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Offshore-Proof Your Job

By Marty Nemko

According to a new report from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, off-shoring “could leave as many as 14,000,000 jobs in the U.S. vulnerable.”

Literally millions of residents of countries such as India, China, and Russia would be thrilled to earn $10,000 a year to do work for which Americans currently get paid $50,000-$100,000. And these are qualified people. For example, every year, India graduates at least 50,000 people from high-quality technical universities such as India Institute of Technology, which is reputed to be more rigorous even than MIT.

How can you make your job less offshoreable?

  • Work for the government. It would be nightmarish PR for our government to offshore many of its jobs. As a result, government jobs tend to stay in the US. And government is hiring. The USAJobs website (, lists more than 17,000 current federal openings, from clerk to scientist. Another 10,000 are on individual federal agencies’ websites. For a portal to those agencies, go to and click on “government job vacancies.” reports, “Federal jobs, now averaging $52,000 plus full benefits, can be found in every state and large metropolitan area in the US and overseas in over 200 countries.”

California government employs 150,000 people. To access the list of state openings, go to Even during the so-called hiring freeze, state government hired thousands of workers “by exemption”.

And don’t forget about local government. is a portal to the websites of Bay Area cities, counties, agencies, and universities.

§ Work for a government contractor. Government agencies hire contractors to do everything from provide desks for the Army to evaluate the latest attempt to increase inner-city students’ learning. To identify such contractors, look in the blue-tipped government section of your White Pages. Call any agencies you find interesting and ask for the list of companies the agency contracts with. In many cases, this is public information.

§ Offshore workers often need training in how to work effectively with American supervisors. If you have good technical and people skills, consider working for a company that provides American companies with offshore workers such as InfoSys, Cymbal, or Wipro. Visit to find more such companies. That site also contains articles and online discussions about offshoring.

  • No matter what your job, a key to keeping it from being offshored is to be an intrapreneur: an employee with the ability to see new opportunities to increase his employer’s bottom line plus the moxie to persuade higher-ups to support his new ideas. It’s unlikely that an intrapreneur’s job will be offshored.

How do you develop your skill as an intrapreneur?

1. Always keep your antennae out for a new way to increase the bottom line. If you just keep your head to the grindstone, you’re a worker bee. And good worker bees can usually be found for 75 percent less than you cost in Mumbai, Macau, Manila, or Moscow.

2. Flowchart key employees’ hot buttons and the employees they can influence and are influenced by.

3. Get good at pitching an idea. Practice with a friend.

4. If your new job is unlikely to provide a good vantage point for spotting intrapreneurial opportunities, consider asking to get your position changed immediately. My daughter’s first job in the White House was answering letters to Socks the cat. After the first day of that, she approached her boss and said, “I’m happy to pay my dues, but I’m a pretty good researcher and writer, so I think I can contribute more.” Her boss responded, “Well, Hilary is meeting tomorrow with the Sultan of Oman. Could you develop a one-page briefing on him?” Amy stayed up all night to come up with the best one possible. Soon after, Amy became responsible for writing Hilary’s briefing every day. Lesson: When you start a new job, your feet are in wet cement. Don’t let the cement harden.

  • Be self-employed. If you’re the boss, no one can ship your job to Bangalore. How to come up with a good idea? Ask, “What’s annoying you?” of people who have the money to hire you.

Another option: Run a dull-normal business: a transmission shop, a power washing business, whatever. The competition is likely to be weak because few high-ability people are willing to forego status to run such a business. Yet, many of the 750 multi-millionaires interviewed in The Millionaire Next Door are owners of such dull-normal businesses and, despite the lack of status, are not only wealthy, but happy in their careers.

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