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Saturday, October 15, 2005
the working poor
is it true, the more we work, the poorer we are. having a stable job and salary does not seem to help pay bills and support our lifestyle. according to this article, inflation rate in USA will be increased from 3% to 3.5 or 4%. the annual inflation rate is about 3%.

as a nonexempt staff working in a bank, i am paid on an hourly basis. some of my co-workers told me that their annual salary increase is less than 1%. if that's the case, they are working at a loss. which is true. cost of goods will increase every year i.e. phone bills, utilities, internet, cable, waste and gas. they have less savings as the bulk of their income go to pay bills. i wonder what will happen to my annual salary review. will i get 0.00005% increase in salary, i will find out late this month.

i have never been paid hourly in a full time job. i don't like the idea but i don't have a choice. it is difficult to find a job in USA. contrary to many employers claiming that they provide equal opportunity employment, they do not. they prefer locals than foreigners.

i will keep looking for a job that pays well and related to my field of work in singapore.
posted by sharon at 9:59 AM | Permalink |


At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Jason Truesdell

Is it difficult for you to find work in Seattle as a marketer? I thought my former company was full of them... and I thought most larger companies have a pretty large marketing team here.

In my current situation, I have to be a marketer, sales person, bookkeeper, order packer, and everything else, so sometimes I'm envious of people who can specialize in one thing. Even when I worked in software I had generalist tendencies.


At 9:22 AM, Blogger sharon

hi jason

oh yes, it is difficult for a foreigner to find a job as a marketer in seattle. employers prefer locals to fill in the marketing positions.

why? maybe they believe that locals understand the culture and work procedures better than foreigners.

i have sent many resumes to marketing companies seeking a coordinator position but no one is interested. my boss is also surprised that i was not hired as a marketer.

i used to multi-task in my marketing jobs when i was working in singapore. i hope you will do well in your job.


At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Jason Truesdell

Actually my job is my own small business, but I think I came with only a theoretical understanding of marketing.

I might be wrong, because I'm selling fancy Asian things rather than middle-American mass market stuff, but I think marketing requires knowing your target audience, not being your target audience... When I was looking at marketing job listings (not for myself), fairly technical research skills seemed to be in demand.

Maybe some companies have an unconscious bias. Or maybe it's tough to get some companies to understand the difference between being and understanding their targets.

But a lot of big companies want to reach Asian immigrant and third generation audiences; Coca-Cola spends millions of dollars each year specifically targeting Asian Americans. The Bon Marche nee Macy's supported the Asian community newspapers for years with specific campaigns for Asian immigrants and third generation Asian Americans. Eddie Bauer, Safeco, and others all have a need to reach a population that ranges from 10-30% of West Coast metropolitan areas.

I always found that my international colleagues at Microsoft brought backgrounds and experiences to the table that helped them think about problems in unconventional ways, so maybe I value this kind of experience more than average companies.


At 3:51 PM, Anonymous YP

There is a preference over locals than foreigners who are looking for a job here. But if in the IT field then chances of getting a work visa is good. Otherwise, its difficult as other locals have the same skills set and companies would rather give the job to someone local than sponsor a foreigner. That is a problem for me as I don't have a IT background. Do you have any advise and what companies are willing to sponsor visa?


At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Jason Truesdell

Ah, I made the mistake that your visa end was already taken care of since you have a job. H1-B visas are at least transferable, but I didn't think that you may have another visa which isn't as flexible (OPT is usually limited to 1 year, though not one employer; other visa categories may not make changing employers as easy).

In fact, you're right; it's not quite a bias, but employers do tend to hire people who already have the right to work at any company.

Companies more willing to sponsor visas are usually larger; I certainly know many people who got visas working full time for Microsoft or Starbucks. Some specializations are in greater demand, so even within one company, the willingness to sponsor a visa may differ. In general, though, larger and medium-sized companies are usually more willing to see the value of getting a competent employee even at the cost of less-than-immediate availability.

Another friend actually got her visa taken care of by working for a company that had an established account with a big clothing company, and they knew they'd have enough resources to handle it.

In my own case, I would have sponsored a friend's visa last year if I only had a larger asset base; the cost of hiring an employee was too high for me last year (and even worse now), and it would have been exacerbated by lost availability, and even though she was willing to cover the legal costs, I probably wouldn't have been able to pay well enough for her to make up for that.

Software and IT jobs are sometimes harder to fill, and the profit margins in software are dependent on esoteric talent, so some companies are more willing to sponsor visas to get talent, whereas they might hesitate with a marketing candidate.

In your shoes, I think you'll need to find a way to highlight skills and accomplishments that distinguish you from other candidates. You may be able to turn your "outsider" status into an asset. What do you know that would be of great value to a company trying to promote its products to Asian immigrant communities, for example? Or how would you draw in a crossover audience and make them appreciate the value of an Asian speciality? (that one is self-interested, of course, since I import such things). When you write a cover letter, you might pitch an idea or two in a brief way; think of it as a mini-proposal.

If you look at some regional, fast-growing smaller companies, like Sahale Snacks, Jones Soda (not so small anymore), Fran's, and so on, you can imagine they must want to reach an Asian American audience. You can probably think of strategies that would help them reach those customers. Similarly, larger companies like Eddie Bauer, Safeco, Nintendo USA, Starbucks, and Microsoft all have these kinds of needs.