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Outsourced Northwest Airlines Employees Down In The Dumps(ters)

This also belongs in the What The Hell Were They Thinking? category. And maybe I missed it but why do the local papers not have anything on this yet? The local evening TV news is covering it.


Northwest Airlines gave 50 soon to be outsourced employees, ground workers including baggage handlers, a 150-page packet called “Restructuring Q&A and Employee Support” and includes a four page booklet  “Preparing for a Financial Setback”. For a while it was posted on their web site.


In it are 101 money savings tips including:

Idea No. 46 - "Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the garbage."

There is more:

They suggest asking friends and family for hand-me-down clothes, ask a doctor for free samples of their prescription drugs, shopping in thrift stores, and taking a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods.

And this:

If you have saved some money, pat yourself on the back -- you deserve it.

Northwest Airlines says production of the booklet was outsourced, that the airline did not proofread it, and some if it may have been insensitive.


Insensitive, there’s the understatement of the day…

What The Hell Were They Thinking?

Who? Koren Robinson and Troy Lee Gentry in unrelated incidents. The following is from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and it is worth some time to check the reader comments.


Koren Robinson, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, first:

Koren Robinson was charged with one count of felony fleeing police, two counts of fourth-degree driving while impaired, and one count each of reckless driving, careless driving and driving with a suspended license, according to a formal complaint filed today in Nicollet County District Court.


The complaint said the Vikings wide receiver was clocked driving 104 mph in a 55-mph zone in St. Peter, Minn., Tuesday night. The preliminary breath test indicated that his blood-alcohol level was .11, but a later test, at 12:18 a.m., showed his blood-alcohol was at .09. The state limit is .08.

Just the other night the fellas on ESPN were saying such nice things about Robinson and how he has changed his life around. 24 hours later, it turned again. On a personal level, it seemed like he had it back together. All of the interviews he had done and comments from his teammates were very positive. On a professional level, if found guilty, he faces a one year suspension from the NFL as this is his second violation.


Now country singer Troy Lee Gentry of Montgomery Gentry:

Gentry appeared Tuesday in federal court in connection with the killing of a tame black bear that federal officials say he bought, shot in an enclosed pen with a bow and arrow, and then tagged as if it had been killed in the wild.


The government alleged that Gentry and Greenly tagged a captive-raised bear named "Cubby," killed on Greenly's property in October 2004, with a Minnesota hunting license and registered the animal with the state Department of Natural Resources as if it had been killed from the wild population. The false tagging would be a violation of the federal Lacey Act.


Gentry allegedly bought the bear from Greenly for about $4,650. The bear's death was videotaped, and the tape later edited so Gentry appeared to shoot the bear with a bow and arrow in a "fair chase"-hunting situation. The pair then shipped the bear's hide to a Kentucky taxidermist, the indictment said.

I am not pro/anti hunting but this act is just plain wrong. I was looking for a way to say what I am thinking and then came across this comment:

Lock the dolt up in a cage and give him a taste of his own medicine.

Well said.

Minnesota Jobs And Unemployment Rate Increase

Before getting into the latest numbers there is a trend that has been noticeable over recent months and years. A few months ago the local media and economic experts were critical of Minnesota job growth citing statistics that the country was on a faster clip.


Now they are all excited because Minnesota is outpacing the country. Are they not paying attention? Minnesota tends to be behind the curve. We saw the recession and recovery later than the rest of the country. The impact was also less here as has been the growth.


Call me a fool but maybe Minnesota is just a little more stable than other parts of the country…


Minnesota created 11,600 jobs in June yet the unemployment rate increased 0.2% to 3.8 because of 6,100 more people in the workforce.


That makes 13 months of job creation in Minnesota with 2.78 million employed.


79,250 jobs in the past year have been created, a 2.9% increase compared to the 1.3% national rate.


Unemployment rate

July ’06, 3.8%

June ’06, 3.6%


Jobs Created/Lost

July ’06, +11,600

Ben Affleck And The Ultimate Baseball Statistic

My friend Bob and I and are on a constant quest for the ultimate baseball statistic. Baseball has numbers on just about every aspect possible. I heard one last week about the on base percentage against a left-handed pitcher during day games on turf. Seriously, there is information on that.


Other sports do too but baseball has to be the most thoroughly researched sport there is.


I just heard one on ESPN SportsCenter that may be the ultimate.


Today is Ben Affleck’s birthday. Since 1998, around the time of Good Will Hunting, the Boston Red Sox are 0 - 8 on this date with six of those losses coming at home.


Boston plays the Detroit Tigers tonight at Fenway.


We shall see…

Using LinkedIn As A Networking Tool

Heather Hamilton at One Louder had this post Wanting access to my network is different than wanting to be in my network regarding some recent experience she has had with LinkedIn. Not with the site itself but the “networkers” that have been contacting her.


I have recently started doing something similar. If I receive one of the template invitations I email the sender asking for more information. No answer gets you a declined invitation.


Admittedly when I first started using LinkedIn I connected with people I did not know to “use” their network and see who was out there. The thing is, I said so. No lies or gimmicks and a genuine invitation with my intent.


Now I am very specific on who I want to meet and network with.


Here was my recent LinkedIn experiment.


I posted the message below on one of the large groups I belong to. The main goal was to connect and build relationships with people I share an interest with. I think I was pretty specific with who I am looking to meet but I still had template invitations from Belgium and the Czech Republic.


I should restate that. A small number of responses were like that. I have met more than ten people I did not know before that I have been able to start email conversations with. Was it worth the hassle of receiving invitations from people halfway around the world? Absolutely.


I think LinkedIn is an awesome tool.


By nature I am an open networker. If you want to be introduced to someone I know, ask. I frequently send email to individuals who I think should get to know each other. (I hope LinkedIn works on that idea) I want my friends, colleagues, and contacts to get to know each other.


If you are using LinkedIn here is my profile and if you think we should connect explain why.


Here is the LinkedIn group message I sent:

An introduction from Minneapolis, Minnesota


Greetings Linkedin friends,


My name is Paul DeBettignies and I have been lurking in the shadows of this group for about a year now.


After recently incorporating my information technology search firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota and doing a redesign of my blog I thought this would be a good time to introduce myself.


My Linkedin profile is,, and here you can find out more about Nerd Search, LLC and my blog MN Headhunter (


I am a big fan of helping people I know connect to other people I know. Here is the

focus of my networking efforts, if you are a:


-Information Technology professional in or near Minnesota

-Experienced consultant in Oracle, SAP, Hyperion or other ERP skills and are interested in speaking about opportunities with Big 4 or regional consulting firms

-Java or C++ developer and have interest in working for Wall Street financial services firms

-Entrepreneur in or near Minnesota

-Recruiter (search firm or in house) in or near Minnesota

-Recruiter in the United States who actively seeks out soon to be or recent college graduates and would like some help getting introduced to University of Minnesota grads.

-Graduate of the University of Minnesota

-Staff member or volunteer of a Minnesota nonprofit



then I would be interested in networking with you. Let’s find out who I know that can be of help to you.


I prefer to receive an invitation that explains a bit who you are, how I can be of help, and what we have in common. I am not a big fan of linking for the sole purpose of linking so please be descriptive.


Thank you all for your time and best wishes,


Paul DeBettignies

Managing Partner

Nerd Search, LLC

Recognizing Resume Submittals And Inquiries

There is a post at today Guess What: I'm Busy. that I had originally planned on just commenting on there but then felt a post here would be better.


I find it difficult if not impossible to respond to every inquiry in a timely manner. Be it about a job or the blog, and doing so takes a lot of time when I could be doing other things. I do sort of an email triage every day and evening. Sooner than later I get back to everyone. (most times anyway)


Here is what I have learned in the last eight years of running on this recruiting hamster wheel. 60 minutes of responding to mail now, being proactive, saves time later.


Responding to everyone in the most timely manner, even if it is with news they would rather not hear, is good business.


The not yet qualified candidate will be more experienced the next time you come across them and if you handled them in a timely and professional manner the first time, even if it was a rejection of some sort, you have a chance at working with them now. And in the interim they have nto been telling their friends how much of a jerk you were.


Let me try this from a different angle. Minneapolis is a big small town in the way that it acts. Everyone knows everyone, in a LinkedIn sort of way, and news travels fast and loud.


If a company or recruiter gets the reputation for poor customer service, and that is a part of our business, that company will see fewer candidates.


Maybe your town is not like mine but I bet your industry and niche are.


Not exactly the thing you want as the labor market tightens up. Things have changed in the past years as the economy has recovered. Employers and recruiters are not in the same power position they were before.


Note: If you have sent me an email and you have not yet seen a response, politely contact me again. Maybe I missed it or the triage system was broken that day.


Allianz Lays Off 200

Most of which are located in the Golden Valley office. Here’s a story Allianz to lay off 200 due to slow sales.

Most of the cuts will be in back-office support positions. A spokeswoman for the company said Allianz will provide outplacement services and severance packages for the affected workers, who were notified Thursday of the layoffs.

Notified and completely blindsided by the announcement as I was told by one techie impacted by the action. If your company is looking for really talented desktop support I can put you in touch with a few.

Summertime Dress Codes In Minneapolis

I always think it’s funny when people from outside of the Upper Midwest talk about how cold it is here. Yeah, for three months out of the year. How many months do the people in Phoenix or Dallas spend indoors with their air conditioning?


I call it a wash.


Sorry, had to get that off my chest.


A St Paul Pioneer Press writer added to an article Dress code back in style that originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.


Banning the midriff? How dare they. Sorry, that’s the single guy and anti-corporate rule guy talking again. You should see how casual I am on phone days. A shower and a shave are optional but when people see me, I clean up good. I make momma proud.


Sorry, having a hard time focusing tonight…

To ensure that Carlson Cos. headquarters employees are properly dressed for clients, a memo on dress guidelines went out at the beginning of summer to the 4,000 employees in Minnetonka.


"We've taken a strong stance in that it is not acceptable at any time of the year to wear bare midriff, off the shoulder, see-through, (or) Spandex clothing," said Susan MacHolda, Carlson's senior director of work life and diversity.


Carlson established its dress code four years ago and frequently tweaks, revises and clarifies it. Also on its no-no list: flip-flops, thongs, sport sandals, T-shirts, tank tops, stretch pants, caps and sunglasses.

Whoa, no more see through clothing or thongs? I bet that means someone must have been a little too “hip”. Now for the serious part of this, if they had to write that in a policy I am going to assume that some of it was going on. I did not know Carlson Companies had been that casual.


Or maybe they added a beach in the complex I was not aware of.

Congress, Comic Books, Technology And Passing New Laws

The L.A. Times had this article Weighing High-Tech Bills in Analog that really got my attention. We have all of the “smart attorney’s” (insert sarcastic comment here) that have been elected to the United States Congress but they cannot figure out how to create legislation.


Maybe creating it is not the problem, understanding the issues is. I get that members of Congress may not fully understand online social networks, Internet gambling, and net neutrality but they should have some basic knowledge or at least have staff that do.


Apparently not:

The task is all the more difficult because few in Congress understand what those engineers in Silicon Valley actually do.

One of the leading gatekeepers for technology legislation, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), has been lampooned on TV and tech blogs after recently describing the Internet as "a series of tubes." The lack of high-tech understanding is so pervasive on Capitol Hill that Vint Cerf, a Google Inc. executive known as a father of the Internet, is considering creating a comic book to show lawmakers how the global network operates.

A comic book? We have to take our elected officials back to grade school? Apparently so because analogies do not always work:

Supporters have resorted to analogies — trucks on highways are a favorite — to simplify the movement of information online and the risks posed by creating Internet "toll lanes." But sometimes those explanations have only caused more confusion.

"I'm tired of talking about 18-wheelers," an exasperated Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) said at a House hearing this spring. "I'd like to know what we're talking about here."

And I would like to know that when they are talking about it that a few of them actually get it.


I understand the philosophy that sometimes it is best to re-elect politicians because it takes a while to figure out how the system works and to gain influence but if you are a career politician and that’s all you know then maybe you not qualified after all. Having some experience in the modern world should be a must have.

Northstar Commuter Rail Update has this article The long and short (and costs) of commuter rail which catches us up on the status of the Northstar commuter rail.


I am a big fan of moving people by rail. My issue is that while it seems to be a preferred way to go with transportation in the amount of time it takes to finally make a decision the costs, materials and inflation, shoot to the moon.


Here is the plan as it stands today:

Today's project:

•40 miles from Minneapolis to Big Lake with stops at the Hiawatha light rail line in Minneapolis, Fridley (but construction is delayed until an additional $10 million is gained), Coon Rapids, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake. Four blocks of light rail connecting the commuter rail to the Hiawatha line.

•Cost is $317 million, including construction of the Fridley station.

•Construction is set to begin in 2007.

•The line should be operating in 2009.


What's next

The NCDA is awaiting $151 million in federal funding, which could be approved in 2007. Without that money, the project cannot move forward. If it's approved, construction will probably start next year.

I still think the ante should be raised to connect to St. Cloud. It will likely happen anyway so it should be done now instead of later when the expense is greater.


Click Northstar Commuter Rail for more information and Top Ten Reasons to Support Northstar (from the same site).

Northeast Ventures Shuts Down

The Duluth News Tribune has this story from Thursday Region loses business investor about how Northeast Ventures has closed its office.


That is too bad as they put many investment dollars in to the north east region of the state when they needed it most.


The venture capital fund invested in regional companies such as Cirrus Design, Empower MX (formerly Sinex Aviation Technologies Corp.), Larex Inc., Partridge River Inc. and about two dozen others. Although the region has other investors, Northeast Ventures may be the only venture capital fund.


Mercury Investments of Duluth will look after the investments already made and Tom Van Hale will be a consultant.


The article has a great timeline of the firm including the Harvard Business School case study.

Your HR Guy's Experience With MySpace And Facebook

As a part of the Blogswap here is one of the newest blogs and already a favorite of mine. Your HR Guy writes anonymously, although I think I know his first name, about his job, what he sees, and most importantly what he thinks. His blog is a great look into the HR world.


Your HR Guy writes today about using social networking sites for recruiting.
There has been a lot of talk recently about using social networking sites like
MySpace, Facebook and simply the Internet in general to possibly make a judgment call on a future employee.  The scenario runs something like this:
1.) You get a great candidate for a position and you want to hire her
2.) You Google her name
3a.) You are horrified at what you find on the web, Myspace, etc...
3b.) You find nothing
I don't want to get into this argument of whether or not it is legitimate to do this other than to point out potential advantages and downfalls of using a social networking site that isn't designed specifically for business networking.
Downfalls include: Introducing factors that don't relate to job performance, low quality (or low perceived quality), and not targeted enough.
Advantages include: An almost limitless supply of possible recruits and a low cost way of connecting with those people in an atmosphere they are comfortable with.
For myself, I have found that MySpace is great for facilitating non-traditional networking. The people I talk to on MySpace aren't necessarily people we have open positions for but often times they know other people (which is what networking is all about).  I had one person on MySpace whose father was looking for a job and while I didn't have anything available for him, I did know someone else in my network that had those types of positions available. 
As for straight recruiting though, MySpace isn't that great.  It isn't like keyword searching through resumes. It wasn't built for that.  MySpace and Facebook are incredible tools for building the foundations of networks that you wouldn't necessarily become a part of and that extra network of people could be the connection between your next great employee, whether they have a MySpace account or not.