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October 2008
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Background Checks Vendor: Guardian Testing

I use Joe from Guardian Testing for my background checks. He was recommended to me on Twitter, and he's exactly what you need if you're doing checks on your candidates or employees.  This is an unpaid endorsement.

1) Joe, can you tell me a little bit about your company and what you do? No marketing speak is allowed for this question.

Guardian Testing Services is a full service drug testing and background check company specializing in pre-employment screening of candidates in both regulated and non regulated industries.  


2) Background checks used to take me a week and cost $100 ?  Is that still the case?  And does it matter based on how many counties they lived in?

Generally, background check results will be available within 24-48 hours unless there are charges that are uncovered which were not disclosed during the application process requiring verification for accuracy.  The cost can range anywhere from $19 - $150 based on the level of checks required, but 90% of the searches we conduct for our clients range between $49 -$69.

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Is Obama Victory Good For Temporary Staffing?

Way back in the olden days, around 2000, it was clear that a recession was coming when temporary staffing stalled.  In those days, temp staffing was like a canary in a coal mine.  Companies used us as a way to get projects done, and a drop in staffing was a drop in new projects.

Today, the decrease in temp staffing is something a bit more alarming.  In the last 8 years, many companies started using contractors as way to replace permanent staffing and bypass onerous regulations.  Managers got that laying off contractors was a lot easier than laying off employees, and as contractor rates dropped to match employee salaries, the value of being a contractor turned into a less desirable position for candidates, but sometimes the only way to get steady employment.

It varies by city and region, and your corporate lawyer, but there's little doubt that staffing is going through a rough patch, especially in terms of the larger publicly traded firms.

Gregg Dourgarian looks at the recent election results, and says good news is on the way for the staffing industry with the election of Obama. The likely passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as card check, will electrify the working environment.  Basically the EFCA takes away the ability of companies to union bust, and puts it to a simple majority collection of signatures to unionize a business.

There are a lot of questions you should be raising about taking away a secret ballot from workers and forcing companies and union workers into collective bargaining positions, and I've made them clear on other blogs, but I wanted to take a look at Gregg's thesis.

A draconian expansion of FMLA, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and strengthened NLRB will be just the start.  Soon it will be easier to hire a $10/hr banker than it will be to fire someone.  All this will drive employers to creative solutions like outsourcing employment. 

Look at France as an example of what's to come - black market employment, little or no 'permanent' hiring, and employment contracts of undetermined length.  Agencies that can get their sales teams to sell solutions that mitigate big-brother employment law will do well.

Basically, Gregg is saying that increased regulation and risk of permanent employment will drive companies to turn to contractors, which means more temp staffing revenue.

I agree.  The expense of having an employee instead of a contractor has been leading us this way for some time.  Contractors qualify for medical benefits, and though they pay more than regular employees and have less stability, the tightening economy means a lot of people have less recourse.

I'm not sure this is such a good thing for temp firms.  More employees brings in more revenue, but margins will be cut. If contractors are essentially payrolled, the value of using a temp staffing lies in the 15-20% markup instead of the 50-60% markup enjoyed by most firms.  Add healthcare costs into that, and all you've done is shift the problems onto the staffing firms, who have the least amount of negotiating power when they're at their biggest.

I'm with Gregg.  I see a short-term benefit as companies seek to avoid the hassles of hiring full time employees by turning to their staffing partners. The headaches of doing so, and the blatant attempt to shift risk to the staffing industry, I think will backfire.  Expect new regulations of contractors and freelancers to impact us heavily in 2010.


GIMA Event: Audience Targeting

GIMA always has the best networking events in St. Louis. Relevant panels, good location, and a good mix of people from outside St Louis.

They're covering audience targeting, and we're hearing more about online/offline integration- which is both scary and great.

It appears that results really can be tracked, as evidenced by a story about determinig how many rolls of paper towels were sold from a campaign.

Not much on Web 2.0, despite a dead on question from Brian Cross about tracking social media. They're still focused on email marketing and other ways to message based on cookies and IPs.

The Motrin moment makes an appearance - the question is whether they targeted the audience. The panel blames the focus group. Follow morenon http://Twitter.com/smheadhunter or hashtag #gima


Resume Advice: Unpaid Work On Your Resume

Blue Sky Resumes has a thought-provoking post out about unpaid experience when preparing your resume.  Louise is a professional resume writer, and you should take what she says as holy writ:

Too often, people feel that unpaid experience doesn't belong on a resume but this is completely wrong and also self-defeating. Why does it matter whether or not you were paid to do something? Do you learn more when you're being paid? Is the experience any less valuable when you work for free?

No, unpaid experience belongs on your resume as long as it relates to what you want to do next. There are different ways to do this. You can list these experiences as 'freelance event planner' or even 'volunteer event planner.'  Then show the dates just as you would with a normal position, describe the work (you can say that it was unpaid if this makes you feel more comfortable) and highlight a couple of key accomplishments.

I would wholeheartedly agree.  Relevant experience, even if it's unpaid, is definitely important to list on your resume.  Louise and her questioner were focused more on volunteer work, but there's a second part of the story you should focus on, especially in today's economy.

What unpaid work are you doing that will lead you to a better job?  In olden days, or at least in the myths of the olden days, young go-getters joined squash clubs and smoking clubs and crashed charity events to rub elbows with the wealthy and successful in order to curry their favor.  Caddying at country clubs, working as a parking valet for private parties and serving as a waiter in nice restaurants is the stuff of legends, but it actually works.  It's how I got my start years ago.

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Obama Adminstration Hiring Process

Wow. I just found a version of the 9 page, 63 question interview form to work in the Obama adminstration.  Assuming this is not some kind of cruel hoax, this could be the worse hiring decision I've ever seen.

Questions range from listing every resume you've used in the last ten years to names and phone numbers of cohabitants you've lived with in the last 10 years.  Then they get personal, like asking information on your spouse, loans, money, real estate, investments, facebook pages, diaries, emails and Facebook pages. 

It's understandable why the incoming administration would ask people questions.  During the Clinton years, several nominees for Cabinet positions were found to have domestic help that weren't legal, or shady backgrounds, and the Obama adminstration is trying to hire people that won't serve as a distraction.

But this, this monstrosity, is not the way to go about it. Check out the pdf of what it takes to get hired (pdf link).  If this were a corporation, a good half of the questions would be illegal.

Example:  61) Have you had any association with any person, group or business venture that could be used -even unfailry - to impugn or attack your character and qualifications for government service?

Um -like Abercrombie and Fitch, Monsanto, KFC, ACORN, or working for another politician who can be considered too extreme?  What if you worked as a mail clerk in Ted Stevens office.  Would that disqualify you? The problem with questions like these is the answer is, it depends on how honest my accusers would be. 

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Success Is A State Of Mind

Plaza Motors, a luxury car dealer in Creve Coeur, had a new commercial out urging St Louisans to believe in their own success.

It's a call to Americans to remember that the economy is powered by our work and our dollars, not the stimulus checks from politicians terrified of losing their jobs.

The economic news is misleading, and it affects you to the extent that you allow it to.  Hard times are good times, because they remind you that life wasn't supposed to be fair, and if you're going to make it, it's going to be because you worked hard enough, were smart enough, and fought through tough times.

And Plaza has a MySpace page where they post their jobs.