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The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

Monthly archive for February 2009

How to hire (or find a job): The 3% solution

Where do companies find the people they hire? (Hint: Dumpster diving is alive and well in Human Resources.)

4% come from Monster.com
3% come from CareerBuilder
1% come from HotJobs

These figures have not changed since these job boards have been online. 90% of companies surveyed have contracts with Monster.com. 80% with CareerBuilder.

60% of corporate recruiting budgets are spent in online job advertising. (Source for most data in this post: CareerXroads 2009 8th Annual Source of Hire Study.)

The single biggest source of hires (30%-40%) is personal referrals. But spending on it is virtually nil. A top HR exec at a Fortune 50 company complains to me that he has no budget to go out and recruit through personal contacts because execs from the big job boards wine and dine his top execs — and the bulk of the available budget is thereby dumped into the job boards. He’s livid. There is no budget for The Manager’s #1 Job.

But that’s not the main reason the board of directors should heave its own HR operation into a dumpster. Read more

You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer??

Have you been offered a “free résumé critique” by a big-name résumé-writing company? It’s a tempting thing to try, eh? Just send in your résumé and get a free critique! You could even use it to improve and re-write that piece of paper yourself, at no cost. But did you ever wonder, how do busy, highly-paid, professional résumé writers at a big-name company read all those résumés that people send in, then take time to critique them and offer advice — for nothing?

It would be like taking your malfunctioning car to a mechanic who spends time figuring out what’s wrong, writes up his analysis, gives it to you, and doesn’t charge you a dime unless you agree to have him fix it.

Imagine if doctors offered such a deal. You’d get a full diagnosis, but there’s no charge unless you want treatment. “You’ve got pellagra, M’am. Two months to live. Let us know if you want it cured. But today’s diagnosis is free. Too bad your kids will be left motherless because you were such a moron and didn’t take care of yourself…”

And that’s what a lot of those “free résumé critiques” sound like. You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer?? You’re dead meat! Let us take care of this for you!

Well, I’ve figured it out. The mechanic didn’t really diagnose your auto problem. And the doctor? Sorry, you don’t have pellagra. In both cases a chimp pulled your diagnosis out of a bag. Likewise, a monkey copied and pasted your résumé critique into an e-mail and sent it off to you, along with a note attached that asks, You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer??

The great thing about being the Ask The Headhunter guy is that people all around the world send me neat stuff all the time. Recently, a reader sent me a multi-page crib sheet that a major résumé-writing mill apparently provides to its writers. Every problem your résumé could possibly suffer from is dealt with on this sheet. All the résumé writer — or reviewer, or monkey — has to do is pick them off like fleas, paste them into an e-mail, and there’s your sales pitch. You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer??

The résumé-critique crib sheet is too long to print in a blog post. But you’ll find it on my web site. Free résumé critiques: The new career-industry racket. And it includes a little challenge from me to you:

Help me find the firm that uses this crib sheet.

If you have received such a résumé critique and think you’ve been scammed (and probably insulted) by a monkey sitting at a keyboard, compare it to the verbiage on the crib sheet. Do the phrases match? Which firm gave you the critique? I’d love to know, and if we figure out who it is I’ll share the results with you. The link to submit your sample is on the web site.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned on my own. Good, honest résumé writers don’t use boilerplate to write critiques, nor do they use canned résumé components. This new scam seems to have been spawned by the big job boards and “career” sites, which continue to find new ways to fleece people to support their insupportable business models. They seem to be behind the crap that masquerades as “professional writing” in the résumé business. And all this does is corrupt the business for the honest practitioners. So caveat emptor — know the résumé writer you buy from. Hint: The good ones are the those who will actually talk with you.

(Have you encountered a different kind of résumé scam? That’s what the Comments section is for below.)

Forget your job, distribute yourself

If your job is in jeopardy, why be an employee if you can be a distributed innovator? If you’re a manager, why interview applicants if you can meet people who are innovating on the edge of your industry?

I’ve already written about how some of the best career advice doesn’t come from career experts. It’s between the lines in business articles. Here’s another example of how to put business ideas to work to save your career.

In the February 9 edition of ComputerWorld, tech guru (and former director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) John Seely Brown talks about the silver lining in our broken economy. He says now is the time to live on the edge (like we have much choice). Here are a few ideas I’ll bend into shape for you: Read more

An open letter to recruiters who use TheLadders: Stop complaining

My posting about TheLadders has more comments on it than any blog entry I’ve ever written (including while I was blogging for InfoWorld). What’s interesting is that no one defends TheLadders. Even people with embarrassing stories about wasting their money and getting burned came forward to share their pain and anger.

Then a recruiter posted a comment about how she has found some good candidates on TheLadders. I’m posting my reply here because, well, it’s my blog and I can post where I want ;-). Sorry for pulling rank and bumping up my comment…

Check Audrey Chernoff’s post in the comments section. I don’t know Audrey, but she sounds like a nice, responsible recruiter who tries to do the job right and with integrity. But she blames job hunters for diluting the quality of responses she gets from her Ladders job postings. Give me a break. The problem is bigger. Read more

A company’s greatest weakness

In yesterday’s Career Journal (a publication of The Wall Street Journal), #1 of the Top Ten Stupid Interview Questions was once again dissected, analyzed, and solved.

What’s your greatest weakness?

In the annals of interviewing, we know a wag once offered the best answer ever heard — “Chocolate.” — and that’s when it was time to retire that corn-pone question from the canon. But it lingers.

The question itself reveals what is perhaps an employer’s greatest weakness — stupid interview questions. “My greatest weakness is intolerance for psycho-babble that passes for a job interview. Do you want me to show you how I’ll do this job, or shall we move on to what animal I’d be if I could be any animal?”

The Career Journal addresses this interview hurdle thus: “The key? Thorough preparation.” Preparation for what? To come up with yet another clever answer that the interviewer hasn’t yet read in some interview book? I suppose one could prepare diligently by reading the hundreds of books that offer clever answers.

Then the article offers this pinnacle of organizational idiocy: Read more

Banking on H-1B to bail out the fat cats

The U.S. banking mess is a trickle-down scandal. The fat cats will siphon off billions in TARP funds while their “solution” trickles down onto your head — like water torture. While you’re bailing out the bankers, they lay you off and use our tax dollars to hire your replacement from overseas. Great way to put people back to work.

In Banks look overseas for workers, an Associated Press investigation reveals that while their balance sheets were tanking last year, the biggest banks (which are getting the biggest bailouts) started pursuing one-third more H-1B work visas than in 2007 to fill top-level positions with foreign workers. The average positions pay $90,721. We’re talking about senior vice presidents, analysts, corporate lawyers, and, er… ah… human resources specialists. That’s over 4,000 jobs.

Now, I’m not a troglodyte or a socialist. I believe the U.S. must compete with foreign producers (including workers) or suffer the consequences. But I’m not a putz, either. U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to help stupid bankers recover their footholds in the financial world, and part of the deal is to resurrect dead American jobs.

Use those tax bucks to hire foreign workers right after the crash resulted in Americans losing their jobs? ‘Fraid not.

In a normal economy (if there is one), competition from foreign workers is a reality. We may not like it, but we have to deal with it. But in a crisis where nothing is normal and the government is propping up the economy, natural competitive issues are put aside in the interest of saving the country. That means American jobs.

When the fat cats are banking on H-1B to bail themselves out, it’s time to, er, ah, skin the cats.

(Hey, I have a cat that no one’s gonna skin… it’s a metaphor so don’t send me hate mail.)