Photo used under Creative Commons and taken by photologue_np

My Three Tiered System to Job Searching

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.

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Lessons from Wall*E

Normally, I would not do movie reviews on this site. I would generally use aaronbrazell.com which is much more of a personal site than this. However, there are quite a lot of lessons and hidden agenda items (good and bad) in Wall*E that I think are applicable.

If you’re afraid of spoilers, you might not want to read further, however I will do my best not to offer spoilers, per se and instead talk about the principles behind the messages because that is where I feel the importance is.

From the get go, it was apparent to me that Wall*E was an environmentally oriented flick. We’re introduced to a desolate earth that struck me as very much similar to the one we saw in I am Legend. Bonus points to the astute viewers that catch the I am Legend hat tip in the movie.

To me, it was apparent that the desolation of earth was a result of human irresponsibility and that Al Gore probably was lurking somewhere ready to hand out carbon credits. While that message certainly existed, it was the message of personal responsibility that struck me much more direct between the eyeballs.

In the movie, we get the sense that a pseudo-governmental organization has morphed humanity into a dependent culture that is given everything. It is pampered, fed, smothered and by and large turned into a welfare culture where the human race has lost the ability to care for itself or even see any problem with their state. They have been turned into automatons, beholden to the whims of the BnL Corporation.

The heroics of the movie revolve around, among other things, the ability of the human race to take responsibilities for their own actions and rise above the societal norms inbred into them, challenging the status quo and ultimately their race.

Without getting too political, the metaphor I saw was comparative, in many ways, to current western culture that is increasingly liberalized, and increasingly fed the doctrine of government dependence. Rely on government-subsidized social security. We need to pass a law that does blah. The Constitution is a living document requiring federal judges to tell us what it means for us today. Get my riff?

Another strong metaphor I saw, is applicable for those of us in social media – and really any kind of new media, whether it’s politics, science or sports. Those that follow the dotted lines are doomed to exist in a narrow and unproductive world that never changes!

Throughout the movie, robots followed the dictates of lines painted on the ground. They never left those lines because those lines provided guidance. Those lines provides meaning. Those lines provided safety.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have more rambos that challenged the status quo, said what they meant and meant what they said? They didn’t follow the dictates of Techmeme or those perceived as A-listers? I mentioned yesterday that confidence is a sexy attribute and stepping outside the lines demonstrates confidence that will take you somewhere.

As a sidenote, yet related issue, this mommy blogger needs to quit worrying about a so-called A-list blogger and be confident in herself. Those that are considered A-list, including myself, often are not (also including myself). No one can do your job better than you. Own it and forget about the rest.

I highly encourage people to see this movie. Besides the fact that Pixar always makes great movies, it’s a wonderful movie for kids and adults alike and if you go with an open mind, you’re going to be challenged.

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