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Friday, May 27, 2005

Sampling is allowed in rap music, but that's about it.

What makes a cover letter stand out from the hundreds that can inundate a hiring manager for even the lowest-paying entry-level positions? Some say a compelling first paragraph or an original way of expressing an idea can cut through the clutter.

But four recent applicants for a receptionist position at a Manhattan photography studio were noticed for an entirely different reason. All four, who live in different parts of New York City, used identical language in a portion of their e-mailed cover letters, said Mary Catanzaro, the employee who reviewed and screened the applications.

"What my résumé does not reveal is my professional demeanor and appearance," all four wrote. "In a business environment these qualities are of the utmost importance in dealing with clients as well as co-workers. In me, you'll discover a reliable, detail-oriented and extremely hard-working associate, one who will serve as a model to encourage other staff members to demonstrate a high standard of professionalism."

The applicants apparently lifted the passage from the Microsoft Office Web site's template gallery ("Secretary cover letter"), a tactic that has become increasingly common in an age when thousands of cover letters, résumés and thank-you notes are readily available to download or cut and paste.

Specialists agree that the abundance of job information available online makes it possible for people to conduct more informed job searches. But it is also more likely that employers will receive similar or nearly identical résumés and cover letters copied from easily accessible Web sites. Résumés downloaded from online templates and sent to employers often show up with similar or identical layouts, formats, fonts, headings and objectives.

READ: Want Your Letter to Stand Out? Here's a Tip: Write It Yourself

The Self-Saboteur. Is That You?

"The Self-Saboteur... Is That You?" by Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach

There's a joke circling the Internet right now about a priest, a drunk and an engineer who are facing the guillotine. Each one is asked in turn how he wants to die, face up or face down. The priest is first, and he says "face up" so he can be looking at heaven. Down comes the blade, there's a hitch and it stops 6" from his neck. Considering it divine intervention, they free him.

Same thing happens with the drunk, who decides to go with a winner and choose what the priest chose. Six inches from his neck it stops, and he's allowed to go free as well.

Then it's the engineer's turn. He's smart enough to go with a winning strategy as well. As he lies there watching the blade descend, he gets an "ah hah" moment. "I think I know what's wrong with it," he cries out in delight. "The cable's binding right here."

This joke happens to be a classic illustration of the kind of self-sabotaging we do when we have high IQ, but low EQ (emotional intelligence). EQ, you see, isn't just about emotions, it's the interface between emotions and thinking. It's the kind of skills we have that allow us to make good decisions, have good relationships, and succeed. It may well matter more in life than IQ, as this joke points out so graphically. Here is this brilliant engineer, used to problem-solving mechanical things, who proceeds to use his intellect without really thinking, and gets himself killed you know, shoots himself in the foot.

Self-sabotage is what we do when we aren't able to manage the emotions around a situation, or don't stop and think about the possible consequences of our actions (and actions include words). Like the person who gets reprimanded by the boss and forgets himself and takes a punch.

Who else sabotages themselves?

  • The employee who gets lulled around the water cooler at the job and forgets that self-deprecating remarks can and will be used against her.
  • The salesman who has the order in his pocket, but can't quit talking, and proceeds to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.
  • The man who's so nervous on the job interview he giggles, babbles, and spills his coffee all over the interviewer's desk.
  • The impulsive married man who is sexually attracted to someone at work and has an affair with them, and then, to make himself feel better, confesses to his spouse and boss.
  • The athlete who lets his temper get the best of him on the court.
  • The manager who has the knack of intimidating the employee who needs sensitivity, and placating the employee who needs firmness.
  • The student who learns all the material and then clutches when it's exam time.
  • The individual who lets setbacks, rejections and losses send them into a downward spiral of negativity, depression and pessimism.
  • The actress who gets stage fright and freezes in fear in front of an audience.
  • The worker who sets goals but is too scattered, emotional, and disorganized to carry them out.
  • The coach who misreads his athletes, expects too much or too little of them, and tries to motivate by intellect or intimidation alone.

Success in all the important things in life requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. The person who knows how to get along, can plan ahead, manage their emotions and those of others, generate options, act with intent, maintain the appropriate degree of sensitivity to their environment, and remain optimistic enough to persevere, will always have the edge. Whether it's leadership, a better marriage, a promotion, or respect you're after, the key can be developing your EQ.

The good news is that it can be learned. Just as you continually increase your expertise and academic learning, you can work with a coach or mentor who can explain the competencies to you, help you gain the necessary self-awareness, and give you exercises and feedback. Many people I've coached in EQ call it "the missing piece." However, it's not something you can just read about. It's not like memorizing the chemical elements, or listening to a beautiful piece of music and appreciating it, or taking notes at a one-day seminar. It requires identifying the skills, understanding what they look like in use, and then practicing them in real-life situations, with constructive feedback, and practice.

Becoming mindful, and have many choices in your mental, physical, mental and behavioral repertoire will give you the edge. If you find you often turn left when you should've turned right, or feel or have been called "clueless," or you seem stuck and are unable to move forward, why not give it a try? It's a lot better to be a self-enhancer than a self-saboteur.

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc .

Susan is the creator of The EQ Foundation Course, and coaches offers coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your success. She trains and certifies EQ coaches internationally. For FREE ezine mailto: sdunn@susandunn.cc. and put "ezine" for subject line.

Monday, May 23, 2005

How to protect and serve in cyberspace...

"There's a new breed of crime-fighter prowling cyberspace: the hacker hunters. Spurred by big profits, professional cyber-criminals have replaced amateur thrill-seeking hackers as the biggest threat on the Web. Software defenses are improving rapidly, but law enforcement and security companies understand they can no longer rely on technology alone to deal with the plague of virus attacks, computer break-ins, and online scams. Instead, they're marshaling their forces and using gumshoe tactics to fight back -- infiltrating hacker groups, monitoring their chatter on underground networks, and when they can, busting the baddies before they do any more damage. 'The wave of the future is getting inside these groups, developing intelligence, and taking them down,' says Christopher M.E. Painter, deputy chief of the Computer Crime section of the Justice Dept., who will help prosecute ShadowCrew members at a trial scheduled for October."

Read: Hacker Hunters:

HOW TO: Add keywords to your resume (and be slick about it!)

Someone asked me an interesting question recently, "I want to add as many keywords to my resume as possible. By doing that, I am assured that my resume will be picked up out of a database or found online. Still, I don't want to be obvious about it so I color all of my extra keywords - white. All that to say, how many keywords is too much?"

My answer?

As a recruiter, I see this a lot. People have been adding extra keywords and too many keywords to their resumes (at least) since 2002. Does it work? Yes, too a fault. It does increase your chances of your resume being found, but it also increases your chances of being found too much. For example, if I search for a Software Engineer and later look for a PublicRelations Specialist; your resume should not pop up for both of these queries. However, on many occassions it does. You know what happens next? (One of three things...)

  1. I scroll through your resume and find a long list of keywords in white, delete them and resave the resume.
  2. I begin to ignore your resume everytime I see it because I figure there are too many keywords in it to be relevant.
  3. Or worse yet, I simply delete it.

All that to say, don't add a long list of irrelevant keywords in white to your resume!

"But how can I increase the chances of my resume being seen without doing that?" you say.

Glad you asked (wink), allow me to show you a little trick a birdie flew my way. It will enable you to add several keywords to your resume, increase the chances of your resume being found online and not offend recruiters (mostly because they won't know its there.) All you need to proceed is your resume formatted in Microsoft Word. Oh, you already have that? Well, you are ready to proceed.

Adding keywords to  your resume without being obvious about it.

Step 1: Go to "File" and then choose "Properties" as shown above. (If the picture is too small for you, click on it to see a larger version.)

How to add keywords to your resume, without being obvious about it

Step 2: When the small window pops up, choose the "Summary" tab. (I'm pointing to it above.)

How to add keywords to your resume without bewing obvious about it.

Step 3: Now add in all the information you like, just so long as its relevant.

Please note, the too many keywords rule still applies. I would advise that you use the same terms I have listed in the "Title" section. On the "Hyperlink base," I suggest that you add the address to your homepage or blog (if you have one).

What now? Upload your newly formatted resume to the internet (your homepage would be perfect), submit to Career Websites that accept Word resumes (like Monster) and/or send to recruiters who will keep your resume in their resume database.

Good luck in your job search!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars: Science fiction vs science fact

"Star Wars" never did let scientific facts get in the way of a good story: Fans just accept that X-wing fighters fly through outer space as if they were jets in an atmosphere, that huge spaceships could float on antigravity drives or zoom faster than light, and that lightsabers cut through virtually everything except another lightsaber (why don't they just make the darn things longer?).

But in the 28 years since the first "Star Wars" movie came out, science and technology have gone in directions that reflect some aspects of that galaxy long ago and far away: Particularly when it comes to space weaponry, robotics and communications, there are increasing parallels between "Star Wars" science fiction and science fact.

That doesn't mean engineers looked to the movies to figure out how to design a modern-day Death Star. Rather, the visions reflected in the movies had an impact on how real-life technologies were presented. The concept for a national missile defense system, which was nicknamed "Star Wars" during the Reagan administration, serves as a prime example. READ: Science facts catch up with movie sci-fi

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Can we hurry this up? I have things to do...

Before a big interview, a smart job seeker carefully chooses his or her outfit, researches the company and prepares smooth answers to questions the interviewer might ask.

But not everyone is a smart job seeker.

When CareerBuilder.com recently surveyed more than 850 hiring managers, nearly 70 percent reported they had witnessed a bizarre behavior from a job applicant during an interview. Here are some of the gross, mind-bogglingly bizarre, and all-too-true ways real people blew their chances at scoring the job.

Not putting in the face time

You can't get the job if you don't show up for the interview. Several employers reported having job seekers blow off the interview completely, but that pales in comparison to some of the not-so-graceful ways some candidates made early exits. Many bored candidates were spotted continually checking their watches, and one interviewee asked the hiring manager to speed things up so he could catch a bus. Another job seeker booked it out of the interview upon hearing about the drug test. But the weirdest story came from a hiring manager who said, "One applicant said the company had a black aura and left."

Read: Weirdest Interview Behavior

Monday, May 16, 2005

But, I'm sleepy...

The traffic jam ended hours ago, the parking lot is nearly empty and fluorescent lights are dimmed at PortalPlayer Inc., where the nightly brainstorming session is about to begin.

Instead of gathering the few remaining souls from their cubicles, three managers move into a conference room to dial India, where engineers 12 1/2 time zones ahead are just arriving in Hyderabad.

As colleagues on opposite sides of the globe discuss circuit board configurations and debugging strategies for a project code-named “Doppelganger,” it’s just the start of another endless day for the company. Within twelve hours, Indian workers will end their day with calls and e-mails to California, where managers in the Santa Clara headquarters will just be waking up.

“We keep passing the baton between California and India, and that way we can cram a lot more work into a 24-hour period,” said Jeff Hawkey, vice president of hardware engineering, who conducts evening meetings from the office or on his laptop at home. “A lot of nights, I go home, tuck the kids into bed and then get on the conference call.”

Read: Sleepless in Silicon Valley

Let's all support "The Job Seeker Manifesto!"

Here is a snippet of a recent article on recruiting...

Army Recruiting Halts for a Day in May

The Army will halt its recruiting efforts for one day this month to allow commanders to emphasize proper conduct following apparent excesses, Army officials said Wednesday.

The stand-down will take place May 20, said Douglas Smith, an Army spokesman. Army officials said it would affect almost all 7,500 recruiters at 1,700 stations around the United States.

In at least two instances, recruiters are facing disciplinary action for their dealings with potential recruits.

In Houston, a recruiter allegedly threatened to have a wavering would-be recruit arrested if he backed out, according to Army officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The recruiter has no such authority.

Officials confirmed a second inquiry in Colorado, pointing to news reports about recruiters who allegedly offered information on fake diplomas and ways to get around drug tests and physical fitness requirements.

Click here to read the entire story.

Okay, so the article is citing morally-challenged military recruiters striving to meet their quota. The article goes on to say how a mandatory re-training will be instituted to guard against such happenning again; at least in the near future. When I read this article, I was struck by the similarites in recruiting organizations irregardless of the supported field. At its core, recruiting is a sales position with a very visible quota. The recruiter must sell to a candidate the notion that the company and job he (or she) represents is the best possible fit for said candidate. Secondly, the recruiter must convince his client that the candidate she (or he) has found is the best fit for the client's role. Finally, the recruiter must resolve issues that would keep either party from signing an offer letter.

Speaking as a recruiter I have to tell you, its a tightwire act and all too often the job seeker is regarded as expendable. This is especially true when dealing with searchfirms who do not get paid until a hire is made (Contingency recruiters), or searchfirms who have been paid a fee up front and are pressured to produce within a reasonable amount of time (Retained recruiters). When quotas are unmet and the clients starts barking, recruiters tend to get into survival mode. Some of these "survivalist recruiters" may get into Monster, grab all the emails of candidates they can find and spam a proposition until they get lucky. In these cases, recruiters are focusing on keywords in your resume moreso than your entire work history. (Just in case you ever wondered why you were approached about jobs you were obviously unqualified for.)

Survivalist recruiters might also hound you by telephone, get a message from their client that the position is now closed (or changed) and neglect to call you back. Additionally, they might contact you and basically tell you what you want to hear. For example, you might clearly state on your resume that you are not open to relocation for any reason. The survivalist recruiter would ignore that entirely hoping that a conversation with their client might persuade you otherwise; thus, wasting everyone's time.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I tell you, the job seeker, this because I want you to be informed of what goes on at the other end of the "submit resume" button. I also tell you this as a means of explaining why I have written a manifesto addressing these issues. Recruiters are not faceless robots for unfeeling corporations, nor are they ruthless used car salesmen seeking their own ends. In my 8 years of recruiting, I have seen recruiters good and bad; as it is with any profession. My feeling is that the vast majority of recruiters (of every discipline) are good people trying to do their job and on occassion they need help. They need to be reminded that you, the job seeker, are just as human and deserving of the same amount of respect.

Towards that end, I have written a manifesto calling recruiters to accountability. Please read, download and circulate to job seekers (and recruiters) everywhere.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Oh my, Elvi!!!

Okay, so its not something I would do, but its honest work. If you're a fan of "The King" and excel in karoake, you might want to check out: Hire An Elvis Impersonator, Elvis Tribute Artist, Elvis Impersonators

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Warning Signs of Career Disaster

Many of us experience recurring dreams. Mine is that I'm driving down the freeway and I can't read the road signs until I'm right up close. By then, it's too late: I've missed an important exit. Fortunately, it's just a dream. I wake up and all is fine. Unfortunately, many people have trouble reading signs-not road signs, but career warning signs.

A career warning sign is any change that indicates possible career disaster that could result in finding one's place in the unemployment line. While warning signs may vary according to employment situations, there are four basic warning signs that apply in most employment scenarios.

Warning Sign #1

Your industry is experiencing a downturn. Telecommunications is a perfect example. A few years back, telecom was one of the fastest growing industries. Recruiters worked day and night to fill telecom positions at all levels. The first negative indicator was unmet earnings expectations. Those who paid attention left the industry. Persons who practice career management watch the growth trends within their industry and know to leave ahead of the crowd.

Warning Sign #2

Sales are down in your company. While not everyone within an organization is involved with sales, all jobs are affected by sales levels. When revenues decrease, profits are held steady by cutting costs, which often means cutting jobs. Persons can protect themselves by paying attention to sales levels within their organization.

While not all employees are privy to sales numbers, there are ways of finding pertinent financial information. Public companies must publish financial statements. It pays to take the time to study these documents to uncover your company's basic financial status.

Employees of non-public companies, even without the benefit of public financial information, can also read the signs of declining sales:

* Work load decline
* The boss suddenly seems concerned over small costs, like office pens, copier paper, etc.
* The sales manager was just fired
* The sales department is going through reorganization

Alert employees are sensitive to such indicators. They keep their resume updated at all times and cultivate a growing professional network for potential future job leads.

Warning Sign #3

Management changes. Any management change has the potential to damage your corporate position. Be watchful during:

* Mergers and acquisitions
* String of short-term management tenure (e.g., three bosses in two years)
* Retirement or replacement of senior management

Wise employees listen closely to new-management rhetoric. How dramatic are his/her promises to shareholders? What is the newboss' track record? Does he/she have a reputation as a reactionary, axe-swinging job cutter, or as a strategic long-term planner who views employee reduction as a last resort? The first announcement of new management is the time to cautiously explore outside options.

Warning Sign #4

You've lost favor with your boss. While "gut feelings" are oftenthe first warning, some objective indicators are:

* A less-than-exemplary performance review
* No performance-based salary increase
* Your year-end bonus was much smaller than expected
* Your input is not requested at planning meetings
* Your suggestions are ignored

If you sense your position on the corporate totem pole is falling, trust your gut. When jobs are at stake, yours will beone of the first sacrificed. These warning signs may seem obvious but are often sadly ignored by those who fear change. Rather than take action, they lean on false hope that loyalty to the employer will pay off in the end. Those who practice career management never confuse company loyalty with aversion to change. When career warning signs appear on the horizon, pick up your binoculars and read the signs clearly so that you're ready forthe next appropriate exit.

Deborah Walker, CCMC Career Coach ~ Resume Writer Visit her on the web at: www.AlphaAdvantage.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Check out the "Push Up Your Career" Internet TV Show

Watch "Push Up Your Career," an internet TV Show, Thursdays @10:30 AM EST only on the Power Network!

Give me an effin' job!!!

Looking for work can be frustrating, but remember that its better to "never let them see you sweat." Unfortunately, many jobseekers bring their anger to a job interview, write in their cover letters and fill it in their resumes. Sound absurd? Or, does it sound like you? Check this bit from a very interesting article I found.

...negative attributes of a job candidate also catch the attention of hiring managers. At times, a job seeker can convey obvious hostility in his communication to hiring managers.

Matias had one client who came to her after being unemployed for three years. "In one cover letter he had written: 'Don't waste my time if you can't meet my salary requirements of $85,000,'" says Matias. "Unemployed for three years, he was demanding, felt entitled, and was angry. But no one should ever write that on a cover letter."

Another client had written to an executive about the possibility of doing an informational interview. Although it was clear that the executive wasn't interested, the job seeker shot off a missive in which he asked: "Are you ignoring my questions about meeting with me?" With this aggressiveness, the job seeker lost all chance of even getting a referral.

"He put them on the defensive and he saw nothing wrong with that. He said, 'He was ignoring me and I'm a human being,'" says Matias. No one is going to hire someone with excess baggage like that.

READ: Keep a bad attitude from hindering your job search

Monday, May 09, 2005

As good as any other gig, I suppose...

"Nurtured only by a handful of individuals around the world, Hand Shadowgraphy is a rare art form where shadow images are created with bare hands only. Imagine the amazing evolution of the docile, practical ,mundane shadow into a creative component of fiction and documentation, often complemented by music and sound effects.It is an art form which has immense possibilities and can be applied in different fields.Like any other art form, innovation is the buzzword here ."

READ: Welcome to HandShadowGraphy.com:

The Complete List of the 1,000 Top U.S. High Schools

As a recruiter, I thought this list was invaluable. As a parent, I thought it was invaluable. When I was younger, the pressure was to get into the right college. Now I sense the pressure of going to the right high school will spill over to the right grade school, nursery and hospital to be born in. Still, this is good information to have.

READ: The Complete List of the 1,000 Top U.S. Schools

Thursday, May 05, 2005

How To Reign In Life As A Referral King (or.. Queen)!

You are a powerful person of influence and I should know who you are. If I am speaking to a CEO, then this is not a preposterous statement. However if I am speaking to a customer service representative of a small coffee shop, then you may think that I'm talking to the person behind you. Let me assure you that no matter your station in life, this statement holds true. You have in your ability to reign as a "referral king" (or "queen") and reap untold fortune by leveraging your network of important people. As such, you have at your disposal a goldmine of job leads to exploit. Is that a yawn I hear? Let me read into your mind. "Jim," you say to yourself, "What can you tell me about networking into a job that I don't already know?" I'm glad you asked that… If you would permit me, I would like to detail a formula (a secret sauce if you will) for becoming a magnet for job leads. This formula will work for the seasoned Harvard MBA professional and Car wash attendant alike. Sound incredible? It's not and I will prove it to you.
  • Set up a vanity domain name. Nothing too fancy, your name is enough (for example, www.jimstroud.com). You can also opt to go for something catchy like www.computerguy.com. I suggest using a name that people most commonly refer to when they think of you. Usually that is your name, but for some folks… its "Computer Guy." Do whichever you are most comfortable with.
  • Create a list of everyone you know socially, professionally and casually. Detail their professions, the last 3-5 companies they worked for and their hobbies or interests. Also find out what their dream job would be and the kind of people they would like to be.
  • Create a list of personal recommendations. Write down your favorite restaurant, favorite types of movies, music, celebrities you admire, et cetera. The more you can think of the better.

Now comes the fun part, add to your domain a webpage that advertises your professional background, say… a resume page for example. (It does not have to be fancy.) Now add a link to your resume page called "Personal Recommendations." On your personal recommendations page list:

  • The kinds of people you have contact with professionally, socially and casually.
  • Lend your opinion to hobby-related items. For example, if you are an avid runner mention that you know the best paths for running in Atlanta (or wherever you reside).
  • Mention that you are looking to refer people to your contacts all the time and as such, you are seeking those individuals with a background in X. Better yet, how about stating, "I have a contact in Atlanta looking for a lead into Telecom companies. He has 15 years experience in sales. Want to meet him? Let me know!"

What does this information do? It lets people know what leads you can offer. It gives people a way to possibly connect with you beyond business referrals. (How much more comfortable would you be with someone if you shared an interest?) Thirdly, it makes you attractive to other referees who see your genuine effort to help others.

Once all this is done, contact as many recruiters you can that service the industry that you excel in. Upon contacting them, advise them that you are not necessarily looking for a job. Rather you are offering to them your free referral services. As you have X number of years in a particular industry and as they (the recruiters) also serve that industry, knowing you is of immediate and future benefit to them. Now if you have sold your "referral service" adequately enough, you would be among the first to hear about unadvertised jobs in your industry. Why bother with advertising (and associated costs) when they can just call you? (You like that? Me too!)

Now consider this! This technique is a golden opportunity that helps YOU out in two other very important ways. First and foremost, everyone appreciates a good lead (business, job, restaurant recommendation, etc.) and it costs you nothing to give one. However if you recommend things long enough and people tend to appreciate your information, you become somewhat of a person everyone needs to know. Think about it, who do you call when considering a video rental? Everybody seems to know at least one movie-fanatic who has seen it all and loves to tell about it, right? Is that you? If so, then you have positioned yourself as an expert on movies and your opinion counts more than the occasional movie-goer. (If you were to brand yourself as a giver of job leads, particularly in a niche area, then I dare say that you will become quite popular very fast.)

Secondly, you are solidifying relationships with those in your network as you produce leads for them! Like I said, everyone wants to know who there is to know and where the best place to be is. As you give out that information, people will thank you for thinking of them. This also gives incentive for them to think more of you and the leads that you want to receive. (Pretty cool huh? Yeah, I thought so too…)

If you are someone who after gathering names and creating leads are less than happy with what you have to offer (although I can not emphasize enough the power of knowing people on every level), I suggest getting out there and meeting new people. If you are a social butterfly, then this is not a problem. If you start to sweat when trying to approach someone in public however, I would like to suggest a different strategy.

Online personals (such as One and Only) are a good way to meet people when you are shy. Think of it this way, you want to place yourself in the best possible situation. Everyone involved in personals are looking to meet other people and chances are, they know people who know people. Quite possibly the people they know are people that can benefit you and/or your network. There are no worries about immediate rejection as mostly you chat by email. If you are single, I highly recommend this approach. Its fun and you might even get a wife out of it. (I did!)

Are you feeling powerful yet? If not, you will once you realize the influence you presently have within your network of contacts and as people seek you out for referrals. Once this happens you will be eligible for crown, cape and signet ring. The knights of the round table would stand at your entrance. Horns will blow and rose petals would fall because his/her highness has arrived with generous referrals for those weary peasants who happen into their domain.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Life with Bill...

To all concerned, I am now on the Microsoft payroll effective immediately. Google was a groovy gig, but Bill gave me an offer I could not refuse. (Ask me about the benefits. WOW!) I am SO happy and can truly see myself here for the long haul. Stay tuned for further developments...

Recruiters must (now) do more to earn their money...

The U.S. executive-search business is reviving after three years on life support. But fierce competition and fee cutting during the recession have changed the dynamics between recruiters and their corporate clients.

Leading U.S. search firms are celebrating their first annual revenue gains after three years of losses. U.S. professional fee revenue for the 25 biggest firms grew 20% in 2004 over 2003, the first such increase since 2000, reports Hunt-Scanlon Advisors, a research firm in Stamford, Conn.

Still, those firms' $1.135 billion in 2004 domestic revenue remains far below the high watermark of $1.720 billion set in 2000. "We are still about two to three years out from reaching that apex" again, increasing pressure for lower fees and more services, says Scott Scanlon, Hunt-Scanlon chairman and CEO.

It once was standard for retained-search firms, which generally fill upper-level jobs paying at least $200,000 annually, to collect retainers even when they didn't complete an assignment. (By contrast, "contingency recruiters" fill lesser-paying jobs and get paid only when positions are filled.) During the heady job market of the late 1990s, retained recruiters could count on fees averaging about one-third of a candidate's first-year compensation.

When the job market dried up, recruiters reduced fees, agreed to delay payments until they met certain performance targets and provided additional services. Now, corporate clients are making those recessionary changes permanent -- largely by holding recruiters more accountable and sometimes linking fees to targets. The new practice of paying retained firms' "contingent" on a performance goal has been dubbed a "container" or "retingency" arrangement.

"We're now applying the same rigor and discipline to search as we do to our other big corporate initiatives," says Eric Elder, senior vice president of executive recruiting for Bank of America Corp. in Charlotte, N.C. "We have managed the number of failed searches down to practically zero."

Mr. Elder says he and colleagues have become "maniacal" about receiving weekly progress reports from search firms.

READ: As Talent War Resumes, Recruiters Jump Hoops to Earn Their Fees

Monday, May 02, 2005

Oh yeah? Yeah!!!!

Do you have a bully in the workplace? Its not as uncommon as you may think.

I found Tim Field's UK NationalWorkplace Bullying Advice website, an EXCELLENT resource online detailing the psychology of a bully, how to deter the behavior and how it applies to the workplace. Here is a snippet from the website:


Why do people bully?

The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy. Bullying has nothing to do with managing etc; good managers manage, bad managers bully. Management is managing; bullying is not managing. Therefore, anyone who chooses to bully is admitting their inadequacy, and the extent to which a person bullies is a measure of their inadequacy. Bullies project their inadequacy on to others:

a) to avoid facing up to their inadequacy and doing something about it;

b) to avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour and the effect it has on others, and,

c) to reduce their fear of being seen for what they are, namely a weak, inadequate and often incompetent individuals, and,

d) to divert attention away from their inadequacy - in an insecure or badly-managed workplace, this is how inadequate, incompetent and aggressive employees keep their jobs.

Bullying is an inefficient way of working, resulting in disenchantment, demoralisation, demotivation, disaffection, and alienation. Bullies run dysfunctional and inefficient organisations; staff turnover and sickness absence are high whilst morale, productivity and profitability are low. Prosperity is illusory and such organizations are a bad long-term investment. Projection and denial are hallmarks of the serial bully.

Bullying is present behind all forms of harassment, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, persecution, conflict and violence. When the bullying has a focus (eg race or gender) it is expressed as racial prejudice or harassment, or sexual discrimination and harassment, and so on. When the bullying lacks a focus (or the bully is aware of the Sex Discrimination Act or the Race Relations Act), it comes out as pure bullying; this is an opportunity to understand the behaviours which underlie almost all reprehensible behavior. I believe bullying is the single most important social issue of today.


is a form of abuse, and bullies - and unenlightened employers - often go to great lengths to keep their targets quiet, using threats of disciplinary action, dismissal, and gagging clauses. What bullies fear most is exposure of their inadequacy and being called publicly to account for their behavior and its consequences. This makes sense when you remember that the purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy, and people who bully to hide their inadequacy are often incompetent.

Check out: Tim Field's UK National Workplace Bullying Advice website.

Mentors are Human Beings too...

In the past months the reality captured in the title of this article hit me with the magnitude of lightning in a heavy storm. The person in whose footsteps I had followed for the past seven years had been changing like a leaf on a tree: something must have happened in his life, which caused him to wander from what everybody had considered to be his purpose. His career,which he had valued and esteemed so highly in the past years, suddenly didn’t seem to matter anymore; his connections, to whom he had been true and meticulously correct for the longest time, swiftly became neglected topics in his email inbox, on his voicemail, and on his calendar; and the strictness with which he would always attend important meetings and network sessions had totally vanished.

What could have caused this perfect role model to change so radically? All I can do is guess at this point. Numerous scenario’s crossed my minds in the many hours that I evaluated his changed behavior: was it his recent exposure to new, fascinating environments that had altered his perceptions on what would really matter to him from now on? Was it something in his private life that had changed? An affair, maybe? Or was it a slowly emerged awareness that his current work environment was an ungrateful one, and that he should move on to something better and more rewarding? Was he already on to something more rewarding? Was he still looking? And if he was still looking, was it wise to neglect everything and everybody that could make or break him? There were signs and reasons for all of the above options, and yet, there was nothing substantial to prove anything.

So there they were: Questions, questions, questions. Unanswered queries that could only drive a person insane if one allowed that. I decided that I wouldn’t. After all, it was his life, this person who was once my mentor, and whom I had much to thank to with regards to my emotional and mental growth in the past years. Yet, along with the decision of not dwelling on the issue too much, I also concluded some other things. Here are the lessons that I learned from this epiphany:

· Mentors are human beings too. Like everything else, they serve a purpose in our life for a certain amount of time, after which it is crucial to move on. Nothing remains the same. Everything changes: work environments, family ties, circles of friends, knowledge, and so, too, mentors.

· Mentors come and go. Once the old mentor has moved on, it is time to find another one. And sometimes we may even reach the stage where we can be our own mentor. However, the old mentor should not be forgotten, but appropriately valued as an important contributor to our growth during a certain phase of our journey.

· The change we detect within a mentor does not mean that this person is any less than he or she was before. Just different. We forget too often that mentors, too, go through the motions, and that they too need mentors to move them from one level to another.

· Mentees can become mentors, not only to upcoming individuals, but to previous mentors as well, that is, if some of the areas in which they have developed become important to the previous mentor. The beauty of being human is that we have continuous and variable learning relationships with one another. And while the flow may have initially moved from mentor to mentee, it may very well change at a certain point, whereby the mentee takes on the mentor role.

· Having a mentor is certainly not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of awareness that we are all interdependent, and that life is a process of continuous learning. Mentors should, more than anyone else, be aware of that.

I thought it would be good to share my experiences and insights with you, the reader, as it may very well be that you will encounter this problem in your life as well someday. Seeing someone precious falling from a pedestal is a heartbreaking experience. Yet, you should be aware that no one placed this person on that pedestal but you. This person may not even have been aware of the role he or she was fulfilling in your life, and may not be aware either that he or she is going astray in your eyes. It is just your perception. And if your role model goes astray, you are the one to deal with it in the emotionally least harmful way as you can. For remember (I know I will from now on): Mentors are human beings too...

About the author: Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master's inBusiness Administration, and is currently a university instructor inBusiness and Management in Burbank, California. Look for her books "Empowerthe Leader in You" and "The Global Village" in bookstores online or on herwebsite: http://www.joanmarques.com

Dr. Joan Marques http://www.joanmarques.com "It is better to live in serene poverty than in hectic affluence. Everythinghas a price. The price for nurturing your soul is turning away fromexcessive stress, destruction of self-respect, and the constant strive inlifestyle with the Joneses. But it's worth it."

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