Posted by: doug308 | August 30, 2011

True Life Interviewing Pitfalls

Here’s another in the series of life’s lessons that we’ll call “Failure Favors The Ill Prepared”.

I got to follow up on an interview with one of my favorite clients today. You know, one of those customers that you really want to do a good job for. Well, this time things didn’t turn out as positively as I might have hoped. The story goes like this; the candidate does a phone interview about two weeks ago and the hiring manager seems to like him a lot. They get along well together, the candidate answers all of the technical questions right, and so they decide to set the site interview. Which is where the train comes off the tracks. First my candidate comes into the the interview physically looking pretty rumpled up. Not a great start. Then upon questionsing the manager finds that he knows virtually nothing about the project he’ll be working on (and that he is supposed to lead) despite the fact that I prepped him for 30 minutes on it and the details of the project are not only on the company’s web site, but in every trade journal printed. So, now he is rumpled up and ill prepared. Upon further interviewing the candidate gives every indication that he thinks less than a lot of his current employer and so rather than appearing to come to something more interesting he shows himself to be running away from something. Why? “I am always trying to find a place where I can make more money.” Beautiful.

The rest of the details of are too painful for me to relate. But let’s just say that this is not what you want to do to get a job kids. Instead; A. bring some pressed clothes to an away interview so you don’t look like a slob. B. take just a few minutes to pay attention when people are trying to tell you about the company you’re interviewing with. Even better, do some research on your own and try to look like you know what you’re talking about. And C. Don’t sell yourself as a mercenary.

I can’t tell you just how disappointed I was when I got the interview follow up from my client. Don’t be my next bad example.

Posted by: doug308 | August 22, 2011

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Hi folks. With all that’s happening on the world economic stage there has been precious little good news to relay. However, I wanted to take a moment to pass along some positive feedback for a change. Imagine this. In the last three weeks I have received more inquiries to help people find additional staff than I have in the previous year! Think about that! To be sure part of this has to do with the onset of the fall outage season. But still. Given the hiring levels of the last couple of years this is a pretty big deal. And guess what? The most recent positions have not been for needle in a haystack positions. These are your standard construction and outage managers and engineering positions. So, hang in there folks There’s hope.

Posted by: doug308 | August 11, 2011

Looking for EEs

I am currently conducting a search for a well known EPC for two EEs with their Professional Engineer’s certification. One will be in a supervisory role and one in a senior design role. If you know someone who would be interested in hearing the details please ask them to contact me at 314-262-7002.

Posted by: doug308 | August 10, 2011

Now On Twitter

Hi guys. Now you can follow me on Twitter; @DougDHeadhunter

Posted by: doug308 | August 8, 2011

Counter Offer Train Wreck

Today I had a placement fall apart because the candiate took a counter offer. Not just a regular counter offer, a 20% increase in pay counter offer! Sounds like a great deal huh? Well, for about the next month or so it will be. Because right about then her employer is going to cut her loose on their terms after they have her complete the current rush of business they are going through.

Look folks, if you’re ever in a position like this ask yourself a question. If I wasn’t worth this extra money last week, why am I all of the sudden worth it this week? Was I getting grossly underpaid and the company, in the face of my immiment departure has suddenly realized it’s mistake? Well, maybe. But probabaly not. And ask yourself another questions as well. Have the issues that made you consider a move in the first place been alleviated by the money, or extra vacation or whatever it is they offered you. Once again, probably not. Don’t let them lure you back to the situation you had already determined wasn’t worth staying in.

The Wall Street Journal and many other publications have conducted dozens of polls on this subject and the uniform results are that 95% of everyone that accepts a counter offer leaves their employer within six to twelve months of taking it. And this isn’t some headhunter BS designed to get you to go where we want you to be. These are cold hard repeatable and verifiable numbers. Ask around. Don’t take my word for it. Look up the articles on the web and check out the comments associated with them. Counter offers are not a good thing to pursue because as sure as God made little green apples you will be gone not too long afterward and not on your terms.

So if you take a counter offer I would go ahead and get your things packed up anyway. You won’t be hanging around long.

Posted by: doug308 | August 2, 2011

Ultra High Radiation at Fukashima Daiichi

Tokyo (CNN) — The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has detected the highest radiation levels at the facility since the initial earthquake and tsunami five months ago, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

The ultra-high levels of radiation were measured Monday afternoon on the grounds of the facility, between reactors No. 1 and 2, Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Naoki Tsunoda. The lethal radiation was found at the bottom of a ventilation tower.

The power company immediately cordoned off the area and is currently investigating the cause of the high radiation and how it will affect the recovery work at the plant, Tsunoda said.

The radiation levels — 10,000 millisieverts per hour — are high enough that a single 60-minute dose would be fatal to humans within weeks.

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster occurred when a 15-meter (48-foot) tsunami inundated the coastal plant after northern Japan’s historic March 11 earthquake.

The flooding knocked out the cooling systems for the three operating reactors and their associated spent fuel pools, causing the reactors to overheat and hydrogen gas explosions that blew apart the building housing reactors No. 1 and 3.

Another hydrogen blast is believed to have damaged the inside of the No. 2 reactor, while engineers are struggling to manage an estimated 100,000 tons of highly contaminated water that was used to cool the reactors during the emergency.

Tokyo Electric Power Company projects the situation won’t be fully over until sometime between October and January. The disaster has caused Japan to rethink its commitment to nuclear energy, and Germany has since announced plans to abandon atomic power entirely by 2022.

Posted by: doug308 | July 29, 2011

Puzzling Economic News

In reading today’s headlines every major news outlet has a story about the US economy growing much slower than was expected. However, I currently have more openings to fill than at any time in the last three years! Now granted I work in some niche markets, but still. And as I talk with other recruiters I find the same thing. So, how can there be such a disparity between the the stories coming off the wires and the experiences of those of us charged with finding people for empty jobs?

In my opinion there are a couple of factors involved in this disparity. First, many of the openings that I and my colleagues are working on are fairly specific types of positions. For example, instrumentation & controls engineers for nuclear power plants or a pricing coordinator for the secondary mortgage market. Second, our job is to root around and find open jobs. And to be sure some industries are certainly doing better than others. However, no matter what market they are in, if I talk with a recruiter working with professional positions they will enevitably have more openings than people.

So, what do you folks think? Is this just another example of the press blowing things out of proportion? Do the same conditions exist in your field? I’d be interested to hear what your experiences are.

Posted by: doug308 | July 18, 2011

Relocation Assistance On The Decline

Over the last few years the process of relocating candidates has changed quite a bit. What used to be considered SOP reimbursements for a move often don’t exist at all. And the amounts offered for others have diminshed significantly. This article I found on MSNBC echoes very closely what i have seen in the market.

Looking for relocation expenses? Don’t expect much
Housing, moving assistance provided by corporations has hit the skids this year

If you’re looking to get a new job out of town and expect to get moving money from your new employer, don’t expect much.

Housing and relocation assistance provided by corporations across the country to new and existing employees hit the skids this year, after declining steadily since the beginning of the Great Recession. Help with everything from selling a previous home to lump-sum relocation payments and temporary relocation help saw continued declines, according to a recent poll of human resource managers at major corporations conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM.

“Company relocation policies are catching up to the realities of the market,” said John Touey, a principal at executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group, about the cutbacks in moving benefits. “I think employers are balking at the costs.”

But they’re not balking for everyone. High-level executives, he added, including C-suite type positions, are still typically getting all their expenses covered.

It’s the mid- and lower-level employees who are being left high and dry, or saddled with moving expenses they may not have had to cover in the past, he continued.

Share the pain

Just recently, he said, he had one job candidate that an employer wanted to hire but the company refused to pay for the entire move. “They decided to share the pain of relocation,” he said.

The most commonly offered relocation assistance employers provide is a single lump-sum payment, but the benefit is on the decline. This year 26 percent of human resource professionals surveyed said their companies were providing such a benefit, down from 30 percent in 2009, according to the SHRM survey.

The No. 2 spot most common benefit offered is a temporary relocation benefit and that dropped to 25 percent, from 35 percent in 2009 and 42 percent in 2007. Such perks ease the burden of employees who must maintain two households — a temporary location for a temporary job assignment and a permanent home to which they plan to return.

One of the biggest problems related to relocations for both employers and employees has been homes that employees are unable to sell when they take a new, permanent assignment in another town. So many homes are underwater, or worth less than their mortgage, that employees often find themselves unable to sell their homes without a major financial hit.

In the past, many firms were willing to help employees who had to sell their homes for slight losses. Today so many people expect losses and the losses are often so big, employers haven’t been willing to pay, said Mike Gonzales, CEO of Armstrong Relocation, a relocation company and major hauler for United Van Lines. “Companies now place the burden on the transferee,” he maintained.

Help gets scarce

Indeed, everything related to home assistance for relocations declined in the SHRM poll:

•Mortgage assistance dropped to 3 percent this year from 12 percent in 2007.
•Down payment assistance on a home skidded to 2 percent this year, from 11 percent in 2007.
•Reimbursement for a loss sustained from a home sale dropped to 5 percent from 6 percent in 2009, the most recent figure available.
•Assistance selling a previous home dropped to 9 percent this year, down from 19 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 2010.
•But mortgage insurance assistance saw an uptick to 2 percent this year from 1 percent last year, versus 5 percent in 2007.
The poor U.S. housing market has impacted workers looking to relocate like never before. Roughly 28 percent of the home-sale transactions Cartus Corp., a major relocation management company, sees today are short sales, said Matt Spinolo, the firm’s executive vice president, global client service. “Five years ago, there were almost none,” he added. A short sale is when a homeowner sells his property for less than what he owes to the bank.

Many employees, he said, are willing to take a loss on a home or even bypass a cost-of-living increase to land a job. “They just need a job, period,” Spinolo maintained.

And clearly cost-of-living differentials are hard to come by these days. The SHRM poll found that only 10 percent of employers offer the benefit to relocators, down from 22 percent in 2007.

And if you want to check out what could be your new hometown, don’t expect much financial help from employers when it comes to the cost of the visit. The survey found only 18 percent of HR professionals offered that service at their companies, down from 40 percent in 2006. And trailing spouses are also increasingly on their own. Benefits for helping a spouse relocate dropped to 12 percent this year from 21 percent in 2007.

Policies must be fair

If you work for a company that moves to a new location and you’re unable to commute to it, the employer is under no legal obligation to pay for your relocation costs if they offer you a job at the new location, said Marc Mandelman, an employment lawyer for Proskauer.

But employer policies have to be applied fairly and cannot discriminate against a certain class of employees, he said. A company can, however, pay to move workers with certain skill sets they need, or certain levels of employees if they chose to and not others at a company.

In this case, if an employee can’t afford to make the move because the cost of the relocation is too high, or they are upside down on their mortgage, they may be eligible for severance depending on the terms of the plan their company offers. They may also be able to get unemployment benefits, depending on a state’s laws, Mandelman explained.

As for getting the most you can out of relocation-stingy employers, job seekers walk a fine line when it comes to asking for moving money, especially early on or late in the process, said Eileen Levitt, president of human resources company The HR Team. You may not have a lot of leverage to negotiate much more than a few thousands dollars towards your move, she maintained.

When to negotiate

For the run of mill job paying $40,000 to $60,000, there’s probably a local job market of people who can fill that position so they’re not going to give you anything,” she said. “But if you have a unique skill set that’s very much in demand, or you’re a high-level manager, you can negotiate it.”

She advised that job hunters do their homework before they go for an interview and figure out what they realistically need to make a move. Don’t bring up relocation until you’ve had an interview and feel like they’re considering you for the position.

At that point, she suggested job seekers say something like, “I’m not sure if I’ll need relocation assistance but what is available if I do?”

Demanding a lucrative relocation package in this job market, she added, “is pushing your luck.”

Eve Tahmincioglu writes the weekly “Your Career” column for and chronicles workplace issues in her blog,

Posted by: doug308 | June 30, 2011

The Politics of Power Generation

In the wake of the damage to the Fukashima nuclear plants in Japan, countries worldwide have made statements regarding shutting down or curtailing further development of nuclear power (most notably Germany and Italy) and instead focusing on replacing this capacity with other renewable forms of energy like solar, wind, wave, and etc. However, is it a coincidence that at the same time France has just annouced that it will invest the equivilent of a billion US dollars into their own nuclear power programs? Probably not, and for a number of reasons. For example while it makes a strong political statement within German borders to say that they will drop the use of nuclear power, the truth of the matter is that abot 1/5 of their power comes from nukes which has to be made up somehow by their drop dead date of 2022. Well, guess who they buy power from? You guessed it, France. And even though the whole “let’s use renewables” thing sounds good in Europe, in Asia and the Middle East there is still a very lucrative market for nuclear power. Even the Japanese are quietly indicating they will rebuild their nuclear program once they have the current mess cleaned up.

So folks, while disasters like Fukashima make lots of headlines on the world stage and cause polticians to make all sorts of “we’re not going to allow that to happen here” statements, don’t count nukes out yet. The reality is that nukes and even coal are going to continue to be the big power producers until there’s a viable industrial strength alternative.

Posted by: doug308 | June 16, 2011

Ethanol Subsidies

In the US ethanol is largely derived from corn. And where I live in the Midwest that is a good thing because susbsidies for the ethanol industry are pushing corn prices through the roof. Which in turn makes farmers in states like Missouri and Illinois very happy. However, the $6 billion in subsidies being handed out to the ethanol industry are drawing some fire from many angles. And I have to admit that given the questionable success of the industry I think that the critics might be onto something.

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