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The Top 100 Recruiters as Defined by our research for the 1999 Electronic Recruiting Index


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Boom or Bust

March 19, 1999

Ever go to a website and discover that the webmaster (or somebody) neglected to perform any kind of quality check on the site? That's what happens to me daily. The latest one was, the "newest Career Site on the Internet," according to their promotion. At first it wasn't 'up and running' when they said it would be, and now that it is up, it's not really running.

Registering apparently doesn't give you access to anything (as advertised), and makes me wonder why they restrict access to information in the first place. Plenty of Career Sites have information that is easily accessible without fees or the hassle of registering. If companies want to suck marketing info out of me, I'd sure like to not only know what the tangible benefit is, but actually receive said benefit. A better effort comes from Tri-state Jobs. They have an email notification system set up so you receive a listing of new job postings that match keywords in your resume. This is becoming the industry standard for effective Jobsites wanting to serve Job seekers.

All sites want to increase traffic (traffic = eyeballs = advertising revenues). To increase the volume of visitors, they need to attract you, make your stay a pleasant one, and give you a reason to come back. Sites that don't get repeat customers will have to rely on expensive advertising promotions to attract the next batch of soon-to-be ex-visitors.

I suspect (hope!) that there will be a torrent of Jobs in usability testing for websites before long. How many times have you had to fight your way through a site because it was either poorly designed, or it seems no one ever tried to actually use it after it was uploaded? It seems similar to the problem a lot of software has - at some point during the installation process, you are left to guess at what the next step is. Testing of IT products is done by people already familiar (too familiar, if you ask me) with the products. They can always 'skip' to the next step because they already know what that step is.

Ever wonder why people don't check their email for grammatical errors? You've seen the clever jokes that clog up bandwidth with stories about 'what spell check missed'. Spell check leaves in correctly spelled words in the wrong place, and doesn't care to point out homonyms. Yet I've seen professional email correspondence that is littered with errors of both kinds, and some that is not even spell checked (or has been run through a really really bad spell checker, perhaps produced somewhere in the hills of North Georgia).

Getting things right the first time seems to be a Lost Art. You're probably aware of the First Law of Computing: Every eighteen months the speed of computers doubles, and the cost is halved. The Second Law may be less well known: Every eighteen months the number of computer users doubles, and their average ability is halved. It may be time for the Third Law: For every technological advance, there is an equal and opposite reverse in mankind's concern for quality, or 'just plain getting it right'.

-Mark Poppen

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Boom or Bust

March 18, 1999

Projections for the overall economy in 1999 indicate continued growth with low inflation, a combination that both Corporate America and Stockholders tend to wallow in. Generally, this is positive for Jobhunters as well - though you should separate your personal Jobhunt from how well things are doing in the Jobmarket.

The US Economy is churning Jobs at a frantic pace. Almost 700,000 people were laid off last year, the highest yearly number in the 90's. Yet the annual fall recruitment survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates a projected hiring increase of 10% for 1999, following a 19% increase in demand for Employees in 1998. Their survey also anticipates an average increase in salaries of nearly 5%.

People with skills in Health Sciences and IT are still hot commodities. Some IT Jobs don't require programming skills as much as database management skills. Even Jobs that deal with website development are broken up into different skill sets, some of which you may already have experience in handling. As database entry Jobs are eliminated by software programs, voice recognition technologies, and newer and better scanners, people familiar with those programs will be in demand.

Otto Rank, a colleague of Sigmund Freud, noted over 60 years ago that "We are confronted with an overabundance of Truth". Dealing with information overload is one of the challenges that companies face immediately as they flock to the Internet. People who can make sense of marketing data generated by web log files are being sought after by both companies new to the web, and web veterans as well.

Corporate America is frothing at the mouth with the possibilities for advertising savings that the Net represents. Companies don't really want to send out advertising pitches to people that aren't likely to buy, and being able to broadcast targeted ads to only those niche customers with a predetermined interest in similar products is a multi-billion dollar goldmine. E-commerce managers, marketers, and those comfortable running software programs and interpreting the results will be in the catbird's seat.

One Caveat: During the Great Depression people still found work, and Economic Booms leave others unemployed and frustrated in their Jobsearch. Your success depends on developing and nurturing your 'who you know list' so that you can access the right people when you need to, come Economic Boom or Bust.

-Mark Poppen

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March 17, 1999

How does your current Job, last Job, or prospective Job compare to a survey of over 6000 large companies? A little research into what someone with your qualifications (education/experience) earns is only part of the entire benefits package. Healthcare, paid vacation time, and items on the list below are all factors to be considered.

9 National/State holidays/year

9 Sick days/year

87% of Companies pay for Job related tuition

75% offer short-term disability plans

Portfolios Update

Last week I wrote about supplementing resumes with more detailed examples of your work product, specifically in the form of portfolios. Recruiters and HR personnel are beginning to use available software tools to move beyond the inherent limitations of resumes. One program combines software for attracting Job candidates to the Corporate website, screens them based on their ability to navigate through the site (with games, tests, etc.), and assists them in constructing a personal portfolio.

One of the software producers, World.hire, has sold a number of companies (IBM, for one) on the concept. Their goal is to reduce the lag time in recruiting between seeking and getting resumes, inputting the data into appropriate fields, selecting the Interviewees, and finally choosing the Job Candidate. Another company on the forefront of candidate screening is Teckchek. They developed and administer more than 100 PC based exams that are given online. As you successfully complete stages of a test, you advance until your precise level of proficiency is determined. Results are posted to a password protected website.

Top Five Explanations for why you DIDN'T come in to Work.

I just found out that I was switched at birth. Legally, I shouldn't come in to work knowing my employee records may now contain false information.

I prefer to remain an enigma.

I can't come to work today because the EPA has determined that my house is completely surrounded by wetlands and I have to arrange for helicopter transportation.

I am extremely sensitive to a rise in the interest rates.

I'm feeling a little disgruntled this morning. You sure I should come in?

-Mark Poppen

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Cookie Jar

March 16, 1999

You know the old saying, "Don't get caught with your hand in the Cookie Jar?" Well, this adage has special relevance when it comes to time to jump ship from one company to the next greener pasture. If you are like the average Joe (or Jolene), you use your Employer's computer for what has to be classified as non-work related tasks, at least for part of the time you are 'on the clock'.

You send personal email, surf the net for amusing and entertaining sites, and your computer is kind enough to document these activities in ways that are difficult to permanently erase. Windows has several redundancy features built into it that makes it difficult to eradicate every bit of data you've managed to stuff into your computer over the last year or so. Before you finish cleaning out your desk, and before you inform your boss that you'll soon be moving on, there are some other things you need to do.

Clear out all your bookmarks. Look for all the Cookies that you've accumulated to date, and delete them. Are there any cache files that are 'temporarily' storing some of this information? They need to be deleted as well. Spend some time looking through your word processor directories for personal, embarrassing, even incriminating files. Delete them. Generally wipe everything off your computer's hard drive, including the Windows Directory. Reinstall whatever programs are necessary.

If these files are simply personal ones that you'd rather not have exposed to current colleagues, supervisors, or the next body at your desktop, then deleting them is probably sufficient. If they are potentially more serious (like you're taking some of your Company's clients with you), then deleting the files may be only a first step. You may have to shred the files, using a mainstream File Shredder. Simply deleting files and reformatting the hard drive is no guarantee that the data you thought was gone for good won't appear again at an inappropriate time.

Another useful tool for getting rid of the body of evidence is on zdnet's daily double download. And if you were using AOL you can transfer your address book over by accessing their Surf Guru's help site. Several other programs (BCWipe and Eraser come to mind) are available. Perhaps the best advice for Job hoppers comes from another old adage, "Look before you leap".

-Mark Poppen

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Settle for 2nd Best

March 15, 1999

We get a lot of calls from recruiters here at IBN. This is not unusual, considering we do publishing and consulting for the spectrum that ranges from recruiters to Jobhunters, and human resource personnel to executive headhunters. We are a source of information, both online and off, for these groups.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that everyone seems to be looking for 'The Best Job Candidates', or the 'Best Employer'. The facts are this: If you want only the best, then you are bound to fail. Bill Gates' resume wouldn't have gotten him hired at McDonalds, let alone a decent paying Job. It's time everybody woke up and realized that (typically) the top ten percent of Employees in any field will end up at the top ten percent of the best places to work. The real work is in finding the next tier below 'the best' and seeing how we can fit in to their plans.

Most of our skills fall into the large area under the bell curve, rather than the tiny ends where the 3rd standard deviates live. This may be a shocker, but your Job skills aren't really that important once you're hired. What matters is your attitude toward work, willingness to learn new skills, and your ability to get along with coworkers. Managers are deathly afraid that by hiring you they will upset the apple cart.

Think of your 'other' Job strengths, besides your specialized work abilities. Are you able to diffuse tense situations at work with a well-timed remark? Perhaps you are a mediator, allowing opposite sides to realize the benefits of their opponent's view. Most employers are desperate for team players, people who can brainstorm in a group one minute and go off on their own the next, requiring little or no supervision.

Odds are you are not the best person, at least on paper, for the Job you are applying for. It is worth reminding the Hiring Manager that there are other qualities that come into play on every Job other than pure technical ability. I'm sure your prospective Employer can recall a few bozos they hired that were sure-fire winners during the resume and Interview stage.

If you think that your resume or credentials don't stack up against your competing Job Candidates, all is not lost. Known references that someone in your target firm can vouch for can be a strong point in your favor. By the Interview stage you should be on a relatively level playing field, so anything that tilts the decision in your favor is important.

Now is the time to play your trump cards.

-Mark Poppen

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