Posts filed under 'Popular articles'

Want to be in my next ABC News column?

I’m looking for full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract employees who can talk about the below. Anonymous is fine, and I won’t mention your company name (legally, I couldn’t). If interested, email me here. The deadline is Tuesday, so I’d need to hear from you by Monday night. Thanks so much.

How are you dealing with rumblings around the office about impending or potential layoffs at your company? Glad to know (information is power!)? Rather not know (too stressful/depressing!)? Wish your boss hadn’t told you that that nice dad down the hall was on the layoff list? Taking bets with your coworkers about which dead-weight manager will get canned next? Know someone who’s started an anonymous blog about layoffs at the company? If you have a tale to share about how people are dealing with layoff gossip at your job, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also happy to talk to anyone who’s been laid off in the past six months who’s dealt with this.

4 comments March 6th, 2009

The accidental freelancer’s survival kit

For those recently laid off who now find themselves gigging, today’s column shares my top 10 recommendations for navigating your newfound freelance status.

In January, Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown dubbed the current rotten job market the “Gig Economy,” where both high earners and low earners increasingly find themselves cobbling together paychecks from a menagerie of freelance, contract and part-time work.

Suddenly media outlets from CNN to Newsweek followed suit, telling the freshly unemployed what those of us who’ve been freelancing and consulting for years already know: if you have skills to hawk, you can make a decent living hopping from project to project.

But merely welcoming this army of accidental freelancers to the self-employment club won’t groom anyone for the challenges of running their own show.

If you, too, have found yourself cast in the role of accidental freelancer — presumably because you’ve had better luck finding project work than a staff job — take heart. As someone who’s been a full-time freelancer and contractor since 1992 (by design, not accident), I assure you that there is a method to this self-employed madness.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, designer, programmer, marketer, builder, bookkeeper, recruiter or project manager; the principles of staying afloat as an independent worker are the same. Herewith, my top pointers for surviving your first freelance year:

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2 comments February 5th, 2009

Article research: Ever hired a career coach to help you hunt for a job?

I’m writing a column on job seekers who hire a career coach (or career counselor) to help them polish up their resume, ace an interview, negotiate salary like nobody’s business, and essentially land a new employee position. If you’ve hired a career coach (or counselor) in the past few years for this purpose, I’d love to hear from you. Email me here. I don’t need to use your real name or your coach’s name. I’d just like to know how the experience went for you, approximately how much it cost, and what suggestions you have for others interested in hiring a coach.

Please note that I’m not interested in hearing about life coaches or self-employed folks who hired a business coach to help them grow their business. This is due asap, so if you don’t get to email me by Tuesday afternoon, don’t worry about it. Thanks so much.

UPDATE 11/21: Here’s how the story turned out. I managed to use the word “pulverizing” in it, which makes me happy.

Add comment November 17th, 2008

What pink-slipped employees can learn from freelancers

From today’s column

People keep asking me, “Isn’t it scary to not have an employer and steady paycheck in this economy?”

As a freelancer, I get paid by about half a dozen companies each month. So job security is not something I fret too much about. If one client dries up, as happens at least once a year (if not once a quarter), I have four or five other sources of income to rely on. And while my nine-to-five counterparts might spend the better part of a year looking for work in the wake of a layoff, my pavement-pounding phase usually lasts all of two to three weeks, if that.

I’ve been through financial fallouts before as a freelancer. OK, maybe not the “worst financial crisis since the Depression.” But I was self-employed when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, taking much of my freelance work with it, and after 9/11, when many staff and freelance budgets vanished seemingly overnight. Both times, I spit-polished my resume, hit the online highway and came up with a new set of clients and projects.

And while I know that the rapid-fire freelance job hunt can’t compare to the umpteen weeks and financial and emotional toll that looking for a staff position takes, I can’t help but think that full-time job hunters could learn a trick or two from their scrappier self-employed counterparts.

In an economic climate like this, you can’t entrust your fate to the employers and hiring managers. Not when you have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed. You have to be proactive, flexible, enterprising, even bootstrapping.

In short, you have to operate like a free agent.

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9 comments October 23rd, 2008

When to breed, if at all

Unless you’ve downshifted even more than I have this summer, you probably saw the U.S. Census Bureau report that more dames are having kids later — or not at all — than ever before. Maybe now your Aunt Rudy will stop asking when you’re going to get knocked up.

As for having kids sooner or later (if you choose to have ‘em at all) and how that affects the ole career, thanks, everyone, who shared your tales with me. I crammed as many as I could into an column called Career Choice: Motherhood Now or Later. Here’s the top of it:

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it feels as if researchers are popping out press releases on motherhood and careers faster than women are actually birthing babies.

In July, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, told us that Harvard grads who went on to get their MBAs became stay-at-home moms at a higher rate than grads who went on to become doctors or lawyers.

Earlier this month, Cornell University let us know that mothers were 90 percent more likely to ditch their careers if their husbands worked at least 60 hours a week but that, if the roles were reversed, the husbands would likely keep on working.

And just last week, Cambridge University informed us that in the U.S., the percentage of people in favor of moms working full time dropped to 38 percent in 2002, down from 51 percent in 1994. In other words, if you believe that “family life would not suffer” if a mom has a career, you’re in the minority.

Others — like “Why It’s Best to Marry in Your Twenties” and “Parents: Tell Your Adult Children, ‘Don’t Delay Childbearing!’” — are so hideous that you just want to throw a baby blanket over their heads.

It’s hardly a news flash that, on average, women who choose to have kids do so later in life than their own mothers did. Nor is it news that more often than not, today’s moms are balancing a career in the process.

So rather than judge the breeding and breadwinning decisions of others — or dwell on the fact that no one’s scrutinizing every move men make with anywhere near the intensity — let’s look at the factors real-life moms consider when they weigh how and when to blend motherhood with their careers.

You can read the rest of this article here.

1 comment August 23rd, 2008

Motherhood earlier vs. later: which is easier on the career?

Hello. Happy August. Blogging will be back. Eventually. When I stop feeling burned out. Which I hope will be any day now. Especially since it’s my birthday Saturday.

In the meantime, if anyone would like to discuss the topic mentioned in the subject line, I’d love to hear from you. No, I’m not having a baby. But I am looking to write an article by the weekend on whether having kids sooner vs. later affects a woman’s career more — and how. There will be experts and stats, but I’m asking because I’d love to hear from “real” women who’ve pondered the question, regardless of whether you have kids now. If anyone cares to share their thoughts/experiences on or off the record (let me know which), email me here. The article is for a national news site. Thanks and have a lovely day.

1 comment August 5th, 2008

When cronies attack

I know as small business owners and freelancers it may be tempting to hire or subcontract to friends who need work but may not necessarily have the right qualifications (or motivations). Before you do, you may want to consider some of the pitfalls and suggestions I mentioned in this article.

A marketing director I recently met was kicking herself for recommending a friend for a temporary position doing admin work for her boss.

“Everything started out OK,” said Christie, who works at an arts organization in San Francisco. ” And then the whining started.”

The job was beneath him, didn’t pay enough and wasn’t what he saw himself doing long-term, her ungrateful pal whinged. Then he told Christie that he “would be gone in a month or so.”

Only he didn’t quit. Instead, he stayed on nearly a year, “calling in sick once a week and showing up 30 to 45 minutes late every day,” Christie explained.

But the slacking didn’t stop there. There were the two-hour lunches, the “dental appointments” that required him to leave work early at least three days a week, and the maddening fact that he kept telling Christie about his necessary absences instead of dealing directly with his manager, something Christie was forever reminding him to do.

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1 comment July 11th, 2008

Five types of freelancer in seriously high demand

Being your own boss means different things to different people.

For me, it means kissing those dreaded dry cleaning bills goodbye and working in my sweatpants. For Harris, a Web programmer I met at a friend’s wedding, it means never having to set the alarm clock again. For my friend Tammy, a marketing maven and mother of two, it means losing the commute and saving a bundle in day care.

Contrary to popular belief, achieving this kind of career autonomy without winding up on food stamps is entirely possible. And it doesn’t even require a four-year college degree or a significant financial investment.

Even better, there’s a rich market of customers just waiting to be tapped.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 12 million people work for themselves. And I can tell you from years of experience in the freelance trenches that many of us self-employed slobs need help with everything from setting up a blog to tracking our business expenses to keeping up with our blasted e-mail in-boxes.

In honor of Independence Day, I’ve outlined five low-cost freelance businesses that you can start from the comforts of your home and market to other independent professionals — plus, the skills, training and overhead they require. See if one lights a firecracker under you.

You can read the rest of the article here, at

3 comments July 4th, 2008

What not to wear to work this summer

Workplace dress codes are a suprisingly big issue for small business owners — yes, even at that cute five-person creative agency you’ve always wanted to open. I wrote about this last week on The photo is well worth the click.

A small business owner I know was recently lamenting the fact that one of his employees constantly brought two friends with her to work: her “girls.”

“She happened to be very well endowed and thought it was a good idea to share her blessings with the rest of the office,” my buddy Joe explained, a bit bewildered.

When the 23-year-old administrator had interviewed for the position, she’d worn a business suit, he said. But after she got the job, she came to work dressed as though she was making the walk of shame from the nearest nightclub: Six-inch-high strappy sandals. Gauzy white skirts, complete with red panties showing through. Low-cut tops that revealed “the girls pushed and pressed, saying ‘howdy!’”

Worried that staff and clients of his four-person creative agency might be uncomfortable with his new hire’s sexy summer wear, Joe solved the problem by instituting an employee dress code.

But his predicament was no anomaly, as anyone who’s ever had a coworker or direct report under age 30 can attest. With “business casual” the de facto dress code in an increasing number of workplaces, and no one 100 percent sure what business casual means anyway, managers find themselves addressing more and more wardrobe malfunctions, especially during the sweltering summer months.

In fact, a June 2008 survey of nearly 2,800 U.S. companies found that 35 percent of employers have sent home an “inappropriately dressed” worker so they could slip into something a little less comfortable.

Everyone knows that in a casual workplace you can get a lot of summertime mileage from a clean pair of khakis and short-sleeved polo shirt (grads, are you listening?). But what if your personal style doesn’t lean toward Tiger Woods or Bill Gates? What threads can you get away with wearing to work when it’s so hot out you’re sweating 20 seconds after you step out of the shower? And which ensembles should you steer clear of no matter how high the mercury rises?

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2 comments June 30th, 2008

Tats in the workplace: Yea or nay?

At Sara Champion’s previous job as a project engineer for one of the country’s top construction firms, visible tattoos for professional staff were against company policy.

She found this ironic — not to mention frustrating — given that her position entailed inspecting job sites filled with tattooed construction workers.

“I was out on site all day, and I wasn’t allowed to show any of my tattoos,” says the 28-year-old Florida native, whose six large tattoos on her arms and back include a brightly colored sunflower, a marigold and a rendition of a Dia de los Muertos bride and groom on her upper left arm. “Ninety-eight degrees and long sleeves is not so cool when you’re in Miami.”

After six years with the construction firm, Champion decided to move north and find an employer that wouldn’t needle her about her body art.

She found her “perfect job” in Danbury, Connecticut, as a project manager at a design and branding agency.

Now, “I have no problem showing up to meet a big client in a T-shirt and jeans,” tattoos in plain view, she says. “I wish more companies were like this.”

You can read the rest of this article by yours truly — complete with suggestions for scoping out a tat-friendly employer — on

Favorite tip(s) from the article:

“Visit the employee parking lot to see how they are dressed and whether many of the employees have visible tattoos,” says the workplace psychologist and founder of the career counseling site “Also ask colleagues and friends if they know anyone who works there who can give you some insider info.”

“The Web is also a gold mine of information,” she says, adding that the Web site, which is dedicated to body art and other modifications, features a database of companies reportedly open to tattoos.

To read the whole article, lookie here.

1 comment June 24th, 2008

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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