Monday, July 18, 2011

The Career Advice I Offered on the Ronn Owens Program

This morning, I made one of my every-three-months appearances on the Ronn Owens Program, (he's pictured right.) It's one of the most listened-to radio shows on the West Coast.

The foci were: choosing a career, landing a job, and being successfully self-employed in these tough times. The show is archived HERE. for one week only.

Most of the program consisted of my answering questions from listeners but Ronn asked me some good questions. Here are the ones I recall and a paraphrased and sometimes expanded version of my answers:

If you had an adult child facing this job market, what advice would you give?

If my child wanted the false security of a paycheck, I'd have him or her work for a top company, for example, P&G, Google, GE, Infosys--even if he had to start in the mail room. I'd teach him how to build relationships with higher-ups so he could move up.

But if my kid showed even the slightest potential for being able to run his or her own business, I'd have my child get an internship at the elbow of a successful ethical entrepreneur and then start a simple, offshoreproof business: for example, selling Harry Potter paraphernalia out of a box near movie theatres. Simple, cloneable, not-offshoreable businesses, especially low-status ones, may be the surest route to successful employment in the coming decades.

Relatedly, a caller asked for advice about how to start a simple healthy food business.

I suggested he have a soup cart called Souper, in which he sold organic, low-sodium, delicious minestrone, clam chowder, and--Jewish penicillin--chicken soup, located in the best location the police department, which issues the permits, will allow.

Let's say your brother or sister were in his 40s and just laid-off. What would be your advice?

You've been around a while so you've met lots of people. You don't need to be close. They only need to have liked you. Tell them what you're looking for or your best couple of skills and ask if they know someone you should talk with about a job or consultancy. Don't be too picky about the field. Be pickier about the boss and that it will be moderately challenging.

If your brother were 60, would your advice be any different?

Well, maybe it would be interesting to hear what I myself would do if I were 60 and looking for work. I'd run for office on a radical honesty platform:

  • There will be ever fewer good-paying jobs, so it's wise to find contentment in a materially simpler life. Look to relationships, creativity, beauty, etc.
  • Let's stop spending so much on education, including HeadStart. Education accomplishes far less than we wish it would. The money is better in your pocket.
  • America has neither the guts nor the money to win wars nor be the world's policeman. We need to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and become a more typical member of the world of nations. I'd return that money to the taxpayer. You will better spend the money than we in the government would. Your expenditures will create more jobs than the shovel-ready jobs that weren't, the stimulus that didn't.
I no doubt couldn't get elected to high office so, for starters, I'd try to get a city council job--It's often not that difficult to land such a job in a small city, and while they don't pay big, they often do pay and offer benefits. And in running for office, you meet lots of people, perhaps one who'd be interested in hiring you.

You always have at least one under-the-radar career you're bullish on. What do you have for us today?

With ever fewer people affording to buy a home, more people are renting. So if I were a blue-collar guy, I'd look for a job with a property management firm or for a developer that rehabbed distressed apartment buildings. If I were more entrepreneurial, I'd find some small apartment building that the tenants had ruined, get some friends or others to invest in my syndicate, we'd buy it, clean it up, and sell it.

The New York Times reported that people are staying put in their current job, afraid they won't find a better one. Do you have any new strategies for landing a job that are likely to work, even in these tough times?

One of my favorites is to interview biggies for an article you'd write for a trade publication. I had a client in finance. He got to interview a half dozen luminaries for the article, and at the end of each interview, he said he'd love to work for that person. One of them offered him a job.

Another strategy is to add ahead-of-the-pack collateral material to your applications for jobs. My favorite is a White Paper. Say you want a job in the fuel cell industry. Write a 2-to-5-page paper outlining core issues in the fuel cell field for 2012. That can give you an edge over most applicants, who just submit a sterile resume and cover letter.


Dave said...

Restaurants and fast-food eateries don't offer low sodium soups, which is unfortunate. A soup cart featuring tasty low sodium soups for sodium restricted diets would do well, attracting aging baby boomers and other health conscious people.

Marty Nemko said...

An excellent improvement on my idea, Dave!

Marty Nemko said...

An excellent improvement on my idea, Dave! I've added it to the body of this post rather than just leave it as a comment because most readers don't read the comments.

Dave said...

My mother and father have high blood pressure.

Souper is a great idea. What about mineral water and probiotic yogurts?


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