Yesterday I did 20 minutes with Brian Lehrer on WNYC, New York Public Radio. (I archived the audio on the blog post prior to this one if you’d like to listen.) We’ll be doing an Ask The Headhunter segment every week through July. Hope you’ll join us!
20 minutes is not a lot of time to take questions from listeners, or to provide much in the way of advice. But Brian’s blog is full of good follow-up questions from listeners, and I’ve tried to answer many of them in the comments section.
One listener was bugged about what I suggested about becoming a consultant in today’s economy:
This was a terrible segment. Almost chilling. The conversation seemed utterly detached from reality; the idea that someone at their kitchen table, six months into being fired, is going to be able to tell some company (and whom exactly at that company?) how to run itself, (or use information technology or green technology or whatever), is bizarre. There seemed to be a huge disconnect between the reality of the callers’ situations, and the generic bromides and cliches that the guest suggested. Brian should have worked harder to bridge this gap.
It seems that the real issue is the social and knowledge-networking isolation of the recently unemployed, and the need for supportive communities, not a dated piece on how to turn yourself into a consultant from home…
Here’s my reply:
You’re right: Unemployed people become quickly isolated. But the problem is magnified when they join “support groups.” Unemployed people gathering to share job leads and advice. Think about that. It’s patently absurd. The best thing you can do to stay motivated and to actually get something done is to hang around people who do the work you want to do. Starting your own business is not bizarre at all. Waiting for some company to come along and hire you is what’s absurd. Waiting for some personnel jockey to pluck your resume from the millions on a job board — that’s absurd. As for telling a company how to run itself better, why do you think companies hire people? Not to fill head count. They hire you to help them make more profit. If you can’t explain that to a company that you work for, you will eventually get fired or laid off. If you can’t tell it to a company you want to work for, then you have no business in the interview. Job hunting is not a step by step process. If it were, every ad would yield an interview which would yield an offer. Far from it.
That listener is pretty demoralized. Maybe I’m misreading the comments, but what I read is a plea for magic dust and for a place to commiserate with others. And my point — which I discussed with Brian at the very beginning of the segment — is that job hunters and consultants must focus first not on getting a gig. They must focus on showing a company the money. Why should anyone hire you — or even sit through an interview with you — if you aren’t prepared to show how you’re going to improve the business?
Listeners from WNYC are welcome to post more follow-up questions here — I’ll try to get to them all. Unfortunately, Brian’s blog does not handle longer URL’s so I can’t refer to relevant articles there.