Monday, June 11, 2007

Are the Online Project Boards the Way to Go?

Entering virtual company land means knowing how to brand your business and market yourself remotely, sometimes across thousands of miles of cyberspace.

Until recently, the recruiting/staffing world pretty much ingored this sector in favor of permanent employment or placing temp workers. Experts in recruiting like Bill Vick, CEO of Vick and Associates, Plano, Texas, who has worked out of his back bedroom for 20 years and built four successful businesses this way, says about 80 percent of American corporations are "starting to wake up and realize we're in a true global economy. There are still a lot of old-school managers who feel that they need to touch and see employees and employees who need the structure, but the electronic walls are becoming broader, bigger and better."

In the next year or so, 76 million baby boomers start leaving the traditional world of work and many say they will enter the world of virtual work. And they're going to be looking for projects rather than jobs. But how will they find them unless their old bosses offer them a consulting berth? Human networking still works pretty well and I'll address that in later posts, but the world of online job boards and networks is now capturing 15 percent of the recruiting/staffing world.

I've dabbled out in Elance land and LinkedUp and always found something lacking. Not being able to put my finger on it, I tried out guru.com for a week and finally figured out what was missing for me and wrote to Bill about it along with sending one of the most unbelievable project postings I've ever seen:

"I see a project with POTENTIAL, but I really haven't a clue what the work will entail. I'm then supposed to make a bid on a project where, once again, I'm not really clear what the work is about and whether the price I'm stating is remotely going to cover the work demands.

"I'm just too seasoned to want to play this way. I want to talk to someone about what they want and sort through how we can work together. This cuts out the interview/negotiation process, which can really prove valuable for both parties," I write to Bill.

Here's the posting:

Company A is seeking an individual for a recurring project (12 Month Project) involving the development and management of a company newsletter.
This project will require the individual to develop, format, compile and deliver for final approval the newsletter to Williams Associates on a monthly basis.

At this time, the budget for this project is $50.00 per edition and anyone interested in this project is asked to NOT bid in excess of this amount.
Bill writes back:

Hi Amy - yes, the world is flat and my guess is this guy will find
somebody for $50 and the old story is you get what you pay for.

7 comments:

Harold Jarche said...

Interesting case in point. There's no shortage of folks who want something for nothing, but a lawyer friend of mine always says, "The thing about free advice is that you get what you pay for".

I've been working virtually (or is that virtually working?) for the past four years. I've noticed that many people have real difficulties doing work at a distance. For instance, you can't play office politics as easily at a distance. You are what you produce. Many people can't jump into this space. Personally, I enjoy the freedom and have worked with some great virtual teams. Where I see the disconnect is when a virtual consultant works with a traditional, industrial company. They don't give good direction; they don't provide adequate feedback and they wait until the last minute before full disclosure. I think that these cultural issues will take some time to change.

BTW, this blog is a great idea :-)

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea to start a blog. I'm actually starting one soon too as it should be a fun way to chart my way across Japan this summer. I hope you're doing well. I haven't talked to since I've been at Brandeis, but I'm back in Amherst for a bit now.

amyz said...

Hi Harold,

You are SO RIGHT. The virtual work place isn't for everyone. You really have to be extremely organized and not afraid to market yourself.

I've had great experiences with some types of corporations, which tend to be my clients. Of course, I still play in the world of trade and national publications, which have been geared to virtual workers for years (called freelancers in those days). But I also have discovered some "hybrid" companies that are happy to work with consultants and can cope with the fact that there is no one on one, or rarely.

But what about the online job boards? I'm really mixed about them and would love to know what you have experienced.

best,

AZ

Margie said...

It seems to me that maybe there are two slightly different issues here: meeting, negotiating, and being hired in person as opposed to virtually, and actually doing the work virtually.
Clearly there is not a lot of difficulty doing the work virtually. On the other hand, as I've applied for jobs on the job boards, I have been extremely frustrated by the impersonality. Unless you have the "cookie cutter" qualifications that the employer wants, you may automatically be out of the running, whereas with some correspondence or telephone calls, you and the potential employer may find you are actually right for each other. In addition, your application just goes off into a vacuum so, as a potential employee, you get no feedback as to how you might better "groom" yourself for some of the jobs. Granted, when applying the traditional way you are also often sending things into a vacuum, but the sense of that just seems to be exagerrated on-line.
As always when you are looking for work, you really can't afford to let any possibility go unexplored; I guess--as usual--it is a matter of finding what works best for you.

amyz said...

Hi Harold!

Thanks for the post. Tell us more about what you do and where you work. I always say I miss the "water cooler," but who wants the office politics? How unproductive can you get.

And, yes, I have my issues with the connection between being a virtual consultant and assisting a bricks and mortar company. I have one account where I remind my supervisor (often)that I'm out of the loop and gently suggest to bring me in. Sometimes things have gone a bit haywire for lack of face-to-face time. The only thing one can do is request phone time to sort things through.

Any advice for others?

AZ

amyz said...

Hey Marge,

Saw your comment and couldn't agree more than the anonymity of the job boards is a killer, as is the time it takes to respond.

In the virtual world -- as in running any business -- time is money. Do I take the time to create bids for work I can't entirely decipher or go to cold calling where at least there's a voice at the end of the line. It's a no brainer for me. Cold calling wins out.

But wouldn't it be great if someone could cut through this and act as an agent for the job boards? I'd be willing to pay!

Amy Z

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