Podcast: Blue Collar Workers are Hard to Find

This is the premiere episode in a series called – “The World of Work,” a new podcast series sharing trends and developments in today’s labor market. The topic in this first episode is “Blue Collar Workers are Hard To Find.” It begins with a discussion of the talent scarcity in the blue collar industry and continues with an exploration of innovative ways companies have filled their open positions by finding talent in atypical places. It is sponsored by ClickIQ, the award winning, automated job advertising platform. Sources cited in this podcast can be found here.

The Evolution of The Recruiter

Welcome to the first in a series of articles under the umbrella – “The World of Work.” The World of Work is a series of articles, podcasts and videos discussing trends and developments in today’s labor market. It is sponsored by ClickIQ – an award winning, automated job advertising platform and co-produced by you, the reader.  So be sure to leave a comment on what topics should be explored, news that should be discussed and anything else that will make “The World of Work” series, something you look forward to consuming every time its published. All that being said, read on. 


If one wanted to witness the evolution of recruiting, all one would have to do is review job descriptions of the past and analyze what parts could be automated and consider what tasks could be added. I was curious so, I did a Google search for recruiter jobs and restricted the results to the year – 2010. I found a classic Monster job description of a Recruiter role and made an analysis. 

I thought the following job duties from the 2010 Recruiter job description could be automated in part or in whole. 

  • Builds applicant sources by researching and contacting community services, colleges, employment agencies, recruiters, media, and internet sites; providing organization information, opportunities, and benefits; making presentations; maintaining rapport.
  • Determine applicant requirements by studying job description and job qualifications.
  • Attracts applicants by placing job advertisements; contacting recruiters, using newsgroups and job sites.
  • Arranges management interviews by coordinating schedules
  • Pre-Screening  applicants on consistent set of qualifications [ie. Chatbots, of course]
  • Comparing qualifications to job requirements [ie. Resume ranking in ATS]

And I would also add to this list of duties that could be automated with the following:

  • Offer Creation  
  • Resume Parsing
  • De-duping Databases
  • ATS Updating
  • Personality and Skills assessments

Some of the duties I thought were out of the purview of the modern recruiter and more likely to be handled by a recruiter coordinator; such as:

  • Arranges travel, lodging, and meals; escorting applicant to interviews; arranging community tours.
  • Manages new employee relocation by determining new employee requirements; negotiating with movers; arranging temporary housing; providing community introductions.

The remainder of the job duties I thought were still in play with today’s recruiter. 

  • Establishes recruiting requirements by studying organization plans and objectives; meeting with managers to discuss needs.
  • Determines applicant qualifications by interviewing applicants; analyzing responses; verifying references
  • Evaluates applicants by discussing job requirements and applicant qualifications with managers; interviewing applicants on consistent set of qualifications.
  • Improves organization attractiveness by recommending new policies and practices; monitoring job offers and compensation practices; emphasizing benefits and perks.
  • Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities; reading professional publications; maintaining personal networks; participating in professional organizations.
  • Avoids legal challenges by understanding current legislation; enforcing regulations with managers; recommending new procedures; conducting training. [i.e. Not asking illegal interview questions; adhering to fair hiring practices]
  • I do not know of any recruiters that managed an intern program.  I would think such would be a duty of a manager. 

When it came to the Recruiter skills and qualifications, all of the items cited were very much in play today: “Phone Skills, Recruiting, Interviewing Skills, People Skills, Supports Diversity, Employment Law, Results Driven, Professionalism, Organization, Project Management and Judgment.”

However, I would not cease the job description after mentioning the requirements from 2010 as so much more is, or should be required of recruiters, in 2019 and beyond. Most notably, the following should be considered:

  • Recruiters are relationship managers, negotiating with hiring managers over candidate requirements and what the talent supply allows. Moreover, persuading candidates to consider opportunities when they are already gainfully employed and/or when they are unfamiliar with the company the recruiter represents. Ultimately, Recruiters are “Closers” being adept at managing a shifting landscape driven by economic realities, company mandates and expectations from all concerns that may or may not be realistic. 
  • Recruiters are brand agents, monitoring what is said about the employer they represent and responding to feedback online and during the interview process. They are also careful to represent themselves as company advocates, showcasing their involvement in company events and community involvement on their social media; for potential candidates to find. 
  • Recruiters have an instinctive eye for talent that can read between the lines of a resume and make reasonable assumptions of cultural fit and unique opportunities for placing someone who might be open to changing careers by utilizing their skillsets in a new industry. 
  • Recruiters are also optimal at time management, being able to discern from hiring manager responses, which jobs should take priority in their efforts. If they can reasonably detect that a requisition is not a hot priority, then they can allocate more efforts in things life community building and developing a referral pipeline from candidates they have interviewed in the past.

All to say, a recruiter in 2019 has somewhat of an advantage over those recruiters based in 2010; based in part on the technology at their disposal. The technology does not remove the human element needed to perform such tasks as candidate engagement, relationship management and exercising judgement. It does however, free up the recruiter’s time to do more of it and thus, make more hires quickly and more efficiently. 

What happens to your data when you die?

Okay, now this is interesting. Facebook may eventually have more dead users than living ones. According to a study by Oxford Researchers, Facebook will have 4.9 billion deceased users on its system by the year 2100. If Facebook’s current growth rate continues, the dead would outpace the living by 2070. And this brings to mind, an interesting question… What happens to your data after you die? I’ll share a few insights in this episode. | Click here to download the transcript (and links to all the resources cited in the podcast.) And please, take 30 seconds to fill out my podcast listener survey at http://jimstroud.com/survey | Thank you in advance.

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.  He recently  served ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

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 Blue Dot Session – “Li Fonte”

The Absolutely Horrible, Disgusting and Inexcusable Working Conditions at Facebook

I was a guest on Chad and Cheese’s “The Shred” Podcast today. Listen to it now, read the transcript below or, do both. Yes, both would be good. 😉

Facebook moderators are the cops of the social network. They patrol its cyberspace for things like hate speech, murders in livestream, child pornography and anything else that can be generated by the worst examples of its global society. One such Facebook moderator was Keith Utley. He worked the overnight shift at a Facebook content moderation site in Tampa, FL, operated by a professional services vendor named Cognizant. He did not serve in this capacity alone; 800 or so contract co-workers helped him sift through internet depravity and they had the notable distinction of being among the worst performing of the FB moderation sites – according to “The Verge.”

To work as a Facebook moderator, you are required to sign a 14-page nondisclosure agreement. Keith Utley and others broke that agreement because the working conditions demanded it. Here are just a few of their complaints and apologies in advance, if you have a weak stomach.

  • A Facebook content moderator had a heart attack at his desk and died last year. Senior management initially discouraged employees from discussing the incident, for fear it would hurt productivity.
  • Facilities at the Tampa site are often filthy, with workers reporting that the office’s only bathroom has repeatedly been found smeared with feces and menstrual blood.
  • Workers have also found pubic hair and fingernails at their desks, along with other bodily waste.
  • Verbal and physical fights at the office are common. So are reports of theft.

The complaints go downhill, from there.

So, what do the workers get for the trouble of deplorable working conditions? A whopping $28,800 dollar a year salary, two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break. They also get 9 minutes of wellness time because if you are monitoring graphic violence and child exploitation for a living, most likely you will soon be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or something related to it. In fact, “The Verge” reported on the secret lives of Facebook moderators before and cited how commonplace it was to be “haunted by visions of the images and videos they saw during their time on the job.”

So, what has been Facebook’s response? Here is a direct quote from Casey Newton, reporter for The Verge and the source for all the information I’ve been sharing. Quote…

In May, Facebook announced that it will raise contractor wages by $3 an hour, make on-site counselors available during all hours of operation, and develop further programs for its contractor workforce. But the pay raises are not due to take effect until the middle of 2020, by which time many, if not most, of the current Tampa workforce will no longer work there. Turnover statistics could not be obtained. But few moderators I have spoken with make it to two years on the job — they either are fired for low accuracy scores, or quit over the working conditions. And so while the raises will be a boon to a future workforce, the contractors I spoke to are unlikely to benefit.

The moral of the story here, I think is this, do not become a Facebook moderator. At least, not today.

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Returnships: Don’t Call It a Comeback! They’ve been here for years.

I keep buying them beer so, Chad and Cheese keeps letting me appear on their blog. May the tap never run dry. 😉

Here’s a bit of news from the political blog – Roll Call.

“A pair of Democratic senators introduced legislation Thursday that would offer subsidies to employers who hire longtime unemployed workers. The draft bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and backed by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, aims to assist an estimated 1.3 million people who have been out of work for at least six months. The government would offer one-year subsidies to cover two-thirds of the cost of a new hire’s wages and benefits, although the subsidy could be increased in times of high unemployment.”

I think this is a well-intentioned effort to get people who have been out of the labor force for a while, back in the game. However, its not a new idea. There already is a trend of companies reaching back to experienced workers, its called – Returnships. Returnships are like internships for experienced workers looking to re-enter the workforce. Jason Wingard on Forbes explains how they work:

 “Modeled after traditional student internships, organizations hire individuals for a few months to a year during which they pair employment with mentoring and training. The benefits are twofold: returners gain skills, confidence, and connections, and employers evaluate prospective candidates risk-free. Returnships can provide an excellent segue back into the working world.”

Here are three examples of companies with returnship programs.

  • Example 1 – “The Goldman Sachs Returnship program helps to develop talented professionals who are looking to restart their careers after an extended absence from the workforce. This paid program offers opportunities in a variety of divisions and the chance to experience the vast network of resources at Goldman Sachs.”
  • Example 2 – “Increasing numbers of physicians are confronted with the problem of obtaining hospital staff privileges after extended absences from the practice of clinical medicine. The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Physician Reentry Program provides hospital credentialing committees with a convenient pathway to help reinstate physicians who have been denied privileges. The Reentry Program designs a course of participatory study that is intended to fulfill the specific needs of the reentering physician’s planned practice.”
  • Example 3 – “The Real Returns program at Credit Suisse is paid and runs for approximately 12 weeks. You’ll have the opportunity to work on projects that match your skills and expertise, and tap into a support network of like-minded professionals. You will participate in a variety of orientation events and training sessions throughout the program that are designed to help you transition back into the work environment. You will also receive information about changes in the financial services industry, improve your technology skills and participate in workshops.”

With a national unemployment rate of 3.6%, expect companies to do more creative strategies like this in the ongoing war for talent.