Like many of you, I am becoming more and more obsessed with iphone apps and fun sites that interact with my friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. I’m on every social networking site you could imagine, twitter, facebook, myspace, Google BUZZ, linkedIN, Loopt and FourSquare.
Virtually, you could probably figure out where I am at all times. Which means, is my house empty? Am I a target? Could all of my tweets, updates and notifications be aggrigated into one site that informs the world I’m not home?
Pleaserobme.com is a site that is bringing awareness to those naive internet goers who are caught up in the excitement of new applications and are constantly letting the world know, “Hey, I’m not home, Please Rob Me!”
The site was created by three individuals who aren’t really out to get you robbed. Here’s how they describe the problem created by check-ins and the purpose of the site:
“The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the Internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the Internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.”
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
Don’t list your address ANYWHERE on the internet. If you even have your Resume posted somewhere online, make sure you blur out your address or remove it.
Don’t connect your FourSquare or Loopt to your twitter or Facebook status. By keeping these social media tools separate you avoid your exact location being broadcasted to 10x as many people.
Avoid including your phone number. This is also a search that is easy to conduct and find where you are and where you live, leaving your vulnerable.
So are Foursquare, Loopt, Google Buzz and all the others just sites that make us all easier targets? Location-sharing is becoming such a popular trend this year that it doesn’t seem likely that the site will do much to curb the behavior. If there is such a thing as safe location-sharing, however, I hope you practice it.
Seth Godin once posed the question:
“Are you better at what you do than you were a month or two ago?”
I find this an intriguing questions because as I had found over the past year I was not improving my skills, I was simply trying to learn the ropes.
What I’ve found is that you can do both at the same time. You will never advance in your job or even land the job you’re striving for unless you constantly work at improving your skills.
Here are a few thing to help get you started: 1. Make a list of your Skills you want to improve- This is not only a good place to start, but this is also a good thing to know because you will be asked the question “what are your weaknesses?” in an interview, or you will be asked to improve on your weaknesses for a development goal. But don’t just pick something easy, find weaknesses/skill that you can truly achieve, but will also give you a challenge.
2. Brain storm – Brain storm a list of rescources that will help you turn your weak skills into strengths. Maybe it’s keeping up with your blog to enhance your writing skills, or taking online classes at Linda.com. But find ways to achieve your goals.
3. Schedule time to work on your skills – If you don’t actually take the time to asses your skills and work on them, you will never move forward. You can increase the time you put out a project, but if your skill that needs improvement is your grammar, then take the time to re-read your project before you turn it in.
4. Take your time- If you’ve already admitted to yourself that your skills need some improvement, then take your time to actually work toward improvement. Take an extra five minutes to asses your work and make sure you’ve completed it to the best of your ability.
5. Save Compliments - If you or your co-works or professors have noticed an improvement in your skills and have commented on it, save the compliment. It helps to look back at encouraging works to keep your momentum going in the future. Also, if it comes down to a promotion, you have proof that you’re moving forward and working hard to improve.
Take some time to improve your skills in the new year.
A month and a half ago I was laid-off from my job. Unemployment is scary for a 23-year-old who is fresh out of college, and laid-off from my first “real” job. I’m not going to lie; it has been the most confusing time in my life. Every other day my plan changes on what I’m going to do next. Should I stay in Seattle, should I move home and save money, should I go to grad school? So many decisions, I wish someone would choose the right one for me, and I’d put all my faith in them and do it. Making these choices is such a great life lesson, but man it is stressful.
I am in a decent position, unlike many others who have families to support, mortgages to pay, I was able to take a position working at my family business, although, I’ve been forced to temporarily move out of Seattle to the Podunk town of Medford, Oregon (don’t get me wrong I do hold a place in my heart for Medford) where I have zero-friends and my dad seems like a ghost that shows up every 3rd Tuesday of the months that end in “Y”. I’m getting by with the overwhelming support of my friends and family and I know things will be okay; I just have to trust this. And I’m also doing work that is keeping my skills fresh and helping me advance our company.
I think about the week leading up to when I was laid-off every day, and I think of the moment I was let go, and feels like a vivid nightmare that replays every night. I loved my job, I loved the agency I worked at, and I loved the people. I looked up to my supervisor and hope we can keep in touch, because she is an amazing woman.
But, I was naïve about the situation. I didn’t think it was going to happen to me. And there are things I wish I would have done before I lost my job, that may or may not have made a difference, but If I would have done these things, maybe I wouldn’t have to place part of the blame on myself.
I wish I would have asked for extra work. I was working at a communications agency that did everything from public relations to advocacy relations to advertising. It was very well rounded. I was working in advocacy relations, which was new to me, but soon became my passion. But the week before I was laid-off thing definitely slowed down, even weeks before that my work had slowed. Now this may not have been a direct effect of me being laid-off. But I could have assisted in different areas of the company to let executives know that I can be used in other areas of the agency. I received my degree in public relations, and also have knowledge of Social Media, which was being utilized at the agency. If I had offered to help out in these other areas while I was caught up on my work, the executive team may have noticed that I could have been utilized in multiple areas.
I wish I would have networked with more people. I worked on a very small team that was tucked in a far off corner of the agency. I didn’t meet many people in my four-month stint there. I never took the time to socialize, or even take advantage of meeting people through the extracurricular activities that were set up for us, Which means I wasn’t networking with my coworkers. They didn’t fully understand my capabilities and the value I could have brought to other areas of the agency. I’m kicking myself now for not making those connections and relationships, which could be assisting in my job search.
I wish I would have kept track with my network. Finding a job is about networking. I didn’t take the time to the day I was let go to take a look at the relationships I had made and write down their contact information. I was in shock mode when I got back to my desk to pack my things, I didn’t fully think of what I needed to take with me besides my personal belongings.
I wish I had an emergency fund. As a recent graduate I was just starting to become financially independent from my parents. Like most recent grads, I had to borrow money from my parents and was just going to be able to start paying them back when this happened. I’m still learning about saving and budgeting, but I wish I would have made a large effort to put aside a large portion of my money each month, so that I would have a safety net now that I am suffering.
I wish I wouldn’t have been so naïve. Nothing is certain in this life or your career. This economy is going to be out-of-wack for at least the next five years. In history it has taken at least five years for our nation to pick itself up and dust off its shoulders from the moment we’ve hit rock bottom, I still don’t believe we’re at rock bottom yet. It is scary for everyone. And I think everyone needs to know you aren’t safe. You need to be working extra hard and taking as many precautions as you can in case something happens to you.
I wish I wouldn’t have taken my job for granted. I remember the day I had to sit down and talk finances with my roommates. As soon as we wrapped up the conversation on a Sunday evening at 10:30 pm they all said in unison, “Man I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow!” I looked at them all and said, “Please just be thankful you have a job.” I think about all of the mornings I got up and complained about getting ready and riding the bus. If only you know what I’d give to be at a job and know what I was doing with my future.
These are things I wish I would have done before I lost my job. Your life can change in an instant, and I cannot change these things I wish I had done, but I can pass along the wisdom to others. Not many people are laid-off from their first job in their twenties, although unfortunately I think it will begin to be more common than not, these are things to think about if you are at your job, whether it’s your first or your tenth position. Nothing is certain.
On a Final note, Today while reading Vanity Fair there was a pullout quote that said, “your dream Job is finding something with a salary and health benefits.” and it’s so true. Currently, yes I have future goals for my life, but I am NOT thinking about them right now. I’m focusing on today and finding a job for right now that has benefits and a salary I can live off of. Not 5 years from now. But I thought this was an interesting point that a dream job now solely involves a salary, benefits and a 401k.
On a final final note, no matter how you cut back, my biggest advice is to keep your health insurance. One accident or major illness can land you thousands of dollars in debt. If COBRA, the coverage you can get from a former job, is too pricey, find deals on ehealthinsurance.com. or look into high-deductible coverage; it has cheaper premium (you’ll just pay more out of pocket if an emergency strikes) but health insurance is so important, make sure that isn’t something you sacrifice in these hard economic times.
Update: Thank you for everyones support I accepted a job offer last week! And will be sure to take my own advice!