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The Changing Workplace

(August 25, 2006) A quick review of some trends:

Blogged Out of a Job Few Firms Have Rules but Posters Be Warned
The number of bloggers continues to grow, but the number of workplace policies explaining the company's rules on blogging remains anemic. And that can cause a lot of workplace angst for both management and workers.  Although there are no real statistics on how many people have been fired for something they wrote on their personal Web logs, the stories keep coming: (WashingtonPost)

Few HR Professionals Say Office Romances Should Be Prohibited
Four percent of human resource (HR) professionals and 14 percent of employees say that dating in the workplace shouldn't be permitted, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal.com. However, 80 percent of HR professionals and 60 percent of employees oppose dating between a supervisor and a subordinate, the survey found. The survey included responses from 493 HR professionals and 408 employees. The researchers conducted a similar survey in 2001. (BLR)

Five Tips to Consider When You Fall in Love on the Job
U.S. workers spend more time on the job these days than ever. And with nearly 20% more single people in the workplace now than 10 years ago, many people are starting to turn their frown on office romance upside-down. Still, there are rules to follow, so if you are thinking about beginning a relationship with someone at work, keep these in mind: (CareerJournal)

The Score: Looking for Jobs Online
seek greener career pastures. Consumers have heeded these messages, with recent reports claiming that record numbers of Americans are currently scouring the job market. A recent comScore analysis revealed that traffic to Job Search sites jumped considerably in January versus the previous month, indicating that many consumers are at least mulling a job change even if they haven't come to a formal decision on the matter. (comScore Media Metrix )

The basics of employer brand reputation
The reputation, brand and emotional capital of organisations is becoming increasingly important as employees begin to demand a similar level of service as they have come to expect as consumers, says employer brand specialist, Nicola Hunt. Whether they like it or not, businesses are now answerable to far greater expectations than bottom line delivery. Driving this revolution in accountability is reputation, while recent corporate scandals have only added to the sense that the most precious asset an organisation has is its standing in the eyes of the public. (ManagementIssues)

Illegal Workers' Presence GrowingStudy Puts Number At 7.2 Million 
Undocumented immigrants make up a growing part of the U.S. labor force -- almost 5 percent -- and account for a large number of jobs in farming, cleaning, construction and food service, according to a study released yesterday. The study by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center estimated that the number of people illegally in the United States grew by at least 400,000 last year, to between 11.5 million and 12 million. Of that group, 7.2 million are employed, the study found. (Washington Post)

Google's Growth Helps Ignite Silicon Valley Hiring Frenzy
In June, as engineer Anselm Baird-Smith mulled leaving eBay Inc. for another job, he received a call from Google Inc. Within days, Google executives had interviewed him and dangled before him an enticing offer: a six-figure salary and restricted stock then valued at several million dollars, to be distributed over several years. "Google was really aggressive and they moved fast," says Mr. Baird-Smith, who holds a doctorate in computer science and is known for his work as the developer of Jigsaw, software used in computer servers. As a bidding war escalated, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt telephoned to urge him to defect. In the 15 months since Google went public, the Mountain View, Calif., company has galvanized the technology world with its innovative Internet search technology, its rapidly broadening business plan, and its soaring stock price. In the office parks of Silicon Valley, Google also has helped fuel something else -- a hiring frenzy reminiscent of the dot-com boom. (CareerJournal)

Firms adapting to age diversity in work force
From securing million dollar transactions to saving a life, Valley businesses must call on the skills of a work force that ranges from Generation Y to baby boomers to seniors who are opting to stay on the job into their 70s and 80s. Valley executives and entrepreneurs are challenged to make their companies an attractive option for workers of all ages, but at the same time, must deal with issues that arise because of that generational gap. Companies such as Snell & Wilmer LLP, Southwest Ambulance Service and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona address this dichotomy in their own ways, with similarities and differences sprinkled throughout. (The Business Journal of Phoenix)

Outsourcing Customer Service: A Trend in Decline?
Most companies that have outsourced their customer service functions have not realized the cost savings they expected, according to a recent CNNMoney.com article. In fact, employers like Dell, Capital One, and JPMorgan Chase all outsourced their customer-service jobs to contractors only to find that the "hidden costs far outweighed the potential savings in labor expenses" according to the article, and have now brought these functions back in-house. The article cited a recent Gartner study which predicted that most (60 percent) of employers who outsource customer-service functions will lose "significant numbers" of customers who will become frustrated with a lower (or poor) level of customer service and defect to competitors. The costs from lost customers, the same survey found, translates into a failure to meet the cost-savings targets set by companies when they made the decision to outsource. The study concluded that a whopping 80 percent of companies that outsource customer-service fail to meet these targets. (BLR)

Worker Centers' Pick Up Where Unions, Govt. Leave Off
An emerging form of unconventional labor organizing is taking root in immigrant communities, providing services, networks and hope where mainstream unions and state protections have fallen short.

The workers did not understand what the papers said just that they had to sign them and leave. Your privacy is strictly respected. Their managers at the Lee Mah electronics factory in San Francisco, California had just told the roughly 200 Chinese immigrants that they were losing their jobs, and ordered them to sign a contract, written in English, before collecting their final wages. Chen Fei Yi, a former Lee Mah employee, recalled that a few who were able to read English realized the contract said the workers were not being laid off but were resigning making them ineligible for unemployment compensation guaranteed to laid-off workers under federal law. Chen said they warned their co-workers not to sign and demanded the boss come and explain. The boss never showed up, but the police did, threatening to arrest workers who refused to leave. (NewStandard)

For Gen Xers, It's Work to Live: Finding the Right Job/Life Balance
Jason Walker loves his job at Microsoft Corp. He finds the work interesting, and he gets to wear shorts and flip-flops to his Reno, Nev., office. What the 34-year-old commercial-account manager loves most, however, is his flexible schedule. Mr. Walker works 45 to 50 hours a week -- about eight hours a day in the office and the rest from home. He can work later if he chooses to ski on winter mornings. By Mr. Walker's standards, a job is only as good as the life it provides, and remaining a ski bum while maintaining a "really cool" job is worth every minute he spends at the office. Several recent surveys show that younger workers, especially those in Generation X -- between the ages of 25 and 40 -- hold a work/life balance, opportunities for growth and good work relationships higher in importance than generations before them. More than older workers, Gen-X employees view work as secondary to their lives outside the office, these researchers say, whether that means time with their children or time to pursue a hobby. And as baby boomers, now age 41 to 59, approach retirement, employers aiming to hold on to their emerging talent should give these shifts serious thought, management experts say. (CareerJournal)

In Search of Skilled Workers, Employers Go to Summer Camp
With skilled-labor shortages looming, some employers are moving to solve the problem by winning the hearts and minds of the young -- the very young. In an effort to tap future workers in middle school or earlier, big employers, including IBM, Texas Instruments, Exxon Mobil and Boeing, are increasing their backing of career-driven summer camps. The camps promote kids' interest in fields ranging from engineering and aerospace to computer security. The efforts are yielding new opportunities for families, and insights into how to help kids explore promising careers. (CareerJournal)

More women decide to extend careers
Three years ago, after a long career with FedEx, Anne Manning made a difficult decision: She accepted an early retirement offer when the company was downsizing.
"It was a bit of an identity crisis for me," says Ms. Manning, who is in her early 60s and divorced. "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do." After a lengthy search, she found another position in public relations at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. "I needed the structure of a full-time job, the stimulation of working with others, and the reward of being productive," she says. "The income was also welcome. (ChristianScienceMonitor)

Effort to link jobs in imaging, people with disabilities
The Governor's Council on Development Disabilities wants to save companies time and money as they enter the digital age. It's urging firms to hire people with disabilities to help convert paper documents into electronic records. Document imaging is a good job for people with developmental disabilities, said Colleen Wieck, the council's executive director. The council is holding programs for employers around the state to explain the perks of using digital imaging and filling those jobs with people who have developmental disabilities. (The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

Trade Center Restaurant's Workers Back in Business -- This Time as Owners
Colors' Grand Opening Caps a Four-Year Struggle  That eager waiter hovering around isn't just hoping for a generous tip. The bartender with the big, bright smile deeply cares that his cocktail concoction hits all the right buttons. Indeed the entire staff at Colors behaves as if their very livelihood, their personal success, rests on your happiness, because it does. Busboys, waiters and sous-chefs all have a stake in this new Greenwich Village restaurant, which labor activists believe is the city's first worker-owned restaurant. And for the crew, Colors is a kind of a rebirth. Most of the owners once worked at Windows on the World, the legendary restaurant atop the World Trade Center where 73 of their colleagues died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (WashingtonPost)

Poll: College Students Prefer Smaller Employers
A recent poll reveals that small and medium-sized companies have an edge over large companies when it comes to recruiting new college graduates. When asked "What size company would you most like to work for?", 70 percent of respondents chose "A small or medium size company" while just 30 percent chose "A large international company." The poll was conducted among nearly 500 recent graduates by CollegeGrad.com. (blr.com)

How Older Candidates Can Make Their Case to Employers: Value
When you're an older person looking for a job, it's hard to get past the secret fear of many employers that you are going to cost too much. So how can you suggest that you won't? Check out the ammunition in a new study done by consulting firm Towers Perrin for AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. While it's hardly a disinterested report, given AARP's mission to promote the interests of older people, you'll find some handy (and compelling) arguments that older workers can be cost-effective. "We've heard for a long time that older workers cost more, they don't have technological skills, they're inflexible," says Deborah Russell, director of work force issues at AARP. Those are "old-fashioned myths. There is a business case to be made for looking at 50-plus workers as part of your labor-force strategy." (If you want to read the full study, visit www.aarp.org/research/work/employment/workers_fifty_plus.html .) (CareerJournal)

20-somethings love body art and piercings more than their employers
It used to be that when a man had his ear pierced, it was a big deal. People might even have done a double take just to make sure about what they had seen. And tattoos--those were for bikers and hippies, not professionals.  But over the past decade or so, piercings and tattoos have soared in popularity, so much so that they are becoming the norm. (The Business Review (Albany))

Are More African-Americans Passed Over for Hispanics?
Donnie Gaut, an African-American with 12 years of warehouse experience, applied for a job in 2002 at Farmer John Meats, a large Los Angeles pork processor. When he was turned down for the position, a job stocking goods that paid $7 an hour, Mr. Gaut decided the problem wasn't his resume -- it was his race. He filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces antidiscrimination laws in the workplace. Last October, the EEOC secured a $110,000 settlement from the company to be shared by Mr. Gaut and six other black applicants who were rejected for production jobs at Farmer John based on their race, according to the agency. (CareerJournal)

Mid-life career-changing is booming Longevity bonus means there's time for that dream job
Call it mid-life crisis or another chance at a dream job: The baby boom generation is redefining middle age and what it means to "retire." Whether by choice or by financial necessity, boomers -- generally defined as Americans born between 1946 and 1964 -- are more likely to start a new career in mid-life and plan their retirement years around some sort of work, such as starting a new business. The trend was confirmed in "The New Retirement Survey" published last year by financial management firm Merrill Lynch, New York City. The company surveyed nearly 3,500 baby boomers throughout the United States to learn how they view retirement. (Business Journal of Milwaukee)

Before you go, tell us what you know
Companies look to retain older workers and preserve their knowledge
The employees behind the desk and on the shop floor are a lot grayer than they used to be. And, this aging work force is starting to worry a growing number of companies as baby boomers near retirement and get ready to take years of experience and knowledge with them. "They're facing a risk that demographically they have perhaps the largest group of individuals who are going to be approaching retirement age that they've ever faced before," said Eric Lesser, associate partner with IBM Business Consulting Services. The numbers are sobering, according to a recent report by the Conference Board Inc., a research service for executives. By 2010, the number of 35- to 44-year-olds who normally enter the ranks of senior management will stop growing. U.S. workers aged 45-54 will grow by 21 percent, while those 55-64 will increase by 52 percent. The result is that 64 million baby boomers (more than 40 percent of the U.S. labor force) are poised to retire in large numbers. (AtlantaBusinessChronicle)

Young dream-seekers strapped by debt
School loans, soaring house prices, low wages, and too-easy credit are keeping 20- and 30-somethings from making financial headway.
Tamara Draut and Stuart Fink didn't expect it to come to this. After eight years of marriage, the couple found themselves with less than a dollar and with three days until the next paycheck. Seated on the living room floor, they sorted through their compact discs, choosing ones to sell. "We never imagined we'd be peddling our wares for food money at the age of 30," Ms. Draut says. A combination of graduate school tuition, meager salaries, unemployment, a career change, and the cost of setting up housekeeping had drained their modest resources. Straitened circumstances are becoming more familiar to those in their 20s and 30s as they try to get a foothold on the American Dream. Student loans, depressed wages, rising healthcare costs, and soaring housing prices are creating new economic realities. Sixty percent of young adults between 18 and 34 are struggling for financial independence, says Draut, now the director of the economic opportunity program at Demos, a think tank in New York. She is also the author of a new book, "Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead." (ChristianScienceMonitor)

Labor Force Changes as Older Workers, Women See Gains
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2004 to 2014 the number of workers aged 55-and-older will grow by 49.1 percent, nearly 5 times the 10 percent growth that it projects for the overall labor force. The bureau projects that the civilian labor force will increase by 14.7 million over the 2004-14 decade, reaching 162.1 million by 2014. This 10 percent increase is less than the 12.5-percent increase over the previous decade, 1994-2004, when the labor force grew by 16.3 million. The labor force will change in composition, as a result of changes in both the composition of the population and in the rates of labor force participation across demographic groups, according to the bureau. (BLR)

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