize my skills.

The first Fan To Pro was kind of mediocre. I mean, there was good advice, but it had an awful cover, some odd formatting, and there were a few things I missed. But I did get the book done, and I had a starting point.

There are some things where you have to do something and move on to see where you are.

But I wasn’t done. After a few years, I realized I had learned a lot, and it was time to rewrite the book. I sat down, got a professional artist, and revised the heck out of it.

The results were much better. I’m proud I wrote the first book, but I’m proud of the second book. I improved the style, added more information, shared my lessons, and organized it better. It was a far better book.

It also felt like I’d “gotten it all out.” I had shared more lessons, gone into more depth, and connected better with the audience. The book feels complete

Will I ever rewrite it again? I don’t know. I wrote it at a time in my life where it feels like a “got” the big picture. As my career continues, as I age, as the economy changes, I worry my more recent experiences are less applicable. Bluntly, I’d be afraid to screw it up.

But who knows – I never thought I’d do a book at one point in my life . . .

Steven Savage

Beware The New Age Of Job Spam

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls and emails about job opportunities, and I’m not alone according to my friends. I’ve begun to realize a lot of this is due to technical changes and business changes – ones that it’s important as a sort of Geek Career Person to warn people about.

Now before I go into just what I found, a note that this isn’t bragging. I’ve been in IT for decades, my resumes have been sent all over the country for twenty years, and I’m in a ton of databases. I’m also in my 50’s, where people are experienced, start to retire (less competition), or die (also less competition). It works in my favor – except for that whole “aware of my own mortality” thing.

Now, onward – let’s walk through what happened and what I found.

THE SITUATION

So last six months or so I started getting hit up by a lot of recruiters. This wasn’t like previous experiences where it appeared to be people “raiding” California for talent that got tired of paying rent so high you could buy a gaming rig once a month. This was the usual combined with lots of samey emails, odd calls, and weird inquests that didn’t always seem to relate to my skillsets, often from companies I never heard of.

I didn’t think about it much, until some caller noted she was in a different time zone – one that didn’t fit the area she was listed as calling from.

So I began digging a bit and looking into all those emails.

WHAT I FOUND

First, the emails I was ignoring anyway looked real spammy – cut and paste jobs, search and replace issues, and sometimes repetitive. On top of that there were mostly companies I didn’t recognize.

Secondly, the emails didn’t seem to give a damn where I was. I mean, yeah I’ve seen people try to raid Silicon Valley for talent, but this didn’t follow any identifiable pattern. Previously I could note trends in what states were hiring, but this was more incoherent.

I also began looking at how to unsubscribe from them, and that was the real revelation. A lot of the unsubscruibe links sent me to the same kind of software setup – clearly different companies, but all using the same mailing list software.

Finally, I recalled how many people had mentioned they had me in a database, or saw me on Dice, or LinkedIn.

That’s when it came together for me.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

At the most basic, it’s a helluva easy to set up a consulting type company, get requests, spam out inquiries, and try to get people. So now plenty of people are doing that and outsourcing globally, at rate I’ve not seen before. And it’s annoying.

Specifically it looks like:

  • A company get set up anywhere in the world then route calls through a phone number in other countries. That explains the weird time zone issues I was getting from calls.
  • A company can use existing software out of the box to set up all sorts of HR and mailing systems. Then you can easily mail things out to people without thinking.
  • There’s all sorts of databases out there, and companies can fill them or just purchase data. Pretty sure some of my old resumes from fifteen years ago are sitting around somewhere in digitized form.
  • Dice and Linkedin and other sites are easy for dedicated people to scrape, especially if you have settings that allow people to see you’re looking, show information, etc.

So we’re now at the stage where you can basically spin up a consulting company or modify an existing one to pretty much run as a spam system. Sure, it sounds like it’s inefficient, but if you can throw out leads to a ton of people, you only need a small percent of responses. It’s pretty much like advertising.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

So what’s the takeaways from this for my fellow job seekers? I have a few.

  • First as always I recommend people always ask what the next stage of their career is. It may well be “more of the same,” but a review now and then is good. I evaluate my skills and plans once a month.
  • If you’re at all concerned about job stability, you should have a regular job search going on, from once a week to once a month.
  • Job searches by now are going to need to be selective. So be aware of who you’re applying to.
  • If you’re looking at temp or consulting companies, research them before applying. Build a list of reliable companies over time (and share them) so you know when trustworthy leads come in and you build good relationships.
  • If you have specific companies or organizations you want to work for, then I’d apply at their websites specifically. Now and then, do a “deep dive” and go back through listings to apply to past jobs, not just new ones.
  • Be careful how you set yourself up on job sites, LinkedIn, etc. You might be accidentally asking to be spammed.

Hope that helps. Let’s see how this evolves in the future, because I’m sure there’s more changes to the job market and technology to come . . .

Steven Savage