Tag Archives: jobs

The Job Search: when HR fails itself

I’m very busily employed now, four weeks into an IT change management role, but still receiving occasional thanks-but-no-thanks emails from former prospects.

For the most part I’ve let the 100-or-so job application dismissals I’ve received go without comment, but feeling frisky with two shiny paychecks under my belt I felt compelled to respond to one today.  I was polite, but wondered: where was my phone screen?

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130 down… how many to go?

After a dry spell of job postings from late March to mid April I was able to kick up quite a flurry this past weekend.  I’m assuming the end of March saw many employers freezing recruitment activities until stock was taken of first quarter financials.  At a former employer when things got tough they would release temporary workers for a couple of weeks and then bring some back.   I’ll let readers form their own conclusions on how well that yo-yo show affected the bottom line.

Of course I took advantage of the increase in listings I found, and noticed afterward how thick my stack of application printouts had grown.  I had stopped counting after about 80 so I was curious to see where I was now.

130.

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Riding the job boards

It’s now going into the fifth month since I received notice my position with Nokia was being eliminated, and the third month since I was actually released.  The experience has been like riding an operator-free rollercoaster, or surfing in a tsunami.

In January of this year there was a brief flurry of activity, leading me to hope that I was seeing the typical “January bounce” for employment prospects.  But the many interviews and offers quickly evaporated and thus began the stomach-wrenching ride on which I now find myself.

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Cleaning up Careerbuilder

In addition to a few other job boards, I check Careerbuilder frequently– sometimes twice daily.  The job recommendations feature is fairly accurate enough to make my visits quicker but I often spend some extra time diving deeper to see if any opportunities are escaping my filters.  Sure enough, I typically net one or two extra listings that way.

But when I was first tossed back into the unemployment pool, I noticed a great many garbage listings on Careerbuilder.  Most were mere advertisements for training, with vague assurances of possible jobs after completion of the programs but no tangible opportunity.

Fortunately, Careerbuilder has a Report feature we can use to identify suspicious listings.  I personally put in good time looking for and reporting many improper listings and advise everyone who uses internet job boards to do likewise.

I tried to find at least one example to illustrate but despite clicking through numerous pages I did not find a single one.  Looks like the feature has been effective!  That helps all of us, as it improves the signal-to-noise ratio.  Ironically, it is also an exception to a point I made in this previous article about compounded individual acts working against the whole.  In this case, at least, they work for us.  😉

An open letter to headhunters

No, this isn’t an appeal to remote islanders looking for cranial trophies.  Instead, I’d like to make some requests of those actively seeking prospective employees in the United States.

The current economic implosion has poured hundreds of thousands of hardworking professionals onto a market unable to place them all.  There are certainly jobs avaialble, but many of us are being told we are overqualified for them and summarily dismissed.  Laws of supply and demand are hard at work, allowing recruiters the luxury of being highly selective and weeding out many candidates who could perform the role but may have some deficit on their resumé.

To help both job seekers and people placers, I’d like to ask the following of those on the demand side of this equation:

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The tide is leveling; why aren’t the boats?

It’s said that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  That cute expression became a knee-jerk mantra for many US economists in the 1980s and correlated well with equally popular trickle-down euphemisms.  The prevailing wisdom was, of course, that tax breaks for the wealthy enabled them to invest more which would surely help the lower classes.  And indeed, it appeared to work… for a while.

Something happened on the way to that Utopian sea of rising yachts and junks.  Deregulation and lax oversight allowed national corporations to become multinationals.  This, too, was seemingly good… except that any multinational corporation could– and many did— lose allegiance to the very regions and people that enabled it to catch the high waves in the first place.  Reincorporations in tax havens like Bermuda became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Ostensibly to enhance shareholder value (another common claim), such moves also served to further distance corporations from their roots… and undermine the communities in which those corporations once anchored.  Ironically, many of those communities had established tax abatement zones to entice some of those entities, and with the loss of business they of course suffered afterward.

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A working vacuum

Those who know me are already aware that my global position at Nokia was eliminated, and I am looking for my next employment opportunity.

I’m certainly not alone, as I mentioned in an article on open source software a few days ago.  People are being laid off in frightening numbers, even by companies that are doing relatively well (like Hewlett Packard, which is also freezing salaries after buying EDS) in this economic mess.  I believe most of the cuts to be an overreaction that will eventually backfire.  Read on.

That article also briefly mentioned US president-elect Barack Obama’s proposal to focus inward and create long overdue public works programs.  An official analysis shows how needed such efforts are, describing a potential of 1.8 million jobs (a bit less than the 2.5 million Obama has cited).

Jobs creation gives me hope, and I’m daring to wonder if there’s opportunity for my skills in there.  But what I’m really curious about is what such programs will do to the private sector.

There’s already evidence that, in many cases, companies are better off keeping their strategic talent through turbulent times and thus being prepared when the inevitable upswing arrives.  Instead, many are now engaging in a wholesale human dump.  If enough of those unemployed people are then sucked up by a federal civil works program, a shortage for the commercial sector may develop (in at least some areas) that in turn increases wages as companies later aggressively compete to lure castoff talent back.  Which of course drives up inflation.  Which leads me to suspect that any economic recovery may be ironically dampened and/or delayed a bit as the folly of mass layoffs boomerangs.

Time will tell.