Category Archives: Careers

Sometimes The Best Ambition Is Less Ambition

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

Lately, a lot of my friends have been going through “job issues.”  Losing them, not happy with them, being pressured to trade up, and so on.  Listening to them I realized that there’s something important to say:

It’s OK to not have ambitions for a “better” job.

Yes, that’s right it’s me, Mister Geek Job Guru telling you maybe you’d be happier staying where you are, or getting a lower paying job or whatever.  Radical? Unexpected? Extremely un-Steve like?  No, it’s about things more important than getting a “better” job.

The benefits are worth it.  One friend of mine had some health issues, and their job has great benefits, so they’re not planning to move on or up at least for the time being.  This is fine.  If a job gives you benefits like great health, training, etc. it’s perfectly OK not to change.  A job that has good benefits may be worth staying at even if it’s not as high paying or lacks prestige or whatever.

It’s lower stress.  Look moving up is all fine and good, but maybe a job is going to have less chance of killing you.  Fine, worth staying with as opposed to getting a job that will put you in a grave quicker.

It lets you do other things.  Your job or future job may give you more time to socialize, build that art career, take care of kids, whatever.  Perhaps it’s less work or a shorter commute – that’s great.  No need to change.

It’s cheaper to do.  A job you’re at may cost less to commute at, require you to spend less on things like businesswear, and so on.  That’s fine.  Sometimes the money you save beats any pay raise you may have.

It works into your life plans.  You don’t have to go get the biggest title or highest paycheck if the job fits your life goals.  Maybe the job will let you retire quicker but isn’t as prestigious.  Perhaps your current position means you get to stay in a place you like.  That’s fine.

You’re tired of career stuff.  Maybe your current job is a placeholder intentionally, and that’s also fine.  Maybe you got laid off, or are changing careers or just moved.  Good, enjoy your placeholder, maybe set a time to re-review your priorities, and chill out.

It’s a placeholder.  Maybe you’re moving or going back to school or something and the job is there so you can earn money.  Great, don’t worry.

There are many reasons not to look for the better job, the best job, the highest-up job or whatever.  That’s totally fine because your career goals have to serve your life goals.

If you aren’t sure about this, let me remind you that you have permission from me, the guy who writes all sorts of career books to not think about the biggest paycheck or coolest title and just do whatever.

-Steven Savage

Career Thoughts Late 2017

I haven’t done a career post in awhile. I’ve been focused on my worldbuidling books and expanding my repetoire, but I’m still the Geek Job Guru, and it’s time I do a bit more of that.

So with 2017 stumbling along, from political chicanery to security issues to media scandals, let’s talk the career landscape so far. It’s . . . weird.

Economy:

  • The stock market is humming along, but in the midst of political chaos, assorted scandals, and growing social and economic issues. In short, I don’t trust it, and expect a soft landing at best, or a steep (but not radical) decline in the next year or two.
  • Political uncertainty with our current administration can balloon out of control very quickly, especially in cases of military action or impeachment. It’s pretty hard to prepare for this, but you’ll want to. For instance, I have a few “economic emergency plans” in place just in case.
  • With all of the above, I think some economic downturn is simply unavoidable. The question is how severe it will be and how long it will last.

Speaking of Economic Emergency Plans:

  • As much as I like making Plan A work, it’s good to think ahead on your plan for an economic downturn both local, national, and global. This is because we might get one. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it’s good to have a basic one so you don’t have to worry about it.

Where To Work

  • As much as I love the Bay Area, our housing issues are starting to impact recruiting. I consider this place a good area to move, but urge caution and careful research. I think we’ve got another 2 or so years of this so if you move here – keep this in mind.
  • Amazon’s big plan to make a new HQ is probably going to create a rush, but based on what they said, I wouldn’t expect it to be in a truly major area (Boston, Chicago, etc.). It’d be more a secondary or tertiary city. I also don’t consider it a guarantee of stimulating the economy.
  • My usual recruiting pings seem to be coming from all over lately, I haven’t noticed any trends except “all over.”
  • One big warning is that if you do move, treat it as permanent. You never know and I don’t trust current stability – make sure you’re in a place that can take economic downturns.
  • The bloom is very much off the Tech Company rose after the endless waves of scandals. This doesn’t mean these aren’t good places to work or good options, and people are still investing in some strange ideas. I take it more that we’re seeing things come back to oft-painful reality.
  • Side note on tech companies – considering the scandals we’ve seen from harassment to promoting propaganda, consider that there’s probably more to come by the odds. Adjust expectations appropriately.

Staying Mobile

  • I’ve seen a increase in recruiters looking for people willing to move around for temporary assignments. I’m mixed on this idea since it can lead you all over the place, affect your lifestyle and social life, and perhaps even health. But it might be good as filler.

 

Career Options

  • After the issues with Equifax, you can believe security is going to be an issue in jobs. I’d suggest playing that up if you have the experience and keeping an eye out for opportunities. This is a place to build a permanent career – that hasn’t changed, it’s just more urgent.
  • I’ve recently been introduced to a less-seen world of change control and training and business analysis. This is a fascinating area you may want to check out – because it’s omnipresent and it’s evolving. I’ve also noticed Analyst work is big for both starting careers and bringing them to a conclusion.
  • I’m seeing more and more people doing side projects quite openly, like my books or Seventh Sanctum. If you have one and can make it public, go for it.
  • As for what jobs people should do or train for – that’s something I’m honestly not sure of now. All I can say is do your research.

Job Searches

  • There seems to be a lot of talent mismatch out there with people, companies, etc. This is actually a warning as desperate people may hire wrong.  I think it may be getting worse.
  • On top of the above, I’m seeing more specific recruitment attempts – at times incredibly specific in ridiculous ways. These jobs then stay open forever. Applying for them if you don’t fit enough is probably a waste of time.
  • Recruiters are getting a lot more aggressive the last few months based on what I’ve seen. That may be good, but can be annoying, can lead to a bad mismatch. Also a few companies are outsourcing recruiting and these recruiters are kinda clueless.
  • Pay rates seem very stagnant as of late, possibly regressing, at least based on personal experience. You may need to be aggressive – and I suspect this is part of further problems (above). People want to deal with mismatches cheap and fast.

 

The entire economy and job market seems to somehow be moving forward erratically while also being in a holding pattern. So if you have any input, I’d appreciate it.

– Steve

Why Incompetence Is Something We All Choose

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Some thoughts for all the people out there that follow me for career and creative advice . . .

Improving our skills and abilities, learning new things, is something we all develop.  Most of us do it consciously, sometimes with a great deal of planning.  It may even obsess some of us as our jobs and lives require us to learn at a rapid pace. However there’s a shadow side to what we choose to become competent in – a choice to learn something means there’s a lot else we choose not to learn at that time.

Every choice to educate ourselves means we’re spending time and resources that aren’t used learn a different subject.  Each competency is paid for in not learning something else. For all you are good at, there’s a large amount of things you don’t know and can’t do, and you chose these “incompetencies” willingly or not.

We probably don’t look at learning as “choosing an incompetency” as a form of defense because there’ so much we don’t know and it scares us.  We’re taught to think only of being good (or acceptable) at something, not bad at something.  We’re taught not to admit failure or lack of ability because we seem weak, but to ignore it or pretend we’re good at everything.

But we have to accept the truth – choosing a competency is also choosing incompetencies. If we accept the we choose our ignorance and lack of ability, we can choose wisely.  If we’ve decided we can’t truly know or learn something, then we’re prepared for that gap in our lives.

We can develop that valuable competency of knowing what we don’t know – and why we don’t know it.

We can bring an innocent attitude to learning so those that know something we do not (that we may choose not to educate ourselves on) can teach us.

We can stop worrying about not knowing.  We’re all fools at one point, so let’s be fools consciously.

Exercise: List ten things you know nothing about that affect your life.  Why didn’t you learn them? What did you learn in their place?

– Steve