Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
"be consistent"
 
PerlMonks  

Help in Tough Times

by ELISHEVA (Prior)
on Mar 08, 2009 at 13:24 UTC ( #749126=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

All the world's a very narrow bridge:
The essential thing is not to be afraid.
-- Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (18th century)

With unemployment in the US at its worst in 30 years (and the EU sure to follow soon) I thought it might be an opportune time to gather together some of the past posts on job transition. Here are a few I've found via Super Search:

Thoughts on transitions - by choice and otherwise:

  • New Languages to Learn - if my company is merging and I'm about to lose my job, what should I do? Learning new technical skills can help, but it is only a piece of the picture.
  • Changing Jobs - Various thoughts and experiences related to changing jobs, sometimes by choice, sometimes not.
  • Why do monks put up with it? - constructive ways to deal with jobs/technology you hate and why telling your fellow monks "I'd quit!" or "Put up or ship out" is not a good idea. - written in Sept, 2000 after the dot.com bust - a time that looks like a picnic today.
  • (OT) Programmer Job Search How-to - a thread started by a parent looking for suggestions about how to help his son, a recent college graduate with a CS major, find a job. Contains a number of creative suggestions that might also apply to people looking for that next job.
  • (OT) What should I do with my life (career advice sought)? - a thread targeted at those whose programming skills developed incidental to their "real" job - some thoughts on how to present a resume and look more like a software developer.
  • Perl Jobs - suggestions if you are looking for entry level perl jobs

Making yourself more marketable/employable:

How we see ourselves influences the way we present ourselves and search for jobs. Here are some threads that may provide food for thought:

Formal employment at a company may not be the only option. Here are some thoughts on alternatives to "yobs":

Getting a perspective on where our industry is going may also help in the job search. Recessions often rearrange the job market causing old professions to die and new ones to rise up (see Job Losses Hnt at Vast Remaking of the Economy @NY Times for a recent essay on this topic). We can't predict the future, but we may be able to make some reasonable guesses by looking back at how others read the market 5, 10 years ago and what has changed since then. So...

  • Easiest city to find Perl work: - although this was a poll (from 2006), it triggered some discussion about which cities likely have the greatest concentration of jobs. It is three years old so the list of cities might not be the same today, but the reasoning behind each person's opinion might inspire some ideas of where to look for the next hot market. One interesting factoid: the most popular answer "Where I live; I telecommute" clocked in at 38%
  • (OT) Where is programming headed? - when does a programming language become obsolete? Who decides? This thread reflects the wars at the turn of the century between OOP, procedural and functional programming. But there will be new wars and the issues raised by this thread will shape the next language/skills/paradigm debate - whatever that is.

Whether you are looking for a job or consulting gig, here are some thoughts on handling interviews and negotiations:

Thoughts on keeping yourself busy between projects: Long job hiatuses can make one look rusty and out of date. One way to avoid this is to start a programming project of your own. Here are some threads that might help you:

And finally some thoughts about how to use PM during those down times:

  • New levels and new habits - Not really about jobs - but does suggest that getting involved in asking and answering questions might be a good way to keep Perl skills fresh and networking alive while one is between projects or jobs.
  • Serious & personal meditation - on the pros and cons of PM infatuation.

What are some of the best PM threads you remember on job hunting, dealing with job loss, retraining, career development and learning Perl? Are there some particularly astute non-PM posts on the topic that you would like to share?

Best, beth

Note: there are a lot of links here - please message me if you notice any broken ones, I'll try to fix it promptly. Thanks, in advance.

Comment on Help in Tough Times
Re: Help in Tough Times
by zentara (Archbishop) on Mar 08, 2009 at 15:26 UTC
Re: Help in Tough Times
by repellent (Priest) on Mar 08, 2009 at 19:34 UTC
    Beautiful!++ Thanks for writing this.

    In my somewhat limited $work experience, after having been through a few layoff rounds (and now forced vacations & salary cut), I've often asked myself whether we could change our "fate" the next time the chopping block, so to speak, comes around.

    My current opinion is that management really labels the individual professional, like a stamp on the forehead, with the most resounding technical skill which distinguishes that individual. There's not much the individual can do if that skill is deemed obsolete, despite showing great aptitude to change/learn/adapt to a new technical skill. If it's layoff time, and there's someone else with a forehead stamp that's in demand but yours is obsolete, well... let's just say it'd probably be worth more of your time to scrub the stamp off your forehead first than it is to jump into textbooks learning up the new in-demand skill.

    I'm very likely to be wrong here since this is a gross generalization. Anyone with similar experience, contradicting takes, etc.?
      Anyone with similar experience, contradicting takes, etc.?

      Nothing can help you if your employer makes stupid decisions. Invest in yourself.

Re: Help in Tough Times
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Mar 09, 2009 at 03:04 UTC

    This is an exceptionally nice “digest” of great links.

    The biggest skill to learn, I think, is selling. ”Let's face it:   you're expensive.” If no one understands the value that you bring, and if you can't explain the benefits of “your product, i.e. you” without pulling-out a slide rule, then you plainly know nothing about selling.

    Companies who are facing financial pressure – and these pressures are now extreme – feel pressured to cut costs anywhere they can, literally in order to remain solvent. (They're not joking about this.) You need not only selling-skills, but good selling-skills, to make the case that your job (or your department or whatever) is vital to help the company make money and avoid expense.

    As an aside, I would caution you about “getting your desperate dreams up” about striking out on your own. This is not an advantageous time to take any sort of plunge along those lines, because funding for the kinds of projects that might get outsourced to people like you was probably the first thing to get frozen.

        The biggest skill to learn, I think, is selling. ”Let's face it: you're expensive.” If no one understands the value that you bring, and if you can't explain the benefits of “your product, i.e. you” without pulling-out a slide rule, then you plainly know nothing about selling.

      Very well put -- I think I'm going to have a chat with my manager tomorrow on that very point.

      Alex / talexb / Toronto

      "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

      I have partial disagreement about contracting in this economy.

      The problem with contracting right now is that there are a lot of laid off people, and many of them are trying to go into contracting. So there is a lot of competition. However on the flip side a lot of companies who did layoffs have found, or will find, that they now have too few people for some key project X. They do not wish to hire full time employees at the moment, but the project is still necessary. As a result contract work is opening up.

      The question is who gets that work. First dibs tend to go to people who the companies in question know to be good. Which means that if you're fresh out of work and are looking for a break, you're going to have a lot of trouble. However anecdotal reports from some people I know says that people who have established a reputation for themselves are now busier than ever.

      Speaking personally I'm on both sides of this dynamic. I was not laid off, however my employer made me go part time for a few months. (I have been offered my full time job back starting in May.) I therefore have been looking for contracting. I'll be honest and say that coming up with contracts takes a lot of effort. But with what I've found already, I'm better off now than I was when I worked full time. Of course who knows how long that will last?

      For obvious reasons I would not recommend that anyone voluntarily quit their jobs in this market without a very good reason. However if you're without a job, don't automatically rule contracting out as a possibility. If you're interested in doing this, though, do everything in your power to make it happen. Post your resume on job boards. Register for sites like Sologig. Let your friends know that you're looking. And above all, take advantage of everything that Linked In has to offer. Update your profile and your friends will know you are looking. They have a job board and lots of people don't think to look there. Plus if you have a lead on anything, anywhere, go look up any names you hear about on Linked In. What you're looking for is to find out whether you're lucky enough to share any connections. If so, then try to get your connection to make a personal referral for you. When a hiring manager is looking at a stack of resumes, there is no simpler way to force him or her to look at one in the middle than to get a referral from a friend.

      Update: I added some advice for people who are on the market.

      As an aside, I would caution you about “getting your desperate dreams up” about striking out on your own. This is not an advantageous time to take any sort of plunge along those lines, because funding for the kinds of projects that might get outsourced to people like you was probably the first thing to get frozen.

      That's certainly a common assumption, at least. Personally, though, I've been freelancing for a bit over four years now and things don't seem any better or worse for me than usual at the moment. I've also seen a lot of people on the various freelance blogs and such saying that things have really been picking up for them lately - far more than are reporting harder-than-usual times.

      That said, though, I expect that tilly's theory is probably correct: If you have an established reputation, things are likely to be getting better. If you don't, you may be left out in the cold if you go for it on your own.

        You've been doing it for four years, and you started in a better economy. All that I am really saying is, “don't harbor any illusions.” Contracting is neither easy, nor certain, nor is it particularly attractive. I was meeting last night with an attorney (“attorneys make the big bucks, right? ...”) who's having a baby! Great news, huh? Uh uh. No insurance. Nor will they now be able to get any:   the future bambino is a “pre-existing condition.”

        You can set up a proper LLC, build up a customer base, and purchase insurance, and even write it off when you do. But all of that takes time. If you have never actually done it before...

        “Just no illusions, okay? Good luck! It may well be the best, or the only, chance you've got. But, no illusions.”

Re: Help in Tough Times
by Anonymous Monk on Mar 09, 2009 at 03:20 UTC

    It's timely that this post appears tonight on Perlmonks, and is also the Best Node of the day. A couple of people at the company I work at were 'cut' recently, and I'm beginning to feel more than a little paranoid about the security of my own job.

    I've been working hard recently on a project with a vague, changing specification and an impossible deadline. The first part's almost done, and another guy is going to be taking over for the second part while I get up to speed on his stuff (which is similar -- there are only two of us familiar with this collection of code). And I smell a fish, because once he's up to speed on my stuff (not that I've been hoarding information), I'm expendable.

    Thanks lots for your post -- I hope I don't need it any time soon. I've tagged it for a more complete read later on.

      The first part's almost done, and another guy is going to be taking over for the second part while I get up to speed on his stuff (which is similar -- there are only two of us familiar with this collection of code). And I smell a fish, because once he's up to speed on my stuff (not that I've been hoarding information), I'm expendable. [emphasis added]

      Or he is. And he probably realizes this, too, and is feeling just as paranoid.

      Best of luck to both of you.

      HTH,

      planetscape

      It's pretty obvious that:   “one shall be taken, the other shall be left.”

      If the project is “vague and impossible,” it might be “a wart on the project plan.” In other words, it has become a task that (a) may no longer have a (pressing) business requirement, and (b) at least represents a lot of sunk-cost until someone can figure out how either to defer it or to get rid of it altogether. “But the good news is,” as someone is surely saying in a high-level meeting, “at least we know there is a sure-fire way to cut costs by 50%.”   .. .. ..  :-/

      As an aside:   this is one of the best threads I have read anywhere in a very long time, and it's a link to a great many other older threads that I never knew existed.

Re: Help in Tough Times
by Limbic~Region (Chancellor) on Mar 19, 2009 at 15:19 UTC
    ELISHEVA,
    I have been programming perl since 2002-07-11. I have intentionally never worked as a programmer as my primary vocation for various reasons that are not germane to this thread. I have also done some freelancing at various points during that time frame and have found that it can be a very strange and dangerous market. I appreciate this thread and have already pointed a few people to it. Here are a few more links you may (or may not) want to consider adding. I shamelessly updated this node because it originally only included one link (which you already had listed).

    Cheers - L~R

Re: Help in Tough Times
by blahblahblah (Priest) on Mar 21, 2009 at 04:20 UTC
    I can add personal experience to the comments by tilly and others that businesses are likely to favor contractors during the recession. The higher-ups here are definitely favoring contractors lately, and they view them as less risky than full-time developers. We've hired 4 perl programmers over the last 10 months: the first was salary, the last 3 were contractors.

    Besides networking, where do you prefer to do your job hunting? We used to love jobs.perl.org. While the rest of the company relied on recruiters, we developers had the luxury of a low-volume, high-quality source of applicants. However, the last few times we posted there we got a flood of very low-quality responses, and we've semi- given up on using the site. We've turned to the recruiters, and they're pretty good. From the best I can tell, they just get leads from the big sites like monster.com, but they filter out the junk and pre-interview candidates, saving us a lot of time and effort.

    If I can offer one bit of advice: clean up your resume and make sure that you can explain all of the points mentioned in it. It amazes me how often people list some interesting-sounding project that they were responsible for, or some experience with a particular language/platform/db, but then cannot give a clear explanation of it. That completely undermines your credibility.

    I'm curious, are many other monks part-time or full time managers? Surely I can't be the only one around here who eventually got pushed into management. After many years of being just a developer, I spent a couple of years doing half-and-half management/developing, and just this past year I've wound up doing full-time management when my boss retired.

Log In?
Username:
Password:

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: perlmeditation [id://749126]
Approved by ww
Front-paged by Old_Gray_Bear
help
Chatterbox?
and the web crawler heard nothing...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others studying the Monastery: (7)
As of 2014-11-29 07:54 GMT
Sections?
Information?
Find Nodes?
Leftovers?
    Voting Booth?

    My preferred Perl binaries come from:














    Results (204 votes), past polls