This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, use the Reprints tool at the top of any article or visit:

Back to Previous Page

 Mail    Print   Share Share

Media Jobs Monthly Newsletter

April 13, 2011
Having an internship used to mean making copies, running errands, ordering lunch and hoping to work on at least one cool project. These days though, companies are using unpaid interns in place of full-time hires.

The trend isn't exactly ethical (and in some cases, not even legal), but it's bridging the hiring gap for companies during the recession. Some employers say the unpaid workers are the most motivated and work harder than the paid ones. These internships aren't being filled only by college students or recent grads, either. Workers who've been laid off or want to switch careers take unpaid positions for more professional experience or to just keep their skills sharp. If you want a problem-free approach to hiring, this video highlights the benefits of a temp. I'll let you be the judge.

Hiring managers are feeling the pressure, too. While the standard seven-hour work day has swelled to 12 or 14 hours for many HR professionals, there aren't as many dissenters to the change as you might expect. Some recruiters still manage to keep a Friday round of golf in the calendar despite the hours, and others are just happy to have enough opportunities (and pay) to stay busy. Still, those who have tired of recruiting or are worried about the industry's future are finding a new path in consulting, where HR skills are easily transferrable.

Despite trends in underpaying workers, there is good news on the employment front. The economy added 216,000 new jobs in March, the sixth straight month of increases. As an increase in jobs holds out, some companies are learning from their recession losses and using workforce data software to better predict and prepare for turnover. While data is a systematic way to understand hiring and exiting patterns, Irwin Simon, CEO of Hain Celestial Group, finds the best preparation for the future is investing in employees and instilling them with confidence. Hmm, with that kind of corporate culture, I wouldn't mind being an "intern" there.

Jacky Carter
Community Coordinator

Economy Adds 216,000 Jobs in March (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
In what might finally signify the beginning of the end, the U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in March 2011, bringing the unemployment rate down a tenth of a percent to 8.8. Those job gains mark the sixth straight month of increases and bring the average number of jobs added each month since February 2010 to 115,000. With 13.5 million unemployed, though, the economy clearly has farther to go.

How Many Hours Do You Work A Week? (
As hiring resumes, recruiters' workdays expand to fill the space. In this thread, one recruiter says that his six-hour day has turned into a 12-hour day (but he still gets half a day on Friday to play golf). Another admits to a 60-hour workweek being pretty standard. A third says: "A few weeks ago I was on the phone night and day -- I'd say 14 or 15 hours was the norm for a month or so and it looks like I'm heading right back into that kind of action." Hey, if the job market's hot right now, better get while the getting's still good.

Exit Strategy? Think Consulting (Human Resource Executive Online)
While the people you've recruited are mulling exits to more stable industries, what's your own Plan B? Many of the same skills HR professionals have developed over a career are the same skills needed by a successful consultant. "After all, what is an HR professional but an internal consultant charged with coming up with solutions to problems across the entire organization?"

99 Problems But a Temp Ain't One (YouTube)
Need a laugh? Temp placement agent Ronald parodies the famous Jay-Z song. It's, um... Ya kinda feel for the guy after watching this, honestly.

Unpaid Work: Still Popular, Still Not So Much Legal (MediaJobsDaily)
More companies are hiring "interns" that aren't really interns, and more people are signing up for the "opportunity" to work for free. Yes, there are advantages to gaining experience without pay, but remember, the Department of Labor doesn't care about that.

Tax Return Shows SHRM Deficit, Salary Growth (
SHRM is in the red but its staff salaries have risen, meaning that the nation's largest HR organization is about $9 million short. From 2007 to 2009, the number of employees making over $150,000 more than doubled from 11 to 30, or about a fourth of the organization. Some of those 30 earn significantly more than $150,000, like then-chief global member engagement officer China Gorman who was paid $635,701 in 2009.

Irwin Simon of Hain Celestial on Instilling Confidence (
At the organic foods company Hain Celestial, CEO Irwin Simon interviews nearly everybody who comes into the company, and he asks them to walk the walk. "I come right out and ask them: Do you believe in what we're doing? Do you live a healthy lifestyle? Do you believe in natural organic products? Because if you don't, don't come work for us." He also looks for risk-takers with "fire in the belly"...and sports players.

Numbers Game: Companies Utilize Data to Predict Workforce Needs ( Subscription required.)
With the help of software tools and expert statisticians, organizations are beginning to project their labor needs and challenges with greater precision. Alliant Techsystems Inc, better known as ATK, has used metrics to accurately predict high turnover in various divisions. Analytics advocates say talent management usually errs on the soft side: "making less-than-optimal decisions about talent because of a lack of concrete evidence."

--Compiled by Rachel Kaufman, editor,

> Send a letter to the editor
> Read more in our archives