Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Work at Home?-Big Brother is Watching- You won't get to watch that kid with the Light Saber anymore.

Work at Home?
Your Employer
May Be Watching

The clipboard toting, clock-watching, quota-setting productivity expert, peering nosily over your shoulder at work, has been out of fashion in business schools for decades.

Now he's back, in electronic form -- in the home office.

In a budding trend some employment experts say is invasive, companies are stepping up electronic monitoring and oversight of tens of thousands of home-based independent contractors. They're taking photos of workers' computer screens at random, counting keystrokes and mouse clicks and snapping photos of them at their computers. They're plying sophisticated technology to instantaneously detect anger, raised voices or children crying in the background on workers' home-office calls. Others are using Darwinian routing systems that keep calls coming so fast workers have no time to go to the bathroom.

In a budding trend some employment experts say is invasive, companies are stepping up electronic monitoring and oversight of tens of thousands of home-based workers. WSJ's Sue Shellenbarger reports.

Peter Weddle, an author, consultant and researcher on employment Web sites, calls the trend "21st Century Big Brotherism" that risks being "horribly intrusive." Skilled workers "don't need someone looking over their shoulders," he says. But while the monitoring can put a damper on home life, many people are so eager to avoid commuting hassles that they see the practice as an acceptable tradeoff.

The technology so far affects mainly freelance information-technology workers, writers, graphic-design artists and call-center agents. But as telecommuting grows amid soaring fuel costs, more people will find themselves on an electronic leash. The monitoring itself may speed the growth, because it tears down one of the biggest obstacles to working at home -- employers' fear that remote workers will slack off.

Electronic monitoring is built right into freelance transactions at, which links 90,000 computer programmers, network administrators, graphic designers, writers and others with about 10,000 clients world-wide. The system takes random snapshots of workers' computer screens six times an hour, records keystrokes and mouse clicks and takes optional Web cam photos of freelancers at work. Clients can log into the system anytime and see whether contractors are working, what they're doing and how long it's taking them; clients' weekly bills are based largely on the data. A small computer-screen icon pops up at the bottom of workers' screens each time a screen shot is taken.

[Go to mailbox]
Sue Shellenbarger answers readers' questions about work-at-home pitches, finding a trained emotionally- focused therapist, and explaining résumé gaps during job interviews.

ODesk Chief Executive Gary Swart says a client paying a freelancer likes knowing, "You can't play Blackjack. You can't watch YouTube. Why? Because I'm watching you work." When one oDesk client questioned an inflated bill from a freelancer, a check of the screen shots revealed he'd been watching a cricket game online. The freelancer reduced his bill.

One big oDesk competitor,, says installing "spyware," as one Elance executive calls it, is going too far. Elance recently unveiled a monitoring system of its own that allows freelancers to document their work electronically, but leaves control entirely in freelancers' hands. "We don't believe in having a camera on your computer, taking pictures and tracing every move," says Elance Chief Executive Fabio Rosati. Several of oDesk's own programmers quit several years ago when the company insisted they submit to monitoring.

At first, it seems like "Oh, this is Big Brother" watching, acknowledges Russell Tweed, a St. Helens, Ore., computer-network administrator who works on oDesk. But he says none of his oDesk clients has tried to micromanage his work. Freelancers like oDesk's payment system; it takes clients' credit cards up front and, barring a veto from the buyer, pays workers promptly every week, eliminating slow-pay problems.

One oDesk buyer, Juliana Carroll, a Manhattan financial-services consultant, says she has saved as much as 25% using oDesk freelancers because they turn out more work faster than contractors she has found on her own. Menlo Park, Calif.-based oDesk, which charges clients 10% on top of freelancers' fees, says its June 2008 revenue was 2.8 times year-earlier levels.


Corporate managers with work-at-home employees also worry about potential slackers, and some have tightened ties with home-office workers by monitoring their use of instant messaging or corporate VPN links. However, employers typically resist Web cam or keystroke monitoring of their own staffers as too invasive, relying instead on screening telecommuters carefully and setting measurable work objectives.

In another sector, call-center companies are tightening the electronic leash on home-based agents, who handle calls for retailing, travel and other clients. Call-routing technology at, Miramar, Fla., helps keep its 8,000 home agents so tightly tethered to their phones that they have to schedule unpaid time off to go to the bathroom. Calls flow fastest to the most productive workers. Arise home agents, who are all independent business owners, have incentives to take a lot of calls; their base pay starts at about $8 an hour, but commissions are added for selling cruises, computers and the like. Top performers also get more flexibility, in the form of first dibs on work shifts.

To keep calls flowing, Arise agents are discouraged from leaving their desks. Instead, Arise recommends they anticipate when they'll need a bathroom break and schedule a half-hour off the clock, without pay, at that time -- usually every two to three hours.

Another call-center outsourcer, Working Solutions, which has 4,000 active agents, is applying sophisticated speech-analytics technology to tune an omnipresent electronic ear into numerous home-office conversations at once.

It's not unusual for call-center companies to record and spot-check agents' calls by listening in now and then. Working Solutions' new system goes beyond that to instantly detect and flag such trouble signals as cancellation threats or angry voices, enabling supervisors to jump in on the conversations right away, says Tim Houlne, chief executive of the Plano, Texas, company.

Home agents' slipups, such as dogs barking or children crying in the background, are frowned upon. Like most call-center operators, Working Solutions says it has "zero tolerance" for background noise.

The trend suggests the home office, long regarded as a calmer place to work, may evolve into just another office, fraught with the same constraints as a corporate cubicle. Maggie Torres, a longtime home agent for Arise in Southwest Ranches, Fla., says her children, 17 and 18, have learned over the years to "stay out and be quiet" when she works. Even her little dog stops running and jumping; "when he sees me go to that seat, he goes to his bed and lies down and that's it."

But the rewards, she says, warrant the sacrifices. "If you do good on all your stats you get to pick your hours early. I usually do -- and thank God, I get to pick the hours I want."

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

OMG!! :) Leave the txt on ur Iphone.

Thx for the IView!
I Wud ♥ to Work 4 U!! ;)

Young Job Candidates Find
Too-Casual Tone of Textspeak
Turns Off Hiring Managers

After interviewing a college student in June, Tory Johnson thought she had found the qualified and enthusiastic intern she craved for her small recruiting firm. Then she received the candidate's thank-you note, laced with words like "hiya" and "thanx," along with three exclamation points and a smiley-face emoticon.

"That email just ruined it for me," says Ms. Johnson, president of New York-based Women For Hire Inc. "This looks like a text message."

Hiring managers like Ms. Johnson say an increasing number of job hunters are just too casual when it comes to communicating about career opportunities in cyberspace and on mobile devices. Thank yous on paper aren't necessary, but some applicants are writing emails that contain shorthand language and decorative symbols, while others are sending hasty and poorly thought-out messages to and from mobile devices. Job hunters are also using social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to try to befriend less-than-willing interviewers.

[Go to forum]
Do you consider sending interviewers thank yous with shorthand language and emoticons, inappropriate or a sign of the times? Discuss

These incidents typically involve college students and recent graduates, and recruiters say such faux pas can be instant candidacy killers because they hint at immaturity and questionable judgment.

The trend may reflect a cultural divide between younger and older workers, says David Holtzman, author of "Privacy Lost: How Technology Is Endangering Your Privacy." "It's driven by the communication technology that each generation has grown up with," he adds. Workers in their 20s and younger are accustomed to online and cellphone messaging, and the abbreviated lingua franca that makes for quick exchanges, he says. "It's just natural for them. They don't realize that it's perceived to be disrespectful."

Travis Hawk, a May graduate of Drake University, says he prefers sending text messages to making phone calls and almost fell victim to his text-lingo behavior in emails to recruiters during his recent job search. "I had to focus on not doing it," says the 23-year-old, who just got an entry-level sales position at Principal Financial Services Group. Now an intern at the Des Moines, Iowa, firm, he says his penchant for using abbreviations such as "r" for "are" is sometimes hard to manage. "Occasionally, on accident, I throw one in an email at work," he admits.

Other job hunters, however, don't see any need for restraint. Consider, for example, that smiley faces, hearts and other icons appear in about one of every 10 thank-you emails sent to hiring managers at KPMG LLP, says Blane Ruschak, the New York accounting firm's national director of university relations and recruiting.

But KPMG's staffing specialists, who hire about 2,700 college graduates and 2,300 interns annually, aren't amused. "We don't feel emoticons have a place in any formal communications," says Mr. Ruschak. "It's not professional." And seeing them makes KPMG's hiring managers wonder whether that sort of unprofessional communication will follow the applicant to the workplace. Graduates who commit the offense may lose out on a job if "there are other candidates similar to them that didn't," he adds.

On-the-Fly Mentality

Some job hunters are earning the rebuke of recruiters by taking thank yous to another extreme -- by sending them hastily from their mobile phones. The move suggests an on-the-fly mentality, as if the applicants haven't taken time to think about why they want the job or why they are saying thanks, says Wendi Friedman Tush, president of Lexicomm Group, a boutique communications firm in New York. "It always says 'From my Blackberry,' " she says. Candidates "should sit down at their computer in a thoughtful way and do it, not while they're on their way somewhere," she says.

Executive recruiter Hal Reiter recently received such a thank you from a chief financial officer candidate sent by BlackBerry just minutes after the interview. "You don't even have time to digest the meeting and you're getting a thank-you note," says Mr. Reiter, chairman and chief executive of Herbert Mines Associates, a New York-based search firm.

This year, hiring manager Cathy Chin received a thank you on her cellphone from a candidate for an entry-level job at ReThink Rewards Inc., a marketing firm based in Toronto. While she says her cell number is on her business card, which she gave to the candidate, all prior correspondence had been through her office phone and email. "It's infringing a bit on your personal space," she says, adding that the candidate wasn't hired partly for this reason.

Interviewer as 'Friend'

And a candidate for an assistant account-executive job recently sent a "friend" invite to Ms. Friedman Tush on her personal Facebook page following an interview. Her company doesn't have a page on the social-networking site. "I'm not his friend. I'm not even his employer. I was somebody who interviewed him," she says. "They are called social-networking sites for a reason."

Job hunters may be more inclined to use their cellphones and text lingo when thanking interviewers because the medium is gaining acceptance in a growing number of workplaces. "I definitely text my managers if I am running late," says Jennifer Nedeau, 23, a project manager at New Media Strategies Inc., a marketing firm in Arlington, Va. "I know I'm not bothering them with a phone call, but they're still getting the message."

Are there ever exceptions to sending a thank you through a mobile phone or social-networking site? Perhaps if someone is applying to a company that sells or relies heavily on the technology, say hiring managers. But Ms. Johnson points out that it may be less effective than email since recruiters can't forward these types of messages to colleagues as easily.

The younger set sees the world of interview and workplace language evolving. Chris Brubaker, a junior at Iowa State University, predicts that "textspeak" will soon become accepted in the workplace. "Text messages are much more short and to the point," says the 20-year-old. "General communication is becoming more electronic."

Indeed, employers themselves are blurring the lines to some extent by using mobile and Web technology for recruiting, including posting job ads on social-networking sites like MySpace. Ms. Chin's firm has a Facebook page that lists information about job openings and its work environment. For this reason, Ms. Chin says she doesn't mind getting thank-you messages through the site's email system. The effort can even help a candidate stand out. "It puts a face to the name because it shows your profile picture," she explains.

Still, Ms. Chin says there's no excuse for using shorthand in messages to recruiters. "A thank-you note -- even if it's on Facebook or email -- should be written like a proper letter," she says. "If I'm going to give you a job, do I really want you communicating to our clients in this fashion? No."

Posted using ShareThis

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stanley Bing shares the rules of corporate dominance & how to work 2 hours a day while not looking like a loser.

Gil Schwartz's alter ego Stanley Bing shares the tricks that ceo's have know for years. He tells you to get off the the hamster wheel, beef up your BlackBerry plan & head to the beach. Work is for suckers & delegation is for winners. Watch the full interview by clicking on the link below.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Declining Value of Your College Degree

College degrees are no longer the ticket to a better life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The #1 Resume Killer- Hint- it's not your qualifications!

I frequently receive feedback from employers about the candidates who are applying for their jobs. I keep tight records on the type of feedback received (positive & negative divided into several sub categories). Lately I have hit a steady stream of negative feedback all centered on spelling/grammatical errors found in the candidate’s resumes.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow the rules of grammar & diction with one exception- in my resume. I have always been under the impression that if you need advice or direction to tell you typos in your resume are unacceptable then you in fact are unemployable in this market. This does not mean mistakes don't happen.

If you think back to the jobs you applied for: your background, qualifications & experience. All may have lined up perfectly with the position you applied for. But you never heard back. There is a strong possibility you had a typo in that resume, automatically damning you to the recycling bin or heaven forbid the trashcan.

Don't feel bad everyone makes mistakes. I once circulated a resume stating I attending "by weekly" meetings. Even Colin Powell had his resignation letter returned from the White House because it had spelling errors. It's completely human to make mistakes; however it is also completely human to make snap judgments on first impressions & in this case an unedited resume is the absolute kiss of death in the job search.

Here's why:

84% of executives polled said that one or two typographical errors in a resume removes a candidate from consideration for a job opening, and 47% said it only take a single typo to get your resume doused in gasoline & set on fire.
The survey, developed by Office Team, surveyed 150 senior executives at North America’s largest companies.
Executives were asked, “How many typos in a resume does it take for you to decide not to consider a job candidate for a position with your company?” Their responses:

• One typo - 47%
• Two typos - 37%
• Three typos - 7%
• Four or more typos - 6%
• Don't know/no answer - 3%

“Resumes often are a job seeker’s first contact with prospective employers,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, in a statement to the press. “Candidates who submit application materials with typographical or grammatical errors may be seen as lacking professionalism and attention to detail, and thus spoil their chances for an interview or further consideration.”

And you’ll need more than your computer’s spell-check. Domeyer suggests have friends and family members to proofread resumes as well. “A fresh pair of eyes can help candidates spot mistakes overlooked by the spell-checking function,” she said. “I’ve often seen simple errors -- such as a job seeker applying for the position of ‘office manger’ -- derail even the most talented applicants.”

Now that we have restated the obvious: spell-check your resume, proof read your resume, have your network proof read your resume & harass a local newspaper editor until they approve it too.

Now if you have submitted a botched resume you can't change that. So as a consolation prize read the following classic resume typo bloopers & take joy in their screw ups (it's good to know they are your competition) Enjoy:

Ten Classic Resume Bloopers
Know Them So You Won’t Make Them
by Kim Isaacs

1. “Revolved customer problems and inquiries.” Just what every employer is looking for — an expert in passing the buck.

2. “Consistently tanked as top sales producer for new accounts.” Sales managers aren’t likely to be impressed with this self-proclaimed underachiever.

3. “Dramatically increased exiting account base, achieving new company record.” If customer accounts were leaving in droves as this statement implies, it’s probably fair to assume that this candidate also tanked as a top sales producer.

4. “Planned new corporate facility at $3 million over budget.” Every hiring manager is searching for employees who exceed budgets by millions of dollars.

5. “Directed $25 million anal shipping and receiving operations.” Either this person is showcasing compulsively stubborn management qualities, or he has a challenging product packaging/storage problem.

6. “Participated in the foamation of a new telecommunications company.” This job seeker was also in charge of bubble control.

7. “Promoted to district manger to oversee 37 retail storefronts.” This is a common resume typo. There must be literally thousands of mangers looking for jobs in today’s modern world. Here’s a tip: Use your word-processing program’s find/replace feature to quickly correct this common mistake. You can also modify your application’s spelling dictionary so it won’t recognize the word “manger.”

8. “Experienced supervisor, defective with both rookies and seasoned professionals.” Many of us have had a boss like this at some point in our careers, but you usually don’t find them being so up-front about their leadership inadequacies.

9. “I am seeking a salary commiserate with my training and experience.” There are a couple problems with this statement. To begin with, salary requirements don’t belong on a resume. Secondly, a salary should be “commensurate” with experience (meaning proportionate to), not “commiserate” with (meaning to express sympathy for).

10. “Seeking a party-time position with potential for advancement.” Sounds like a fun job.

FYI- this post was not thoroughly spell checked or proofed so have it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Best Cities to Live

Richard Florida's best cities rankings.
clipped from

Best cities for young singles (ages 20-29)

Best cities for young singles (ages 20-29)

large regions

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • Boston, MA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY

mid-size regions

  • Madison, WI
  • Worcester, MA
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • New Haven, CT
  • Raleigh, NC

small regions

  • Boulder, CO
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Santa Rosa, CA

Best cities for mid-career professionals (30-44)

large regions

  • San Jose, CA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Austin, TX
  • San Diego, CA
  • Denver, CO

mid-size regions

  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Portland, ME
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE
  • Des Moines, IA

small regions

  • Durham, NC
  • Provo, UT
  • Reno, NV
  • Fayetteville, AR
  • Boulder, CO
 blog it

Where the Money is.

Like everything else income is concentrated in a handful of areas.
clipped from
Fig: 6.2: The Income Map
 blog it

The Best Place to be Single

See if your experiences at the bar line up with the map.
clipped from
Fig: 13.1: The Singles Map
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The New Geography of Work

Where are industries concentrated. Where you live effects the career choices you have.
clipped from
Fig: 7.3: The New Geography of Work
 blog it

Take me down to the Paradise City!

..."Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green & the girls are pretty"... Ahh the wisdom of Axle Rose such sage advice, but where is this mythical paradise? Well Richard Florida slogged through mounds of data from the BLS to determine just this place in his recent book Who's Your City.

Florida's study flies in the face of the Friedman Flat World. We have been conditioned to believe that the Internet is the equalizer, the democratizer, the profitizer & any other izer you can think of. Place to Friedman is irrelevant (as long as that place has a broadband connection of course). Which I must say I agree with many of Friedman's points (The World is Flat, The Lexus & The Olive Tree, Longitudes & Attitudes) the Internet has made collaboration possible (possibly ubiquitous) it has created opportunities in the most far flung regions, connecting the world. But Florida contends PLACE MATTERS, more than you know Florida believes place is right up there with the big decisions creating the new Holy Trinity of decisions (Spouse, Career, Place). Florida says Place should precede the others & actually has a nice little gadget (Place Finder) to help with that decision.

Alright this is no unique situation smart guy 1 makes brilliant point, then smart guy two makes brilliant counter point. So what do you make of this & how do you put it to work in you career search. Well it turns out both are useful to understand, The Flat World breaks down global economic /political make up helping us realize how to collaborate & prosper from the global workforce. However the harnessing The Flat World is only useful once you are rooted in your career & place, so Florida's research is extremely prudent now. Take a look at the following map-

As you can see industries & professionals cluster in regions. Musicians in Nashville, Winemakers in Napa, Finance in New York & Porn addicts in Louisville KY-

The laws of attraction are at work here talent breeds’ talent, ideas breed ideas & markets emerge. Florida's book won't help you determine what career to choose or even what companies to work for. But once those factors are determined Who's Your City will help you to determine what city will best suit you & the career you choose.