I recently got a few questions that I could use some help from readers with, so I’m hoping you guys will share your ideas in the comments.
#1 The first question is from someone who wants to be a librarian. I know we’ve got a couple of library people who comment on here from time to time, so I’m particularly hoping they’ll have some industry-specific insights to share — but comments welcome from everyone:
I have wanted to be a librarian since my senior year of high school, and I recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Library Science. I knew finding a library job would be difficult because of the economy, but my situation is made worse by my lack of geographical mobility and the fact that I live next to one of the largest library schools in the county. I’ve only been looking for a library job for 4 months, but in that time I’ve had only one interview.
I was recently volunteering in a place where I got to do what is basically my dream job, but I had to stop so that I could find a second part time job (outside of the library field). Sometimes I feel like I should have kept volunteering. My supervisor said that she wished she could have hired me, but that they simply don’t have the funds. Although I love this work, I feel like I would have to sacrifice so much and put my life on hold to even have a shot at getting a paid position. For example, I could have continued volunteering, but then I wouldn’t have been able to work enough to afford moving out of my parents’ house.
I beginning to think that continuing to look for a library job is hopeless and irresponsible. Right now I am working two part time jobs while looking for a librarian position. Do you think I should look for a more permanent full time job outside of the library field? Should I give up on a profession that I love, but which doesn’t seem to have any room for me?
#2 Our second question comes from a reader who wants input on his firm’s billable hours practices. This seems unfair to me, but I don’t have much experience with workplaces that use these billable quotas and I’m hoping we’ll hear from people who do:
My firm has a practice that seems disingenuous if not flat-out unethical. Everyone has a billability target, that is, the percentage of our time directly billed to clients. This is usually 80% and upwards for technical personnel, allowing some time for supervision, training, proposals, etc. (Some employees are expected to be 95-100% billable though there has been some leniency on this given the overall slowdown). But it does not allow for paid time off.
Billability is determined by Hours Billed divided by 2,000 hrs. But since by definition I cannot work when I am on vacation, shouldn’t my leave time be subtracted from the denominator in this equation?
For example, one must bill 1,600 hours out of a 2,000 year to reach a target of 80% billable. If I take three weeks vacation I should hit my goal by billing 1,504 hours out of a 1,880 hour year. That is 80% of all hours I was at work. But my firm calculates 1,504 over 2,000 and it looks as though my billability was only 75%. Or stated another way, I actually have to work at 85% billable during the hours I am present in order to hit the 80% goal. I hope that makes sense.
Billability is a key metric used in evaluations and whether or not one gets a raise. The firm makes it harder to hit these benchmarks by using a higher denominator.
I’d be interested to hear your opinion.
So go for it — you have the pulpit. What do you think?