Feature: The World Is Flat

Feature: The World Is Flat

Feature: The World Is Flat

That’s the name of a new book by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. As Friedman sees it, the world lost its globular quality because the advanced technology developed over the past twenty-five years has “leveled the playing field” among the nations of the world. Now, engineers in New Delhi and programmers in Poland can shoot information back and forth to Boise and Brooklyn as fast as engineers and programmers located right here in the good old U.S. of A..

It’s an interesting perspective, but it misses a key point: when people last thought the world was flat-you know, back when Columbus sailed the ocean blue-the information they accepted as truth was way off the mark. People were told and believed that the Atlantic Ocean was inhabited by sea monsters and that, at its farthest most limits, it just rolled over and off the face of the earth. Today, of course, we know better. Yet, that experience, it seems to me, offers a cautionary tale for those of us who now navigate the information rich depths of the Internet.

There’s an almost limitless range of information online and a growing segment of it has to do with finding a job and managing your career. You can access information on:

  • resume writing,
  • career planning,
  • negotiating your salary,
  • conducting an interview,
  • networking online and off,
  • dealing with a problem boss,
  • dressing for success when visiting an employer, and
  • just about any other topic related to job search and career self-management.
  • The Internet is flat, and that characteristic means there is no barrier to accessing more information than you could ever read. It’s that very accessibility, however, that creates a potential problem. In a flat world, you can find lousy information just as easy as you can find information that is helpful. You can connect with opinions and ideas and suggestions and comments that will serve your interests, and you can connect with other content that won’t. Worse, you can connect with information that can actually harm your job search and hurt your chances of achieving your career goals.

    For example, I’ve seen:

  • guidelines for managing your career written by summer interns who’ve yet to graduate from college (and have a career),
  • resume writing tips that are a thinly veiled come-on for a resume writing company,
  • a set of do’s and don’ts for finding a job online that was written back in 1994 when there were fewer than 25 job boards, and
  • an article that purported to reveal the secrets of networking online that was just plain wrong.
  • To succeed in a flat world, therefore, we have to be more discriminating in our use of information. To navigate the Internet effectively-to gain helpful knowledge from the time and effort we invest there-we have to focus on the best information we can find. In other words, the trick to surviving in a flat world is a well rounded dose of caution. You must be careful to use only the information that will serve you best.

    How do you do that? Here are three tips that can help:

    First, be careful about who creates the information you use. Find out who the author is, by name. An organization, a Web-site or a job board is not an author. A person wrote the content you’ve found online, and that person’s name should be available. If it’s not, move on to other information. There’s plenty for you to pick from on the Web.

    Second, be careful about which authors you rely on. Assess their credentials and their track record. Do a browser search and see what else they’ve written and where their articles, papers or comments have appeared. There’s a reason why some authors are widely published and others are not (if they’re published at all); some are simply much better-they’re more insightful, more discerning, more rigorous in their thinking-than others.

    Third, be careful about how much information you acquire from the GAP-the Great American Public. I know this is the era of blogging and free-for-all commentary at newsgroups and other online forums, but such content has its limitations. Some of the information you can acquire this way is definitely worth your investment of time, but not all of it is. The danger of blogs and newsgroups, therefore, is not only that you may access incorrect or marginally useful information about job search and career self-management, but that you can spend so much time doing so that you miss out on the truly helpful information that is available elsewhere.

    A flat world can be a dangerous place, whether it’s on the high seas or in cyberspace. There may not be sea monsters on the Web, but there are definitely mammoths of misinformation and misguided opinion. You need to protect yourself, therefore, and the best way to do that is to be circumspect about the sources you use to acquire information online. Use only those with proven credibility because they, alone, are your sure heading-your true north-to success.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. May is Make a Friend Smile Month. How can you do that? Tell them about WEDDLE’s newsletter. That’ll get them smiling in May, in June, in July and every month after that!

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported some interesting statistics about the kinds of benefits that workers are currently receiving from their employers. Among full time workers it found that:

  • 89% received paid holidays,
  • 70% received paid sick leave,
  • 84% received health insurance, and
  • 68% received some form of retirement.
  • Why do you care about these data? You can use them to evaluate your current employer or, if you’re an active job seeker, to assess an opportunity presented by a new employer. Ask yourself this question: “Is the organization measuring up to the norm among employers? There are other factors to consider, of course, but these four provide an important perspective on an organization’s commitment to its employees’ near term wellbeing (their work-life balance) and longer term security (the quality of their post working life). If you’re a top performer in your field, you want to work for a top organization. They’re the ones that walk the talk-they not only say that talent is important to the organization’s success, but they put their money were their benefits are.

    CareerJournal.com found that signing bonuses are making a comeback. They’re still less prevalent than in the go-go days of the dot.com bubble, but they are being used, especially with candidates who have rare skills (e.g., certain IT specialties, engineering, radiology techs). A typical bonus for middle managers and professionals runs 5-10% of base salary, and a senior executive can get as much as 100% of base. Even if you don’t work in a super-hot field, you can still grab a bonus … if you’re a superstar. Employers want to hire the best talent they can find, so the better you are at your profession, craft or trade and the better you can articulate the differentiating contribution you can make to the organization’s success, the more likely you are to grab a bonus on your way in the door.

    Military.com has launched a new channel for the spouses of military personnel. Commissioned by the Department of Defense Office of Military Community & Family Policy, the area is located at www.Military.com/spouse. It offers career advice, a job board and family support resources, including information on childcare and youth programs.

    Nielsen-Netratings reported that traffic to career Web-sites in June, 2004 was 30% higher than during the same period a year earlier. Traffic totaled almost 27.2 million people or about 18% of the total online population. What does that mean for you? You’re going to find lots of competition for the jobs posted at these sites, and you will need to stand out to be successful. How do you do that? Have a very strong resume and know how to practice the “application two-step.”(See my March 3, 2005 newsletter for a full description; you can reach it by clicking here.) Basically, you have to submit your resume twice: once, following the directions included in the job posting, and a second time, via an employee of the organization to whom you’ve networked. This approach leads with your strengths (a resume that underscores the contribution you can make to an employer) and strengthens your lead (it gets your resume on the top of the recruiter’s “to be considered” pile).

    Yahoo! HotJobs released the results of a survey among college seniors, and this year’s class earns an A in job search! Among the 700 respondents to the poll, over half (52%) had either found a job or were “extremely optimistic” that they would by August. Astonishingly, 85% of these soon-to-be-graduates had already gone on an interview! This success is directly attributable to their being more proactive than previous graduating classes-37.4% began their job search before graduation, compared to just 14.4% that did so last year. They have also shown more patience. More than a third (35%) said that finding a job in their chosen field was more important than taking a higher paying job doing something else. This old fashioned notion of “paying your dues” may initially mean a bit lower standard of living-at least when compared to those in previous graduating classes where higher starting salaries always trumped getting experience in a field-but it will pay big dividends in the longer term.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. You’re a certified public accountant with experience in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. If you’ve decided to look for a position with a corporate employer, which of the following sites would be an asset in your search?

  • CPAjobs.com
  • jobsinthemoney.com
  • WebCPA.com
  • CPA2biz.com
  • 2. You’re a seasoned sales rep looking for a new job in the construction materials industry. Which of the following sites would lay a solid foundation for job search success?

  • JustClosers.com
  • TopSellers.com
  • SuperSales.com
  • GreatReps.com
  • 3. You’ve had a lot of experience in industrial security and feel you’re ready to take on a management position. Which of the following sites would help you secure an appropriate opportunity with a new employer?

  • ASISonline.org
  • iHireSecurity.com
  • TheBlueLine.com
  • Bsafe.com
  • (answers below)

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

    BostonWorks

    www.bostonworks.com

    The Career Site of The Boston Globe

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: Regional: USA-Greater Boston, MA

    Number of jobs: 22,633

    Salary levels of jobs: Up to $200K+/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments, Career information, Links to other sites with additional information/resources

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All of them.

    2. Only JustClosers.com; TopSellers.com is a promotional site for a Web-site development company, SuperSales.com is a “gamers superstore” and GreatReps.com is the site of a manufacturer’s rep company.

    3. All but Bsafe.com, the site of an Internet security company.

    N

    N

    N

    N