Saturday, December 29, 2012

Elimination of Redundancies

Are you a redundancy about to be eliminated?

If you work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Euronext (NYSE) you may be feeling a tad redundant after hearing that Atlanta based IntercontintentalExchange (ICE) is in the process of buying out your employer for $8.2 billion.

You will have noted that Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher expects a post-acquisition first year earnings gain of 15% and $450m in savings during year two as redundancies are eliminated and synergies are achieved (read this - your job will be cut). Nonetheless if the fact that a 12 year old company is acquiring the 220 year old NYSE doesn't wake you up, the notion that Mr. Sprecher plans to wring out nearly half a billion in year two should grab your attention.

But wait, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says he's pleased that ICE will keep the NYSE floor open in order to maintain the name and the brand ... for now, until the regulatory agencies clear the deal and the dust settles. Given the speed at which ICE has risen to prominence and the obvious aggressive and savvy nature inherent in Mr. Sprecher, the NYSE is headed for tourist attraction status alongside the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. This is all about money and you don't count. But anyway, why not, we're talking about the stock exchange, the Mecca of capitalism, so you should have seen this coming. Right?

Still your position may be dead meat and who needs that. Even though you have seen the steady move away from floor trading it's a hard pill to swallow especially if you are no longer considered of "geekish" age. The digital revolution is once again on display as trading heads to 24 hours and further globalization.

As USA columnist John Waggoner wrote on December 21, "the merger is driven by automation, a force that has thinned the ranks of companies in media, manufacturing and countless other industries in the past decade." He went on to reference the 1987 stock market plunge caused by computer-based trading, noting that "now computers are the dominant force on the NYSE" as we know. No doubt Mr. Waggoner wonders how things will turn out considering ICE's prime position in the mega billion-dollar industry of clearing credit default swaps (read this - derivatives). Recall derivatives? The Great Recession? The housing bubble collapse. Surely it's different this time ...

But back to you and what this all means. In short, you are about to be reminded that you are a Free Agent once again thinking of finding a new job. You are likely a niche specialist and this may help. Hopefully you will find something that pays just as good but I wouldn't bank on it. As you know (and you of all workers out there should) the Marketplace doesn't care what happens to you or anyone else.

In any case, I would like to hear from anyone facing this situation. How do you see it and what are you doing to deal with consolidation and (even more) specialization going forward. As the expression goes there's trouble right here in River City folks and for many on Wall Street, River City just showed up on your doorstep.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Job Search Objective and Alignment

The importance of having a Job Search Objective is hard to overstate. It is quite simply what we're out to get. Having an objective helps to organize and prioritize - to see the trees given all the forest. Without it, determining criteria and reaching conclusion is difficult. Furthermore, plotting a route is next to impossible resulting in a near guarantee of getting lost among the trees.

Yet just having an objective is only half to it. You must use it. This means working your search plan as if it were both the destination and the compass that assists in getting you there. Know that clouds will roll in and the terrain will become unexpectedly rough and difficult. You will be tempted to drift off course or jump for low hanging fruit. Don't. Stay on track and give your objective a chance to guide your route and actions along the way.

However, there's something else to consider, the connection between your objective and you. More precisely, the alignment of your all-in marketing (all that you are and do as a job seeker) and the objective you are aiming to achieve. Simply put, to maximize the odds of finding success the integration these two should be seamless and complete.

You have to be or credibly seem to be on a path to becoming what it is you are out to accomplish. The sum total of your past (experience, training, and education) + present (real time contact whether face-to-face, phone, email, or text) must match with your objective. If not, there's misalignment which sends up red flags. Recall the hiring formula (your past + your present interactions) = a leap into the future by the prospective employer. There will be no leaping if there's misalignment.

Those in alignment will be the first considered. There will be few if any red flags associated with them. They will not seem out of sync or in any way "off". They will be liked and seen as a good potential fit for the job.

In order to effectively align marketing with objective, first consider what it will take to do so. This means going beyond your desire to land a particular job. Take it further. How do you see the fit? How do you think the other person sees it? Remember, no one has the ability to look inside your head or heart to determine what you feel or want. They can only see what you do.

Your marketing do is the way you roll. Make certain, in every way possible, that  your outwardly pointed do is in alignment with your objective.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Michigan Does It - Number 24

It's the law, Michigan becomes the 24th right-to-work (RTW) state. Would the Friedman's have approved? I assume so but they were intelligent free thinking folks so who's to say just how they would view it.

What comes next?

More of the same I think. The combination of desired economic growth, conservative ideology, and big money in politics will keep the press on. In the short run the result for most workers will be lower wages and less benefits. Seriously, how could it mean anything else.

Certainly there's a whole lot to this. The Michigan story adds to the discussion and keeps the subject of labor relations and workforce issues front-and-center in the media (well sort of - its hard to compete with all that passes for news these days). Regardless, there's a process of change at work here. The old union models aren't dead but they're way out of tune. Proof of this is found in the relatively low percentage of workers represented.

The concepts of collective bargaining and unionism need air-time. Most Americans don't pay any attention, after all it's an old and dusty subject compared to reality TV. But the old models will evolve. Some new form of collectivization will happen.

The pendulum is swinging to the RTW side of the equation. This will continue and as it does, the swing itself will create a change in conditions causing it to stop and start the inevitable move back toward the middle. How far does the swing have to go before the reverse? What catalysts will induce the change? When will the new forms of collectivization begin to show? What will they look like?

In the meantime as the Friedman's would point out, American workers have more and more opportunities to choose. For starters, the choice of whether to participate or not. In a closed-shop situation there's not a great deal of individualized thinking required. RTW is different. Workers need to consider and decide - support the union or go it alone?

Unfortunately the pendulum has a ways to go. The Great Recession is far from over. Job growth numbers are suspect. They are easy for politicians and bureaucrats to chuck around but paper thin and one dimensional (as a practical matter). Perhaps the catalyst will be inflation. As interest rates rise so will prices and the real situation facing the middle class will roar to the fore.

The era of the free agent American worker is upon us. If you are in the 1 or 2 % ... well you aren't reading this blog anyway, so let's move on. If you are in the top 20 % you are cushioned. Free agency is either a way of life or a novelty but not a matter of stark reality.

For everybody else - know that you are an independent free agent selling your services to someone buying in the marketplace. This is especially acute for younger workers where the average employment tenure is well under 4 years and decreasing.

The first step in managing this situation is to recognize that it exists. To wake up. Once accomplished you can get down to your business.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Technorati and Success Finding A Job

In order to increase the visibility of Success Finding A Job, I have joined Technorati.

Part of the process of establishing an account and registering is to publish a blog claim code.

My code is        


I look forward to a growing presence on the web and I thank Technorati for their assistance in bringing this about.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Right-to-Work and The Free Agent Worker

Twenty three right-to-work states
This week Michigan legislators voted to make their state the 24th right-to-work state (RTW) in the US. The matter now heads to the governor possibly as early as next week.

The number of RTW states is approaching the 50 % mark - this is significant and another reminder that the winds of free agency for most American workers continue to gain strength.

There's an economic paradigm shift underway in the US. Basic assumptions about standard of living, fair wages, cost of living, and the condition of the middle class are under siege. These issues have already been settled in the south and interior west where there's a history of anti-union, conservative, libertarian sentiment. The fight going forward will take place in the Northeast, Midwest and Far West. Michigan and Indiana (the 23rd state to become RTW) lie in Rust Belt country. Their membership in the ranks of RTW states is a very big deal.

Yet state by state legislative wrangling over RTW is a slow read. Clearly average Americans would rather watch reality TV than consider anything remotely connected to the Taft-Hartley Act. And who can blame us, talk about boring and detail infested. Nope, it's Duck Dynasty, Real Housewives of Wherever, Breaking Amish, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Compelling stuff to the last snarl and tear.

Furthermore it's the big stories that suck up the oxygen, like the dockworkers strike in LA and Long Beach. In spite of (perhaps because of) the firm grip the strikers had on an economic jugular, it didn't last long. The strike sent up all sorts of flags and messages, not the least being that clerical workers make over $40/hr with benefits and retirement that rival the US Senate.

Chinese Container Port
I know, I know, these issues are complicated. No doubt. But imagine how this plays to a newly free agent-ized American worker now searching for a job? Furthermore compare this rate of pay to that of a counterpart in the Chinese ports of Dalian, Shanghai, Xiamen, or Qingdao - where at most their $2/hr represents 20 times less?

High profile strike events tell part of the story but certainly not all of it. Something much more sweeping and profound is what's happening in Michigan and Indiana. In states that have passed RTW legislation wages and benefits for all workers (non-union and union alike) are lower than national averages. Clearly the presence of unions and the threat of union activity can be a plus for worker wages and benefits as well as safety issues and general quality of life.

It's likely more states will pass RTW laws. Without the presence of unionized labor or credible threat of organizing, employers can't be expected to champion labor related issues. Why would they? The laws of the marketplace preclude it. The inevitable result for workers will be less group and more individual identification. In other words, the need for workers to have to fend for themselves becomes ever greater. The free agent-izing of the American worker is under way and it is here to stay.

In the end we are all independent Free Agents, it's just that many of us haven't awakened. As more states go the RTW route there will be plenty of opportunity for wake-up calls. In the meantime, no need to wait until you smell the coffee. Accept the fact that you are the captain of your own ship, maneuvering the marketplace waters of free agency. But don't expect anyone to hand you the navigation charts. You'll have to get up and get them yourself.

Actually, I'd recommend you learn how to draw your own charts.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dealing With Ugly Background Info

If there are bumps and blemishes in your background or gaps and incongruities in your work history, paper is not your friend.

Actually the word paper doesn't describe it, rather anything written, printed, or stored - whether on genuine 8.5 x 11 paper, tape, disk, or floating in the clouds of cyberspace - must to be taken seriously.

This includes background information such as criminal, legal, credit, driving, military, physical health, mental health, immigration, and more. In short, anything discover-able. It also includes anything you are required to provide on an employment application.

Needless to say if you've got potholes, frustration and disappointment can result. Some of this is unavoidable, past events are just that, past, done, and over with. They are a matter of record, somewhere. However you can complicate things (or not) depending on how you manage these snags.

Background issues and work history gaps are hard, if not impossible, to sidestep. Most applications are constructed to bring these things to light. After all, this is what the folks in the H/R department get paid to do. You know that putting them down accurately may guarantee your elimination. Nonetheless, do it; or risk compounding the heartburn.

If you are not truthful and forthcoming (and I always recommend being so) you set yourself up to get yanked from the roster at a later date for providing false or misleading information.

Imagine working hard to secure a job that matches your Job Search Objective. You like the work and the work likes you. You're good at it. And then you're canned on the spot when your employee file is re-screened as part of an upcoming promotion. An ugly situation that can set you back in a major way.

So - if the shoe fits - don't ignore these irksome yet unavoidable details.

You need to know what's out there about you. Make the effort to round up and get a handle on your uglies. I didn't know is lame. You're the one in business as a free agent seller of service. Not knowing can materially hurt you, decreasing your chances of finding a customer and making a sale (to a prospective employer). You have to know. Developing strategies to mitigate or overcome these barriers requires that you first know what they are.

I know, this seems obvious. But we're human beings after all - procrastination and avoidance anyone?

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell