How To Find Out If Your Company Is About To Lay You Off

Kudos to my pal Karen Mattonen for not only being cited by Inc. Magazine, but also for letting me know about an AWESOME resource that I know will be of interest to employed workers everywhere. What is it? Its called WARN. WARN is an acronym for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification.

Here is some legalese around that:

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN Act) is a United States labor law which protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide sixty- (60) calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees. It became law in August 1988 and took effect in 1989. In 2001, there were about 2,000 mass layoffs and plant closures which were subject to WARN advance notice requirements and which affected about 660,000 employees.

Employees entitled to notice under the WARN Act include managers and supervisors, hourly wage, and salaried workers. The WARN Act requires that notice also be given to employees’ representatives (i.e. a labor union), the local chief elected official (i.e. the mayor), and the state dislocated worker unit.

The advance notice gives workers and their families transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other employment, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or re-training programs that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market.

There are a few exceptions to the rule from what I have found:

  • Closes a facility or operating unit because of a strike or a worker lock-out, and the closing is not intended to evade the purposes of the WARN Act.
  • If a plant closing or a mass layoff results in fewer than 50 workers losing their jobs at a single employment site;
  • If 50 to 499 workers lose their jobs and that number is less than 33 percent of the employer’s total, active workforce at a single employment site;
  • If a layoff is for 6 months or less; or
  • If work hours are not reduced 50 percent in each month of any 6-month period.

I am not a labor lawyer, so if you think your employer is violating (or has violated) this act, talk to an employment lawyer. Karen can probably refer some to you. (She knows plenty of folks like that.) Long story short, if a large company is going to make some mass layoffs, they have to report it to Uncle Sam. As such, you can look it up. Here are a few examples of reports you can download ( for free ) courtesy of your tax dollars.

To find WARN notices for your state, contact the Department of Labor for your state.

Click here for full details on WARN from U.S. Department of Labor.

How To Network On Twitter (Part 3)

I was thinking about what I was going to write for part 3 of this series when I remembered a Tweet I got from @johnsodd1. Earlier this year, he tweeted me something that caused me to have a double-take. He tweeted me a few keywords about his background and added a link to a webpage where I can get general information about him. Nice. As I reflect on the tweet he sent me, I began to appreciate his strategy. Let me break it down (as I see it).

  1. Darren Johnson created a Twitter profile for the sole purpose of approaching Recruiters on Twitter.
  2. At the time, he protected the tweets on his blog so nobody will see how many Recruiters he has been contacting. (Its open as of now.)
  3. His bio page is pretty simple. He has it set up on a page, but I would recommend that he instead add it to ResumeBear. Why? He could get stats on when his resume was viewed and by whom. (Gotta love that!)
  4. If I wanted to request a resume, I click a link that sends me a graphic of his email address. This is smart as well because it protects him from getting a spam list. Still, it would be better if he had it on ResumeBear. Who doesn’t want to know who’s been looking at their resume?
  5. When I retweeted Darren’s Twitter resume (way back when), I added the hashtag #twitterresume because I did not have an opportunity to discuss with him, but I hoped that either: a) Some Recruiter sees it and approaches him and/or b) a jobseeker sees the tweet and becomes inspired to do the same.
  6. I imagine that Darren did some research and found my name on a list of Recruiters that are on Twitter. Perhaps this one? –>

All in all, it was a good strategy! Kudos to you Mr. Johnson.

How To Network On Twitter (Part 2)

There is an old saying that goes like this, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” I typically hear this a lot when it comes to dating and marriage, but I think it applies to networking as well. I mean, let’s face it. Anyone can call themselves a doctor, but how do you know that they are indeed a doctor, let alone a good one? Well, one way to weed out the pretenders is by “crowdsourcing.” I stumbled across an interesting blogpost called “Crowdsourcing Definition #1: What is Collective Intelligence?” that discusses how the wisdom of crowds is often superior to the wisdom of the individual.

Here is a quote:

What is collective intelligence? Jeff Howe, the guy that came up with the term crowdsourcing, says it this way, “A central principle animating crowdsourcing is that the group contains more knowledge than individuals.” James Suroweicki says, “Even if most of the people within a group are not especially well-informed or rational, it can still reach a collectively wise decision.” This is the science that explains why when asked for a lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the crowd guesses 91% correctly, whereas experts have a 61% likelihood of getting the right answer. The answers that come from crowdsourcing are called collective intelligence or wisdom of crowds. Yes, two terms for the same thing.

When I saw that, a lightbulb flickered in my head. As I continued to read, something else jumped out at me.

So what does it take to achieve collective intelligence? Will any group of people do? Crowdsourcing has three unique requirements to deliver collective intelligence – (1) a diverse crowd, (2) a qualified crowd, and (3) the right sized crowd.

This sounded like Twitter to me. Why?

  • Twitter has a large and diverse crowd with 75 million members.
  • Twitter members can be qualified with the right searches.
  • Whether or not the number of qualified people (and “qualified” differs with each search) are a large enough sample to give wise information, it is certainly large enough to give you a significant number of pre-qualified leads to people you may want to network with.

Let me show you what I mean by looking up some… umm… some iPhone developers.

  1. I begin by seeking out Twitter followers who have been described by the collective wisdom of Twitter users as being an iPhone developer.
  2. Once I have found these iPhone developers, I will look for moreiPhone developers based on the opinion of the iPhone developers that the crowd has sourced.

I use a few search strings to find Twitter lists that focus on iPhone developers.

Among the results was @joshgrenon who (according to his bio) is “Creator/Co-Host of Inspirageek, .NET programmer, WordPress noob,iPhone developer, Editor for and reader of success books.”

I notice that he is on 100 lists, so I click that link (as shown below).

I then take a closer look at the lists that are following him or in other words, how the collective wisdom of Twitter crowds has labeled him. Here is a list of the words that stood out to me.

  • birmingham
  • iphoneappdev
  • programmer
  • iphone-peeps
  • software-developer
  • iphone-developers

So according to the Twitter crowd @joshgrenon is an iPhone developer worthy of my networking time as he has been cited on several Twitter lists focused on software and iPhone development; along with several other iPhone developers. (Of course, this is based on the assumption that I have an interest in networking with iPhone developers.)

So what do you think of my logic? I would LOVE to hear from you. Leave me a comment below.

Happy Hunting!


How To Network On Twitter (Part 1)

I stumbled across a GREAT tool the other day! Its called Summarizr and at first glance I immediately saw the benefits for jobseekers.

Imagine this. Say that you have an interest in higher education and as such, you wanted to attend EduCause. However, in your case, the spirit was willing but the wallet was weak. (Hey, I can dig it.) No worries, you can get a lot of the benefits from the conference without actually being there by using the Summarizr tool. How? Let me count the ways by demonstrating how I could followup on EduCause, a conference focused on trends in Education.


1. Connect with people who are tweeting the most about the conference.



2. Take note of the people who are mentioned the most in relation to the conference. Connect with them as well.



3. Get insight into the deeper conversations about the conference. If you see that people are passionate about a certain aspect of the conference, what an opportune time to get noticed by the people involved. I suggest that you passionately agree or disagree, either way this is a sure-fire way to get on their radar.

4. Research the hashtags associated with the conference to find out about conferences and related topics that you may be ignorant of

5. Research the URLs that were retweeted the most to see what the hottest topics are in relation to the conference. Comment on these URLs to attract other Twitter users you may want to network with.

Gotta love Twitter!


How To Apply For a Job That Has Impossible Requirements

It is sometimes a comedy of errors to observe the (sometimes) disconnect from reality between recruiters, job seekers and well-meaning hiring managers. Case in point, Google released a new programming language called “Go” in November 2009. Here is some hype sharing how cool it is.


Why do I bring this up? I was curious about its popularity and looked it up on the Tiobe index. At this writing, it was ranking at #20. (Already? Wow!) Good for Google, but maybe a conundrum for jobseekers. Why? I believe that eventually I will see job ads where companies will require 5+ years of experience in this programming language. Yes, I know that the language is barely a year old. Think I am way off in my thinking? I’m not.

When I used to work for Siemens (way back when), I remember reading an article in VOIP Magazine about how a certain HR manager of a certain cable broadband provider contacted a certain expert for assistance in finding experienced IP communications people. It seems that this certain company had made a decision to deploy Voice over IP next year to round out a consumer package. What this certain HR manager wanted specifically, was a Director Of VoIP Operations. Since Director Of VoIP was a brand spanking-new position, involving a new technology, and a new service model for the company, whomever landed that gig would need an excellent understanding of emerging technologies and a crystal clear view of the impact that this service would have on this cable broadband provider’s business model. The writer of the article was not wholly optimistic of the HR manager’s success. Why? Long story short, there were not many people around that fit the job description the HR manager described. And this got me thinking.

“Self,” I said to myself, “How would you go about applying for a job with Bigfoot requirements?”

“Bigfoot requirements?”

“Yes,” I continue to say to… ummm… myself.

“Bigfoot requirements are job descriptions (or part of a job description) that some recruiters and hiring managers believe are legitimate, but jobseekers in the know accept them as general myth.”

Bigfoot requirements are not uncommon in HR, as they usually occur whenever new technologies become popular. Case in point, when the JAVA programming language was released in 1995 (or was it 1996?), it was not uncommon to see job postings for Java developers with 5 years (or more) experience. This was laughable on one level and frustrating in every other sense for both recruiters and hiring managers alike. How was a recruiter going to find the perfect candidate when (overall) they did not exist as the technology itself was barely a few months old?I ran into this when I was recruiting Executive and Technical personnel for startup companies in the 90′s. So what happenned back then? Well, some businesses changed their mind on how they chose to proceed on certain projects, delayed their initiatives (until the dotcom bubble burst), or dropped them alltogether. If I could go back in time, I would rattle off a list of what they could do (or I could have done) to find Bigfoot candidates skilled in Java or any other hot new emerging technology. Alas, I can not go back in time; but perhaps you dear reader can benefit from these finite pearls of wisdom.

When you are applying for a job where when years of experience is required in a technology that is only a few months old, do one (or all) of the following:

1. Look for the best of the best in last year’s technology. Ask yourself this, “What technology out there is like (fill-in-the-blank) technology?” If (fill-in-the-blank) technology does the same thing as (last year’s technology), but faster, perhaps I can share with the Recruiter that I am really good with (last year’s technology) and potentially could take it to the next level?

2. Explain to the Recruiter that experts in (fill-in-the-blank) technology are in short supply and that it would be infinitely easier, more productive and cost effective to train someone like you in (fill-in-the-blank) technology especially since you are so good in (last year’s technology).

3. Create a program in (fill-in-the-blank) technology and post it online. Get people to give you feedback. Approach the Recruiter with “I do not have 5 years in a tech that was just created. However, I am very good at (last year’s technology) and have used the principles of (last-year’s technology) to build this prototype based on (fill-in-the-blank technology). My project seems to have garnered a lot of positive feedback in the developer community. Here are a few quotes…

Good luck with your search!