Control Freak...Who Me?

Monday, December 15, 2008
In this era of economic uncertainty, there are a lot of folks who are either out of work, or believe they're going to be out of work shortly.

That feeling sucks.

I work in telecom, and as such have always had an uncertain professional future. Some years are worse than others, and since my Smart Man and I both work in this field, we've always ensured we have sufficient cushion to weather any reasonable storm.

This year, however, is the worst year I can remember.

And that makes me feel...sucky.

Because I'm the kind of person who really, really likes to be in control of my own future. And currently, I'm really, really not.

My solution is to take control of the aspects of my professional life where I still have some options. Since I'm a technologist, that means training and certification.

So I'm currently in a training and certification frenzy, learning and testing on every technology that might reasonably be considered valuable in today's job market. My current skill set makes me absolutely employable, but I want to be über-employable. If I end up on a job hunt, I want my qualifications to blow every other candidate out of the water, and I want to make them look like illiterate gits compared to the awesomeness that is me.

I realize how feral that sounds, but for me, it's really a matter of taking control of my own future. I have no control over the economy, the technology budgets of my company's customers, or the strategy my company's leadership team chooses to take. Other than performing my daily tasks to the best of my ability, and looking for a job title that increases my value to the company, I really can't control whether or not I will remain employed during this recession.

So I'll cram my brain full of technical facts, in the hope that it will give me some modicum of control over these tumultuous times.

Self-delusional? Perhaps. But it's something productive I can do. Fortune favors the prepared mind, and I intend to be prepared.

19 comments:

mattw said...

What else can you do but be prepared. Good for you for taking such a proactive position with your career and within your industry.

Random Michelle K said...

I completely understand the control freak bit.

I have an extremely low tolerance for risk, so despite my relative security, I'm still nervous.

Good luck with all your certification exams and tests. Hope they don't make you too cranky. :)

Anne C. said...

I've been thinking along these lines myself.
In the past, women found security by marrying a "good provider." I chose to find security by being really great at my job (offering me some control over whether I'm employed and where). Now, that is not really in my hands and it is freaking me out quite a bit.

Janiece Murphy said...

Anne, the idea of "marrying a good provider" in order to achieve some level of security makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

Maybe we can start a home for wayward professional women who are unemployed through no fault of their own...

vince said...

Wanting to be the person who blows away everyone else so that they "look like illiterate gits compared to the awesomeness that is me" isn't being feral, it's being smart.

You're not just a Hot Chick, you're a Smart Chick.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Well Janiece, you have seen me in action and how I have to dekl with people. Because they simply can't do the job that they bid to do.
And with that, I am seriously looking to leave my job sometime this year. I am so TIRED of having to fight with people. Oh, and that paint guy that I blasted? He quit (over a continuing poor performance) and that company still can't get it together.
But they were the lowest bid. Yes, folks, 60 Minutes can do all teh exposes they want on substandard government workmanship, but at teh end of teh day IT GOES TO THE LOWEST BIDDER.
And what do we get for our money, boys and girls?
Why yes! SHIT!
And the crazy thing is, I have the potential qualifications to be fairly redily employable in any of the major ship repair industried out here. I did get a call from a company that needed someone to manage their welder qual program.
I am thinking that driving teh Disabled American Vets van around and picking up people that need to get to their medical appointments may be a good option.
I believe that my boss thinks that I am here for another career.
Not.
I even went so far as to print out budget sheets to see just how much extra I would need per month to get by.
It's not a lot.
My hair would look like shit (although teh Mechanicky Guy has offered to do the purply color, THAT would be interesting!) and I would have to give up the regular massages (once again, Mechanicky Guy has offered to cover that. We have a table.... SEXYTIME!)
So you see, my timing sucks but my sanity is worth a lot to me.

Janiece Murphy said...

Amy, if I could get by with driving the DAV truck, I'd be right there with you.

Unfortunately, the Smart Twins are planning on going to college and learning a skill. That costs money, of course, so my shortfall would be too great.

If I can just hold on long enough to get the kids off the payroll, I can pursue my exciting new career in phlebotomy...

And I'll do your hair for you when I come out. Not impugning the Mechanicky Guy's mad skilz, but I may be a bit more experienced.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

I hear you re: college tuition.
But I more than likely will take you up on the hair thing. Mechanicky Guy os talented, but that me be stretching the bounds. However, he IS learning how to sew a shirt!
I do have some nifty Montgomery GI Bill college tuition thing, so I wonder if now may be a good time to pursue my degree in basket- weaving.

Steve Buchheit said...

I've always enjoyed walking into a job interview where my reputation has proceeded me. It takes out have the pressure of the interview.

It also helps when working with vendors. Just did a print job that was a rush. I asked the printer if they worked from PDFs, 'cause I could send that to them right away (the regular files would have been an overnight email, freelance is at night). the printer said, "Normally, no. But we know you know what you're doing, so we can work with them."

It's always good to have that reputation.

Wendy said...

Oo, Oo, Oo...a home for wayward professional women who are unemployed through no fault of their own...Great idea!!

I am SO there!!! We can start a quilting, photographing, basket weaving co-op that does good works like meals on wheels delivery and taking vets to appointment.

See, this is the second time since 2001 I've been out of work for over a year. It SUCKS. First time was expected, current one was not.

My original degree is in Info Systems, ended up being a desktop trainer. And I was good at it, I can teach anyone how to use a computer. By the time I was RIF'd post merger, everyone wanted certifications and if you weren't employed and your employer was paying for them, certs were way to expensive for the average unemployed person, even with DOL assistance money.

Helped a friend start a law practice while looking for work, not a lot of money, but learned a whole lot.

Moving along, I've did a stint as a real estate assistant, and got hit last year at the beginning of the mortgage meltdown.

Now, 16 months later, I'm back working for the lawyer again on a contract basis,and would like to stay in this field if I can find a full-time position as a legal assistant doing a lot of writing and research and forensic document analysis.

Well, even the legal profession is cutting back. But, having identified another career path, I just have to keep trying to get on it. Which is the bitch in the current job market.

And trust me...at my age these are NOT the plans I had for my life!

WendyB_09

Janiece Murphy said...

Steve, I agree. I do have a decent reputation in my field, but I'm also mouthy, which doesn't help. My technical skills have always been enough to overshadow my rough edges - I'm hoping that remains true.

Wendy, certifications are certainly the coin of the realm. Fair or not, it's just the way it is. Which is why I'm making sure mine are current while I'm still on payroll. I have a couple that will expire in 2009, so I'm taking them sooner rather than later.

Anne C. said...

"but I'm also mouthy, which doesn't help."
Hee! May not help your professional rep, but it delights your friends. ;)

I got to thinking about the different ways to achieve security when a friend of mine who is boarding a recent divorcee told me her "plight." She has no skillz but took a lot of money from her former husband and is getting alimony for a specified amount of time. My friend asked why I turned a little green around the gills and looked depressed.
Bleah. And people wonder why I'm a little leery of the M word.
Anyhow, got me thinking. Sorry the nausea was contagious. ;)
Wayward home sounds great. I'll cook.

Random Michelle K said...

I'm also mouthy, which doesn't help

That's a feature, not a bug.

Janiece Murphy said...

Michelle, certain of my former bosses would not agree with you.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Mouthy is a talent.
Just ask me, I'll tell you!
I just discovered (via the guy that is helping us out of our current, unpleasant jam) that I am known on the waterfront here (and in a nice way!). And that, since I have no desire to be an ISO specialist, it would be detrimental to my "professional career" to have someone come into this company and I will work for them.
But what if I have no desire for another "career"? I had one of those already.
How can I convince someone who is a real "go-getter" that I truly do have no goals, no rice bowls to fill, no empires to build.
That I really, truly, don't want to continue as I am, that if I can scale me back to part time that would be AWESOME!
How to convince that type "A" personality that my sanity is worth more than they could ever imagine? And my identity is not tied up in my work. Been there, done that.

Anne C. said...

MG, it's more a matter of organizational wisdom than personality type. I have a good friend who is ultra A (not ultra ambitious, just has to do Everything Right) who had to try and explain to her boss (a "go getter") why it was good to have people of varying ambition in the office. A wise manager knows that this kind of variety gives an office stability.
Don't know how you'll manage it, since I'm not sure my friend was successful, but you have a chance this guy/gal understands the difference between ambition and a desire to do a good job (and nothing more).
Good luck!

Ilya said...

Sounds very sensible to me. Not in the very least self-delusional.

Jeri said...

Janiece, I totally understand the need to be a certification magpie - and the desire to be honest and a bit mouthy on the job. The latter also applies to me, and it has definitely hurts me because my boss prefers well-hypnotized yes-people. (Hell, no.)

I wish you well as you build a security buffer of certifications and credentials. My only advice, from the technical management perspective, is to be as technology agnostic as possible - take a look at your general educational credentials (finish that DU degree) and potentially general networking and VOIP certs as well, even (ack!) pursuing some credentials from your dark side competitor who begins with a "C".

Janiece Murphy said...

Jeri, it's on my list.

Unfortunately.