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April 09, 1999

What is a "webmaster", anyway?

A few years ago the answer to this question was fairly simple. The webmaster was the person who handled anything to do with the website. They were a jack of all trades, writing HTML code, putting up banners, buttons, gifs, jpgs, etc. Most likely they promoted and marketed the site as well. They conceived the idea for the website, designed it, and nurtured it through its infancy.

While this is still true for small, do it yourself personal or business websites, the trend is clearly away from this definition. Webmaster is becoming a Job function with many different components, completed by a variety of personnel. The sprawling nature of webmaster functions has incorporated Job titles such as 'software developer', 'director of engineering', 'manager of information services', 'programmer', 'VP of marketing', etc. Webmasters in the near future are likely to be project managers with minimal technical skills beyond web design.

Why does this matter? Because you may have skills that are applicable to some function of web design, promotion, implementation, creation & critique, etc. If Company X is looking to hire people to create and/or repair their website, they may be missing the hires they need because they're advertising for 'webmaster' and you never considered adding this title to your resume. When responding to Job Ads look past the title to the Job description - you may have some of the skills they want.

Include some form of webmaster in your keywords and skills descriptions. Learn enough HTML to put 'webmaster assistant' or 'web marketing manager' down as one of your abilities. The goal is to avoid the primary screenout and get to the Interview stage. Your work ethic, personality, and interest in developing your web skills may be sufficient to get you in the door. If They like you, They'll probably be willing to train you in the specifics of what problems they want to solve.

So what do these guys make? See webmasterpay scales to find out. Or look at a recent survey. A search in career mosaic for webmaster gives you twenty-nine Jobs. The same keyword search in results in two hundred twenty-five Jobs. Look at some of the Job titles and subsequent descriptions in these lists, and see if they are in your resume as keywords. If you know what titles a company is running their search under, you can position yourself to be one of their 'finds'.

-Mark Poppen

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Sales (Sem)Antics

April 08, 1999

What's the difference between Advertising, Marketing, Sales, and Lying?

The number of syllables. (At least that's how the old joke goes). Salesmanship is an art form that requires an interesting blend of charisma, insensitivity, ability to perceive underlying motives, and downright arrogance. The same abilities that might make you a wonderful salesman for one company might also hinder your chances for success as a team player for another company.

Marketing is not altogether different, though there is an aura of objectivity that gives it the feeling of a scientific endeavor. Modeling, statistical analysis, and regression theory all sound more like mathematics than sales puffery. But the purpose is one in the same, to sell the specific product to a target market. And all of us are in sales, if to no other end than to sell our own services (or products).

After long, hard, and frustrating months on the Job search, it can be real tempting to 'trick' your way into the office of your target Employer or Hiring Manager. Some Job candidates do it by turning what were supposed to only be 'informational interviews' into 'please hire me' sessions (which Employers universally despise). Other Jobhunters pass themselves off as someone (or something) that they are not, in terms of contacts or qualities. The problem, of course, is that beginning your relationship with a prospective Employer by Lying to them is often the end of that short-lived affair.

While career counselors generally regard deceit as ill advised, there may be more room for the imagination when it comes to Sales and Marketing. Bluffing your way past the outer shell of a company's defenses does show initiative, and getting your foot in the door is a tried and true method of professional salespeople. You may hate the dinner time calls from telemarketers, but they are only hired to do it because it works often enough to justify the expense. Depending on the situation, Job, Company (and your desperation), a little dose of arrogance may be sufficient to get you noticed as someone who 'gets the Job done'.

If Sales comes naturally to you, investigate some of the sites devoted to the 'not quite dismal' sciences. NationJob's Sales Page has Jobs from over 1,000 Employers. Marketing Classifieds lists employment opportunities from professional marketing, sales, and advertising firms. Advertising Age has its classified ads online, and The American Marketing Association has a searchable database, along with placement and referral services for a fee.

-Mark Poppen

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Job Hunting Economics 101

April 07, 1999

Estimates about the number of unemployed people in this country are easy to come by, and difficult to trust. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been ballyhooing record low levels of unemployment almost every month for the past three years. They put the number of out of work people at 4%, which is the same level macroeconomic theory taught us represents full employment. It takes a science as dismal as Economics to be comfortable with the equation 4% = 0%.

So how come you're having trouble finding a Job?

Because statistics are manipulated to support whatever version of reality the purveyor of said statistics wishes to present. Many Economists suggest that the actual number of unemployed people is roughly double the unemployment rate. Department of Labor Statisticians conveniently discard any workers who are not collecting unemployment benefits from their definition of "The Unemployed", and discard anyone they determine is "a frustrated Jobhunter".

Fully half of all Jobhunters quit the Jobsearch by the end of the second month, and Economists write off many of these discouraged folks as not being worth counting. When Economists count only what they want to see, their numbers often reflect preordained perspectives. If Jobs were easy to come by, it wouldn't take constant networking, resume mailing, phone calling, interviewing, and just plain hard work to get a Job.

How many Job advice columns have you read that suggested taking it easy, laying back, and letting the Job offers roll in? None, because there will always be more people than Jobs for them to fill. In the last few generations we have watched as Capital was transformed into electronic impulses, traveling from one part of the planet to another at the speed of light. It was no longer necessary to move the factory piece by piece; you could transfer electronic funds and build in a low labor cost region of the world.

Now the situation is much more dangerous, at least from a worker's perspective. The advent of the information economy (and cheap PC's) allows companies to email work to low wage areas of the world. Why would your Employer pay you $20/hr when they can get the work done somewhere else for $3/hr? Globalization of the World's Economies means that the bulk of the working poor's wages will be incrementally increased by sharp drops in the wages of workers in the Industrialized economies.

Why does this matter? If you work for someone else, and that work can be easily transferred electronically, there is a pool of three billion workers willing to do the work for one-tenth what you get paid. You'd better start thinking about how you're going to make money off them, because your Employer already is.

-Mark Poppen

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Making Sense of Non-Profits

April 06, 1999

Any organization you work for will have some purpose, or even a mission statement. While most of them will have lofty aspirations about serving their customers' needs, you're probably familiar with the de facto bottom line: Money. And lots of it, in the form of profits, stock options, benefits, golden parachutes, etc. If the chase for the Almighty Dollar leaves you cold, consider one of a number of Non-Profit organizations that serve worthy causes throughout the world.

Non-profit organizations often operate in ways that are very similar to for-profit firms, with the bottom line (money) replaced by other goals. The Internet Non-Profit Center has no paid staff, and doesn't list available Jobs, but it does have a long list of useful links to a wide range of charitable and non-profit organizations. Their library of links makes a good starting point for anyone looking for an alternative to the 'real world' of business.

Another useful site is the Community Career Center. This site has Job postings from across the US, and offers search capabilities based on region, salary, title, Employer, and optional keywords. You can email your personal candidate profile and list of credentials to them for $25, and they'll make this information available to member companies for six months.

Impact Online takes the concept of volunteering to its next logical level - contribute your time without leaving the house. Some people simply don't have the time to travel somewhere else to put in a few hours here or there. They could give a few hours if they could pick and choose the time, and do it from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. Therefore, Impact Online offers Virtual Volunteering, which allows writers, designers, technicians, webmasters, information technology workers, counselors, and others to contribute their time whenever they want. Convenience is King, so it's easy to see this method of making it as easy as possible for people to join in and contribute to society flourishing.

The Philanthropy Journal has an online version that includes an index of Non-Profit organizations and Jobs. If you're interested in relevant news for these kinds of organizations, this is the place to look. Their Online newsletter is first rate, and their news summaries are succinct. And consider this: if most new Employees acquired their new Job through Networking, ponder the possibilities for building your network by investing some time in a worthy endeavor.

Do the right thing, and give yourself the opportunity to make contacts with the hiring powers that be.

-Mark Poppen

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What Do You Want

April 05, 1999

Why do Employees quit their Jobs? Is it because they feel they are underpaid?

Executives and Human Resource professionals that were surveyed recently by Robert Half Int'l. Inc. indicated otherwise. Less than one out of six respondents thought that inadequate salary and benefits were the most likely cause of Employee turnover.

The most likely reasons to quit? Employee perception that opportunities for advancement are limited or nonexistent (41%), and lack of recognition (25%). If you are considering leaving your current Job, think about what is really bothering you there. Would a 5% raise eliminate your desire to change Jobs or Careers?

People rarely quit their families, and even Jobs that pay us less than market value are tolerable given good working conditions. Employers that can sidestep rule-driven work policies and recognize (and treat) us as individuals will generate a positive working environment. The reality is that we spend as much time at our Jobs as anything else we do, so being able to not only 'get by', but to do so with a light heart is of fundamental importance to both Employees and Employers.

Of course, this survey is not of Employees, who might have a different answer as to why they quit their Jobs. I suspect that pay raises have kept many Employees from walking out the door, whereas convincing them that 'things will change around here' rarely changes a disillusioned Employee's mind about leaving. While giving you a pat on the back might work as a temporary fix, recognition without tangible evidence to back it up quickly loses it's appeal.

Early returns on the Welfare to Work Program indicates that a substantially smaller number of former welfare recipients quit within the first few months on the Job compared to other workers, and the average pay in these programs is less than $7/hr. Work conditions and Pay are subjective considerations that Employees (both current and future) should analyze carefully before making a decision concerning "to work, or not to work (here) - that is the question"

A good exercise is to rate the Quality of your work life now (or in your last Job), and see how it compares to your ideal quality of work life. Then pare the fantasy down to the real world, which revolves around your natural and acquired abilities.

As usual, the question at the root of your searching should be "What do I want?" Most of us spend precious little time on deriving an answer to this bottom line question. We're too caught up in the blur of obligations to consciously consider the vast majority of our decisions.

-Mark Poppen

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