Steve Jobs Resigns From Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs Resignation: The Importance of Succession Planning; More Computer CEOs Leaving In 2011
Steve Jobs, co-founder and long-time leader of tech-behemoth Apple Inc., announced his resignation yesterday evening, naming COO Tim Cook his replacement. Rumors of Jobs eventual resignation have been circulating since Jobs took a leave of absence in January for health reasons and Cook took over day-to-day functions at that time. Apple operations, therefore, will most likely not change, as the succession plan has been in place for some time. However, stocks were marked lower on Thursday on account of the news. Jobs’ resignation differs from departures from other technology giants, such as Bill Gates’ from Microsoft in 2006, in that Jobs is remaining with the company in leadership roles as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee, according to his statement. However, many tech firms, such as Microsoft, HP and Yahoo saw declines after their iconic leaders stepped down. Through July, 64 computer industry CEOs have left their posts, compared to 50 during the same period last year. What can investors and consumers expect with news of the resignation? How important is succession planning for a company’s overall health? What can employees expect during a management change?



Who Has Edge In Economic Recovery?

A slew of economic data indicate a recovery is looming, as consumer spending and manufacturing output and compensation increase. Major companies have announced hiring plans, including 12,000 from Starwood Hotels, 1,200 from Ford Motor Company and 600 from CarMax. However, with hundreds of thousands of workers in competition for jobs, job seekers will need every advantage to impress potential employers.

Hiring managers receive thousands of resumes for open positions. With the talent pool so large, employers use any method possible to weed out potential candidates. These range from credit checks to drug and health screenings. Some use these as character references; other methods indicate whether the candidate will be a potential liability.

It may seem controversial, as one’s credit score and health generally have little to do with most job functions. However, with the sheer number of job seekers applying, employers can afford to be picky.

According to a 2006 Society for Human Resource Management poll, 43 percent of employers conducted credit checks on potential employees, up from 25 percent in 1998. While employers may legally conduct credit checks on potential hires, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, companies must secure the candidates consent to do so. Further, if an employer decides not to hire an applicant because of information gleaned from the report, that employer must divulge this to the candidate.

Job seekers certainly do not need to discuss their credit during the interview process; however, they should take care to know everything listed on these reports. If the decision comes down to two equally qualified candidates, the employer may take the person with the better credit. Knowing where you stand will help you combat that decision, whether through logical explanations or examples of how you are the better choice despite what the credit check says.

In addition to credit checks, due to proposed health care legislation and rising costs to employers, some organizations are immediately eliminating candidates with unhealthy habits. Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN will no longer hire new employees who use any kind of tobacco products, on or off duty. In addition to their usual drug screenings, hires will also be tested for nicotine. The company cited employee well-being and the health of patients as the primary reason.

This practice is nothing new. Medical benefits administration company Weyco and Scotts Miracle Grow companies stopped hiring smokers in 2006. Weyco fired four workers who opted out of their mandatory nicotine screening. In 2005, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of benefits distributed an internal memo discussing ways to hire and retain healthier workers, according to the New York Times. Through education benefits, the company hoped to draw younger, presumably healthier employees.

There has been a trend for years to cultivate a healthier workforce. Only recently does candidate health seem to be a consideration in hiring practices.

Colleen Madden
Research Associate

A Note On Being "Well-Liked"

The idea that an employee needs to be liked by his employer is echoed far and wide by career counselors and executive advisors. It is not to say, that your superior must be your “buddy” or even someone with whom you would invite over to your home. Rather, when we say, “make sure you are well-liked,” we’re suggesting that you put some of the following into practice:

1) Be polite and responsive to your employers’ requests. Obviously, you should be practicing good manners in the work place. A “good morning” or “how are you” does, in fact, go a long way. Additionally, when you are asked to complete assignments, or even asked to take on a special project, you do it in a timely, polite manner.

2) You do not need to come right out and ask if you are well-liked. In addition to being “well-liked,” Challenger advises that you make sure you have adequate “face time” with your employer – make sure they know who you are and what you are contributing to the company. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to schedule 10 minutes or so every six months to discuss your workload and performance with your boss – not to be confused with already scheduled performance reviews – this would be more of an informal discussion. Let your employers know what you are doing.

3) In several industries, having projects determines whether or not you keep your job (i.e. manufacturing, engineering, advertising, direct sales, etc.) In addition to getting that face time, let your employer know that you are interested in going above and beyond. This is not sucking up, it is taking an active interest in advancing not only your career, but also the interests of the company.

These tips should aid job seekers, and those who already have positions in addressing career moves. Thanks!

Colleen Madden

Research Consultant

Twitter: Building Yourself In 140 Characters Or Less

Twitter, like so many web 2.0 functions, has become the modern day sandwich board or news ticker or fortune cookie, etc. etc. In 140 characters at a time, you too can carve your niche, find your audience and get something back in the process.

Twitter is growing businesses, from cupcakes to executive coaching. Job seekers are posting their abilities, and recruiters are matching them to pertinent positions. News outlets are again finding relevancy, as the tumultuous industry moves print versions to online (see: Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

And you’ve heard it all before: Twitter is revolutionizing x, y and z. Look what it did for the Iran Election! Local rock bands are posting their next gigs… and people are going! Nomadic food vendors are giving their next locations…and people are going! Professional and motivational speakers are announcing their next conferences…and people are going!

We all knew the internet was something special, but even 10 years ago, we had no idea the power of instant communique! And it has not stopped with bands and food and government overthrows. The job seeker finally has an outlet to show themselves off!

Now more than ever, job seekers are not only finding job opportunities online, but are also marketing themselves online. LinkedIn, blogs and job boards give job seekers the ability to list their credentials in an eye-catching, sometimes witty, but definitely easy-to-see format, rather than just forage for information. Recruiters and employers are much more willing to take a look at something – anything – when it takes 10 seconds. And now, Twitter, whose interface allows users to publish streams of information to their “followers,” is becoming THE spot to pursue job leads, cultivate clients and get your name out there.

Twitter is fairly easy to use. If you want to reply to a fellow Twitterer, use @ and then their “handle.” If you want to repost an interesting tweet, use RT. But one of the most useful functions is the ability to redirect your followers to one of the above mentioned sites – allowing followers to visit blogs and LinkedIn pages they normally would not.

Reporters post links to their stories, companies post their url’s, bloggers post their blogs – the list goes on. Job seekers post links to their actual resumes! “Follow me and see what I can do.” It’s the pied piper of the 21st Century!

Using Twitter To Find A Job

1. Build your network. Challenger coaches advise job seekers to utilize every person in your personal and professional networks. With Twitter, you can grow this network to include hundreds of people.
2. Advertise your job loss. Although a job loss can be a trying, and sometimes humiliating, time for families and loved ones, telling your “followers” that you are looking for a job can be not only therapeutic, but also incredibly useful to finding a new position. Hundreds of recrutiers are on Twitter and have no problem following your tweets. You can cast a very wide net on Twitter with potential to net incredible results.
3. Think before you tweet. Twitter can be as anonymous as you want it to be. However, if you want to find a new position, you might want to spend some time on each tweet. Remember that you’re marketing yourself, you’re a product. Much like with blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., you don’t want to post anything that might cause pause (see: nude or racy photos, questionable content, etc.). Moreover, 140 characters limits your literary ability. What you read as witty, another might read as acerbic. What you think is funny, someone else might thing is offensive. Obviously, you want to show the world your best face, so keep this in mind when fashioning those 140 characters.
There are myriad ways you can utilize Twitter in your job search, so fear not! Keep those tweets coming and watch the job offers come in.

Colleen Madden
Research Consultant

Dress The Part: Proper Attire Aids In Job Search

This will not land you that job.

Even as the recession slows hiring, many industries continue to fill positions in anticipation of the coming recovery. With the unemployment rate at 9.4 percent in May and hiring managers seeing a plethora of talent from which to choose, job-seekers are realizing the importance of the first impression. Potential employers will consider only the best, most professional candidates for the job, and the candidate’s wardrobe is key to landing the position.

During the tech boom in the early 2000s, young talent flooded the job market, demanding individuality. Companies were forced to adapt to less traditional styles of workplace dress and in some cases, abandon dress codes all together in order to retain the talent they needed.

While tattoos, piercings and other forms of body art are typically accepted in the workplace now, hiring managers can be pickier as a growing talent pool competes for fewer jobs.

A younger generation brought on the wave of dress code alternatives. However, during this recession, older workers have seen considerable job gains, whether through postponing or coming out of retirement, and many may feel work is no place for casual wear. We may see the workplace standard swing back to ultra-professional.

In any event, it is always a good idea to dress professionally for an interview. Even despite employers embracing and promoting diversity in all its forms, during an interview, you do not want to stand out because of ripped jeans or skin-tight clothing.

Moreover, there are definitely certain industries where more conservative standards of appearance persist. We may never see tattoos on bankers, lawyers, accountants or the clergy. However, areas such as advertising, marketing, sales and technology are more inclined to be ahead of the curve and more accepting of new fashion and lifestyle trends.

While a growing number of companies may be abandoning traditional dress codes, many job seekers donning body art say they are not quite feeling the love. A survey found that 76 percent and 81 percent of respondents respectively say visible tattoos and piercings other than in the ears are unprofessional. Another 42 percent of managers said their opinion would be lowered by a person’s visible body art.

Most tattoos are hidden, but some are prominently displayed on people’s hands, lower arms and necks. Body piercings can be anywhere. As a job seeker, you have to judge whether the employer you are interviewing with is going to be accepting of your body art. If that is not the case, and that is where you really want to work, then you will have to make an effort to conceal your tattoos and take out your piercings.

The best way to determine if body art is acceptable is by asking someone at the company, preferably not the person you are to meet. However, if you know someone else at the company or if you have established rapport with another employee, you can ask that person.

Challenger offered some additional advice on issues that could come up for young job seekers steeped in the latest fashion and youth-oriented trends:

Tattoos: Show them off, unless they are offensive, in which case you should plan on concealing it in the interview and even after getting the job. The other time you would want to conceal your tattoos is if you know that a certain employer would frown upon such decorations.

Piercings: Beware! With increased security at many corporate offices, too much bling could set off metal detectors. You do not want to be late to the interview because you were forced to remove 12 body piercings at the security desk. In addition to the security issue, too many piercings might be a distraction for the interviewer and could hurt your chances. Also, it would be prudent to remove tongue and lip piercings, as these often make it difficult for others to understand what you are saying.

Baggy Clothing: Avoid blue jeans, unless it is how everyone else in the office dresses. It is possible to look presentable in loose-fitting khakis and a button-down shirt. For the interview, refrain from wearing pants that ride below the waistline (often showing off one’s undergarments or bare body).

Wild hair: Streaks of blue, green or fire-engine red will not scare off most hiring authorities, but a Mohawk or hairdo resembling a bird’s nest might.

Cell phones: Cell phones have no place in the job interview. They should be turned off and stashed away in a bag or briefcase. Imagine being in the middle of answering an interview question and your personalized ring tone featuring the latest hip-hop anthem interrupts. Even on vibrate, a cell phone going off can be a major distraction in the interview.

Portable Music Players: Although it seems that everyone has them attached to their pocket, purse or hip, keep the iPods at home. If co-workers see you with ear buds in your ears all day long, they will assume you are not listening, and possibly not working very hard.

Dress For The Job You Want: The old adage is still true today. Upper management will be likelier to recognize you if you begin to dress and groom yourself professionally. They may see it as taking initiative or acting as a role model for the office.

Survivor Syndrome: Are Those Left In The Office Prone To Bullying

A recent Challenger survey found that 54 percent of human resource executives claimed employee-engagement was the biggest challenge facing a post-layoff workplace. Those who survive a layoff are left feeling emotionally detached from their work. They are mourning their fellow co-workers and the loss of the workplace as it once was. Could these feelings lead to workplace bullying?

We have discussed this issue in the past, specifically with women (for our ‘brilliant b*tch’ theory go here). But with the onslaught of layoffs, over 800,000 this year by our count, those left behind are definitely on edge, leading to distinct attitude shifts likely to cause some ruffled workplace feathers.

Employers can combat these feelings of disillusionment and possibly, in some cases, downright despair, all the while keeping workers focused and feeling secure in their positions. It all starts with constant and open communication.

The Challenger survey conducted in anticipation of the 61st Annual Society for Human Resources Conference & Expedition (June 28-July 1), showed that almost 58 percent of employers had supervisors meet with individuals to discuss changes. Another 35 percent reorganized work groups, while 12 percent offered post-layoff counseling to those remaining on staff. Eight percent instituted change management, while 4 percent brought in a business coach. However, 10 percent did nothing for their workers.

Nothing is probably not the way to go during a recession such as this one.
Colleen Madden
Research Associate

The Working Woman & Work/Life Balance

On June 1, Amy Reiter wrote a piece for Salon Mag entitled She works too hard for the money discussing a new book by ABC correspondent Claire Shipman and BBC World News anchor Katty Kay on the long hours women tend to work at their jobs, sacrificing time with family and friends and generally having little to show for it. Their book “Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success,” outlines changes they have made in their own lives to strike a balance between family and career, and why workers everywhere should demand this balance.

This phenomenon of the too-hard-working female is nothing new; studies show that women will work much longer hours, and any working woman will tell you that they feel they have to do the work or else it won’t get done. Now, despite and maybe to an extent because of the dismal economy, working women – and workers everywhere – may want to reevaluate their priorities and start working toward symmetry between work and life.

Recently, we here at Challenger have been constantly referring to the works of Dr. Lois Frankel on the subject of women and work, and one of the mistakes she finds among working women is the somewhat unexplainable, but completely understandable assertion that they must do the work of others, be it a subordinate who fails to complete the task or someone in a different department who makes inappropriate requests. This is not just true of women, but can certainly be said for all workers who find themselves with an unappealingly full plate. How can you assert your own priorities without painting yourself as a work-avoiding ogre?

It’s not too difficult according to Frankel, and one of the best ways, although sometimes not the easiest, is to just speak up. When someone makes a request of your time that is really outside the scope of your position, say, “I’m really sorry, but I’m completely swamped right now. I don’t think I can fit this in.” You don’t need to offer any other explanation. Don’t feel guilty. You have your own job to do. If it’s a persistant problem with the same person making unreasonable demands, talk to your HR exec, because ultimately, employers want their workers happy and feeling unaccosted. Further, do not take on a task you have delegated to your subordinate. Give advice on how he or she can accomplish it, but just because it may seem easier, doesn’t mean you have to take it on yourself. They work for you.

Colleen Madden
Research Consultant