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Unemployment Numbers Continue To Improve

The U.S. Department of Labor announced this morning the number of new people filing for unemployment declined again last week to take the four-week moving average to its lowest level in four years. Not since March of 2001, when the last recession began, have we seen the numbers at this level.

2.58 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits at this time. That number is down 312,000 from the same time a year ago.

An average of 191,000 jobs have been created each month compared to 183,000 a month last year.

Lets hope yesterday’s all time high close of a barrel of oil, $67.10, does not impact companies and consumers to the point they start buying less.

How I Became A Headhunter, Part 1

I have been getting some inquiries the past few weeks from visitors to the blog wondering how anyone, in this case me, becomes a Headhunter.

One thing about me, I have a belief in telling it the way it is. For better or for worse.

I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1995 with a degree in International Relations. I had interned for Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN 3rd) in college and had thought about going to work for someone full-time. The problem is that I was then and am now today a middle of the road kind of person. I know, I know, I have heard it a million times. The only thing in the middle of the road is a white line and road kill.

It was that kind of mentality that pushed me away. I thought politics was becoming more about the game, being able to one-up the opponent, and less about serving constituents and making the country a better place.

I bartended my way through college and when I graduated was working for Planet Hollywood at the Mall of America. I started shortly after the Grand Opening so I had missed the “really cool people”. I did meet many sports stars as I worked the event; I have forgotten the name, when Kirby Puckett had his pool tournament. Worked the retirement event for Kent Hrbek.

“Movie Stars” did come there frequently to promo their movies while in town so while slinging drinks I would get a glimpse and the occasional handshake. Frankly, I think the whole movie industry is nothing more than a PR scam.

The Olympics were going to be in Atlanta and Planet Hollywood was opening a restaurant there. My boss was transferring to Atlanta and asked if I wanted to transfer there. I thought about and said yes. Within a few weeks of his arrival there I heard things were not going well with the opening and he was not sure that it was worth it for me to make the move knowing the hospitality industry was not a long term play for me.

I called a very good friend of mine, a fraternity brother, and asked if his company was hiring. It was Enterprise Rent A Car. For as unglamorous as it was to rent cars during that winter I loved the people. The company was growing and there were many opportunities to help grow sales.

I did that for about a year but found that working for a big company was hard, for me, as there was a rule for everything and a predetermined way to grow a business.

For the next two years I did a couple of odd sales jobs while trying to figure out what I wanted to with my life.

In October of 1997 I answered an ad for a search firm looking to train people with no experience to become a “Headhunter”. I figured I knew a lot of people, really liked people in general, and they were talking about 6 figure potential income. Hell, I could learn whatever they wanted to teach me for that kind of cash. So the beginning of November 1997 I started to work as a Headhunter.

Tomorrow in Part 2 I will talk about the “training” I received and how working at this particular firm changed me as a person.

"Lets Go Gophers"

What do “Gophers” have to with a blog written by a MN Headhunter? Well for me, everything. Being a graduate of the University of Minnesota and a football season ticket holder I get excited this time of year.

See I believe every year around this time we are going to the Rose Bowl. Yes we are. Completely convinced. In fact this year I am shooting even higher because the Rose Bowl is home to the National Championship game. OK, so maybe this year not the Rose Bowl but still the Big Ten championship.

I heard, but have not read, that picks the Gophers tied for 7th in the Big Ten. Bah, Humbug. What the heck do they know anyway?

In the coming days I will be talking a little more Gopher football. I ask that my recruiting friends, candidates, and general readers that are expecting recruiting news from the MN Headhunter RSS feed to have some patience with me.


Future IT Workers

With so much rhetoric about outsourcing, offshoring, salary increases, and retiring Baby-Boomers I decided to go on a search of who is choosing IT as career field and why others who would be good candidates to join the ranks are not.

The Seattle Times had a conversation with the David Notkin, head of the University of Washington computer science program. Mr. Notkin believes that part of the issue is that after the Internet bubble burst the perception is that there aren’t any jobs. He also states that there is a demand for higher-level jobs.

The article also states that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a rapid growth in jobs and salaries over the next decade.

I had a July 18th article from NewsDay that quoted Bill Gates from his opening day remarks at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit. NewsDay must have a paid archive system so here are the quotes without the direct link:

Gates said computer scientists need to do a better job of dispelling that myth and conveying that it's an exciting field.

"How many fields can you get right out of college and define substantial aspects of a product that's going to go out and over 100 million people are going to use it?" Gates said. "We promise people when they come here to do programming ... they're going to have that opportunity, and yet we can't hire as many people as we'd like."

Citing statistics from UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, Klawe said students' interest in computer science fell more than 60 percent from 2000 to 2004, even though salaries have increased and more jobs have opened up. has a posting titled “Who are the new computer whizzes?” They cite the same study as the Bill Gates article but take a twist on it. The article focuses on the for-profit school like Strayer University and DeVry Institute of Technology. The article goes on to talk about the demographics of the students including great numbers of women, minorities, and the middle-aged.

So lets get this straight, colleges and universities have lower enrollment in IT and related degrees. Bill Gates and others are saying we need more people to get into the IT career field. Women, minorities, and middle-aged are getting into the career as they see jobs available at a good wage.

Maybe the smart tech folks should get together and create a marketing campaign targeting young people that does not paint IT as “Geek Culture”. Hmmm, but apparently that makes too much sense, too much money, or too much time.

So instead, we outsource it.

Smart tech folks, there’s a play on words…

Silicon Valley Talent Raid

Living in the Midwest all my life I have learned that most trends, be it music, fashion, slang, and yes employment, start on the coasts and act as a wave across the country and at some point make its way to the Midwest. By the time it gets here the wave or impact is not as big as when it started but well, you get it.

The downturn of 2000 took a while to get to Minneapolis and the impact was not as deep in comparison to other regions. In the same way the upturn took a while to get here too.

So having prepped this too much here is an article “Revenge Of The Nerds--Again" from Business Week.

Google and Yahoo have been raiding Silicon Valley talent to build up their engineer ranks. In the 2nd quarter Google hired 230 engineers. Yahoo has hired dozens more.

My how times have changed. As the article points out Microsoft and Sun Micro used to be the place for the cool techies to go. Now it’s the Internet search that is the next cool thing.

The culture of Google reminds me of the dot-com days with their roller-hockey games, gourmet meals, and digital toilets. Yeah, no kidding, Toilets with seat temperature. Ahh, refreshing…


Sure Microsoft has a lot of cash to pay top talent but it has sued Google and a former employee for breaching a non-compete clause.

The trend to watch is if Microsoft now starts raiding other companies to fill their ranks. If so, we could be off the races again like the late 90’s when recruiting and retaining was as much about foosball and designer coffee than it was about 9-5.

American Indians Entering The Outsourcing Game

I have had two posts on outsourcing to rural America, Outsourcing To Rural America and Outsourcing To Duluth?. This article from talks about how the Oglala Lakota Sioux are doing quality control on data entry done in China for US companies.

This is another example of US companies paying a fair wage for work to be done here. Data entry is not the only work being done:

Ford Motor Co., Dell Inc. and Capital One all are interested in working with tribes instead of sending work to India, Ireland and the Philippines, he said. Language barriers, distance management issues and security-sensitive work that can't be sent overseas are all factors, Brown said.

"In many ways, American Indians are entering the outsourcing marketplace at a good time. There's plenty of work to be had, and for some CIOs the offshore honeymoon is over," he said. "They're looking for a low-cost and high-quality onshore option."

The Cedar Band of Paiutes in Utah is also tapping into government and commercial outsourcing contracts. In 2004 it did $14 million in revenue and 2005 is projected at $40 million.

Four reservations in Utah have created between 150-180 full-time jobs.

What Is The Future Of Outsourcing/Offshoring?

So many articles written by what seem to be intelligent people and so many opinions on the good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, is it sustainable or not.

We hear about offshoring being the new thing, we hear about salaries being driven down in the US, then we hear about baby-boomers retiring and the lack of workers will drive up salaries for the good, ones, but if there is lack of talent does that fuel the offshoring fire?


I confess, I don’t know nor yet have an educated enough opinion. Here is what I do know, if you are a tech person you really need to learn some business skills and vice versa.

Now that you feel enlightened by my simple theory here is some rhetoric from “experts”, or so they seem to think.

In this corner wearing blue trunks we have a study from McKinsey Global Institute written about in It says that by 2008 4.1 million service-side jobs will be outsrouced. They then mention 4.1 is out of 160 million. I grant that the study says 13% of IT jobs will be affected but I come back to how large in terms of % is the baby boomers in IT?

In this corner wearing green trunks we have an article from Outsourcing Journal questioning if offshoring is sustainable. While Indian firms margins are around 20% they are starting to deal with wage inflation and attrition. There answer to this is very similar to US firms years ago. They are locating offices to Tier 2 locations and reviewing business models.

In this corner wearing white trunks we have this Wall Street Journal article saying that projects are getting sent overseas to save money and time. Much of the work is automation and testing of the technology.

We then have a corner wearing red, whit and blue trunks, (getting the analogy yet?) from VNU Network in the UK. Prudential after benchmarking a data center deal with Cap Gemini is bringing the operation back in house. A consultant from Deloitte is quoted as saying some companies are realizing deals should never have been done in the first place.

Finally in the same corner we have this article from Legal Week. In an effort to keep tax dollars and jobs at home US state and federal laws are being passed limiting the amount and kind of outsourcing/offshoring that can be done. It will be interesting to see how these laws stand up to constitutional tests as stated in the article.

Moral to this story? I am not sure I have one. Maybe that common sense needs to be on the front burner when thinking about security, costs, time, etc.

Negotiating Your Worth

This article from is a great reminder of how to do negotiate a compensation package. While the article focuses on CIO’s these tips are universal from the Help Desk to the CIO. In fact, these can be tailored for any position in any industry.

With all the talk about raising salaries and a tightening labor market, see yesterdays post titled IT Pay Increasing, Labor Market Tightening, this is a good primer on how to be compensated for your value.

Every one of the nine points is crucial in negotiating a compensation package.

Now the recruiter in me comes out. Please, please, please follow Phase Two #3:

Honesty pays: Over-inflating your current compensation is a novice error in negotiation. Instead, create a complete advance calculation of your entire package (benefits, accrued bonuses, base) and be able to articulate what works and doesn’t going forward. Wanting to increase your pay is assumed; waiting to see how the organization codifies compensation can be informative and favorable to you.

Take note of the last paragraph and the statement on doing your homework.

Book mark this article and send it to your friends.

CIO Pay: A Good Trend But Interesting Timing In Two Situations

I am all about any person being compensated as much as a market is willing to pay. It is about time that CIO’s are getting into the boardroom and involved in critical operations decisions. I am all for that. But talk about bad timing with public relations…

Baseline has come out with their 2005 CIO Compensation Survey. Worth noting that Northwest Airlines CIO, Philip Hahn, ranks 6th in compensation. He made a pinch over 3 million dollars in 2004. Not bad for a guy whose company is saying they need concessions from the labor unions to survive.

How ironic.

And then we have this story from Forbes on Randy Mott the new CIO of Hewlett-Packard who was lured away from Dell. $15.3 million, not bad for a guy who took a job and then in a matter of weeks his company announced the layoff of 15,000 employees, or 10% of the then workforce.

Maybe I am still jaded by the comments of Latrell Spreewell of the Minnesota Timberwolves last winter. He felt his contract with the Wolves should be redone. He said he needed to feed his family.

Huh, $10 million just did not seem to cut it.

I need to give the CIO’s a break. At least they are assisting in creating shareholder value.