The New Division of Labor

On my desk: The New Division of Labor: How Computers are Creating the Next Job Market.   by Frank Levy and Richard J Murnane.

Thoughtfully sent over from the Princeton University Press, I'll read and review the book whose premise is that jobs lost in recession never come back, but are replaced by new jobs and new paradigms of working.

Considering my wife and I run a business out of our home based on easy access to computers that quite literally could not have existed ten years ago, this is a timely addition to the Durbin library. 

And once we catalogue the independent recruiters in St Louis who run their businesses in a similar manner with a phone and a computer  - well, you see the connection.

The Why of Contract Staffing

An ongoing Review of Guns, HIred Guns and Warm Bodies

Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies provides a lot of information on the what of the staffing agency.  Barley and Kunda do a great job providing objective descriptions of the players in employment, but the "why" can't really be described in a study. 

They do however, provide information for us to analyze:

From p.113

"I get literally, two or three calls a day from these contracting shops.  'This is Joe at Pyramid Consulting and we're just calling to see if you have needs.'  Some of these guys call me once a week. It's the same person every week. No matter how many times I say no, no matter how many times I don't return calls, they jut call over and over and over.  It's brute force.  I get hundreds of these little companies calling me."  Most managers found cold calls from agents to be disruptive, unpleasant and time consuming.  Shirely Daner was clear on this point.  " I hate them," she told us.  "They're like use car salespeople, except they're selling people instead of cars."

The chapter then goes on to explain that this process, as distasteful as a hiring manager may say they find it, is often the way they hired.  It worked for the agencies, the contractors and the companies.  It worked, and thus is continues.  .

This the essential dilemma in staffing relationships.  Agencies are reacting to the employment needs of the hiring manager in the only manner that works.  If their internal departments, or some other kind of consulting salesmanship worked to place contractors and help these businesses, it would be used.

For the vast majority of hiring managers, taking calls is part of the job.  And when they are in a rush - when they actually need that talent quickly - they're grateful that there was someone there who calls every week at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday to ask if he or she has needs.

This brutal pace is also what leads to such high turnover.  Most people don't take rejection well - and account managers in staffing are no exception.  Managers often tell you that they want personal relationships and that they will call you when they have needs.  They do call, but only after you've established a relationship.  Without cold-calling, how are you going to form that relationship?

The summary of the chapter describes the problem hiring managers faced.  They (and the contractors) believed the best source of hiring was their personal network, but the quality of the network never matched the quantity of the need.  The staffing firms understood the sales and marketing aspects, but their quality was often suspect overall (not for a specific job order or candidate). 

Staffing agencies fill an information void on available contractors, which is why they exist, and why they get paid.  A pretty simple explanation, but one we forget when that phone rings.

Guns, Gurus and Warm Bodies

I'll be reviewing Guns, Gurus, and Warm Bodies this weekend between football games and blogwriting.

Stephen Barley and Gideon Kunda have launched a book and the publisher forwarded me a review copy.

My initial thoughts are the book is thick with wonky goodnes, and the stories I've flipped  through are compelling.

You can get an excerpt on negotiation, social networks, tax status and the philosophical difference of billable and non-billable by flipping open just about every page.  Coming soon...

Book Reviews

Hey - I managed to do some site upgrades - and now the books of the authors who have been so kind to send in advance copies of their books to review are shown over on the right.

Laurence Haughton, C.M. Russell, and David Perry were all kind enough to send in their books and get some feedback. I wish all three success, as I enjoyed reading their texts, and will continue putting out posts that incorporate some of their strategies.

Click on their books to buy if you would like - or send me a note if you'd like further information.
I do get paid a small referral fee if you click through on the Amazon ad to the right.

Book Review

C.M. Russell was kind enough to send me his book Ultimate JobHunting Secrets for review.

I received a slim volume in the mail, complete with a refrigerator magnet and two business cards, and started reading through to see what Mr. Russell considered Ultimate Secrets.

The book is split up into eight chapters, with pie graphs, chartss and those little boxes that promote Job Seeker Secrets.   Russell has put together, well he's put together an action plan for getting a job that has something that every other job-hunting secrets book misses.  He speaks to the candidate as if they have never looked for a job before.

Continue reading "Book Review" »

Shakespeare Recruiter

In the mail:  Jim Stroud's Digability - The Art of Shakespeare Recruiting.  I'm looking forward to reviewing this thoughts on competitive advantage for recruiters, and his background in sourcing, internet search, and recruiting is excellent.

While we wait for his second series to arrive, allow me to entertain you with poetry.

In truth, our monies are entwined,

Your presence on the web shows proof

To search the internet gold mine.

in efforts to secure a roof

A resume in pixel form

for job descriptions locked in rust

to click submit is now the norm

just piles of paper locked in dust

The long tail search is not yet known

tis wrapped in google mystery

with few there are who seek renown

to make recruiting history

As job boards fall into decay

We live to search another day.

Bet you didn't think I had it in me.  We are finish-ed.   

Laurence Haughton: Book Review

"Your book is subversive"

"What do you mean?"

"Your book. I can't recommend it to people. It will cause them to get fired. I read it, and all I could think about was calling up my CEO and telling him how to run his business"

That was the beginning of a conversation I had with Laurence Haughton, the author of It's Not What You Say, It's What You:How Following Through At Every Level Can Make Or Break Your Company. Aside from an ability to write catchy titles, Laurence is a subversive that delves into the guts of a corporation and comes out with some startling information - corporations are big on image and terrible in follow-through.

That's why the book is likely to lead to awkward Christmas parties where peons like me corner the CEO with a copy of the book in hand and a martini in the other.

Some facts.

A third of all software projects fail. It's a terrible number, but development is complex. 33% Failure is pretty good compared to the failure rate of the Major Company Initiative, where a whopping one-half end up failing. Why is it so tough to push through effective change in an organization? Laurence tells us. It's because we're big on plans, and not so good on details.

Archaeologists who sift through the remains of teh 20th century would see the problem immediately. Every major corporation has the debris left from past campaigns hanging from their walls. Contests, marketing slogans, Ethics manuals, and banners about quality litter the walls and storage closets of corporate America, and yet each year, some big new project is announced to huge fanfare, trumpeted in press releases, and quickly forgotten among the excrutiating minutiae of everyday life.

This book has some answers. From speaking with Laurence and reading his book, I can tell you several things. One, the book was a learning experience to write, and the conclusions that are reached and not what was expected at the beginning of the project. Two, Mr. Haughton is a devilishly clever writer who peppers his book with examples, fables, stories, jokes, and historical trivia that make it fun to read even if you need the dictionary, the Reader's Digest, and a laptop opened to a Google Browser nearby to fully appreciate his writing. Three, this book is not meant to be blazed through at a Borders and tossed aside for a paperback romance.

Business Books bore. Most authors tell their story in the first three chapters, and then spend the rest of the book justifying the $25.00 you spent on the hardcover. Some of those books have great themes, but are very thin on advice. Others are great on anecdotes and worksheets, but fail to convince you that they apply to your company.

It's Not What You Do, It's What You Say is different than most Business Books because isn't a quick read. I spent four hours reading 220 some odd pages. I read at a normal pace of over 100 pages an hour, and tend to speed through bad books at about 200 pages an hour, seeking to extract some nuggets of information and call it a day.

Laurence's book made me stop, and think, and write.

Continue reading "Laurence Haughton: Book Review" »

Bad News Bears and Blogging

Please forgive the look of the place - we're working on style sheet changes

I read Hugh Hewitt's book on blogs. It was well written for those who don't understand blogs, but nothing new to someone familiar with blogs. His facts were straight on and his chapter on blogging recommendations is a must read.

What Hugh did exceptionally well was explain what was why blogs are important, citing Pope Leo and the Reformation. Blogs are the new Gutenberg printing press. That's a tough sell in person.

I've had a terrible time trying to explain blogs to friends, family and clients over the last four years.
The responses I've received are:
1) Everything you read on the Internet is untrustworthy
2) No one who works has time to blog
4) Teenagers and cat-bloggers are a waste of time.
5) There's no accountability.
6) It's like Usenet or Yahoo groups
7) It's a fad.

What's tough about these responses is they are accurate for large portions of the blogosphere. Considering the number of blogs started and stopped, and the average age of bloggers hovering around 15, and the number of people how either "have" a blog, or "know a person with a blog," it's little wonder that such disparaging remarks are the normal response.

Then again - perhaps blogger triumphalism is a victim of it's own success. If I tell you blogs brought down Dan Rather, and the only blog you've ever read is your 13 year old daughter's, you're going to be skeptical. Of course if I told you the television is the number one way that people get their news and all you have is the Public Access channel or daytime soaps, you might be skeptical about television. If I told you newspaper reporters brought down a President, and the only paper read was the back pages of the Riverfront Times, you might be skeptical.

So let's compare apples to apples. Blogs are little league baseball, and the Mainstream Media is professional baseball.

So - blogs are Little League baseball, complete with screaming parents, crying kids, ice cream, warm sodas after the game, and marketing campaigns that sell chocolate to raise funds.

Mainstream Media is Professional Baseball, with lucrative television contracts, revenue-sharing, stadiums, and the world's best athletes. There's no contest right?

Little Leaguers dream of the big leagues - the fame, the fortune, the respect. They know the big leagues require more effort, more training and they deliver a better product. They know they have to work their way up through high school ball, the minors, and finally to the majors. That's the same as the blogs. Leaching off hyperlinks and commenting on the bigs like Maureen Dowd and George Will and Thomas Sowell, blogs started off as the Little Leagues - and some started out as teeball, or quit after one game.

But some had real talent, and a heck of a learning curve. And the fans of Little League prefer the pureness, the authenticity if you will of the sport over the overhyped professionalism of the big leagues.

Before Trent Lott and Howell Raines figured it out, the blogs had exposed them and started to realize their potential. When Dan Rather happened along, we suddenly had the blogosphere vs the Mainstream Media.

Dan Rather's Memogate was the New York Yankees vs the Bad News Bears. And the most amazing thing happened.

The Bad New Bears got base hits. They struck out Derek Jeter. They scored a couple of runs - and they won the game. And they started crowing about it.

The MSM and it's fans struck back, belittling blogs and their supporters like Yankees fans deriding a Little League Team. Yes, it's true the Yankees of the Media dominate for the rest of the season. But what does it say about the Yankees that blogs could get base hits and score runs, much less win the game? It means that either the blogs have more talent than expected, or the MSM has a lot less than it thought.

If there was a Little League team that could score on the Yankees, it wouldn't mean that all Little Leaguers could. It sure would mean that those Little Leaguers had a lot of talent.

And one more thing. Little Leaguers eventually grow up. What's going to happen when they play those same MSM Yankees in twenty years?

Continue reading "Bad News Bears and Blogging" »