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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Current Job Market


California Bob reports:
So I was at my new job for about 5 weeks when my boss suddenly resigned.  Bit of a shocker.
Of course you never know the internal dynamics until you start, and even then it takes a while to interpret things.  But the situation here is, they are running out of cash, my boss doesn't like dealing with the marginally competent people, the apathetic people, or the rather mercurial owners.
A short while after I started, when he got comfortable with me, he began complaining bitterly about everything.  As do many people there.  He only gave 2 weeks notice.
In his view, the owners have no business sense, they burn through cash and then ask "where's the cash?", the operational people similarly are incompetent, etc., etc.
My views are somewhat more nuanced: the owners are focused on developing a brand and market presence, growth, and valuation rather than profitability.  They are top-heavy on highly-paid pompous executives, and various highly paid specialists, who do little to improve the business.  They have completely ignored some very basic administrative stuff that is hurting their cash flow: inventory control, reconciling credit cards receipts, etc., opting instead to focus on expensive packaging and marketing initiatives......
Anyway we have about 2 months cash left.  All it takes is 1 investor to keep us in business, but it would have to be a very risk-tolerant investor.
I understand you need to be employed at least 3 months before collecting unemployment, so that could be just about right!  Wish me luck.
Another person I know got an interview at some high-tech company and they want the applicant to prepare and deliver a power point presentation from a technical document. The request sounded a bit unusual, and so a query reached my desk, so to speak. In due course I offered up these pearls of wisdom:
Normal? There is no normal, at least not in these trying times.
On one hand it's like asking someone to do some work for free. On the other hand it is a pretty good test of whether they can do the work.
My neighbor got a Phd in some kind hi-tech optics. He spent the last few years flying all over the world giving presentations at conferences.
It's one thing to be able read and understand that document. I can see that it is fairly technical. It's another thing to be able to communicate the essence to other people.
The power point aspect is good in that it gives you two ways to present your message: orally and visually. So even if your presentation is weak in one area, you can compensate in the other. Best would obviously be to shine in both.
Some people (like my wife) do better with the spoken word. Other people, like me, do better with pictures.
To really top it, you need to be aware of how nuances of presentation can present certain aspects in a more or less favorable light. ("Yes, I've heard that the XYZ process works well, but I haven't actually seen any of their results. I have seen the results of the ABC process and I am impressed.")
Another aspect of power point is you can direct your audience's attention either towards or away from yourself. By speaking, you are drawing attention to yourself. By directing their attention to a slide, or a particular detail on a slide, you can draw attention away from yourself. It's essentially sales, but you have to understand your subject, and not everyone can do that.

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