Former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP lawyer Art Chung left the prestigious firm after only 15 months and took a 50 percent pay cut to pursue a career writing trivia for game shows.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg Law, Chung said he went to law school because it was "the path of least resistance" after earning a political science undergraduate degree.
But in practice, he never felt that passionate about being a lawyer.
So after 15 months at Thacher, he took a huge pay cut, moved into a smaller apartment, and went to work writing trivia questions for Regis Philbin's show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."
He worked for the show for 10 years and left just last year to move to NPR's "Ask Me Another."
When asked what he's learned from writing trivia games for television shows, — he's also written for "Cash Cab" and "The World Series of Pop Culture"— Chung revealed "lawyers like to be on television. We had so many contestants who were lawyers. They both know a lot of trivia and they also want to show the world they know a lot of trivia."
Check Out Chung's entire interview with Bloomberg Law:
"Professions like banking, law, accountancy are very mind-oriented," explained Lousada. "Sitting in front of a computer screen is not what their bodies are supposed to do."
And while his answers for male lawyers were pretty standard — erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation — his answer that female lawyers suffer from "a loss of femininity" was an interesting concept.
While there are medicines that can help men work through their problems, Lousada has specific advice for women.
"I’m not saying throw out the career. I support integrating both parts of you," he told Chen, adding that women need to be able to drop their masculine, high-power side at the bedroom door. "The essence of the feminine is to be in the moment, and to fully experience the state of being while the masculine is more goal-oriented."
One law student says people have stopped applying to law school because many schools don't actually prepare students to become lawyers.
"I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of schools don't provide you with training," law student James Niekamp recently told Business Insider.
Niekamp is a third-year law student at University of Cincinnati College of Law.
While Cincinnati isn't a top ranked school nationally, it is widely respected in Ohio. Its extensive clinical program produces students who are actually ready to be lawyers immediately after graduation, Niekamp says.
"If more schools would do something like that, I think we would be better off," he said.
Niekamp says law schools need to start thinking like medical schools if they want to reverse the current trend and dig themselves out of the hole they've created.
Med students take practical, beneficial classes, as opposed to superfluous classes like Asian Studies and the Law, Niekamp says.
His law school is different from many schools, Niekamp says. Cincinnati students get to take clinical classes in which they work with real clients, solving real problems under the supervision of an attorney.
Niekamp's argument that more law schools should offer practical experience is a popular one.
Legal industry experts have called on the American Bar Association to adopt the same standards for law students as the American Medical Association has for med schools.
The ABA would never let law schools do away with a year of law school, according to Above The Law's Elie Mystal.
"Medical schools are regulated by the American Medical Association, which bothers to care about the future of health care in this country. Law schools are regulated by the American Bar Association, which cares about… ???" Mystal once wrote.
Even without help from the ABA, law schools need to start offering more practical classes and real-life work opportunities so students feel prepared to enter the cut-throat legal job market.
It's that time again — Wall Street interview time.
Since the Street is in such pain, acing these questions is more important than ever.
That's why we've gone through our files to find questions that stick in people's heads.
These questions get remembered because they tend to trip people up, whether it's because they're hard, they're surprising, or because they're something interviewees forgot to look over before the big day.
So take a minute to think about these. It's worth saving yourself the embarrassment.
Lisa Du also contributed to the reporting of this piece.
Q: If I gave you an offer that lasted for the next 30 seconds, would you take it?
When you have the right tech skills, you can command a great salary.
But it's an ever-changing target. One day a skill is hot and the next it's not.
Job site Dice.com just sent us a list of tech skills that are worth over $100,000 a year. And that's just salary — a new job might also net you bonuses, stock options and the like.
Dice is a tech-specific job hunting site. It sifted through its database of over 83,000 job postings, plus conducted a salary survey with over 15,000 participants, to come up with this list. (Its salary survey also revealed a few other insights about today's tech job market.)
Many of the skills on this list aren't, by themselves, worth a high salary. They are often combined with other things HR managers are looking for. But if you have these skills, by all means, add them to your resume.
And you are going to be surprised, because the hottest skills are not always the latest, greatest new thing.
SaaS is worth almost $101,000
Software-as-a-Service or SaaS is a relatively new model for buying software.
Instead of buying it and installing it, a company pays a fee to use it over the Internet. Salesforce.com, founded by Marc Benioff, is the classic example of SaaS.
IT pros with experience managing SaaS contracts, and the other issues that come up (like keeping data safe) are in demand these days.
Data Warehouse is worth $101,000
A data warehouse is a giant database of information. It might include a list of every product ever sold for years.
Companies use it to understand their business.
Traditional data warehouses are becoming old school as new "big data" technologies are developed but they haven't been replaced yet.
Change Management is worth $101,000
In life, and in especially in technology, the only constant is change.
Change management is systematized approach to dealing with constant change.
There are a variety of certifications that fall under the "change management" umbrella including some of the other skills on this list like "lean."
If possible, add the "change management" buzzword to your resume.
Politicians and businessmen are fond of talking about America's scientist shortage -- the dearth of engineering and lab talent that will inevitably leave us sputtering in the global economy.
But perhaps it's time they start talking about our scientistsurplus instead.
I am by no means the first persontomakethis point. But I was compelled to try and illustrate it after reading a report from Inside Higher Education on this weekend's gloomy gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, job prospects for young science Ph.D.'s haven't been looking so hot these last few years, not only in the life sciences, which have been weak for some time, but also in fields like engineering.
The graphs below, drawn from National Science Foundation data and some of my own calculations, depict Ph.D. employment at graduation. It's not a perfect measure of the labor market for young science talent -- ideally we'd have data on graduates nine months or a year out of school, since some people need a little extra time to job hunt. But looking at these figures over time, it seems pretty obvious that there's no great run on trained scientists in this country.
First, the big picture. Here is the entire market for Ph.D.'s, including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs. The blue line tracks students who have a job waiting for them after graduation. The green line tracks those signed up for a post-doctorate study program. The red line stands for the jobless (though a sliver of them are heading to another academic program).
The pattern reaching back to 2001 is clear -- fewer jobs, more unemployment, and more post-doc work -- especially in the sciences. A post doc essentially translates into toiling as a low-paid lab hand (emphasis on low-paid as shown below. Once it was just a one or two year rite of passage where budding scientists honed their research skills. Now it can stretch on for half a decade .
Now let's break out the science and engineering fields. In life sciences, such as biology, graduates now have a far better chance of being unemployed when they get their diploma than of having a full-time job.
In disciplines like physics and chemistry, the percentage of employed have also fallen just below the unemployed.
And in engineering, it's hanging on just above.
And finally, the humanities Ph.D.'s -- the few, the proud, the Romantic literature buffs who are practically assumed to be unemployable upon graduation. Thanks to the relative lack of postdoctoral spots, these scholars are both more likely to have a job upon graduating than any of their peers in the sciences and more likely to be searching for employment. All told, their fate isn't all that much worse than the lab geeks' (though their pay, should they land a gig, certainly is).
We have precious little up-to-date information about Ph.D. job outcomes once they leave school. But Georgia State University Professor Paula Stephan has broken down NSF data on biology Ph.D.'s five or six years post-doctorate, and her findings offer both a bit of hope and discouragement (as well as an extraordinarily messy graph; apologies in advance). She doesn't identify hoards of unemployed biologists burning their lab coats for warmth. But she does find that fewer than 1 in 6 are in tenure track academic positions -- smaller than than the number still stuck in post doc positions (in green). A full 10 percent are out of the labor force or working part-time, though at least some in that group are likely women raising children.
Most these Ph.D.'s will eventually find work -- and probably decently compensated work at that. After all, the unemployment rate for those with even a college degree is under 4 percent, and in 2008, science and engineering doctorate holders up to three years out of school had just 1.5 percent unemployment. But next time you hear a politician talking about our lack of science talent, remember all those young aerospace engineers, chemists, physicists who will still be casting around for a gig after they're handed a diploma. There's no great shortage to speak of.
Legal educators are still fantasizing that law firms will create more positions for new lawyers. The latest pipe dream suggests that big firms will "give talented graduates of less prestigious institutions a chance to shine" in residencies that teach lawyering skills.
Although the firms will retain only some of the residents, a compassionate bar association will require those firms to "offer stipends to help those residents who don't make the cut but have debt burdens."
Law firms, as I've suggested before, must find this advice hilarious. Will partners eagerly step forward to train more associates than they need? Are BigLaw firms excited about teaching these extra associates how to handle eviction cases for low-income clients? Are bar members pining to reduce their income to help new lawyers pay off their massive law school debts?
I think not. Law firms are businesses competing in a harsh climate. Law schools vie to land jobs for their graduates, but that's bush league competition: We only have to worry about jobs for one year, we can create low-paid jobs of our own, and we can play games with the numbers. Law firms compete in the real market, one where the bills have to be paid every year, clients would laugh if you asked them to create some work for you, and playing games with the bottom line is fraud or embezzlement.
For a glimpse of today's legal market, every law school dean, professor, student, and prospective student should read the 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market issued by Georgetown Law School's well regarded Center for the Study of the Legal Profession.
That report combines considerable academic and professional expertise: James W. Jones, the report's lead author, previously served as managing partner at Arnold & Porter, Vice President and General Counsel of APCO Worldwide, and Managing Director of Hildebrandt International. On the academic side, Georgetown's Mitt Regan, an expert on the legal profession, contributed to the report. These are people who know about the legal profession, and who draw upon real data collected from real firms.
The report recognizes that "since 2008, law firms have cut back significantly on their hiring and have gone through several rounds of lay-offs of both legal and non-legal staff." Despite those cuts, the firms still suffer from "overcapacity in terms of the number of lawyers available to perform the work at hand." And the problem isn't resolving, it's getting worse: "In the four years since , with demand growth negative to flat, the overcapacity problem has become even more serious." (p. 16)
What's the solution? "Firms have . . . begun to move toward more flexible staffing models, expanding their use of non-partner track associates, staff attorneys, and contract lawyers. Going forward, it is likely that firms will remain conservative in their hiring policies, even as demand begins to grow. As a result, firms probably will be relatively smaller in terms of the number of partners and traditional partner-track associates and relatively larger in terms of the number of other lawyers and non-lawyer professionals." (p. 16)
So, yes, law firms are developing new staffing models. But these are not residencies designed to train new professionals or assist the poor. These are jobs that will help equity partners maintain their profits. And these jobs will not provide more opportunities for "talented graduates of less prestigious institutions" to show their ability. As jobs for conventional partner-track associates continue to decline, even T14 graduates will compete for these new positions--hoping for their "chance to shine."
Law firms do find one bright spot in today's legal market: it is the oversupply of lawyers. The Georgetown report recognizes this quite candidly: "While excess capacity in the market is certainly not good news for young lawyers or, for that matter, law schools, it provides an environment in which law firms should have the flexibility to redesign their staffing models to respond to client demands. By embracing alternative approaches to staffing--including increased use of staff attorneys and non-partner track associates, contract lawyers, and part-time attorneys--firms can create more efficient and cost effective ways to deliver legal services." (p. 17)
It's hard to find a more brutal statement of market reality than that one: the glut of lawyers created by law schools is allowing law firms to hire those graduates on increasingly contingent and unattractive terms. These new jobs are not designed to train new lawyers in skills they can take to other job sites. Once you have worked two years as a back-office document reviewer, what professional skills do you have--other than reviewing documents? These jobs will serve the economic interest of law firms.
And before any legal educators get all huffy about how law firms should recognize their professional obligations rather than simply operating as businesses: How many law faculty are voluntarily taking pay cuts to reduce tuition? How many are contributing substantial amounts to loan-repayment assistance plans? How many are voluntarily changing what they teach, or the time they devote to research, in order to lower the cost of legal education? How many devote 40 hours a year (one week) to serving low-income clients directly? How many spend that time training or supervising other lawyers in providing that service?
There are some professors who do these things, just as there are some law firm partners who forego income to mentor new lawyers. But there aren't very many. Law schools, just like law firms, have become full-bore businesses. The controlling members of these businesses, equity partners and tenured professors, serve their own interests and maximize their take-home pay.
In a market system, there's nothing wrong with businesses maximizing profit. The problem, with both law firms and law schools, is that we clothe ourselves in the rhetoric and privileges of a profession while pursuing market goals. As clients have gained the information they need to assert their interests--and new businesses have emerged to serve those interests--it's our students and new lawyers who pay the price for our duplicity.
Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science ranks number 10 on the U.S. News list.
The school believes its ability to combine the best aspects of a liberal arts college with those of a major research university help it to stand out.
The University is making major investments in engineering to "prepare leaders for an increasingly technological world.
Notable alumni include, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, Former CEO and Google Chairman, CEO of HP, Meg Whitman, and Eric Schmidt also attended Princeton for undergraduate studies.
9. National University of Singapore (NUS) -- Singapore, Singapore
Singapore's oldest University ranks number 9 on the U.S. News list.
NUS' Computer Science major helps students to design computer systems "for a smarter world". The undergraduate program is focused on making students, technical experts, critical thinkers, effective leaders, and life-long learners.
Graduates have gone on to lead successful careers at companies like, Google Mountain View, Google Singapore, Lucas Films, Microsoft Asia, and Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
8. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) -- Zurich, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland
ETH Zurich is a University with heavy foundations in engineering, science, technology, and math. 21 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to students or professors from the school.
U.S. News ranked ETH Zurich as the number eight best university in computer science.
Albert Einstein is one of the university's more notable alumni.
For the women who do choose a tech career, the sky's the limit. There's plenty of opportunity to become a power player, at big companies and hot startups alike.
Genevieve Bell, Director of Interaction and Experience Research in Intel Labs
Genevieve Bell is an anthropologist who joined Intel to help the company figure out how to make gadgets that people love.
A couple of years ago, Intel asked her to create a new R&D unit to come up with future computing products. As her LinkedIn profile says: "Very cool!"
Bell is also the author of "Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing" and one of the 2013 recipients of the Anita Borg Institutes' Women of Vision Awards.
Jocelyn Goldfein, director of engineering at Facebook
Jocelyn Goldfein is responsible for new product design and architecture in Facebook's crucial engineering department.
Her teams work on News Feed, search, and photos.
Before Facebook, Goldfein was a vice president at VMware. Like many of the other women on this list, Goldfein is also a mentor helping young women enter the engineer field.
Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo
As the woman tasked with turning around Yahoo, and someone who is unafraid of controversy, Mayer is arguably the most visible woman engineer in tech.
She was employee No. 20 at Google and the company's first female engineer. She helped Google develop its search technologies and worked on a long list of other key products including images, maps, books, news, and the toolbar.
She also sits on the board of directors of Walmart.
Since 2011, Amazon has added 200 sales reps, The Lions founder Matt McGraw tells us. 140 of those were hired in the past year alone.
And Amazon has seen incredible retention: Only 10 of those sales reps have left, McGraw tells us, according to the profiles The Lions has tracked.
While Oracle and Salesforce have hired more sales reps in that time period, they have also lost more. And Amazon started with almost no enterprise sales force. So, McGraw says, his data shows that Amazon is No. 1 both in net hiring and in the rate of growth of its sales force.
Approximately 40 percent of the hiring has been in Amazon's home state of Washington, with another 25 percent international. The rest is spread across the United States, with significant clusters in San Francisco, New York, and the D.C. area, where Amazon has both a data center and considerable government customers.
HP, Oracle, Google, and others are getting more serious about selling cloud-computing services—the Internet-rented computing model popularized by Amazon.
But Amazon has the biggest brand name for such cloud services, thanks to its early start. Historically, it has sold directly to customers, often startups. But its hiring shows that it is increasingly targeting larger businesses.
Tera Randall, an Amazon spokesperson, provided the following statement:
AWS is hiring sales and account managers all over the world to support the growing number of businesses and organizations, which include enterprises, start-ups, SMBs and government agencies, who are rapidly adopting AWS.
Additionally, AWS is hiring solution architects, professional services consultants, and business development managers who provide sales and technical support to customers. AWS has hired hundreds of people into these positions over the past year, and we’ll continue to hire at that pace this year as even more businesses and organizations are choosing to run their mission-critical applications on AWS. Today, AWS has sales, solution architect, professional services and business development positions open in US, Europe, South America, Japan, India, Singapore, and Australia.
As a manager at a media company with a fairly flexible work environment, it's not that I see no value in working from home.
Say you have a sick child to watch, or a snowstorm hits that makes it impossible for you to get to the office. Those are both valid excuses, and I'm not suggesting that nobody should ever work from home.
But for recent college graduates who are beginning their careers and gearing up to get to the next level, working from home is the exact wrong way to go about it.
Never underestimate the value there is in showing up.
When starting a job, the best way to prove yourself is to be present and dependable. Working from home on a regular basis sends a message to your boss that your first priority is not always your job. It's tending to your cold. Or recovering from a big weekend. Or simply taking a morning off from your daily subway commute.
The people who come to work every day at the same time?
They become rocks.
As a manager, you know they're going to show up, so you begin to count on them for various tasks. You walk by them in the kitchen and remember to tell them something. You run into them in the elevator and compliment them on a job well done. You observe their work ethic and watch their interactions with their boss. You keep them in mind for assignments because their presence reminds you. You start to develop a relationship that can only happen face to face, in the office.
You may even start to feel like they've been around for longer than they have.
When someone works from home, it's the opposite. You subconsciously shorten their tenure at the company.
For a startup like Business Insider, working in the office gives employees the opportunity to raise their hands for things that happen to "come up". So much of what happens during the workday isn't planned. It comes up. And the people who are in the office when it does are there to claim it.
Some people chalk up their colleagues' accelerated career development to "luck".
So many opportunities come from being in the right place at the right time.
When you want to change careers, but you don't have the relevant work experience to show your potential employer that you're capable of doing the job, how should you structure your resume?
In this interview, Laura Hill, founder of Careers in Motion, tells us that job applicants need to focus on their accomplishments rather than responsibilities. She also tells us that you shouldn't waste valuable resume space on an "Objective" because "they're out of fashion."
Watch below to find out the three key elements everyone should have on their resume and when it's acceptable to have a two-page resume:
These nonprofit law firms are trying to solve two problems at once: a glut of new attorneys and a shortage of legal services for the poor.
In theory, these nonprofits charge clients relatively low fees and give new grads a chance to get some experience. One school's program is already being attacked, though.
Arizona State's Alumni Law Group charges $125 an hour, which critics say is too much money for poor people to pay. Here's more criticism of Arizona's program from the Times:
"Some see a naked attempt to improve the school’s ratings in U.S. News and World Report by increasing the percentage of its graduates who find work while doing little to address the access-to-justice problem."
But, the Times added, postgraduate clinics similar to Arizona's will likely be the "way of the future" for many of the country's 200 law schools.
Work can be challenging, but finding an organization that fits your personality and long-term career goals could make the road to success a little more bearable.
How well do you work in certain cultures and what are your methods for making decisions? If you understand yourself well enough, you can actually screen employers while they're screening you.
In this interview, we speak to Laura Hill, founder of Careers In Motion, about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, one of the most popular personality tests that measures psychological preferences to determine how certain people make decisions.
Interesting thing is, Sandberg's own industry, tech, is still one of the most sexist. One niche in particular is notorious: women programmers in the gaming industry.
In two weeks, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2013 will be held in San Francisco. The GDC is minefield of sexism for women developers. Last November, frustration with the GDC and with sexual harassment at work burst forth on Twitter with the hashtag #1ReasonWhy.
Kickstarter employee Luke Crane started it all by posing an innocent-enough question. "Why are there so few lady game creators?,"he tweeted.
He got an outpouring of responses, everything from "lots of ladies don't make it past every small discouragement" to some startling stories of sexual harassment like this one:
Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me. Really. I've been groped. #1reasonwhy
But it could take a lot more work before the gaming industry gets rid of its misogyny. The problem is systematic, points out male programmer Ian Schreiber in his #1ReasonWhy tweet: It's a world in which "50% of world population is a 'niche' market, while 18-25 year old males (~5% population) are 'core.' "
That's an industry bound to have trouble attracting more women.
Shouldn't it be easy to get a job if you are more than qualified—even overqualified —for the opportunity?
If you're an experienced engineer with a Ph.D. and you're having trouble landing an entry-level engineering job, it can be tough on your morale.
However, you should not be surprised when employers don't jump at the chance to hire someone who isn't a perfect fit for the job, even if that means turning away someone with too many qualifications.
While you may think employers should be happy to have overqualified candidates fill their positions, the opposite is actually true: many employers won't even consider a candidate with too much education or experience. Why?
They worry the candidate will be "too expensive."
Employers assume (probably correctly) that the overqualified applicant will leave at the first chance to land a better opportunity.
Hiring managers may be concerned an overqualified candidate would become easily disgruntled and unhappy in the job. No one wants to bring on a potential "grumpy Gus" or "sad Sally" to their team.
How can job seekers address these concerns?
Target appropriate jobs. Apply for jobs well suited to your background and work experience. Now that you know that getting a job beneath your qualifications isn't necessarily easier than landing a more fitting position, stop wasting your time applying for jobs that hiring managers don't want to hire you to do.
If opportunities well suited for your are few and far between, consider investigating other industries that require similar skills and write a great resume that proves your skills in another field are transferable to the new field. (It can be a tough sell, but it's a better use of your time and more likely to land you an offer than applying for jobs below your grade.)
The best way to transfer industries is to network with people who work in the organizations where you'd like to land a job. If you can convince new contacts that you're well qualified, they may be willing to refer you for a position, and studies show referrals are much more likely to land interviews than people applying for jobs online.
Address the salary issue. Maybe there's a good reason you're applying for jobs similar to what you did 5 or 10 years ago. If you're purposefully ramping down your responsibilities, make a point to explain that to the hiring manager. Most applications list a salary requirement; make sure to fill it in with a salary range appropriate to the job. On your cover letter and in conversations with hiring managers and networking contacts, explain why, at this stage of your career, you recognize there are more important things than a high salary. Identify positives, such as work-life balance (if appropriate) and the opportunity to work for an organization with a good reputation and talented colleagues. Give good reasons for wanting the job that don't make you sound desperate for a paycheck.
Make a time commitment. When you have a chance to speak to someone about the opportunity, make it clear that you plan to stay in the job for a certain amount of time. If you are committed to this type of job, make it clear that the opportunity is a destination, not a jumping off point for you.
Make a convincing case for why the job is a good match. It's always up to the candidate to make a case for why he or she is a good fit, but it's even more important for overqualified workers. Study the job description and be able to point out exactly why you're a good person for the job. Make a convincing case that this job, at this stage of your career, is exactly what you want to do.
Recently, while driving to work, I heard a report on the radio about a company choosing to forego traditional job interviews or collecting resumes for an open position, choosing instead to base their entire candidate selection process on “Twitterviews.”
Upon arriving at the office and doing a little more research, I found both USA Today and Business Insider reporting on the Twitterview trend.
Apparently, the tech firm Enterasys Networks is in the process of hiring a Senior Social Media Strategist using Twitter to ask job candidates interview questions, then basing their hiring decision on the candidates’ 140-character answers. Vala Afshar, Enterasys’ Chief Marketing Officer, refuses to even look at resumes, stating, “The paper resume is dead. The Web is your resume. Social networks are your mass references.”
Enterasys isn’t the only company jumping on the Twitterview bandwagon. The Marketing Arm, a division of advertising company Omnicom Group, is planning to hire five summer interns based solely on tweets. But presumably, the positions have yet to be filled, and several unanswered questions remain.
How will these companies determine what kind of a fit the candidates will be with their company culture? How will they assess each candidate’s ability to perform under the pressure of an interview, thus translating to their work performance? How will they determine the candidates’ social skills, and how well they’ll interact with their coworkers or contribute in a team environment? And most importantly, what will the candidates’ next step be after getting fired for not being qualified, not being able to handle the workload, or simply not being a good fit for the company?
I don’t doubt that an employer can learn a great deal from candidates based on their tweets. I’m sure an interviewer who is an industry veteran and savvy Twitter user can ask just the right questions to glean the necessary info from a prospective employee in order to ascertain that they have the industry experience and social media knowledge the job requires.
But how does one verify the legitimacy of this information? If these companies are truly not accepting any application materials other than tweets, aside from viewing the candidates’ web presence, how do they verify past employment, confirm education or check references?
In the past decade alone, we’ve seen the job application process take on many new forms – LinkedIn profiles, online portfolios, Prezi resumes, Skype interviews. Technology is constantly evolving, and with change comes new and innovative ways of showcasing skills and talents to prospective employers.
And while Afshar claims the resume is dead, the fact remains that 3.6 billion resumes are being sent to potential employers in the U.S. each year. So employers must still be reading them, right?
As someone who works in a recruiting department that sources and screens resumes for each position we fill, I still see the resume as an important tool. If it weren’t, why are 15,000 new resumes being posted every day to CareerBuilder? Why are employers paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of searching CareerBuilder’s database to fill open positions?
For those employers looking to fill positions that don’t require strong social media connections, where are they finding qualified candidates? Unless they are word-of-mouth referrals, the candidates are likely being sourced by a recruiter or directly by the employer. And unless they’re passive candidates who are hand-picked from a competitor and convinced to leave their jobs, the names are probably coming from resumes!
Afshar’s statement that the Web is the new resume and social networks are now mass references demonstrates the hiring criteria important to Enterasys’ business. However, just because someone is knowledgeable about a subject or industry and active on social media doesn’t necessarily mean they will make a good employee.
If I were an employer who was impressed with a young prospect’s social networking skills and industry knowledge, the first thing I would want to do is get some more background information on the individual – the kind of info that a resume provides. And if I were a job seeker, I certainly wouldn’t wait around hoping a prospective employer reads my tweets before taking a proactive approach to getting my work experience and accomplishments in front of their HR department.
So maybe my views are antiquated – maybe I’m an octogenarian trying to view the recruiting world through a black-and-white television with a rabbit-ear antenna. But with LinkedIn stating its aspiration to be “the next generation resume” and just hitting the 200 million user mark, from where I sit, the resume isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For those employers who have had success hiring without the use of resumes in any form, I’d love to hear about your experiences. But if you’re a job seeker asking me for work, guess what my first request will be.
Can I assume that you’ve heard about the recent case in Florida in which a woman was arrested for riding a manatee?
When I heard about this incident my first thought was: “What kind of idiot tries to ride a manatee? Shouldn’t this lady have known better?”
The answer, of course, is yes- reasonable people do not see animals drifting along a Florida waterway and thinks “All aboard!”
But the Florida Keys are positively blanketed in signs like the one above, and a law does in fact exist outlawing the behavior in question.
I find it sad that the good people of Florida must legislate for the clueless few, but that seems to be the world that we live in. A world where our coffee cups bear dire warnings about the hot liquids within, and my curling iron has an enormous label advising me against putting it into my eyes.
Sadder still, this lunacy does not stop at the borders of our organizations- many of us have encountered organizations that create policies for the clueless few.
Policy Making for ‘The Clueless Few’
Not sure what I mean? I find dress codes to be a good litmus test. Does yours prohibit the wearing of tube tops (or jean cut-offs, or t-shirts bearing offensive language)? Awww, I bet that ruins the whole outfit you had planned for tomorrow, right? Of course not—because you and I are reasonable people who do not need to be told that wearing a tube top to work is a bad idea.
Yes, I know what some of you are thinking:
“But Jane, common sense is not so common. Someone might actually think that wearing a tube top is okay unless we have a policy that says it isn’t.”
That insidious thought is the first step along the path to policy making for the clueless few. Remember- unlike the state of Florida, we actually get to decide who calls our organizations home. We can choose not to hire people lacking common sense, making these policies unnecessary. Okay, okay- I know that’s easier said than done. You can hire someone who seems like a reasonable person for weeks, months or even years, only to have them do something so out of bounds that you assume they’ve been replaced by an alien doppleganger. People are unpredictable like that.
But pre-emptively writing policies will not prevent this from ever happening, and it will not address these occasional lapses in judgment when they do inevitably occur, at least not in a way that supports a truly accountable workplace. There are consequences to this approach and the policy proliferation that results. And those consequences almost certainly outweigh any benefits organizations might think this approach offers.
The first of these is that employees feel infantilized, and take this as a signal that the organization does not really expect them to be personally accountable. Nothing says ‘lowered expectations’ like making that top-notch Software Developer brainiac you just hired sign something acknowledging that tube tops are off-side. We trust them to lead the development of our next product, but not to pick out a sensible outfit?
Opening a Can of Worms
The second consequence of policy making for the clueless few is that it inadvertently widens the scope of possible behaviours. That is, the vast majority of people will have a very good sense of what is acceptable office attire, but by bringing tube tops into the discussion (even while indicating that they’re not acceptable), an organization is acknowledging that it’s within the realm of the possible that an employee might actually show up wearing a tube top. This sets the outer limit of what’s ‘acceptable’ waaaay out there, implying that everything that lies on the spectrum between a suit and a tube top is a grey area. By articulating the outlandishly prohibited, we tell people that anything not specifically mentioned in a policy might be okay.
Building your Robot Army
And the third, and most serious, consequence of policy making for the clueless few is that it erodes the agency, authority, and good judgment that managers should be expected to exercise as part of their role. If an organization’s policies spell out every conceivable situation, action and consequence, we leave no room or need for individual people managers to think for themselves. This shows them that we don’t trust their judgment, and it will eventually beget a kind of ‘learned helplessness’ in which they refer to the Policy Manual to make every decision. Prophecy fullfilled, they’ll be clueless without the guidance of policies. No one wants this- we need people in our organizations who can improvise in ambiguous situations, not robotpeople who are slaves to ‘the manual.'
Passive Aggressive Much?
Every organization needs (and is required to have) some policies. But organizations that rely on policies written for the clueless few rather than working at the more difficult task of cultivating good judgment and employee relations skills amongst their managers allow a vicious cycle to begin.
An over-reliance on ‘the manual’ leaves managers and employees lacking the skills and comfort-level to engage in difficult conversations. Instead of addressing the occasional slip ups made by individual employees directly and professionally, organizations like this often resort to passive-aggressive tactics like e-mailing the dress code policy to every employee because one person showed up in shorts- and that sucks. Just say no to policy making for the clueless few!
Today’s question brings up a number of recurring themes here on Holla.
I’m an MBA student, and one of our projects has been tasked with trying to figure out what is wrong with college career boards. How do you think we could make on-campus job boards better?
What we find most interesting about this question is its narrow scope. Your professor is seeking to identify problems with MBA “job boards” when the real deficiencies in campus and post-graduate recruitment are spread across all contact points and phases of the process. There are failures on the parts of all parties involved – the universities and those that represent their career services, the companies seeking to recruit graduates and, perhaps most disappointingly, the students who more than ever need to put forth a herculean effort to secure their first career opportunity.
As the cornerstone of an on-campus recruiting process, a university’s career center must attract top employers by properly preparing and marketing their own graduates. Missing from many undergraduate business and MBA educations are mandatory credit hours educating students on how to prepare themselves for the step that pre-dates the job itself – the job search. Colleges need to proactively sell their student body to top companies in a bid to have them spend resources and money on recruiting trips.
As HR and hiring budgets tighten, the number of trips these firms make decrease year over year. Any on-campus recruiting trip, whether the first or tenth, can quickly become the last when a school’s students make a poor showing. Delegates of the career center are much like recruiters – they prepare and sell both their product and their client who is buying. Far too many of these “services” lack the proactivity needed to bring top employers to campus during the toughest economy of the last several decades.
Also sharing in the blame are the companies who lead unstructured on-campus recruitment processes, often conducted by their least impressive representatives. Campus recruiters are typically recent college graduates themselves; holders of HR-related degrees but without practical work experience. They will set up a table in a school’s dining hall, student union or career fair and wait for students to approach them.
While one would hope that students would proactively seek out employers, career services rarely reaches the entire student body to inform them of campus recruiting events. Corporations, banks, accounting firms and any of the typical entry-level hiring companies should make the most of their campus visits by understanding the school’s course offerings, relating those areas of study to job openings they are seeking to fill, and directly reaching out to those students by speaking to the class or the professor. This kind of more direct contact fosters a stronger relationship between students and the companies looking to attract them and will produce more successful hires out of a larger population to recruit from.
Finally, and perhaps most concerning, the failure of campus job boards and graduate recruiting rests on the shoulders of those seeking the jobs. As we’ve written here in the past, online career sites have severely diluted the importance of effort put in on an application. It’s easy to log on to your college’s online job board, fire off a resume to each position posted and sit back hoping responses will come in. Usually, no attempt is made to develop a custom cover letter, linking a student’s school studies and internship experience to the role, nor is any effort to follow-up put forth.
The ease with which students can “apply” for career opportunities belies the difficult struggle that is today’s corporate world—success is not as easy as clicking a button to “apply now” or “achieve a promotion”—students and employees alikemust aggressively work towards their ultimate career goals.
Fifty years ago, finding a job meant scouring the New York Times, copying addresses and telephone numbers down, then making a personal connection with a firm seeking to make a hire. “Hitting the pavement” or “job hunting with shoe leather” was a self-made process and the Internet has removed a great deal of the need to motivate one’s self during their career search. This mentality – the ability to “fall back” onto technology – combined with laziness and complacency on all parts has set on-campus recruiting years back, perhaps to a point even before the internet was the world’s primary job searching tool.