My Three Tiered System to Job Searching

Photo used under Creative Commons and taken by photologue_np

Photo used under Creative Commons and taken by photologue_np

Over the past months, since I parted with WP Engine, I have entertained many inquiries about my availability for other full-time roles. And I literally mean many. It’s been a great problem to have, frankly, and I consider myself blessed to have these inquiries while so many others continue to struggle to find work.

I also consider myself blessed to work in a specialty field. WordPress consulting, you would think, is something that is extremely saturated. To a degree you’d be right. As a consultant, I turn away a great number of projects because, frankly, they amount to building sites with WordPress. There is certainly nothing wrong with that kind of work, but I’ve found over years of consulting that it’s important to be a specialist. To not be a specialist means to compete with everyone else on the same level and that reduces the quality and quantity of projects I can work on.

Instead, I focus on high-end WordPress integrations and plugin development. Complex things. I make a reasonable living doing things that there are only a proverbial handful of people who have the ability to do.

At the same time, I continue to entertain full-time job offers. There are some great ones out there, but many just don’t interest me. I have a three-tier (God, as a beer advocate, I hate that term but in this case it fits) filtering process I go through when entertaining job offers. I think this three-tier system should apply to anyone and everyone looking to work in any field, and so I’ve decided to share it.

Is the money right?

We all need to live, and I’m not one who believes the starving artist mantra is necessary a healthy one. If you’re good at what you do, you should be compensated appropriately. Personally, I don’t think anyone would have an argument in this area. A seasoned DBA should not be making $50k, for instance.

As a consultant, I’ve come to have a lifestyle that I’ve worked very hard to achieve. I’m going to be 36 soon and I’ve been married, had a kid, worked on startups, lived in expensive areas of the country and cheaper areas of the country. I’ve built a lifestyle that no job should ever take away.

We all have our “number”. Know for yourself what that number is and stick to your guns when determining if you want to work for someone. Simply not enjoying your current job is not a valid reason to take less than what you’re worth.

Does the job make you want to jump out of your chair and SQUEEEE?

IF it doesn’t, walk away. You should love every minute of what you do and jump out of bed in the morning (after a reasonable period of off-time) eager to see what new innovations, products, ideas and relationships can be achieved.

To do less is selling yourself short. Never settle for anything less than awesome. Some inquiries, for me, have been awesome on the money side but I feel so dull and want to pull each fingernail out of it’s socket just thinking about it. Read my lips! I will never work in a cubicle again! Ever! Don’t ask!

Recently, I spoke with a company who demoed some of their products (WordPress-based) they were working on. They showed me tools that they had built in that allowed their 300some entities they managed to do amazing things (things I tried at b5media years ago [and failed]) in easy, intuitive ways. All I wanted to do was scream “OMGYESPLEASE!” through the phone.

If you don’t have that reaction, think really hard about whether you want to commit.

What’s the social impact?

I’m not a tree-hugger, but one thing I can say is that consulting is both awesome and terrible. I get a lot of benefits by working for myself. But that’s kind of it. I get lots of benefits from working for myself. No one else does. Just me. My world isn’t a better place because of my work. My wallet is happier, but the world around me still sucks.

So when I talk to companies about working for them, I want to know that my work has a positive effect on the world around me. Whether it’s education or environmental; sustainability or fitness; empowering others or enabling positive social change – it’s an important facet in what I look for.

Does the company reward employees for not wasting energy and taking the bus or riding a bike to work? Does the company offer some sort of subsidy or reward for green energy consumption? How many women are employed as engineers?

How does working for Company X positively affect the world around me?

I think these three things are co-equally important for anyone, not just me. I hope so, anyway. We shouldn’t hate what we do, ever. We choose what we do. Choose wisely.

Changing Roles at WP Engine

For some time, I’ve felt there was a change coming and today, I’m ready to announce that my role within WP Engine is changing. Starting today, I have transitioned into an advisory and consulting role with the company.

Effective immediately, I will be taking the portion of the business that focused on professional services and consulting to allow the company to focus on premiere WordPress hosting. It’s a good thing and I’m excited about the possibilities. Back in November, we decided to start taking on some professional services work to augment demands from many of our customers. It was awesome to have fast, secure, scaleable, managed hosting but they wanted more!

And we wanted more.

However, as the company has evolved, taken funding, hired more people, addressed growth challenges and built out our hosting option, it seemed clear that the professional services portion of the company was a separate kind of deal than what we wanted to focus on.

So today, I’ll be taking that portion of the company (and all related existing and current relationships, as agreed on), and working on that. Meanwhile, I’ll still be working with the company to guide direction and strategy. So it’s good for everyone.

Effective immediately, I am available for all WordPress consulting roles. However, I am also currently entertaining all possibilities involving full time employment as well, and welcome those conversations.

To contact me, please direct emails to aaron@technosailor.com. As transitions go, the immediate financial impact is something that I need to consider.

Job Search: Define Your Goals

A friend of mine just landed a job. Congratulations to her as the job market is shriveling up. I won’t mention her name for fear it could cause complications at her new job but many of you know her.

She hasn’t worked for a company in 17 years, give or take, and has lived quite successfully as a consultant. However, she became enamored by the possibility of helping companies directly in her line of expertise.

She gave some thought to what she wanted to do and wrote this document, republished with her permission.


Overall function
I want to provide strategic direction that integrates new and social media opportunities for a dynamic organization. I see this function as working collaboratively with many departments and functions such as marketing, communications, PR, recruiting and retention, customer service, community management, investor relations and product development.

About new media and social media
I’m defining these terms not just as technology and communication tools, such as blogging, YouTube, Flicker, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, social bookmarking and social networking, but also as a new realm of communications with a distinctly different culture that includes activities such as ““

    User-generated content

  • Conversations and comments
  • Personal branding and online profiles
  • Personal and personable content
  • Community management
  • De-institutionalizing of information
  • Rating content
  • Tagging
  • Link, links, links “¦ and more links.

My ideal job looks like –

  • Working across a number of departments ““ marketing and communications, sales and business development, HR for recruiting and retention, IT, customer service and PR.
  • Providing strategic direction, internal consulting and project management.
  • Interacting with staff at many levels, including executives, managers, creative teams, technical staff and admin.
  • Designing, implementing and managing projects.
  • Keeping abreast of emerging new media technologies and trends.

I am less interested in work defined by digital media maintenance, e.g.

  • Keeping a website current.
  • Managing online advertising and email campaigns.
  • Handling technical functions of a company’s digital communications.

I am more interested in —

  • Being at the forefront of new media.
  • Identifying opportunities and developing strategies using new media.
  • Designing, implementing and managing projects.
  • Internal education, integrating new media and expanding an organization’s capacity.

Company / Environment
The environment in which I want to work is an organization that —

  • Already has a strong brand, marketing department and PR component.
  • Values creative business strategies supporting both short- and long-term goals.
  • Has leadership that is open and pushing to be an adaptive and dynamic company.
  • Has leaders who know they need to do something different ““ and fast, but may not have any strategy or plans yet.

The type of organization I want to work for is —

  • A large corporation, even a national brand.
  • Military organizations and federal government, or a government contractor tasked with bringing social media functions into the government.
  • A small municipality with robust funding for creative economic and community development.
  • I am less interested in nonprofit organizations.
  • The industry in which I work is of less importance to me than the job function.

Location

  • Company location is not important.
  • Willing to travel.
  • Looking to work in a creative and flexible environment, where technology and online
    communications are robustly supported; meeting space is beautiful, and productivity and
    results are valued over face time.

Notice how she defines exactly what she does and does not want. She knows specifics, down to the detail, on the principles of her employment. She knows that she may not be able to detail specifically which company or organization she wants to but she knows specifically the role she is looking for and what she wants to accomplish.

As unfortunate as this is, the economy is growing worse and more people are looking for work. You may be one of them. Instead of hitting the job boards with dervish-like ferocity, take a day or two alone and in a quiet place and write your own roadmap.

Knowing specifically what your goals are will greatly increase your chances of finding meaningful employment where you can do what you love and love what you do.