Those pesky women in the coal mine

Women just keep causing trouble. You can’t figure them out, no matter how much you try. They just wanna have fun. They want a degree. They want a good job. They want respect. They want to earn as much as men. They want kids. They want to break the glass ceiling. They want corporate life to not suck. They want power. They want mentoring. They want time for their families. They want men who make a lot of money so they can hang loose. They want to go back to good jobs after having kids. They want equal treatment. They can’t stand stupid men. They can’t stand stupid women. They cause a lotta trouble. Jiminy, you can’t live with ’em and you can’t… make sense of the corporate world when you realize women are the canaries in the corporate coal mine, and we’re all being gassed

Every couple of years somebody (usually a woman) does a study that shows women are leaving the corporate world for some reason. Duh.

Computerworld recently reported on the Athena Factor, a Harvard study about women at work. Even better, after readers chimed in, Computerworld editor Don Tennant laid into Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s study in an article titled, The Bigger Question. (Kudos, Don.) And, jumpin’ Jehosophat, I was taken back to the same topic — different studies, different names, same women — that I covered in Are Maverick Women to Blame? a few years ago.

Gratuitous Harvard studies with gratuitous conclusions offered by gratuitous Female Spokespersons For The Fair Sex are about as useful as Crap Written by Men to Justify Corporate Crap. Gimme a break.

What’s the most fun stuff in Tennant’s article and in Maverick Women Fire Back? The comments from women writing in: the canaries in the coal mine. Except these canaries flew the coop.

Does someone have to wipe your hiney?

There’s dirty work, dirty code (ask any good programmer), dirty logic, dirty clothing (urgh, you smell — no job offer!), but perhaps the most pervasive dirty is dirty talk and dirty language. Healthy words exhibiting bad behavior. Foul usage. Incorrect grammar. Poor spelling. Wrong pronouns when nouns just wanna be right.

It all makes you look stupid, inept, less than stellar (who wants to hire anyone less than stellar?), mediocre, on the fat part of the curve where imbeciles, lousy writers, and sloppy speakers dominate the business world.

And Lordy help you if your boss blunders through the English language like your superior.

The worst is the manager who swears, “It’s the quality of your ideas that counts, not the way you say it!” And maybe the worst manager is the principal at my kids’ school who told me, “We don’t bother with spelling here. Nobody can spell. That’s what the world has spell checkers for.”

Every time I’ve had to re-write a co-worker’s report, or clean up the run-on sentences in a business proposal my boss wrote, or apologize to a client when my employee misused some pronouns (“Her and me went to the meeting last week.”), I feel like I’ve gotta wash my hands because I just wiped somebody’s hiney.

The first person who posts a sincere excuse or rationalization for poor use of language on this blog is gonna find 30 pounds worth of Webster’s Unabridged in their bed when they wake up… Read more

Investor’s Business Daily: Advertorial heaven

A few years ago, I wrote an edition of my newsletter that I still stand behind: Job-board Journalism: Selling out the American job hunter. The article revealed how major news outlets, like the Wall Street Journal and the cartel of newspapers that bought out CareerBuildercompromise their editorial integrity to earn big cash from job boards. Simply, these newspapers started publishing advertising in the guise of news articles to get people to use their jobs services. We know this stuff as advertorials. Its purpose is to get you to buy something — not to provide you with the balanced reporting you’d expect from a paper like the Journal.

Examples of this compromised reporting include articles about how to optimize your use of job boards (implying you should be spending more time on the publisher’s jobs pages), and “news” about how people win jobs — on the job boards. When you read this stuff, don’t be lulled into submission to an ad just because it says Wall Street Journal on it. The job boards are surrounded by articles from “experts” who are little more than carny barkers inviting you into a tent where you’ll be fleeced by a real expert.

Now, I’ve got nothing against advertising, as long as it’s clearly presented as advertising. You can plainly see that I run GoogleAds on this blog and on my web site to offset my costs. The ads are clearly identified, and although I actively block the biggest, baddest career sites, you’ll still find ads from companies I’d never endorse. Until you’re willing to pay for what I write, I’m content having that “Ads by Google” line drawn on the page between the advertising and my writing.

But, when respected news outlets prostitute their brands and pimp their news articles to make them behave like advertising in the shadow of their news banner, I get really bugged. Read more

The male economy

The title of this entry could just as easily have been, “The female economy.” Or, “The case for marriage.” The news about jobs is so bad that it seems the press and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have come up with a doozy to get your attention. (That is, if you’re not too busy looking for a job.)

The Slumping Economy: It’s a guy thing. BusinessWeek reports that men seem to be losing their jobs at a rate alarmingly higher than women. And the reason? Guys have too many guy-jobs; you know, hammering nails, doing stuff that requires muscle but no tenderness. Women, on the other hand, are in nurturing lines of work, like nursing and education. Those jobs are booming. (Pay attention, guys with hammers: This is important. I’ll offer you a solution in a second.)

Women still get paid less, on the whole, because they’re women. Now, make some sense of this. Women are in the booming business of health and education. Booming. Demand for good workers. But they get paid less.

Follow me so far? Nah, I didn’t think so. Because I read the article, and I don’t follow it, either. I can only surmise that employers are out of their minds. Industries that are suffering are laying guys off. Booming industries are paying women less. Is there really a difference?

The answer, I think, is for the male economy and the female economy (hey, I didn’t make this up — those are the terms BusinessWeek uses) to get married. Then, out-of-work guys (who have nothing better to do) can go beat up the employers of the women, until employers start paying fair wages and salaries. With all the money they’ll make, women will buy new houses, and their new husbands can go back to work. (Special tip to the guys: do not make improvements to your existing home. That wil never yield you a new job, and the economy will never be repaired.)

Get it now? I thought so. If you keep reading the news, you will never get a job.

Why Johnny doesn’t work

The dominant explanation for why students aren’t graduating with technical degrees is H-1B and outsourcing. It goes like this: Because American companies send technical jobs overseas, and because they hire foreign nationals under the H-1B visa program, (both supposedly at lower cost than hiring Americans), students regard technical careers (in electronics engineering, software development, information technology) as undesirable. They believe they won’t get healthy salaries or enjoy any reasonable job security. They may be right.

But I see another trend that’s far more disturbing than the behavior of companies and students. K-12 schools seem to be de-emphasizing the fundamentals of technology. They seem to be teaching kids how to be technology consumers rather than designers. A case in point is my local school district, which recently spent over $30M to build a state-of-the-art middle school. Every classroom is wired for sound, video, and computers. Every teacher has a laptop, and big LCD displays dot the facility. The auditorium is state-of-the-art; the soundboard alone blows away what you’d find in most commercial theaters. The school is equipped with a video production facility that kids use to produce what’s described as professional-quality videos. The computer lab lets kids use sound samples to produce their own music CD’s. It’s all really great.

The trouble is, no one is teaching the kids how all this technology works, and how they can build their own. Read more

Zen of job hunting

I’m a headhunter and a writer. I don’t know a darned thing about bikes, but when I look at the V-twin engine on a Victory motorcycle in the window of a local bike shop, I see perfection. Smack me, but it makes me feel like I just closed a deal and placed the right candidate in the right job and the match is forever. Of course, one has nothing to do with the other. Right? Wrong. The image of perfection is the image of quality. You know it when you see it. I see it in that V. Read more

Calling for Clark Kent

Talent shortage, my butuckus. Poor management, more likely. Overly-narrow job descriptions are killing companies, and the board of directors doesn’t even know it. A former client who is looking for a new job thought he’d found the right gig in the right company. After several interviews, the recruiter handling the search told him he was one of three finalists. So, here’s what happened, in his own words: Read more