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• D.C. launches a pilot program to encourage employees to live near either their workplace or the public transportation that takes them there. [Good]
• If coffee shops are now the de facto place where freelancers and other floating workers get stuff done, does that mean that everyone should be quiet little mice while slurping their macchiatos? [Gizmodo]
• What’s the legacy of the current tech boom going to be? “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. . . . That sucks,” says an ex-Facebooker who’s now running his own startup.–”This Tech Bubble Is Different,” Businessweek
According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes and the Deloitte consulting firm, 65% of employees at big companies intend to start looking for a new job in the near future. (No company tattoo for them!)
Factor in the improving job numbers, as well as the fact that it’s easier than ever to find out about openings (LinkedIn’s adding more than one new profile every second), and it sounds as if lots of employees are going to be abandoning ship as quickly as they can. That made us wonder. . . .
In the comments, let us know how you think companies can keep their employees from leaving at the first opportunity.
[Image: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig/flickr]
Regardless of how our careers are going, most of us can rely on our moms to be in our corner, whether we’re complaining about a bad boss or trying to do some frustrating, herculean feat. Moms want to hear about all our accomplishments, and they pick us up when we feel like we’re failing.
When I was a teenager about to head out to a party, she’d say, “Remember what I told you . . . ” just before the door closed. Back then I called it “pre-guilting.” But today I can hear her advice still ringing in my ears. Here are a few tidbits I know she’d share with you if you were sitting around her kitchen table. You should also know that this coming Mother’s Day will be my first without my mother.
1. Collect people, not things. My mom was a great collector. She had great taste in design and a heck of an eye for finding a bargain at estate sales and discount stores like Marshalls. But she would be the first to give you her special “find” if you admired it. For mom, it was the people who mattered, not the things. She enjoyed the element of surprise around antiquing, but she did it mostly because of the people she got to go on those adventures with. Read More →
• Today brought the release of the jobs report for April. It shows 244,000 net jobs added–cheers! But the unemployment rate also rose to 9% from 8.8%, the first increase since November. This may be due to more people starting to look for work again, but more likely it’s because of the way the two sets of figures are gathered. Either way, we agree with the Reuters reporter Jim Pethokoukis, who tweeted that the “jobs report just reaffirms the current economic trajectory: a slow, muddling-through recovery.”
• In the Twitter vs. Facebook marketing death match, we’re all losers. (Just kidding–Twitter’s better. We think.) [Business Insider]
S.W.F. Seeks J.O.B. is our monthly career advice column penned by Judy McGuire, a sex and relationships expert who also happens to be hilarious. Judy will help us understand how the rules for dating and job hunting are a lot alike–and how the victories in one part of your life can be applied to the other.
Although I don’t completely buy the adage that we only want what we can’t have, it is a fact that whether you’re wooing employers or a trying to reel in a new special naked friend, holding back a little goes a long way towards drumming up interest in your ass. As that wise sage Madonna once sang, “It’s human nature.”
For example, following up a first date with a next-day call, text or e-mail is showing interest. It tells your date that you had a good time, you’re interested in seeing them again, and you’re not the type of mental midget who bothers living by some arbitrary three-day rule. Conversely, professing your undying love, purchasing bridal magazines, and changing your Facebook status after just one night out (even if you got lucky) reveals that you’re not only pathetic, but a sad sack with stalkerish tendencies as well. Read More →
“Sharpshooters” is a new series of interviews looking at members of The Hired Guns network and the amazing books, websites, and other projects they’re creating. First up is Eliot Glazer, whose (highly Mother’s Day-friendly!) book, My Parents Were Awesome, came out last month.
Where did the idea for My Parents Were Awesome come from?
I was working as an editor at Urlesque at the time, and as a professional blogger, it’s so easy to get caught up in the snark of the blogosphere that I decided I wanted to create a warmer, more friendly online destination. And I knew that one thing so many people have in common is a really cool picture of [their] parents or grandparents. And we’re in the age of sharing everything, of course, so all the elements kind of hit at once. Read More →
You could spend years trying to fail upwards, only to find that all the good promotions have already been claimed by more successful incompetent people. Here’s how to shave a few years off your timeline:
- Communicate only with superiors. As long as your boss thinks you’re doing a good job, you are. Contrary to popular opinion, you should pay absolutely no attention to colleagues or subordinates. Their opinions don’t matter, which is why they don’t have “VP” next to their names. As long as your boss keeps failing upward, you’re golden. But you’re probably wondering what happens when your boss gets fired, laid off, or retires. Well, unless you can somehow quickly learn to manage a team and collaborate with others, you’re kinda screwed. But cross that bridge when you come to it. Read More →
- Recommendations are at least as important to freelancers as they are to people trying to land a new full-time job. Head to Mashable for a guide to navigating the world of getting recs online.
- Back in 2007, “Brazen Careerist” Penelope Trunk’s wrote about how to be a freelancer without starving–still highly relevant!
- Coworking, in which freelancers of various stripes all rent portions of the same office space, seems to get a little more popular every day–we’re definitely fans of it at The Hired Guns. Freelance Switch looks at coworking’s pluses and minuses.
- Freelance Folder has some savvy tips on keeping your freelance mojo current and powerful in what’s likely to remain a rapidly changing marketplace.
- Beth Temple, whose upcoming Hired Guns Academy class on Being Your Own Boss is this Thursday (May 5), recently blogged for us on how to stay right with the tax man. She also gave answers to a few of the most common questions that would-be freelancers ask.
If you’re a Hired Gun who serves on a nonprofit’s board or works as a volunteer, you’re probably already using your creativity to help the group raise its visibility. Some extra help’s on the way: with the newly retooled Google for Nonprofits program, the number of nonprofit organizations that Google’s philanthropic branch can help each year has greatly increased. If your pet nonprofit qualifies, it could score you some significant tools.
Craig “Craigslist” Newmark recently interviewed Google.org about the program. According to the group’s product manager, Kristen Olsen Cahill, the program could net your group “$10,000 a month in advertising on Google AdWords to reach more donors, free or discounted Google Apps to cut IT costs and operate more efficiently, and premium features for YouTube and our mapping technologies to raise awareness of your cause.”
You might be scratching your head, thinking, “this will all be Greek to the executive directors and fundraisers I’m trying to help–we need to take baby steps.” But Google’s thought of that, too. They are also building resources for nonprofits and have introduced the Google for Nonprofits Marketplace, where groups can tap low-cost or free resources to help get started.
If you’ve been trying to be the catalyst of change for a nonprofit, this is your chance to get them into the 21st century….
Think First Then Type, a column by the copywriter par excellence Daryl Lang, comes with tips and techniques to help you use language more effectively at work. After all, even the best and brightest ideas won’t catch on if you can’t get them understood.
Great work. But when somebody visits your website, your resume isn’t the “front door.” Your visitors want to see a few words that describe what you do. And if the first words that greet them are a boring biography (“an award-winning whatever with X years of experience”), you’re missing an opportunity.
You are a brand in the marketplace, and the best brands say what they do in a few concise words. You can identify many companies by their taglines alone. “The ultimate driving machine.” “Good to the last drop.” “What’s in your wallet?” You need a compelling tagline too. Read More →
Jeff Gothelf, a user experience designer working for TheLadders.com, blogs for us about project management and UX careers and trends.
Several folks have written recently about how to operate a design team of one. Those posts, like this one by Leah Buley, discuss the tools, methodologies and tips/tricks for successfully pulling off a UX practice with only one practitioner. But once you’ve got the tools in place, you need to make sure your “team of one” also succeeds politically. First, you’ll need to convince the organization to fund your work and provide you with the bare essentials you need to function. Once those are in place, the onus is on you to prove that those funds were well spent. The following tactics will help keep your team funded, appreciated, and (with luck) expanding beyond its single member in the future.
Metrics: your new best friend
The beauty of online work is that it’s measurable. If it’s measurable, it’s controllable. And if it’s controllable, then you are its master. The first thing you should do is set benchmarks. Use the company’s reporting tools or free options like Google Analytics to gain a sense of where things stand now. As you begin to operate, report to the rest of the organization how the metrics are changing based on the work you’re doing. Make sure that as key performance indicators (KPIs) trend up and to the right, the UX work you’re doing gets the proper credit. Read More →
Stan Williams, the author of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Detail, has been running The Elegant Thrifter blog since early 2009. Last week, the columnist Khristi Zimmeth, of the Detroit Times, named Thrifter as a top blog about antiques and collecting–she also called it “educational and entertaining.” [Update: Earlier, Papermag IDed the Thrifter as a member of one of the prominent Twitter gangs of New York.] Congrats, Stan!
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
So true, Mr. Wonka, and I live by those words. Kind of. Strike that and reverse it into graphic-design land. It’s probably not wise to admit this, but I will do a design favor for just about anyone who asks. Yep, free design! I know, what a ho. But a design ho, so it’s harmless. Except to my bank account. It’s not a goodwill thing, believe me. Karma coins do not pay my bills. I do free design for purely selfish reasons.
Let’s face it, graphic design is not the most lucrative career choice. But I had delusions of grandeur. Sitting in my black turtleneck, smoking cigarettes, discussing the latest color trends, and laughing at people who use Comic Sans. Years later, reality has set in. I score a job, receive a 63-page PDF of stringent brand guidelines, put my head down, and get to work. Twenty rounds of changes later, my ego is in the toilet and my brain is void of any creative thought.
So when a friend calls and ask me to do an evite for an outdoor BBQ with an actual pig roast? I am so in! Your son’s gay wedding with a superhero theme? Done! Why, you ask?
You, my appreciative friend, feel guilty and let me have creative freedom. I do not have to make ten rounds of changes. I do not have to make a logo bigger. I do not have to adhere to the brand guideline encyclopedia from hell. I get to pick my own color palette. My own fonts! I get a heartfelt “thank you so much.” I get satisfaction. I remember why I love graphic design.
So the next time your neighbor’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s college roommate needs a poster for his short film about daisies, definitely give me a ring. I’ll design the crap out of it–and this one’s on me!*
* bottles of wine graciously accepted
Well, it seems you’re not too shy–in this week’s poll about irritating interview questions, “So, tell me about yourself” only got 11% of the vote. Most of you evidently have no problem with its deliberately open-ended tactics.
Much less popular, and a virtual tie, were questions in which human resources either tries to get you to spill your deep, dark secrets (“What is your biggest weakness?) or speculate wildly about the future (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”). Either way, we’re sure its no weakness to see ourselves having a great weekend, and we hope the same for you.
A new session of Beth Temple‘s popular class on successful freelancing, Be Your Own Boss, will be held at The Hired Guns Academy next Thursday, May 5th. We thought we’d give you a taste by asking Beth to discuss the three most common questions that have popped up in previous sessions.
“How (and how much) should I charge?” Hands down, this is the top question. Of course, if I had an exact answer to the “much” question I would start a side business and add it to my own revenue line! The “how much” question usually refers to an hourly rate, which affects the “how should I charge?” end result. So let’s break it down.
The classic ways to charge are by the hour, by the project, and by a retainer fee. All methods require some knowledge of what an hour costs you in relation to how much a client is willing to pay for that same hour. Start by estimating an hourly rate based on what you were making at your full-time job using this equation: salary / 2000 (hours) + hourly costs of benefits = hourly rate. Then estimate the hours it would take to complete the project, and charge a project fee based on the total hours multiplied by your per-hour rate. (There are a lot of other variables that can come into play, of course, and I go over them in the class.)
Once you start the project, be sure to track your actual hours. At the end compare the number of hours you thought you’d work with what you did work. You will likely come up short that first time–but over time you’ll easily make that up. Read More →
Happy Friday! Today brings the debut of “Miss Education,” a public-school teacher in the New York area. Until she finds herself a shiny new career and can leave the blackboard jungle behind, she’ll be posting anonymously. We think her struggle to drastically remodel her work life is something that lots of us can relate to . . . .
After four years teaching, I’ve had enough. In fact, I often wonder why I stuck with it for the first four days. In 2007, I graduated with a diploma in one hand, a teaching license in the other, and stars in my eyes. I had just one goal: to change the world through the power of literature and my dynamic, witty personality. I didn’t know which school would hire me, which grade I would teach, or even which city I would work in, but somewhere, my first class of middle-school students was gearing up to have the best English teacher of their lives.
Four years later, after working for the New York City Department of Education, I am also working at a second job on the sly, enhancing my resume with other marketable skills and counting down until the day I can quit teaching middle school forever and shred my license into confetti.
I think that I went into teaching for all of the right reasons. None of the perks–summers off, pensions, health benefits, a workday ending at 3:00 p.m.—meant anything to me when I began my secondary-education program at college. I cared about only two things. I wanted to spend most of my day with eager, energetic young people, and I wanted to talk about books ALL DAY LONG. Was there a better way to make a living? Read More →
As I mentioned in my last post, there’s an ongoing shift toward giving readers a more relevant, adaptive web experience. This trend’s power starts with the fact that it’s beneficial for consumers–and soon this relevancy will be a requirement. For those marketers who embrace the trend, it will also be hugely profitable.
The experiences that a growing Web population expects—on-demand access to content of particular interest to them–will largely shape how people come to accept advertising directed their way. Today, I can set up and read personalized news feeds, follow the musings and links of my friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter, and access videos of my choice on Netflix and Hulu. Soon, I’ll enjoy a web experience that doesn’t require me to download or interact with separate sites or applications, each with their own notion of relevancy.
But even in the here and now, companies are learning how to speak (and, more important, be spoken to) in a one-to-one way with customers via social media and other tools. Many companies have someone whose job includes following Twitter feeds that involve their company in order to get real-time feedback. I’d argue that the lessons learned over the next few years will lead to a profound change in the way companies market to their customers–ads will have to become more relevant, conversational, and engaging in order to generate attention and drive action. Read More →
- “For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.” Ira Glass talks about being creative and reaching the point where your work is “as good as your ambitions.”
- This Saturday is the deadline for nominations to Inc. magazine’s 500|5000, its annual list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Qualifying businesses get a free one-year subscription just for applying.
- Earlier this month NPR reported on how “many companies and organizations are encouraging employees to be on the lookout for talent and are offering cash bonuses for referrals that lead to a hire.” As always, it pays to keep your network robust.
- The polls are still open (til noon tomorrow!) for voting on the worst possible interview question.
For the second of my interviews with blog movers and shakers, I didn’t have too far to look–I’ve known Scott Beale for many years. As the creator and founder of Laughing Squid, a web hosting company and “online resource for art, culture & technology,” Scott’s an amazing source for finding out about the rise of blogs and blogging platforms. We discussed his company’s origins (including its unusual name), the backwards way he got into blogging, and how to grow a blog when you want to write about all sorts of things, not just a single niche. “Not everyone’s going to like every post, and that’s the way it should be with us,” he says. Check out the rest of our half-hour talk below:
- Temps aren’t just entry- or mid-level anymore. They might also be very senior CEO/CFO types. Welcome to the “rise of the hired gun C suite.” [Fortune]
- As the space shuttle program comes to an end, everyone whose job is tied to spaceflight is wondering what’s next.
- Experts seem to agree that no one ever got big by being all things to all men–as one marketer says, “You’ve got to be perceived as the best at something.” Inc. magazine has more tips on narrowing your target market.
- Fast Society is a buzzy Android and iPhone app that lets you corral friends, family, and colleagues into groups that you can contact at the same time, either via a conference call or a text message. More here.
One of our Hired Guns, Ramona Pringle, was featured in Friday’s New York Times. She was their go-to expert to explain the ways that video games and gaming culture help people in real life–and that includes their love life. This was the subject of her talk at SXSW Interactive last month.
We’ve all dealt with interview questions that are predictable, unclear, or difficult to answer well. But a recent comic by The Oatmeal got us thinking about which interview question deserves to be ranked as the absolute lamest.
Did we miss an interview question that really torques you off? Put it in the comments. And if you found yourself looking for “all of the above,” check out our recent roundup of advice on interviewing effectively.
Brooke Alpert is a nutritionist and the founder of B Nutritious, a private nutrition counseling practice based in New York City. She blogs for us about how to stay healthy, fit, and centered during even the craziest of work weeks.
Think that a long leisurely lunch will help you eat less for the rest of the day? Some new research suggests otherwise. A study published last month in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who had a two-hour meal didn’t eat less over the rest of their day than those who spent just 30 minutes eating.
Having a long lunch (or any other long meal) can lead to different outcomes for different people. For some of my clients, long work lunches lead to eating more calories from multiple courses that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. For others, the leisurely speed of the meal allows them to be more aware of their hunger levels and feel more satisfied than they would be if they’d just been shoveling in food at their desk. Read More →
The great thing about freelancing is the free time it affords you. The bad thing about freelancing is the free time forced on you. But freelancers know the deal. Always look for your next job. The problem for me is that when I’m on deadline with little time to even shower, the job search tends to take a back seat to a delivery-menu search for the perfect burger. The one I’ll devour in front of my laptop.
When the job wraps up, and I’m a week into free time, I always regret not having been more diligent in lining up work. By that point, I have caught up on laundry, errands, TV, and sleep. I’ve updated all my software, checked the job boards, and probably snuck in a liquid lunch with friends. I peek at my phone every two minutes like a desperate girl after a first date.
Crickets. Tumbleweed. Panic sets in as I wonder how long I can survive on the check from my last job. Of course, I reach out to everyone I’ve ever met with the undesperate-as-possible email about how “my schedule just opened up and I am available for work if you need anything! : ).” I go to every network-y event I can force myself to attend. Timing is everything, though, and sometimes all this yields is an empty inbox and a cheap wine hangover.
I try to enjoy the downtime and smell the roses. I do. However, the last few years have left me with no padding for lean times, and I’m certainly in no position to take that dream vacation to Spain until things pick up. Instead, my inner fatalist plans what items I will tote around in my new shopping cart/home and which block in Manhattan will be the most hospitable for both me and the dog. Wait, what’s that? The ding of my inbox! You need “what” designed? For how much? I’ll take it. I’m back, bitches!
Today we welcome to the blog Beth Temple (@bethtemple4u), a digital consultant whose column is for the “preneurs” in The Hired Guns family. Although her focus will be split among advice for the entrepreneur, intrapreneur, and solopreneur, she will always return to proven ways to get ahead–whether it’s by growing your company, mastering important leadership skills, or learning how to sell yourself.
I know what you’re thinking–you missed the mark. Tax Day has come and gone. Well, for this year it has, but trust me, it will be back next year, and the best time to start planning for April 15, 2012, is now.
If you are like most small business owners (and yes, being just one person counts as being a business!), you’ve probably made some tax mistakes. I did my first year out: I didn’t realize that I had to pay quarterly estimated taxes based on forecasted income. Only made that mistake once.
Here are some things you should be doing now (and forever after) to help ensure a smooth tax season next year:
1) Beth’s 40% rule: In order to be sure I have the money I need throughout the year to pay for taxes, I take out 40% from every check (let me repeat that–EVERY check) and put it in a special account just for taxes. This way I don’t see it, I don’t spend it, and I always have the cash I need. Put the money in a saving account attached to your business checking account–it’s never a good idea to co-mingle your business and personal money. At the end of the year, if there is any left over in the tax account (and there usually is), that’s my yearly bonus. I either invest it back into the business or buy something small as a reward. (You could also use it to bulk up the three to six months’ worth of living expenses that financial experts say we all should have but often don’t.) Read More →
- Interviews with more than 70 leaders for the NYT’s Corner Office columns have shown some traits that successful executives share–they’re the same traits the execs look for when their companies are hiring. [excerpt from The Corner Office]
- Saying that you were “”the only employee who did things right” at your last job is no way to land a new one. [FINS]
- It’s from November, but these interview myths from “Ask Annie” remain just as useful a read. Thinking that interviewers will always be prepared and know all about you is a belief worth getting over as soon as possible.
- We’ve all heard them, and now The Oatmeal’s drawn them: the 6 crappiest interview questions.
This Thursday in New York, at the Phaidon Store, Print Magazine celebrates its most recent “New Visual Artists” issue. The reception and exhibition, co-sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, will include artwork selected from the issue.
To find out more about this and other upcoming Hired-Guns-approved happenings, head to our events page.
“Management experts” (insert sarcastic chuckle here) are fond of saying that effective business managers lead like coaches, not generals. They point out that in today’s dynamic business world, where top employees have specialized skills as well as the freedom and motivation to change jobs to achieve their career goals, treating employees like regimented foot soldiers is a recipe for disaster. Coaching them like members of a high-performing athletic team is a more productive approach.
What these so-called “experts” fail to understand is that business is a battleground, not a junior-high girls’ badminton league. To succeed, you’ve got to crush your competitors, and what better way to instill that mindset than by crushing your own employees first?
Here are five great ways to do that:
1. Talk, don’t listen! Generals give commands. Coaches have team meetings, make suggestions, and (snicker, snicker) solicit team input. If Patton had adopted the coaching style of leadership during WWII, we’d all be speaking German. Read More →
The Good Guns is a series of volunteer opportunities put together by The Hired Gun community; its members serve as active sponsors. Today’s effort is from Bryce Longton, a writer and longtime Gun. She’s using the power of music and social media to help people on the other side of the globe.
Summary: This one’s for all you Groupon addicts: Songs of Love for Japan (SOLFJ) is a 72-hour flash sale of great music for a great cause–it starts in an hour and runs until 10 am on Thursday. For $100, you can buy 100 rare and unique songs donated from 100 leading artists, including Josh Ritter, Ani DiFranco, Runaway Dorothy, Wolf Parade, and Heather Nova. If you buy the compilation, you also get a chance at concert tickets, signed CDs and other one-of-a-kind items. If $100 is too much for you, don’t despair: for $20, you can get one of the sale’s 20-song samplers (the sampler mix changes every day).
The Good Gun Profile: The project was put together by the writer Bryce Longton and the musician Cheryl B. Engelhardt. As they and everyone else were having fun meeting, greeting, and partying at South by Southwest last month, the bad news from Japan kept pouring in. Through Songs of Love for Japan, Bryce, Cheryl, and the rest of the team hope to raise a great deal of cash through the power of music. All money raised will be donated to the ShelterBox charity, which deliveries supplies and logistical support to those affected by disasters. To get your music and do your part, head to SOLFJ. And to help out even more, you can tweet something like this to your network: Check out @SOLFJapan, a 72-hour flash sale of great music for a great cause. http://solfj.org #solfj
On Monday, we asked you what you thought an intern was worth to a company. Although the “all interns should be paid” option was by far the most popular choice at first, it soon lost ground to the more nuanced claim that only interns doing a “real job” should get a real paycheck. Your votes put that one out on top, although just barely.
A little surprisingly, the “interns as time-suck” option didn’t get a single vote, which implies that even those who think interns don’t merit a paycheck still see them as providing some value for a company. Roughly one in 10 of you said that the experience that companies are giving interns is at least equal to the work they’re getting out of their young charges.
Either way, we suspect that internships–and probably unpaid ones at that– are here to stay, at least for the most in-demand sorts of jobs for young workers. . . .
When you work from home, it’s up to you to stay abreast of what is going on in the outside world. There is no coworker to say “did you hear…” as you walk into the office every morning. I established a morning routine long ago that went something like this: NYtimes.com and CNN.com, then all the way down to gawker.com, Popcandy, and a dash of Facebook. But something has happened last year, and I’ve gone wayyyy off track. Read More →
- Forbes uncovers three new “career management musts“. These sites will let you “score” your professional online brand, help you get a raise, and partially automate your job search by keeping track of contacts, interviews, and all other forms of contacts.
- Kris Ruby, the head of her own PR agency, talks to Business Insider about her biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur: it’s “time management and balancing my personal and corporate brand. In your first year as a start up, you do not necessarily have the cash flow to bring on a full time staff and you are often a ‘one man show’ wearing many hats….”
- If you haven’t voted in our “Should interns get paid?” poll, you have until noon Eastern today. A couple of the choices are running neck-and-neck…
We’re proud to add Bill Brazell to our site. As the first director of author services at Federated Media, a current senior associate at WIT Strategy and blog wrangler at collectivecontext, he’s worked closely with popular sites that include Dooce, Boing Boing, Behance, and many others. He’ll be interviewing some of the stars of blogging and uncovering some tips that the rest of us can use to grow our online presence. So take it away, Bill!
With a few exceptions, bloggers are fun, interesting people. In this series of monthly podcasts, I’ll be talking with a few of the most outstanding ones, asking them to enlighten the rest of us on what makes them so influential, what kept them going in the early days when no one knew they existed, and what blogging has enabled them to do that they might not have been able to do otherwise.
- Some good signs for those looking to make a move: there were more job postings in February than there were at any time in the past two years. And the unemployment rate, though still at an elevated 8.8%, is at a two-year low.
- If you’re thinking that you might leave your job in the next few months, now (not later) is the perfect time to get your affairs in order. This includes building your list of contacts (for home use after you leave the job) and pulling together any portfolio samples you may need down the line. The accounting blog Going Concern has some tips on cleaning up your workplace computer, “just in case a team of nerds will be scoping out your computer and any embarrassing data contained therein” after you leave for greener pastures. “This includes your music collection, no reason to give them free MP3s.”
- Whether or not you’re planning to leave your job, it’s always a good time to tidy up the cubicle or corner office. As this chipper article reminds us, cleanliness is next to godliness at work as well as at home. The Dumpster awaits.
With their teams eliminated from the playoffs, two bored hockey bloggers decided to go all “mercenary” (or, dare we say, Hired Gun) and make money for charity instead of throwing in the towel on the season. Ryan Lambert, a contributor for Flamesnation.ca, and Jason “Chemmy” Orach, from TheLeafsnation.com, are using Ebay to auction off their blogging services. They’ll continue to blog though the Stanley Cup finals for anyone willing to pay up, whether it be a hockey fan blog or for a big media player. Right now the auction stands at $335.00, with 25 bids. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to Right to Play, a charity that gets kids involved with sports regardless of age, gender, or disability.
Fine print: If you win the auction, Lambert and Orach say, they’re do what they do best: “create hilarious controversy by trolling your playoff opponents. You’ll get guest posts on your team from big-name writers. We’ll wave pom poms for your team on Twitter. You’re buying the services of two hockey blogging pros and helping out some disadvantaged kids.”
Really fine print: If your team gets bounced too, Lambert and Orach will re-list their services in order to donate more money to charity. They’ll provide you with as much material as possible, but make no guarantees about quantity.
This Saturday night, designers from around the world will come together in New York’s Webster Hall for the 2nd annual Cut&Paste Global Champs Design Competition, an onstage battle that will decide who deserves the Design Emperor crown (or something like that). The contestants, who have already won in regional events, will compete in either 2D, 3D, or stop motion categories–knockouts are possible but not guaranteed.
To find out more about this and other upcoming Hired-Guns-approved happenings, head to our events page.
Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy: the title of the new book by scholar (and former unpaid intern) Ross Perlin leaves no doubt where he stands. In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, Perlin highlighted how both colleges and companies are taking advantage of college kids desperate to get a foot in the door (to the extent that some colleges are actually charging students for access to the best internships) and asserted that all interns should be paid, especially at for-profit corporations and if they are doing a job that would otherwise have been done by a paid employee. IMHO it’s yet another sign the Higher Ed bubble is doomed to break, but the question for today is whether you think interns should get paid for their work.
Nothing makes us prouder than when we open up the New York Times and find a Hired Gun featured in its pages. In this case, it’s longtime Hired Gun Cyd Zeigler, who’s emblazoned on the front page of the sports section talking about the website he co-founded with Jim Buzinski. Outsports.com focuses on gay sports fans as well as athletes. The story is one of entrepreneurship, finding a niche, and then filling that void. It should inspire not only gay athletes in our network but also countless entrepreneurs–it demonstrates that when you find the white space, are original, and have a distinctive voice and purpose you can still stand out on the very crowded Interwebs. Congrats, Cyd!
Without a doubt my least-favorite part of owning my own business is managing the “accounting department.” Thanks to QuickBooks, it has become a lot easier. Now I not only know exactly how much money I wasted on lattes and taxis last month, but I am also keenly aware of how late your payment is. QuickBooks has appropriately put such invoices into the Aging category, which I have found to be directly proportionate to the number of gray hairs I get while waiting for your check.
That little box above the price breakdown on my invoice says NET30. That means you have 30 days to pay me. I can’t name many businesses that give you that long to pay a bill–with no interest. I successfully crafted your corporate logo or sales presentation within the two-day deadline you gave me. You loved it and told me what a genius I am, but here I sit waiting almost a full financial quarter for you to pay me for said genius. Good luck telling your favorite restaurant you’ll be back in 90 days to pay for your meal without expecting a little bodily bonus from the chef in your dessert. That’s not really my style, though, so what’s a girl to do? Read More →
The digital media strategist Todd Tarpley has launched businesses for A&E, Bravo, and Nielsen. Because there are already hundreds of blogs and books telling managers how to succeed, his “How Not to Succeed” series uses his expertise to help managers learn how to fail instead.
1. Hire as if it’s a mature business. That means hiring people who have been successfully doing one thing, one way, for a long time. After all, you’re trying to bring some stability to the organization. Why put a premium on versatility and general intelligence? Whatever business plan you have laid out will surely be exactly the same a year from now–no unforeseen changes, no evolution, no growth. People who have worked at the same job and company for ten years or more will fit right into a startup environment–and when things change, they’re prepared to roll with the punches. What could possibly go wrong?
2. If there’s an existing team, don’t make any adjustments or changes. Don’t even bother to interview the members of the current team to get their insights on how things might function more efficiently, or how they would do things differently if they were in charge. They’re NOT in charge, so don’t let them think they are. And whatever they do, I’m sure they do a good job or they wouldn’t be here. Right? Read More →
Jeff Gothelf, a user experience designer working for TheLadders.com, blogs for us about project management and UX careers and trends.
Let that soak in for a second. It’s true. Design is a hero-based practice.
To be known as the designer who conceived the iPod or the genius behind the game-changing interaction design of Mint.com is an accolade many seek. Those are product designs, but this mentality is even more prevalent inside interactive agencies. Agencies want to win awards because awards attract new business.
Hero-focused design is promoted even further because of the transient nature of employment at an interactive agency. The more successful you are as an individual designer at an agency, the easier it is for you to get that next gig or step up the design ladder.
The problem is heroes work alone. They don’t collaborate or open their work for review. They reveal work only when they feel it’s “ready,” and they typically seek to control the direction of the project very heavily. The stronger a designer’s hand in the project, the theory goes, the more he or she can lay claim to that project’s success. Read More →
S.W.F. Seeks J.O.B. is our new monthly career advice column penned by Judy McGuire, a sex and relationships expert who also happens to be hilarious. Judy will help us understand how the rules for dating and job hunting are a lot alike — and how the victories in one part of your life can be applied to the other.
I’ve spent the better part of the last decade writing about relationships for a variety of places, including the Seattle Weekly, TheFrisky.com, Time.com, and the New York Press. Hell, I even wrote a book called How Not to Date, which the Huffington Post called “one of the ten most underrated humor books” of the past few years. But even after ten-plus years both freelancing (a.k.a. looking for work 24/7) and writing about dating, it was years before I realized how similar the two truly are.
I’ve certainly sat through more than my fair share of awkward dates. The dinner conversations that turn into an excuse for the guy to list every asset in his portfolio. The meet-ups for drinks that begin with a disappointed glance (his) and end in tears (mine). Sure, there are highs and there are hookups, but for every great night out, there’s also equal or better amounts of discomfort, disappointment, and downright dismay. Read More →
Some people describe me as “a freelancer who works from home,” but I like to think I’m a “stay-at-home mom to my dog.” Everyone thinks their dog is the cutest creature on earth. On Facebook, we all click “like” politely, knowing our dog is just a little cuter than our friends’ dog. Well, I’m not saying that Alfie is the cutest (even though he is), but he is definitely “special.”
I’ve always gravitated towards dogs with strange personalities. I was told my last dog was like Woody Allen trapped in a small terrier body. This one is more like Matthew McConaughey in a shaggy-blonde mutt. He always seems about three bong hits into his day, and he’s perpetually happy and wagging his tail. Except when it comes to the bathtub drain. It infuriates him. I have been on a work binge lately, so he’s been left to entertain himself as I sit glued to my laptop.
I was wondering why an hour had gone by without a squeaky toy being tossed my way, so I went to go find out what could possibly be occupying him for this long. There he was, standing in the tub, growling at the drain.
“Ya see something down there, buddy?”
I left him to defend the fort as I went back to attack my pile of work. Two hours later, I went to check on him. He was fast asleep in the tub with his paw dutifully covering the drain. The drain monster had successfully been kept at bay. I love my dumb dog.
- “I could end important conversations with ‘Here, let me give you my card,’” writes Susy Jackson, an editor at the Harvard Business Review. “I had a stamp of authenticity.” But business cards are hardly the universal sign of seriousness and prestige they once were. Earlier this month, Susy tried to give some SXSW-goers her card. At first all she got was a blank look, and then just a Hashable e-business-card in return. How do you share your info these days?
- Oliver Burkeman had an equally jarring the-future-is-now moment at SXSW. The internet, he argues, has become less virtual and more… real. Internet/life integration is so pervasive that when people are online, they “forget they’re doing it.” Burkeman ends by talking with Hired Gun pal Tony Schwartz, who says, “We were not meant to operate as computers do…. We are meant to pulse.”
- In case you aren’t yet convinced that the future has indeed arrived, PSFK’s Stephen Fortune profiles the mad genius of Dave Hakkens: writing tools you can consume. You were going to lose that pen, anyway.
Today, as always, a big part of successful marketing is about telling stories that resonate with customers and business prospects. What’s changed is that the method for telling those stories is increasingly becoming based on data. In fact, Google recently started publishing a book (with companion website) on that very subject.
Ask yourself: where has the Internet created real value? It’s mainly been in data analysis. The technology platforms for social media, music downloads, movie streaming, ad serving, and site analytics all generate huge amounts of data. Buried inside this data are valuable business insights, if you can tease them out and package them in a way that people understand. In fact, it’s this move towards data insight and analysis that may end up saving some old-school industries. The New York Times in particular does a nice job showing how the 2011 federal budget is allocated and spent. It’s a lot easier to be shown how much money is tied up in non-discretionary spending than to be told about it, and it foretells the role our most important newspapers may play in the future. Read More →