Monday, September 24, 2012

Rolex and Recruiting: More in common than you think.

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

Clients & job seekers deserve 'Rolex' recruitment services.
As recruiters, we have a responsibility to our potential and existing candidates to treat them professionally. Unfortunately, because some firms out there are lacking in integrity and have turned the art and skill of recruiting into a commoditized, low-quality, high-volume factory farm for human capital, there is sometimes a negative perception of the industry and recruiters in general, from both candidates and hiring companies. 

Staffing Talk contributor David Gee gives some real life examples of the recruitment image problem in greater detail. In essence, his examples show there are enough bad apples out there to make even the best, shiniest, sweetest Gala seem sour in the eyes of candidates and clients who have been let down by these types of firms.

To take it a step further, equate the problem to the fake Rolex market. I believe the fake Rolex has actually cheapened the exclusive status of a real one.  As I oversee the IT staffing sales activities of seven offices, I'm on a lot of planes and attend a lot of business functions. It’s no longer the rare person you see with a Rolex; instead it’s almost the norm to see that black Submariner.

Now I’m not saying they are all knockoffs, but what was once a symbol of class and refinement has become too common through indistinguishable fakes. The same might be said of the recruitment industry. My firm and many other accredited, legitimate resource providers like it, perform 'real' recruitment work. We call, consult, engage, listen and help candidates and customers solve their problems. Unfortunately, the fakes have tarnished our reputation. Submitting resumes without any contact then asking for exclusivity after the fact; posting bogus jobs in order to aggregate resumes in a database: that's how the hacks operate.

The end result is that clients mostly ignore the 'real' firms, assuming that we are also a cheap imitation.  The value of a solid recruiting firm is assumed to be equal to the value of a fake. 
Who knows if the job boards that marketed themselves to the 'upscale' or executive market have gone further to reduce the perceived value of good recruitment? After all, their inconsistent results have widely undermined their claims of exclusivity.

Either way, job seekers have developed similar behaviors to hiring companies in some cases, and have fallen to some bad habits that make it hard for even the better recruitment firms to truly help them find that perfect match. Monster's Larry Buhl wrote an interesting article on the subject detailing instances where candidates have done themselves a disservice through their actions and attitudes toward some 'real' recruiters based on their experiences dealing with bad ones.

When a candidate we recently hired gave us unsolicited feedback and thanked us for the 'special experience' he had with us, we were not surprised. He said he had done work with three other firms and had contact with many others. We didn't do anything out of the norm for this IT project manager and the recruiter he complimented treats all of his candidates the same way. But in this candidate's eyes, we did far more than countless other firms and gave him a level of service he had not come across. The point is, given his previous experiences with those who share our market space; we should probably count ourselves lucky he even considered engaging with us at all.

It’s time the Staffing Industry really asked itself - How can we change this perception?

Other than chest beating about how some of us in the recruitment industry really are interested in helping candidates and clients get what they want from the experience; other than delivering real, value-adding service; other than holding ourselves accountable for results; what can we do as legitimate recruitment firms do to squash the backlash from the resume factories? 

Make no mistake – Working with a recruiting agency should be a Rolex experience. Here, I see the true caring that goes into the process when great recruiters bring people and companies together. More than anything, I see the potential to help truly reduce the unemployment rate by helping our clients realize that the great talent does exist with some employer sponsored training and by showing job seekers that good honest companies are still out there too.

A Rolex is still a Rolex. Why? Because of the care and attention that goes into creating it. From a quick glance, the fake may look the same. But if you look closely, you’ll find it’s not hard to tell the real thing apart.

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including information technology breakthroughs, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, healthcare IT recruitment, and technical industry trends.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Have it your way: A story about McDonald's, burnt Apple pie, Go Daddy and your data.

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

Who is responsible for keeping the cyber highways safe?
Everyone knows using the Internet is a security risk. There are people that make a living, a very good one at that, exposing weaknesses on the web. The internet is a security risk because your information; your life in essence, is dispersed all over the World Wide Web. Depending on where it is, it may be easier or harder to get at.

We have companies like Go Daddy. If I were to make an analogy, I would equate the company to the road to stores in the real world. Think of them as kind of like a national highway system of cyberspace that started in a dozen places.

If any one of those dozen or so starting points was shut down for construction, or say, destroyed by an explosion, failure, or whatever; then you couldn't get to anything along that highway. You'd have to reroute or sit idle in traffic for endless hours, maybe even days, until the authorities and emergency crews cleared up the mess.

To take the transportation analogy a step further, because the magnitude of its power is so significant, think of Go Daddy's recent DNS shutdown as something akin to a major hub airport being shut down.

When a major hub, one of dozens around the world is shut down, everything reroutes; an entire segment of the country (maybe even a continent) and all the related connector hubs go to hell. That's exactly what happened to our data that was riding on the 'cyber-transportation system' last weekend. The JFK of the internet went down and, although the repercussions were comparatively 'minor' in comparison to a major, physical catastrophic event, they were still significant.

Thousands, if not millions, of emails were not delivered or delivered after their intended landing time; causing delays in time sensitive confirmations, planning, and business/personal matters relying on that on-time schedule. Businesses were calling for roadside assistance to anyone who would listen; often getting a busy signal or no dial tone at all.

Yep. It was kind of like an earthquake shutting down the 405 in Los Angeles during rush hour. Millions stranded, with no cell service, and no way to remedy the situation except wait, hope, and maybe call on some deity for a resolution.

Then there are companies like Apple. They probably hold a significant majority of the country's (if not the continent's/world's) credit card information. Apple's  recent UDID security breach compromised a huge number of customer accounts. They blamed the FBI. The FBI said, 'It wasn't us.'

When Apple is compromised, an insane amount of personal information gets out into cyberspace for all to see; potentially creating a huge number of opportunities for cyber criminals and connections to non-affected but linked accounts.

We the consumer, rely on these mega companies. While huge in revenue, these two companies actually hold infinitely more power to affect our lives than say, if all of a sudden the McDonald's POS system went down worldwide.

With McDonald's, a POS system shutdown would be an inconvenience, but the results would not be catastrophic. If all of your credit card data in that POS were compromised, then we could talk.

I am not saying the recent security breach at Apple and the failure at Go Daddy are catastrophic. You can't go to another website. You need your bank or your airline or any other critical, but unique, service when you need it. You expect the bureaucracy of McDonald's; you expect reliable, familiar services as a consumer, no matter where you are in the country or world.

Should companies with such power be held to a significantly higher bar when it comes to reliability and safety? I'm willing to bet the government doesn't regulate the availability of McDonald's POS system; but they do oversee the airline systems and the registrars. They even regulate the data that we can and cannot disclose as a technical resources firm.

In my opinion, these companies by their very nature as online companies have a different kind of obligation. And the obligation will become larger and more important as we move forward.

I am not at all calling for government regulation.

If what Go Daddy did was so bad, wouldn't people change? How much were people truly impacted by the event? How much of it was media sensationalism and what was the actual cost of the event?

Companies such as these should realize their responsibility and accept that they are highly impactful in more ways than they can fathom. We, as consumers, have the responsibility to let them know how important reliability and security are to us.

There will be more events like these. Some may be more significant. The next time the 'big data POS' goes down, you could always head over to Burger King.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Novocain Immunity and Meaningful Use: How prepared are patients and practitioners for 2014?

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

Can Meaningful Use eliminate the pain red tape causes?
If you talk to anyone in the medical community and say the words 'meaningful use,' chances are any clinician or physician will understand what you mean. What about patients? This is probably going to be the biggest change in the way doctors and patients interact on every level yet, if one were to coin the phrase 'meaningful use' in general public; the response would likely be something akin to a deer caught in the headlights.

Simply put, Meaningful Use is very important yet, no one knows about it.

The fact is that most patients have no idea that the days of going to this specialist and signing a release of these records to that other specialist and back on to your general practitioner are numbered. They have no idea that secure, instant messaging with your doctor, all of your doctors for that matter, is right around the corner. Meaningful Use Stage 2 goes into full effect in 2014.

I have a feeling some practitioners and HCO's would like to keep it that way. Because Meaningful Use is more patient focused and keeping them satisfied as a consumer is more important; practitioners without a good 'bedside manner' will have to develop one quickly.

You see, Meaningful Use completely revamps the way doctors and patients will communicate. On many levels, it makes physicians more accountable for getting the whole story and getting it right the first or second time. It all but eliminates the 'take two aspirin' syndrome when a patient comes in and hands over health records that clinically spell out what they often cannot verbalize. It allows for instant communication and eliminates the need for countless (and billable) follow up visits due to incomplete paperwork.

In other words, Meaningful Use will make healthcare more efficient for everybody, but only if doctors and HCO's are on board.

So where does Novocain immunity fit into all of this?

Upon joining Talascend, I relocated to Maryland: New doctors, new dentists, new everything. Shortly after moving and during a routine checkup, I found I needed a filling. There's only one small problem: I am immune to Novocain in regular, recommended doses. My old dentist knew how to keep my mouth numb. My new dentist didn't believe me. Three shots later and only about a 15 minute window to work with, she was a believer. The third shot wore off in the last 5 minutes and they couldn't give me more, so I had to deal with the pain while we were wrapping up.

Why bring it up? The whole conversation and disbelief would have been avoided if meaningful use were in full force. If I could have instantly requested my dental records from my old dentist in Upstate New York, not only would my new dentist have learned I wasn't full of hot air, but that my old dentist has figured out a way to keep my mouth numb so that work could be completed without rushing. Because of current HIPAA laws, I had to fill out paperwork; in person; in Upstate New York, to get my old dentist to share the process with my new one. Not even a phone call is considered legal without a signed document.

This plays out in nearly every medical office that has not participated in the first stage of Meaningful Use. There is so much waste to be eliminated through implementation. Doctors have instant access and can see more patients, or, spend more time with patients during a day. They can order a prescription for you right from their smart phone. Patients get the benefit of clarity when talking in a clinical setting. They also have something to back up their claims when going into a new physician's office right then and there: not while waiting for their paperwork to arrive.

As a Healthcare IT staffing professional, I know one thing is for certain: There will be a big rush in the next two years for HIT talent in order to become Meaningful Use compliant. Then again, it could go 'bust' because of lack of buy-in from physicians and HCO's; but I wouldn't count on it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back it up. Back it up. The Cloud isn't as safe as 'they' say it is.

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

Are you prepared for the loss of your cloud data?
I recently ran across a blog by Matt Winer regarding his experience with cloud computing that I felt was really important to share. His story is a warning to all who use cloud servers to store their data and brings about some key questions. 

What happens when a cloud server goes down; what happens when your whole online world (pictures, blogs, etc.)  is lost ? What happens when the cloud expels all it energy and, the cloud is exhausted? 

It is human nature to expect everything will be 'OK' when you post to the cloud, but it is not human nature to back up your work further. Winer gave users the ability to download and back up their data. Very few of them took advantage of this functionality. Relying solely on presumption that the cloud will always be there is a bad idea. 

Luckily in Winer's case, he was able to get everybody their data after a massive system failure. For the rest of us; without someone to monitor the chaos; what will become of us and our data when the next cloud goes down?

Now, I am an IT guy so this shouldn't come as a surprise: I figure if you backup on the cloud and on your hard drive you should be pretty safe. 

Am I wrong?

I don't think you have to proactively act on this information immediately (but it might not be a bad idea to get the process started). I don't think for a second that no one has thought of such issues or that there aren't already good systems in place. However, in the end, many of us are relying on a 'constant' that is proving to be less than constant. With no one to monitor it or make sure it is up and running 24 hours a day, is the cloud truly safe?

Of course every company that stores your data and life's work on a server has backup right? You know it's always good practice to backup your data, but you don't.

Don't be fooled. Once, a matter of semantics changed my life for two weeks: I said I wanted to cancel an upgrade order on my current server contract. I had found a faster server from another provider with better software for less money. A human at my host decided to 'cancel' (delete) all of my accounts and all of my backup servers. The end result was two weeks of frantic repopulating of a new site from bits and pieces I had saved in various folders on my hard drive and some cached pages that Google had not re-indexed yet. I learned my lesson.   

Back it up my friends. 

What you assume is going on behind the scenes is not always the case. 

If you rely on the cloud, you are relying on someone else to protect your treasured 'stuff.'  This is why we buy gap insurance on cars, why we buy umbrella insurance, and it’s why you should backup your 'stuff' in the cloud. Back it up or be prepared for the consequences.

Back up your data yourself because you never know what could happen on the other end of the cloud. I say this as an IT staffing professional: Back it up and be safe; because you never know who or what is going to fail next.

On your PC or on an external hard drive; it doesn't matter where you back up your cloud data. You put a great deal of thought, time, and energy into creating your data. Isn't it something worth preserving?