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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Play now, pay later...

Every investment involves an element of risk, and borrowing to pay for college expenses is no exception. Borrowing remains a sound investment for most students, but many who borrow and then drop out appear to have lost the bet. Students who borrow money for college begin postsecondary education with more academic and financial risk than other groups. Some of these students, after borrowing and then dropping out of college, beat the odds and go on to productive careers. Perhaps their courses and experience help them succeed, even without a certificate or degree. Or perhaps they come from families sufficiently well off that the accumulated debt is not burdensome.

Yet, along with those who do not finish high school and those who stop with a high school diploma, many college dropouts fall into what has been called "the forgotten half" of our nation's young adult population. The findings in this report, in providing a snapshot of students' experiences, suggest that many borrowers who drop out of postsecondary education may be left behind in the nation's economy.

The growing reliance on loans to finance rising college tuition has drawn widespread attention in the media and public policy debates. Much of the publicity and concern focuses on students who pursue a four-year degree and take on significant debt, averaging from $15,000 to $20,000 in debt by the time they graduate. Some college graduates have borrowed much larger amounts, and average debt burdens are especially high for low-income and minority students who complete their programs of study.2 However, most students who achieve their degrees reap sufficient economic benefits to pay off their loans.

For the first time, this study examines those who may be least well-served by our current system of financing higher education: students who invest in their own education by borrowing, but who do not complete their postsecondary programs. A recent report by the Education Trust warned that "hundreds of thousands of young people leave our higher education system unsuccessfully, burdened with large student loans that must be repaid, but without the benefit of the wages a college degree provides." This report examines the dimensions of this problem and identifies ways to address it.

Read: Borrowers who drop out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

PODCAST: David Teten, Author Of The Virtual Handshake

David Teten, Co-Author of "The Virtual Handshake"

The Virtual Handshake book cover

I RECOMMEND: The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online David Teten and Scott Allen

More people have used the Internet to participate in an online group than to read news or even to buy something. Online social networks have enjoyed phenomenal growth in recent years, and every major Internet portal now offers some kind of social networking or "blogging" tool to its users.

But these tools are not just recreational, they are rapidly becoming essential tools for business. They are part of a "social software" toolkit that includes blogs, relationship capital management software, advanced contact managers, virtual communities, web conferencing, instant messaging, and much more. The Virtual Handshake gives you the tools to take advantage of these new technologies to become dramatically more successful in business.

The Virtual Handshake shows you how to:

* Sign new customers, meet new business partners, and find your dream job
* Create a powerful professional presence online
* Attract business in online networks
* Meet more relevant senior people
* Start and promote your own blog
* Master the email deluge
* Analyze and value your social network
* Use web conferencing and discussion forums to build strong relationships
* Manage your contact database
* Ensure privacy and safety online

"After reviewing this material, I must say that this product is ridiculously under-priced for the value it brings. Teten and Allen get it and (even better) they know how to explain it to novices and experts alike. The Virtual Handshake is a must-read for any and all businesspeople seeking to do business anywhere, at anytime and in any industry."

-Jim Stroud, Recruitment Specialist, Author and Entrepreneur.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH DAVID TETEN (3:25)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Why Social Networks Don't Work!

Why Social Networks Don't Work! (Or... The Linked In Manifesto)
by: Jim Stroud
(C) 2005 Jim Stroud

Unless you are new to the internet or, are a novice to its mysteries, you are no doubt familiar with social networks. For the uninitiated, social networks are online communities where people meet and exchange business information with one another. In the most perfect of scenarios, someone you meet in a social network will connect you to one of their trusted contacts and business will be consummated. There are several such networks in operation (among them Ecademy, Spoke and Ryze), but the most popular is Linked In of which I am an avid subscriber. To be fair, I have met quite a few people with Linked In and can sing some of its praises. However, there is a downside to using social networks of any kind. I suspect that it is this singular reason why many forsake social networks and dismiss them as a fad of the age. What is the leading detriment of social networks? Ironically, the issue is that many people do not know how to network offline and those habits are simply transferred to the online arenas of social networks.

As a member of Linked In, my profile is open for public review. As I have been fortunate enough to work with certain companies, I am often approached for leads into organizations I have been affiliated with. This results in a near avalanche of emails of which I offer no complaint. As I use Linked In as a recruiting vehicle (in addition to expanding my network), It is simply par for the course. My concern is the tone of the inquiries of which I will paraphrase, "Gimme, gimme, gimme and give it to me now." Initially, I thought such encounters would prove only a minor annoyance. Unfortunately, I find myself battling a growing disdain for those who do not grasp the concept of quid pro quo nor, the fleeting art of courtship. If you are a fairly connected person with a "golden rolodex" of leads, why should I expect you to introduce your more coveted contacts to me upon request? Furthermore, how much assistance should I expect you to give a perfect stranger that you have only met virtually? Would it be illogical to assume that you are not so willing to risk your reputation with a trusted ally, by recommending an introduction to someone you barely know? I would not think it illogical, but such seems to be the faith of several who have reached out via social networks. The end result? Hundreds (or is it thousands?) of requests go unanswered or flatly refused, leaving the disillusioned to claim the ineffectiveness of social networks. This also has a rebounding effect on those proficient in networking who wonder how much longer they will continue to suffer countless requests made by virtual hands outstretched for whatever they can glean from their solicitations.

"The most annoying requests are those made by people who have not read my profile, but want to connect only for the sake of making a connection to their list, or selling a product said Steve Eisenberg, an E-Business professional and a faithful user of Linked In.

It is my good fortune however, to report that there is a solution that benefits all concerned. I have crafted a guideline of conduct for social networks and would share it with you now, dear reader. I call it "The Linked In Manifesto" after my favorite social networking service. (Despite the actions of some, Linked In still remains on my short list of necessary web sites.) Please consider the following suggestions mandatory when you next decide to engage someone via a social network.

1. When approaching someone for the first time, do not ask for anything! Instead, offer a gift to encourage them to correspond with you. I would suggest that your offering be presented in one of three ways.

OFFER AN IDEA: Consider the profile of the person you want to connect to and imagine a way to make their business life easier; then share it with them. For example, "I notice from your profile that you are a veterinarian with a focus on Cats. I checked and the domains CatDoctor.com and PurrfectPractitioner.com are not taken. Just a thought, but maybe you should consider snapping these up. If you would like to discuss Veterinarian Science or Cats in general, drop me an email."

OFFER INFORMATION: Perhaps you could visit an online news source, browse stories and share insight into an event that would prove of interest to your intended connection. For example, “I read in the paper that Company X is moving into VOIP and opening a center in Tacoma. Isn't that in your backyard? As a Telecom professional, I hear about such things all the time and have no problem sharing the more interesting gossip. If interested, drop me an email.

OFFER INTRODUCTIONS: Exclusivity is always an attention grabber. For example, I noticed from your profile that you own a firm that designs video games. My son works for Atari and when he is not developing games, he and his co-workers barricade my basement and play games until the beer runs out. My son is happily employed, but I can not speak for his pals. If you like, I could introduce you to them. Just let me know..."

2. Do not attempt to connect with someone unless you plan on getting to know them. In other words, maintain honorable intentions by inviting them to call you or meet with you for coffee at Starbucks. All too often, social networkers seek out what they can achieve at the moment and this is counter-intuitive to the nature of networking. Try as you might to put a face with the name, learn their hobbies and future endeavors and give them a chance to learn you and find commonality. If at all possible, ferret out a non-business activity that you can bond over (Sports, TV Shows, Et Cetera.) Successful, long-term business comes from trust and trust takes time to develop, yet it is always worth it.

3. Stay in touch with online contacts and advise them of your preferences should other social networkers approach them about contacting you. (For example, my department is not hiring. However, if you come across someone out of Company X, I will gladly chat with them.) In the virtual world, it is easy to lose tracks of those you were once so close to. Set a day on your calendar to speak to or visit with, those connected to you and reacquaint yourself with them. Find new reasons to stay in touch and seek out ways that you can help enrich their lives professionally and socially. (It goes without saying that you should take note of your contacts preferences as well.)

4. Jealously guard your connected list by being very selective of the invitations you accept. (After all, we are all measured by the company we keep and our associations testify of our character more loudly than our denials.) When refusing a connection however, attempt to offer help in some way. For example, "Thank you for requesting a connection to me on Linked In. May I ask why you chose to connect with me? In the event that I am unable to assist you, I am more than happy to refer you to another or offer any advice I can muster. Please advise..."

In conclusion, the best advice I can give has already been given. In the book "The Heart Of Networking" by Ricky Steele, the consummate networker Ricky Steele said that "Networking is a thinking person's game." Strategy plays a huge part in networking offline and the rules apply online as well. A social network is not a machine where you insert a quarter and instant business rolls out like a gumball. Rather, it is an opportunity, a chance to present yourself to those you may one day recruit. It is also a chance to be ignored. Social networks work well for those who know how to come bearing gifts, pursue long term relationships and value the contacts they already developed. If you have considered joining a social network but do not have the time to cultivate the encounters that come from it, save your time, talent and energy. Social networks don't work.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Streaming Faith in the Workplace!

What happens when you couple a course and set of principles with your career? What possible goals can you obtain in the workplace by allowing God to direct your course? The course of your career depends on how you apply the superior principle...faith, to any given situation in the workplace. Faith in the workplace changes the course that others set before you. Faith allows your path in the workplace to be directed by the word of God. Faith trusts the unseen, but not the unknown.

READ: Streaming Faith in the Workplace!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

10 Biggest Causes of Workplace Stress

10 Biggest Causes of Workplace Stress
by Dale Collie

According to CNN-Money.com, Americans spent more than $17 billion for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs in 2002, up 10% from the year before and nearly 30% over a two year period. The Institute for Management Excellence reports that American industry spends more than $26 billion each year for medical bills and disability payments with another $10 billion for executive's lost workdays, hospitalization, and early death. While these trends might be caused by some who are simply intolerant to stressful situations, it should also be recognized that properly managed circumstances can reduce stress, maximize employee productivity, and improve the living conditions of everyone. Out of control stress also costs companies through increased absenteeism, lack of enthusiasm for the job, poor performance, and bad attitudes. Improvements in each of these areas can bring improved productivity and increased profits.

To find out what is most stressful to employees, Bill Wilkerson, CEO of The Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, conducted a survey and reported the ten top sources. As you'll see, all ten of these stress causing situations are related to leadership communications. The names Wilkerson gave each of these causes are in quotation marks.

10. "The treadmill syndrome"

Employees who consistently have too much or too little to do creates a lot of stress. Some employees are highly stressed because they simply have too many responsibilities. Others work around the clock, not necessarily on the clock, but throughout the day and at home. These are generally the employees who have too much to do and too many responsibilities.

Solution: You can control stress caused by the treadmill syndrome by making sure work is evenly divided and properly prioritized. Sometimes you can save money by hiring additional employees and reducing the additional costs of excessive stress.

9. "Random interruptions"

Interruptions keep employees from getting their work done - telephones, walk-in visits, supervisor's demands.

Solution: You can control this type stress by encouraging proper time management, delegation of responsibilities, and clarification of expectations.

8. "Pervasive uncertainty"

Uncertainty is created by constant, unsatisfactorily explained or unannounced change.

Solution: Keeping everyone well informed can reduce stress and improve productivity. Take time to meet with people and put the details in a written memo so they can review the facts after the emotions cool down.

7. "Mistrust, unfairness, and office politics"

These situations keep everyone on edge and uncertain about the future. Management of trust and fairness is just as important as any other management tool. If people cannot trust management, performance goes down. And, everyone is affected if even one employee is treated unfairly.

Solution: You have to make sure everyone is treated fairly - in fact and in perception. Word spreads quickly, and everyone sympathizes with the "victim," as they see it. They feel they will be treated the same way.

Unfairness can also be seen in management's acceptance of those who thrive on office politics.

Solution: Do not reward office politics in any way. Verbally reprimand those who are negative about others or those who spread rumors. If their statement isn't uplifting, don't let them make the comment about others.

If you fail to take action, morale goes down and stress goes up.

6. "Unclear policies and no sense of direction"

Lack of focus causes additional uncertainty and undermines confidence in management.

Solution: Clear communication of policies and company goals is required, and it must go beyond the management level.

Not all middle managers are good at communicating these important subjects, so top management must communicate in a such a way that everyone is clear on where the company is going and what company policies are enforced.

Use memos, articles, personal meetings, small groups, announcements and anything else that reinforces your policy. Repetition is important. Actions consistent with policy are more important as the words.

5. "Career and job ambiguity"

If people are uncertain about their jobs and careers, there is a feeling of helplessness and of being out of control. This goes beyond the job description and annual performance review.

Solution: People want to know that their job is secure and know what is expected of them. Many employees also want to know about career progression and what they must do to advance.

Keep people informed of business situations, threats, and obstacles that must be overcome. They'll find out through the grape vine if you don't tell them. There is no such thing as a secret, so be right up front with everyone.

You don't want to be an alarmist, but these people have families to take care of. Some of them are applying for mortgages, loans, and other financial commitments that they might not make if they are as fully informed as you are.

4. "No feedback - good or bad."

People want to know how they are doing, and whether they are meeting expectations. If you don't communicate your thoughts on their performance, they are stressed about how well they are doing.

Solution: Daily or weekly confirmation can help reduce stress significantly. Managers who wait until year end to explain job performance are about 51 weeks too late.

3. "No appreciation."

Failure to show appreciation for employee participation generates stress that endangers future efforts.

Solution: Daily, weekly, and monthly appreciation will help reduce stress and increase profits.

2. "Lack of communications"

Poor communication up and down the chain of command leads to decreased performance and increased stress.

Solution: Just as it is important to keep people advised of company policies and changes they can expect, management needs to listen to employees. Improved communications up the chain of command can give people a chance to pass along ideas, suggestions, and complaints, reducing stress and helping achieve more.

1. The greatest stressor in the workplace is "lack of control."

Employees are highly stressed when they feel like they have no control over their participation or the outcome of their work.

Solution: Savvy managers know the value of employee suggestions, comments, and input on the business as they participate. Very few managers know as much about the individual jobs as those doing the work day after day.

Stress control is a leadership responsibility. Those who ignore prevailing stress levels are negligent in their duties. Grasping the concepts and reducing stress one step at a time can have an amazing impact on the bottom line and on the lives of those who do the heavy work.

Subscribe to "Stress Management -Timely Tips" at http://www.couragebuilders.com


Copyright 2005 - Dale Collie


Dale Collie - Professional Speaker & former US Army Ranger, CEO, and University Professor. Advising business leaders on corporate stress control, improving productivity, and increasing profits. Author of "Winning Under Fire: Turn Stress into Success the US Army Way" (McGraw-Hill)

Brother, can you spare a gallon?

The search for affordable housing has pushed many north suburban workers to the outer reaches of the New York City metropolitan area in pursuit of the American Dream.

It's not unusual to find workers commuting from southern Dutchess and Orange counties to business centers in Rockland, White Plains, Tarrytown, Armonk and, of course, Manhattan.

Depending on their destination, that means traveling distances of 50, 60 or 70 miles or more to get to work, often times by car.

Traditionally, workers have been willing to foot the additional expense, frustration and time lost in commuting to earn the higher wages Manhattan and its immediate environs pay while benefiting from the lower costs of living in far-flung communities.

But the recent increase in the cost of filling the tank means workers, especially those at the lower end of the pay scale, are doling out a lot more to get to work.

READ: Rising gas prices worry workers, employers

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I RECOMMEND: PageBites

I had the good fortune of interviewing Ralph Harik, CEO and Founder of PageBites, Inc. In my opinion, this is a company that recruiters and job seekers will want to keep a close eye on. Expect more from these trailblazers in the near future.

Q: What was the inspiration behind PageBites?

We wanted to create a product that would improve the lives of our siblings, our relatives and our friends. After considering many ideas, we decided that matching people to jobs is a difficult and challenging problem that needs to be addressed.

Q: How long has it been in existence?

We have been thinking about semi-structured search for some time now, but we have been working on this specific project for only a few months.

Q: What is your vision for PageBites?

PageBites offers both resume and job search. We are a destination for both employers and job seekers.

For employers, PageBites offers a single website to search for qualified candidates. Employers can also contact us to have their job openings included in our job index.

For job seekers, PageBites offers high exposure for their resumes (we do not charge employers any fees to use our site). PageBites also offers job seekers the ability to search for job openings that are aggregated from a variety of job boards.

PageBites is a vertical search company. Our goal is to build products that will improve people's lives. At the moment we are concentrating on job and resume search because it is a problem that is important to many people.

Q: PageBites seems to be funded by advertising so far. Will it always be free?

Searching for resumes and for jobs on PageBites will always be free. Posting your resume will also always be free.

The current business model, where employers must pay to search for resumes, is broken. There is no reason why employers should be paying hundreds of dollars to access a database of people who are looking for work. Smaller companies might not have the resources to pay these expensive fees. Free access to qualified candidates should be available to all employers.

Q: What is the advantage of using PageBites as a recruiter?

Unlike many other career sites, our service is free. We do not charge recruiters any money to search for resumes, and we do not require users to login before searching the site.

In addition, PageBites enables recruiters to easily find the candidates that best match the requirements of a job opening. A recruiter can restrict the resume search results to a particular location. Recruiters can also restrict search results to a specific skill or a particular degree. For example, you can search for people who attended Stanford and know C++ by typing "skills:C++ education:Stanford".

Q: What are the advantages to a job seeker for using PageBites?

PageBites aggregates job listings from a number of boards. Job seekers can, with one search, find a greater number of job openings.

We also allow job seekers to post their resume on PageBites. Each user is given a directory on PageBites with 10 MB of space to post resumes, cover letters, portfolios, etc.

Posting is made easy through the use of a rich text editor. This provides users with a familiar interface to input their resumes. The rich text editor also offers users the freedom to design and format their resumes without needing to know any HTML. In addition, users that already have a resume online are able to submit the URL of their online resume to PageBites.

Q: Is your website still in beta? When can users expect a big promotional push?

PageBites is still in Beta. We will be releasing more useful features in the coming months. We are continuously improving the site and we are always testing out new ideas.

Q: What have you not told me about PageBites?

We are really interested in receiving feedback from users. We would love to hear from both recruiters and job seekers.

Monday, August 15, 2005

It is too easy to become a recruiter...

My article, "A great idea that will never happen..." was featured in the July edition of Online Recruitment Magazine. Visit the website to download a free copy: www.onrec.com

Here is a snippet...

It is too easy to become a recruiter. I suppose that can be said for a variety of disciplines, but I would wonder how closely those positions affect the bottom line the way recruiting does. A company is powered by its people and the gas of that engine is recruiting. Staffing professionals know this, C-level executives are aware of the fact and likewise savvy investors who bet on the jockey rather than the horse they ride on. However, across many organizations the staffing department is grudgingly regarded as a resource of necessity that is wholly unappreciated. To make an unfair comparison, recruiters are often thought of like Firemen; well appreciated in times of fire, but forgotten otherwise. Sure, there are organizations that give lip service to the value of recruiting, but consider these questions. How often does the CEO of your company wander the cubicles of the staffing department to personally congratulate their contribution? When was the last time the staffing department was given kudos in a press release from upper management? When the stock goes up in your company, is staffing cited as a factor?

Recruiting overall suffers from bad publicity (or the lack of a significant amount of good publicity) reflected in the unspoken accolades from above and the occasional disdain from candidates. What do I mean? If a candidate is unemployed, unhappily employed or under-employed, then a call from a recruiter is a welcome God-send. Conversely, if the candidate is comfortable in their present role, such solicitations can be a nuisance. Furthermore, consider those recruiters who engage unqualified candidates and handle their candidates haphazardly. The end result is a negative impression of a certain company and a black eye on recruiting in general. It would seem that when recruiting (in any discipline) you have to contend not only with the requirements you are trying to fill, but also the biases of recruiting coming from all concerned. Fortunately, I have a strategy for turning this around.

Simply put, serving as a recruiter does not carry the prestige of being a doctor or lawyer; neither high school nor college students decide early on to become a recruiter. (How many graduate programs offer an intensive training in recruiting?) It has been my observation that people tend to "stumble" into recruiting and therein lies the issue. Returning to my initial statement, it is too easy to become a recruiter.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sorry, I only hire good-looking people.

Hmmmm... Maybe this guy was just shopping for dating prospects and only preferred blondes to women who look like Naomi Campbell? (left) Check this out...

A former San Francisco cosmetics sales manager, who said she was punished for refusing an order from her boss to fire another woman and "get me somebody hot," can take her lawsuit to a jury, the state Supreme Court ruled today in a case that sets new standards for retaliation claims.

In a 4-2 ruling, the court said Elysa Yanowitz's allegations, if true, would show that L'Oreal illegally retaliated against her for opposing sex discrimination by a general manager at the giant cosmetics firm.

Yanowitz, an 18-year employee, was L'Oreal's regional sales manager and chief of marketing for Ralph Lauren fragrances in Western states when she tangled with general manager Jack Wiswall during a 1997 tour of a San Jose department store. According to her lawsuit, Wiswall told her that a dark-skinned sales clerk was "not good-looking enough," and directed her to fire the woman and "get me somebody hot."

During later visits, Yanowitz said, Wiswall kept asking her why the woman had not been fired, and at one point – when he passed by a young, attractive blonde woman – told Yanowitz, "Get me one that looks like that." She said she asked Wiswall for a reason to fire the woman, never got one, and ultimately refused, after learning that the woman was one of the top sellers of fragrances in the region.

(As Home Simpson would say, "Doh!")

Read: Fired cosmetics worker can sue, state high court rules

Thursday, August 11, 2005

5 Fields that pay women more than men

My research for Why Men Earn More uncovered twenty-five differences between what men and women do in the workplace. Here's the rub. Everything men do leads to more money; everything women do leads to more balanced lives-and usually, to better lives. So you don't just want to imitate men.

The road to high pay is a toll road. The trick is discerning which tolls are worth it. For example, working outdoors in the rain and sleet is a disadvantage for most people, but many park rangers choose the profession precisely because they love the out-of-doors. Here are ten tips for you and your daughter to consider. Most lists are slanted toward female executives, but women-like men-come in all education and skill levels, so this is a diverse list.

Five fields that pay women more than men and also provide excellent opportunities are:
Speech language pathologists ($45,000 women; $35,000 men; women make 29% more than men)
Statisticians (35% more than men)
Advertising and Promotions Managers
Motion Picture projectionists
Dental hygienist

READ: WorldWIT - Women. Insights. Technology.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

You have to give him credit for creativity...

Frustrated with your job search? Why not stick your resume on a tee-shirt and walk around the city with it on? What kind of results can you expect? Check out the story of one guy who did just that...

READ:Damn, I Need A Job

Need a job? Indeed you do...

The New York Times Company announced today an investment in Indeed, Inc. (www.indeed.com), a search engine for jobs that enables job seekers to search millions of job listings from over a thousand Web sites. The Times Company, Union Square Ventures and Allen & Company, LLC are together investing $5 million for a minority interest.

"We are pleased to join Union Square Ventures and Allen & Company in backing Indeed, an innovative new firm that provides compelling job search capabilities to Internet users," said Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president, digital operations. "The Times Company has strong help-wanted franchises in print and online, and we believe it is important to invest in new technologies and services in this advertising category."

Indeed is the most comprehensive search engine for jobs, adding over 110,000 new jobs per day - more than any other job search engine. Indeed includes jobs from over 1,000 unique sources, encompassing company career pages, major and niche job boards, national and regional newspapers, and hundreds of associations. Indeed indexes all new jobs from each source every day, making it the freshest and most accurate source of jobs on the Web.

READ: Indeed unveils most comprehensive search engine for jobs | Indeed.com

Monday, August 08, 2005

Yeahhh, boyyeeeee!!!

I have a question. How many ways can you re-engineer your skills and make it in new industries? Here is an example to inspire you.

Tupac and Biggie, move over. A new hip-hop feud is brewing that glamorizes not guns and 'hos but Java and secure encryption algorithms.

While gangsta rap is seen as celebrating the violence and aggression that claimed two of its brightest stars, "geeksta" rap is a hip-hop genre celebrating coding skills and school grades.

Also dubbed "nerdcore," this branch of hip-hop is for geeks, by geeks. Geeksta rappers adopt the same combative verbal-assault stylings of their forerunners, but bust rhymes about elite script compiling and dope machine code.

The term was first coined in 2000 by nerdy New York rapper MC Frontalot in a track of the same name. Nerdcore now refers to artists waxing lyrical about topics as disparate as engineering and Lord of the Rings.

In recent months, the field has seen a growing number of releases from computer science labs, where egocentric grad students show off their Ph.D. credentials in tracks like "Have to Code" and "End of File."

"The stigma that was once attached to computer geeks and role-playing nerds is diminishing incredibly fast," said "digital gangster" Bryce Case Jr., aka ytcracker. "It has almost become trendy to have skills on a computer. Rather than guns and 'hos, I speak about DDOS attacks and camgirls."

The self-proclaimed "#1 greatest computer science gangsta rapper ever" is MC Plus+, a geeksta leading light whose moniker comes from the C++ programming language.

The Purdue University, Indiana, Ph.D. candidate and "CS pimp," whose album Algorhythms was recorded with pirated software, calls himself "the Tupac of the computer science world."

READ: Rap Marketing Comes to Nerdcore

Friday, August 05, 2005

I am now a cartoon!

For those who don't know, I occassionally blog on the "Technical Careers @ Microsoft" blog with Gretchen Ledgard and other Microsofties. We recently added cartoon image of ourselves courtesy of Hans Bjordahl of Bug Bash. Here is a snippet of my latest entry there which introduces me to the audience.

Hi! My name is Jim Stroud. Most folks call me Jim Stroud, so feel free to do the same. I have been known to find quality candidates like a chocolate covered millionaire with a fist full of shoes finds women, but I suppose that is subjective. Online Research, Recruitment Strategy, Viral Marketing and Recruiting are all ingredients in my resume; add a pinch of creative writing and a dash of entrepreneur to the recipe and you will have a Jim Cake. (Yummy! And non-fattening.)

READ: Meet Jim!

TUTORIAL: Did you get my email?

The most aggravating aspect of any job search is the ambiguity of waiting for an update on your status. Did they like me? Did I answer their questions correctly? (Or worse yet...) Did they receive the updated resume I emailed to them last week? No way to know for sure, so you wait and wait, until now...

If you use Microsoft Outlook, you have a way of tracking your emails. Well, at least you can tell if your resume was delivered, read and when. Would that prove useful to you? I thought it might. Let's look at this cool Outlook function step-by-step.

Step 1: Write your letter.

Step 2: Click the "Options" tab and choose "Options..."

Step 3: Under the section labeled "Voting and Tracking options," check Request a delivery receipt for this message and check Request a read receipt for this message.

Step 4: Click the "Close" button and send your email as you would normally.

Step 5: Watch your email for the following messages.

Once your email has been delivered, you will get an email that says this:

Your message

To: Recruiter
Subject: A pleasure talking to you.
Sent: 8/03/2005 1:49 PM

was delivered to the following recipient(s):

Recruiter on 7/12/2005 1:50 PM

Once your email is read, you will get an email that says this:

Your message

To: Recruiter
Subject: A pleasure talking to you.
Sent: 8/03/2005 1:49 PM

was read on 8/04/2005 6:48 PM.

.

And that is how you do that. Happy job hunting!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Does this job make me look fat?

"Luckily, most jobs send out signals about how right they are for you -- or not," says Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and author of "Winning."

"These signals apply to jobs at every level of an organization," Welch writes. "You can be right out of school, a middle manager trying to move up, or a senior executive looking for a top pick."

In "Winning," Welch has created a list of the most important signals to be aware of and how to read them:

People

Take it as a good sign if: You like the people a lot -- you can relate to them, and you genuinely enjoy their company. In fact, they even think and act like you do.

Be concerned if: You feel like you'll need to put on a persona at work. After a visit to the company, you find yourself saying things like, "I don't need to be friends with the people I work with."

Opportunity

Take it as a good sign if: The job gives you the opportunity to grow as a person and a professional, and you get the feeling you will learn things there that you didn't even know you needed to learn.

Be concerned if: You're being hired as an expert, and upon arrival, you will most likely be the smartest person in the room.

Options

Take it as a good sign if: The job gives you a credential you can take with you, and is in a business and industry with a future.

Be concerned if: The industry has peaked or has awful economics, and the company itself, for any number of reasons, will do little to expand your career options.

Ownership

Take it as a good sign if: You are taking the job for yourself, or you know whom you are taking it for, and feel at peace with the bargain.

Be concerned if: You are taking the job for any number of other constituents, such as a spouse who wants you to travel less or the sixth-grade teacher who said you would never amount to anything.

READ: TIP SHEET: Careers -- How to tell if job fits right

The blind leading the business...

Twenty visually impaired graduates will attend a two-day event to help them build confidence and make more successful applications for jobs in professional careers.

The event, organised for the fourth time by the charity Blind in Business and supported for the second year running by SHL, world leader in objective assessment, will take place at SHL’s Woodstock House in Long Ditton, Surrey on the 18th and 19th of August. As well as hands on practice sessions and seminars, all the participants will have the opportunity to water-ski as a fun and confidence-building activity.

The graduates will receive advice and support on all stages of the recruitment process, including how to complete application forms and how to be successful in job interviews. Recruiters from twenty renowned organisations: Citigroup, DSTL, BDO Stoy Hayward, Morgan Stanley, Herbert Smith, CMS Cameron McKenna, CSSB, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Allen & Overy, TMP Worldwide, Logica CMG, GCHQ, KPMG, JP Morgan and Accenture, will attend the event to learn more about employing individuals with visual impairments, and to engage in practice interviews with the graduates.

The ’mock’ interviews benefit the graduates, who have the chance to meet recruiters and receive feedback from them afterwards and the recruiters, who will be able to put best practice into action and receive feed back from the candidates.

Read: Blind in Business challenges barriers to the recruitment process

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Only Barbie Dolls Need Apply...

MORE than 50% of women believe improved looks would help them speed up the career ladder.

Growing numbers of cosmetically enhanced celebrities appear to be helping undermine the "brains over beauty" battle in the workplace, new research has found.

A survey by Top Sant magazine found that 51% of women thought their careers would progress faster if they had a better body and were more attractive.

More than eight out of 10 women (83%) also said that the modern celebrity culture had made men's expectations of women's bodies too high.

As a result of this, growing numbers of women are considering cosmetic surgery.

But it is not just men who are pushing women to extreme measures - 78% said that other women were more critical of their weight and shape than men.

The survey of 2,000 women also found that hardly any women are completely happy with their body.

Only 2% felt happy about their body. The majority (95%) said they felt unhappy about their body on a daily basis.

READ: Women consider surgery to further careers

Preparing the frustrated jobseeker for the market's inevitable return.

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