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


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    Spies R Us

    November 05, 1999

    Do you use your computer for email, surfing on the Net, or passing along off-color jokes to your friends? Done from home, these are perfectly legitimate uses for your PC. Done from your PC at work, they may be sufficient to get you fired.

    Both Federal and State courts have been weighing in with decisions that paint a dismal picture for privacy rights at work. Even if your Employer has told you that your communications from your desktop at work are private, they can still be used as grounds for termination.

    At Chevron Corp. in San Francisco, computer security analysts were shocked to learn, in a general survey of Internet usage administered in the last quarter of 1997, that 46% of usage fell into the broad category of "non-business." That included 5% that appeared to be for the purposes of reading or downloading sexually explicit information, says Rich Bowman, a specialist in information protection for the company.

    The technology for monitoring personal computers is blossoming like a mushroom in fertile soil, and Employers are not immune to sales pitches that convince them their Employees are slackers when no one is watching the fort. Or promises that worker productivity can be quantified easily, like how many keystrokes/hr is our new hire pounding out, & what percentage of those keystrokes are work related? Better still, "Monitoring can be done at little cost!"

    While that may be music to the ears of some, there are always costs involved that are not immediately apparent. Monitoring Employee activity intensely can increase Employee stress levels, limit camaraderie and team output, and devalue the overall quality of work life that makes a particular company's atmosphere attractive to begin with. While jokes and distractions can eat up large chunks of the work day, few people enjoy working in a tomb. Creativity is a fickle mistress, and stifling the freedom to think and speak 'out of the box' can lead to Company wide stagnation.

    A survey conducted recently by the American Management Association notes that over one-third of all Employers responding conduct some form of electronic monitoring of their Employee's desktop PC's. Whether or not Employers monitor their Employees is partially a function of Company attitude and how Job performance is measured. If performance is measured by output rather than by straight hourly pay, then electronic surveillance methods are less likely to be in effect.

    If you have a natural tendency for voyeurism (or just like spying on people), the FBI is looking for a few good men and women. When I say a few, I mean it. They screen out anyone who has 'done' Marijuana in the past three years, which has got to eliminate roughly 90% of potential Employees between the ages of 18 and 45. For a broad listing of firms that do private investigating, look into this site.

    For good or ill, being online means leaving tracks that others can follow, interpret, and make public.


    -Mark Poppen


    November 04, 1999

    There are several Jobhunting 'bibles' available, the best known being Richard Bolles "What Color is Your Parachute?" and Margaret Riley Dikel's "The Guide to Internet Job Searching". Another print resource you should be aware of is CareerXroads, written by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler. They list a directory of what they consider to be the 500 Best Job, Resume, and Career Management Sites on the web.

    Some of their recent resume tips include:

  • Avoid wasting time on your cover letter - most are thrown away.
  • Avoid abbreviations, unless they are de facto words in your industry.
  • Avoid italics and underlining.
  • Use keywords in listing your skills, rather than vague descriptors.
  • Include Name, Phone #, and email info on the top of every page.
  • Be concise and truthful about past salaries, duties, dates, etc.
  • Keep resume to no more than two pages, preferably one page.

    Other notable recommendations include tailoring each resume to each Job you apply for, and make your resume easy to skim. Most resumes get only a quick scan by HR Managers, Employers, or Recruiters. Give your resume to a friend and give them 15 seconds to scan over it as if they were a hiring manager, then ask them what they remember. If they only remember your hobbies, you've got a problem. What should stick out are your keyword skills.

    Another tip: highlight your accomplishments with numbers and percentages. No one will remember that you 'significantly improved' sales, but they will notice if you doubled revenues '100% sales growth'. Numbers speak louder than words, and charts & graphs are even better. Include a listing of degrees, certificates, & training that pertains to the Job you are applying for. If it doesn't pertain to this Job, why should a Hiring Manager care? They're matching proclaimed skills to Job tasks, no more, no less.

    Finally, it is unnecessary to include all of your past Jobs in chronological order. Only list the ones that reflect abilities needed to succeed at this Job. Extraneous information will obscure your skills to the reader, and they're not studying your resume like there's a test on it next Monday. If they miss the crucial information on the first go round, you're history.

    -Mark Poppen

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    November 03, 1999

    Everyone knows that Jobhunting sucks. And clearly getting fired is no picnic, either.

    But seldom do we realize that promotions can be traumatic as well. If you are out of work, or looking for a better Job (because you Can't get a promotion or raise), this can be difficult to relate to. Changes in position, title, location, supervisor, or tasks are not always accomplished smoothly. As Employees we often tend to 'relax' once we have been satisfactorily doing a Job for some period, nestling into a familiar comfort level that allows us to treat work like we were hanging out at a friend's house.

    And promotions are not always good for your career. While you're aware of the dangers of stagnating in your chosen industry specialty, you should give some thought to the dangers of taking a position you are NOT ready for. For example, do you want to move up into management? Maybe you really like the position you have now and don't want to tell others what to do. If the Peter Principle is correct (that Employees are continually promoted until they reach their highest level of incompetence), do you want to end up doing work you don't enjoy and that is marginal at best?

    Career Advice Columnists often refer to your 'Career Track', but life is filled with too many ups and downs (with a few derailings thrown in) to plot everything out from the get-go. Sometimes you should turn down a promotion - especially if you don't want to learn the skills that are required to do the Job well. The promotion may pay less, have more responsibility, and put your head squarely on the chopping block (This one happened to me). And it may not put you in the best stepping off point for the position you want to grow into.

    The Advice Sisters add some meat to this topic, though their specialty is more in developing romantic relationships in the workplace. While their website won't win any awards (other than 'the web uglie's), they do answer several questions from Jobseekers every day, and the Q & A section is pretty good.

    -Mark Poppen

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    November 02, 1999

    The most accurate information you're going to get about a company comes from the people who work there. If you only talk to a very small sample of Employees (say one or two) it's possible that your results will be skewed either pro or con. It may be you exchanged emails with the only two Employees who are truly enthusiastic about the firm, or you may have hit on a very disgruntled worker eager to share his side of a grueling work experience.

    Avoiding these kinds of sampling errors requires increasing your sample size dramatically, but this turns some basic company research into a separate project with a life of its own. And you're not in this to do an organizational analysis of every company you want to work for, you are just looking for a good Job with some decent people.

    One answer is They have a unique service that encourages Employees to post messages describing how they feel about their Jobs. With over 30,000 messages and over one thousand company listings, this is a (potentially) very valuable resource. You can search by Company name, Industry, or Keyword. Companies and topics are also listed alphabetically and by number of email messages posted, which shows varying levels of interest in them.

    While there are some real gems in their database (for Silicon Graphics, Inc there are comments about recent layoffs and defections being like "rats fleeing a sinking ship", there are also a bunch of inane comments that add little to your understanding of what work is really like at the company. As always on the Net, you have to pick and choose to find value. has 200,000 Job postings on their site, and some useful feedback from Jobhunters on topics such as Interview Questions, Compensation, Career Advice, etc. You can request that Job descriptions matching your skillet be emailed to you. Their core business is the sale of detailed reports on individual companies, but they offer hundreds of online sample reports for free to their members. The detailed reports are very substantial, and if you have narrowed your target companies down to just a few and have offers from them, you should seriously consider one of these reports before you choose one offer over another.

    -Mark Poppen

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    Money isn't Everything

    November 01, 1999

    Too often Jobhunters only compare Job offers by what the bottom line pay is, and forget to consider the entire package of benefits. And signing bonuses can really cloud the issue when you compare offers from two companies - cash in hand almost always feels better than vague promises of less tangible benefits somewhere 'down the road'.

    These benefits include:

  • Health (Medical, Dental, Child Care, Life insurance, health club membership)
  • Vacation Days
  • Sick Days
  • Work Week (Hrs/week, Schedule, Flextime)
  • Pension Contributions
  • Company Vehicle
  • Training
  • Career Advancement Potential

    When you really think about it, the sum of these parts can add up to more than the whole paycheck. Working in a Job that doesn't give you the time and opportunity to increase your skills or advance your career any can be more costly than you realize. Say you choose to work for one year at a $17/hr Job that does nothing to further your career, rather than at a $15/hr Job that teaches you relevant skills in your field.

    At the end of six months you receive a $4/hr raise at Job #2, and at the end of one year you've earned the same amount of money as with the first Job. The difference is you have more marketable skills, are on a higher income track, and Employers will look at you as one of their 'star' performers. It doesn't matter whether you are performing your tasks at a higher level. What matters is that your Employer (and future Employers and Recruiters) will see you as ambitious, self-starting, a 'go-getter', etc.

    Perception is always more important than reality, because the latter is impossible to pinpoint.

    In addition to your career and skills advancement, the Quality of your workplace is frequently overlooked when comparing Job offers. Does your new Boss seem like someone you can get along with? Is there any historical evidence from current Employees that this Supervisor will be supportive to your career, and to you during high stress periods? Is the company culture one that you'll feel comfortable working in? Are your future colleagues backslappers or backstabbers?

    And while small businesses and startup companies may offer stock options and easy opportunities for promotion, they are more likely to send you a friendly email one morning that says, "Clear out your desk. You're fired. We're out of business. Oh, have a good day!" In the wartime military, fast promotions are a sure sign that your side is losing the battle. There are some parallels to startup companies, so watch your step.

    -Mark Poppen

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