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January 2006
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March 2006

Insurance

One of the tasks I had when starting my business was consolidating insurance into one carrier.  I decided to go with Franki's person, State Farm Agent Howard Palmer.

When Franki and I got to his office, he sat us down and started asking questions - not about insurance, but about what we did and who we were.

He was curious about us - genuinely curious, and not in a salesy way.  Howard and his wife and their staff are great people.  I would suggest them for anyone - and they knocked $300 of my insurance bill even though we expanded coverage.

So fo your car, house, life, and other needs call Howard at 636-928-0957, or e-mail him.

If you are a staffing agency, and you have independent contractors that require General Liability and Worker's Comp for subcontracting purposes - stick him in your rolodex.  He's a good guy to know. 


New site up and running

It's official.  The wife and I launched our new website last night.

Durbin Media Group has a presence online.

And of course, there is a new blog, named Brandstorming.

The purpose of the company is working with companies to connect with their customers utilizing online media.

In short version, we're paid to teach companies how to and who to listen to online. Take a look at let us know what you think.  My new e-mail is jdurbin and the domain is durbinmedia.com.  The @ sign goes in the middle. 


Sourcing Queen

Maureen Sharib is a sourcer.  Her company is called TechTrak. 

What this means is she is an expert at using the phone to gather lists of names for sales, recruiting, analysis, competitive intelligence and general curiousity,

I know Maureen from Recruiting.com and ErExchange.com where her passion and boundless creativity enrich sourcing and recruiting discussions.

Sourcing is a crazy business - an offshoot of recruiting that is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves as a separate business essential to the needs of ever company.  Oh sure, you could buy a subscription to Hoover's or InfoUsa, but who has the time and the money to pay general fees to do all the work yourself.

You wouldn't believe how cost-effective it is to use a sourcer like Maureen instead of signing up for a subscription fee to a list company.  Oh, and you actually get the information you were looking for instead of having access to the information you were looking for.

Here's the thing - Maureen not only is a great sourcer - she is a nice person who believes in paying it forward.  I can tell you this - I would recommend her to anyone with a need for information, I would serve as a reference, and I thought it was about time somebody said something about this woman who se stated job is to improve our business.

Thank you, Maureen.


See Your Name Up In Lights

Jason Davis has come up with a great idea over at Recruiting.com

The Wall of Fame, over at www.recruitingpix.com, is an industry board that allows individual bloggers, companies, and vendors, as well as anyone interested in advertising to purchase pixels on the site.  The site stays up for five years, and the goal is to make it a fun, creative, and cost-effective way to advertise recruiting or staffing services.

Each pixel costs $.20, which means a box on the screen costs $20.  And your ad?  When someone runs their mouse over the screen, a url you select pops up for the person to click to.

It's been done for college kids and copycats, but this is the first time I've seen it applied to an industry.

So if you want some exposure, click to the site and buy away!  At the very least, if you like what you read here and on Recruiting.com, consider linking to http://www.recruitingpix.com, (after you've linked to stlrecruiting.com, of course).

Do I have a financial interest?  You betcha- I make a percentage of the sales made to the board - but we figure this is a good way to give out publicity and at the same time earn a little bit back from the time we spend writing for Recruiting.com.  In case you don't know, I'm the editor of This Week, Recruiting.com's weekly newsletter, in addition to being an author and a cheerleader for the site.   


The New Division of Labor

I've been doing less reading this month as I start the business.  My reading habits, are, well, they aren't normal.  I read in the shower, at stop lights, on the way down to pick up the paper, and even, if you can believe it, in a dentist chair while they put tempories on my two front teeth.

That said, I still rifled through four books.  The fifth is proving challenging.

The New Division of Labor: How Computers are Creating the Next Job Market: Frank Levy and Richard Murname.

Let me start with the quote for the book jacket - Every legislator, educator, and executive in American ought to have this book on this bookshelf.

This book has proven vexing precisely because I can't just power-read through it and produce a review.  It's one of those thinking books that has me putting down the thin volume and picking up pen and whatever paper is nearby.   

The cover of the book seems to take its imagery from an Ayn Rand novel, which should have been my first hint that this book is far from normal.  The thin volume packs philosophical insights into every day business sentiments in a subtle manner easily missed if you're skimming.

On the surface, what I've read is pretty straightforward.  Computers are replacing some jobs, and creating new ones.  Easily automated tasks are given to computers, and tasks requiring more cognition are left or formulated for humans. 

It's a headline ripped out of any newspaper defending progress - but there is more to the principle than the easy soundbite. 

 

Continue reading "The New Division of Labor" »


Recruiter Compensation Plans

I used to work on marketing campaigns for car dealers.  Car dealers are the best marketers out there, and you learn a lot about selling and pitching your brand to the public from these guys.  From radio and direct mail to on-the-spot sales tactics, car salesman are the tops, even if they rank low on the the public trust.

I know better salesman than car salespeople though - and it's the dealers themselves.  They work their magic and their margins with a variety of compensation plans so complex that the best accountants would have problems deciphering them.


The comp plan becomes a pitch for luring top salespeople to a dealership.  If you're making 2% on the Revenue of each car sold, maybe you'll move for 10% of the Total  Profit on the car.  If you really want to move up, you'll go to a dealership offering 40% on the Actual Profit.

If you're savvy enough about car dealers, you'll know all three of those comp plans can yield the exact same amount of money.  Dealer holdback, reconditioning, special fees, and draw can all affect a salesperson's comp - but when they're talking with friends, all you hear is 40%...

Continue reading "Recruiter Compensation Plans" »


Recruiter Spam

It's been a long time since I posted a resume on a job board, and so to cover my bases, I recently posted information on Monster, CreativeHotlist, and Craigslist St Louis.

These were not traditional resumes, as I'm not looking to go inside anywhere, but rather publicizing information about my new company (soon to be unveiled).

I remember Monster fondly - posting a resume there is like dreaming of a better tomorrow.  You dutifully fill out your information hoping for a better job, more money and the opportunity to really shine.  Or at least that's the way it used to be.

Although plenty of reputable firms troll the job boards for potential employees, the ease of automating replies means false hope for applicants who click "apply online," and in a new incarnation - recruiting spam.

Yes, recruiting spam.  Impersonal e-mails with poor spellings, little thought, and a fake camaraderie intended to lure the unsuspecting into spam e-mail lists and cattle call interviews.

I didn't expect much from the online resumes I posted - they clearly defined me as an independent consultant seeking project work, and the fields I listed are not your typical fare.  And yet I received three replies in under 24 hours that I would like to share with you.

Continue reading "Recruiter Spam" »


All Security is False Security.

Steve Levy, Mr. Outside the Box, hits one out of the park talking about the importance of freeing creativity from regulation.

But there are many signs that the critics are gathering strength. More regulations being imposed at state and federal levels, rising antibusiness litigation and hostility in the media, fueled by criminal trials and scandals, bode ill for growth. Left to themselves, the creative forces in society will always deliver, but keeping them reasonably free to do so is a perpetual, grinding battle. It is one that must never be lost.”

Steve is responding to an article at Tech Republic which has someone complaining about Information Technology.  I'll say what Steve only implied.

Austin316 is one of a growing crop of Americans ungrateful for opportunity and unmindful of their own potential.  Maybe the decision to leave the IT field is one that will benefit the consultant.  Maybe it's a wake-up call that workers should learn to stand up for themselves more often, or find companies that respect work/life balance.

I'm sure the millions of Americans without the opportunities of Austin316 would love his job - maybe they wouldn't find the work boring, but one thing's for sure.

There is no such thing as security in a job.  Never has been.  Never will be.  The sooner we learn this, the sooner we can start making personal choices that will provide for our personal security and that of our families.

 


St Louis Recruiting Blog Mentions

I wanted to take a look at the state of Blog Recruiting in St Louis.

We'll look through some of the blog search engines and see what we turn up:

Google:
Monster has some technology Q and A with comments from Karoline Hough, Assistant Branch Manager at Bradford & Galt.

Yahoo:
Same postings, but I found the resume of a Wash U grad looking for a job.  Contact Alan if you're interested.

Technorati:  Had nothing but my site.

Bloogz:  The Blog Search Engine had nothing remotely.

Searching for St Louis Staffing brought up a bunch of people who SEO'd their site, but it seems that bloggers haven't caught on in the Lou.

If you are a blogger, or a recruiter, and you want to talk about staffing issues, start a blog, or use this platform as a portal, send me a line.  If you want to know how to dominate the local market with online content, give me a call.


Setting up a Small Business

So you're ready to take that leap from the corporate world to that of the entrepreneur, eh?  This is a list of the things you have to do to start your own small business.  This is not a comprehensive list, and you can skip some steps, but if you're starting a company, this is a good place to start. Before you do, this is what you'll have to consider:

  1. Health Insurance: While COBRA has you covered when you leave, the problem is you pay the entire premium for your company, which with a spouse and kids and depending on your age, could add up to $2000 a month.  Basic health insurance for two healthy adults, one of childbearing years, will run you from $250-$500 a month depending on coverage, which goes up and down with deductibles, choice, and prior medical conditions.  You can buy individual insurance, but it's cheaper to buy it through your company and deduct it.   There's no waiting period if you do it this way, either.  Make sure you don't wait. You don't have to sign up for COBRA for sixty days or ninety days, but if you miss it, you are terminated, which means you have no medical coverage for sixty days.  That means you have to buy HIPAA insurance, which is so expensive you don't even want to know. 
  2. Dental Insurance:  Related to the above, but different.  Watch out for waiting periods that could affect major dental work, and whatever you do don't take that DMO.  Dentalplans.com is a place to start, or you can call your dentist and ask them what they prefer.  Less than $30 a month.
  3. Incorporation:  Are you going to be a sole proprietor, an LLC, or an S-corporation?  Or maybe an LLC taxed as an S-Corporation?  You can sign up online with the State (MO $105), or you can call a Tax advisor.   I suggest the latter.  Corporations have significant tax advantages, but a lot of risk.  At the same time, many companies, like my former employer, Kforce, require freelancers to be incororated to sign them up as an employee.
  4. Tax Advisor:  Just pick up the phone and call one.  Call several.  They are connected with a whole slew of services that will help you get started, and as a CPA, they can help you prepare your taxes.  The key is to speak to one before you start buying, selling, and collecting checks.  Often less than a $1000 a year for basic services.
  5. Payroll:  If you're going to get insurance through your company, you need a payroll service, and  Paychex and ADP are there to help out.  Simplify your checks and you'll save money when tax season comes around. ($42 a payoll period).
  6. Insurance:  Company Insurance.  Liability and Workman's Comp and sometimes other levels based on the contracts you are signing.  If you have an agent, it usually helps to add the policy to your car and home policy.
  7. Bank Account:  You don't have to have a separate bank account, but it sure helps when depositing checks and when you're audited.  Not to mention having an account with your bank lets you get a business credit card, small business loans, and a whole lot more.
  8. Car Insurance and Office Space:  Don't forget to carve out a section of your home for your office.  It helps to have an entire room, but talk with your tax advisor on the best way to write off interest and depreciation.  While you're at it, figure out if you want to buy a car and lease it to your corporation, or just write off mileage (Keep a running total).  If you're going to rent out an office, consider HQ Global Workspaces or one of the Executive Suites.  Pricey, but if you can't work from home or need the buzz of the office, these places really help.  $10,000 a year.
  9. Phone and Internet Services:  Cable Modem's and a Phone and a Fax may not be cheap, but they are full business expenses.  I suggest Vonage.  $24.99 a month unlimited calls to North America. 
  10. Lawyer:  You ought to put one on retainer - just to be safe.  Building a reputation with a lawyer is easy, but having someone read over contracts, send out letters, and protect you from making legal mistakes could save your company.  $1000-2000 retainer
  11. Hosting Service and e-mail:  If you have a company, you need a website.  if you're real small, just start a blog and save the money, but if you want a full website, pony up the $8,000 grand for an interactive web designer look for a hosting service ($10-20 a month).  With e-mail you can logon anywhere, and there are lots of free applications with a good service.  We use SuccessfulHosting.com $25 a quarter.
  12. Database or CRM:  There are a lot of options, from Access and Outlook to ACT!, Goldmine, and my selection, SugarCRM.  SugarCRM is opensource and a free download.  I had to clean the demo up, but it's an easy system with cross-functionality, clean, and easily upgraded.  Saved me that $200 it did, and it's part of my hosting service.

If you're dizzy by now, it's because there is a lot to do, and it costs a lot to get started.  But it is fun, and every decision is signed by El Presidente (that's you).  The excitement lasts long enough to get everything done.  Now all you need is clients who write you checks.

Good Luck, and contact me at jim@recruiting.com if you have questions.