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

Last updated: August 8, 2018

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

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

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.

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A cup of coffeeHow to Procrastinate
You probably know many techniques for procrastinating, and use them regularly, but vociferously deny doing so. That's what makes this such a delicate subject that I've been delaying writing this article. Well, those days are over.
A Kemp's Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi), ashore, probably to lay eggsSeven Ways to Get Nowhere
Ever have the feeling that you're getting nowhere? You have the sense of movement, but you're making no real progress towards the goal. How does this happen? What can you do about it?
Henri Laurence Gantt, inventor of the Gantt ChartThe Tyranny of Singular Nouns
When groups try to reach decisions, and the issue in question has a name that suggests a unitary concept, such as "policy," they sometimes collectively assume that they're required to find a one-size-fits-all solution. This assumption leads to poor decisions when one-size-fits-all isn't actually required.
Two components of the U.S. Consumer Price Index for 1994-2010Constancy Assumptions
We necessarily make assumptions about our lives, including our work, because assumptions simplify things. And usually, our assumptions are valid. But not always.
Bull moose sparring in Grand Teton National ParkContextual Causes of Conflict: I
When destructive conflict erupts, we usually hold responsible only the people directly involved. But the choices of others, and general circumstances, can be the real causes of destructive conflict.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill BridgeComing September 25: Planning Disappointments
When we plan projects, we make estimates of total costs and expected delivery dates. Often these estimates are so wrong — in the wrong direction — that we might as well be planning disappointments. Why is this? Available here and by RSS on September 25.
Samples of bubble wrapAnd on October 2: Start Anywhere
Group problem-solving sessions sometimes focus on where to begin, even when what we know about the problem is insufficient for making such decisions. In some cases, preliminary exploration of almost any aspect of the problem can be more helpful than debating what to explore. Available here and by RSS on October 2.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership

On 14The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.

Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power

Many The
Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.