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June 2007
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August 2007

Finally, Someone Kills Off Office Birthday Parties

Nothing is worse for office morale than an office birthday party.  Rounding you up from the work you're supposed to do, chipper people instruct us to gather around the breakroom for a special occasion, namely Bill's, Sally's, Caitlyn's birthday cake unveiling.

Ugh.  Unlike sundaes, coffee, and beer, birthday cake's mix of lard-based frosting and pure sugar puts you to sleep, or rather a coma, about fifteen minutes after ingesting two pieces of sugared birthday goodness.

But no more, corporate America.  No more torture.  No - it's not a ruling handed down by OSHA - it's the new insurance regulations. If you eat the birthday cake - your insurance premiums are going up.

That's right.  Unhealthy people, including those who smoke, are obese, or have high cholesterol, are no longer going to get a free ride on the backs of the Tofu-eaters.

While many employers have been using financial incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs, one company will begin charging employees more for their health insurance in 2009 if they allow health risks such as tobacco use, obesity or high cholesterol to go unchecked.

It's all part of the new rules - and you have to figure that if companies on private insurance are starting to pull these stunts, government is next.  Free healthcare, as long as you don't eat Twinkies.  Sounds like a campaign slogan for someone.

The company, Clarian Health in Indiana, is instituting a $5 per paycheck fine for people who fail to meet certain health standards.

The program will assess $5 per-paycheck fees on employees who do not meet minimum standards for body mass index, cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and nonuse of tobacco. Although it will not be fully implemented until 2009, the effort was announced this year to give employees plenty of warning, Wantz says.

Personally, I'd laugh at them, and stuff my face with oreos and pork fat.  But then again, I've always been a little bit of a rebel.

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Oh, And Thanks!

The following is a guest post from the College Recruiter Blogswap, by  Karen Burns, Working Girl.

Everybody says you should send a thank-you letter after an interview.  Everybody is right.

People seem to be getting it because according to the Wall St. Journal about 90 percent of applicants send thank yous.  Good news.

The bad news:  Only half of those personalize their letters.

Ugh.  People are sending form thank yous?  That's worse than no thank you at all!

While we're at it, here are some other ways people are shooting themselves in the thank-you foot:

  1. Mis-addressing the letter (thanking Wendy's for your interview with Burger King)
  2. Sending a thank you with spelling or grammar mistakes ("I appreciate you're time. . .")
  3. Relying on email (okay to email but follow up with a "real" letter)
  4. Not typing the thank you (you ain't writing Aunt Sadie--this is a business letter)
  5. Procrastinating (send thank yous within 24 hours)
  6. Sounding desperate ("I can't wait to hear from you!")
  7. Sounding fake ("I am writing to thank you for the interview" is stilted--be sincere, be yourself, be enthusiastic)
  8. Sounding canned (obviously, no form letters--use your thank you to repeat the highlights of your interview and to remind the employer of who you are, what your skills are, and why you would be great for this job).

Thank-you letters are as important as resumes or showing up for the interview on time.  Don't let yours ruin the good impression you're trying to make.

UpDated: Job Spam: NetRecruit, IBM And How Not To Solicit A Resume

Updated:  I received a phone call from Chris Forman, CEO of AIRS this morning.  We talked through what happened, and the results of that call are beneath the fold.

Original Post: I get a lot of job-related spam - with an e-mail address that's been all over the net, and with several blogs that focus on recruiting, it's only natural that companies looking to hire and software companies looking to solicit me would get me on spam lists.

But when they're really bad, you know I have to need to come out and write unkind things.  It's not in my nature, but it is for the greater good of the community.

Today, I received an email that purported to be from IBM.  The e-mail read:

Dear James:
We recently found your resume while searching resume job boards and believe you may be a match to a position we currently have open, specified by our requisition B037085 - Network/Application Performance Consultant.  If you are interested, please click here to apply on-line and review the job posting.
We look forward to hearing from you.

The address said

Now - I don't click on links from e-mail.  Too much chance of foul play.  So I hovered my mouse over the link marked here, and saw it went to a place called

Continue reading "UpDated: Job Spam: NetRecruit, IBM And How Not To Solicit A Resume" »

There Will Be No Complaining Today

Rob Hubert of Elite IT Services has been taking part in the Complaint Free World project.  What does that mean? It means he wears a purple band on his wrist and he can't complain for 21 days straight.

Sound easy?  It's not.  Every time you complain, you have to start over.  It's actually part of a church's message in Kansas City.  We signed up a couple of months ago, but the church has been overwhelmed since going on the morning talk shows to tell people about their project.

 Says Rob:

I thought to myself that this would be very easy because I don't complain. In fact, in the IT Leadership White Paper that I wrote, one of the leadership tips is Stop Complaining, Criticizing and Condemning. The tip is in reference to how IT Professionals deal with decisions that are out of their control. I have been wearing this bracelet everyday for four straight months and I am a long way from twenty-one consecutive days of no complaints. I have had streaks of five, five, six, eight and ten days without complaining.

In addition to being a good overall project to lower the level of global whining, it's nice to see someone actively bringing faith-based projects into the workplace. 

Compiling A List Of Recruiters

Using various and sundry methods, I've been compiling a list of local St Louis area recruiters for, well, I haven't thought through yet what I'm doing it for - but the first step will be contacting each one and letting them know is actually here for their reading pleasure.

The goal is to try to knit St Louis staffing together and serve as a connection point for all recruiters.  If you'd like to help, or have thoughts on the matter (like a website to promote or if you are a regular reader, but haven't left a comment before, please do so now and I'll add you to the list).


AdSaint Looking Out For Your Career

The AdSaint, St. Louis's big, bad, adverblogger, has been searching the job boards looking for the right opportunities in advertising and marketing.

What looks like a spiffy new site has been updated, with a new blogger added, and a swarm of advertising jobs from workstl, craiglist, and various specific agencies.  It's a noble effort, and I wonder where Walt's taking it - well, it seems he adding another writer, Maeve Connor, who has helpfully listed the advertising and marketing networking opportunities for St Louis.

It's a good niche to be in right now, and I'm sure that Walt and Maeve are building up to take job opportunities direct from clients. They haven't told me - but I can tell these things.  If they can keep up the posting, they might have a shot at it. 

Although I'd out a link to Brandstorming, the social media and marketing blog that combines with this one to be the best source of news on blogging in St Louis.

And btw - did I mention that we're looking for entry-level social media marketing types to place with clients?  Low pay, but great training - which leads to higher pay. 

Blogging As A Recruiting Tool

The following is a guest post from Mike Tiffany, who write at the St Louis IT Recruiters Idea Exchange.

Two Points:
1)   Recruiting today has really morphed into multiple positions:  Sourcer, relationship builder and maintainer.  Sourcing and maintenance have been greatly assisted by good Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
2)   In recruiting, it’s not who you know but who knows you (or can find you), in order to build a large pipeline of candidates.

I believe, a true recruiter’s strength needs to be as a relationship builder with candidates.  This is the skill that is your biggest asset and will be difficult to ship overseas.  This means a recruiter has to be approachable by candidates, and viewed as a subject matter expert in finding the best job for the job seeker.  Blogging fit this bill for me.  I’ve only been blogging for 3 months but have put real billable dollars to the bottom line for my company, Chameleon Integrated Services  in three ways.  Candidates will look up my blog when I send introduction emails, clients have been referred to me from the blog as someone knowing the industry, and other recruiters have contacted me to exchange best practices and splits.

In discussing my experiences and beliefs in recruiting, I am able to communicate how to treat candidates and be more productive as a recruiter.  I have been able to build credibility and trust before I am even approached by candidates and clients.  Last week, I had lunch with a potential client that later sent me an email and had remembered my name because she had read my blog before.

Friend and mentor Jim Durbin of Durbin Media Group has been a real help in getting me going and suggestions for improvement.  I have a bad habit of typing faster then the mind can keep up and my proofing skills have a lot of room for improvement. 

My suggestion for any recruiter thinking about starting a blog is just to close your eyes and jump. You will goof it up!  Don’t worry about it and learn from your mistakes.  Recruiting is going to change greatly in the next 3-5 years as the new era of Web 2.0 grows and your candidates will be there.  If you don’t, I’d be glad to discuss my jobs with your candidates!

Is Being Illiterate A Disability?

Illiteracy is no laughing matter, but a recent lawsuit by a grounds crew supervisor at Normandy schools provides another striking example of how well-intentioned laws are often expanded to wreak havoc in our employment system.

The plaintiff, Tommie Robinson, 55, is claiming that his inability to read is a disability covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Now, the truth is it's his lawyer who is making this claim, as clearly Tommie wouldn't be able to read the Americans With Disabilities Act if he is truly illiterate.

Is this a case of a clever lawyer trying to make a buck, and even if justified, is the ADA really the proper tool to use to remedy the problem of someone not being able to read?  By the way - here's his lawyer.

The suit was filed on his behalf by attorney Chris Chostner with the St. Louis firm of Schuchat, Cook & Werner. Chostner also declined to comment.

A Justice department spokesman says the case may have merit, but cites a case where dyslexia is ruled a disability, not illiteracy.

Cynthia J. Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said claims such as Robinson's were rare but not unheard of.

"Literacy could be considered an impairment and potentially could be covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act," she said. She cited a 1999 case in which an appeals court ruled in favor of a person with dyslexia who was seeking testing accommodations for the New York bar exam.

Here's the rub.  Robinson is at a disadvantage, and is undoubtedly frustrated, perhaps even embarrassed by his inability to read.  At the age of 55, it is a difficult thing to pick up, especially when you spent the last 50 years denying your need to be able to read.

I feel for the man, but I'm disgusted that he feels he has the right to sue us (the taxpayer) for his failure to adapt.   Life is not a bowl of cherries, and we all have a responsibility to fit in - even when it's hard.  If Tommie Robinson doesn't want to participate in his responsibilities of modern individual, he shouldn't get the rewards.

I hope he loses his lawsuit, and instead looks deep inside himself and finds the courage to tackle the adult literacy courses the Normandy schools have offered to pay for.  Good luck, Tommie.