Archive for June, 2008

The Job Hunting News Cycle

June 25, 2008

Is there a word in the news business for those inane stories that get run year after year? For Thanksgiving, send a crew to film the crowd at the airport.  First snow? Cameras to the pass, and advice about carrying chains.  This time of year there are hundreds of articles with advice for new grads seeking their first jobs.  

Some of the advice is likely good stuff.  People say you should write a cover letter, proof read your resume, and my favorite: pick a mature ring tone.  

Are these tips necessary?  Are the people who don’t spell check their resumes out there reading career advice columns?  Is telling someone to pick the right ring tone missing the opportunity to tell them to turn off the phone for the job interview? 

More importantly, if the advice given to people with big red flags is “hide the big red flag,” doesn’t that make it harder for employers to identify the non-idiots?  “Be yourself” is a perennial tip for job hunters, but it’s always number 5 after “take out the nose ring” or “don’t make sex jokes.”  Maybe we’d all be better off if the advice was just be yourself, and don’t show up on time if you don’t feel like it. 


Zappos to Misergonists: Get Off the Bus!

June 18, 2008

Zappos was in the news for paying people to leave.  The twist is that they aren’t failing. 

Normally, a company that has to downsize offers incentives for employees to leave. The best take the plan, because they don’t want to work for a loser. The company ends up with the people who can’t get hired elsewhere.  AKA: the Dregs. The tailspin accelerates.  No one can figure out why the company is filled with no-ops because anyone with the business sense to see the problem bailed at the first chance.

But Zappos is growing like a weed and they’re paying $1500 for people to take a hike. (Up from $1000 because too few people were going for the cash.)  It works because a good job is worth a lot more than $1500.  If you’re happy, you’ll stay put.  And if you’re unhappy, they want you gone. 

There’s nothing worse than an unhappy coworker hating their job all day, and raining on everyone else’s parade.  So good for Zappos for making the world a better place for unhappy and happy people alike. 

Good News for Good Looking People!

June 16, 2008

The ERE is reporting on the new thing: “Speed Recruiting.” It’s a lot like speed dating, but for hiring people.  (Here’s the link.)   I’m unimpressed.  Do we really need to make recruiting more superficial? 

Speed dating works because there are only two questions: Do I want to snuggle her? and Does she want to snuggle me?  (Sorry about the language, but it’s a family oriented blog.) One of those questions answers itself if you’re single and she’s hot.  The other one gets answered when she checks a box next to your name.   Is that how we should screen employees? 

The problem with speed dating for candidates is that speed dating works because you already know what you’re looking for.  In speed dating, people get eliminated for being the wrong religion, or too fat, or too old, or not rich enough.  In some recruiting environments, the same filters get applied. But that’s not the typical HR strategy. 

When you’re growing a company, who you hire matters.  Snap judgements can be disasterous. A hiring manager with tunnel vision won’t ever be challenged on his assumptions about what it takes to do the job.  With the ever increasing diversity of the workforce, speed recruiting allows someone to churn through great candidates while looking for a needle in a haystack.  It’s a huge waste time and money even before the lawsuit gets filed.

The other problem is that the kind of person who gets picked a lot in speed dating will also do well in speed recruiting.  Shouldn’t recruiters be pushing for better than that? 

If I were hiring, I’d rather sit down with 5 truly well qualified people than the 25 walk-ons who are willing to be treated like cattle. 

If I were job hunting, I’d want to know that the hiring manager actually read my resume before I sat down.  But if I can’t get that, I hope they at least have a swim-suit competition.  Because then when I get the offer, I’ll feel even better about all the sit-ups I do. 

Don’t Search for Employment

June 12, 2008

Here’s an example of where keyword search fails.  At, I typed in the word “Employment.”  The number one result is an article about Australian employment, so I add a “-Australia.” I rerun the search and the number one result is now about India.  I’m not in India or Australia and Google knows that.  But they can’t do anything about it.   Everyone in the whole world gets the same results.

Besides, if I want articles about employment in the United States, why not search for “United States Employment?”  OK. 

The results come back with almost nothing about employment, and a fairly random scattering of topics. (Actual results are below.)

What’s going on?  I’m not sure, but I suspect this: The word employment shows up in thousands of articles, so it can’t be used to rank results. Same goes for “United States.”  Google doesn’t know what to do.  So it uses an algorithm to determine which stories are the most popular.  My search terms are essentially ignored at this point and the algorithm takes over. I end up with popular articles that include my too-common words.

This is an example of where conceptual search would blow away keyword search. Imagine if Google knew concepts related to employment, like unemployment, jobs, economic growth, layoffs, etc. Then, it could score an article based on how much the content includes employment related concepts.  It might still have issues, but I’d bet an article about how to wash tomatoes wouldn’t be in the top 5. 

Trovix is really great at finding jobs for people because we understand concepts related to employment.  So we can show you what you’re looking for. 

Anyways, here were my top 5 results for “United States Employment.”

1.  US Still Leads the world in Science and Technology. (RAND study about R+D spending in the US.)

2. A 21st-Century Profile: Art for Art’s Sake.  (NY Times article about how many artists there are in the US.)

3. Lawmakers ponder next step for E-Verify.  (Bureaucrats in Washington DC try to keep illegal immigrants out of the workforce.)

4. Produce Safety And Security International Ohio Facilities Will Be Operational To Provide Certifed (sic) Food Safe Tomatoes And All Fresh Produce Items (Press release from a company that is washing their tomatoes before selling them.)

5.  Legislature acts to opt AZ out of RealID.  (Another state says no to a federal ID card.)

Are Video Resumes for Real?

June 9, 2008

It seems like there’s always some company or another promoting video resumes as a way to “get noticed by employers.”  The one I saw today was, which allows you to attach a voicemail type greeting to your resume.

OK, it’s not exactly video, but the idea is the same.  To me, that idea is “take a document that most recruiters will allocate 15 seconds to, and turn it into something that takes a minimum of 120 seconds to understand.”  The problem with this approach is the 105 seconds of content you’re creating which is going to get deleted.  Making yourself more of a burden to a recruiter isn’t going to impress anyone.

When I was a lad, the idea was that the resume gets you the screening call, and the screening call gets you the interview, and the interview gets you the job.  (Or the second round of interviews.)  I think that’s still true. Recruiters don’t have time to look at videos.  Seriously, just look at how much time they spend writing the job description. 

If you’re looking for a job, you’re better off investing time in making sure your resume matches what they’re looking for.  If you have the experience they want, make it obvious on your resume. And if you don’t, give it up. You could spend an hour on just the right voicemail greeting, but that won’t slow anyone’s finger down as they reach for the delete key.  If anything, it will give them an excuse to delete all the faster.