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July 2006

The Employment System we Deserve?

Found another job site in St Louis, Job News St Louis.  It looks like a template of several other job sites, which isn't a bad strategy, and they seem to have lots of company logos.

I'm not into job boards, even though I know there are tens of thousands of them and companies use them very successfully.  To me, job boards commoditize labor, teach us to follow the rules, and because of the way they are sold, companies don't have to put a lot of effort into changing their conduct.

That didn't come out right.   I don't mind job boards, I in fact like niche boards.  My problem is that companies, because they pay for job postings, tend to start thinking that their fee for posting is really all they have to do to be successful.

Forget writing job descriptions that pop, forget connecting to candidates, forget selective sorting.  The name of the game is numbers. Bring in more numbers, filter out what you can, and you'll eventually find what you want.

Maybe it''s my streak of individualism, and maybe it's my male ego telling me I should be ashamed I couldn't get jobs without the boards (I did 2 out of 3 recruitnig positions from Monster), but I just don't like them on the macro level.  Too many resumes mean too little time to approach them correctly.  Too little time to train the populace to do a meaningful job-hunt.

Job Boards are a necessary part of the today's employment process.  There's nothing inherently wrong with them, but our increased reliance on them tells me more about our approach to hiring than about any features of the board.  I guess we get the employment system we deserve.

New Blog Design Coming/Self-Promotion Ahead

Paul, The Minnesota Headhunter is going through some branding and blog design changes.

He has been gracious enough to select the Durbin Media Group to make those changes for him, and we're working with him to make it clear, crisp, and most important, drive traffic and business his way.

We're excited for several reasons - first because we like Paul and really think he's a great example of a Third Party Recruiting Blogger, but also because this is the first of a series of projects that is launching - about half that are in the online employment space.

As many of you know,  I left my job with a Technical Staffing firm to join my wife's interactive marketing firm, and the first five months have been about laying a foundation and clearing off design, development, and copywriting projects.

We're now working with recruiters, authors, corporations, retail companies on building business blogs.  If you're curious about blog design, or better yet, the full scale of online marketing we offer, shoot on over to Durbin Media and take a look around.

We offer Blog consulting, blog marketing, and blog training for recruiters, but we offer marketing opportunities for other companies, especially small businesses in St Louis.  Incidentally, this blog is homemade, but the Brandstorming blog is custom designed.  See if you can guess what blogging platform we use.

-Jim Durbin

How To Find St Louis Blogs

In a Google-centric world, most of us have a tendency to stay with Google in our search engine results.  That can be effective for single answers, but when you're doing a comprehensive search, you better use all of the tools around you.

One of the intiaitives I'm pursuing is collecting all of the useful web resources for St Louis, my local metro area.  This includes useful websites, bloggers, company blogs, and interactive media companies.

The goal is to help promote the online community, which can only help both bloggers and recruiters.   Previous posts on the a list of useful St Louis Blogs and a second post for new  STL blogs are in these links.  Eventually, I'll organize them into categories and maybe provide RSS feed updates for those categories.

This is all part of a larger plan to build a St Louis Business Blog Network, where the members promote each other, but business blogging in general.

Ideal candidates are recruiters, retail stores, independent salespeople (real estate, mortgage), professional services (insurance, legal), car dealers, and corporate customers who provide valid content.   With that said, here are more St Louis blogs:

  AOL Search.

Explore St Louis  Travel Portal for Stl
STL Photobloggers - Connecting Indians Worldwide (St Louis Branch)
Travel Blogs - St Louis
Sheila Lennon - KMOV BLOG  (Interesting, but membership is required to read?  Someone's getting an e-mail).
WaltNow - Complete with a picture of WaltThen.

Yahoo Search: 

St Louis Photo Blogs - a different site than the one above.

St Louis Real Estate Blogs - Bet you didn't even know these existed. 

St Louis Cycling Blogs

Mayor of St Louis - his blog

St Louis Oracle User's Group - I said resources, too.

St Louis .Net User Group

You'll have to wait for the MSN, Sphere, and ePrecis searches....Send me anyone I missed or leave a comment.  Just for clarification, I avoid NotSafeForWork blogs and won't put everyone on this list. You have to have filters somewhere...

St Louis Interview with Steven Kelly of Message Buzz

The following is an interview with Steven Kelly, the president of MessageBuzz, a mobile messaging company based in St Louis.  If you are a St Louis based technology company or a St Louis company that blogs, e-mail for an e-mail interview.

1).  What exactly is MessageBuzz.  Give it to me in 10 words or less. 

Mobile Marketing for small-to-medium businesses

Now tell us in a 30 second elevator pitch, is a mobile marketing service that enables organizations access to text messaging capabilities.  Through our web based software and connectivity to all the major U.S. carriers, we are providing a large (business) structure at a small (business) expense.

2) What categories of clients do you work with?   

Media groups, conference organizers, churches in particular mega-churches, retailers, golf courses -  any business owner needing to communicate with a group people be they staff, customers or suppliers. Our service is especially attractive for clients whose target demographic is youth ages 13-27.

3) I’ve gotten text messages before from companies – normally I ignore them and get angry that they are spamming my phone without my permission.  What do you do to avoid that kind of reaction from consumers?

There are two parties spamming mobile phones: the carriers themselves and those that are sending Short Message System (SMS) over SMTP (email).  Our FAQ guide that you can download from our website, explains the difference between SMS and SMTP.  Carriers are doing their utmost to close the SMTP hole but they are 18-24 months away from their stated intention.

To eliminate spam, our application ensures our clients adhere to the strict standards of the Mobile Marketing Association.  It is in our best interest to eliminate it because if we get to where email is today, the industry is dead.  All mobile marketing is permission based, meaning there is a clear opt-in and multiple “easy” ways to opt-out. 

Continue reading "St Louis Interview with Steven Kelly of Message Buzz" »

FeedReader numbers

Wow.  57 people signed up for Feedburner feed.  I figured this side of the recruiting blogosphere was very shallow, focusing on St Louis as it does.

I do have more recruiting material to post in the next few months, including some cross-posting with and some St Louis specific recruiting news that can be applied to other markets.

I just wanted to say thank you for subscribing.  I'll do my best not to disappoint you. 

RSS Feed Change: New and Improved

One of the problems with running your own company is you spend your time working  on the websites and blogs of clients instead of your own.

I was reading the Minnesota Headhunter in my feedreader and realized I still had not put feedburner on this site or Brandstorming.

It's done now - if you have already subscribed, you might need to make a change.  Sorry for the confusion.  Actually, I should have made the announcement prior to making the change.

Hey, nothing like a fresh start!

Software Plus now into Staffing

An interesting development - a local technology company, known for selling software and with revenues of $245 million is now venturing into staffing. 

Software Plus, profiled by Rachel Melcher in the St Louis Post Dispatch.

The company, based in Olivette, is morphing into an information technology general contractor. It wants to be a "trusted adviser" to clients, doing more than just issuing software licenses to corporations for a variety of products, said owner and Chief Executive Patty

Software Plus purchased Lexiter, which is the technology contractor that is offering consulting.

So Software Plus, which had approximately $245 million in 2005 sales and a work force of about 135 people, is working more closely with sister company Lexiter Technologies, a full-service IT consulting firm located next door.

What does this mean for staffing in St Louis?  Not a lot.  Software Plus is a Microsoft Software Reseller with clients in 13 states.  More important, the type of work they are contracting for isn't where more traditional staffing firms are making their money these days.

The days of help desk, desktop support, and even server support as a major portion of staffing revenue is over.  The margins are just too thin for the big boys to compete.  At the same time, the large pool of techs with A+ and MCSE certfications continues to depress wages for non-software entry-level IT workers.

Still, it's interesting that more and more companies are adding a staffing component to their consulting services.  Long-term, will bundled staffing with technology become the hybrid consulting firm of the future? 

In the meantime, I wonder who is using Lexiter for staffing?

Elite IT Coaching Services

Elite IT is a third party staffing firm in St Louis.  I interviewed with them a couple of years ago and was impressed with their take on how to find and place consultants.

They have a new service for IT consultants - career coaching.  I think it's a great step towards building a talent pool for Elite's clients, at the same time that it brings real value to the consultants.  Execution is of course not the same thing as creating an idea, but it will be interesting to watch.

Here is some of what they promise on the Elite IT website.

Are you satisfied with your IT career? Are you content with your current salary? Do you want more responsibility? Does your current position offer you opportunities to grow and advance? Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated? Are you looking for a way to exponentially increase your value? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the Personal Coaching Program for IT Professionals has been designed specifically for you.

They provide an actual phone number.  That's a good sign.

Check it out.

(I have not used these services and have not been paid for this endorsement)

How to Talk about your Blog Traffic

I'm about to say something not very nice.  It's not intended to offend, but so many people make this mistake when talking about their blogs (or websites), that I have to correct it.

Here goes:

When discussing your traffic, if you tell me the number of page views or hits that you receive each month, then I know that you have no clue what you're talking about, and some smooth-talking hosting company has tricked you.

Page Views:
I'm tired of hearing page view numbers/month when I ask about traffic.  Just for the record, I automatically divide your number by 2.2 to get a more accurate number, and if you have sitemeter on your comments page and an active commenter community, I'll cut that number even further.

A page view is the number of pages opened on your blog.  It is a highly variable number, based on how you archive, how you use comment pages, and whether or not you have extended entries.  It's not a good measure to determine your blog traffic.

I remember talking to a hosting service who bragged about 1,000,000 hits a month on their server.  When I asked if that included crawls, he cut the number in half, and even that was a wild exaggeration.  A hit is not a visitor.  The search engines have built spiders, crawlers, and bots that go out to the web and determine when content is updated.  What that means is that automated processes bring a lot of server traffic.  It is absolutely a worthless number in determining your web traffic.  It is an inflated number that is designed to impress people.  It means nothing.  Stop using it.

Okay, now we are getting somewhere.  Unique visitors are individual IP addresses that log on to your website.  The best counters track uniques and only count them once in a period of time (if someone obsessively clicks to your site, they are counted only once.  New pages opening are not counted (when the counter is set right), and you can discount your own clicks on your blog.

But here's the problem - all stat  counters are not equal.  There has been a lot of debate about the issue of accuracy, so the best thing to do is pick one counter, and track your progress over time.  Don't get too caught up in the numbers, but the general rise and fall is accurate.

RSS Feeds:
Do yourself a favor and use Feedburner to count your stats.  RSS feeds cut heavily into traffic, as they technically aren't coming to your page.  At the same time, RSS feed subscribers don't necessarily actually read your blog, so there's some off numbers there.  RSS readers also don't give you false positives when someone checks your site to see if you've updated.

Alexa doesn't track Firefox or Safari.  There has been a lot said about Alexa's accuracy in general, as they only measure people who use the Alexa Toolbar, a small and biased sample.  Alexa is very good for tracking general progress.  A move up the Alexa ranks is a good sign, but the numbers are if anything, undercounted.  And if you don't have several million impressions to work with, Alexa themselves warns you not to take them seriously.

Some other people weigh inStats descriptionAccuracy of Alexa

If you're a small blogger, and you check your stats obsessively b