Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Job Market in New York

It seems like so many people have lost their jobs lately, especially in New York. I feel that almost 1/4 of the people in finance are out of a job... Some of them left willingly, some of them not (this includes me!). A lot of this happened very recently, within the last 2 months... The impact is dramatic.

Today, I posted an ad for a sales job at the startup I'm working on. I put it on Craigslist, where I found Mike. :) (Btw, he's doing well. He's cut back on smoking by at least 50%, I think. And he reports that he's feeling quite well.) The ad I posted is here. With the exception of adding the $400/week base salary, I basically reposted the same from 2 months ago. The first time I posted it in October, I got 8 resumes. Today alone, it was 19. Does this represent how much the job market has changed in the last 2 months, or are people really getting so excited about $400/week?

I had so many resumes that I couldn't even really skim each one. Like the first time, the person who got the job was the the person who called me on the phone to follow up. Of course, this wouldn't apply as much if the job was for a nuclear physicist. But I imagine most people hiring now, don't really have the time to look carefully at every resume they get.

Out of the 19, about 4 people called me I think. Here were the main questions I asked:
- Do you have institutional sales experience?
- Are you in New York?
- Walk me through from beginning to end, how you generate a lead, all the way to closing a sale. (I was particularly happy that I came up with this question?)
- Are you comfortable cold calling?
- How much did you make in 2008?
- How much would make you happy? How much are you looking for? (Those saying six-figures are thrown out the window and off the balcony...)

Mike and I agreed that the qualities we are looking are: hunger (for a job, not the frozen dinners in my fridge), genuine, reasonable intelligence, comfortable with cold calling, and most of all someone who'll really appreciate this lame-ass job. HBS grads need not apply.

Most were really bad, or too experienced. One of the guys sounded really hesitant and uncomfortable on the phone. This other one said he was about to close a big deal, but his manager stepped in and tried to sell the client on something else, so the deal blew up. Did he really mean to tell me that he doesn't work well with managers or try to help? Another started his resume by saying: "DESPITE MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND EGO, I HAVE A PASSION TO FURTHER EDUCATE MYSELF ON A DAILY BASIS ... I CAN BE FOUND IN MY FREE TIME LISTENING TO THE WORDS OF INDUSTRY LEADERS SUCH AS GUY KAWASAKI AND DONALD TRUMP." The Donald himself?!?! He really inspires the youth of America... This guy even had a picture of himself sporting a tight black shirt with the top 2 buttons loose and a white towel (perhaps it was meant to be a jacket) over his right shoulder. The way his eyes gazed into mine was a little hypnotic...and freaky.

But, the last call of the night was to a great kid. He sounded enthusiastic, had just got laid off. Said that he has references who'll attest to him being the first one in, last to go. He said at his last job, he'd make 400 cold calls a day. He also said that his employer would basically setup lies in order to help them sell. His group sold sports sponsorships to events. I guess like a 4some golf outing at some event with some celebrity. And when they called any potential client, they'd make up a story saying "Oh, Bear Stearns just cancelled last minute, and you have 72 hours to book this open spot, otherwise we have 20 people we'll call up next." And if they hadn't sold it after 72 hours, they'd really tell the client that's it's no longer available. Amazing... Turns out, Mike also worked at the same company previously and he too talked about how unethical this outfit was. How funny would it be if both of my sales guys came from the same place. In fact they know eachother? This guy also talked about how he's very familiar with getting through admins and receptionists to get to the decision maker (he could really help Mike here!).

All in all, I have a very good feeling about this kid. He's coming in Thursday for an interview - to my apt - originally I wanted to get some officespace and move out before we hired another person, but now I'm thinking maybe I actually want to find someone who can "accept me for who I am." =)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

living near poverty

i hope i'm not revealing too much information about my colleague here, but i've never met anyone quite like him.

some background on "mike": a couple months ago, when i posted an ad on craigslist looking for a sales guy, mike was one of probably 10 email responses i got. but he was the only one who was proactive - he found my number on our website and called me. since i was looking for a sales guy, i thought this was a good thing. when i met him i sort of knew he was out of a job, but i didn't know that he was on verge of being hungry.

so i "hired" him and we started working together. initially, it was just commission only, but later we realized that the sales process would take a little longer than expected. and during the first month i lent him about $1600 anyway cos he said he was "out of gas." we then agreed on a base salary of about $1600 a month. he said that this would be able to cover his basic expenses and he was working hard and "adding value," so it seemed like the right thing to do.

but yesterday he came to me and said he needed to borrow another $800 cos he wanted to prepay his rent a bit and get current on cable bills... given i didn't want him to make a habit of coming to me for money (i'm not his dad...) i asked him how he was spending his money, and why he was coming up short. and what he said shocked me.

so right now, he makes $1600 a month. of that his rent is $500 - pretty cheap. but his cable bill is $130 - he has cinemax AND hbo. I have neither! subway card is about $100/month. he smokes, and spends about $250/month on cigarettes (an $8 pack a day). so of his $1000 disposable income (after rent and subway pass): he spends $250 on cigarettes - 25%. wow. i was floored. partly by his decision to do that, and partly by the whole addiction thing. his phone bill is probably $50. so for food and everything else - he has about $570/month. he also has a girlfriend - being the gentleman that he is, he'll buy her flowers sometimes. i think they go dutch for dinner though. he said he borrowed $20 from her a few days ago, and she wasn't too happy about it.

about his cable bill, he said that he wouldn't know what to do without the premium movie channels, and how watching tv saves money cos then he doesn't go out. and that between 8pm - 1am, he is basically watching tv. he also said that he's been watching cinemax and gotten into some of the shows there... i heard before that cable is one of the last things an american family cuts (especially low income) - and now i'm seeing a real life example. i mean when i left my job earlier this year, i downgraded my cable, but i guess outside of yao ming games, i only watch a couple hours of tv a week (prison break and 60 minutes!).

so now in his second month here, sales has been picking up for mike (the first month was mostly learning). he's signed up a couple clients, and we've sent out the invoices. however, the checks haven't come in yet. we expect both to come in - probably sometime this month, and then his commission will be $4000.

what's kind of interesting is how he had already made intricate plans to spend that money. he wants badly to move out of his current apt and upgrade to about $800/month. so earlier this week he was already on craigslist and setting up appointments to see the new apts... (he said that one he saw was probably a sex lair...but that's for another day) and then he said he wanted to spend about $400 on new suits and shoes. there's certainly no dress code here, i'm often in pyjamas... and he also wanted to upgrade to a verizon plan that is 800 anytime minutes. i think i only have 450 minutes a month (ok, so they rollover.....). and true, i've also been thinking about upgrading apt and getting a new suit too. but i haven't gone to any open houses or the tailors yet...

so i kinda talked him out of upgrading his apt just yet. and also convinced him that he doesn't need to buy new suits right now - we'll maintain our casual dress code....

and even though i knew i'd lend him the $800, i didn't want to make it too easy for him. i asked him, "if i lend you this $800, how are you going to change the way you live so we don't end up in this situation next week?" i was really happy with his suggestion. he said he'd leave his cigarettes at home for mon-wed next week. and if he can get through mon-wed - 3 days, then he'd be able to get through thu-fri too - just 2 more days. then that'd be a whole week. one step at a time.

i know quitting isn't easy at all, but he really really should do it. outside of the fact that it's bad for him, and he can't afford it - his girlfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. so i hope i can help him with that. i was thinking about buying patches or gum for him - but he said that actually the city provides patches for free. oh, he prefers patches because he doesn't like chewing gum! funny guy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

back from a hiatus of over a year - feels like it's been longer...

let me introduce you (in the singular form) to my brother: http://liang74.blogspot.com/. he's 2 out of 3 in my family. i'm 3 out of 3. 1 doesn't blog, as far as i know.

so much has happened in the last year? let's start with something light, an appetizer.

i work with this guy who's a salesperson. much of his work is calling on clients, and often it's a cold call. he's the nicest person and very earnest and polite. but he's got one really career-limiting issue! when he calls a company and talks to the receptionist, he typically asks to speak with "the analyst who covers a particular company" - this is because he doesn't know the person's name. most receptionists are helpful and put him through to the appropriate person. but, some - probably sensing he's a salesperson - tell him that they can't put him through unless he has a name. now, this really ticks him off. it makes him literally upset and angry. he'll be facetious, snarky, and even sometimes hang up the phone! he'll say things like "geez, calling the whitehouse and asking to speak to condi rice isn't this hard..." or "is this the CIA?" which is kinda funny, but really it just pisses off the receptionist on the other hand.... the best part of this is that he is actually dating a woman who's an admin. of all people, shouldn't he know how to charm admins and receptionists?

fortunately, this story has a happy ending and he's now been able to control his emotions more and i haven't heard him be rude to anyone is about a week....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Dad Is Cute

I called my dad yesterday at work 'cos i had missed his call on Sunday. Never thought I'd say this, but my dad is "cute." Now, my dad is the super hard-working, frugal, no-indulgence, no frills type-a-guy. So for me to call him "cute" is a first. We were chatting about my brother (his eldest son)'s upcoming wedding this weekend and he excitedly told me about how he went and bought a new suit, shirt, and tie just yesterday!! (I later found out from my mum that it was a navy suit, light blue shirt, and light blue + red tie.) He also mentioned that he still needs to go buy some shoes. I thought it was only me who was thinking about buying a new suit for the occasion -- who knew it ran in the family?? Unfortunately, my brother decided that the groomsmen (i think there are like 6, because his fiance has 6 bridesmaids -- she said she didn't know how to turn people down!) are all going to wear tuxes...so we are all renting for the big day. I also told him about my new fashion revelation that fitted shirts/suits make a big difference...but he said that he has a pretty standard body. (I'm sure Mr. Ascot Chang (Thank You!) might have something to say about that!) He was audibly excited about the occasion and I'm so happy for him. In all my years, I've never heard him talk about shopping for clothes - and we've definitely never had a conversation about it.

After that I called my mum and asked what she was wearing. She said that she hadn't decided yet and still needed to go shopping...and asked me what she should wear? My poor mother! Taking fashion advice from her fashion-less son.... She really should have broken with Asian values and had herself a daughter. Not only for fashion advice, but she also has been asking me about what finishing and appliances to put in the house that they're building. I hope it won't turn out like Frankenstein because I've only been telling her about what I see in 600 square feet NYC condos...that probably won't look so hot in surburban San Jose.

I think it's about time one of their prodigal sons came through -- that is why they had 3 isn't it? Sunday will be a special day and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

i took a brief look at my blog today, and i'm embarassed....it's really boring... no wonder no one reads it!! but i'm going to try and write better. but i'm an engineer who took all his humanities class in college on pass/fail, never read the books, and now works in finance -- it's no wonder i have zero writing skillz!

just looking around at work...this is what i see on columbus day morning:

-- one of the bosses is out. he's gone for 2 weeks! (how many does he get a year? and who's keeping track???) i've heard that he has been thinking about going to africa to see some christian woman who can raise the dead... if it's true, then i'll go, and if i see it with my own pupils then i'll convert. sorry god, i'm not really one for blind faith. i need some evidence......just a little...

-- another coworker is napping, we call her sleeping beauty. she probably had a rough night... and she says that she's narcoleptic. i wonder if she's narcoleptic on the weekends at brunch with her friends?

-- on the other side is our new bulgarian (or is it hungarian?) recruit. he's a machine and comes from the hallowed halls of mckinsey. i like him, he's nice. but he works too much, and it's making me and sleeping beauty look bad... doesn't he know to not stir the pot? how do you say that in polish?

happy columbus day everyone. an elementary school teacher just told me that she doesn't think chris should be honoured anymore... is it 'cos he's a fraud and copied the pizza and spaghetti from china and then called it his own?

and today, being the 2nd monday in october, is thanksgiving in canada! enjoy your day off! i'll watch your stocks...

Friday, April 13, 2007

this pretty darn accurate i think.....

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||||||| 80%
Stability |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Orderliness |||||| 30%
Accommodation |||||| 30%
Interdependence |||||||||||||| 56%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Mystical |||||| 30%
Artistic |||| 16%
Religious || 10%
Hedonism |||||||||||||||| 63%
Materialism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Narcissism |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 56%
Work ethic |||||||||| 36%
Self absorbed |||||||||||| 50%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||||| 70%
Romantic |||||||||||||||| 70%
Avoidant || 10%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||| 70%
Wealth |||||||||||||||| 70%
Dependency |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Change averse |||||| 30%
Cautiousness |||||||||||| 43%
Individuality |||||||||||| 50%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||||||| 63%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Physical Fitness |||||||||||| 50%
Histrionic |||||||||||||||| 70%
Paranoia |||| 16%
Vanity |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Hypersensitivity |||||| 30%
Female cliche || 10%

Stability results were high which suggests you are very relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic..

Orderliness results were low which suggests you are overly flexible, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense too often of reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.

Extraversion results were high which suggests you are overly talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting at the expense too often of developing your own individual interests and internally based identity.

trait snapshot:
messy, disorganized, social, tough, outgoing, rarely worries, self revealing, open, risk taker, likes the unknown, likes large parties, makes friends easily, likes to stand out, likes to make fun of people, reckless, optimistic, positive, strong, does not like to be alone, ambivalent about chaos, abstract, impractical, not good at saving money, fearless, trusting, thrill seeker, not rule conscious, enjoys leadership, strange, loves food, abstract, rarely irritated, anti-authority, attracted to the counter culture

Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sotheby's New York - CHILDREN IN MEETING

there's been a lot of hype surrounding chinese modern art lately....and i went to a gallery to check it out. yeah, even though i know nothing about art, but when it comes to modern art, the beauty is even more in the eye of the beholder right? the above was my favourite. i think a lot of chinese people would probably find it quite hilarious. unfortunately, my brother pointed out that it's not too pleasing to the eye, so i will likely refrain from bidding for it next wednesday. ha!

many people say that part of the allure and magic of new york is that there's so much art and culture...but, honestly, i really don't know how to appreciate or take advantage of it. many of the museums or galleries are free, but even then, i don't go. THAT'S how little i get out of it.... sad huh? well, if anyone has advice on how or why to appreciate art, please let me know. i'd be very grateful.