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November 2005
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Volunteer Page Follow up

I have received quite a few messages today since I sent out the press release regarding my ideas for forming some sort of volunteer group to assist non-profits with their technology needs.

I would like to add some more information here and please understand that for the most part this idea is still tumbling around in my head.

When I started my blog I added the Volunteer Page,, as a place where I could post technology needs of non-profits in our area. It has had some success but this is a passive approach. It requires someone to come to the main site and for some reason have interest enough to click Volunteer.

I do have quite a few friends and referred candidates checking it out but again this is a passive approach.

So what I have been working on is sort of master list of corporations, consulting forms, and independent contractors with reputations of being involved in the community. I will be asking tech user groups to allow a banner on their site linking to the Volunteer Page. There are college students looking to work on projects to gain experience.

Let me stress that I am not trying to take the place of the many groups in our area that help find volunteers for non-profits, many of them with links on your left. What I am trying to do is take advantage of the sheer number of people a recruiter like me talks to in a week, month, or year.

I would like to create a simple form that the volunteer/company can fill out so we can keep track the number of hours donated.

I also am creating a simple form for the non-profit to fill out with as much specific information about their needs. I have been sent a couple of vague, “We need a web site…” type messages. I will also talk with folks with project experience so they can work with such web site inquiries.

Basically the non-profit sends me a form. I forward it on to those in the group that can do the particular job. I get a response from a volunteer and the make an introduction.

That is where I am at the moment. I have calls into an attorney friend of mine to see if there is any liability I assume for making the introduction and to see if I need to set up entity of its own.

If you have any questions post a comment or send me an email. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Local Blog Gets National Nod

The press release below is the same text as was sent out this morning but without the bold, italics, and consistent font and size.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          

December 21, 2005                             


Paul DeBettignies    

MN Headhunter


Local Blog Gets National Nod

MN Headhunter blog offers local business news, employment stats and career trends in addition to connecting local nonprofits and IT organizations

Minneapolis, MN -- A blog written by a Twin Cities IT Headhunter, Paul DeBettignies, has been nominated for a national award. His blog has gained further national attention after it was nominated as the Best Third Party Blog on, “A Recruiting Blog Community Portal”.  The public can vote at in ten categories and choose from more than sixty nominations until December 21. 

DeBettignies, Managing Partner of e-Strategies Group Inc., a Twin Cities based third party IT recruiting firm, has been writing the MN Headhunter blog since May of 2005.  Blog topics include local business news, employment statistics, and career trends. 

Additionally, the MN Headhunter blog has a volunteer page that offers nonprofits a chance to advertise their technology needs and IT organizations the opportunity to connect with these local nonprofits. 

DeBettignies started writing MN Headhunter after reviewing his business and marketing plan and deciding it was time to make some changes including the corporate name and new web site.

“In the mean time the MN Headhunter blog has been a good avenue for candidates, clients, and the general public to get to know me better. A corporate web site can give you the facts but a blog allows for more of a connection.”

A major focus for DeBettignies has been working to capitalize on blog traffic and his own network to connect volunteers with the technology needs of local non-profits.

“The past few weeks I have been developing a plan to further build an active network of corporations, consulting groups, independent contractors, and college students who would volunteer on a one time or continuing basis with non-profits seeking technology assistance,” he said.   

About MN Headhunter

The tag line for MN Headhunter is “Focusing on employment news, job search tips, promoting volunteerism within the IT Community, and a little Gopher football.” The site can be found at

About,, is a group blog for employment and staffing best practices.  The site is a community for recruiters, HR Professionals, hiring managers and job-seekers to promote and discover the latest trends in online recruitment. 

A press release for the 2005 Best Blog Awards can be found at,


Demand For IT Workers Is Growing But Will There Be Workers For The Jobs?

More reports including this one from Monster Worldwide are showing a continued increase in the need of IT workers. Going back one year there has been a steady increase in both the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industry and the Computer and Mathematical occupation.

A recent editorial at titled Blue Skies Ahead for IT Jobs by Maria Klawe, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, starts with addressing many of the common misperceptions for why there is a lack of workers and then leads in with this:

Yet the demand for people with computer science skills is at an all-time high. The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show that the number of computing-related jobs has surpassed the previous peak in 2000.

The editorial goes on to state many times and in different ways that there is a need for business facing workers. As I have said many times in previous posts that if you are a heads down web developer with the stereotype being of a Mountain Dew and Domino’s guy in the corner your job is in danger. These are the types of positions that are being outsourced.

If you’re a web developer who can meet with clients and attend strategy meetings, you are and will be in high demand. Rather than complain about outsourcing and worse yet offshoring, work on developing better personal and relationship skills.

The article has a lot of good advice that industry leaders could be using to increase the interest in being a technology worker bit it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Following the good news of demand and the bad news of the lack of trained workers comes what some might think of as a horror movie.

TechWeb carries an article titled Report Warns Congress Of Eroding IT, Science Sectors regarding the testimony before Congress of Norman Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. See the article for highlights of his testimony and about the pending report.

The report suggests 20 actions, based on four major recommendations, to bolster competitiveness. The recommendations are to: increase the country's talent pool by improving mathematics and science education in America's schools; sustain and strengthen commitments to long-term basic research; develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from inside the U.S. and abroad; and ensure that America is the premier place for innovation.

There have been enough of these reports drawing the same conclusions, which by the way are no different that any person with common sense could tell you.

So enough of the reports and testimony before Congress. How about we start implementing the recommendations.

Minnesota’s Job Growth In Question, Fed Forecasts Growth

Job growth figures in Minnesota have caused wide spread concern. Maybe caution is a better word. This article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press has a good take from both sides.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am a glass half full kind of guy. 3.9% unemployment? I remember when anything under 5.0% was considered “full employment”. I grant that if your one of those without a job or with a low paying job that this is bad news. We must continue putting people to work and increase skill levels to get folks into higher paying jobs.

Which gets me to the Minneapolis Fed release of its 2006 economic forecast. Two quotes from the release:

The economy in the Ninth Federal Reserve District is expected to continue expanding in 2006, despite concerns about higher energy and materials prices, and a likely slowing in home building and residential real estate. The Ninth District includes Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


The outlook for labor markets in 2006 is positive, reflecting expectations for increased economic growth… While a majority of respondents to the poll expect to increase employment at their companies, many are beginning to indicate difficulty finding qualified workers.

Once again we have language regarding the difficulty in finding skilled/qualified workers.

Looks like we need to do a better skills and job retraining.

Minneapolis Considering City Wide Wi-Fi

This fall John Katsantonis of ePrairie fame had a three part series, #1, #2, #3, on the proposed Wi-Fi in the City of Minneapolis. John also has good information on how the City of Chaska offers its service.

MPR has an update on its site.

There is a growing debate on how the system should be set up and who has ownership of it. Personally, I do not like government doing something I can do for myself whether they own/run it or not. I already have a high-speed connection at home and at work so I do not know that I would be a customer.

Saying that I do like the affordability of it and the hope that the “digital divide” is reduced. Now if someone could work on a program to get computers to low-income residents I would think this is a great idea. Without the ability to have a computer who needs connectivity?

This jury, being me, is still out…

MN Headhunter Nominated For Best Third Party Blog At


The guys at have come up with a great idea, 2005 Best Recruiting Blog Awards. Jobster is sponsoring the awards and Hireability is offering a prize too.

This is great exposure for all of us and much thanks to them for putting the work into this. The blogosphere is home to many great industry blogs for corporate recruiters, recruiting, headhunters, job seekers, etc.

The category I am in is “Best Third Party Blog”. I am thrilled to be nominated as the others in this category and all of the categories have top-notch blogs.

While it is an honor to be nominated I am a competitive person. If you have a moment take a look at the other nominated blogs and cast your vote. There are two options for voting.

1) Go to and follow the links. You will see links of all of the blogs in each category. If you have not visited the site before I recommend this.

2) You can send an email to and put MN Headhunter in the subject line.

MN Headhunter In The Minnesota Daily

Yesterday, December 8th, the Minnesota Daily had an article on the job search seminar I have been doing for members of the fraternities and sororities at the University of Minnesota.

The article does not mention my participation in the Minnesota Greek Alumni Partnership (MGAP). One of the committees we have is collegiate relations and we are working with the students on career advice, job search help, and a job/internship database.

Over the past few years I have been informally working with students one on one. I changed the seminar into a more formal presentation and we are doing group presentations.

The next couple of weeks MGAP, Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council (governing bodies of the groups) will be contacting 1000+ companies with information on job/internship posting and the plan of a virtual job fair this spring semester.

MGAP is committed to do what ever it can to help the students in their networking process. I am very fortunate to be working with a great group of dedicated volunteers.

I would like to make a correction regarding the story. Kevin McCahill is a good reporter but I think part of my statement was taken out of context or I did not answer as well as I could have. He asked about the perception that non-Greek students may have about nepotism. The following is in the article but about 90% of my response:

DeBettignies said part of the greek community is building networks and helping students find jobs just like other groups do. He doesn’t think it’s unfair for greek members and alumni to work together to find jobs for students.

“I’m sure College Republicans do something, or the DFL,” he said. “Carlson (School of Management) has one behind a firewall, is that fair?”

It is fair, of course it is. I was just trying to show that schools within the university, student groups, alumni all are and should be doing as much as they can to support the students and that the work MGAP is doing is no different than anybody else.

I do appreciate that Kevin noted that this is not just something for the Greek community. I have done this seminar for student groups at area colleges and universities and by referral from professional networking groups, religious groups, and other community organizations.

Digital North Acquires

One of the first posts on the first day of this blog was one about Mike Sowada, CEO of Digital North, winning the TwinWest 2005 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award. This week Digital North acquired The new entity will be called VISI.

There have been a few reports on the acquisition including Business Journal and the press release on IP Communications.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Mike for a few years and he is a good friend. We have had many a breakfast together and I have always appreciated the advice, personal and business, he has given me. My experience with Mike has been very good and the employees at VISI can look forward to working with Mike. He has high ethics, is personable, and genuinely cares about those around him.

I have also known Jason Baker, CTO of the new VISI, since the early 90’s at the University of Minnesota. Jason’s technology experience combined with his communication skills make him a goof fit for the leadership position.

Congratulations Mike, Jason, and all at VISI.

November 2006, Phone And Internet Service

When I moved into the new space I had the option of using the phone service provided by UTEC or another provider like TDS Metrocom or Qwest. At UTEC they do not have a contract for the phones but you cannot take the number with you when you leave. No portability.

I had been with TDS Metrocom since 1998. My contract ran out long ago but I stuck with them anyway. I have never been thrilled with the customer service from Qwest. The problem I had with TDS is they continually sent me offers to sign a contract and I could get a cheaper rate.

I had already been a loyal customer. They should have given the rate without the contract.

They were not loyal to me, so I left.

I ended up with Vonage.

They were easy to work with. It took about 15 minutes on the phone to get the service ordered. It takes a few days to have the hardware sent but they tell you that up front so you know what to expect. You can set up a Vonage account without ever talking to a person if you would like.

They are/were offering a small business plan that was equal to TDS and Qwest after figuring that long distance is unlimited. As a recruiter long distance even at .04 a minute can get expensive.

There are many services that they offer that I have become a huge fan of. For starters, when I go out of town I can bring my phone adapter with me, plug it into a high-speed connection, and it is as if I were in the office. Very nice.

When out of the office I can check online for caller ID and listen to voice messages too. Everything is online and so far, 60 days into it, I have not had any problems with the service.

In order to use Vonage a high-speed connection is needed.

I picked up a cable connection from Time Warner/Road Runner and the service has been great, no issues yet. I did ask about their digital phone, I prefer to write one check and have one point of contact, but they only offer it as a residential service. I also picked up cable TV.

Boston Scientific Makes A Bid To Acquire Guidant

The wheels of the med-tech community in the Twin Cities started turning fast Monday. From out of no-where Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts) made a bid for Guidant (Indianapolis, Indiana) today.

It appears that the main interest in Guidant is the cardiac rhythm management unit based in Arden Hills. Boston Scientific CEO and President stated that the plan is to retain all employees. That’s a big deal for the Twin Cities as 3,100 are employed in Arden Hills.

Boston Scientific will likely need to divest of Guidant’s stent business in order for the Department of Justice to sign off on the deal.

Boston Scientific already employs around 3,000 employees at its Maple Grove office.

So what does Johnson and Johnson do? Do they let Guidant go? Better yet, do they take a look at St. Jude Medical with headquarters in St. Paul?

I will write some more on Tuesday with links to local and national print stories.

And Their Off… The Politicians That Is

Before I get into politics let me remind everyone of where I stand. Smack in the middle most of the time. If the wind were to blow and I had to tilt one way or the other I might fall to the right six times and to the left four times. I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Find me a Democrat willing to stay out of my wallet or a Republican willing to stay out of my bedroom and I can likely vote for them.

This week the State of Minnesota Finance Department had good news on the state’s budget. Between the previously announced $317 million surplus for fiscal 2005 and the newly announced $701 million surplus for 2006-2007 our politicians are climbing all over each other trying to lay claim to the positive news.

Why am I already sounding jaded? Well, it is eleven months to election day with every constitutional office holder in the state including the governor, 201 legislative seats, and the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Dayton up for election.

So we have local, state, and national implications.

The good news is that even for non-political bloggers like myself they are sure to say or do something I can rationalize ranting about.

I am not sure if I am looking forward to it or not…

Minneapolis #2, St. Paul Tied For #10 Most Literate Cities

It’s nice to have the ranking but maybe we just read more than other cities. How about test scores or other sociological data? I know Minnesota usually ranks high in literacy but these indicators seem, well, less serious to me.

Here’s the link to the study from Central Connecticut State University.

Post-Hurricane Jobs Report

Department of Labor reports 215,000 jobs were added by the U.S. economy in November and an additional 13,000 were created in September and October after revisions. The number is in line with Wall Street expectations. Unemployment remains at 5%.

37,000 jobs were created in construction, which follows 35,000 in October, as work begins following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

Good news for manufacturers too with another 11,000 jobs created. That’s two months in a row of increased activity.

"Despite the disruptions of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, economic activity appears to be expanding at a reasonably good pace as we head into 2006," Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said in taped remarks to a conference in Philadelphia.

Many bloggers were writing about the pending doom of economic collapse following the hurricanes. While the U.S. economy certainly took a hit and a lot of federal dollars will be spent helping the region recover, adding to the already mammoth debt, we are doing all right.

So for all of those Chicken Little’s out there, the sky did not fall.