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Rachel Kaufman

Wolfram Alpha Updates Facebook Analytics, Could Be Useful Or Something

So Wolfram Alpha, the bizarre search engine that lets you find out things like the nutritional values of 10 peanut M&Ms or what a 30-sided polyhedron looks like has a Facebook Report. It connects to your account through an app and gives you information on your most popular statuses, when you post the most, and where your friends live.

The tool also shows a graph of your friends and how they are connected to you and to each other. As HR guy Steve Boese says that this isn’t just a cool tool.

It also provides a bit of a starting point for analyses of internal networks. Wouldn’t you like this level of detail, depth, and presentation of information for your LinkedIn connections, or better still, the actual people you work with, sell to, or attempt to influence in some manner? Networks are better when we actually understand them, I think.

The most useful aspect for job seekers may be how the report sorts your friends into “social insiders,” “social connectors,” “social gateways” and more — basically the service is telling you who you know who knows a lot of people you don’t! We can think of about a million ways that could be useful.

To get your own report go here.

Employee Outsources His Job to China

In the “don’t do this” category:

A software developer in the U.S. apparently outsourced his six-figure job to China so he could spend all day reading Reddit and watching cat videos, the BBC reports.

The developer was working with secure files on a company VPN. No problem; he Fedexed his RSA (security) token to the Shenyang-based consulting firm, whom he paid $50,000 a year to do his job for him.

The security breach was discovered by Verizon after the unnamed infrastructure company asked Verizon to check out some “anomalous activity.”

The open connection from Shenyang to the employee’s workstation had been open for several months.

This enterprising employee may even have been “working” at more than one job, earning several hundred thousand dollars a year to do nothing, the BBC notes.

Hilarious, but not smart.

Wannabe Work-From-Home-Parents Would Take a Pay Cut to Do It

pajamas freelancer wine

Employers, if you’ve been leery of letting your employees telecommute, here’s some data that may make you take another look: of parents who don’t work from home but would like to, more than nine in 10 would be willing to take a pay cut for the privilege, according to a new survey from FlexJobs.

Not all of them even need to work — 9 percent said they’re working because they want to, not because the job is a financial necessity.

Working parents also said that a part-time job, about 20-29 hours a week, would be perfect.

The parents surveyed also said that when it came time to look for their next job, the most important factor (89%) would be flexibility. So employers, should you not honor these educated, talented workers’ requests for flexibility, they may just go somewhere else. Or home to baby.

McClatchy Consolidated Copy Desk Could Be Up By Year-End

Ok, so it was announced a year ago, but details about the centralized copy desk that McClatchy is setting up at the Sacramento Bee are finally emerging.

A bargaining update from the Bee Guild says that McClatchy will begin assembling the center mid-year and hopes to be up and running by the end of 2013.

The new center may handle more than just McClatchy’s California papers, the Guild reports. “The new copy center is being conceived to handle additional products beyond the Sacramento and Modesto Bee newspapers. This could include contract work for third-party publications (outside McClatchy) as well as other McClatchy papers.”

The Guild also discussed a company proposal to cut the hours of an unlimited number of full-time staffers, and the company’s policies on part-timers freelancing for other publications. “The company said this allows more ‘flexibility’ to manage cost cutting by being able to save some money short of laying people off,” the Guild wrote.

The Weirdest Interview Questions Last Year

jobseeker suit interview ceo
flickr: rogerimp

Everyone knows that some companies are famous for asking weird interview questions–Google, for one. But Google’s not the only guilty party. compiled some of the strangest questions submitted to their site by job candidates in 2012 to pick the 25 most oddball. At Forrester Research, for example, a candidate was purportedly asked, “If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?” (Florida, no question. Sorry Floridians.)

We also asked Glassdoor to find some of the most oddball interview questions at media companies. Seems that we journalists, flacks, and ad folks aren’t all that weird, because they were only able to come up with two (well, three, but one wasn’t that oddball at all).

However, at Ogilvy & Mather, a prospective account manager was asked: “Will you sell a product that kills someone?” And at Edelman, a senior account executive was asked, “How often do you wash your car?”

That last one’s fairly weird. Weirder, maybe, than even a sample interview question at Clark Construction Group, which according to the Glassdoor release, was:

“A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?”

This trend of “gimmick” interview questions really needs to stop, in our opinion. Some of them tell you something useful about the candidate, like how s/he thinks, but most are just designed to catch the candidate off guard and don’t give any useful information about how he or she would perform on the job. Here’s more info about that from TLNT.

FierceMarkets Acquires Retail-Focused Digital Pub

B-to-b digital publisher FierceMarkets has acquired StorefrontBackTalk, Folio: reports, which has resulted in the creation of a new “retail media group” within FierceMarkets.

FierceMarkets typically builds, rather than acquires, Folio: says, but quoted president Maurice Bakley as saying the purchase gives the brand a quicker entry into the market–a market into which Fierce plans to expand further, Bakley said.

“We look forward to building out a strong offering of media properties to serve this dynamic industry,” he said in a statement.

StorefrontBackTalk founder Evan Schuman and the rest of the editorial team will transition to FierceMarkets.

FierceMarkets operates digital publications in seven industry-focused verticals, like energy, healthcare, and telecommunications. It’s a division of Questex.

Year-End Tips For Freelancers

It’s almost 2013, and since the world hasn’t ended, if you freelance, you’d best consider how to close out the year in the best way possible. Here are a few tips culled from the Web:

  • If you’ve had a good year, buy some stuff you need. If you make the business purchase on your credit card before the year’s up, it counts as an expense for 2012, even if you don’t pay the bill until the next year, says attorney Julian Block. (Exception: store credit cards. Seriously.)
  • Again, if your year was great and you expect next year to be slower, hold off on invoicing for some things until the new year. You can spread out your tax liabilities this way.
  • Sock some money away for retirement. You can actually contribute to an IRA through April 15 of next year, so this one isn’t as important.
  • Fire a time-consuming, annoying, or cheap client. It’ll feel great.
  • Consider raising your rates. Even if you’re paying all your bills, you could always afford to save a bit more for retirement–or work a little less each week.
  • Figure out where your money comes from. If you’re relying on one or two big clients, perhaps it’s time to diversify a bit and target new markets. If all your money is coming from writing articles, maybe you’ll want to consider selling e-books or starting an ad-supported blog.
  • Finally, it’s time to set new goals for the next year. Did you make the money you wanted to? Did you work on the types of projects you wanted? If you didn’t, now’s a good time to start thinking about how to make it happen in 2013.

Best of luck, gig economy workers!

Star Tribune Begins Contract Negotiations

The newsroom at the Strib in Minneapolis began contract negotiations this week in preparation for their current contract expiring Jan 31, 2013.

The union presented its first proposal Wednesday, which includes a proposed 5% extra pay for night shifts, holidays separate from paid time off, a limit to the number of temps the company can use, and a few other requests. The proposal doesn’t ask for a raise, which is interesting since the guild notes that covered workers haven’t received a raise in 4.5 years.

Guild co-chair Janet Moore read this statement at the negotiating table Wednesday:

We don’t expect to live like kings, we simply want to earn a decent standard of living to support our families.

Four previous go-arounds in the past six years at tables such as this, and nearly 30 years in this profession, have taught me a few truths. Among them:

If you do not offer a competitive match on your 401k plan, you will not recruit the talent necessary to lift this organization above and beyond its brethren.

If you do not treat your employees with respect and dignity, both financially and culturally, a contagion will eat away at the underpinnings of your organization. Good people will continue to leave. Friends, you are at a critical stage.

If you do not engage in a progressive, positive, relationship with your employees in the Guild, all the best-laid plans for the future will likely founder.

You have the opportunity in the weeks to start anew and craft such a relationship — where we join together to challenge an uncertain, but potentially invigorating, future.

Negotiations continue Jan. 8.

Discover Announces New Staff Changes

Earlier this year, Discover magazine, purchased by Kalmbach Publishing, finally announced it was moving to Wisconsin from New York to be based with Kalmbach’s other titles.

About 20 edit and design staff were invited to move to Wisconsin; only two took Kalmbach up on its offer, Folio: reports.

So earlier this week, Discover announced its new staff lineup—13 new hires. The staff includes:

  • Two senior editors: Tasha Eichenseher, formerly environment editor and producer at National Geographic Digital Media
  • Siri Carpenter, founding editor of The Open Notebook
  • Kathi Kube, acting managing editor and former ME of Kalmbach’s Trains
  • Photo editor Ernie Mastroianni, from Kalmbach’s BirdWatching magazine
  • online editor Lisa Raffensperger
  • Bill Andrews, associate editor
  • Alison Mackey, senior graphic designer
  • Gemma Tarlach, associate editor
  • Breanna Draxler, staff writer
  • Elisa Neckar, editorial assistant
  • David Lee, copy editor.

It’s a good week, PR-wise, for Discover to announce these talented hires. Last week Discover bloggers Ed Yong and Carl Zimmer announced that they were taking their popular blogs to National Geographic (along with two other bloggers, not poached from Discover).

Seasonal Jobs To Become Full-time Jobs: How To Make Yours Stick

The Society for Human Resource Management says that nearly 4 in 10 employers plan to transition some of their temporary, seasonal help to full-time jobs. That’s based on a Careerbuilder survey of nearly 3,000 hiring managers. Granted, these are hospitality, retail, and other on-your-feet gigs but they are indeed jobs.

Another complementary survey found that 28 percent of employers plan to turn at least half of their temp jobs into fulltime positions.

So if you have one of these seasonal jobs and you want to keep getting a paycheck come 2013, how can you make the transition? According to U.S. News & World Report blogger Lindsay Olson, there are five steps to take, and they seem to apply even if your temp job is more white-collar data entry than stacking boxes or manning a cash register.

  • First, go above and beyond. Think of the seasonal job as an extended interview, so do your best to be helpful.
  • Offer to work holidays. Yeah. It sucks. But it’s money in your pocket and brownie points for later.
  • Finally—ask. Make your wishes known to your boss, schedule a regular check-in a few weeks before your assignment is slated to end, and reiterate your interest.

For more, check out Olson’s post and good luck!