Friday, December 5, 2008

How Can Companies take Advantage of an Economic Downturn

Could there possibly be any bright spots to the current economic downturn? In my opinion companies that have been fiscally responsible and have positioned their businesses to be in a solid cash position and to continue to post good results will emerge as next generation power houses within their industry. Of course, this will greatly depend on their ability to successfully navigate the the remainder of the recession while providing excellent customer service to their customers. Industries that have had multiple competitors prior to the "great" recession could eventually have just a handful or in some cases be the lone survivor and be well positioned to become an industry leader. Much will depend on businesses having a clear understanding of how their industries are changing specifically to accommodate the ever rapidly changing needs of their customers.

Companies define their industries very differently. While our business operates within the employment sector of the economy, we do not see all employment-related businesses as competitors. Even with our job board businesses, we do not view all job boards as our direct competition. In many cases job boards work collaboratively and can help each other by working together to provide a better experience for the end user. I am of the opinion that the more niche a business becomes the better positioned that business will be to enjoy long-term success. This is especially true due to the fact that the more targeted the business, the closer the business will be to their customer. We have learned this lesson well with the expansion of our business into both the healthcare and trucking industries with our portals and

Many facets of our business have changed over the last twelve months. One such change has been the fast-growing number of online users that are building a large audience when combined with our national print recruitment magazines. Not all job seekers are online. Many job seekers, especially in the hourly sector, still rely on print products to find their next job. While there is no doubting that the online audience is growing quickly, the same could be said of print. Just as online audiences are growing, so are pick-up rates. If employers want to reach the entire job seeker market, they still need to use the total recruitment solution of print and online.

Post-recession recruitment is going to look much different than it does today. Smart businesses will take advantage of the surplus talent on the market today to position their business well for continued innovation and growth in the future. If you could replace the 25% poorest performing employees on your staff with employees that possess the same skill set as your top performing 25%, would you do it? Of course you would. In the past could you do it? Highly unlikely. This is not necessarily true today. There are very talented individuals in the market for a new opportunity today. Businesses/employers would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity to make this a reality. My advice is to not simply go into an across-the-board cost-cutting mode. My advice is to cut the excess where possible, add increased talent, position your best people against your biggest opportunities, and invest in growing your market share and number of customers as your competition is either hanging on for their life or is only focused on self-preservation.

What kind of moves are you making to position your business or yourself to emerge from the recession in a more successful market position or capacity?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time to Work on Plan B

Weekly initial jobless claims continue their rise, overall unemployment stays flat to last month, Congress just passed the "bailout" which the President has signed, so now what?

I have heard the statement "From Wall Street to Main Street" many times recently on the local and national news when reporters or "experts" are referring to the current economic crises. Just because we have an economic rescue package does not mean that the economy is going to quickly turn around. It is going to take a while for the impact of this economic "bailout" to help aid the economy. The main purpose is that it will remove the "toxic" assets from banks' balance sheets so they can start to lend money to other banks (at lower rates than the recent record high rates), small businesses (many that use short-term loans to make payroll) and ultimately to consumers. These economic crises took a while to develop. I was emailed an article this week by a senior manager in our organization that was from the New York Times in September of 1999 that reads as though the author of the article has channeled Nostradamus' predictive powers. In the article reporter Steven A. Holmes wrote, "Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits." Later in the article he declares, "In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's." Maybe I could call Mr. Holmes to find out when my beloved St. Louis Rams will win their first game!

Congress has taken a positive step in aiding the prospect of financial recovery, although it will be a while before we start to see the effects of the bailout make its way down to "Main Street." Congress should continue to work to find additional ways to help those on "Main Street." I read an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal today that was a letter from the CEO of Interactive Brokers Group, Thomas Peterffy, in which Mr. Peterffy recommended that the "bailout" be "fixed" so it would simply pay the first $250 of every home owner's mortgage in the US for the next five years (at a cost of about $10 billion monthly). I find this idea very intriguing. You would think that it should have at least hit the radar screen of CNN or Fox News? In the advertisement Mr. Peterffy points out that his idea is "progressive" and would cover a larger portion of the mortgages for those with "modest homes" verses high-dollar estates. Maybe Congress will be wise enough to continue to work on this issue and develop contingency plans in case our economy continues to slip, even in the face of passage of the "bailout." Let's hope we do not have to go there, but it would be refreshing, reassuring, if we knew that Congress was hoping for the best but planning for the worst. Plans such as that put forward by Mr. Peterffy need to be examined and considered when it comes to putting together the proverbial Plan B.

How do you feel about the "bailout" package, and do you see it as a positive or negative move by our leaders in Washington?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Come on Congress...

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that our congressional leaders can come together and get a bill passed that will provide the support our economy needs to be able to work its way out of the current pattern of poor performance. In fact, the deal that the President has put on the table presents a great opportunity for our government to potentially make money on the initial $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money it will invest in our economy. Profits could be used to pay down the deficit, help salvage social security for future generations (even my Gen-X generation), or reduce taxes for all Americans. If the investment does what it is supposed to do, the government should at a minimum make back the initial investment. What has to transpire to make a profit on the deal is that the anticipated number of Americans defaulting on their mortgages would need to decrease. This will come to pass with companies working with (or even being forced by the government to work with) homeowners on the brink of losing their homes in restructuring their loans. Americans are hard working and innovative folks. Nobody buys a home with the hope of losing it, although when it comes to purchasing more home than you can afford, I do not place all of the blame on the banker or mortgage industry folks. Shouldn't some of this responsibility fall at the feet of the people who signed the loans in the first place? Maybe it is my conservative Midwest upbringing, but isn't it prudent to always try to live a little bit below your means? I understand that circumstances change, and I am deeply empathetic to anyone losing their home (especially the home that they live in), but I do believe that people who extended their finances and bought second and third homes with hope of flipping these properties for profits should have to deal with the consequences of their investment strategy. Okay, I'll get off of my soap box.

What I find interesting about the $700 billion economic rescue plan is that (according to President Bush) it will lower the threshold at which people can borrow money. This should immediately help families to be able to refinance at lower rates, spread their mortgage out over a longer period of time, lower their payments, reduce the number of foreclosures, allow for small business growth, etc. But, a lot of this is going to be dependent on the lending institutions’ willingness to lower or eliminate the refinancing charges (that can quickly add up to be more than $10,000) or the confidence the institution has in a small operation’s business plan. Let's hope this becomes reality once the final bill gets passed by Congress. Another "but" is that lower thresholds on borrowing is one of the major contributing factors to getting the economy in the mess it is in today. I am not sure that recreating the environment that led to this current economic state of "crises" is the right way to fix our economy long term. Hopefully, lending rates will drop and lending institutions will learn from the past and not make risky loans. What I do know is that Warren Buffet has (according to his recent appearance and interview on Squak Box) the utmost confidence in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to make the right decisions to get our economy back on track. He even put his company's money on the line with a huge investment (around $5 billion) in Goldman Sachs due to his confidence not only in Goldman, but Paulson and Congress's ability to get a deal done on the so-called "rescue package."

Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is the shot of adrenaline that our economy needs and we can get back on track for growth across all sectors and industries. It should be increasingly apparent to our elected officials in Washington that they need to get a deal done upon the release of the current week's jobless claims, the highest in seven years. If I could make a recommendation to Congress, it would be that while they are finalizing and passing into law the current bill, they should have a committee working with the best financial minds in the US working on a contingency should we need one.

What is your opinion on the $700 billion economic "rescue plan?"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Two Steps Back

I am sure you have heard the old saying, "One step forward and two steps back." That is, in my opinion, what the United States economy has been doing over the last several months. It seems as though we start to witness improvements that create enthusiasm that our economy is showing signs of beginning to pull out of the downturn, and then... Wham!, more poor economic news such as last week’s release of the “Employment Situation,” which reported the national unemployment rate at a new high of 6.1%, on the heels of the most recent initial jobless claims report, which spiked back up to 444,000 (although all of the labor news wasn't bad given that in healthcare we have added 367,000 jobs year-to-date). Another good indication of how fast economic sentiment is changing is the fact that all last month experts focused on inflation, and now their concern has changed to deflation. So what are today's headlines, and how will today's changes impact on our economy, good or bad?

Today's headlines are all about the Fed bailing out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Is this good or bad? Wall Street liked the news early as stocks rallied. Most of the articles I have read indicate that this will lead to lower interest rates for would-be homeowners. It would be even better news if it means that folks who are in a tough position given that their short-term rates have adjusted higher could refinance and stay in their homes. Unfortunately for these individuals, the lower rates are going to come with a much higher scrutiny over credit ratings, etc. There is also good news in the fact that folks who are currently living with an adjustable rate, interest only, etc., kind of mortgage who have maintained good standing and have not missed any payments will be able to capitalize on this move by the Fed to lock in a low, fixed rate. If you are in this position be ready to strike once the impact makes its way through your financial institution.

Could this move be the first step in solving the housing crisis after last week's report of foreclosures being at an all-time high? Not yet. It is going to take much, much more to recover, but as I mentioned earlier in this article, it was once again time for the "one step forward" after taking "two steps back" last week.

I personally think that lower interest rates will spur the purchasing of both new and existing homes. Yes, I said it, and, yes, I am an optimist at heart. Even with the high unemployment rate, there is still a group of would-be first-time home buyers that have been waiting for the perfect time to step into the wonderful world of home ownership. I also believe that there is another group, one that is focused on investing, who will also take advantage of the lower rates to scoop a deal on a second home or vacation rental to pad their portfolio with good tax advantages in planning for their future. If both of these scenarios come to fruition, it will be a nice "step forward" again for the economy which could even extend into the labor economy.

Keep a close eye on mortgage rates if you are a potential first-timer, or if you are in the market to refinance. All of the articles I have been reading foresee the 30-year fixed dropping below 5.5%. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

What kind of impact do you foresee the Fed's move to take over the mortgage giants having on your local economy and local labor situation?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Has the U.S. economy started to enter a phase of stabilization? The following are indicators that point to this being the case.

  • According to the Commerce Department/U.S. Census Bureau orders for durable goods or big-ticket manufactured goods rose for a second month increasing in July by 1.3% over June, which posted an equal level of increase. The July increase included jumps in orders for commercial aircraft, motor vehicles and transportation equipment. (Read more.)
  • Consumer confidence is recovering. The Conference Board's index that measures consumers' moods rose to 56.9, which is the highest reading since May. The Conference Board's inflation expectation also dropped to 6.7%, the lowest level since March.
  • The US dollar is on the rise against foreign currencies.
  • Oil and gas prices are lower, and overall demand for oil in the US is down more than 5%.

When combined, these positive economic happenings indicate that we are starting to see signs of stabilization in the economy. Even with oil prices rising on fears that current weather issues could halt production in the Gulf of Mexico (where 25% of the US oil is produced), gasoline prices remain stable due to the aforementioned drop in consumption. This trend will give consumers disposable income that could be used for going out to eat, shopping for back to school, etc. This potential boost in consumer activity could lead to businesses needing to add staff, which in-turn would start to aid the labor economy. Given that current productivity levels are as high as they are, companies are likely going to have to add staff to meet the need of any increased demand for their products and services.

I am by no means trying to say that I believe we are solidly on our way to economic recovery as yet. The overall economy has a long way to go before we can use the good "R" word. Based on the information that is available, I personally think we are witnessing the economy beginning to stabilize. Once we experience a multi-month decline in the unemployment rate and the weekly jobless claims consistently fall below the 400,000 level, we can be confident that recovery has begun. I personally believe that this will come to fruition in 2009.

What are the key economic indicators that you watch closely and are important to your business or industry?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pay-For-Perfomance Job Fairs

Innovation is the fuel that propels organizational success. The exploration and execution of new ideas and ways of approaching business is what sets an organization apart from its peers and allows for expansion into new business ventures. This can be done through such means as vertical integration, acquisition or development. I would describe innovation as being successful when it puts an organization on track to expand the customer base while also putting it in a better position to get deeper into the customer value chain.

Recent innovation here at The Employment Guide has included the introduction of a pay-for-performance (PFP) job fair business model. Some would call this approach to a traditional, established business model as "risky." Is there risk? Of course, there is always risk in being the first to try something new. With rapidly changing marketing strategies, vendors with budgetary confinements who want to augment the job fair process, and attendees who are better informed, computer literate and eager to maximize their time at job fairs, this is not the time for job fair companies to “rest on their laurels.” Just because a business model was successful a year ago, does not mean it will succeed in today’s market. Wisdom dictates innovation, innovation means change, and change can be tough. It only comes through an educational process. For us to undertake such a bold new approach to one of our legacy products, we had to get a good understanding and come to an acceptance of just how great the risk could be. Once we balanced the perceived risk against the upside for our customers, we decided to move forward with testing this new model.

With this said, is the mainstream model of doing business in the job fair arena completely broken? I do not personally think so; in fact many businesses, including The Employment Guide, will continue to hold these types of events and be successful. The testing of a PFP model is a proactive way for our organization to gain valuable knowledge of how this important piece of our business can change. In my opinion (and from the outstanding results we received from our first venture), PFP is going to become an increasingly popular business model. I do not think it makes good business sense to not constantly explore new ways of doing business. Just because previous methods of doing business were successful that does not mean that an improved way of meeting your customers’ needs is not just right around the corner.

We do have plans for additional PFP job fairs. The third quarter will include multiple events of this kind spread out across the United States. This job fair business model put significant pressure on the business to deliver results. As a business leader, I like to take our customers’ well-being into consideration and walk a mile in their shoes before implementing any new way of conducting business. With regards to our PFP job fair that we tested in Houston and the results we delivered to our customers, these shoes fit nicely!

There is a great book on innovation that I recommend titled "A Technique for Producing Ideas", authored by James Webb Young that I like to read to spur new ways of approaching our business. It is a quick read and the kind of book you take to lunch three or four times a year to get the creative juices flowing.

Once again, congratulations and special thanks to our Houston Employment Guide team who did a tremendous job and who had responsibility for the toughest part of this plan, the execution. I would also like to thank all of the job seekers and employers who participated in the event and who all contributed to its success.

Posted by Jeff Littlejohn at Tuesday, July 29, 2008 0 comments
Labels: Employment Guide, Jeff Littlejohn, job fair, pay for performance, recruitment advertising, Recruiting and Hiring

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Will To Win

As a person who enjoys playing and watching tennis, I cannot pass up the opportunity to comment on the men's Wimbledon championship match that took place this past Sunday between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Many have stated that this was not only the greatest Wimbledon championship match ever played, but quite possibly the greatest tennis match in the history of the game.

As a tennis fan, I was glued to the television with great anticipation of watching what was going to be a fantastic rematch of the last two years' championship match in which Federer kept true to form with what were great wins over Nadal. I could have never guessed the treat that we were all in store for with a five-set thriller ending in a 9-7 fifth set with Nadal knocking off the five-time reigning Wimbledon champ Federer. This was a clash of two incredible champions, both of whom possess an incredible will to win. Critical point after critical point, emotional highs and emotional lows, it was exhausting to watch, so I can only imagine the physical and emotional drain on the players!

So what place does this entry have on my blog? It provides a perfect metaphor for what it all comes down to in the business world when you are in a highly competitive atmosphere and have to find ways to continuously differentiate your business from the competition. You have to have the drive, desire and passion to reach a goal just like a Wimbledon champion. The drive, passion and determination demonstrated by both Federer and Nadal in the championship match of Wimbledon is representative of the level of performance a true difference maker or emerging industry leader will need to succeed in today's turbulent market.

Just imagine performing at extremely high levels of performance over an extended period of time. Then picture your entire organization performing at the highest levels of productivity. This mixture will put your organization in a great position to become a world-class organization, just like Federer and Nadal are world-class champions. The key is to make decisions and take actions that will put your company in a position to excel. Just like a great athlete who trains, selects equipment, hires a coach, practices, eats healthy, etc., you have to select the right mixtures of resources to create a champion caliber organization.

At the end of the championship match, Nadal prevailed becoming the only player to win both the French Open (which is played on clay courts) and Wimbledon (which is played on grass courts) since Bjorn Borg did it back in 1980. The grueling battle that lasted more than seven hours, two rain delays and ended just before play would be suspended due to lack of daylight left tennis fans exhausted and looking forward to the US Open in hopes of another rematch.

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." -Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (7/10/43 – 2/6/93) prominent tennis player and humanitarian and author of his memoir Days of Grace. Arthur Ashe won three Grand Slam titles and became the first African American ever selected to the US Davis Cup team, and he remains the only African American player ever to win the men's singles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, or Australian Open.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Them Talking

In sales it is important that you listen to your prospect or customers needs. All too often sales representatives will talk over their customers or prospective customers. 70% of all communication is listening. A good listener will always walk away from a conversation learning more from the exchange than the talker. The talker might walk away with a feeling of accomplishment because they dominated the conversation but will not have learned much from the interaction that just took place.

While this is of the utmost importance in sales this is also an important life skill. People like talking about themselves, their families, etc. Find out what is important to someone and you can turn them into a friend for life by making them feel special. Make people feel that they are special and they will line up to support you and what you do. With all of the focus of late that has been placed on the political scene, you do not have to look far to see a great example of this at work.

Ask people open ended questions. Let them speak, and listen intently (and by this I mean give the person you are engaging your complete attention). Do not answer the mobile phone, quit texting, do not check email, let your office phone go into voicemail, etc. Your undivided attention is necessary to make this person clearly understand that what they are saying to you is truly important to you. If you are in sales you will uncover needs. The more needs you uncover, the greater the opportunity you have to sell your products and services. Outside of sales you can use this simple guideline to build stronger relationships with people, to gain buy-in from those that you lead and to motivate others.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment or lack thereof? How did it make you feel? Next time it happens to you, let us know about it.

What is your greatest distraction? Checking Email? Your text messages?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Review of the book "Lead Well and Prosper"

I was recently contacted by Nick McCormick, author of the book Lead Well and Prosper, and was asked to review his book on my blog. I love to read business related books, especially ones that are focused on the topic of leadership, so I was pleased to accept the request.

Lead Well and Prosper is a quick read. It is the kind of business book that you keep on your bookshelf and reference to remind yourself of the core basic fundamentals that leaders need to follow in order to be effective managers. The book also provides helpful tools in the back of the book as good suggestions in how to better maximize effectiveness.

The subjects that are covered in the book are coveted longstanding principals that Mr. McCormick points out as being critical if you are to achieve the status of a "good" manager. He also points out that being a "good" manager will separate you from your peers by virtue of "good" managers being few and far between.

There is a management practice or principal covered in the book that will speak to each individual. One such topic that I personally am completely on the same page as Mr. McCormick and feel that in today's business world more leaders need to follow is in Chapter 5, which is titled “Listen.” In today's business world, all too often the art of listening and paying attention has been pushed aside for the "art" of multitasking. Have we as leaders forgotten that as much as 70% of all communication is in fact listening? Mr. McCormick reminds us in his book that we should be giving our team members our undivided attention and that bringing a laptop to a meeting or answering your phone when you have a team member in your office are both leadership errors. In Mr. McCormick's words, these types of actions will lead to members of your team shutting down and not coming back to you when they have quality ideas that they would like to pitch to you, which include the ones to which you could add greater value. I could not agree more! Again, this is just one example of the "15 successful strategies for becoming a good manager" that Mr. McCormick covers in his book.

Pick this book up once a quarter and take it to lunch in order to get a good refresher and to ensure that you are executing the basics well. It is an investment of your time that will be well worth the effort.

Thanks again to Nick McCormick for the offer to read and write about my experience with his book titled Lead Well and Prosper. I wish him all the best in his future writing endeavors!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boomer... Wiser Worker

There has been a lot written over the last year about the emerging need among employers to tap into older workers as a resource to fill positions that require skilled labor. You do not have to look beyond the Boomer generation to understand this phenomenon. The Boomers, who represent the largest generation, are beginning to exit the workforce. Boomers are folks that were born between 1946 and 1964. They represent the most populous generation in the United State's history. When they begin leaving the workforce in masses, they are going to leave a big void in the workforce, and we are all going to feel it. Even in the face of a recession, it would be wise for employers who have or anticipate having a need for skilled labor to start figuring out how to tap into the Boomer generation. The Boomer generation has greatly influenced our culture and will end up being the generation that redefines what retirement means in America.

Okay, so we know this need is coming. So how can employers begin to tap into this valuable, skilled labor force. First of all you have to know what is important to the folks you are trying to recruit. For Boomers this is increasingly not monetary. Priorities for many of these folks are based on flexible work schedules, quality of life, being able to maintain benefits, etc. Many of these individuals will only want to work part-time. That being said, you can also expect that they will only be working in jobs or fields that they enjoy.

How would you define an older worker? Is it someone 40 or older? Does someone become an older worker at 50? One third of the workforce in America will be 50 or older by 2010. How about 55? Share your feedback with me via a comment. I have read that 50 is the new 40 and that 40 is the new 30. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals 40 years of age or older from age discrimination. If the Fed recognizes that age discrimination begins at the age of 40, is that the age by which companies should gauge their older worker recruitment strategies? If 50 is the new 40, maybe Uncle Sam needs to update this bit of legislation.

We at The Employment Guide invite you to check out our newest job board designed for the "Boomer" or "Wiser Worker." Despite the fact that this demographic represents the fastest growing segment of online users, there are only a few other job boards out there as of today that target this valuable audience. We invite you to check out our latest offering which is live for indexing purposes but has yet to officially launch to the masses (that is coming shortly). Be sure to let us know what you think. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Can you trust the internet for accurate information? Is the news, blog posts, site statistics, etc., that you access via the internet really accurate? As more and more people turn to the internet as a source of information, I think it is wise as a business to make sure that the information reported in directories or sites reporting analytics are accurate. Decision makers, current customers and your prospects are increasingly leaning on the internet and these kinds of resources to find out more about your business in order to make a decision if they want to do business with you or not. Using our business, here are some good examples of what I would consider the "misinformation" of the "webformation" (I think I just created a new word) aspect of the internet.

Let me give you my definition of my new word: Webformation (somebody call Webster's) is information that is aggregated or posted on websites from resources or from users about a person, organization, object, event, etc., that has no responsibility for the item being reported on and through the process of how it is compiled will always be understood to have a percentage of incorrect or misguiding information. Let's call it 90% accurate. Based on my experience that seems about right.

1. One of our newest products is reported on as being owned by a health care company in Albany, New York.

2. Here is a good example of information that is wrong about the Employment Guide and piece of our business on

3. There is even outdated information about our organization listed on

So whose responsibility is it to make sure this information is accurate and up to date? Does that responsibility fall on the shoulders of those who are monetizing the information or on the business on which they are reporting? In my opinion it makes great sense for you (if you have the time and the resources) to keep an eye on this kind of information about your business so you can keep it updated. Unfortunately for smaller businesses this might not be the case so you might have to look to outside resources to make sure your "webformation" is accurate. This can even be hard for a large organization to keep track of, obviously, given that we need to stay on top of this (falling on my own sword here) and we have internal resources.

So back to my earlier question, whose responsibility is it to make sure this information is accurate? In my opinion, I say follow the money and whoever is monetizing the information on the site is responsible for making sure that the content is up-to-date and accurate. What do you think?

Now, I must end this blog so I can go back to work directing our efforts in updating our organization's "webformation." What a great use of my time!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

212 Degrees

A colleague of mine sent me a link this morning that took me to a video on a site called Just212 that was very inspirational. The point of the site/video is to use the fact that it only takes an increase of one degree in temperature to create boiling water which creates steam that can power a locomotive. That analogy spills over into how you approach your profession, your home life, your existence. You can order the book 212 The Extra Degree, authored by S.L. Parker, from this site. After viewing the video, I am compelled to order his book to read more about the 212 concept. Has anyone already read this book? If so, what did you think?

Do you have room for one additional degree worth of effort in your performance? How the "degree" looks and feels based on your profession could differ greatly, but there is little doubt in the fact that extra effort pays off. The pay off could be in separating your own performance from your peers in order to progress in your profession, it could mean attaining higher commissions or more bonuses, etc.

All too often people use the fact that they have too much on their plates as a way to justify their performance or lack thereof. I frequently ask those folks if they do not want to further advance their career. I ask this question because undoubtedly any advancement will bring the need for additional responsibility, not less, which means more of a demand of one's time. What people often forget is that as they move up in their profession the game speeds up (football players use this analogy to describe what it is like to go from playing college ball to pro ball).

I think using 212 degrees as a way to communicate the fact that a little extra effort goes a long way is right on target. If watching the very creative video doesn't increase your temperature by one additional degree due to getting fired up you might as well be in a professional coma.
In these days of "recession" and "tough times" it will be the individuals, the businesses, the organizations that take the 212 degrees approach that will not only achieve success but will also create separation from the competition. Define what effort and responsibilities you perform on a daily basis that are the most important to your success, and turn up the temperature!

Let’s say you are an inside sales representative. If you average 25 sales calls each day and average one sale per day and increase your daily calls by five per day you could increase your total number of sales by one additional sale per week. Here at Employment Guide Media this small increase in activity could mean as much as an additional $5,000 or much more in annual income.

This reminds me of an exercise I used to conduct with my team when I was a local manager leading our efforts at the St. Louis Employment Guide. Together we would conduct an income check-up that would in essence be a backwards math exercise that would take our great sales team (they are great!) through the process of understanding what they would need to commit to in order to hit their personal financial goals. We found this to be a great way to create a game plan for each member of the team, because each individual had different levels of expectations and goals related to their personal incomes, like wanting to purchase a new car, or buy their first house, etc. I was impressed with how clear everyone's personal goals were that were tied to their finances. You might find this exercise of great benefit to you personally or to your team. It was always clear through these kinds of exercises that effort created opportunity and increased opportunity led to obtainment of personal goals.

Take your effort to 212 degrees verses 211 degrees and see if it makes a difference in some aspect of your life. Where can you apply this practice and make the biggest difference? At work? At home? Give it a shot. What do any of us have to lose by putting forth a greater effort and being the best that we can possibly be at everything that we do? Let's be difference makers!

I have also added a video that I found on You Tube that also promotes the 212 philosophy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


There have been a lot of headlines in the news of late about the condition of our economy, the fact that we are in a recession, or are on the verge of one, companies laying off workers, hiring freezes, etc. How you lead a business through these kinds of conditions is going to determine the ability for your business to ultimately be successful in the future, or not. One of the immediate moves of a business in a recessionary period is to cut expenses. This is obviously smart and for most businesses is an ongoing practice even in the good times. I was recently emailed a good newsletter distributed by The Recruiter's Digest and written by Bill Radin that I feel outlines some pretty good steps to take, and although they are referring to the recruiting industry, their recommendations can apply across all industries and leadership positions. Here is a copy of the article and a link for you to view it on Mr. Radin's site which also offers other resources and tools for folks in the recruitment industry.

Learning from Past Recessions by Bill Radin (Source: Recruiter's Digest April 2008 newsletter) If you've never experienced a recession, here are 10 things you should know:

1. Jobs that made you rich in good times can make you poor in a recession. This is especially true with mid-level positions, in which duplications in skill sets or job titles exist within a single company.
2. You may need to switch from a "delivery" business model to a "value-added" model. If your business depends on delivering mass quantities of average-quality candidates or you do little to add value, you'll find it harder to compete.
3. Some job markets and desk specialties will be spared. Case in point: After 9/11, when job cuts were rampant across the board, certain job markets, such as defense contracting, construction and legal services, actually thrived. If you can identify the markets left standing, they can be your lifeline.
4. The greater the supply of "active" candidates, the more valuable "passive" candidates become. Since layoffs flood the job boards with unemployed or marginal candidates, you'll need to brush up on your cold calling skills and find creative ways to source top-flight candidates who are currently employed.
5. Employers are more cost conscious. As a result, you can expect more pressure to reduce your fees, and for hiring cycles to slow to a crawl. And as more recruiters fight over fewer jobs, you'll need to tighten up your "ownership" rights to candidates; otherwise you'll fight more frequent battles over who gets paid.
6. Candidate marketing will become more common. Most employers will throw out the rule book if you bring to their attention a candidate who can make an immediate, positive impact. If the candidate has enough sizzle, employers will find a way to make the hire, even if they have to create a special position.
7. Your time management becomes more critical. With fewer positions to work on, you'll need to be highly selective about which assignments will give you the greatest return on your investment of time.
8. Weaknesses in your selling skills are more exposed. Recessions leave little margin for error. The better you are at qualifying, closing, handling objections and making presentations, the more efficient you'll be with respect to converting activities into income.
9. A recession is the best time to be in the recruiting business. I know this sounds counter intuitive. But look at it this way: When times get tough, the weaker recruiters will wash out with the tide. If you can weather the storm and find ways to gain market share and build your reputation, you'll be positioned to grow as the market recovers.
10. Cash flow is everything. Learn to control your spending or make cuts in your budget. Otherwise, you might end up working with your back to the wall.No doubt about it: A recession is a buzz kill. But it can also be a great teacher, because it humbles you and makes you more aware of your weaknesses. If you can stick it out and learn from your mistakes, you'll make tons of hay when the sun shines again, and you'll be more immune to future downturns.

Very compelling!

Now back to my opinions...

If I were to add to the list of ten items above, my contribution would be to increase your level of activities and focus on what has the most obvious link to driving your business. Are sales activities the best driver of your business? Is it association involvement? Maybe even attending trade shows? Find what works best, clear your schedule of all other time consumers and focus on what is going to allow you to build your business. The businesses and leaders that are going to emerge on the other side of the current economic conditions on top of their industries are going to take some calculated risks to gain market share and increase their customer counts. This will be successfully accomplished by being wise with where their organizations focus resources and by taking necessary risks to grow their market share and ultimately their business.

What activities are the most important to your business? Are you investing all of your time focusing on this most important aspect of your business?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pull It Apart

In order to be an effective leader you have to be willing to take risks and set goals that others might perceive as too extraordinary, too difficult to achieve or too visionary. Today's business and economic climate has created an environment in which an out of the box approach to traditional business as we know it could represent a refreshing approach that would act as a magnet for attracting customers.

In order to explore what this type of approach would mean for your business, you have to step outside of what you do on a daily basis, which is difficult to do. You need a fresh set of eyes to take a look at what you do that will give you the ability to ask the "why" question on everything that you are currently doing. Why do we do this in this particular way? Why are we investing here? Why do we measure this, and why is it important? Sometimes, in order to put something spectacular together, you have to first pull it completely apart.

Our business is structured in a way that we have multiple business units with our parent company. This gives us at The Employment Guide the ability to look at how other businesses approach certain aspects of their business and find what might make sense for us to try. One of our sister companies is For Rent and another is We like to compare notes on what they are doing to give us a fresh perspective on some aspects of our business. It is almost like having a built-in consultant team.

This type of resource is going to be of even greater value in 2008 than in years past. Given the conditions with which we are all faced, including the credit and investment market upheaval, slower job growth (projected to fall to a total of 100,000 in 2008 by Kiplinger), identifying new ways to approach your business will be invaluable. After the innovation process, you have to make sure you have the resources to develop. That in and of itself can be a challenge, especially if you are in an industry that has faced restructuring, layoffs, etc. (such as the automotive industry). Then you have to allow for the proper amount of time for testing, quality control and a trial period before taking your new product or service to market. What is interesting is that while this process takes time, it is the businesses that can compress this time-frame and get their new product or service out to market first within their industry that will typically be looked at as an industry leader. It is my opinion that within the realm of electronic or internet related businesses the understanding that back-end development will need to take place after a product is launched is readily accepted more so than the "make sure the product is 100% before we roll it out approach." This is largely due to the fact that you can measure what your customers are doing with your product and modify the product to better meet their needs as you track usability. In fact, within our electronic media industry, this is now becoming the norm. Typically the website that you are on this week will change in some form or fashion next week. These changes are not readily noticeable, but they are in fact designed to enhance the returning visitor's experience.

So what are you going to do in today's business environment that will change the way you are approaching your business? What are you going to do differently? If you are ever going to take a great risk with the potential for high rewards, now is the time!

Take what you have currently and pull it completely apart. Can you put it back together in a way that so the end result is better than what you currently have? If so, do it.

Any time there is change there is opportunity. So it is paramount that an organization get energized rather than paralyzed.- Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum

Last week I attended the SI Executive Forum in Las Vegas. The event was packed with quality breakout sessions and notable keynote speakers. I was particularly impressed with Robert Reich's (former Secretary of Labor) presentation on the state of the US economy and Dr. Kevin Freiberg's keynote on change and being brave enough (or having the "Guts") to be a game changer in today's business world. Kudos to the staff who was responsible for putting this event together and their selection of fabulous keynote speakers; nice job!

Robert Reich did an outstanding job of articulating the current state of our economy and his opinion of where we are headed. He used the word "stagflation" to describe the current "perfect storm" economic conditions in the US economy. He also pointed out that the world economy is now stronger than the US economy. Immigration was another big topic in Mr. Reich's presentation. He shared with the crowd that the largest percentage of workers in the US at any given time that were immigrants was 15%. We are once again closing in on the magic number, which in years past has been the cause of legislation, (Smoot-Holly Tariff Act) which in turn had a deepening negative impact on our economy.

Although recently there has been a lot of negative press surrounding our labor economy, there are still bright spots. According to the latest BLS data the health care industry added 36,000 jobs in February, and the food services industry (hospitality) is still growing. The staffing industry is upbeat and confident which could partly be due to the increase in the total number of individuals in the labor force that are now working part-time jobs.

Dr. Kevin Freiberg really got the audience fired up. If you did not get fired up, you were obviously not listening to the passionate presentation in which I was engaged. Trust me when I say that the bravery level among entrepreneurs within the staffing industry went up a notch after listening to Dr. Freiberg's presentation. Current times call for new innovation and strategy that will take bravery in business. Do you have the "Guts!"?

Thank you to all of the staffing industry executives who stopped by our booth for a demo of our newly redesigned website, and a special thank you to all of our customers who stopped by to share their successes using our products. We love to hear from advocates! I also greatly enjoyed the round tables and the chance to learn about current trends within the staffing industry directly from industry leaders. Our attendance and participation in the event is another good example of an investment The Employment Guide is making to stay in tune with the dynamic needs of the staffing industry. We have been meeting your recruitment needs for more than ten years and look forward to continuing to exceed your expectations well into the future.

Let me ask you one more time. Do you have the guts it is going to take to be successful in today's business climate?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The New

Mark your calendars.

On February 23rd we will proudly present...

· Increased Usability
· Streamlined Application Process
· Video, Video, Video
· Local, Local, Local

Got the point?

Want to know more?

Be sure to tune in!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What's New No. 2

So what else is going on at The EG that is new and exciting in addition to the recent introduction of video? Over the course of the later half of 2007, our talented product development team and programmers went to work on constructing a new solution for recruiters in the health care industry. Breaking from the platform of traditional job boards, our team, after researching the industry, decided to incorporate a social networking component into our new site. It was clear that people in the health care industry needed their own community online; therefore, we introduced our social networking section of the new called, "MedCom."

After the soft launch of the site at the end of 2007, we started to see an influx of medical professionals starting to find their new networking space. As we near the hard launch date, more than 2,000 individuals have already created networking profiles in addition to uploading resumes and actively applying for jobs. We are also very excited to have Denise Tanner leading our efforts in the capacity of business development manager. Denise has professional experience within the health care industry and has a great understanding on how to best position our products to meet the needs of both job seekers and recruiters. Denise has already contributed greatly to our efforts in preparing for the upcoming hard launch.

At the rate new jobs are being created in the health care industry, we understand the importance of developing a product that can readily meet the needs of the industry. The aging population in the United States is the primary reason for the increasing health care hiring bubble, and when an economic trend is demographically supported, it typically come to fruition.

A large part of our motivation in developing this new product is to meet the needs of our customers (job seekers and recruiters within the health care industry). Another large part of our motivation is to be a partner in proactively meeting the health care needs of the aging population base within the United States. We have a large group of hourly job seekers that utilize our products and services that represent a great base for educational programs to tap into in order to re-career individuals for new careers in health care. As manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, etc., are on the decline, there are great opportunities for individuals within these respective professions to embark on a new rewarding career within health care.

We are very excited about our newest product offering! A special thanks goes out to all of the individuals who worked together to pave the way for our newest offering,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What is New at The Employment Guide

I spend a lot of time comprising posts on my blog about my thoughts on leadership and how my thoughts coincide with what is going on within our business and industry. The next few posts are going to be dedicated to new, exciting products that I am personally excited about and that we are now offering at The Employment Guide.

Video Job Postings and Employer Profile Videos - Video has been an emerging medium online. Video is definitely here to stay, and it makes quite an impact as a complement to recruitment advertising packages. Video helps recruiters paint a better picture for job seekers. It allows the job seeker to enhance their understanding of the job description and have a better perspective of the company for which they are contemplating as a prospective employer. According to a study I recently read completed and published by Borrell Associates, Inc., "local online video advertising" is expected "to more than triple to nearly $1.3 billion" in 2008. We at The Employment Guide have a local online, cost-effective video product ready to meet your recruitment advertising needs.

The emerging metric for how the success of a video is measured is called EOI (Expression Of Interest). The expression of interest refers to the playing of the video, which then translates into increased conversion rates of a higher quality candidate based on using the video as an additional filtering tool. Adding video to a recruitment campaign will help to improve the process by which recruiters find the right candidate. Adding video will also allow recruiters to spend less of their precious time working on the wrong candidates by improving the means by which the advertising works as a filtering device.

Video is a cool addition to a job posting and increases a posting's effectiveness. It appeals to all generations. Until lately, it has also been very expensive. Not anymore! Just like the impact our organization, The Employment Guide, had on the newspaper industry when we introduced the first national network of alternative cost-effective recruitment publications, we are also now ready to change the landscape and current expensive nature of recruitment videos.

Stay tuned to for more details, or you can always call one of our 55 offices across the United States and speak to one of our team members in a market nearest you.

How do you feel about video as an online recruitment tool?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Get There First

A few years ago "Get There First" was our mantra. Given our impact and the impact of other alternative recruitment solutions on daily newspapers (which at the time was our number one prospecting tool), it became clear that we could no longer rely solely on any one source of leads to direct our calling efforts in acquiring new customers. We realized that we were going to have to take the initiative to build stronger relationships with our customers and earn the right to be their first choice when it came to recruitment advertising within the hourly bracket. In order to accomplish this goal, we were going to have to be first in line or "get there first" once our customer or prospect realized the urgency of his or her need.

I am reviewing this segment of our past because history always provides valuable lessons from which we should all learn. The current economic condition in the United States is not that far removed from the conditions with which we were all dealing just five or six years ago. Obviously, the overnight impact that 9/11 had on our nation was much greater, but the business climate and the mind set of many in the business and financial communities seems very similar as far as the outlook for the near term. So how can we not only grow in these times, but prosper?

The mantra and ideology of "get there first" still holds true today in combination with having higher expectations of our own performance and those of our coworkers, as well as the level of contributions of those with whom we choose to partner for success. We still have to make sure we have worked hard enough to earn our place in line when our customers are ready to recruit. There are thousands of companies that are still recruiting on an ongoing basis. Jobs will be relocated overseas, and jobs will be eliminated through technological advances, but you will still have companies hiring (especially hourly workers). Interestingly enough, these types of changes in our labor economy usually end up creating new job opportunities. Have you heard the terms "green collar jobs” being thrown around of late? I rest my case.

I view today's business climate as one in which businesses who out hustle, innovate, and build quality organizations that attract talent while never waning from their core ideology will prosper. This will happen by laying the foundation for success today for incredible growth tomorrow. How will we accomplish this at The Employment Guide? We will always do what is best for our customers. It is critical that everyone at all levels of our organization embraces this concept. We will be honest and ethical at all times. We will develop and promote from within. We will be committed to high expectations, and we will be fiscally responsible. We are not immune to the "hustle factor" and will also have to out hustle the competition. In a lot of instances, it is still a race to see who "gets there first." If you are first in line to satisfy your customer's need, why would they require that the same need be met by the next business, person or product that offers their services? They wouldn't and won't.

Do not underestimate the importance of effort. Yes, working smart is also very important, but there is a piece of basic business principals, especially sales, that will always be a numbers game. We have to make quality calls - and a lot of them.

The reward for our efforts will be a larger customer base from which to grow our business in the future. This could be the result of new products and services, opening new recruitment segments, or by continuing to earn more new customers by meeting the expectations of our current and future customers.

It is exciting times, simply because of the sheer amount of opportunity that is being created as a result of all of the problems we currently face as a nation. I once read that "the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity." No wonder the races to see who will represent each of the two large political parties in the upcoming Presidential election are so closely contested.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sound Leadership Principles

2008 is going to be a year in which many professional leaders at all levels of organizations separate themselves from their peers by way of producing excellent results within industries that are cyclical in nature. It is increasingly important that those in leadership positions have made a concerted efforts to plan their strategies for the year well in advance of whatever current market conditions might be, while remaining sensitive to the fact that (since we live in a business climate that changes faster than the leader of the current presidential primary elections) their plans will need to be constantly reviewed and updated throughout the year.

Below is a list of ten sound leadership principals we can all follow as leaders (at all levels) that become increasingly important when faced with challenges.

  • Stay positive - Make sure that those that you lead understand your plans and initiatives to navigate the tough times, while simultaneously keeping the focus of the organization on proper execution of basic fundamentals and celebrating successes.
  • Identify solutions, not just problems - When you find something that is not working or is need of repair, be prepared to offer suggested solutions to the problem in lieu of just being someone who comes across as always pointing out the negative.
  • Catch your folks doing something right - You will be encouraging the type of behavior or accomplishments that you want among your teams.
  • Listen - I mean really listen. Give those that you lead your full attention when you are engaged in conversation. Not only will this give you a better sense of the pulse of your organization, it will send the message that you care.
  • Have high expectations - You have to keep yourself and those within your organization focused on performing at higher levels of success. This means you, too. Make sure the people that you lead see that you are willing to go the extra mile. If you expect more from your people, it will increase their willingness to roll up their sleeves while putting on their company hats if they know that you are also going to be in the trenches.
  • Quickly identify and lose any and all dead weight - Constant poor performers, under-achievers, bad attitudes, constant complainers and negativity can quickly be a big drain on those in your organization that are getting it done. Identify it and remove it quickly. Not only will overall attitudes improve quickly, but you might be able to afford to pay your top performers better if they can absorb the workload that was being put forth by those who did not possess the will do or can do or simply did not fit in with the team or organizational culture.
  • Put the right people in the right jobs - People are happier when they are doing what they enjoy. Have you ever promoted a top performer into a new capacity just to watch as they struggled in their new role? You will also need to take the time to hire the right people the first time.
  • Invest resources in what works and quickly - If your organization is not focused on the ongoing research and development of your next big initiative, your company is at risk. It might take trying twenty different products, strategies, and initiatives in order to find the next $10 million dollar business. Keep developing product, and get it to market fast.
  • Get your organization lean - Healthy organizations do not waste resources. Find where and on what you might be spending money that you can live without and get rid of the waste.
  • Reduce your stress - Be sure to make time to recharge your batteries. Don't forget to make time for yourself and your family. Exercise, eat healthier, go for a run, read a good book, go for a family walk around the neighborhood, etc. A healthy mind and body will afford you the ability to make better decisions and will provide you with increased energy.
I am excited about the initiatives The Employment Guide has in store for 2008. These include launching, the introduction of video job postings and many other great initiatives, as well as the ongoing development of new products to meet the needs of our customers well into the future.

What other sound principals that you utilize would add to the above list?

"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." - Henry Kissinger