Twitter and LinkedIn - Valuable Social Media Tools For Contracting and Locating Jobs

Plus, Why Not Become a Microsoft Ninja Contractor While You Job Hunt

We all often wonder how our employers could do something as devistating as lay someone off from their job. Despite any social obligations to the community or altruistic wishes we may have for our employers, companies ultimately have to cut expenses when their business suffers a downturn, especially during a deep recession like we are experiencing. Many businesses do everything they can to avoid layoffs by cutting elsewhere, trimming back hours to keep employees on staff, letting attrition take its course, while others see a bad economy as an excuse to preemptively cut employees or make changes they should have otherwise made long ago. I've been on both sides of layoffs during my career and I hope I can say that I've been as compassionate about it as possible while still respecting the needs of the business and management and owners, but I can tell you it's never easy no matter what the scenario. The bottom line is that most businesses' largest expense are employee salaries, so it may be inevitable that a recession will result in layoffs, large or small, all at once or trickled out over time.

But as they say, the only constant is change, and sometimes losing a job can become a great opportunity to take on something new, different or maybe move in a new direction. A recession makes job hunting that much more difficult but you might consider other alternatives like consulting, contracting, or expanding the types of work you do. During a few gaps in my career, consulting has always proven to be an effective option and while it may not offer the perceived stability of a full time job, contracting and consulting has many benefits, especially in situations where you have the option to work from home. There have been times in my career where I've chosen to go the consulting route, such as in late 2007 through today, so I can work on multiple projects I wanted to start for a long time. It certainly offers you a lot of flexibility not usually possible in a full time position.

With today's technology, working remotely is as easy as it's ever been, especially for a Microsoft system administrator, software developer or web app/site consultant. I'm remote connecting to machines in my own lab from where ever I work, including my own home office, so I can take on many types of consulting gigs no matter where the location.

My advice about contracting is go for it early, don't wait until all your job search options have been exhausted. The adage "it's always easier to get a job when you have a job" is usually true and why not take advantage of the opportunity with some full or part time contracting.

ComputerWorld has an excellent article about how employers use contracting labor during rough times and as a way to balance contingencies on expenses and staffing size. Included in the article are some sites, like Elance and oDesk Corp, that help match up contractors with contracts. I've also found that Twitter can be a useful tool for keeping abreast of contracting needs. Increasingly consulting companies are developing a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn so you may hear about opportunities there. Plus it's a chance for you to really engage in what's happening in social media, and will help with your networking to find that next job.

Here's my motto about consulting during tough economic times:

When The Economy Hands You Lemons, Contract With Others To Make Lemonade

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