A gig, a joint, a position, a role, a racket, a profession, a grind, they’re all still a job. Employment.
If you’re a creative type, living in the rust belt, or were as foolish as our staff and majored in liberal arts, you’ve probably found yourself unemployed or scrambling from project to project in this post-career employment economy. At some point you’ll have to make ends meet and this will mean one thing: working for someone else. And if your only skills take place outside of cyberspace, or you speak languages spoken only by human beings, then good luck convincing anyone to pay you even slightly more than minimum.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech venture capitalist, is fond of noting that on a long enough timeline everything gets commodified. In a competitive marketplace, whatever advantage a company is enjoying for the moment will soon be exploited by everyone under the sun. He believes that in the modern & fast-moving economy a firm must pump-out new products and services every 18 to 36 months to remain afloat.
This means that all jobs are less secure than ever. Everyone is in business for themselves.
Compounding the incessant cascade of obsolescence is the traditional Malthusian trap; more people available to do work than available work to get done.
One way or another, sooner or later, you’re going to have to hustle up a job.
We like our readers flush enough to buy things from our advertisers, so here’s Writtalin.com’s official guide to landing your next paying gig:
Flip the script, commodify THEM – In the normal world, dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of applications flow into the HR director’s inbox when they list an opening. They’re forced into doing demeaning and impersonal group interviews. With all that excess of hiring material, employers can use totally arbitrary and meaningless reasons for cutting someone out: “This guy doesn’t understand the Oxford comma, get him out of here!” So flip-the-script on them, open twenty browser tabs and go apply for, bid on, write proposals for or otherwise audition for as many positions as you can. Spend time doing a bit of research, know what you’re getting into, but then let those applications rip like a gatling gun of avocation.
Embellish your credentials in the same way that they embellish their job descriptions – “Great opportunity for advancement,” “flexible hours,” or “energetic & creative atmosphere,” are on the same level of almost-truth as “developed teams to track KPIs,” or “fluent in C++.” You watched some Lynda.com videos about C++, you’re not fluent in exactly the same way that nobody on their team has any opportunity for moving up the company. “Opportunity for advancement” = high attrition rate. Don’t be fooled, see through The Matrix.
Go on to Elance and light that site UP – Create a quick profile that makes it sound like you’re the Jonas Saulk of your industry. If you’re living in a first world country you’re already at an advantage here (sorry developing nations).
Pick a few ripe targets, and put them in your crosshairs – Get a short list of positions you’d like to land and do your due diligence. Log on to LinkedIn and find out who will be looking at your application. Write them some InMail, or better yet, call them up and speak to them directly. Do whatever you have to so that you’re not just another name on a piece of paper. Here, a little bit of personality does go a long way. Afraid that showing a little leg will put them off? Don’t be, you don’t want to work for anyone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.
If they haven’t talked to you like a human, don’t fill out anything – Unless you’re really, truly desperate (which we hope you’re not), don’t do a damn bit of paperwork beyond the application that you don’t have to. Your time is worth more than completing a 120 question personality test in the absence of any human contact from their company. You haven’t qualified this opportunity enough to invest that kind of time yet. Sending in your CV, filling out their application, and contacting their HR department politely and respectfully should afford the same level of respect from them. You know how humans get to know one another? They talk, they don’t ask someone to go fill out a personality test before even looking at their face.
When you land the interview, grill ‘em – Walk into that meeting, be it in-person, over the phone, or on Skype, have a fistful of bold, relevant questions in a holster to grill your interviewers with. Make them qualify the job to you. What really are the opportunities for advancement? Who was the last person who advanced out of this job and where did they land? What skills did they develop here? Be a bull in a China shop with these people. This does a few things: it makes you look serious, it makes them feel like they have to sell you the job, and it’ll also indicate to you how well they understand their own business. A hell of a lot of people don’t.
Always keep Value vs. Cost in mind – Ask this question: is the value I’m offering this company worth more than the cost I’m charging them. They don’t give even a measly, single fuck about your bottom line, they just want you to deliver something. If you know what that thing is, and know that you can deliver it, ask if you’re charging them enough for it. It’s up to you to make sure you’re squeezing every dime out of them you can, because you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be doing the same to you.
Remember that you’ve spent your time & focus developing skills, you’re creative, you’ve got talent and you’ve got a track record. If not, go back to the whiteboard & develop yourself until you do, and you feel it in your balls.
Don’t let the world of employment trick you into thinking that they’re holding all the cards, they aren’t. They need someone. Show up, commodify them, grind them with questions, let them qualify their job to you and then negotiate something that maintains your self-respect. Remember: you can always end up getting naked on a webcam for cash.
Best of luck,
-The Writtalin Team