Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 28;   July 15, 2009: Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure

Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure

by

Finding work in tough times goes a lot more easily if you have at least a minimum of equipment and space to do the job. Here are some thoughts about getting that infrastructure and managing it.
A grove of quaking aspen

A grove of quaking aspen (populus tremuloides). Unlike most trees, aspen propagate vegetatively. They send out shoots underground, which then grow to the surface and form what appear to be new trees. Contrary to their appearance, though, these "offspring" are actually part of the same organism. These collections of connected aspen are known as clones. The largest known clone, located in the Fish Lake National Forest in central Utah, covers 106 acres and is estimated to weigh 6600 tons. At 80,000 years of age, it is also the oldest known clone. It is likely that aspens can reach this massive size, in part, because of the powerful infrastructure they construct underground. The infrastructure allows them to spread over a wide area, which protects them from the dangers of avalanche, landslide and forest fire. If any of these calamities strike, they are less likely to destroy a large clone than a single tree.

Putting in place the infrastructure you need for a job search, even if you are employed full time, provides the insurance you might need someday if you find yourself looking for work. Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

Looking for work is always challenging, but sometimes, "challenging" isn't really a strong enough word. Still, we must carry on. In the first part of this series on finding work, we examined strategy. In this part we look at infrastructure and management issues.

Finding work is much easier if you can acquire and manage the necessary infrastructure. By infrastructure I mean the conceptual, physical, and space requirements you need for the job of finding a job. Managing your infrastructure and managing your expenses are part of that.

Infrastructure doesn't have to be fancy, complex, or expensive; indeed, a common error is excessive emphasis and investment in infrastructure and its management. Get what you really need; no more, no less.

Here are some suggestions for infrastructure acquisition and management.

Know your run rate
Monitor your spending rate. In a severe recession, regular paychecks might be some time off in your future, so monitor your spending. Calibrate your remaining liquid assets in days or months. Adjust spending accordingly.
Practice thrift by reducing your run rate
Selling off the family ranch creates cash, but it also hurts, so take no drastic steps unless you need to. It's the dozens of little decisions that make the least painful difference. If you're measuring your run rate, you can control it more easily, and even reduce it. Rent DVDs instead of going to a movie theater; if you go to the theater, don't buy the popcorn; jog in the park instead of on a treadmill at a health club.
Dedicate some space to your office
You need an office: desk, file cabinet, comfortable chair, computer, stationery, supplies, and so on. If you can't dedicate a room, dedicate space. Use an electronic calendar to keep appointments straight.
Get first-rate phone facilities
If you're measuring your run rate,
you can control it more easily,
and even reduce it
Callers should never get a busy signal. When you're unavailable or on the line, voicemail or an answering service is essential, depending on the stature of the position you seek. Your home phone is not a business line. Get a dedicated line and use a headset.
Have a mobile office
Even when traveling to interviews, networking meetings, or professional society meetings, you need to stay in contact with your office. If you can manage with a smartphone, fine, but get what you need. If you're still using a bulky day planner, rethink it: go smaller or go electronic.
Consider having your own domain name
If you need email access, gmail is free and has a clean, professional image. But if you have a common name, your gmail account name might be somewhat unprofessional: jsmith2027 for instance. Consider getting your own domain name for email service.

If you're reading this, you probably have a computer. Does it belong to your employer? If it does, and you lose your job, what then? First in this series  Next in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing  Next Issue

For more on finding work in tough times, see "Finding Work in Tough Times: Strategy," Point Lookout for July 8, 2009; "Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing," Point Lookout for July 22, 2009; and "Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications," Point Lookout for July 29, 2009.

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