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.
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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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