Posts Tagged ‘information’

by Lisa Barone on 04/17/2009

 Out of Work

Are we really going to spend our entire Friday talking about Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut? Or invest more time discussing Ashton Kutcher and his one million followers publicity stunt? Seriously? Do you ever think that we’re wasting far too much time on stuff that isn’t making us any money or helping anyone? And maybe that’s why you lost your job/can’t get clients/haven’t produced anything exciting recently?

For the past few months you’ve had an excuse for when life didn’t go your way. Every time you borked something that you were maybe never qualified to do in the first place, you had THE perfect excuse just waiting to be pulled out.  It was like the economy dug its own hole just so it could bail you out in your time of need. W00t!

You couldn’t pay your mortgage and your house was foreclosed on? Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, it was the recession. You lost your job and now you’re stuck at home cruising Twitter ‘looking for a new one’ all day? Don’t fret. It wasn’t you, it’s the recession. Can’t find new clients so you’re left bitterly blogging that clients suck and the frauds in the industry are stealing your dollars? Calm down, pretty, have a cookie and take a nap. It’s the recession.

Actually, it’s probably not the recession. It’s probably you.

On January 19th I became an entrepreneur, despite the crap economy. I stopped relying on a company to support me and my cats and instead learned to hunt for myself.  And because I’m smart and I work hard and I surround myself with people who challenge (and threaten) me, I haven’t gone hungry (yet). But I’m not alone.

Entrepreneurs are ruling this recession.

Why? Because they’re hungry and they’re motivated. That means they can’t spend their whole day getting caught in the fame game or in office politics. It means when they go to a conference or a networking event, they’re not there for the booze. They’re grabbing handfuls of business cards, talking to people, and then following up. And they don’t just say they’ll email you after the show. They really do. Actually, they email you as soon as they get home. They’re nurturing leads and finding clients and creating opportunities. They’re marketing themselves. They’re not tuning in to Oprah this afternoon to get Twitter tips from Ashton Kutcher.

In fact, there’s not even time to whine about how unfair the world is and how this recession is taking away their business. Because they’re out there finding business from places you wouldn’t have even thought to look. Or maybe you would have, if you worked as hard as they do. That’s the thing, people don’t want to work. They want a job and a paycheck. And those cushy jobs with those cushy paychecks are the first to go. Because really all those people are doing is taking up space. So it’s not so much that the recession came around and took your job, it’s that you allowed yourself to become expendable.

no whining

You want to ‘survive’ this recession? Stop talking about Oprah and do the following:

  • Learn something new. Go beyond your bubble and learn how to do something that makes you stand out. Be it HTML, PHP, blogging, SEO, etc. Whatever that one thing, or that combination of things, is that makes you more competitive and stronger than the person next to you – learn it and do it. Hard.
  • Work harder than everyone else. I don’t mean longer hours or just saying you’re working, I mean really work harder. In general, the working population has done a stellar job at getting lazy and thinking that job security was no less fictional than the Easter Bunny. There’s no such thing as job security, there never was. Unless you own your own company. If ‘job security’ is your fallback plan, well, then I hope you didn’t buy a house with that.
  • Do the leg work. Follow up on everything. Every lead, every call, every email. And do it in a timely manner. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t or why it’s not worth it. Just shut up and do it. You’ll never be anything more than what you are right now if you don’t take it. The only thing more frustrating when someone drops the ball is listening to all their excuses for why they dropped it.
  • Surround yourself with fighters. Most people are lazy and a waste of your time (sorry, but it’s true). Cut them loose and seek out the other fighters. They’re easy to recognize because they’re online at 3am just “finishing up”. They’re the ones who “get it”. They’re self-starters. They’re trying things, even if those things fail, they’re still trying them.
  • Take risks. We’re in a recession, right? Technically you have nothing to lose if everything is supposed to be shit anyway, right? Create that Web site you’ve secretly been wanting to. Launch that business. Just do it. There are a million reasons why right now is a bad time, maybe even the worst time, to get involved with a new venture. Ignore them all.
  • Shut up. Yes, you. Stop whining. This has been my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur. Yes, the hours suck, and it’s scary, and sometimes all I want to do is put a blanket over my head. But that’s too bad and not going to happen, so I should just shut up.  And it’s almost working. Rae and Rhea report my whine level is down to 85 percent, with 15 percent actual intelligible conversation! W00t, growth!

And before I get flamed, I’m not saying there haven’t been people legitimately affected by the recession. I know that there have. Good people who have lost their jobs because the economy is in the tank.  However, I think A LOT of people are beside themselves to finally have an excuse for why the world is out to get them. The world is not out to get you. There are rainbows and butterflies and bunnies all around you. You can either keep complaining how about The Recession is some Blob-like creature taking away your clients or you can break open the box, see it as an opportunity and create your own success. The choice is yours.

Have a killer weekend.  And stay away from Oprah.

Posted by Rick Burnes
Fri, Jun 05, 2009 @ 06:40 AM
resumeSo you started a blog, you’ve been writing good posts for a few months, and you still don’t have the traction you want — subscriptions, comments and inbound links are all below your targets.What can you do to build your blog?Follow conventional wisdom, and focus harder on writing great posts?

Bad idea. Instead, think of the process like a job search. If you were looking for a job, would you focus exclusively on improving your skills? Or would you be pounding the pavement, looking for new opportunities while you’re improving your skills?

Blogs are no different. Just as you wouldn’t sit back and wait for employers to offer you a job, you shouldn’t sit back and wait for readers to find your blog.

To help you get started, here are five specific steps you can take to pound the pavement for your blog:

(1) Network — When you’re looking for a job, you talk to old friends, attend industry events, show up at community meetups, scan LinkedIn for potential connections and build relationships on Twitter. It’s not much different when you’re looking for readers for your blog. You go to Google Blog Search, Technorati, Twitter Grader and Twitter Search and type in the keywords for your industry. Figure out who in your industry you respect, who the influencers are, and make connections with them. Comment on their posts and, when it adds value, include links to your posts in the comments. Write posts on your blog that respond to their posts. Mention them in your posts. Above all, do you what you can to build relationships and get them to notice that you’re creating thoughtful, interesting content on your blog.

(2) Spread the Word — When you’re looking for a job, you need to be aggressive about getting in front of the right people — only you can’t be so aggressive that you annoy people. You need to find the same balance when you’re building your blog. You need to share posts on Twitter and Facebook and make sure all your friends and contacts know you’re blogging. But you can’t overwhelm or bore them. A good way to handle this balance is to use these channels for more than just broadcasting your blog.

(3) Guest Posts — Find high-quality, high-traffic blogs related to your industry that are willing to accept guest posts and write a post or two for them. Assuming they’re willing to include a prominent link back to your blog, this is a great way to introduce new people to your blog and build subscribers. Be careful not to commit to too many guest posts, because you’ll start to get fewer new subscribers after a few posts.

(4) Email Interviews With Prominent Bloggers — Bloggers understand the value of a link, so they’re usually willing to do an interview in order to get some exposure and a link back to their site. Find prominent bloggers in your industry and ask them for an email interview. People are far more apt to do an email interview than a guest post because it’s an easier format. Instead of coming up with their own original article, they’re just responding to your questions. When you publish the interview, send them the link and encourage them to spread it via their own channels.

(5) Grab Attention — If you’re looking for a job, a good way to get your foot in the door or get noticed is to do a high-profile project — maybe an event, a video or a software application — that gets attention. In the blog world high profile, potentially controversial posts are a good way to get attention. Try publishing something that’s a little spicy that people will react to. If it’s well-written and thoughtful, people will pass it around, more people will be exposed to your blog, and it will grow.

What do you think? What am I missing on this list?

Read more:

Have you ever heard the old adage, “the plumbers are always the ones with the leaky faucets?”  Have you ever hired an Executive Search Firm/Staffing Company to help you find your talent and realize that you’ve been introduced to 4 different Account Executives/Recruiters in the last 4 consecutive quarters?  If I were to put myself in the client’s shoes, I would be asking myself, “How is this company going to help me protect key domain knowledge when they can’t protect their own?”

The Staffing and Recruiting industry is one of the top victims of high employee turnover, for numerous reasons.  In a world filled with non-compete clauses, staffing organizations are often forced to hire young, new employees that lack the required experience — specific to their industry and their respective verticals — in order to be successful and efficiently grow and effectively serve their client-base.

Every company that I work with that is proud to boast of a low-turnover rate has two things in common:

1) They recognize top talent

2) They pay for top talent

As IT staffing professionals, we are constantly preaching compensation best-practices to our clients in order to help them understand what they need to pay technical employees in order to reduce turnover and protect key domain knowledge.

In a world that has been tyrannized by Social Media and Web 2.0, you can bet your bottom dollar that your clients are paying just as much attention to your internal turnover and your LinkedIn profile as you are to theirs.

Take the time to align your internal practices with the ones that you preach to your customers, and protect both of your best interests.

Whether you’re a small start up or an enterprise organization, creating a short-term and and long-term “Corporate Recruiting Strategy” is essential to any business.  Take a minute to read Why Your Recruiting Strategy Matters.  What’s even more important, is to recognize that as our economy and the talent market ebb and flow, the need to revisit this strategy every quarter is imperative.  Two years ago, amidst massive layoffs, scraping job boards may have done the trick.  However, we’ve reached a point where, depending on industry and vertical, the most talented individuals are currently working and are considered “passive candidates.”  Reaching across numerous resources and leveraging Social Media 2.0 best practices and methodologies are a must in order to meet both of your short-term and long-term strategies.

If you don’t have the internal resources or skill sets in your company to implement these strategies, I highly suggest that you hire a third party organization that does to help streamline your hiring process.  Don’t settle for anything less than “A” talent.

I get asked on a daily basis, “Why you? What do you do different than our current IT staffing vendors.”  The truth is that there are a minimum of 35 companies in any metropolitan area that “specialize” in IT Staffing.  I’m not going to “knock” any companies in particular–we all have plenty of reasons about why we think we’re better and different–ranging from the cost of our services to the guarantee of our services to the fact that we “specialize in IT”.

What does “specializing in IT” really mean though.  Does it mean that that’s the only vertical you work with, or does it mean that you actually have a deep understanding of technology within your company?  As all 35 of us fight to explain what makes us so different, we must all realize that the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)  serves as a phenomenal framework for executing any type of project (e.g. filling a job requisition), even if it has nothing to do with creating a software application.

There are five main phases of the SDLC:

1) Requirements gathering and analysis

2) System design

3) Development

4) System testing

5) Operations and maintenance (aka “Rollout”)

To answer my question above, a company that “specializes in IT” staffing is a company who’s Account Executive serves as the Project Manager of a job requisition and oversees the successful execution of all 5 phases of the SDLC in order to find, technically “vet”, and eventually place an “‘A’ Talent” candidate.

Any successful Project Manager understands that in order to successfully execute and rollout an application, 50% of the work needs to be done up front in the requirements gathering, analysis, and design phases.  What does this mean to an IT Staffing Account Executive?

It means that if you can get over the fact that you finally just received a job requisition that you might make a commission on and take the time to sit down with the hiring manager and ask what all of those silly acronyms mean and spend the time to understand what every requirement is, how important each requirement is, and what pain is causing someone to hire this person–you’ll be one step ahead of your other competitors that “specialize in IT.”  It’s also important to remember that if you do not have an understanding of these crucial requirements and the importance of them, that you are asking potential candidates the wrong questions.  So now you’re really two steps ahead…

Moving on to the System Design phase, once the appropriate time has been spent to gather and understand the requirements, it is important to determine how you are going to effectively manage your recruiting team in order to execute the “project” and source and evaluate candidates in order to find “‘A’ Talent”.  Who is going to hit the job boards?  Who is going to leverage their LinkedIn network?  Who is going to pick up the phone and head hunt out of the competition?  What are we going to do to make sure these candidates can do what they say they can do?  Do we ask them questions that we don’t know the answer to or do we hire people that do know the answer to do that for us?  By the way, if your answer is “we can just search the job boards”, then you might as well have all of the requirements wrong and forget about it.  This is not 2009 anymore, and candidates with strong skill sets in the IT world do not have a shelf-life like they did a year and a half ago.  Strong developers, analysts, project managers, IT executives, etc. NEED TO BE HEADHUNTED.  Headhunting is an art and I could write a whole additional blog on this. (But that will have to wait until next week).

If the quasi-Project Manager/Account Executive spends the appropriate time on the front end in the first two phases of the SDLC, the next two steps are smooth sailing!  The Development Phase is the search itself, and the Systems Testing phase is whatever you do to “vet” your talent.  As a hiring manager, I would be extremely inquisitive with your current selected IT Staffing vendors as to what they do in this Systems Testing phase.  Although there may be 35 of us out there, I guarantee only 3-5 of us are both administering technical test, evaluations, and interviewing engineers with engineers and project managers with projects manager and….well…you get the idea.

Finally, the Operations and Maintenance phase–ROLLOUT!  As a Project Manager, you must do what virtually every other Account Executive forgets to…stop counting your commissions and follow up with both the hiring manager and the placed candidate to make sure that both parties are happy and that each other’s expectations are being met and will continue to be met.  The last thing you want to have to do is a) listen to a client tell you that they missed a deadline because said-candidate stormed off unhappy or weren’t properly “vetted” OR, b) exercise your “unbelievable guarantee” that you used as a selling point but hoped to never honor.

To make a short blog long–whether you’re a hiring manager tired of interviewing poorly qualified candidates and trying to find a new vendor or a staffing company looking to improve your processes–follow the framework that the SDLC provides us, and spend the right time in the right phases, and you’ll likely be able to answer the “Why, you?” question a lot better next time, and turn a hiring manager from a one-time customer into a career-long advocate.