Archive for career
With all the company layoffs going on lately, you’re probably either really worried about being laid off, or have already been so. Either way if you think about it you don’t really have control of the situation.
Many career experts and advisers talk about how to do well in interviews, who’s hiring, what degrees you should get, what careers are hot, what industries are growing, etc. There’s some good information there, but it comes with an implicit belief which is never mentioned: the employer is in charge. As we grow up we are told to do well in school so that we can get a good job, get a college education so that we can be marketable, and so on. After years of layoffs, downsizing, rightsizing and restructuring the idea that employers will provide you with a lifetime of secure, well-paid employment are long over. So now I want you to take charge of your career. The biggest stumbling block to making more money is your thoughts about money and your perceived self-worth. Of course, making money takes effort and lots of action but I find that before this can take place, you need to change your way of thinking.
This might be a good time to take back control of your career. One way is to consider consulting. The hourly rates are much higher, you pay less taxes, have all sorts of deductions and control your work schedule. Take a few months off in between contracts if you want. I save lots of money during my contracts so I can take months off whenever I want. I even went back to college for jazz guitar at age 36.
Even as an employee, you can change your mindset. Keep learning. Take some night courses. Do lots of networking and enhance your profile online by writing a blog, articles, and so on. Establish yourself as an expert and have a network you can use to change jobs whenever you want.
I have a perfect example of what I have been talking about in this blog (as far as what NOT to do as an employee). A colleague of mine who is an employee of an IT consulting firm just told me that he’s been working 65+ hours for the past month so far including long days and weekends. I asked him if he was getting paid overtime. He said no, because it was a fixed price project that his employer had won. I asked if he was at least able to bank the time (and take it as days off later), he also said no to that too. ‘They’ weren’t accepting banked time for this project. Understand that if an employer pays you overtime on a fixed price that it will chew into their profits on the project. While IT projects are sometimes difficult to make money on (especially fixed price projects), they should build in a contingency for this uncertainty.
He also mentioned his utilization rate. This rate is calculated as the number of hours billed / number of hours worked. If this number get low then you can imagine the employer won’t be happy. This might put a bullseye on your back if it stays low for a while. My colleague’s rate has been fairly low because he’s been ‘on the bench’ for a while. (‘On the bench’ means he hasn’t been on a project – being charged to the client by his employer). So by working overtime he’s increasing his utilization rate.
On one of his previous projects he was only being charged out at 50% (about 20 hours per week) since the position was for a part-time consultant. But because this was a support role for an application in production, he ended up working almost full-time. Because this extra time was not being charged his utilization rate was also not 100%, but closer to 50%.
While we’re at it, another colleague of mine was on a consulting project where the employer would only pay overtime after the employee worked more than 8 hours above the regular work week (ie. above and beyond 40 hours/wk). This sometimes happens when there is a difference between the work week of the client and the work week of the employer.
No, no, no, no, NO!!!!!
- Whether you are on a fixed price contract or time and materials through your employer is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. You need to bank your hours or get paid overtime for these hours
- If you are on the bench, or have been on the bench in the past this is not your fault – the fact that your employer hasn’t found you continuous work is NOT YOUR PROBLEM
- If your utilization rate is less than ideal, this is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. It is the employer’s job to find your work and keep you 100% chargeable. If you’re on part-time projects this is because they put you there.
- If you’re an employee you should get paid overtime for any hours above the work week of your employer. And you better believe that in most cases they are charging the client for your hours!
I consider this to be employee abuse. If I were to state my main goal as a blogger about employee empowerment, it would be to stop employer abuse of employees.
Employees tend to blame themselves for not being chargeable. “I must not have enough experience”, or “If I had more relevant skills, I would be more chargeable”. Don’t fall into the same trap. They hired you based on your known skills at the time. It’s their job to keep you busy. Of course you will be taking courses and learning new skills when you can. You will work overtime when required to get the job done successfully.
If you can’t get your employer to agree on this, you might want to consider contracting.
DumbLittleMan says Recognize that all jobs suck. I totally agree. He’s got lots of great points on transforming your career. But make sure you understand what work is for. It’s not to hang out with buddies after work, have access to free video games and beverages. It’s to make money so that you can have the lifestyle and freedom you desire.
Here’s an example of why working hard for the hopes of a future raise doesn’t pay. Literally.
Here’s another great post about the Big Lie our parents told us and my comments.