Wise Counsel

There is another side of the coin for IT employment.

Last month, I shared the stories of readers who aren’t having great success in finding their next position. This month, I share strategies offered up by wiser folks than I about what to do to prepare for the prospect of unemployment.

Jason Lambek, an MCSA, is a relative “newbie” to tech, coming to the field in 2000. After a stint with a consulting firm, he took a job with a small family-owned company, knowing he could save them money on the support of their systems. His conclusion: “I refuse to believe I am merely lucky. I realized that one can find work in a most unlikely place… [Consider] your local 50-plus-year-old mom-and-pop outfit that will be around 50 more years from now [that] may just be throwing money away because they just don’t know that any other way exists.”

Contributing Editor Harry Brelsford has been in the business long enough to see the pendulum of fortune swing in both directions. In the midst of one of the worst downturns in the IT industry, though, he’s just moving into his second, bigger island home on an acre of land with stunning water views just outside of Seattle. How does he do it? Seeing his MCSE-related activities mature, “I dived deeper into my under-the-radar SBS niche by writing an SBS newsletter, self-publishing SBS books, starting an SBS conference and serving my 20-plus loyal SBS clients.” In other words, all of his success didn’t come strictly from billable hours as a consultant. He believes there are many other niches “waiting to be exploited in similar fashion: CRM and the other Microsoft line of business applications.”

Bruce Bibee, who works for the City of Los Angeles, suggests this: “Consider government service. Large governments rarely lay people off and the work is constant and interesting. One typically won’t get rich and there are no signing perks; but the salaries are adequate and they come with benefits: health care, generous retirement... There is minimal discrimination in government—age, race, sex—and no salary differences...”

Bill Louth, an IT Manager and MCSE who has been laid off himself, believes these “down times clear the economic forest of sick or dead wood that needs to go to clear the way for new growth.” His advice: If you’re making a good salary, don’t spend it too quickly. Set enough money aside for at least six months of unemployment. Hold off on buying that “Lincoln Navigator until the house is mostly paid off or the kid’s college funds are well on their way.” He reminds us that “the average American child with a paper route is in the top 3 percent of wage earners in the world… Visit Haiti or Calcutta and things won’t seem so bad.” He closes, “Let’s overcome these ‘tough’ times and prove ourselves people whom others look to for inspiration.”

I agree, Bill. Let’s hear it for common sense, paying in cash and getting that broader perspective.

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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