Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Down and Out(sourced)

This is a modification of a post I made to Digital Eve Israel (the women's high-tech networking group), following a posting by one of the members who was looking to outsource some writing to India. A number of respondents tried to explain that outsourcing to another country when our compatriots have the skills and it would be better for our economy to keep the jobs here.

Following is my response.

Many responses to the post on outsourcing to India have been defensive and talked about "doing the Right thing" and outsourcing locally. Some of the posts have hinted or stated that the Indian writers are not as good as local writers. To my mind, this kind of post is akin to killing the messenger.

Let's face it: some jobs are particularly susceptible to offshoring. In particular, if you are outsourced or freelanced already, you can bet that offshoring is a natural progression from what you are doing. Writing is definitely one of those jobs.

You can argue about the quality. I believe that if you are one of the top people in your field, you won't be terribly threatened by the offshore market. How do you know you are one of the top people? You know you are the top in your field if you are charging more than 25% above the average. If you are thinking those expensive guys are a rip-off, you aren't the top in your field. Sorry.

So, assuming you are an average freelance writer, it is inevitable that offshore writers will eventually be able to offer similar services for a better price. That's a fact. It isn't good or bad, and it isn't good or bad for a company to pay less for the same service. It's just the way things will go. If you are angry about that, great. Anger can be a call to action.

The call to action is to give a good, hard look at your career going forward. If it seems that you are in a job that can be offshored, create a strategy so you won't be out of work in 5 years. It might be re-training to a different job. It might be training Indians to do your job and then being their agent in Israel. It might be opening your own business on the Internet. Hope isn't a plan. Arguing that it shouldn't be this way isn't a plan.

My basic belief is that the way commerce works is that there is work for everyone. I also have a basic belief that most of us can find a satisfying and meaningful job, or at least something that they don't hate. I'm not saying most of the world can find that kind of job, but if you are reading this blog, you are in the category of people who has a choice in the kind of employment you can find. You are in the category of people who could start their own business if they chose to do so. There really is enough to go around, but it won't happen when we are guarding ourselves and defending against what is "out there". It will happen when we create value in the world.


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