Farewell to My Yahoo! Blog

When I started the “Working the New Economy” blog in April, I knew it had an expiration date. I signed a short-term contract. I referred to myself as a guest blogger on Yahoo! Even the title, suggested that this was a project of limited duration. After all, how long could this “new economy” last?

Now that it’s time to wrap up, it’s pretty clear that the new economy has become the new normal. And I can’t say that I have figured out exactly how to work it. Unemployment has now topped 10%. Counting those who are underemployed, it’s closer to 20%. Mass layoffs are still happening, including a round at BusinessWeek last week where several of my most respected colleagues were shown the door.

One defining feature of this not-so-new-anymore economy is that we will all need to flexible and nimble. I’ve worked independently for nearly a decade. And now it seems that my usual mix of contract work, freelance relationships, consulting and other kinds of affiliations has become standard in what Tina Brown so aptly dubbed the gig economy.

Getting the timing right while moving from gig to gig can be challenging. Between consulting projects, gigs, or temporary assignments, there are often long gaps with no work and times of too much of it. Which is why I’d like the bickering in Washington to include some discussion of providing health care for the self-employed. (Great analysis of this issue by Zeba Kahn here.) But I’m getting off track. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


When a work fix-up works

I just finished a marathon week answering questions about small business with Kevin Salwen over at the Yahoo! Small Business Center.

We got a slew of interesting questions ranging from how to use social networking to grow a small business, to how to prevent people from stealing your idea, and how a small business can become more socially responsible. You can read all the questions and answers here, under the “See Expert Answers,” tab.

I always enjoy answering reader questions, but this time I also got a cool work experience out of the deal. Though I’d been aware of Salwen from his days at the Wall Street Journal, I’d only met him briefly before Yahoo! asked us to work together on this project.

If that match hadn’t gone so smoothly this week would have been a disaster.  Instead it was one of the smoothest collaborations I’ve ever had. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


An easy way to make tough decisions: 5 questions for Suzy Welch

Several weeks ago, I saw Suzy Welch on the Today show talking about her new book, 10-10-10. The book offers a simple tool for making decisions in all corners of life.

Here’s how it works: When working through a decision, you let yourself go down various paths and you explore the way the decision could unfold on those various paths over the next 10 minutes, over the next 10 months, and over the next 10 years. Those time frames aren’t meant to be exact; they are stand-ins meant to help you look at how the making of an important decision might affect the short-term, the medium-term, and long-term periods of your life.

From the moment I saw that interview, I was 10-10-10-ing every decision, from whether to take a new assignment that threatened to ruin a pre-planned vacation, to how to confront a close friend who had offended me. My old standby of writing down pros and cons was quickly supplanted by this new method, and I’ve now tested it in scores of situations. In short, I’m a believer. Which is why I wanted to share Welch’s ideas on this blog. I interviewed her by phone about how to use 10-10-10 to make better decisions around career issues. The following is an edited version of our conversation:

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}


The Best Side Businesses

Earlier this week I wrote about how to find the perfect part-time work to fit your life and I recommended considering something entrepreneurial rather than a job since it would provide more flexibility.  And as if the blogosphere were listening, soon after that, I discovered this excellent post, 50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own, by Trent Lamm, the author of 365 Ways to Live on the Cheap, which sounds like a good title for these times. (Actually, Lifehacker discovered it first.)

Clearly, Trent is a man who likes lists. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


How to Manage Your Personal Brand

Personal branding has been one of the hottest buzz phrases ever since Tom Peters wrote a Fast Company article way back in 1997 that turned into the book, The Brand Called You. The notion is that individuals are all brands — much like our running shoes and kitchen appliances (though some of us are clearly more running shoe than refrigerator). And from that flows that logic that we all need to cultivate and nurture our brands so they thrive and prosper just as the brands managed by big business.

There’s a new kid on the personal branding block — Dan Schawbel — and he’s taken Peters’ principles to their next logical incarnation — branding in the social media age. I call him a “kid” because at 25, he is also part of the new generation of Internet wunderkinds who have become so adept at spreading their ideas online that they write their first books and hit the morning show circuit when barely out of college.

Now that we are all publishers — writing personal blogs, answering questions on LinkedIn, updating our status on Facebook or Twitter — Schawbel has a message that is very much of the moment. Which is that we need to harness these tools in order to convey our personal brand to the world. And once we do that, we will not only find career opportunities, but they will find us. (Read the rest at Yahoo!)


Finding the perfect part-time work

Part-time work is on the rise, and it’s no surprise. People are taking on extra jobs to make up for hours or income lost, an out-of-work partner, or even a business facing hard times. But part-time jobs can me more than a stop-gap money generator. They can also be a training ground for career reinvention or an audition for a full-time position with both parties getting a chance to try before buying.

I was on “The Today Show” on Sunday speaking about how to find the best part-time jobs and what to think about before taking one. Television goes quickly so while we covered a lot, there was much more I wanted to say — which I’ll do here.

Before you start searching for a part-time job, there are a few things to consider, especially if you already have a job and you’ll be layering part-time work on top of that.

1. If you have a full-time job, try to find something that is compatible with your full-time job.  So, if you have a job that requires you to be functioning early in the morning hours, bartending into the wee hours would probably not be a wise choice. Also try to find work that doesn’t create conflicts of interests with your main job — so if you’re a patent reviewer for the federal government, I wouldn’t recommend consulting for inventors coming before the U.S. Patent Office. {Read the rest on Yahoo!}


Who’s Finding Jobs Now?

While headlines continue to report on the grim state of the job market, people are getting hired every day. This ongoing series will bring you snapshots of who’s getting hired now with the back-stories of how they’re snagging the jobs.

This week’s job successes include a nonprofit manager who made a move when it seemed like no one was hiring, an engineer who tweeted his way to a new gig, and an event planner who created a full-time position out of two part-time jobs to bring in extra cash during her slow season.

Dan Zarrella, Boston, Mass
– From one job in online marketing to another position within the same industry.

Time searching:
About a month

Enhancing and promoting his “personal brand.” Networking on Twitter.

His story: When Zarella got laid off in December from a position at an online marketing firm, he took an approach that is becoming increasingly common — he immediately worked on enhancing his personal brand and made himself more known in the community where he wanted to find his next job. (For a quickie course on personal branding, read Dan Schawbel’s excellent new book, “Me 2.0″) He tells his job search story — on the blog of HubSpot.com, where he eventually got hired.  Even before he lost his job, Zarrella had the foundations of a good personal brand in place. He already had a personal blog, on which he identifies himself with the clever moniker “The Social Media and Viral Marketing Scientist.” He also used the extra time he had to develop some online tools related to Twitter, the microblogging site that is an essential networking zone for people in technology-related businesses. “Rather than trying to interrupt people in my space with advertisements about myself, I created things that people wanted to use and let them come to me,” he wrote about the experience.  He also posted on Twitter that he was looking for a new job and asked people who was hiring in the Boston area. A few people responded to his messages and directed him to Hubspot, where he saw that there were openings and submitted his resume according to the usual procedures. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


The Secrets of Smart Freelancers: 5 Questions for Michelle Goodman

<The freelance marketplace is a cauldron of activity. Those of us who have been at it for years are finding work from the very employers who have been showing employees the door. And many of those exiting employees are realizing that it’s about time to acquire some freelancing skills — whether for short-term survival or long-term livelihood.

When it comes to dispensing smart advice about freelancing, there is no greater guide than Michelle Goodman, author of the books, The “Anti 9-to-5 Guide” and “My So-Called Freelance Life.” Not only does Goodman have the answers to the most vexing questions about freelancing, she is also a vocal advocate for the rights of freelancers, and for reminding independent workers to speak up for ourselves. Below is Goodman’s wisdom on how to survive and thrive as a freelancer today.

Marci: Freelancing must be more competitive than ever with all the formerly employed folks now in the game — is there enough to go around? {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


How to Diversify Your Career

I just returned from a conference that was both stimulating and scary. At a gathering where premier journalists typically congregate to talk about craft and their commitment to accurately and artfully write and report true stories, most of the talk at the bar was about the carnage in the media industry. While I was there to speak about career advice, I wasn’t immune to the concern. Last year I lost a regular gig blogging for the New York Times with very little notice. 

But unlike most journalists who are panicking about what they’d do next if they lost a steady paycheck, I quickly replaced that work with high quality work that I enjoy–coaching other writers, teaching, and public speaking. As an experienced freelancer, I also knew how to find writing opportunities even in a shrinking market. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


My Guest Blog on Yahoo!’s Shine

For the next few months I’ll be guest blogging at Yahoo!’s Shine, an online community for women. “Working the New Economy,” is going to focus on the bright lights in the world of work. Not because I’m oblivious to the news, but because there are bright lights.

Lots of people are trying their hand at entrepreneurship, volunteerism is up, social entrepreneurship is gaining traction. People are investing in themselves and reinventing through inexpensive (or free) educational tools.

I’ll be looking at the tools of the new workforce, the mindset you need to succeed, and the nuts and bolts of how to make various moves. The advice and stories I’ll be highlighting should get you thinking about how to make changes and moves in your own life.

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