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The Recruiter is a blog for workers in technology and professional markets to learn about hot fields and hiring trends from your friends at Yoh.
Yoh is one of the largest providers of talent and outsourcing services to customers in the United States. With over 374 million USD in total sales, Yoh operates from more than 75 locations and provides long- and short-term temporary and direct placement of technology and professional personnel, as well as managed staffing services, for the information technology, scientific, engineering, health care and telecommunications communities. For more information, visit Yoh is part of Yoh Services LLC, a Day & Zimmermann Company.

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Editor: Bill L.
Writers: Amy D., Anna M., Connie V., Roseanne D.



« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »

September 28, 2007

Working Mother knows best

All our career moms out there will appreciate this release: Just this week, Working Mother put out its annual report on the 100 best places for women to work. Popular policies included wide-ranging flex options, generous paid maternity leave, affordable child care and career development.

Here are some tech and pharma companies that made the list, and a sampling of what they offer:

Cisco Systems San Jose, C.A.

Last year, 70 percent of the work force telecommuted, with nearly everyone using flextime. Plus, everyone gets a laptop and free home broadband service to make cyber-meetings easier.

IBM Armonk, N.Y.

The firm sponsors three on-site day care centers and 68 near-site facilities. It also subsidizes training and funding for other family-friendly programs. During the summer, employees can put their kids in one of IBM's summer programs, such as science or engineering camp.

Merck Whitehouse Station, N.J.

Employees follow flexible schedules on a trial basis, choosing to work from home, job-share or adjust hours, among other options. The best part is, everyone gets health benefits, whether they work 60 hours or six.

Of course, these great benefits exist for the fathers and non-parents at these companies. Who wouldn't want to strike that elusive work-life balance with such terrific perks? So hiring companies, take note: Finding the best talent out there might require some innovative policies, but you're guaranteed some very happy employees.

Is your company in this Top 100? Do you wish it were? Share your experiences as a working parent here.

Posted by Roseanne D.

September 25, 2007

Why changing seasons signal changing jobs

Yesterday was the first day of fall, although you might not know it here in Philadelphia, where temperatures are reaching the 80s again. Still, the rustling of early foliage is overcome only by the rustling of restless IT pros gearing up for a job search, says Deborah Perelman for eWEEK's Channel Insider.

According to Deborah, this time of year is a natural period for transition, as vacations end, students go back to school and people start looking ahead to the new year and new goals.

Indeed, no time like the present to think about your 2008 plans. By throwing your hat into the ring now, you can beat the pack of fellow seekers who begin the hunt post-New Year's resolution. Plus, you get your momentum going before the distraction of the holidays, can round out the year at your current company and kick off 2008 with a new workplace adventure.

Just one extra tip before you get started: Consider consulting or contracting for your next move. It's a great way to hone and expand your skill sets while working with diverse companies, managers and projects.

So how have you fared with seasonal job searches before? Do the spring buds or autumn leaves stir your job wanderlust? And have different seasons ever impacted your hunt in a particular way? Tell us how!

Posted by Christy H.

September 24, 2007

Co-worker? Or co-friend?

Last week we talked about keeping friends in your contact network. But what about having friends at your workplace?

Humor me here ... take a minute to think of your best friend in the whole world. Now think of your best friend at work. Do you even have one? If not you are missing a critical component of workplace happiness, says Tim Rath, author of Vital Friends.

Rath teamed up with Gallup researchers to figure out eight essential friendship roles everyone needs in work and life. Their biggest finding (drum roll please): People who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job than someone who doesn't.

Of course, hiring managers and employers can't force friendships, but they can create amicable work environments for employees. This way, people feel more comfortable mingling with coworkers, and are more likely to transform that familiarity into closer relationships.

And think of the benefits! Studies have linked socially supportive workplaces to higher job satisfaction, less exhaustion, and less desire to leave the job. Plus, stress goes down, productivity goes up, and life in general looks much rosier.

In your experience, how have office friendships (or lack thereof) affected your job? Were they always positive? Any drawbacks? Let us know here.

Posted by Roseanne D.

September 18, 2007

Friends don't let friends derail job searches

Networking is the name of the job hunt game. So naturally, you look to your closest circle of friends and family to kickstart your search. And no wonder—going through loved ones is about as warm, fuzzy, convenient and non-threatening as you can get.

Still, immediately calling your best high school buddy might have its risks, says this article. Even people with the best of intentions can accidentally hijack your search by going overboard with advice, opinions and scatter-shot campaigning on your behalf.

The trick to reigning in the potential madness: Carefully develop a communications plan that calls on the most strategically selected contacts in your personal network. This way, you have more control over your search, while drawing on the best tips and connections your friends and family can offer.

That said, I have a couple do's and don'ts to add to the article's list:

DO consider your emotional network. This is especially important when you're considering relocation. Do you already have friends or family living there? Who can help recommend areas to live? Who will be around to show you the ropes and help acclimate you? I know it's not imperative to know somebody in a new place, but it does make the transition a little easier.

DON'T compromise your personal goals. It can be tough to stick to your guns about developing inexpensive laptops for children in third-world countries when a friend or relative desperately wants you to be an NYC investment banker. Take their desires in stride, and remember it's YOUR happiness at stake. If they care for and support you—as most friends and family do—the will likely adjust to whatever decision satisfies you most in the end.

DO listen to war stories—but take them with a grain of salt. Other people's job search adventures are usually worth hearing. After all, you might gain a useful tip, insight, warning, or new contact. But be selective about what you use for guidance. Remember, each search is unique to the seeker, so perspectives are biased from the start. Plus, time passes, circumstances change, and industries shift, making many cautionary tales irrelevant to you. Instead, view your search as objectively as possible in its current context, and keep war stories filed in the back of your mind.

Any others? Share them here!

Posted by Christy H.

September 14, 2007

TGIF: Thank god it's freelance

Another work week is waning, and we're all thinking how pleasant it would be to stay home on Fridays ... or every day, for that matter, on our own schedules with our own projects. But if your desire to go it alone is becoming a Monday-thru-Thursday wish as well, it might be time to consider consulting.

As it turns out, 45 percent of you already are considering it. And your timing couldn't be better, says a survey from Companies are depending more and more on a contingent workforce to keep up with qualified labor shortages, and they’re paying very well for those services.

This is most evident in IT, where the dearth of high-impact talent is prompting 56 percent of IT employers to say they'd pay $50 or more per hour -- sure beats the average American worker's salary of $17.45 an hour.

One other tip before you break out the bunny slippers: When registering with a talent placement firm, choose one that specializes in your field. (Yes, of course we at Yoh are going to tell technology pros to do that, because you're our specialty!)

But seriously, look for agencies with extensive employer connections in the fields where you want to work. It increases your chances of landing just the right gig, from responsibilities and pay, to growth opportunities and educational advancement. And that's bound to make your Fridays even more enjoyable!

Posted by Anna M.

September 13, 2007

Economic forecast: Partly sunny with a chance of recession

The Labor Department made two announcements last week that paint a muddled picture of the economy's future.

First came the oh-so-sunny productivity report, which said worker productivity grew at a higher than expected 2.6 percent -- its fastest pace in two years. Labor costs slowed to 1.4 percent simultaneously, allaying fears that companies would have to raise prices to pay workers, and stoke inflationary fires as a result.

But then came the employment report to rain on everyone's parade. The Labor Department had taken a gamble, predicted 115,000 new jobs, and lost big when payroll actually fell by 4,000 jobs. It didn't make anyone feel better to note this was the first decline in August payrolls since 2003.

What does all this mean for the tech sector? Thankfully, not much. Yes, tech stocks took a dip on Friday, but that was more a reaction to company news rather than the reports. Plus, while the overall job trend was weak, other key indicators like average work week hours and hourly earnings stayed steady, boding well for job market security.

So deep breath, everyone -- no need to worry this quarter. And if your own experiences in the corporate jungle have given you any insight into these economic trends, share with us here!

Posted by Christy H.

September 11, 2007

Smile and say “technology!”

Polish those pearly whites, everyone. Japanese company Omron Corp. has released new “smile-checking” software that instantly measures a person's happiness level.

The program analyzes wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, the space between lips, and other facial features to generate “smile ratings”-- basically, how happy or sad you are at a given moment. The company sees the software being useful in service industries, where positive attitudes and friendliness are critical for building relationships with customers.

However, does it worry anybody else that we're relying on robots to monitor human emotion? Surely we're not so far removed from one another in the workplace that we can't depend on face-to-face management to gauge when coworkers are grumpy or dissatisfied.

The irony is, using this software to monitor employees might only aggravate existing morale problems. If I were in customer service, and my manager told me to say cheese for the smile-robot, I'd be offended.  Plus, I’d be worried about why she couldn't figure out my true attitude on her own through reviews, meetings, and daily communication.

Besides, the smile checker could give ineffective managers an easy out. Why bother to keep employees happy and fulfilled with constructive leadership and fresh challenges -- and make those smiles genuine -- when you can use a digital watchdog to browbeat them into beaming?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's first see if this technology even makes its way to the U.S., or becomes widespread. Until then, grin and bear it. ;-)

Posted by Roseanne D.

September 07, 2007

Good test for rating good jobs

Forget the SATs and the GMATs. This test from Penelope Trunk is more my speed. Plus, it serves a great purpose -- helping you figure out if you have a good job.

Penelope puts short commutes, manageable workflow, clear and challenging goals, and work friendships on her rating scale. Strong start, but I think there's more to the story. Here are a few Recruiter add-ons you can factor into your final score:

1. Generous management -- 1 pt.

This doesn't mean pizza parties every Friday or company trips to the amusement park, though these morale boosters are a welcome break from work. I'm talking more about monetary benefits such as relocation costs, health care reimbursement, fair raises, and 401(k) contributions. These incentives help offset your financial woes, and free your mind to concentrate on your work, not your checkbook. Plus, the perks speak volumes about how your employer values your talent.

2. Constructive reviews -- 1 pt.

Yogi Berra once quipped, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” However, this level of ambiguity won't help you much during performance reviews. Thank your lucky stars if you have a manager who offers constructive feedback, honest praise, and actionable advice about solving workplace problems and advancing your career. It will help you improve in the short term, and learn and grow in the long term.

3. Respect from employers and coworkers -- 1 pt.

I am always amazed by the positive cycle of good work and respect. Your achievements earn praise and admiration, which in turn motivate you to continue that success. But respect goes beyond gold stars and back claps. Does your office openly acknowledge and appreciate your contributions? Do they treat you, one another, vendors, and clients with maturity and dignity? While not everyone will be -- or even should be -- your best friend, genuine friendliness makes the office environment much more pleasant.

Add these points to Penelope's test, and see how your company did:

0 to 3: Polish your resume, and start networking.

4 to 6: A nice place to be right now.

7 to 9: Congrats. You found a job in Heaven.

Any test items I missed? Add them here!

Posted by: Christy H.

September 05, 2007

Can't get no (job) satisfaction?

Quick! Choose five coworkers, and count off three of them. You now have the ratio of American workers who say they are satisfied with their careers.

That's what job search Web site discovered when it surveyed 1,000 adults across the country, and learned that 61 percent are “very happy” in their current roles. Other factors that upped the happy ante included working in the West and being married. (Colorado newlyweds must have it great.)

But I'd like to know what “happy” really means for these employees. Happiness could spring from many different sources, like fair bosses and comprehensive health benefits, or flexible hours and fantastic pay. Or maybe it's something individual and intangible, like enjoying where you are in your life, and choosing jobs that fulfill you, rather than pay the bills.

Conversely, why are two out of five workers not so hot for their 9-to-5s? They might have been grumpy or disgruntled the day the survey was taken. Or their response could signal deeper, more lasting workplace issues, such as weak management support, little to no appreciation, or lack of engaging challenges.

It goes without saying that keeping a finger on the employee satisfaction pulse is one of HR's primary functions. I'm curious to hear what managers and employees think about this survey. In your experience, how is job happiness defined? How do you make it happen in your office and in your personal career decisions? Let us know here -- thanks!

Posted by Anna M.

September 04, 2007

Telecommuting becomes business as usual

Worried about rising gas prices, air pollution and traffic snarls? Well, you can relax, because by 2009, nearly 14 million workers won't be driving to the office.

Instead, they'll be telecommuting. We've been hearing about this trend -- also known as teleworking -- off and on for the last decade, but I don't think people realize just how widespread the movement is.

For instance, did you know almost 12 million employees telework more than eight hours per week right now? That's nearly double the 6 million who teleworked in 2000, according to Gartner Dataquest. At this rate, no wonder we'll reach 14 million in just a couple of years.

Several environmental factors are adding momentum as well. More employees want flexible working options to accommodate job sharing, maternity leave and work-life balance. Managers are coming around to the idea that workers don't need to be physically present to do a good job. And affordable, mobile technology, such as PDAs and smart phones, is readily available, helping people work anywhere, anytime, without a hitch.

I found more evidence for these trends at last year's Society for Human Resource Management Conference and Exposition. During the conference, we surveyed 198 HR managers about their remote workforce, and found 81 percent of hiring managers had policies in place to let employees telework.

Plus, 67 percent believed the number of employees who worked remotely would increase over the next two years. (Talk about seeing the writing on the wall!)

Overall, I think the war for talent is driving the adoption of telecommuting, particularly for the IT sector. HR managers in this field are recognizing that flexible work structures could mean the difference between winning or losing a bid for a high-impact professional. And when there aren't many available, you can't afford to let them go.

Looking for more telework tips? Check out my article in ComputerWorld on this very topic. And I'd love to hear your stories -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- if you're a telecommuter or an exec who manages them.

P.S. If you want to see our complete 2006 survey data and methodology from SHRM, drop me a line here, and I'll send it along.

Posted by Jim L.