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Archives: July 2009

Counter-Point: Virtual Job Fairs Are Kinda Cool

After we posted about the BBC’s disaster (in our opinion) of a job fair, we heard from a commenter who felt differently.
Allan Hoving says he attended an Amazon virtual job fair inside Second Life earlier this month, and it went really well.

He e-mailed:
“There were dozens of avatars moving through there throughout the day. I had a substantive ‘interview’ with a recruiter there. All in all, it seemed to be to have been a successful event.”

Here’s a screengrab of the event that Hoving also sent us:

second life Amazon job fair – sent by allan hoving

We’re still skeptical of “virtual” worlds of all kinds, but if this event succeeded in the minds of at least one jobseeker, it’s due to one reason: Amazon reps were actually there. The booth was staffed with a live human from 6am to midnight on July 16.

Amazon wrote on its Web Services blog prior to the event that they were using Second Life to conduct the round-one interview. (“the equivalent of a phone screen”)
Plus, just like any good real-life job fair, the Second Life fair had swag. “We’ll be giving away some cool virtual goods including T-Shirts, Door Desks, and a high-performance aircraft,” the web team wrote.

Lest you think this event was for techies only—and therefore you word people are excluded from learning how to get virtual—the fair was recruiting for open positions across the company. “Amazon is looking for all levels of technical and non-technical candidates, from hands-on engineers to program managers and game-changing principal architects.”

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Hey Let’s Start Another Flamewar

Seems every time we mention recruiting practices on this site, angry jobseekers who’ve been frustrated by what they perceive as “dirty tricks” leave us angry comments. And every time we mention things jobseekers can do to “outwit” the headhunters (though come on, that’s just a loaded word and isn’t really what’s going on), the recruiters fire back. Seems that the whole thing is just fraught—fraught, we say—with land mines and antagonism and bile and hate. Jeez.

uncle sam i want you
Library of Congress

So we checked in with some (reasonable) recruiting pros to give us the skinny on why putting you people in a room together feels like watching that scene from Oldboy. (Not work safe…or really, safe for humanity at all.) Anyway, this is finding a job, people, not Korean martial arts films or even Wile E. Coyote Vs. Roadrunner. It just isn’t.

Recruiters and job seekers “often work at cross purposes,” says Roger Gilmore, who has 20 years of recruiting and headhunting experience. “Recruiters do not ‘get people jobs’, as is commonly thought to be the case. Rather, they ‘get talent for their client companies.’…Many, if not most, recruiters work on commission, so they have no spare time to ‘hand hold’ a job seeker for whom they have no current job opening. The candidate may be a great candidate with a superb resume, but if the client is asking the recruiter to find him a classic Ford Mustang, and the candidate is a Corvette, there is no match and the recruiter must move on to the next candidate.”

In other words: Don’t take it personally. As hard as that may be when you’re unemployed—everything feels like a slight when you’re jobsearching—it’s important to take a step back and realize that it’s not about you.

And recruiters, it wouldn’t hurt to be upfront about whether you think the candidate has a chance. That way, you’re not wasting anybody’s time, yours included.

We’ll check in with another expert in a bit.

What Recruiters Look For In A Resume

This somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of what recruiters look for in a resume contains some serious gold nuggets (of humor and/or useful tips—you decide). Thanks to for posting it.

  • Recruiter tears off cover letter …Since most resumes lead with an objective statement … we can only handle so much generic doublespeak in one sitting. Recruiters also don’t normally read objective statements, because the objective is pretty apparent when you send in a resume … to get a job.
  • Recruiter looks at the candidate’s mailing address. If it’s going to require relocation or there’s any chance the commute is going to come up during salary negotiation, then on to the next candidate.
  • Recruiter looks at company name. If we, in our infinite wisdom of all companies, do not recognize the company, we will move on, because there’s so much truth that branding is everything. You’re only as good as your last company, unless you have the letters CPA, MD, or JD after your name. Conversely, if the company has been in the news as either an acquisition target or a source of corporate scandal, on to the next resume (assuming the recruiter reads anything BUT resumes, which most do not).
  •  The candidate’s most recent title must be in the same ballpark as the job for which they are being considered. There are some notable exceptions: candidates coming from the financial services industry, for instance, where we well know that interns are Assistant Vice Presidents, or consulting, where the titles are intentionally vague (Analyst, Associate, etc.) and flat so that everyone can be billed out at the same exorbitant rate. Traditionally, though, if you’re a Marketing Manager applying for a Marketing Manager job, then we’re still reading.
  • If you don’t require relo, work for a brand name company and have the same title as the position you’re applying for, then it’s on to the first listed experience on the resume. Then we become Goldilocks … too heavy or too light? Here’s a rule of thumb. Refer back to the job description. Take the number of years of experience and add two … postings are a lot like dating in reverse. If the job’s looking for five years, the recruiter is looking for seven; 10 years means 12, and so on, until you hit the 20-year mark, whereby it’s onto the next resume because you’re “overqualified.”
  • Average time for these steps for an experienced corporate recruiter: 15 to 20 seconds. If you pass this initial scan, maybe then we’ll drill down past the keywords, unless you’re so impressive you’re out of our price range. Alternatively, if you have a funny name, or if there’s obvious irony (a “Lean Executive” at Krispy Kreme, for instance, or the recent Monster headline, “Desperate Single Mom Willing To Do Anything”) or mention your work as a runway model or professional athlete, prepare to have your resume circulated to the entire staffing department.
  • Of course, what do I know? If I was such an expert, I’d have a job. Like being a professional resume writer.

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Earnings: St. Louis Post Dispatch Owner Reports $24 Million Loss

st louis post dispatch.gifThe company that publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and 48 other daily newspapers reported a Q3 loss of $24 million, mostly thanks to a massive drop in (you guessed it) advertising, with ad revenue falling 18.4 percent overall and dropping as much as 60 percent in certain classified categories.

National advertising and ads in “niche publications” fell the least sharply, and under classifieds, revenue from the “other” category actually gained 5.5 percent. We’re not sure what these are but we’ll leave it to your imagination.

The company, which had revenues of $1.02 billion last year, owes $1.18 billion to various creditors as of June 28, 2009. It did, however, reduce its costs through the usual layoffs and outsourcing; slighly more interesting is that a company-wide shrinkage of the physical papers Lee prints contributed to a 41.4 percent reduction in its costs for newsprint and ink, despite the fact that the cost of paper is increasing.

Goodbye To Gannett Blog

gannett-logo.jpgGannett Blog will be—is already—missed, since author Jim Hopkins shut it down after Gannett’s last round of layoffs. He covered layoffs inside the company, yes, but also all sorts of misdeeds that the execs got up to (paying for a golf tournament with company money after talking about how tight money was, funneling charity money to pet projects, etc).

Forbes caught up with him to do an “exit interview” and to see what the man’s been up to since.

What volume of Web traffic and how many posts did Gannett Blog average?

On a typical day I’d get 150-200 comments, mostly from rank and file employees. Traffic at the site always rose after a round of layoffs. On average it ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 visitors a month.

At one point you went to an advertising model for the blog. Was this a success?

No. I made a total $3,000 in ad sales and another $8,000 in donations.

Are you optimistic about Gannett’s future?

No. And I don’t say that with any joy. I love newspapers and I have many friends who still work at Gannett. But technology always wins. It is transforming the newspaper business, something that Gannett will not do. The biggest thing Gannett has going for it now is, which it owns half of. That’s a job site that has nothing to do with journalism.

You’ve just moved to Spain. What are your plans now?

I’m building a social network for gay business executives called Ibiza Confidential, named after the Spanish island. It’s a site where executives who control corporate budgets will find information about entertainment, travel and news. If I’m successful, it will launch early next year. But the gay travel space is already heavily populated. It will be a lot tougher than Gannett Blog, which had no competition.

Memo To Staff: NYT Night Rewrite Integrates With Web Newsroom & CND

In another example of how job descriptions are changing in our Web 2.0 world, the night rewrite reporters at the New York Times are becoming part of the Web newsroom and the continuous news desk, according to a staff memo obtained by Nieman Lab.

Inaugurating the more web-focused rewrite coverage will be Anahad O’Connor of Continuous News, Derrick Henry, a national web producer who also writes for Continuous News, and Sarah Wheaton, formerly of The Caucus and currently a night producer. One of them will be on duty each night of the week.

These three will continue to perform many of the traditional tasks of night rewrite, like making metro cop checks, watching the late news and jumping on the big breaking story for both print and the Web. But their canvas will be broader: Can The Lede blog use an update at 8 p.m.? What about reaction to an Obama press conference for The Caucus? And bending traditional job definitions, how about getting audio to go with coverage of the latest political scandal in Albany? We also hope they can fill in gaps in Web coverage on running foreign stories, serving as a transition between the early CND reporters in New York and Mark [McDonald] in Hong Kong.

Smart move on the NYT’s part. But at the pace things are changing, they’ll probably have to shuffle things around again in just a few years.

Best Buy Social Media Job Update

Wow, you guys really went nuts over our post about Best Buy’s social media marketer position. Most of you agreed that 250 was too few, though some of you were more interested in the fact that the company was asking for qualifications that didn’t even exist four years ago—this is the bleeding edge, people.

Recruiter Joshua Kahn, who Tweeted the original job posting weeks ago, got in touch with us with some updates to the story. Namely, that after Best Buy realized that bloggers were complaining that 250 Twitter followers was too few, they decided to crowdsource a new job description. That ended last week and the new job description went up earlier this week.

First, here’s an excerpt of what the winning job description looked like, aka Social Media Jesus>

Be able to work with the following sites/tools: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Plaxo, Google, Alltop, Backtype, Blogger, Ning, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Squidoo, Twitter Grader, Friend or Follow, delicious, Slideshare, YouTube, Vimeo, StumbleUpon, Digg, PRWeb, Scribd, Flickr, WordPress, TypePad, Technorati, IceRocket, Tumblr, TipJoy, Alexa, Wikipedia, and BaseCamp (this list may change, in fact will change, with daily frequency).

Understand the following acronyms: RSS, SEM, SEO, PPC, CPM, CPC, LOL, IMHO, WTF, API, B2C, B2B, CTR, IM, PV, RON, WWW, TTYL, LMAO, ROTFLMAO, WYSIWYG and, most importantly, RTFM.
Own a smartphone (at least one) and have a bountiful data/text plan.
Have read the following: Made to Stick, The Tipping Point, Good to Great, Cluetrain Manifesto, New Rules of Marketing & PR, Groundswell, Tribes, Here Comes Everybody, Naked Conversations, Freakanomics, and Wisdom 2.0 (applicant will be asked to provide a book report for each).

And here’s what the updated job description looks like:

Must have proven 2 years of continuous professional presence in the Social Media space (via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Ning or other social platforms) with evidence of activity within these platforms. (example in LinkedIN – participation in groups, LinkedIN answers, recommendations. In Twitter – evidence of engagement, conversation, RT’s, @replies, hashtags, link sharing)

Now, CMO Barry Judge did say that Best Buy would have final say over the job description. That’s only fair. And he did also say that Best Buy liked not just the top winner but the second place winner as well, and we’ll grant you that some of the qualifications from Mr. Second Place show up in the job description. But the new description places much less emphasis on quantitative data than either crowdsourced description—or the original—did.

And we say that’s a good thing.