Privacy is dead and dying more each day…

#10 | Amazon reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold as of this writing. That’s great for Amazon but for you, maybe not so much. If you are concerned about your privacy then, its not good for you to have Alexa (and devices like it) in your home because it is almost always listening and recording everything going on. Doubt me? Tune in to this episode to learn why you should be concerned about Alexa and even more concerned about what Google has planned for your home. Its scary.   | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.

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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at

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Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings you every positive thing you hope for and more. I also hope it brings you more privacy. A recent report from Reuters cites how a user of Amazon’s Alexa got access to a thousand recordings from another user because of a [quote] “human error” by the company. [end quote] Among the recordings, a man and a female companion could be… overheard and due to the data that was accidentally released, the man and woman on the recordings were able to be identified and contacted.

When I read that story, my immediate reaction was why where there so many recordings available to be found in the first place? And if they were revealed by human error, how many more recordings are out there and for what purpose are they being saved? I’ll give you the answer and give you something more to worry about, after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at Operators are standing by.

For Alexa and Google Home to work, they have to listen out for specific “wake words.” In the case of Google Home, its “OK Google” and for Alexa, its “Alexa.” So, of course, they have to listen constantly in order to be of service. As far as all those recorded messages that Alexa tracks, Amazon uses it to educate its artificial intelligence systems so that they will better understand us humans when we make our requests. Google does the same thing with Google Home. If you are uncomfortable with listening devices perpetually recording your daily life, you will be very disturbed by what I am about to share with you now.

Google has recently filed two patents that will make it extremely easy for them to eavesdrop on your home activity, surveil your way of life and generate a TON of money by selling that data to third-parties. How? Well, let’s explore the possibilities with patent #1 entitled – “Privacy-aware personalized content for the smart home”

Imagine this, a Google device scans and analyzes the objects in your home and then offers you content based on what it finds. For example, a smart camera could recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of your closet. It then looks at your browser history and detects that you follow Will Smith’s YouTube channel and watched some of his videos recently. After analyzing all that, the system would say to you, “Hey, you seem to life Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you. Would you like the show times?”

Now, let’s look even deeper into this patent. Using object recognition, Google could calculate your “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” it detects. Once it gets used to voices typically in your home, it could determine the genders and age of the people who live with you. From all that data, the Google device could recommend what to watch on TV, what movies to see and where to shop, not only for you but for every person who lives in your house. Wow. How about that?

Let’s switch gears a bit and look now at patent #2, which has a long, but ominous title to it, “Smart Home Automation System that suggests or automatically implements selected household policies based on sensed observations.”

The second patent proposes a smart-home system that will help raise your kids for you (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Parents could program a device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if the children are grounded.

Language from both patents reveals just how intuitive these smart devices are, as they listen to the noises you make as you move around your house. For example, Google’s smart-home system can figure out “if a household member is working” from the sound of a keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and papers shuffling in the room. Google can also figure out the mood you’re in based on the sound of your voice. It can tell when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the refrigerator door opening. It can even estimate your dental hygiene based on “the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.” Wow. Again, I say, wow.

Alexa, Google Home and Facebook’s new “Portal” device (which is a video phone that follows you around the room) all those things are great and a convenience for what they do; but, is the convenience of these devices worth what we are losing in terms of privacy? It seems like every other day I hear how hackers have stolen data from millions of users. It makes me wonder how much, if at all, I can trust big tech companies to keep my information private. If my web data is not secure, why would I want to make even more intimate data accessible via smart devices like Alexa or these new patented inventions that Google just filed? And, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way which is why, I’m going to make a prediction. In 2019, people will begin choosing privacy over convenience by choosing to buy gadgets that do not connect to the internet; which is not much of a prediction because its already happening in the mobile phone market.

In August 2018, it was reported by Daily Mail that while global sales of smartphones increased by just 2 percent however, sales of ‘dumb phones’ rose by 5 percent. Dumb phones are just what you expect them to be, devices that can only send and receive phonecalls (and in some cases, send and receive text messages). You can buy one for $20, which is what the Alcatel 10.66G retails for or you can go high-end and spend $400 for a Light Phone 2.

In the age of big tech, privacy is dead. I think we forget that because we are so addicted to technology. I think I’m going to remind us every now and then with special podcast episodes like this one. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

WEBINAR: Headline Recruiting-How to Source Passive Candidates from the News

Will you join me on my free webinar next week? Here are the details…

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EVENT: HEADLINE RECRUITING: How to Source Passive Candidates from the News
DATE: Dec 19, 2018
TIME: 12:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)


DESCRIPTION: When it comes to finding great talent, the secret Intel you need might be hiding right out in the open: just check the news! The digital world of the news runs deep. From corporate mergers, moves, and layoffs to weddings, moves, and promotions—it’s all there! In this presentation, Jim Stroud will show you how to dig deep for the news that can lead to that next great hire. Learn where to look, how to make sense of the overwhelming volume of information and how to engage talent with a proven process that works. Walk away with sourcing tips and email resources that you can immediately apply to your sourcing and recruitment efforts. This is an ideal opportunity to learn first-hand about the deep talent resource that’s at your fingertips every day. – REGISTER NOW

What happens when designer babies enter the workplace?

#8 | A scientist named – He Jianku claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Shortly after the announcement was made, He Jianku disappeared to parts unknown. (Insert dramatic music here.) If what He claims is true, not only is this a major scientific breakthrough disrupting the scientific community – forever; its also a major headache for the HR department. Tune in to this episode to find out why. Please support my Starbucks habit (and support this podcast) by dropping a tip in my virtual jar. Thank you in advance. 

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About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at

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Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

On Nov. 28, He Jianku — a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford — announced to hundreds of scientists, colleagues and journalists that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies: twin girls with the pseudonyms Lulu and Nana whose DNA he claims to have altered to make them HIV-resistant. Though not verified, He’s work has been met with international outcry. Many consider such work to be an unethical violation of scientific norms and, amid conflicting reports about his current whereabouts, He Jianku (john-koo) has not been heard from since he made that announcement. (At least, not at the point of this recording.) I find all of this fascinating. Not only do I see the scientific community and society at large, changed irrevocably by this technological breakthrough, I foresee major headaches for the HR department. Why? I’ll let you know after this special message.


JIM: Oh! Sorry, everyone. One second… Jim Stroud.

CALLER: Hey Jim, I have to postpone our lunch meeting. I’m searching for the perfect candidate and my ATS is not making it easy.

JIM: Well, that doesn’t sound like fun. What about your CRM?

CALLER: Don’t get me started.

JIM: How many times have you had the perfect resume in hand and wished you could find more people just like them?

CALLER: Everyday.

JIM: You know what you need, right? You need a system that learns from you and suggests the right candidates at the right time.

CALLER: It doesn’t exist.

JIM: Oh, yes it does, and its name is HiringSolved.

CALLER: HiringSolved?

JIM: Yes, HiringSolvedHiringSolved is a tool that uses AI and Machine Learning to automate candidate matching, increase diversity, reduce time to fill, analyze the social web, and unlock the power of your ATS, CRM, and HRIS data.

CALLER: Interesting. Can you tell me more?

JIM: I would like to but, I’m about to do a podcast. I tell you what, check out their website at


JIM: That’s right! Go look at it now and I’ll call you back after the podcast.

CALLER: Okay, bye.

JIM: Sorry about that guys. Now, where was I?

Have you seen the movie Gattaca? It was out in the late 90’s, here’s a clip…. (Play the first few seconds of the movie trailer, maybe up to 1:23) In the movie Gattaca  Vincent Freeman (played by Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his genetically inferior  status. He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law),  who has been determined to be genetically superior. Viincent assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (played by Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer complicates Vincent’s plans. It’s a good movie with lots of suspense and intrigue. I recommend it.

As I said earlier, He Jianku’s research is not verified so, nobody knows for sure if he really did create the world’s first genetically edited babies resistant to HIV; but, I don’t think its too far-fetched to believe. In 2017, scientists in the United States successfully corrected a disease causing mutation by altering the genetic structure of a human embryo. Which mean, genes that carry certain diseases would not be passed on to “newborns.”

Now if you do a search on “designer babies” you will find a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of articles discussing the ethics of the science. Some people say that designing babies is a good thing while others poo-poo the idea. Here is a breakdown of the pros and the cons. First, the pros…

Designing babies would mean that you not only reduce the risk of genetic diseases but you also stop diseases from being passed on to future generations. Because you can enhance intelligence through this process (at least, from what I’ve read), there’s a better chance the child will succeed in life. One could also give their child genes that neither of the parents carry; for example… musical and dance giftings. Your child could be the next Beyonce; despite the fact that you and your spouse struggle with karaoke. And the biggest plus to designing children, I suppose, would be a better understanding of how genetics increase life span. Does that mean immortality? I doubt it. But it might mean that the average person may one day live to be 100 years old.

And now, the arguments against designing children…

As heartless as it may sound to some, I can foresee many pregnancies terminated simply because the genetic recipe was flawed in some way. The hair isn’t blonde enough. The IQ is not high enough and it must be optimum if the child is to compete in modern society.  Geneticists are not perfect. Maybe getting rid of one disease, sparks the genesis of another one that is even more deadly and because its so new, there is no way to treat it. Before you know it, we are surrounded by zombies from “The Walking Dead” and I’m only way halfway kidding.

In the rush to make perfect children, I can see us forgetting the children who have no say in how their genes are manipulated. Maybe they discover they have talents that they do not desire and decide to rebel against their parents and in the case of being a musical genius, refuse to sing; no matter how much their parents implore them. Maybe they would feel the loss of individuality and be stuck in a sort of limbo; somewhere between discovering what they want to do with their lives and what their parents designed them to be.

And if that is not enough, there are the issues the Human Resources department will have to face.

What are the ramifications of employing adults who were once designer babies? On the plus side, companies that focus on hiring “designer babies” can brag that they offer exorbitant healthcare benefits because it is unlikely certain diseases and conditions would even occur with designer babies; since those conditions were likely screened out at birth. Designer babies would tend to have IQs higher than the national average due to their genetic enhancements so companies who hire them would likely be more efficient, productive and innovative. Designer babies would be better educated and have lots of business contacts as they tend to come from wealthy families that can afford designer baby enhancements. With all of these advantages, its no wonder companies hire as many designer babies as they can find and do all they can to retain them. But isn’t that discriminatory to natural born humans?

What happens when natural born humans figure out why they are not being considered for high-paying jobs, at the same rate, as these designer babies?  Will they protest and file lawsuits against the company? If they do, how will that affect the employer brand of the company? As expensive as it would be, at least in the onset, to have designer children, most of the hiring population would be natural born humans. This means that no matter how many designer babies you hire, its likely the majority of the people you hire will be natural born and they won’t want to work for a company who denies them upward mobility.

As such, HR department, you have a massive recruiting problem which in turn, is a massive bottom line problem because if your employment brand is bad, it only stands to reason that the consumer side will follow. 

So, for the record, I am against genetic manipulation for the sake of making “perfect” children. I think the ethics prohibit us from going down this path and would encourage things like killing offspring with Down Syndrome; they do that in Iceland, you know.  And who can say how all of the genetic manipulation will affect future offspring? What happens when a designer baby mates with another designer baby? What happens when a designer baby mates with a natural human? What happens when two people have children naturally but one of them or both, have a designer baby in their lineage? Nobody knows now, but thanks to scientists like, He Jianku, we will in the future, for better or worse.

A Future Talk on Careers with Dr. Tracey Wilen

NOTE: I’m thinking of doing a podcast where I interview interesting people about the future of work, life and everything in between. Consider this to be the pilot episode. If I do more of these, it will be because of the comments and encouragement of my listeners. So, please do share your thoughts.

A podcast about the future of everything.

My guest in the premiere episode of “Future Talk” (working title) is Dr. Tracey Wilen.  We discuss the career confusion of mature workers and millennials  seeking to progress in their career, how to figure out a career path in this constantly changing technological landscape,  what to do when you don’t know what to do next in your career and more. Get a pad and pencil (or have you texting finger ready) to take notes as lots and lots and lots of strategies are suggested herein.

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Dr. Tracey WilenDr. Tracey Wilen is a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, and careers. A former visiting scholar at Stanford University, she has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, and Cisco Systems. She was an adjunct professor for Bay area colleges teaching classes in business, technology and women’s workforce topics.Dr. Wilen was named San Francisco Woman of the Year (WOW) and honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business. She is a finalist for 2018 Women Advocate of the Year for Women in Technology(WIT). Dr. Wilen has authored 13 books, her newest book is Career Confusion: 21st Century Career Management in a Disrupted World (2018) a companion book to Digital Disruption; The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education and Careers in a Digital World (2018). Available for order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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How many reqs should a recruiter be able to handle?

The short answer is, “it depends.”

The medium response is 25-30.

This is the long answer:

When it comes to figuring out how many requisitions a recruiter should be able to handle, the variables are limitless. Nevertheless, I will mention the more notable considerations and some reasoning for each.

Quality of Hire: If you want the best of the best, its going to take a lot of selling to convince them to join your firm. Whether or not you represent a Fortune 50 company or a lower 1,000. If the person you want to hire is really good, chances are you will be competing with other companies who want them as well. On the flipside, if the role is not so critical and average workers are acceptable, a larger requisition load is not unreasonable.

Passive candidates vs Active Candidates: What type of candidate are you focused on? If you are targeting passive candidates, its going to be a longer sales cycle; such is the nature of that type. If you are grabbing people from a job board, a larger requisition load is not unreasonable. Moreover, its a logical assertion to say that the higher level of the job, the smaller the load.

Experience Level: The best recruiters know how to get things done whereas newbies have a learning curve. The proficiency of the worker has a direct impact on how much work can be handled. This is especially true if the recruiter has to source their own candidates.

Job Descriptions: If a recruiter is handling many different types of jobs then, I would think a smaller requisition load is logical because the recruiter will not be able to submit their candidates to multiple roles.

Employer Brand: If there is a low offer-acceptance rate, then requisition loads should be lowered; chances are so many searches will have to be extended or reopened. That being said, what do the company’s Glassdoor ratings look like? Is there a lot of turnover in the company? What does the stock price look like? Is the ticker trending down or up? If the employee referral rate is low, that suggests a difficult culture to recruit for.

Economic Conditions: If there is a recession in play and layoffs are common in the headlines, chances are candidate response rates will be high. On the other hand, if the economy is booming and the unemployment rate is low, recruiters will have to wait longer to hear back from potential hires.

Relationship Management: How responsive are the hiring managers? Do they reply to emails in a timely manner? Do they constantly cancel interview dates? The best recruiters are the ones who can best manage the hiring managers they support. It is worth mentioning, some hiring managers purport to be too busy to stop working long enough to interview the help they desperately need.

Administrative Support: Is the recruiter scheduling the screens, interview times, extending offers and on-boarding? Without the assistance of a recruiting coordinator, these duties can really extend the time to fill and requisition load tangentially.

Resource Allocation: What resources are available to the recruiter? Do they have access to LinkedIn Recruiter? Monster? Do they have sourcing support?

Although there is no universal standard applicable to every industry, personal experience and anecdotal evidence say 25-30. Said number is set on a mix of reqs; some high level passives, some active job seekers with a couple of purple squirrels filtered in. As you may imagine, this is a very controversial topic among recruiters (and sourcers for that matter.) I scanned the web to find commentary from recruiters on the topic. (See below) I also suggest checking out SourceCon’s State of Sourcing surveys as their data is invaluable on this topic.


…I’m a corporate recruiter and had a high of 48 openings at one time across 4 business groups (Marketing, Finance, Technical Sales Support [but not IT] and Purchasing). I average between 25-30. I’ve been there since June and have filled 45 positions, but that does include some internal moves (although I still have to coordinate internal interviews and help w/ salary discussions). We have a total of 4 recruiters, a coordinator, and a req carrying Director – will probably hire 300 or more in the next year including a whole lot of entry level college grads – we have a campus recruiter who focuses on that. Don’t hold me to that number- I’m taking a stab based on what I’ve seen this year and what I’ve heard as far as planning in my client groups. [source]

This is not a cut and dry type of answer. It really depends on how many openings you have, what level those opening are (non-exempt, exempt, manager, director, etc.), how “rare” or “common” the skill set you’re looking for is, if it’s a relocation position, etc. If you are an internal recruiter and working for a large corporation then your work load is probably 20 to 30 openings, at varying stages, at any given time. Therefore 8 to 12 hires per month would be about right. If you work for a midsize company, on average you probably have 10 to 15 openings and 6 to 8 hire per month is about what you’d expect. Smaller firms, (300-500) employees I’d expect your monthly job openings to average around 5-10 positions, therefore 0-5 hires per month. It really depends on so many factors and circumstances that I might think an average of 5 hires per month is great, and someone down the street will think that sucks! I’ve recruited for every scenario and size company I’ve described above and those are about what I used to average. [source]

On a large recruiting team, your chance to fill openings is obviously decreased if you are all recruiting from the same talent pool. Also if you are only supporting 2 hiring managers you won’t fill as many positions as a lone recruiter who supports many managers in the organization. Supposing there are an endless number of positions to fill each month for your two managers, a good recruiter should be able to fill at least 10 entry level positions, and 3-4 high level positions. If it’s just one or the other (entry or high level) those numbers obviously go up. All of this is also highly dependent on the hiring process within the organization. Some are much slower than others. [source]

I filled about 85 positions each year while working for large company. These were IT Jobs. Small companies. I filled 20 to 30 positions this year. Currently recruiting for company that 650 employees. I am on track to fill about 60 – 70 this year. So about 5 people per month this year. All IT jobs. [source]

The question is not so much how many can they fill but how many can they “effectively support at one time.” After reviewing our processes and streamlining efforts we are confident that our high volume recruiters can manage 80-100 positions which could translate into three to four open requisistions. Our high volume positions have set start dates in order to meet training class timelines. If a recruiter misses then we can roll those positions into the next req with a post mortem to try and avoid in the future (source, process, hiring manager responsivness, failed background checks). If the positions are ongoing with no set start date for training, being a midsize company, growing fast and that you mention “improving their internal process” I would agree with Peter’s numbers – 6-8. [source]

…depends on what the recruiter and the client want to have happen and what is valued most. As an onsite corporate recruiter, I most value being able to deliver high quality service. In my experience, high quality service = high quality results. For me personally, that means 30 req’s at the most. Anything after that, for a sustained period of time, my ability to deliver high quality service suffers. [source]

The number depends on the effort expended to fill the role. If you are proactively recruiting hard to find candidates I’d say about 1 -2 a month is about right If you are running ads or just reviewing write-ins on your ATS then you are no longer actively recruiting and the number could easily be 12-15+ open jobs on an on going basis. [source]

In my role, I recruit for all roles. Since we don’t have any high turnover roles and only a couple entry level type roles, we focus heavily on quality over quantity. I’m comfortable at 10-12 on an ongoing basis if that mixed between individual contributor roles and some management roles. 15 is my stretch for frontloading and peak periods. Since I currently have 30 openings, I hired a temp recruiter to help me. It all really depends on the role of the recruiter at the organization. So much of my role is employer branding, networking, blogging, and attending a significant amount of career fairs. So it’s possible that my metrics are a little more modest than some. But again, my role goes beyond just back to back phone screens all day. [source]