for visiting JobSyntax! We closed the JobSyntax blog in August
2007, but check out the archives ... there's lots of employer and jobseeker tips still hanging around.
Best of luck in your job or talent search!
Hello there! We realize there’s been an extended period of
darkness here on the JobSyntax blog, and we wanted to update everyone
on the latest with us! Lately, we’ve found an FAQ to work the
best :) so here goes …
As many of you know, Zoe's little JobGuy, Liam, was born over 6 months ago now.
Mom, Dad, baby, and kitty cats are all doing extremely well.
After much thought and consideration, Zoe decided to continue being a
full-time Mom, at least until Liam’s first birthday. After that,
who knows what the future might bring. In the meantime, she’s
planning to focus 100% on her family and herself ... and just enjoy
life with her new little man!
Since Zoe went out on leave,
Gretchen has been heads-down, focused on a few corporate clients and
working with lots of jobseekers. As of last week, Gretchen
re-joined the ranks of the Empire … er, we mean … Microsoft … as a
Marketing Manager with the Talent Acquisition & Engagement team
(her old stomping grounds!) She returned as the online content
manager for the external web presence and the PM for a program to get
employees more involved in attracting awesome talent to the
company. Online communications and employee involvement in the
recruiting cycle … two of her favorite topics!
of people have asked why Gretchen wanted to return to MS, and really,
it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up … a chance to work with an
incredible team in producing big-time industry-leading employment
marketing initiatives … and specifically tackling some seriously cool
Was JobSyntax just sucking or what?
question, and actually, no. JobSyntax lived a good life and
served its purpose valiantly. We started JS so we could 1) work
together, 2) gain valuable external experience, and 3) help the
underdog … career-minded software engineers and small,
resource-strapped employers. Some things we thought would be
difficult were easier than expected; some things we thought would be
easy were way more complex than we anticipated; and overall, we learned
~ a billion new things about ourselves – both professionally and
Zoe’s decision to focus on Liam and Gretchen’s decision to return to
Microsoft had absolutely nothing to do with the trajectory of the
company. When we started it, it was only a 2-3 year plan anyway,
and our journey led us to our “next steps” more quickly than we
What will happen to JobSyntax now?
To be honest,
you probably won’t hear much out of us. One thing we did learn
was that – at least for the next phase – we want to focus on our own
priorities and be spectators - not necessarily leaders or even
participants – in the larger recruit-o-sphere conversation. But
we’ll still be out there, listening, learning, and
critiquing. :) You know us!
But I’m a technical jobseeker and/or hiring manager, and I need help!
Our blog probably won’t have much activity from here on out (check out the archives!), but we’ll still hang around (and hope others will, too!) on our jobseeker and employer forum if you have burning issues. If you need more personalized help, give us a shout.
Depending on your situation, we may be able to help or find you someone
who can … but no promises. ;-) JobSyntax has now moved from an
official labor of love to unofficial shared passion.
Thanks to everyone for a great ride, and we’ll keep seeing (and reading) you around!
Zoe & Gretchen
I'm an incredibly lame blogger of late, I know. Let's just say
I'm taking a little "break." I think every blogger is entitled to
a break every now and then. :)
But anyway ...
An interesting conversation going on in the comments section of Microsoft's JobsBlog
got me thinking about that age-old communication gap between jobseekers
and employers ... this being JobSyntax's (whose mission it is to bridge
that gap) 1 year anniversary and all!
In Why I Wish I had Studied Computer Science/IT/Technology in College,
Janelle discusses the decline in computer science college
enrollment . She lists a few assumptions - don't need a
degree to get a job; your major isn't important; the
material is too outdated and irrelevant - and asks readers why they
think the decline exists. This is a topic that I'm also very
passionate about, and I have to say I've just always assumed the
decline existed because people who may be interested are too gun-shy of
the technology industry. They think opportunities will
dwindle and/or be off-shored - so there isn't a strong future in the
field. Certainly, those reasons were mentioned, but they
weren't the majority.
While the blogosphere hardly serves as scientific research, it does
provide good data points. And the data points here tell me that
there's yet another disconnect between what jobseekers think and what
employers think. A large share of the responses mirrored this
A formal degree in Computer Science is not really essential to
get into the Software/IT industry. What is more important is having
passion for what you are do.
Now, I'm all for passion, and I'm not here to kill the
dream, kids. (And to be fair, the person who wrote this specific
comment has an advanced degree in CS.) I have seen many people
have great careers in the technology industry without degrees.
But I was just really surprised to hear that same reasoning echoed over
and over again. It NEVER occurred to me people may not be
majoring in CS because they don't think they need to.
In my experience working as a technical recruiter, I have
encountered maybe 2 or 3 hiring managers who have said a CS or related
degree is not a requirement ... or least a very, very, very strong
"nice to have." (And those hiring managers were usually ones
who didn't have degrees themselves.) As a recruiter, education is
usually the first thing my eyes notice. And back in the day when
I'd mined resume databases or job boards, "computer sci*" OR "computer
eng*" were always in my search string.
I'm not arguing that you aren't qualified if you don't have a degree ... but I am arguing that you will be perceived
as unqualified if you don't have one. The standards and
requirements will only continue to increase - and those without degrees
(and lacking experience to back it up) will only find it more
difficult to break into the field with a good job. You may find a
job - but you also may find that those 4 years of time and tuition
costs were more than worth it in the end.
Like I said, just an interesting response. "I don't
need a CS degree" was something I never expected to hear. In
1999? Sure. In 2007? No way!
Am I off-base?
The cover story in the upcoming issue of Wired focuses on corporate transparency: Get Naked and Rule the World ...
a topic I'm obviously passionate about. I'm waiting for my hard
copy to arrive in the mail, but I did check out the case study on Microsoft by Fred Vogelstein, my favorite Wired writer (who also wrote an interesting piece about Yahoo!
a few issues ago.) (Disclosure: Fred interviewed me for the
article but my material didn't make the cut - but it was fun
Anyway, I love the end of the article, in which Fred reveals that a Microsoft employee inadvertently emailed him PR's file on him, Wired,
and Microsoft's talking points surrounding efforts like Channel 9
and On10. Love it. So classic Microsoft. Cringe,
But its efforts to be transparent go only so far. Someone at
Microsoft unintentionally emailed me the confidential dossier the
company keeps on reporters writing stories about it (presumably a
common practice among big corporations). My file ran to 5,500 words and
included all the angles I had been pursuing (along with suggested
responses to my questions), the people outside the company they thought
I had talked to, detailed background on Wired and how it has covered
Microsoft, and notes on me and my interviewing style. "We need to
reinforce with Fred that these efforts [Channels 9 and 10] are a
natural extension of the company's DNA," the file reads. "Microsoft has
been using a wide variety of communications mechanisms to reach out to
developers since the days of yore. This is simply the latest
manifestation of those efforts." The irony is thick. While working with
me on a story about its newfound openness, Microsoft and its PR agency
were furiously scurrying behind the scenes to control the message. One
thing about transparency is clear: It's harder than it looks.
So close, yet so far. :)
I was traveling last week so I'm a little behind - but I finally got a chance today to listen to the Recruiting Animal's radio show (aka live podcast) on the topic of recruiting blogs: Have Recruiting Blogs made it big?
I wish I could have listened live and participated - but such is
life. It was great to listen to the Animal after reading him for
so long. First, it was very cool that he gave a shout out to our
very own Liam Goldring. Lil’ Liam is a blogosphere celebrity! ;-)
Anyway, the Animal argues that recruiting blogs have not yet
“arrived.” They can be effective, and recruiters and marketers
alike are getting some value out of them … but they haven’t caught on
like people predicted … especially in the corporate / 1st party space.
A few thoughts … first, I agree with a lot of what the Animal says. My feeling is that blogs are one of many, many, many, many
different channels that a corporate recruiting department can use to
promote their company’s openings and general employment brand.
And in general, I’ve seen very few companies (especially the big guys)
who do a good overall job of promoting their company’s openings and
employment brand in the first place. Employment marketing, in
general, has been slow to evolve.
I also don’t think that corporate recruiters should spend their time
writing a blog. I've always said that. They need to be
recruiting, not marketing. The person who manages your career
site or your ad campaigns or your events should be the person managing
your blog. It’s just another channel to get the word out.
It’s another channel to assist with your site’s SEO. It’s another
channel to connect 1:many with candidates. And it's a way to do
all these things very cheapy, very quickly, and very easily
as compared to more traditional marketing approaches which
require mondo overhead. I don't think it’s not a great
channel for sourcing or immediate / short-term results. And if
your organization doesn’t have dedicated resources or budget devoted to
recruiting marketing (which many don’t), effective blogging probably
isn’t going to happen. It’s icing on the cake.
The Animal does use Microsoft’s recruiting dept as an example.
He says if recruiting blogging was really that great, Microsoft would
have more than two recruiting blogs … Heather’s blog and JobsBlog.
So, as you know, I no longer work at MS so I’m not going on inside
knowledge here … just past experience and such. First, Heather
has said time and again she’s not a recruiting blogger. She’s a
recruiter who happens to blog. If she attracts candidates through
her blog, cool, but from what I understand that’s not her mission, and
her professional success/failure does not hinge on her
blog. :) It's more of a hobby and professional passion
than job responsibility.
And as for JobsBlog, of which I have first hand knowledge, I know I
worked pretty hard to reign in rouge recruiters who wanted their own
recruiting blogs. That’s why JobsBlog is a group blog.
JobsBlog has google juice and it’s well read … so instead of
fragmenting the reader base and increasing the blog management
overhead, it was a deliberate decision to gather recruiters interested
in blogging in one place. Just wanted to get that on the
record. :) That, of course, may change - but it's
my opinion that a company like MS is better served by one central
recruiting blog, just as it's better served by central career
portal. Anything more is just spinning your wheels and
replicating work with diminishing results.
Okay, well, it’s about 20 minutes into the radio show, and I’ve got
to roll. So if anyone talks about later in the show, do let
me know. ;-)
just sent me this link to some rather unconventional job
descriptions. Good inspiration ... and lots of creativity! http://jobs.geni.com/
A lot of you have been asking and I got official permission to release the news to the blogosphere so ... :)
I'm happy to announce that our very own Zoe (and Mr.
Zoe) have their very own JobGuy. Liam Donovan Goldring
was born on Tuesday, Feb 20 at 11:21 pm. He was 21.5 inches long
and weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz when he was born.
I finally met him today, and boy, is he the cutest! Zoe
probably doesn't want me telling you this but she went through 68 hours
of labor to bring that little guy into the world. She's one tough
But all is well with Zoe and family so I just wanted to update you
all. When things get settled, I'm sure she'll check in and say hi.
I've been heads down the last few weeks working with JobBurner
as well as a few JobSyntax clients. It's been crazy times, and I
hope to get settled into my new routine soon. In the meantime,
I've been blogging almost daily over on JobBurner and
I've even started my own personal blog ... but I'll wait until I have
some decent content up there before sharing the link with you all. :)
Shane and team at JobBurner have been busy getting new features
like resume upload, the affiliate program, and matching ready for
release. In the meantime, you still have one week to get your jobs up on JobBurner for FREE.
:) Other companies who have already posted their tech jobs
include Microsoft, Amazon, Match.com, T-Mobile, Deloitte, and Turner
And over here at JobSyntax, we still need to make some changes so
that the two JobBurner blogs I write - as well as JobBurner posted
jobs - stream through the site. Coming soon. :)
It’s a jobseeker's market. At least, that’s what I gather
based on the technologies and tools which were presented to Zoe and me
when we asked you to share with us the best of the best of the employment industry and let us give the tools the Zoe and Gretchen treatment. :) A couple weeks ago, Zoe reported on Improved Experience,
a business intelligence tool which allows companies to track their
process highs and lows through the eyes of their candidates.
Today, I’m reviewing two tools which both aid jobseekers in navigating their job search: JibberJobber and Isabont. My conclusion is similar for both tools, so I'll first describe the tools and then give you my 2cents.
JibberJobber was founded by Jason Alba who,
as a jobseeker in early 2006, felt overwhelmed by the amount of
information, contacts, appointments, and statuses he had to
track. Recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to keep
appraised of this data, so he sought to level the playing field by
creating a similar tool for jobseekers.
At its core, JibberJobber is a CRM, and in fact, Jason says that
small businesses have used it as such. The site also offers a
to share links, book recommendations, advice, and personal experiences
and an interview prep section which allows the jobseeker to save a 30
second pitch, power statements, and interview Q&A for easy review.
Basic membership, which includes limited but still generous
use of the CRM functionality, reporting, and library features among
others, is free. Premium use is $9.95 per month (with discounts
if you sign up for a longer term contract) and allows you more
flexibility with the features such as entering in unlimited contacts,
importing / exporting to Outlook, tracking expenses, and pulling
For more information on JibberJobber, you can also visit Jason’s JibberJobber blog and listen to this podcast with Peter Clayton interviewing Jason.
Isabont, created by Simon Clay Michael,
had similar beginnings to JibberJobber. Simon developed the site
after struggling with data management during a 2004 job search, and in
fact, Isabont is very similar in experience, cost and functionality to
JibberJobber, with the added convenience of a resume creator (which, keep in mind, only outputs a resume as good as the information you input). Isabont also has a strong advice section which, while not based on user generated content, currently boasts more information than JibberJobber’s library. Premium accounts,
allowing you to export calendar and contact items as well
as email, download, and print documents like resumes and cover
letters, run $9.95 per month. For more info, check out
Simon's isabont blog.
Both JibberJobber and Isabont are perfect tools for high volume
jobseekers who want to get organized in their current search and track
activity and results for future searches. The basic
features for both services are free so if a motivated jobseeker wants
to get his ducks in a row, there’s no harm in giving these services a
test run. Plus, each offers a different feel and flow so chances
are the one you end up liking best will be personal tatse. They
also serve as good personal CRMs, whether you are looking for a new job
If you aren’t an uber-organized type or dealing with lots of
contacts, appointments, and recruitment processes during your search,
these tools may be overkill. I believe it was Jason who said that
JibberJobber gives jobseekers access to the tools recruiters have had
for years and hence levels the playing field. But as a
former recruiter, I can tell you that most of my ATS interaction was
just a necessary evil I had to fullfill in order to globally
track candidates and results along with all my other recruiter
cohorts. I'm all for data integrity, but as a one-woman
operation, Outlook and Excel worked just fine for me and my
hundeds of candidates. But that's just me. The point:
Don’t be that jealous of recruiters and their tools. :)
But fulfilling a need for organization or not, these tools
do offer more outside of the CRM functionality like Isabont’s resume
builder and advice center and JibberJobber’s library and interview
preparation center. Those are worth checking out even if you
don't need help organizing your search.
I don't watch the show with ze frank as often as I should, but when I do, I always enjoy it. Scoble pointed
to a video today so I headed on over there. Yesterday's show -
focused on new technology, online community, and surfers - is
funny as usual, very true, and actually kinda poetic. I like
it. Check it out: waves.
Recent dust-ups, misunderstandings, and their associated apologies in the blogosphere have got me thinking about transparency and blogs as communication tools.
Specifically, what ever happened to good old fashioned in-person
talks to resolve issues and annoyances? Gone are objective
reviews in favor of all out rants that end in hurt feelings,
retractions and “updates” (read apologies). It seems,
particularly as of late, that a lot of people have their knickers in a
twist about a lot of different issues. But what gets me most
about this recent trend is that, in most cases, these people know each other.
So why are they blogging their grievances versus interacting with
each other directly? While blogs might be a great way to share
your opinions is airing your dirty laundry always such a good idea?
Or is this all an effort to get more site traffic? Some would argue no, but I get the strange impression that we are seeing the Rosie O’Donnell vs. Donald Trump
type publicity stunt for our medium. Wouldn’t you rather read and
comment on a provocative piece vs. a ho-hum review? I
would. It gets me involved and maybe I will even go back to your
blog. Just check me out; I am linking to these stories
That said I’ll be the first to argue that transparency is a good
thing. People want to know what’s going on inside your company
and what independent bloggers are thinking about. Whether
bloggers admit it or not, this medium is also an astonishingly good way
to drive interest in your business or other pursuits. It’s a
However, maybe it’s a good idea to take a step back and evaluate the
purpose behind your opinionated post before unleashing it on the
public. Maybe instead of fueling a blog with negative emotions
and rants, we can chant the mantra “can’t we all just get along” and
create compelling content that drives readers to return for more then
just cat fights. Or maybe I’m just being the Pollyanna of the
blogging world. I'll leave that up to you to decide :)
I owe you all a post about my involvement with JobBurner and the
future of JobSyntax ... but in the meantime, I wanted to make sure all
the technical recruiters and hiring managers out there know that you
can post your jobs for FREE between now and 2/28 over on JobBurner.com, while the site is in beta. So get on over there and check it out. ;-)
A few weeks ago we put out a challenge
to send us your best employment based tools; for job seekers, employers
or both. A few brave souls stepped into the ring and we will be
rolling out our impressions in the next few days and weeks.
For our first review, we were delighted to be contacted by Claudia Faust and Alise Cortez of Improved Experience.
They are both experts in the industry and, in addition to having a firm
understanding of challenges in the space, were a pleasure to speak with!
What we learned is that Improved Experience is a suite of business intelligence
tools designed to help companies gather real time information on their
recruiting process and practices in order to provide a better candidate
experience. Based on Claudia’s experience with companies such as
T-Mobile, she and Alise developed the concept for this tool as a way to
help companies show how the hiring process, good and bad, can impact
their bottom line.
And why is this important? Every company is driven by their
profits and if you can show a data-driven overview of success and
failure points at each step of the way AND benchmark those against the
other corporations in your industry, you will have a much better chance
of changing the way your executive leadership views staffing within
your company. As a result, your chances of getting funding for
marketing and much needed tools and resources will increase.
Since this is a third party tool, you will also save money on
outsourcing your candidate satisfaction surveys with the added bonus of
receiving data interpreted by experts.
The one potential pitfall for employers in buying this tool is one
that almost everyone faces when being part of a “cost center” – getting
executive buyoff or even recognition that there is a recruiting problem
in order to spend money to make changes. At the same time
companies that value talent as well as care about saving time and money
in the long run on recruiting costs will line up in droves to be on
Improved Experience’s client list.
The first offering that will be rolled out is called Get Better
Hires. However, they are in the planning phases of launching
applications to address all phases of the recruiting lifecycle.
Basically, you’ll be able to find out what’s happening within the
process from resume submittal to terminal conclusion with the company
As Claudia and Alise walked us through Get Better Hires, we were
very impressed. What’s different about this application is that
it provides a closed feedback loop to both employers and job
seekers. In fact, after completing the survey, job seekers have
the opportunity to view data about their experience against others who
have taken the survey for the same company. I don’t know about
you, but I would love to have information that I wasn’t the only one
having a great or lousy interview experience with a company.
In the same vein, employers will have the opportunity to view their
results benchmarked across several data points. The power in this is
the ability to see how you might fair against others in your same
industry or more globally, in attracting, hiring and interviewing
talent overall. This is great information to have readily
available as you vie for budget dollars or to implement new
programs. While the tool customizable for each employer, it isn’t
recommended to develop too many unique questions as this will skew your
comparison data with other companies. Plus there are plenty of
free form dialogue boxes for job seekers to input anecdotal information
about their experience in a number of areas.
There are two key features of Get Better Hires that job seekers and
employers should be aware of. First, job seekers have the
opportunity to chat live with support professional while filling out
their questionnaire. This is such a win/win feature for both
getting accurate data and helping job seekers feel engaged.
Second, for employers Claudia and Alise provide expert interpretation
of your data and follow up consulting services if needed so you aren’t
left hanging either trying to figure out what the data means or what
you should do next.
While the tool itself is intuitive and easy to use, if you are
looking for a slick Web 2.0 user interface, you won’t find it here, but
you also won’t miss it. The proof is really in the power of the
data, not necessarily the look of the tool.
Claudia and Alise have truly thought through almost every aspect of
developing this tool from privacy to accessibility to data
integrity. We’re bullish on their business and can’t wait to see
how their launch and subsequent offerings are received in the industry.
- You can learn about Improved Experience here
- Pricing varies based on your business needs, but Claudia and
Alise have worked hard to make this accessible to all business sizes
With the recent developments in our business, partnerships and personal lives,
people have been asking me what's going to happen when the baby
arrives? For now as we get closer and closer Baby's due
date (YIKES!), you'll probably see me tapering off the amount of
blogging for JobSyntax in the next few weeks. My focus is going
to be working on some of the projects we've got going for JobBurner and
pursuing some of the academic interests I have regarding social
networking and its effects on the employment industry. Of course,
there is also preparing for Baby to get here and luckily my A-type
personality, shared by Mr. Zoe, has gotten all the physical work out of
the way as of this weekend. Now, time for us to mentally prepare
and for Baby to do any last minute growing. Soon, hopefully,
there will be an announcement sharing the news of our newest
partner! Until then, I guess you can say it is business as
p.s. When Baby does get here I am planning on taking off a
pretty significant chunk of time probably in the range of 3-5 months or
so. Of course Gretchen will still be working with our JobSyntax
clients, blogging and sharing her ideas on the state of social media
and employment :)