Friday, February 27, 2009

The Opportunity Cost of Time in a Job Search

benjamins.jpg Cross-posted from my personal blog.

On the first day of class Dr. Hickenbottom listed three reasons to study economics, the first of which was "to learn a way of thinking". Well, it seems to be working. When I learned this week that my sister Martha had just been laid off from her tech writer/editor position at Freescale here in Austin, I saw her job search in terms of opportunity cost.

She's already begun her search for a similar position here in town and will undoubtedly find something suitable soon. But there's an opportunity cost for the time she spends searching (and not earning).

It occurred to me that she would come out ahead if she could pay to reduce that amount of time as long as her out-of-pocket cost was less than the opportunity cost of the time saved. (Dr. Hickenbottom, do I get extra credit for this?)

This is also an interesting opportunity to crowdsource a job hunt, something I've never done before.

So I called her up and asked if I could offer a $500 bounty to the person who finds her her next job. She agreed (and will be paying the $500 herself), so that's the offer:

The first person to lead her to the job she winds up taking gets $500.

Specifically, she's looking for a full-time technical writer or editor job in the Austin area. She's held similar roles at companies as diverse as ichat, HP, and Freescale, and is exceptionally smart and very professional.

Please don't bother sending in every listing on You're guaranteed not to be the first person to send any of those in. This is for people who personally know of an open position and can make the connection.

Please email your job leads to And as always, you can reach me directly at

This should be interesting.

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