Downtown Working

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October 13, 2003 // UPDATED 11:05 am - April 30, 2007
By: Elana Centor
Elana Centor

Forget the net? Flesh pressing leads to a gig and a quandary It had been three months since D.J. and I sat down to talk about his job search. Although we sat at the same table in the Dunn Bros at 201 3rd Ave. S., by the Milwaukee Railroad Depot, as we had in June, D.J. was in a very different mood.

In early summer, this ex-multinational corporation employee was burned out, discouraged and quickly losing confidence in his ability to land a job. Today's D.J. was pumped up and stressed over an entirely different dilemma: to pursue a career as a consultant or continue his search for a full-time job.

In his previous life, D.J. had a lucrative job as a project manager for a Downtown consulting firm. The job search might have been a little easier if D.J. actually liked his work. He liked the benefits, the regular paycheck and the routine, but the work itself was a drag.

D.J.'s real passion is music. After we talked in June, D.J. decided to have a very Candide type of summer -- determining his best of all possible worlds was his backyard garden.

That is until August, when the severance was running out and his partner was getting fed up with his lackadaisical approach to job hunting.

"I finally scheduled the three-day outplacement workshop that I got as part of my severance package," said D.J. "Much to my surprise, it was very helpful. I've overhauled my rsum -- it now has a much more accomplishment focus."

Turns out the workshop reminded D.J. that networking is the most successful way to land a job -- that's how half of people get their jobs. It also reminded him that his Internet job hunting was probably wasting his time -- Web based referrals account for just four percent of placements.

So D.J. ditched the Net and set to networking with a vengeance.

"You have to press the flesh," he said. During August and September, D.J. ate his way through Downtown, lunching everywhere from Kramarczuk's East European Deli, 215 Hennepin Ave. E., to The Old Spaghetti Factory, 233 Park Ave. S. -- and everywhere in-between.

The networking paid off. It didn't land him a full-time job, but he nabbed a great consulting contract -- and a conundrum.

"The pay is incredibly good," said D.J. Yet, he also wondered, "Do I sink my heart, soul and eye teeth into be a freelancer, or do I continue to look for full-time work?"

Sounding like a bad imitation of a bad therapist, I asked, "What do you want to do?"

D.J. hadn't made up his mind. Consulting would allow him the freedom to pursue a music career and teach some students. Plus, he said, long-term contracts seem to be the way his field is heading. However, he'd still need assurance of steady work. D.J. is not sure he could, as he put it, "Work without a net."

Investment professionals call it your risk tolerance level. If you have a high tolerance, being an independent agent can be a wonderful lifestyle. However, for many people, the risk simply drives them crazy.

As much as D.J. loves the thought of having more control over his time, does he have the temperament to work without that net?

The real test will come when he's offered a job. That could happen sooner rather than later. D.J. says several headhunters are working feverishly to place him in a permanent position.

If you have a good workplace dilemma or just a good story to tell, please contact Elana Centor at, or leave her a message at 825-9205 (then hit 102 for her voicemail). You can remain confidential, as can your company.