Career and Business

The Respectable Negro’s Guide to Surviving the Corporate World

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Many of us are navigating the corporate world. Some of us are just joining the workforce while the rest of us are looking for new jobs. When being a respectable negro, we deal with the additional burdens of being the resident race representative and a different kind of Black. The clean, nonthreatening and surprisingly to nonBlacks, the articulate kind. While our parents rightfully told us we “have to be twice as good to get half as much” as others, many of us weren’t told or taught the truth about the corporate world. It is trifling as Hades!

You see some folks and employers will shake your right hand while shanking you in the back prison style with their left hand. So you are wondering what makes me qualified to give this advice? Well, I worked in the corporate world for over (none of your business because it will reveal my age) years. I have been a respectable negro since my first code switch. My code switch is legendary. I go from “ain’t” to “I am not” in seconds. Most importantly, I have made plenty-o-mistakes that you should learn from so let’s get started.

This ain’t your mama’s labor market.

Growing up Mom always told me to get a “good” government job. Mom, a former city employee, doesn’t understand that government jobs are not as stable as they once were. Hello government debt, corporate owned street gangs I mean political parties and of course because of declining unionization rates.

Stop thinking the labor market is the same one from 30, 10 or even two years ago because it is not. Pensions are suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs. They gone! They’re being replaced by 401k’s and shared retirement plans. The “right to work “concept is strangely enough is supported by the same workers it hurts. The unions, which protected our grandparents 40 years ago, are being rejected by their grandchildren. Ungrateful fools! Even service jobs that can’t be shipped overseas are being replaced by kiosks and automated messages. How many times have you spoken to someone to help you check into an airport or didn’t have to “press one for English” on your phone? I always press the other languages for the heck of it. The new reality is that jobs that were relevant ten years ago are gone, and they aren’t coming back.

For more information on the hottest jobs check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Selected Occupation Projections data.

Give your career a makeover

Slap some makeup on your career. Contour the heck out of it. Apply some lashes! Sew a Siberian husky weave on it and call it a day. If a job can be outsourced, downsized or eliminated by technology you must acquire a hard skill. I don’t care how many abbreviations you have after your name. If you want to stay at a job, you must turn yourself into a valuable asset. Get the hard skills that no one else has. How? Take classes at your vocational school or a community college. It’s cheap as chips.

For a list of vocational schools and community colleges and the programs they offer check out the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator.

See the employee and employer relationship “as friends with benefits.”

Never ever, ever get comfortable at a job. Ever! Smack it up. Flip it. Rub it down and then bounce. It’s not the relationship type anyway. Take what you can from a job and move on because that is what companies do to employees. A great example is one of my friends is a Human Resources Manager. He is absolutely ruthless and I love it. He will acquire a skill from an employer on their dime and then leave them for a higher paying job. He never commits and is always looking for better. He understands that in this current environment, working at a company for 20 years is pretty rare. He also understands that he needs to acquire hard skills to make more money. That’s the formula to becoming a valuable and sought after asset. When he applies for a job, he purposely looks for an employer that promotes training. Think of it like this, the employee gets training and in exchange, the employer will get their work completed. Both get what they want out of the deal while understanding there is no long-term commitment. When you think about it, who is doing the hiring? He is.

You wouldn’t call your jump-off your spouse so stop calling a job “my job.” That thinking makes me cringe. If someone can fire you, it is not your job. It is the company’s job. You are exchanging work and/or time for money. That’s it. Companies today will fire you in a heartbeat and if you live in a “right to work” state you’re screwed. Like I said before, get what you can get out of an employer and use it to your advantage. Hello, free training!

Go to the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator. Like now.

Know your worth. You deserve better!

Here is an ugly truth. What your employers pay you depends on their ability to replace you. The lower the pay, the easier it is to replace you. Meaning if you make the minimum wage or close to it, you are as valuable as a used condom in a frat house. Don’t be mad. Most of Americans are in that same boat. If you aren’t in a specialized field, take your ass to a community college and pick up a hard skill. OK, here comes my illuminati moment. There is a degree myth out there. People are overselling college instead of putting a focus on vo-tech. Why? So we can work for others instead of creating our own products. The debt we are accumulating is turning Americans into wage slaves and Sally Mae’s indentured bitches. Don’t believe me? Here is an example; I have a friend with over $70k in debt from a law degree. He is broke like a mother and is living like it too. The roaches in his apartment are getting more ass than he is because they can afford dates and he can’t. He has a fancy title though, LOL! Another friend of mine went to community college and is an electrician. The electrician makes more money and is debt free. So who is winning? The electrician. He’s married so don’t ask.

For a list of wages by occupation check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.

Create your own –ish!

When all else fails, create your job. The only one, who can hire and fire you, is you. I think this is the best option. You control your most valuable asset, your time. And guess what? If you “create something that makes people lazier” as my sister said, there’s no limit to the amount of zeroes you’ll add to your bank account.

For more information on how to be kick ass in everything you do and to start your own business check out the links below.

Five simple ways Black women can start a business or career for free!

Are you a Black woman who wants to start a business but have no clue what kind? Answering these questions will help

Five free eBooks & audiobooks every strategic Black woman must read to master and win at life

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Create your own personal life plan check out my Change Your Mind, Change Your Life Goals and Action Plan Worksheets. It will help you create goals and action steps to meet them. Need a last-minute gift? Check out “Change Your Mind, Change Your Destiny” on Amazon for only $2.99. Did I mention it is free for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited users? WE LOVE FREE!! Also check out my 5 steps to building a killer blog and make money from it course. How much is it? Pay what you can.

You can do this so let’s get it done. Don’t be stingy. Share this post with your networks. The only limit you have is the one you have placed on yourself so think and be limitless.

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12 comments

  1. Yolanda 4 August, 2014 at 13:45 Reply

    Superb article with great advice. I’ve worked for many years and slowly came to realize that corporate amercia doesn’t truly ‘care’ about their employees. It is a temporary arrangement and should be regarded as such. No ‘settling in.’ Black women are almost always compensated at less than everyone else as well. I will work on acquiring some hard skills, as I’m currently completing my first college degree. But my long term, and greatest goal is to run my own successful businesses.

  2. reality_check 5 August, 2014 at 13:50 Reply

    Thank you BBG. Personally, the thing that makes me cringe is when people make the statement ‘the company doesn’t really care about its employees’ …I just scream…DUH! No, sweetheart, the company does not care about its employees; the company is not in business to care about its employees. They’re in business to enrich the shareholders. Full Stop.

    Basically what BBG is saying is that each employee needs to approach employment as if you are an employee of yourself (MYSELF, INC.), contracted out to a third party (the company you physically are working at). If you approach it as if you are an employee of MYSELF, INC., then you will have a better perspective on how to navigate corporate America like your HR friend does.

    My only caution would be to say that job-hopping is a negative in corporate America, unless you are in a highly dynamic industry like technology. If you are planning to remain on someone else’s payroll, then you have to demonstrate stability (i.e., limit your job hopping). Otherwise, definitely take advantage of training opportunities, tuition reimbursement and certification classes. I personally have acquired an advanced degree, and 5 professional certifications through my previous employers. Too many people have tunnel vision when it comes to salary, but the true benefit is the investment the company is willing to make in you as an employee. To me, the greatest benefit of being on someone else’s payroll is that they can invest in your skills and increase your future earning potential (e.g., certifications). You can then take that additional skill and market it to the next highest bidder. That’s how it gets done out there and it looks like your HR friend is winning the game because of it.

    Thank you for these very practical tips.

    • Yolanda 5 August, 2014 at 14:34 Reply

      Hello. You raised some very good points. I love this blog because BBG discusses some valuable topics in a positive and directly truthful manner. It is so wonderful to find positive voices on the web. That being said, it is somewhat disappointing that you seem to feel the need to make negative remarks about other sistas joining the conversation. We’re all dealing with the same issues and are in this together. Your excellent points could have been made just as easily without essentially calling others ‘dumb’ for their remarks. BTW, not all companies have shareholders (as the companies I worked for did not). Peace.

  3. Eva 6 August, 2014 at 11:24 Reply

    Wonderful article, but beware of job hopping after a certain age. If you’re 35 and still job hopping, employers can read that as unstable. Me, myself wouldn’t hire someone who was still job hopping at 35.

    You are very correct in that college is being oversold. I got my degree many years ago, when the government had many grants to help college students, also when I went to college, it was doable on a middle class salary. My debt, when I graduated was only 3 figures and I paid it off about three years later. If I had a college aged child now, I’d tell them to learn a trade; if I had to do it again now, I’ll go to culinary school.

  4. Chrissie 9 November, 2014 at 20:22 Reply

    thankyou so much for this! I have now become a faithful reader of bbg! Blessed that I found this site. You definitely dropped some gems!

    xo
    chrissie
    lipstickvillain.com

  5. ED 25 March, 2016 at 07:26 Reply

    Yes! You did that. Great read, and real knowledge dropped.

    I have worked for a labor union for the past 13 years and is getting laid off…. “budget reasons”. Same rules apply there.

    Very timely.
    Thanks.

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