ALC Consulting

May 25, 2009

A Job Posting I Choose to Ignore

Filed under: Contracting — Anne Cloward @ 8:37 pm

This showed up in my Inbox yesterday. In addition to being an insult, why would I want to work for a staffing agency who can’t spell “experience?”

Any tech writer worth their salt has at least a Bachelor’s degree!



Company: VOLT

Job Title: Technical Writer I

Job Type: Temp

Job Duration: 3 Months

Salary: 12.00 – 19.00 USD Hourly

Prepare, disseminate, and ensure orderly safeguard of technical documents. Support the writing of technical documents and proposals. Provide technical editing by reviewing grammar, writing styles, and syntax to produce quality materials. Support rewrite to ensure quality deliverables and technical reports, as required.


HS Diploma or equivalent required 1 YEAR EXPEREINCE Estimated Period of Performance


May 23, 2009

Quick Link on Deleting Content on the Web

Filed under: Professionalism — Anne Cloward @ 8:37 pm

Christopher Null blogged about how difficult it is to delete those awful drunken pictures you posted on Facebook last winter.

Go to No such thing as “deleted” on the Internet for the complete story.

‘Nuff said.

May 13, 2009

Life and the Movies

Filed under: LIfe Balance — Anne Cloward @ 10:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When I was growing up, there was a movie genre called the Western. Tall men, like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck and Kirk Douglas sauntered across the screen and saved the town, ranch, or lives, killed the Indians, and got the girl. Somewhere in the 50s, they ran their course and they were not populating movie screens any more. In 1968, version of this type of hero burst on the screen in Hang ‘Em High with the archetypical drifter who comes into town and cleans up and leaves lots of bodies behind. Clint Eastwood claimed this role as his own and produced several more versions of this film for years.


To some younger readers, he may be a bit dated, but to many of us, we grew up with this concept of masculinity. I am not going to debate the validity of this stereotype here, but accept it. Many of us were raised with this idea of the strong man. He never had to show any emotion, never had to show any weakness. This is not the kind of man who would sit down and pour out his feelings to a group, and certainly not a woman. Women are supposed to be supported and protected by men; they are the ones who break down and cry.

What does that have to do with careers and job searches?

Clint Eastwood does not get fired. He fires people or terminates them, take your pick.

But life is not the movies. It’s much more complex and not nearly as cut and dried.

Rather than drifting across the plains, most people work in communities, whether it is an office, a corporation, a city. The workers I am thinking of use their brains rather than their brawn to do their jobs. They design widgets, program them, sell them, describe them, and manufacture them. By working together as a team, they produce enough widgets that produce the stream of money for the company who pays the members of the community so they can feed their families. This is oversimplified here, but the principle has been in place for centuries. It is a source of pride for many men to “be IBMers,” or “do things the Intel way,” or be part of the “Nike Family.”

As long as there is a steady demand for these widgets, things went along well. But business runs in cycles, and when a downturn occurs, management finds ways to get more for their money. About 15 years ago, US bosses got the bright idea of hiring people in other less developed countries to make the widgets for them. It would cost them a whole lot less to do business. Thus, the great outsourcing movement began. Men who lived hundreds of miles away, having no compassion for any members of the community, looked at numbers and decided that certain jobs were to filled by someone in a third world country making about one tenth as much as their current employees.

In our society, upon meeting others at social gatherings, the first question asked of a man is, “What do you do?” How easy it is to answer that question when you have a job and can identify yourself by the company name and function. But what happens to a man when he doesn’t have a company to claim, and no title to describe him?

Some men figure things out. Others never do. It depends on so many factors, but a common phenomenon for such men in this situation is to become depressed. This man, the provider for his family, has failed. He wonders how others view him now. Another worry he has is how will his wife view him? Depression in men often manifests itself in sadness or anger. For many men, the displaced target of their anger is those in the family who are weaker or smaller than he is.

One blog (By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog) recently presented this point of view of being out of work. I was amazed at how many men agreed with him, and shared those same feelings. The writer said,

“There is a tremendous amount of cultural pressure on men to be the primary ‘providers’ for their families. While I’ve always been aware of this mentality on some level, I had no idea how deeply it was imprinted on my mind until I woke up one day and discovered to my horror and embarrassment that I was failing miserably. I had no job, no paycheck, and no prospects. In my shallow and shaky mind, this was enough to convince myself that I had unforgivably let down my wife and child, who had put their trust and confidence in me and in my abilities to provide them with everything they need.”

One man I know was an attorney for an insurance company. When this medium sized company was bought by one of the big giants in the field, he was asked to work on a project to tie up a lot of loose ends. He could see an end to the project after about seven years. Telling them he was hesitant to complete a project and be put out on the street at age 55, he was assured that would not happen. When the project ended, one month after his 57th birthday, he was unceremoniously laid off. Fifteen minutes was all it took to tell him he no longer had employment with them. He could not even face looking for a job, made no inquiries talked to no placement agencies. He and his wife have struggled to keep things together, but it has been difficult.

He was totally devastated. For the first year, he traveled and drifted about. Then, he spent months trying to ready his home to sell. Coming on the second anniversary of the disaster, he and his wife are involved in Church work in South America. But when they return in a year, he will have to face the situation anew. But, as his wife says, “He has no self-esteem. He cannot even think of having to go through the process of finding a job.”

Another man, whose whole identity was wrapped up in his being an employee of a large hardware manufacturer, got into some very self destructive behavior that cost him his wife and children. His job skills were so honed in on his company, he found himself years behind the trends that were now industry standards. After three years, he finally found employment. Six months later, he died, at the age of 54, as his system was overwhelmed by a massive infection. The doctors were amazed at how quickly it just took over all of his body.

Next: Women and unemployment.

May 11, 2009

Clean Up Your Room, Part II

Today’s post is by a guest, Patrice Sevrin from Momentum Management Resources, Inc. It echoes what I posted earlier. I have added a few graphics here.

Job seekers, beware! That MySpace photo of you doing a keg stand may get a few chuckles from friends, but it’s no laughing matter in the job market.

Employers are increasingly scouring the Internet for “digital dirt” to help them weed through job candidates. In fact, 83.2 percent of recruiters acknowledged to using online search engines in 2007 to uncover information about candidates, according to ExecuNet, an online referral network for executives and recruiters. Of these recruiters, 43 percent acknowledged eliminating candidates based on the negative information they found.

Everything from racy Facebook profiles to scathing posts on community message boards to public arrest records are to blame for why perfectly qualified candidates often miss out on great job opportunities. Ellen Sautter and Diane Crompton, authors of “Seven Days to Online Networking”
(JIST), add that digital dirt doesn’t even have to be disastrous to knock candidates out of the running for a job.

“Digital dirt comes in all shapes and sizes. For example, the Internet might reveal that you’re a member of a controversial association or that you’re part of a moonlighting business that could be a conflict of interest with, or distraction from, your primary work. It can simply be something that is irrelevant to your professional reputation and distracts people from the real message you want to get across about who you are and what you have to offer,” Sautter and Crompton state.

Many job seekers think they’re squeaky clean in cyber space, only to discover that someone with the same name is soiling their reputation with recruiters. Sharing a common name with people who work in the same field or live in a similar area can be extremely problematic for job seekers if negative information is lurking online.

In their book, Sautter and Crompton offer the following four strategies to clean up digital dirt.

Wash over it
Create so much new online content about yourself that the negative or irrelevant information is buried under fresher, more relevant and more positive content. This method is useful when you’re dealing with content that relates to someone else who shares your name. The more positive, relevant content you can create that is truly yours, the more you’ll stand out from the pack of Jane Smiths and John Does.

Wash it out
Get rid of it entirely. Having online content deleted is not easy. Unless someone you know well created or posted the content in the first place, you might have a difficult time getting the owners of the site to remove the offending content.

Wait it out
Take no active measures to hide or delete the content, but just let nature take its course. Nature, in this case, is the natural sequence of events in most reasonably active, visible professionals’ lives. This approach is recommended only if you write, speak or blog often.

Call in the pros
Now you can employ the services — for a fee, of course — of businesses that will keep an eye on your online reputation and help you keep it clean. One of the pioneers in this field, ReputationDefender, goes on a search-and-destroy mission. This organization scours the Internet to dig up every bit of information on you and then sets out to destroy (at your request) any negative information by getting it corrected or removed, whenever possible.

Sautter and Crompton encourage people — whether they’re job searching or not — to remember that everything they do online leaves a digital footprint. It’s up to each individual to determine whether those footprints take a step in the right — or wrong — direction in cyberspace.

May 10, 2009

How to Lose a Job in Six Days or Less

was asked recently what I wanted to accomplish with my blog, and it is a question that I have been mulling over for a while. I can’t say that I have a complete answer. I know that I want to write about hiring and how to avoid the pitfalls of doing stupid things that cost people jobs. There is plenty of career advice out there, but most of it is bland, poorly written and not very original. I hope my take is more original and helps you, my readers, look at unemployment in new ways.
Today’s column is a cautionary tale taken from my own experience. In August of 2007, I started a contract with a Very Small Company in Minneapolis (not pictured).

We were quite high tech and all seven of the employees were issued laptops. We were linked by a private network and docked our laptops at our desks when we hit the office. It wasn’t long before the boss, who was running a very lean operation, hired a key new team member, Joe, the Network Administrator. It was his job to keep the network running. As a part of our jobs we were roaming over cyberspace and could be picking up nasty things that could compromise the network. We had a firm rule that we did not download ANY software without letting Joe know what we were doing. Licenses were applied for and authorizations obtained. Joe knew what was on our machines and that the network was safe.

Fast forward to a Very Large Company in Portland (company not pictured). This employer has over 4,000 employees including contractors.

The issues confronting their Network Administrators are the same as Joe’s. The network needs to be protected and no unauthorized software is to be downloaded to their network. This is part of the formal agreement that is signed by all new hires and contractors.

A new developer (contractor) came on board to the Very Large Company in Portland. He was placed by a reputable firm, which checks out their people before placing them. He thought he knew more than the old fogies in Network Security and wanted to download some development software on his machine. He applied in writing and was told NO in writing. The Very Large Company in Portland did not have any licenses for it. They also had not performed any integrated testing and had no idea what it might do to their network. The contractor’s manager also told him he was not to put the software on his machine. He told the manager that he was going to anyway. After six days and several hours on the job, the contractor was escorted out of the building by security guards.

The contractor really messed up here. He has a black mark against his name. The contracting firm will not take a chance on him again and they are busy repairing their relationship with the Very Large Company in Portland. I know this is a true story, because one of the other developers on the team told me. He was dumbstruck that the guy used such poor judgment.

It’s a cautionary tale. Networking security policies are not about heavy handed people making rules to make your life miserable. The are there for a reason; to keep the company up and running and producing products so they can sell them and make enough money to pay your salary. Stupid things like the actions of this developer jeopardize their ability to stay in business. They can’t take a chance on someone who uses such poor judgment.

May 2, 2009

A Must Read for Job Seekers, Contractors and Recruiters!

Susan Tait, a very intelligent and competent writer whose beat is the Portland unemployment scene, has published some great articles on successful job searches and abusive recruiters.

Check out her columns at

We find ourselves dovetaling a lot these days. Susan is an excellent resource.

Add her columns to your ” must read” list.

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