The Hire Sense » 2009 » June

Archive for June, 2009

5 to 1

That is the ratio of jobseekers for every advertised job opening in April of this year.  The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by way of the Career News newsletter (sorry, no link).

…there were 5.4 job hunters for every advertised opening in April. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey said the April ratio was up from 4.8 in March, and up dramatically from 1.7 in December 2007, when the recession began.

That is one tough market for jobseekers.  You notice the reference to “advertised” openings?  At some point, maybe already, networking will become the highest priority for jobseekers in their search for job openings.  The fact that Gen Y is a driven, networking generation leads me to believe they will rely on networking for candidate sourcing before advertised job postings.

Nonetheless, the ratio is remarkable for today’s economy.  The fact that hiring is a trailing indicator means this ratio will likely increase over the next few months.

How To Lose Your Job

Chances are if urination is involved, you will lose your job.  From’s article 15 Stupidest Ways to Lose Your Job:

When April 15 rolls around, urinating on the IRS might be on top of your to do list. But be careful—like audits, the IRS does not take peeing lying down. As first reported by The Smoking Gun, an IRS employee relieved himself in the freight elevator “on numerous occasions.” After the signature scent was noticed, a federal agent installed a surveillance camera and caught the urinator in the act.

Did the culprit have a bladder problem? No, he said he “did this because he felt he could get away with it.” If you think you can get away with something, make sure you actually can. The contract employee not only lost his job but got slapped with a $4,600 cleaning bill and a felony charge for damaging government property that carries a maximum ten year sentence.

I wish I would have known of this one around April 15.

For Gen Y, Jobs Are Secondary

I’m beginning to think Gen Y is the most overanalyzed generation in…a generation. offers up this article – Why Certain Cities Attract Gen Ys.  The big city has a general appeal to the Millennials which is probably true for most young generations.  However, Gen Y does face a difficult career path due to tenure.  Here is a surprising graph (emphasis mine):

The appeal of big cities stems from a simple economic fact: They offer thicker labor markets with more robust job opportunities across a wide number of fields. Getting ahead in your career today means more than picking the right first job. Corporate commitment has dwindled, tenure has grown far shorter, and people switch jobs with much greater frequency. The average American changes jobs once every three years; those under the age of 30 change jobs once a year.

I’m not sure where those numbers originated, but they are noteworthy.  The days of starting a long-term career with a major corporation are fleeting. 

Jobs are clearly important. Gen Y members ranked the availability of jobs second when asked what would keep them in their current location and fourth in terms of their overall satisfaction with their community. In both cases, the highest-ranked factor was the ability to meet people and make friends. Makes perfect sense, since Gen Y intuitively understands what economic sociologists have documented: Vibrant social networks are key to landing jobs, moving forward in your career, and one’s broader personal happiness.

Second?  Surprising, maybe, but clearly networking is supreme for this generation.  I wonder if the tools at are available today are part of the drive to network.  I am astounded by the fact that Gen Y provides updates as to what they are doing at that moment (think Facebook or Twitter).  I have tried to accomplish this feat and always come up lacking…I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Yet these young people are forging networks that a sure to become immense as they mature.  The implications for selling are staggering – networks will become the top resource for prospecting.  Decision-making within companies will be information that can be attained through one’s network.  Heck, the decision-maker may be 1 step away within a network.

This sea change is happening in front of our eyes, but I’m not certain everyone is observing it.

Adjusting A Sales Process For This Recession

The thought of retiring is going to be a novel idea in the near future, at least according to a new poll.  In a recent survey of Americans (my bold):

Half the population in this new ABC News poll thinks both job security and retirement prospects in the years ahead will remain worse than their pre-recession levels. Four in 10 also see worsened prospects for the availability of jobs and advancement, and, consequently, their own spending power.

No surprise there.  The second aspect regarding worsened prospects for the availability of jobs is phrased in a negative manner.  However, it is only 40%.  This effect occurs in these difficult economic times – times will never be as good as they once were.

I have seen this effect in some candidates recently which is never a good approach to landing a new job.  As a recruiter, I am not looking for a naive optimist – the times are difficult and sales cycles are extended.  Yet there are still deals to be closed and almost every opportunity will be highly competitive.  This economy separates salespeople from pretenders in a fast mode.

My recent sourcing activities have involved finding sales candidates who acknowledge the economy while expanding on the modifications they have made to their sales process.  Increased prospecting, budgetary qualifying, time-frame discussions, etc. are all important adjustments that should be forthcoming from strong candidates in this economy.

Optimism Defined

The epitome of optimism – a headline from

Has the Recession Finally Ended?

I guess you could characterize this as “talking up” the economy.  Here is one paragraph from the article that made me laugh (emphasis mine):

Today also brought some positive news from the much-battered retail sector. For the first time in three months, retail sales in May rose, by 0.5 percent, according to the Commerce Department. The sales were pushed higher by increased demand for new cars and sales at gas stations. It was the largest increase since sales rose 1.7 percent in January following six straight monthly declines. While this is good news, part of the jump can be attributed to a recent spike in gas prices which isn’t helping average consumers.

“Sales at gas stations” is clearly the spike in prices as the last sentence states.  That would actually be working against consumers and the economy.  A .5% increase could clearly be nothing more than a spike in gas prices, couldn’t it?

My discussions with candidates has been fairly consistent – the economy is brutal and another spike in gas prices like last year would be a tremendous blow.  Telecommuting jobs will be in even higher demand if a significant gas price increase occurs.

Write It Don’t Hide It

There seems to be some ethereal ad writing of late that I am not certain I understand.  I read a sales manager ad this morning that was written by a recruiting company for their client.  Here is the “Job Requirements” section:

All sales will be direct at this time.

What?  I have no idea what that means in context of the requirements.  The simple, best approach to writing sales ads is to use descriptive language that allows the reader to see themselves in the position.  Our goal is always to write ads that make the right candidate know that we are describing their abilities.

This ad falls far short of that approach.

The Wrong Approach

I received an email recently from someone I presume to be a salesperson looking for work.  Obviously this is a common occurrence these days, but here is the error in the delivery – the email had no writing.  Yup, it was just a blank email with an MS Word attachment that appeared to be a resume.

This approach is a wasted effort in today’s world.  I never opened the attachment for fear it may be some malicious, virus-infested computer-killer.  Dramatic, I know, but the point is valid.  It is similar to a phone call that comes in on your home phone at night and lists nothing more than “Out of Area.”  I wonder who it may be, I think about answering it, but I usually let it go because I suspect it is a telemarketer.  The same approach grips me with these types of unknown, unsolicited emails.

My standard operating procedure is to simply delete them an move on.  I am certain if that was a legitimate email, the person did not intend for this outcome.  This seems like an obvious point – take the time to write something for a cover email.  This salesperson’s approach leads me to make assumptions about his technique and abilities based on the clumsiness of his first contact.

The Pain Of A Lagging Indicator

Hiring, that is, and it appears that it is going to be an even rougher road over the back half of 2009.  If you are in the recruiting, hiring, assessing business you are aware of this fact.  9.4% unemployment is remarkable.  From

The percentage of people without jobs in this country is now at the highest point in nearly 26 years. Every month since January 2008 we have seen jobs disappear.

So far the economy has shed 6 million jobs since the recession started push (sic) employers to start handing out pink slips.

I’m still looking for the report that lists the number of jobs “saved” by the stimulus package.  I suspect I will have to wait a bit longer for that information.  But fear not, the bleeding does seem to be slowing down:

The Labor Department this morning announced that another 345,000 Americans lost their jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate up from 8.9 percent in April. Economists had expected a loss of 550,000 jobs and the news that significantly less were lost initially shot the stock market up.

Again, more economists with an inaccurate prediction.  I dare say the economy is too dynamic, too multi-faceted for any one person to accurately predict…much like the weather.  Yet, here is a development for which I was unaware (emphasis mine):

The (EEOC) commission received an unprecedented 95,402 complaints during a 12-month period ending in October. That’s up 15 percent from the prior year. Of those, 24,582 are charges of age discrimination, a massive 29 percent increase.

I think most of us know that companies often use down markets to purge employees whether deserving or not.  A recessionary economy provides cover for companies to layoff workers from a protected class with less liability.  I’m not condoning the practice, just being brutally honest.

This uptick in complaints seems to support this unwritten business practice.  I think an aspect that the reporter did not address is the overall aging of the workforce.  If the Boomers are the majority of the workforce, there stands to reason that there will be a continued increase in age discrimination charges simply based on the numbers.  That data would have provided a needed context to the article.

Lyin’ Eyes

Clearly the greatest song from the Eagles and a key to discovering lies in an interview. covers fascinating topic with a startling point at the beginning of the article:

…they only work about 80% of the time, according to the American Polygraph Association.

That is far lower than I expected.  Clearly, it is probably better than the vast majority of people, but I thought the number would be north of 90% for sure.

Ah, but here are the fun “tells” for interviewers to use:

Liars often give short or one-word responses to questions, while truth tellers are more likely to flesh out their answers.

And this:

Skilled liars don’t break a sweat, but the rest of us get a little fidgety. Four possible giveaways: shifty eyes, higher vocal pitch, perspiration and heavier breathing.

Here is a great read:

Liars are often reluctant to admit ordinary storytelling mistakes. When honest people tell stories, they may realize partway through that they left out some details and would unselfconsciously backtrack to fill in holes. They also may realize a previous statement wasn’t quite right, and go back and explain further. Liars, on the other hand, “are worried that someone might catch them in a lie and are reluctant to admit to such ordinary imperfections,” says DePaulo.


Yet another clue: imprecise pronouns. To psychologically distance themselves from a lie, people often pepper their tales with second- and third-person pronouns like “you,” “we” and “they,” says Hancock. Liars are also more likely to ask that questions be repeated and begin responses with phrases like, “to tell you the truth,” and “to be perfectly honest,” says Reid.

May I suggest you read the entire article?

Mediocre People

This quote is from the daily email.  I thought it was excellent:

“Mediocre people have an answer for everything and are astonished at nothing.”

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863)
French Artist

Next Page »