It's Raining Candidates

Here in Los Angeles, when it drizzles like it did today, people hunker down at home as if the apocalypse is approaching. They leave home if they absolutely have to get somewhere in a crisis, such as to a manicurist. When they do drive in the rain, if you’re near the road, I recommend you wear a helmet.
Given the dire weather, and the left coast being relatively foreign land to the Journal, today’s Wall Street Journal executive diversity career fair fared quite well. The Journal, one recruiter told me, “called and called and called” to get her company to take part until she caved.  
The format was unusual; instead of tables in an auditorium, recruiters were put in hotel suites spread out over two floors. One job candidate said he felt “intimidated” waiting in a hallway outside a hotel suite, and one recruiter simply called the format “odd.” That aside, most everyone was positive.
The hottest suite was probably Beckman Coulter’s. It’s one of the larger companies in Orange County that most people have never heard of. It makes medical-testing products, and is hiring engineers, scientists, marketers, finance experts, and others. I asked Beckman senior HR specialist Liz Caniglia the reason for the line at her suite. Caniglia, matter-of-factly, responded: “We’re just that popular.”
Caniglia had in her hand a glossy employee magazine; the brochure “highlights the contributions that Beckman Coulter people, products and customers make to the world around us.” It’s good. 
Southern California Edison also had quite a line, though partly because it was keeping people in the suite pretty long. I’ve met a couple of people who work at Edison, and they’re happy. This was a diversity job fair, and Edison has a reputation for being a good place to work for Hispanic employees.
The recruiter from San Diego’s Sempra Energy was very positive about both the quality and quantity of candidates she got. Sempra’s looking for mechanical and electrical engineers, and she had businesspeople come by with engineering backgrounds. Those are people who can really get promoted at Sempra, she says.
LaTasha Folk (who exudes niceness) made out OK, but got a few more non-executives — recent grads — than she would have preferred at the Toyota Financial Services booth. She’d like to have had people pre-screened beforehand so that only the target market (executives) of candidates would show. The company’s looking for an OD manager and an OD analyst, a CPA, an audit expert, and others. I was disappointed that a job candidate came by the booth while I was there (time for me to go). LaTasha would have been worth talking to the rest of the day.
Mattel had Barbie standing on the table where Mattel was talking to candidates. It struck me as odd, but I don’t know why; maybe because Mattel has such a wide variety of toys. It was distracting. Maybe I’m just not that into Barbie. Mattel is hiring HR professionals (as was most everyone today, from Countrywide to Smith Barney to Williams-Sonoma and others) as well as finance, marketing, sales, and IT employees.
Wanda Kincy, diversity consulting manager at the HMO Health Net, said she had a steady steam of traffic throughout the day. “I can’t imagine what would happen if it was a sunny day,” Kincy says. “We’d have to get another suite.”

Three Prime Ministers and a Surprised Mother

I was fortunate to hear three former prime ministers speak tonight in Universal City, California.
John Major, from Great Britain: “Life in Iraq is dire,” Major says. “Unemployment is huge, inflation is 70%.” In Afghanistan, he says, we should be careful about cracking down on poppy growers, because while it may be an “evil” occupation, at least it’s keeping the poppy-croppers busy and without their jobs, they’re going to cause trouble.
Major said that he once asked Boris Yeltsin how things were going in Russia. Yeltsin was preparing a long answer, when Major said, “just tell me in one word.” Yeltsin said, “good.”  Then Major said, “OK, you can use two words.”  Replied Yeltsin: “Not good.”
Major, who’s only in his mid-60s, was born to a father who grew up in Pennsylvania … in the 1880s! He was 65 when Major was born. Says Major: “My mother was surprised.”
Ehud Barak, from Israel: Believes that Iraq should work to provide higher education for every woman in the country, a move he said would “enrich the labor force” substantially and would generally help the country progress. Said that the last century was the American century, but that China and India are rapidly gaining ground on America in many ways (GDP, college grads, more) and America ought not take its position of influence for granted.
Jose Maria Aznar, of Spain: Says that the U.S. is the “best hope” and Israel the “last hope” … says Israel is the lone Western democracy that happens to be located in the Middle East. “Israel’s survival is essential for the West to exist,” he says.

Racing to the Bottom of the Gulf

From McKinsey today:
–The Gulf states (Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) are awash in trillions of dollars of oil, and may want to use it to diversify their economies.
–The countries have “one of the world?s youngest and fastest-growing populations: for example, 61 percent of Saudi Arabia?s population is under 25 years old, compared with 50 percent of India?s, 39 percent of China?s, and 30 percent of Europe?s.
–“A young labor force is normally an asset, since it replenishes the private sector and drives economic growth. But young Gulf nationals face a future of underemployment or no employment at all; the educational system has failed to prepare them for the rigors of working in the private sector.”
–“The task of job creation will be a massive one. Over the past ten years, the private sector has created about 55,000 medium- and high-skilled jobs a year. To absorb the number of Gulf nationals with a secondary-school degree or higher, the annual figure must rise fivefold, to almost 300,000. To provide a living wage, these jobs must pay at least twice what private-sector jobs do now.”
–“Immigration policies are flexible, labor markets rigid. Foreigners account for at least 40 percent of the labor force and in some countries hold 90 percent or more of all private-sector jobs. The result is a ‘race to the bottom,’ with businesses searching the world for the cheapest sources of labor rather than investing in building the skills of the national workforce and increasing that country?s labor productivity.”

Super Blown Out of Proportion

I’m a fan of John Challenger, but I don’t buy it. For one thing, the headline “Super Bowl to Cost Employers $821 Million,” makes it sound like it’s a fact, which it’s not. 
If we added up all of the money that everything seems to cost employers, and discussing everything (war in Iraq, Iran’s race to build nuclear weapons, gas prices rising, gas prices falling, the Donald, O’Donnell, the Emmy’s, the Grammy’s, the Oscars, the weather) supposedly costs employers, the amount would be so large that employers would all be bankrupt.
I can’t wait ’till March.

Facebook — Recruiting Matches — Cuba

In the Wall Street Journal Monday:
Also, just in case you didn’t spend your weekend reading the latest issue of Foreign Affairs … an article about Cuba notes that:
“…the revolution’s investment in human capital has made Cuba uniquely well positioned to take advantage of the global economy. In fact, the island faces an overcapacity of professional and scientific talent, since it lacks the industrial base and foreign investment necessary to create a large number of productive skilled jobs. With 10,000 students in its science and technology university and already successful joint pharmaceutical ventures with China and Malaysia, Cuba is poised to compete with the upper ranks of developing nations.”

Thick Skin

“I’ve got thick skin,” Jobster CEO Jason Goldberg says of blogosphere criticism of his decision to lay off 60 people — field sales staff and those supporting them. “I’d rather the attention be focused on me rather than the employees working their butts off here … some people say I shared too much, some people say I shared too little. … I was careful not to blog about anything over the last couple of weeks that I did not share with Jobster employees.”
As for criticism that company money was spent on a lavish new office, he notes that it was the “cheap rent district of Seattle” and that the digs would have been more expensive in other neighborhoods.
Goldberg, speaking on a conference call with media, was asked about speculation that Facebook is buying the company. He said that he’s not shopping around Jobster for sale, nor is he seeking a merger. (My original blog post said that Jason described the Facebook rumor as “false” — which was my mistake.)
Goldberg says the reorganization will have “minimal impact” on customers. He says “we are not low on cash at all.” In the meantime, he’s hoping to report “no news like this for a good long time.”