Monday, September 28, 2009

Networking! Networking! Networking! Part 1

Yes, it's the mantra of the career coach pros out there, but does it really help? Well, it depends. If you are in the market for a full time job in your local area, then yes. If you are searching for SAP contracts then I think no. Let me explain.

If you are looking for a full time job in a specific geographical area, then absolutely join all of the appropriate organizations in that area. For example for a computing career join the local chapter of ACM (Association of Computing Machinists). At those meetings you will interact with potential contacts who may be able to hire you; refer you to another hiring company; or put you in touch with their contacts working at a desirable company. You may also interact with head hunters who are networking to find suitable candidates. These activities taking place in say Liverpool NY will be great for finding a job in Liverpool NY. However, it is unlikely to help you find a job in New York City. Pretty obvious eh?

If you are freelancing and looking to land a contract in a specific technology, say SAP, then I am not so sure networking helps. In the SAP world there is a rigid structure of client, recruiting company, consultant. It is extremely rare for a consultant to work directly with the end client. With that in mind, networking with end clients is a waste of time. They are not going to hire you directly. There is an organization called ASUG (America's SAP Users Group) in which I have been a member for 8 years. I have attended almost all of my regional chapter meetings and many chapter meetings throughout the US. What is the number of contracts landed as a result? You guessed it; 0.

More on this later.

Glenn Allen
Syracuse NY

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Give Up!!!

Wow, it's almost been a year since my last post. I am going to change strategy here and perhaps add smaller posts more frequently. Anyway something happened to me this week that was inspiring. Some months back I obtained a $25 gift card from American Express. This was part of a promotion from General Motors that I participated. Last week while shopping at BJ's I attempted to use my gift card and it didn't work! What? I tried using it again and the credit card read out said "INVALID CARD". I looked at the card and it expired on 01/10. Damn!

I know that $25 is not a lot of money, but too much to flush down the toilet. Never fear, I will call customer service and get the card extended. Hello, it seems that my gift card, which I only had for a few months, has expired. Please extend it or issue a new card. I promise to use this one right a way. Sorry Mr. Allen, the agreement with the client does not permit it. How else may I help you? Are you sure there is not ANY way that this could be fixed? No sir, how else may I help you? Damn!

Now, I do have an American Express card for small business. All of my past interactions with American Express, thus far, have been stellar. I called customer service and explained my plight. Well Mr. Allen you say the gift card value was $25? Yes. Please hold, let me see what I can do. 1234567890.... Mr. Allen because you have been an excellent customer and always pay your bill in full on time every month we are going to credit your account $25. Wow, that's great! Thank you so much. Mr. Allen thank you for using American Express. How else may I help you? I am all set. Thank you again.

Don' t give up! The market is still tough out there. Don't give up! Were you the number 2 candidate? Don't give up!

Glenn Allen
Syracuse NY

Monday, March 9, 2009

Down Time

How to stay busy in a down economy? That Shakespeare is the real question.

2009 so far really sucks! There is hardly any work out there. When there is a job, rates are slashed 20 to 30%. The possible projects I had lined up for January went on hold. Other subsequent promising projects have fallen to the same fate. I tried like hell to get on a crappy project in Appleton, Wisconsin. Tons of consultants applied for it. There were several recruiters vying for candidates for the same jobs. I hooked up with a recruiter local to Appleton hoping that there would be a local edge. They submitted ~7 candidates to the client who was looking to fill 5 spots. After a couple of weeks of following up, I find out that the local recruiter did not place one. Oh well.

Why do clients use so many recruiters? It's very frustrating when I review the dice job listings and they show 100 jobs but there are really only 5 because each job is advertised 20 times. Earlier in the year there was an egregious example for a project in Sacramento. Literally all of the projects on dice were the same job in Sacramento. How can this be efficient?

Down time really sucks? You spend all day applying to 4 jobs (on a good day) and then try to follow up with past submittals. You try contacting colleagues and ERP managers to see if they have any work. You troll linkedin looking for SAP contacts. You attend presentations at the university hoping to make some contacts (tonight there is a guy from AIG - not holding my breath, but hey they did receive some bailout money). You have conversations with fellow consultants, bitching about how shitty the market is. You do a little work around the house, but not to much because that's boring. You try to figure out how to create the perfect downtime job - something with low committment and decent pay - that is something you can leave in an instant if a real project comes up without alienating them for when you need them for the next downtime cycle. You fantasize about going on a 3 month vacation to anywhere (Alaska/Canada, Europe, Asia, etc.) and then come back to work when it's all sorted out.

Oh and you spend time updating your stupid blog.

Glenn Allen
Syracuse NY