HR ISSUES: Contingent Workforce On The Rise; Workplace Privacy At Issue


Human resources trade publication Workforce Management provided details today about a new report from labor law firm Littler Mendelson, which predicts that contingent labor, or temporary workers, could soon account for as much as 30 to 50 percent of the entire U.S. workforce, as companies shift toward a more permanent strategy tied to lean and flexible staffing. After falling to 1.7 million during the recession, the number of Americans employed by temporary staffing has grown by more than 300,000 over the last six months to a March total of 2,037,000, or about 1.6 percent of total nonfarm payrolls. It is too soon to tell if the recent increase is simply part of typical post-recession staffing strategies, which tend to favor temporary workers, or part of a larger shift toward greater dependence on these workers. Are we moving toward an era where large percentages of payrolls will consist of contingent workers? What are the pros and cons of increased reliance on contingent workers? Should job seekers struggling to find permanent, full-time positions consider contingent opportunities or sign up with a temporary staffing firm?


The Supreme Court is considering arguments made Monday that could test the limits of workplace privacy. The case, outlined at, involved personal text messages a California police officer sent using a pager provided by his employer. The Court’s ruling will either support or overturn the ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the employer had violated the officer’s right to privacy. Employers and workers across the country are watching intently because the ruling has the potential to profoundly impact how these entities address the issue of privacy in the workplace. While most employers maintain that you leave your privacy rights at the door of the workplace, particularly when the use of company communications equipment is involved, employees counter that portable technology has increasingly blurred the line between our work and personal lives and that it is unreasonable to expect workers to monitor and censor their communications at all times. Is it unreasonable for employers to expect workers to focus 100% on work in the workplace? Is it reasonable employees to expect privacy when using company equipment, such as phones, computers and mobile devices? Will a ruling in favor of the officer compel employers to write more stringent policies regarding the use of company-provided technology outside of work parameters?


GUEST POST: The Recruiting Backlash By David Kagan

The Recruiter Backlash By David Kagan

A few years into my recruiting career, the big topic of conversation was around the great hope of the internet. We talked about how it would be a great tool to improve how we recruit and engage candidates. It seems like a lifetime ago that our primary source of resumes was running classified ads in the Sunday employment section. Though we had to open hundreds of envelopes at least we were guaranteed to see each resume. Yes, more work for us but candidates knew their credentials were being reviewed and at the very least it gave them a shot to get a call back. The process was cumbersome but we were very engaged.

Fast forward almost 15 years and the idea of receiving snail mail resumes seems like something out of the dark ages. Undoubtedly technology has made recruiters more effective in many ways, except it has all but killed the candidate dialogue. How many times have we heard from candidates about the dreaded “black hole.” You know, that not so mythical place where resumes go to die while applicants wait for a response they likely won’t get. This mythical place turns out to be our own ATS databases. It seems obvious that we would make the best of those resumes, when in reality recruiters often overlook their ATS, and often in favor of some unproven new sourcing methodology.

It’s not only about resumes; the larger issue at play is how we communicate with candidates on an on-going basis. It’s also about how we keep talent engaged in a dialogue about our business, our industry, our new products and services, big wins and acquisitions so when we’re ready to work together the relationship exists. Keeping candidates informed keeps candidates interested. Recruiting is about the relationship with candidates, the candidates we need today and the candidates we’ll need tomorrow. I’m not writing this from some ivory tower, I’ve been in the trenches dealing with hundreds of resumes for each vacancy. I know how daunting it can be but it’s high time that we figure out how to use technology to communicate in a two way dialogue and without feeding the “black hole.”

A candidate backlash is well underway. They are fed up with organizations that are unresponsive. If you’re thinking it’s a buyer’s market and you can dictate the terms of the game, think again. Hiring is increasing and candidates are savvier than ever. Your organization can not afford a bad reputation about how you recruit. It’s not just word of mouth you have to worry about, it’s word of internet. Web sites dedicated to candidates dishing about everything from unresponsive recruiters, to broken recruiting processes to bad interviewers are popping up everywhere. Take back control, communicate with your candidates and set expectations. There’s no doubt recruiters are swamped, we’ve become a catchall for everything in staffing. However, with the use of smart technology and engaging talent in a two-way dialogue we’ll be on our way to creating a sustainable, winning recruiting culture.

Kagan has been a recruiter for nearly 15 years in a variety of industries, including several years consulting for major corporations. He has filled hundred of positions, managed campus recruiting, lead diversity initiatives, reorganized recruiting processes and organized an internal outplacement program for displaced employees. David has functioned mainly as an IT Recruiter with additional experience in Retirement Services and Investments. He’s had the unique opportunity to experience the various waves of recruiting from the days of sourcing resumes through newspaper ads to the internet revolution. He lives in NY and loves watching his beloved Yankees.

Bulletin: Auto Quality Issues, Health Care Costs

Automotive Quality Issues Could Lead To Layoffs
As U.S., Japanese and European officials continue to probe recent quality issues with Toyota’s line of products, the nation’s parts manufacturers may find themselves under increased pressure amid falling profits. In addition to Toyota’s troubles, auto manufacturers in Michigan, including Yazaki Corp. of Canton and Denso International America of Southfield were included in a separate inquiry as part of an anticompetitive investigation, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, as was Tokai Rika Co. of Plymouth. Last year, employers in the automotive sector announced 52,271 layoffs in 2009 and over 4,000 layoffs were announced in the auto industry in January, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

As Health Care Summit Begins, New Survey Reveals Employers’ Pain
With President Obama and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle meeting today in a summit on health care, a new survey of employers further demonstrates the need for reform, as a growing number of companies losing confidence in their ability to provide health care benefits in the future. In the survey, conducted by the National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson & Co. and reported on by, only 57 percent of employers said they are very confident they will continue to offer health care benefits 10 years from now, down from 62 percent in 2009 and 73 percent in 2007. The survey also found that 83 percent of employers either have made significant changes or expect to revamp their health care strategies in the next two years, up from 59 percent in 2009. As more companies are compelled to lower or drop coverage, more and more Americans will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured. Should the U.S. move away from the tradition of employer-paid health insurance or should lawmakers be finding ways to make it easier for employers to provide coverage? What steps are some employers taking in attempts to keep health care costs under control?

With Weak Job Market, Comes Opportunities For Resume Fraud

As millions of Americans struggle with long-term unemployment, the temptation to stretch the truth on one’s resume to gain a competitive advantage is becoming harder to resist. Some desperate job seekers are going so far as to establish fake references. However, the payoff may not be worth the risk, according to one employment authority.

“There is very little proof that any form of resume boosting directly results in a job interview, much less a job offer. In contrast, there are scores of examples of individuals who have been eliminated from candidacy or fired after a fraudulent resume was uncovered,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement consultancy which provides job-search training and counseling to individuals who have been laid off.

The significantly weakened job market, which is expected to continue to struggle even as other segments of the economy begin to recover, creates an environment that is ripe for resume boosting. As of January there were 14.8 million unemployed Americans. Of those, 6.3 million or 41.2 percent have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Another six million have opted out of the labor force but still want a job.

Statistics on resume fraud are difficult to obtain because only a fraction of resumes are ever checked for discrepancies. The best evidence of resume fraud’s pervasiveness may come from the companies that provide employment screening services.
In its 2009 Hiring Index, business services provider ADP reported that 46 percent of employment, education and/or credential reference checks conducted in 2008 revealed discrepancies between what the applicant provided and what the source reported. That was up from 41 percent in 2006.
More than 22 percent of the tech-sector resumes verified in 2007 by New York-based risk consultancy Kroll contained misrepresentations of academic credentials, according to a company spokesperson interviewed by tech-industry publication IEEE Spectrum. The firm estimated that more than half of the tech-industry resumes it reviewed had discrepancies related to employment history.
IEEE Spectrum also cited a study of erroneous resumes by executive search firm CTPartners, which found that 64 percent of candidates overstate accomplishments, while 71 percent misrepresent the number of years they held a position.

“These somewhat alarming statistics are just from companies that make the effort to check the veracity of claims made on resumes or in interviews. The overwhelming majority of employers do not go to such lengths. Many companies limit their efforts to criminal background checks and reference checks. They do not spend the extra time and money to verify the accuracy of every job title, accomplishment and educational achievement listed on one’s resume,” said Challenger.

“This lack of oversight, however, should not be considered an open invitation to defraud the system. If discrepancies are discovered, many companies maintain a no-tolerance policy on such matters and will move quickly to investigate and possibly terminate. In high-profile positions, where the discovery of resume fraud often becomes public, the breach can taint all future attempts to find employment,” he warned.
Unfortunately, too many job seekers are willing to take the risk. Some have even taken resume fraud to the next level by providing prospective employers with bogus job references.

After spotting dozens of requests for fake references on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, one entrepreneur founded As reported in the human resources trade publication HR Magazine, offers fake work histories and references to job seekers.

Desperation in this job market may force other job seekers to turn to outfits selling fake diplomas. Because of the underground nature of these so-called diploma mills, there are no reliable statistics on the number of bogus degrees sold each year. George Gollin, a physics professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign and a board member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the federal government’s recognized authority on accrediting agencies, estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 phony degrees are sold every year. Furthermore, he estimates that the federal government spends roughly $300 million a year on pay increases for employees who got jobs or promotions using fraudulent degrees or certificates.

The problem of diploma mills has become so widespread that Congress is considering legislation that aims to reduce and prevent the sale and use of fraudulent degrees. The legislation introduced in January by Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Michael Castle (R-Del.) would cement in federal law definitions of “diploma mills” and “accreditation mills”, bar federal agencies from using degrees from diploma mills to provide jobs or promotions that depend on candidates’ educational credentials, and give the Federal Trade Commission more authority to define and crack down on deceptive practices by dubious institutions.

“These are indeed desperate times, and desperate measures are definitely required to find a job. However, these desperate measures should not include lying on resumes, falsifying work histories, or buying fake references and diplomas. Instead, job seekers should be considering seeking positions in different cities, states, or even countries. They should reach out to people they have not spoken to in 15 years and identify all potential employers, not just the ones posting online and newspaper help-wanted ads. These are the types of desperate measures job seekers should be employing,” said Challenger.

(in no particular order)

Education: Listing degree from a school never attended; inflating grade point average and graduate honors; citing degree from online, non-accredited “education” institution.

Job title: Making up a title or boosting actual title by one or more levels in hopes of obtaining better salary offers.

Compensation: Inflating current or previous salary and benefits to secure more money from prospective employer.

Reason for leaving: Saying it was a mass downsizing when the discharge was based on performance; asked to leave, but saying you quit; underplaying or completely hiding poor relationships with superiors.

Accomplishments: Overstating one’s contributions to a team project or company performance; claiming to have received special recognition; exaggerating level of participation in an important aspect of the business.

The Job Search: HR Managers CAN Help!

One of the most important principles to remember when looking for a new job is that almost everyone you encounter during your job hunt can be a resource for getting you the right job. This includes friends, family and individuals employed in your area of interest or related industries. Yet one valuable resource is often overlooked, the human resource manager.

HR managers in many cases are excellent sources of information about the company at which you want to get a job, and can help you learn where your strengths and skills may best be applied within the company, especially if it is a complex organization with many divisions and departments.

In many cases it is the HR manager who knows what positions are available within the company and knows exactly what type of person and skills are required to succeed at that position. HR managers can tell you what qualifications and experience a particular position demands, as well as what the responsibilities of the position are. They can also tell you about the company’s culture, style and the type of people that work there.

It is the HR manager’s job in many cases to be the clearing house for job openings within a company. Often, they might be aware of positions available at the company’s other offices or can inform you of other organizations that are hiring.

In many companies, HR managers are often the first step in the interviewing process. This is your time to shine. The hiring manager has entrusted the HR manager with the responsibility of delivering the best candidates for a position. You must be one of the limited number of individuals selected for a second interview.

Keep in mind that the HR manager is a professional interviewer. They are often better interviewers than the person who is doing the actual hiring. Your answers need to be more concise and to the point. Let the HR manager take control of the interview and keep your conversation very professional and less casual than you might think. Although the HR manager may not ask as many technical questions about the specific job, it is her/his responsibility to evaluate your expertise and how you fit in with the company.

The advice they can give you at that first interview can point you in the right direction, help you focus on the right areas during your search, and give you ideas on how your experience and personal strengths can get you the job you are seeking. Some other helpful advice from HR managers includes:

Market yourself as a product. Always think of the interviewing process in business terms. Consider yourself a product and put yourself in the position of the interviewer. Why would a company buy me? The best way to do this is to highlight and communicate your accomplishments. If you do not express what you have already done, it will be difficult for anyone to visualize exactly what you have to offer. HR managers meet with many job candidates and they get discouraged with candidates who cannot relate relevant past contributions to what they can do for their organization.

Don’t do too much homework on the company before the first interview. This may be contrary to advice received in the past, but your responsibility in the first interview is to listen carefully and answer the questions as best you can. If you make it to the second or third interview, then obtain additional information on the company. Do not waste your time memorizing the annual report. Knowing basic information about the organization will make you more impressive for later interviewers.

Do not take the interview lightly. Many job seekers make the mistake of approaching a meeting with an HR manager as just a formality in the interview process. This is the best way to be eliminated from consideration. Although someone else usually makes the ultimate hiring decision, it is the HR manager’s job to eliminate those who do not fit the job profile.

Stay open to anything in the beginning stage of the interview. You can customize your interview strategy to the job for which you are interviewing. Let the interviewer tell you about the requirements of the job before you “play your hand.” Listen carefully and determine what skills and expertise the interviewer is really seeking and cite examples in your track record that match the company’s need.

For instance, if in sales/marketing, there are many positions and industries for which you may be particularly qualified. Even though you may be interviewing for a position that does not have the same areas of responsibilities you performed in your previous job, you can still highlight past accomplishments that target the HR manager’s requirements.

HR managers can be helpful in directing your job search. Take the interview with them very seriously. Beyond the fact that they may be the first individual you meet in the interviewing process, they can provide crucial information on the company and evaluate your skills and experience to direct you to the right job within the company.