Feature: An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie

Feature: An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie

Feature: An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie

As many of you know, Thomas L. Friedman’s book The World is Flat has occupied the top spot on The New York Times best seller list for several months now. In it, he recounts a discussion he had with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates about what Gates calls the “ovarian lottery.” Gates describes it this way: Thirty years ago, if you had a choice of being born a genius in Shanghai or an average worker in Poughkeepsie, the rational person would have chosen the small town in New York. Why? Because even a worker of average capabilities would have had a better life in Poughkeepsie than the most brilliant person living in China’s leading center of commerce.

Thirty years ago, the rules of the game were clear and well understood by everyone. In fact, there were just two:

  • You had to work hard; and
  • You had to be loyal to your employer.
  • If you played by those rules, you could expect to enjoy decent employment compensation and genuine employment security for the whole of your career. As a consequence, you would be able to have all of the trappings of the American Dream. You could afford to buy a home, drive a late model car, eat out occasionally, take a vacation every year, and still have a little left over for a Valentine’s Day gift.

    This good living was available to the best and brightest among us, and in the United States of America at least, it was also within the budget of the average guy or gal. To put it another way, you could enjoy the highest standard of living on earth, while producing an average level of work. Whether your “C” level performance was a matter of inherent capability or personal choice, you could count on being able to find an employer willing to hire you and a job with a decent paycheck. It was the best of times … and it ended in 2000.

    By then, several factors had begun to change the World of work forever:

  • There are now many more people around the world who are willing and able to do some or all of the work we do;
  • These workers are easily connected to our employers by new telecommunications, more powerful computers, and the Internet; and
  • They can deliver the same caliber of work (or better) that we can and are willing to do so for less pay than we will.
  • As a result, if you had a choice between being born a genius in Shanghai and an average worker in Poughkeepsie today, the rational person would opt for Shanghai every time.

    Does that mean we are destined for a dramatic decline in the American standard of living? I don’t think so. It does mean, however, that we are destined for a dramatic change in the way we work in order to achieve that standard of living. We can no longer deliver mediocre work or work for employers or in industries that produce mediocre products and services and expect to earn a paycheck that will support the highest standard of living on the planet. The rest of the world is now competing for what we have, and they’ve changed the rules of the game in the process. To put it another way, the competition has made the average or “C” level performer obsolete.

    If you want to enjoy the American Dream, you have to adapt to the World’s new rules. Working hard and being loyal to your employer will no longer ensure your ability to find an organization that will hire you and a job with a decent paycheck. Instead, you have to:

  • work smart, and
  • be loyal to yourself.
  • These are the new dynamics of a successful career, whether you live in Poughkeepsie, New York or Pomona, California.

    Work smart

    The sole source of success in a highly competitive World is performance. It is the key to both decent compensation and genuine employment security. We have to be at the top of our game, and we have to play for winners. It’s our individual responsibility (not our employer’s) to ensure that:

  • Our skills and knowledge are at the state-of-the-art in our profession, craft or trade. No less important, we must deliver those skills and that knowledge on-the-job every day. In short, we have to work as “A” level performers.
  • and

  • Our work must be done for an employer and in an industry that have a future. We can be superior performers and still find ourselves without a job, if what we produce is no longer competitive in the world’s marketplace. In short, we have to work for “A” level employers and industries.
  • Be loyal to yourself

    If success were enough to guarantee happiness at work, then working smart would be all that’s required of us. Happiness in our workday, however, is built with both on-the-job success and from-the-heart accomplishment. It requires that we be the best we can be in a role that engages and fulfills us. In other words, we must not only do good at work, but we must do what we believe is good work. And the only way to achieve that goal is to be loyal to ourselves. Self loyalty means that:

  • We are loyal to our employer by delivering the highest possible level of performance on-the-job. This loyalty to an organization, however, is also a form of loyalty to ourselves because it’s up to us to put ourselves in a position where we can do our best work. We have to stop accepting the wrong jobs and/or the wrong employers and complaining about them, and start finding the right jobs and the right employers and doing work that fulfills us.
  • and

  • We regularly seek new opportunities to expand and express our capabilities. This unceasing quest for self-improvement is the way we compete and win in the new World of work. Sometimes it will mean a move within the same organization, and other times, it will dictate that we move on to another employer. In every case, we make the decision, and the goal is the same: to protect the American Dream for us and our families by outperforming those who want to enjoy the Indian or Chinese or Sri Lankan Dream.

    Whether the World is flat or not, it is certainly a more competitive place. We cannot survive in this environment by holding ourselves above the contest or by wishing it will go away. No, the only way to endure in this new World of work is to win, and the only way to win is to be better than the other guy or gal wherever they may live.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    FakeResume.com took bad advice (and chutzpah) to new heights with a site that encourages job seekers to learn:

  • “The best way to get fake references;”
  • “How to get college transcripts from any university with any GPA you want;” and
  • “Why you can’t afford not to lie on your resume;” as well as other ways of tricking employers that are recruiting new hires.
  • Sadly, the site is the product of someone who should know better: its creator is Derek Johnson, a former executive search consultant. What’s he trying to do? Flog his book of dishonest resume writing techniques. As he notes on the site, however, deceit is already a pandemic in the job market: Over 53% of all job seekers lie on their resumes, while over 70% of recent college graduates admit to doing so. And recruiters know that. Their response? They have dramatically expanded the checking they do on applicants’ background and work credentials and on their employment, civil, criminal and even financial records. This site, then, is the bird flu of job search. It’s certain to infect and, in all likelihood, will kill the employment prospects of anyone who comes into contact with it. Warn your friends, your family and anyone else you care about. Truth is always the best reference for a new opportunity.

    The Society for Human Resource Management conducted a study of the ways that employers are compensating for the significant increase in their employee health costs. It’s important to be aware of these factors as they will likely shape the job market and the workplace for years to come. The study found that, while some organizations have simply stopped hiring full time employees, many others are taking some or all of the following steps:

  • Increasing their expectations of employee productivity
  • Raising the cost of their goods or services
  • Decreasing other employee benefits
  • Lowering employee salaries and/or depressing raises
  • Increasing their use of offshoring and/or outsourcing
  • Decreasing their investment in employee training.
  • Staffing.org released the results of its survey of the time it took employers to fill openings in a range of industries. It found that positions are filled most quickly in the education and retail sectors and most slowly in the pharmaceutical field. On average, it took employers 53 days to select a new hire, although they typically hired accountants in 34 days and call center workers in just 23 days. At the other end of the spectrum, they were much more deliberative when it came to selecting a managerial candidate. In many cases, it took them 6 months or more to make a choice. How can you cut the time it takes to land your dream job? Avoid the scatter shot approach and focus your energies on finding those positions where you are most competitive. Once you identify the opportunities, do more than simply apply. First, tailor your resume so that it highlights the specific factors that prove your fit with the organization’s requirements and culture; then, as soon as it’s submitted, work your network to find a personal or professional contact within the organization who will refer you for the opening. Submitting a resume is fine, submitting a resume you have tailored is better, and arranging a personal referral by an employee is best, when you’re trying to win the job of your dreams. Said another way, successful job search is a proactive, not a passive activity.

    Staffing Industry Analysts published the results of its survey of the benefits offered to temporary, contract and part time workers by staffing firms. As I’ve noted before, working for a staffing firm can be a lucrative and career enhancing experience, even if you are actually seeking a full time position. If you embark on such a course however, you should set realistic expectations for the level of benefits you are likely to receive. According to the study,

  • 63% of staffing firms offer dental coverage,
  • 50% offer life insurance,
  • 46% offer vision coverage, and
  • fewer than a third (31%) offer employer-paid medical benefits.
  • In fact, temporary workers are three-and-a-half times more likely to rely on their spouse for medical coverage than are permanent employees.

    WEDDLE’s thanked supporters for their very positive response to our new outreach program called “Let Your Librarian Know.” The program is designed to put the latest editions of WEDDLE’s publications into the hands of any job seeker who would find them helpful. In effect, Let Your Librarian Know is an easy way to bring WEDDLE’s three annual publications-its Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, Directory of Employment-Related Internet Sites, and Guide to Association Web Sites-to your local library, where you can use them whenever you want and do so absolutely free. It’s as simple as contacting the library. Most librarians appreciate their patrons’ suggestions about books to add to their Reference collection, so make the call today and Let Your Librarian Know.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Your spouse had to suddenly relocate your family in order to keep their job, and now you’re looking for work in a new town. If you’re a teacher with over ten years of experience in the classroom, which of the following sites would earn a passing grade for supporting your job search?

  • TeacherJobs.com
  • Teachers-Teachers.com
  • RecruitingTeachers.org
  • TeacherTalent.com
  • 2. The restaurant at which you were employed as the executive chef has just closed down, and you need to find a new position. Where can you go online to cook up some great opportunities fast?

  • Hcareers.com
  • StarChefsJobFinder.com
  • Chef2Chef.net
  • Caterer.com
  • 3. You’re an experienced network security professional who’s tired of playing the free agent game. Which of the following sites would help you connect and communicate safely with prospective employers?

  • SecurityJobs.net
  • SecurityPeople.com
  • Dice
  • InSecure.org
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    Absolutely Health Care


    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Number of jobs: 158,000+

    Salary levels of jobs: Up to $100K/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: In the industry

    Other services for job seekers: Career information, Links to career information at other sites

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but TeacherTalent.com, a New Zealand-based site that provides resources for parents.

    2. All of the sites would be helpful.

    3. All but SecurityPeople.com, the site of a company that provides products for the physical security industry.