• Truck Drivers Quitting to Clean-up in Gulf States

    September 30, 2005 by

    Had my haircut this morning. Not much new or interesting there, but the woman who cuts my hair told me that her significant other is considering quitting driving a truck all over the country and instead temporarily moving to Mississippi or Louisiana to help with the clean-up efforts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He’s heard that contractors and other organizations are hiring people with chain saw and handyman type experience for $20 per hour. As a long haul truck driver, he’s been clearing about $1,000 per month. So at $20 per hour he can make almost 3.5 times as much doing storm clean-up work than driving a truck.
    Seems to me that he can make even more by working for himself. He owns a chain saw and knows how to use it safely, so he could just go door-to-door and make $500 or so per house for a few hours of work. I’ve heard many homeowners have been paying thousands of dollars to vultures who always seem to descend on victims when they are the most desperate. $500 to clear a huge downed tree is pretty reasonable, and for someone who knows what they’re doing and can do it safely and quickly it is very good money. And it sure beats driving a truck across the country day after day for someone who enjoys the company of others.

  • Self-Promotion

    September 29, 2005 by

    Had an interesting conversation today with a consultant who works with job seekers. His philosophy is that job seekers really damage their chances by failing to promote themselves. Most of us have been taught to be modest and not to brag about our accomplishments, yet to properly sell yourself to a potential employer you must cite your accomplishments and prove that you’re the best candidate for the position. This is a real struggle for many job seekers, yet it is one that they must overcome to be successful.
    One option that job seekers can use is to sell themselves as a job seeker as if they were selling a service to a potential customer. They should make sure that the customer (the employer) understands not only the features but, more imporantly, also the benefits. Although it grates on the nerves of most when people speak about themselves in the third person, it may be helpful to some job seekers to think of themselves that way. But don’t speak that way. Please!

  • More Money for Bill Gates

    September 28, 2005 by

    Microsoft announced today that it would increase the salaries of Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer. If these two aren’t amongst the most underpaid executives in the world, I don’t know who is.
    There’s little doubt that Microsoft’s stock has languished over the past couple of years and that many now view the company as being past its prime, tired, and fat. But over the next year or so this powerhouse is set to release new versions of its most powerful money generating products, including the greatly anticipated successor to Windows XP.
    So Bill will now make $620,000 per year for creating and running one of the most successful organizations ever. While that sounds like a lot of money to most of us, let’s not forget that Dennis Kozlowski had his former employer, Tyco, pay $1 million for a birthday party for his wife and $6,000 for shower curtains.
    So congrats to Microsoft, its shareholders, and its customers. And thank you to Bill and Steve for recognizing that they provide a great deal of value, but don’t need to be paid more than the guy across the street in order to feel good about themselves.
    Steven Rothberg, President and Founder

  • Are Minors Helpful?

    September 27, 2005 by

    Question from Candidate:
    I am very lost. How exactly do minors work? I know they are an opportunity for you to learn more about something different than a major, but do you get a degree in your minor also? Does your minor show up anywhere like on your degree or would your official title be John Doe degree in Business and minor in Art? How do employers look at minors?
    I’m thinking about getting a major in sociology and a minor in music. How does that sound? Is it useless to have your major and minor in two separate topics? I mean what does your minor really do?

  • “Gen Y” or “The Entitled Generation?”

    September 26, 2005 by

    Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak about volunteering to a groups of 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. I spoke with them about the importance of volunteering, not only because it helps their community and the world but also because, well, it just feels so good to help others. These kids, if you can call a 17 year old a kid, were so bright, so motivated, so eager to give of themselves that I found myself wondering all the way home how anyone could describe this generation “The Entitled Generation.”
    Do these kids have more stuff than their parents? In most cases, yes. Are they more likely to take that stuff for granted? In most cases, yes. Are these kids more likely to forego the opportunities of making more money or having a bigger job if they must sacrifice their quality of life? In most cases, yes.
    While there are certainly bad apples in every basket, I absolutely love this generation. These 17 year olds were 13 years old on 9/11. They were, for the most part, too young to have held jobs and still young enough to be highly impressionable. They’re still young enough to be idealistic and cynicism about their ability to make a difference has not yet set in. And they are eager to make a difference, even if the difference that each makes individually won’t change the world.
    I’ve spoken about my volunteering efforts to rooms of Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Gen Y’ers. Boomers typically sit back and listen. They typically are interested and like being entertained, but when it comes time for them to make a contribution, they usually beg off by claiming that they’re too busy. Are they? I have no doubt that they’re busy. We all are. But like everything else in life, it is a matter of priorities. If they really wanted to volunteer to help better the lives of those around us, they could and would.
    Gen X’ers also tend to be somewhat passive when hearing about volunteer opportunities, but when it comes time for them to make a contribution, most of them do. The biggest issue that I’ve found with Gen X’ers is that many and perhaps most of them have not yet identified the one or two causes about which they feel passionate. They struggle with how to divide their energy between different causes because they feel positively about many. They are willing and able to make time in their day, week, month, or year to make a difference but they need help figuring out how to do so.
    Gen Y’ers, much more than the other two groups, dive right in. At yesterday’s sessions, I heard no excuses about being too busy or a desire to simply write a check. Instead, what I heard was, “How can I be involved?” They had no doubt that they wanted to contribute and would find a way to do so. Their questions were not based upon deciding how what is the minimum amount that they should contribute. Instead, they wanted to know from those of us with more experience how they could make the most difference to the lives of those around us.
    Does the world have problems? You bet. Do we all need to be surrounded by more people who care and who get involved? Absolutely. Are we in good hands with this youngest generation of adults? Without a doubt.
    Steven Rothberg, President and Founder

  • 200,000 Jobs Lost to Katrina

    September 23, 2005 by

    News reports
    indicate that about 200,000 jobs have been lost to Hurricane Katrina, yet some insist that the construction and other recovery-related work will actually help the economy. Although the money being pumped into the economy from the relief work will help, that money would have helped far more had it been spent to create wealth rather than to repair damage.
    Think of it this way. You own a business and your facility suffered $50,000 in storm-related damage. You spend the $50,000 to hire the contractors. But when they’re finished you’re just back where you started. Your facility is no better. You’re producing the same products at the same price with the same level of staffing. If you had invested the $50,000 in new equipment or training for your staff, you would be able to produce your products for less money, which would allow you to sell them to your customers for less, make a greater profit, or both. That investment, therefore, would produce real economic gains for your customers, your company, or both.
    No question that we need to spend the money to repair the damage just as we need to spend money to maintain a military strong enough to defend our nation, but spending money to repair damage or to buy tanks is an economic dead end. Once the money is spend, the outputs don’t create new wealth. The replacement windows and the tanks are needed, but unlike new production line equipment or worker training, replacement windows and tanks don’t create new wealth.
    Steven Rothberg, President and Founder

  • Technology for HR Professionals

    September 22, 2005 by

    I’m in Atlanta attending the IQPC Recruiting & Staffing Summit. Yesterday evening, I attended a workshop yesterday evening on the best practices for maximizing the technology initiatives in the staffing process. The presenter, Shally Steckerl, is a lead researcher at Microsoft.
    Very interesting discussion. Along with some human resource professionals, we discussed the technology available to HR, how it is being used, how it should be used, and what is missing. It was that last component that I found to be the most interesting. Incredible as it may be, there is no technology that would allow HR to determine the source of hire for its stars. Human resource information systems (HRIS) exist and allow HR to determine which of its employees are its stars. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) exist and allow HR to determine the source for its hires. But HRIS and ATS systems can’t speak with each other.
    Think of the powerful impact such a system would have. A hiring manager could instruct HR to hire a new marketing assistant. With such a tool, HR would be able to use technology to determine which of the existing marketing assistants are the real stars and then determine the source for those employees. Did they apply through employee referrals? Corporate web site? Job board? Once HR has those two pieces of information, they can efficiently and effectively source the new candidate. Hopefully that future will come sooner rather than later.
    Steven Rothberg, President and Founder

  • Poorly Trained Hotel Workers

    September 21, 2005 by

    I’m in Atlanta to speak at the IQPC Recruiting & Staffing Summit annual conference. I arrived last night at a nice but moderately priced all suites hotel. I selected it, in part, because it offered free wireless Internet access. After checking in, I turned on my computer and could see through WinXP that there were half a dozen wireless networks and most of them had strong signals. I tried to connect to several of them but could not establish a connection. I called the front desk. The only help they provided was to give me two toll free numbers to the wireless Internet service provider. I called those numbers. They both rang to the same place and after holding for several minutes I was only offered the opportunity to leave a message. I did so and then went to get dinner.

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  • Candidate Scares Recruiters

    September 20, 2005 by

    Question from Candidate:
    I have recently graduated and moved to the UK from the Netherlands. I’m actively looking for a job. I have no trouble getting invited for interviews, and I am often invited for second interviews as well. Not so long ago I have been rejected for one of the jobs I applied for on the account of that the interviewers found me “to confident of herself”. This is a reoccurring thing. My confidence and assertivity overwhelms people. I’ve heard this since nursery school. It’s not that I talk very loudly, or throw demands in people faces, I don’t jumps queues, I do not look down on people or offend people in any other way. I am just reasonably aware of things I can handle, things I need to learn, how long it will take me to learn them, what needs to be done when people start panicking etc. This means I’m mostly fairly at ease in every situation.
    After hearing this from the recruitment agent that introduced me to the company I decided to tone down a bit for my next interview with a different company. I brought up my dominant personality as one of my weak points and explained that I’m aware of it and try to manage it. I thought the interview went really well, and upon leaving the HR manager confirmed this and let me know they wanted to invite me back for the second interview. After this I got a phone call from the recruitment agent, who had some feedback on the interview. She told me the HR manager, in the beginning of the interview, was actually scared of me…
    I was kind of in shock to hear this. I deliberately wore a pastel cardigan, spoke in a soft voice, said thank you and please a lot, etc. I asked questions in an interested manner and tried to not sound bragging when my skills and expertise came up, but gave examples. Apparently after 15 minutes she warmed to me, and wants to see me back for second interview.
    I am Dutch and therefore naturally taller then most English women and a bit heavyset as well, which will naturally contribute to me being scary. However, it apparently is mostly my personality and my way of speaking that is most frightening, as I have heard this from Dutch people as well. I hope you can give me some advice on how to overcome this problem. It didn’t bother me much during university, but now it is costing me my career.

  • Inappropriate Behavior From Boss or Just Kindness?

    September 16, 2005 by

    Question from Employer:
    I have a friend (we’ll call her Sherry) that told me this story yesterday. I am completely flustered about this and want to make sure that I am not being unreasonable in thinking that this is the most disrespectful, inappropriate behavior by a boss.
    Sherry has become close with her boss David. She has worked for him for approximately 9 months. David is a very religious man and is married with 2 kids. While working together in a small office, they have begun to talk about their personal lives. Sherry’s husband is not very supportive. He has a bad temper is very close-minded. Over the months, Sherry has confided in David and he is very aware of the situation that Sherry is in. Sherry, to the best of my knowledge, has accepted her husband’s behavior and has no plans for divorce. David, her boss, has told her that he wants to become more than her boss-he’d like to become her friend. He’d like to become the type of friend that shows her how she deserves to be treated. In a purely platonic way of course.
    Yesterday, Sherry and David went to a business meeting off-site. After the meeting, David told her that he had planned the day for her. He told her that he didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable, that she should just trust him and that he would NEVER do anything to hurt her. He drove her to a hotel where he already had a room. Took her up to the room that was filled with candles and had a jacuzzi. He lit the candles and said the room was hers to enjoy and that he’d be back in an hour. She enjoyed a bubble bath while he was gone. He returned and they shared lunch in the room with nothing happening. Sherry felt fine with all of that.
    They had to leave b/c he had made a reservation for her to have a massage. He dropped her off at a spa where he bought her a Swedish massage. Again, he picked her up afterward. In total, David paid approximately $250 showing Sherry how she ‘deserved’ to be treated.
    It was made clear that this day would stay between the two of them and noone else should know.
    In Sherry’s mind, b/c David did not try anything, he was just being ‘nice’. In my opinion, as her boss, this behavior is unacceptable, inappropriate, and completely disrespectful. I think Sherry needs to inform David that she can never again receive gifts of this sort from him. Ideally, I believe she needs to look for a new job. Please, tell me your opinion.