Monday, December 12, 2011

Facebook for jobs? It’s time to SWOT up.

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
by Josh Kaplan

If you’re job hunting on job boards and corporate websites, you might be missing something right in front of you. It could be time to take Facebook more seriously.

18,000,000 Americans found their current job through Facebook. Not a date for Saturday night. Not a great new Vietnamese restaurant downtown. Not a video of a giant panda sneezing. They found a job. That’s equivalent to the combined populations of New York and L.A.

If professional connections are the serious side of social media, then Facebook is getting serious. And why wouldn’t it? At the end of the day, contacts and relationship management are the key to a strong career path and while Facebook may have been created as a means for people to share personal and informal information, its incursion into the world of work was inevitable.

For jobseekers, that means it’s time to think about how they use Facebook and where the dangers and possibilities lie. This week, we use a very business-led model to help you navigate the issues. We present a SWOT analysis of Facebook’s potential for jobseekers.


Facebook has all the obvious benefits of any online media. – 24/7 access, live access and real time news and events.

If job advertisers want to reach the 35-50 year old market of engineers in Frederick, Maryland – they can. And they don’t have to pay for all the extraneous exposure. Expect to see this activity increase, especially among smaller employers with limited budgets.

Passive Job Seekers
Relevant jobs can land on your Facebook profile without you even asking for them. The best candidate for any job is a passive candidate. If you’re a company trying to recruit, finding a candidate from among active users on Monster or CareerBuilder may result in a great deal of competition with other employers.

500,000,000 people means massive potential in any context. Period.


Generation gap
A great many of the key skills in most demand, particularly in engineering, are only available among a demographic group that is relatively inactive on Facebook.

Current functionality
While talk of Facebook-Jobs continues, current functionality,  does not allow users to silo content in the same way that Google+ does, so that your football buddies see one thing and your business contacts see another.  G+ may be dead on arrival, but it would have been of greater benefit for jobseekers in time.


Future Functionality
Whatever Facebook lacks, it can develop - and based on its track record, it probably will.

Overall Market share
In the online job world, market share is very important. Monster is great example. If you’re first, you have a major advantage in attracting investment and reinvesting in marketing to further boost your intake. At that point, it’s your ball to drop. Facebook does not drop the ball very often and they are a light year out in front of the pack.


Work / Life balance
It remains to be seen if Facebook users en masse simply don’t want to integrate their personal lives with work. They may look for an entirely different product, just on principal. (Someone run down to the basement and dust off Google+?)

Fear of Embarrassment
We’ve all seen those e-mail examples of Facebook mistakes and misjudgments. It has ended marriages and careers too. Many people may choose to stay on Linked-In rather than risk their career and reputation by linking their CEO to their college roommate. This may threaten Facebook’s ability to control the market.

So there it is, early days for Facebook as a dominating online job resource. One thing is certain, it is currently playing a role in landing people work. The question is whether it can bring one of the side benefits of its model into a central role without compromising its central purpose.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Get a Cipher. It’s as easy as a walk in the qbsl4.

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
by Josh Kaplan

At Bletchley Park in England, the centre of allied code-breaking in the 1940’s, British and American personnel decrypted the enigma machine, Germany’s  main means of encrypted communication. Winston Churchill himself described Bletchley as the secret weapon that won the war. 
Bletchley Park, home to WWII allied code breakers

But despite the considerable intellectual and technological resources committed to the unit, the largest contribution made to the cracking of Enigma was made by German clerks.  

Bad code words were guessed by staff at Bletchley, using intelligence provided by spies and intercepted communications that were often as simple as the name of a clerk’s dog or girlfriend. These educated guesses, when correct, created the framework for breaking the overall code.  

60 years later, more advanced technology is available to our teenage children than was ever known at the park, but the Achilles heel remains the same. Bad passwords. Lazy, obvious codes that invite chaos in our homes and businesses. Here’s some simple statistics from Javelin Strategy and Research:

  • 11.1 million adults were victims of identity theft last year
  • The total fraud amount was $54 billion
  • The average victim spent 21 hours and $373 out of pocket resolving the crime
  • 4.8% of the population was a victim of identity fraud in the last year

The problem in so many cases, was bad passwords. A list of the 25 worst passwords, recently published by Forbes ( carries only the occasional surprise. You could guess the top 5 with little effort - Password, 123456 and so on – but then that’s why they’re bad passwords.

The problem is that the idea of a password carries a central disconnection. It must be easy to remember but difficult to guess. This is not easy, especially with the number of passwords most of us must carry in our heads. Using the same word for everything is obviously a bad idea, as is committing any of your secure passwords to paper, or to the word document on your desktop entitled ‘passwords’.

So what’s the answer?  A cipher that adds an extra layer of security. For example kptvlbqmbo10 is a good password.  Great, you say – but how am I supposed to remember that in a cab to the airport trying to check in online? It’s easy enough. It’s my name. joshkaplan. I’ve used a simple transposition cipher (bumping each letter one up in the alphabet), then I’ve counted all the letters and put the number on the end (10). The result is a 12 letter combination of letters and numbers that is far more secure yet easy to remember.

If you’re one of the people who are using your children’s names (Ashley and Bailey are in the top 20), or words like Dragon, Baseball or Monkey – you should switch things up. Using my cipher, Baseball becomes Cbtfcbmm8. Invent your own cipher and try it out. Whatever you do, don’t use this one.

This kind of cipher won’t get past the guys at Bletchley, but it should be enough to keep your Facebook account safe, and your kids away from Cinemax.

Monday, November 21, 2011

High unemployment and major skill shortages. A problem with only one solution.

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
By Josh Kaplan

Is there really such a thing as the wrong kind of job?

With job creation on the lips of every aspiring and incumbent politician, it’s ironic that Washington DC itself is one of the main centers of the imbalance.

Washington DC has seen a boom in IT jobs in 2011
The DC area has experienced a steady decline in job opportunities since a slight peak in March of this year. Based on the number of jobs placed online by hiring companies and agencies, 2011 has ended badly for the capital’s job market.

But for Computer Systems Analysts, Web Developers, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators the outlook is much more positive.

A report this week from shows a significant increase in IT jobs in the area.

The trend is likely to continue into 2012. The question is what to do about it. As we’ve seen across the engineering industry, massive requirements for skills only create jobs if there are people with the right skills to fill them. Without the right skills available in the market, you have urgent open vacancies that contribute nothing to job creation.

Bridging the gap between mass unemployment and skill short market places is a problem with only one long term solution: training. The shortage in IT has been self created. When healthcare companies – one of the areas at issue - moved to 1099 contractors instead of retaining their in house talent, they lost the skills they need with familiarity and experience of their organization to get the job done.

There is clearly a major opportunity to retrain large numbers of unemployed workers if proper programs are put in place either by the government or by the private sector.

As demand increases, project delivery will only suffer more. It’s time to look seriously at retraining options.

In the meantime, IT professionals would be well advised to pack a bag and head for DC. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two reports, one conclusion: EHRs need more support in implementation

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
by Josh Kaplan

A report released today by AmericanEHR partners is not the first to highlight major shortfalls in EHR uptake across physician practices. It’s not even the first this week. A study by healthcare research firm SK&A, released Tuesday, provides more cause for concern.

Physicians have until 2015 to make 'meaningful use' of 
EHR systems
Most of the findings from both reports are predictable: EHR uptake is proving more difficult in smaller practices with fewer physicians; double the number of patients and you double the level of adoption; satisfaction is higher wherever the respondent has been involved in the EHR selection process.  No surprises in the bulk of the findings.

However, some of the stand-out statistics are genuinely shocking:

(1) 21% of physician offices are unaware of EHR government incentives.

These incentives, provided for by the 2009 stimulus package, include $64,000 dollars over six years for Medicaid and $44,000 over five years for Medicare. Physicians become eligible for the incentive by demonstrating ‘meaningful use’ of EHR Technology.  

(2) 73% of physician offices without an EHR have not determined any time frame for EHR adoption.

In 2015, hospitals and doctors become subject to financial penalties through Medicare if they have not adopted electronic health records, yet the vast majority have not even considered a timeframe for implementation.

(3) 49% of respondent physicians received less than the 3-5 days recommended training on EHR systems.

Moving from adoption to meaningful use and ultimately to genuine added value requires proper training and this is not being received by half of the physicians responding.

As 2012 approaches, the majority of physicians’ offices remain disengaged and ill informed. Even those that have adopted EHRs are not providing sufficient training to make the systems effective.

If EHR adoption is to reach targeted levels, it’s vital that those implementing the systems know when, why and how they should do it. That means having a timescale for implementation, knowledge of the incentives and penalties and ultimately, a plan to properly train the end user.