Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rattling Your Corporate America Cage

I always find the job numbers thrown around in the news a bit difficult to digest. Sometimes big numbers are small percentages. Typically big cuts at small businesses are not even mentioned. Often there are qualifiers to the cuts such as early retirement, not filling open slots, etc. Recent months have brought a slew of job numbers across the economy, big business, and even some small businesses. The workers at Republic Window and Door in Chicago are a notable example. Here in Richmond, Circuit City, Land America, Qimonda, and others fill the news with cuts at all levels of the organization.

My suggestion is that you focus less on the numbers and the news and consider what lessons you can learn from the current environment. Here are a some ideas for you:

1. Beware your faith in your Corporate America paycheck.
I am reminded of an old adage to "buy as little car as you can stand and as much house as you can afford." The prior is always true, but the latter is also predicated on the thinking that your mortgage payment (before taxes) stays the same in a fixed rate loan and your pay will go up as you get raises. Not necessarily a bad strategy, but consider how many areas of your life are connected to today's paycheck AND tomorrow's larger one AND your bonus AND .... These are the financial corners into which many people paint themselves that prevent them from being able to consider other career options (ones that cannot support that financial pyramid) and make any hiccup in any aspect of pay a cataclysmic event. Of course, it doesn't help dissuade this thinking when the American consumer is implored to SPEND! in the spirit of patriotism and national interest. (Brief soapbox tangent there, so I will stop but I will avoid going back to delete the sentence.)

2. Root for some form of national health coverage.
This is the one that always raises the most eyebrows. I'll quickly give you my arguments. I have innumerable conversations with people who use their health coverage in Corporate America as a primary reason for not pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. For some this may be a red herring, but for many it is a true, harsh reality. I have been fortunate to have good enough health to be able to pursue my own options for health care, but any hiccup in your health can shut this door in an instant, thereby truly eliminating this option for people. This leaves someone no choice but to pursue only those opportunities that provide health care. I am not saying that the government would necessarily run programs better, but I believe that the blind faith in business-based health care is not without its own major flaws. [NOTE: Feel free to comment below on this one, in particular. It's always a topic sure to stir debate!]

3. Create options for yourself.
Some people feel that it is dishonest to be looking around for other jobs while at their current employer. Poppycock! (There's a word that doesn't get used enough.) As long as you are fulfilling the duties of your job and not surfing Monster all day or mentally checked out (an unfortunate, ongoing struggle in many corporations), there is absolutely no reason for you not to be networking constantly. There is not a thick black line between looking for a job and not. Keep discussions going and see where they may lead. Answer the calls from reputable headhunters. Beware of loving a corporation, because it can't love you back. Besides, a great piece of advice I received was that considering other jobs either confirms you are in the right place or leads to a better opportunity. That is a great set of options!


Robin Smith said...

Right on point, as always. I would add to your list that people should get the facts for themselves (whether its about healthcare or about their options). I find so many people make assumptions about what is available and what the costs are based on what they've heard in the media, etc. If you really want to know about your options, you should do some homework for yourself.

Matthew Markee said...

Thanks, Robin. On that point, I should have linked to a previous post on that topic. I have been amazed at misconceptions about medical premiums. Those who start by looking at their paycheck to see how much is deducted now are often surprised.