Jobs, Careers and Vocations

workers

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

 

I wrote earlier here about the gig economy and about unretirement and various other work-related topics. I just finished a one-year contract gig and assumed that would be it for me in the world of higher education and maybe in all of the work world.

But in those two weeks before my contract ran out and the one week since I have had 4 offers for new gigs. I had already decided to really stop working. Oh, I still have some clients for web services that I’ll continue working for, and I have my blogs, but no more contracts.

So why have I considered and even researched two of those offers? There must still be something that draws me – and maybe others – to the job-based life. That is a life that centers on having that one full-time job. It is what I spent most of my life doing.

I have been surfing some websites about “finding direction” and came upon a program offering at 1440.org.  1440 is 1440 Multiversity, which has a very new-age vibe and is self-described as “a place to experience time differently—exploring what matters to you, while surrounded by fresh air, delicious food, wellness classes, many ways to unwind, and opportunities to connect with yourself and others.”

I don’t think I’ll have the chance to visit 1440 but in their catalog, I found a course taught by Dr. Martha Beck, Ph.D. She is a writer which a number of books including Finding Your Own North Star, and Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. She is a columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, and a contributing editor for several popular magazines, including Real Simple and Redbook. She is a Harvard-trained sociologist and research associate at Harvard Business School.

Her course is Navigating the Storm: Finding Peace and Purpose in Uncertain Times. That title might not suggest a path after working a lifetime, but in an interview with Beck she was asked, “People often conflate finding their passion with finding a job. Are they the same thing?”

“The concept of the job does not lend itself to living your passion,” says Beck. “Jobs as we know them are part of a hierarchical society that has a pyramid-shaped economy. This industrialized setup is based on factory labor and is meant to keep people infantilized into thinking there’s somebody (a boss) who is going to come in and give me what I need (money). It assumes if I do my chores I’ll get my allowance and I won’t have to grapple with individual survival in its grittiest forms.

This is why we hate jobs and we hate our bosses—because it’s not supposed to be set up this way. This is a child’s experience. In nature, you would go out and encounter the world and make your way. And as you did, that would shape you.”

She says something about one of my favoritewriters, Henry David Thoreau. She believes that when he wrote that the majority of men “lead lives of quiet desperation,” he was talking about jobs, and not men in general, but men under the Industrial Revolution who were working factory jobs.

Beck has never really had a “job” in the traditional sense, or a job-based life. She has found ways to make money which she sees as “very much like living off the land except you’re dealing with an economic system.”

Is that an earlier version of the Gig Economy?

She says, “You figure out what is needed and you find a way to play in the fields that you like until you can add some value… Jobs are going away—it makes no sense to hold onto a job you hate as it goes down.”

Writing books about this is one way she has earned a living. Doing courses and workshops seems to be another. She also thinks the place to be is online.

“If you think of something that people want and that they can benefit from, you can offer it out there in the virtual space for a reasonable price. I just don’t see why anyone would do anything else, frankly, unless you love your job.”

What about college which was once the best path to a job and career? She thinks that path is not the best path for many young people.

She suggests that things that are “high-touch” (that actual humans have put their time into) will have a high value. Create something high-touch and deliver it or distribute it online.

That is not so easy for all of us to do, though people are selling physical things and also services online and making a living. I’ve sold virtual services and will probably continue to do so for a while.

You might argue that to run your own business online will become your job-based life – just not at a company workplace. I know someone who runs her own business selling handmade products online, but she also supplements that with pop-up sales at craft fairs, etc. She doesn’t work 9-5 in an office but many of her weeks are more than the traditional 40-hour ones. She works home creating her products, fulfills orders, does the shipping and gets out there to make direct sales. It is not an easier life, but she likes the freedom of being her own boss and deciding when to work and what to do.

A job website such as glassdoor.com might recommend that you take a personality test to gain guidance on what type of job or career suits you best.

Another suggestion about the working life comes from an interview with author  Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for Eat, Pray, Love. Listen to her interview on the Hello Monday podcast where she talks about when to choose a job over a career and also about having a vocation. There are differences.

I really like what Gilbert says:

“So you have your job that you go to pay the bills. And then you have your life outside of your job, where you do your hobbies and your pursuits and your family. And it might not be the most interesting thing in your life, but whatever. You’ve got to pay the bills. A career is something that you should be passionate about. So a career is a job that you deeply care about. That’s the difference between a career and a job.

… if you think you’re in a career but you hate it and you’re bored and it’s killing you, quit it and just go get a job… It’s okay to just have a job. Not everybody needs to have a capital C career because you can have a whole life outside of that.

And then the other one is vocation, which is like a sacred calling of something that is very holy to you, that is the center of your life that you know can never be taken away from you no matter what.”

Do you have a job or a career? Do you have a vocation? Would you dare to have more than one of those things?

Social Media Attribution

When I first started consulting on social media back in 2005, I was introducing blogs, wikis, podcasts and the newly -emerging social networks such as Facebook.

Both with my academic colleagues and with clients, one of the persistent questions was “How do I know I’m getting any benefit from these social tools?”

Seeing the impact of your social marketing relies on attribution, which is similar to the older metric of ROI (return on investment). Both are sometimes difficult to quantify.

ROI is a very dollars-and-cents measurement. You invested $1000 for an ad buy and it produced $5000 in sales. (Some might call that ROAS – Return on Ad Spend – but I’m being simpler here.) .

In a more detailed article on Buffer, attribution is said to assign value to the channels that drove an outcome. That might mean dollars but it might not. Attribution could measure a purchase or a web visit or a download.

It is a bit of reverse engineering or backward design because you re looking at something like someone signing up for your service or just a newsletter and tracing back to determine what channel or channels can be attributed to that event.

A simple example that doesn’t concern ROI is my own tracking of the referring sites for posts on this site. I can see if traffic to a post came from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, one of my blogs or just a search engine. When someone finds me via Google, I can see what search terms they used. Those results can be surprising. I might get a surge of traffic from a search or link on a site to “Erik Satie” or from “flat web design.”

touchpoints

Attribution is generally broken down as being in three modes: Last-touch, First-touch and Multi-touch attribution. (Take a look at this diagram from digitalthought.me about more on multi-touch models called Even, Time Decay, Weighted, Algorithmic, etc.

The first-touch attribution credits the first marketing touchpoint. For example, you run an ad and monitor how many contacts you came from that ad.

Last-touch attribution credits the channel that a lead went through just before converting. Maybe you ran an ad on Facebook which someone later tweeted and the lead came from the Tweet that linked to your site for a purchase, so Twitter gets the attribution.

Last-touch is easier to measure, but both single-touch models fail to show the complete and sometimes circuitous customer journey. That’s why multi-touch attribution is used. This gets much more complicated and more difficult to track. More complicated than the scope of this post. But as an example, the time decay attribution gives more weight to touchpoints closer to the final conversion event. If your original ad is the starting point but the final purchase came after a tweet that was retweeted and then posted as a link in someone’s blog a week later, the blog gets more credit (as a personal endorsement) than the ad although obviously none of this would have happened without the ad.

Back to that question I started getting in 2005 – it is important to remind clients that social media used for marketing and as engagement and brand-building may not always generate leads or sales directly but rather indirectly.

Attribution is more complicated than this primer, so you might want to check out these sources:

Accessibility Concerns

locked inaccessible web

I just finished a one-year project building online courses for a new virtual college program.  During this collaborative course development with faculty, we had requirements to adhere to the Federal Regulation definition for ADA and Section 508. We used the Quality Matters rubric standards which include accessibility requirements. We also followed the principles of Universal Design of Learning (UDL).

I suspect that many academic websites and online courses actually pay closer attention to accessibility than many mainstream websites. It is obvious that the Internet is important in our daily lives, and in many cases, it is even more important to people who are blind, visually impaired or handicapped in other ways. Many people rely on online for their news, sports, weather, financial transactions, travel plans and connections with friends via social media.

At one time, good accessibility design might have required not using some fancy designs or even creating alternative web pages or sites, but that’s not really true now. The design work that makes web pages accessible generally makes the pages a better experience for any user.

People with slower Internet connections, those using devices such as cell phones or tablets that have smaller screens. and even people with mild vision problems (such as from old age) benefit from accessible design.

The www.afb.org website has many resources. But the most used resource available is the website of the Web Access Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium. There you’ll find guidelines for making web pages along with explanations, techniques. and content guidelines.

You will also find web accessibility information on the AFB website about:

Why Not a DIY Website?

As I’ve said before, I’m not a businessperson with a killer instinct. I sometimes tell potential clients that I think for what they want in a website they can do it themselves.

A do-it-yourself (DIY) website has definite advantages: you have complete control over your site; you can make it what you want it to be and obviously you save money.

Disadvantages? You are limited by your web knowledge, and the platform you use.

On that first item, you considered a web design pro because you probably don’t know a lot about web design, HTML and the rest of the code and design world. But add in that second item – platforms – and you might have some help. All of the DIY sites out there (WordPress, Blogger, Wix etc.) are designed to help the amateur DIY person design a website. Most of these sites are free with options for premium features and designs.

photo sites

Some photography website options from WordPress, including ones for beginners

 

Those DIY sites have built-in tools and help files, and there are lots of sites to help with the design. I stumbled on “Ten tips to make DIY websites look professional.”

One article won’t make you a designer but the tips are all valid.

In brief…

  1. Use a limited color palette to avoid overwhelming visitors
  2. Leave plenty of ‘white space’ to prevent cluttered pages and posts
  3. Choose a legible font to ensure readability
  4. Add high-quality personal photos to provide authenticity
  5. Include clear navigation and search functionality to help visitors find what they need
  6. Craft a well-written About page to build user trust and loyalty
  7. Incorporate Call to Action (CTA) buttons to boost your conversion rate.
  8. Keep your headers and footers consistent to build brand recognition
  9. Prioritize mobile responsiveness to reach more users
  10. Provide easy-to-use contact forms to help users get in touch

As the article concludes, saving money and taking control by designing your own site is a good idea – unless the website looks unprofessional and hurts your brand.

One last suggestion. You can go half and half on this deal. There are experienced designers (like me) who design sites using some of those DIY platforms. You get a good design and you can have the realistic option of then maintaining the site on your own. Best of both worlds.

Impressions and Reach

How do “impressions” differ from “reach”?

Impressions measure the number of times your post or ad appears to users. It makes an “impression” on a viewer but this metric doesn’t take into account unique users. That means that if the same person views it 20 times it counts as 20 impressions.

The metric of “reach” measures the number of unique users who view your post or ad. In that same situation the 20 views by one person would count as a reach of only one.

Here’s a post on blog.hubspot.com that focuses on how both metrics work on Instagram.

 

Design Is Systematic

This a second look at defining design. Previously, I selected language as one way to define design. That might not be your first thought. Well, how about this: Design is systematic.

This speaker series from Google Design gets people from design and creativity areas. Design systems use what we know to anticipate what we don’t know.

This video has interdisciplinary designers discussing the life cycle of a design system and how to create cohesive, harmonious products.

Google Design’s YouTube channel: https://goo.gl/naDtMa