Categorized | Job Hunting

The Dot-Com Daze

Posted on 07 July 2009

Lessons learned from an energetic, electronic era.

Many thought of it as a time of milk and honey: pre-IPO stock options, casual dress codes at work, telecommuting, twenty-something CEOs armed with a “big idea” and no work experience, destined to become overnight millionaires. Was it all a dream?

Whether you were a winner, loser, or bystander–you played a part in the dot-com phenomenon. We were all affected, everyone from mailroom clerk to corporate executive, we all must learn from the experience.

I asked for insight from two people who had extensive experience with dot-com businesses: Josef Blumenfeld and Walt Sutton. Blumenfeld is PR director at Concord Communications in Marlboro, MA, an Internet infrastructure software company. He’s also an ex-employee of two defunct dot-coms (driverFX.com and cozone.com). Sutton is an entrepreneur and consultant who advises West Coast start-ups on basic management practices. He’s also the author of Leap of Strength: A Personal Tour through the Months Before and Years After You Start Your Own Business. Here’s what they had to say about the profound changes that the dot-com era left in its wake.

We’re all planning for financial and personal fulfillment now, not during retirement.

Career Planning
The computer is “king” in the job search. Searching the Internet is easy–especially since you can send a resume (or a whole bunch of them) right away via e-mail. Also, online companies like CareerBuilder have helped to reverse the traditional job search, allowing employers to search for employees.

We should take advantage of new career opportunities and more career choices. The dot-com days created a new world, with new career tools. Different job categories now exist (webmaster, high-tech PR, biomed staffing specialist). Also, employees train people to fill these new positions and empower them to switch careers at will. The dot-com days ended the old corporate mentality that employees had little or no control over their job choices.

Workers tend to think and work globally because the Internet can send us anywhere, anytime, 24 hours a day. Many now see the world in a larger context–and enjoy an advantage over those who don’t. Whether you had a positive or negative dot-com experience, you probably understand why it’s called the World Wide Web.

Your Work, Your Life
The dot-com workplace was fun. Workers wore shorts and sandals; video games were available in the break rooms. Now, when people consider new jobs, they look for certain perks that make the workplace comfortable and flexible. We expect employers to help their employees cope with the realities of daily life (daycare, counseling, family leave).

The dot-com days ended the idea that you had to trade success (and money) at work for happiness. Now, workers want financial success and happiness. And whether they do work they enjoy, or start their own businesses, they’re planning for financial and personal fulfillment now, instead of in retirement.

Know your worth, because workers have come to understand the value of their unique ideas. Many firms invested in dot-com companies that had nothing to show but a good idea. While this may have translated to more than a few inflated salaries, it also helped employees appreciate that their skills and ideas are assets–assets that companies still need to succeed.

You don’t have to be a dot-com casualty. You can take the lessons we’ve all learned from the “gold rush” dot-com days and use them to plan for a better, more prosperous career.

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- who has written 49 posts on Higher Education and Career Blog.


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