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Conflict of Interest

August 30th, 2006

When I started my job search in January I thought that there were a ton of resources at my disposal. And there were. The most obvious was the state department of workforce services (every state has them). Someone mentioned the career center from the university where I graduated (duh – I hadn’t thought of them at all – I didn’t think of them when I was in school, why would I think of them now?).

And, I live in Utah, where the LDS church obviously has a huge presence. I didn’t realize that they also had a huge professional employment program offering FREE workshops and resources to help job seekers get a job (it don’t matter what faith you are, you may find a local office at LDSJobs.com (click on Locations at the top right). And of course, recruiters would be a great resource for me in my job search.

When I started tapping into these resources I found that most of them had their own inherent problems. I’d like to share a perfect example of one of these problems, and point out that a job seeker needs to go into this with their eyes wide open!

I recently sent a request to the state of… well, let’s keep this confidential. It rhymes with Malimornia, and is apparently the WORST state to do business in (and they wonder why everyone there wants to incorporate in Nevada… duh!!). Anyway, I sent a message to them asking if they would link to JibberJobber, and let their workforce services counselors know about this great FREE resource. Here is part of their reply:

As a governmental agency, the Department has a responsibility to provide accurate and objective information to the public and must avoid the perception of endorsing commercial products or services. Members of the public have come to understand this role and may consider the presence of commercial advertisements as being an endorsement of one company over another, thus, creating an unfair advantage. It is for the above reasons that it is the policy of the Department to not include commercial advertisement within our marketing or informational products.

This really made me mad! Not because they wouldn’t link to JibberJobber (I usually expect that government places don’t, for the above lame reasoning)… but as a job seeker it is a huge disservice to me! Let me pick this apart:

the Department has a responsibility to provide accurate and objective information to the public – yes, this is exactly what I would think my tax dollars are supporting, and in my time of need this is what I expect from my fine elected representatives…

must avoid the perception of endorsing commercial products or services – sure, you want to avoid endorsements, so we can feel good that you aren’t getting a kickback or something… but doesn’t this possibly conflict with “providing accurate and objective information”… ? … as I read on…

Members of the public have come to understand this role – the role I understand you playing is helping me in any way get off of unemployment, which costs each state hundreds of millions of dollars each year! Don’t you want me off asap??

Members of the public … may consider the presence of commercial advertisements as being an endorsement of one company over another, thus, creating an unfair advantage – read, some businessman didn’t get one of these “endorsements” and lobbied for this incredible lame position.

Why can’t I expect the government to aggregate great resources for me, and pass those along? Oh wait, I know what is better – why doesn’t this fine state (I actually love it there, I lived there for 6 years and would move back in a heartbeat if starter homes didn’t cost $400,000) spend tons of money to design, develop and maintain their own JibberJobber – it could be great (well, it would be proprietary, not user-friendly and a money-sucking hole, but who cares about that – at least they are protecting their constituents from … the public!).

It is for the above reasons that it is the policy of the Department to not include commercial advertisement within our marketing or informational products – quoting from one of the funniest blog posts I read in the last few weeks, what I hear is “blah blah blah we’re stupid blah blah blah.” Did they just say they do marketing?? Sounds like someone is out to protect their own jobs and offerings – with a huge unfair advantage. They have essentially unlimited funds and unlimited scope, and are supposed to help people. But they can only help people within their own boundaries and won’t let anyone know about what is really out there.

I can guarantee you when you walk into one of these offices they’ll have you put your resume on their internal job board system and recommend that you put it on Monster. Isn’t that against this policy above?

So there you have it. They want to help you but won’t help you. As a job seeker no one cares more about your job search than you do (well, maybe your wife, kids or mother-in-law). Don’t go into any one resource and think that you have found the silver bullet. Recognize each resource for what is has to offer and find others to fill in the gaps. – they all have their strengths and they all have their weaknesses.

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Low hanging *OUCH* fruit

August 29th, 2006

Some of you job seekers may have heard about this letter – it has been huge news on the recruiter blogsphere, and others (thanks to FunnyBusiness for the pic!). I think it is kind of low hanging fruit but fun all the same. Go read the letter – it is inspirational.

For anyone that has been pinkslipped, and that’s a ton of people, this is a slap in the face. It just goes to show, your employer DOES NOT care about you. They want you to bring value, and they will pay you a fair wage for that value. But when it is time to cut the relationship, the most you can expect from anyone is a list like this. If you are lucky, perhaps they’ll laminate it.

Let me jump on the bandwagon this link, btw, is great – salt on an open wound – here is my advice to any company that does NOT want to look as lame as Northwest on this one:

  1. Um… read the memo before you stamp your approval – that is probably a big reason why people get laid off in the first place – not enough attention to detail. Of course, I doubt a list this big would qualify as small print. (Obviously NW didn’t read the memo, but the company it outsourced to said – get this – they outsourced it also, and claim they didn’t read it either!)
  2. Get an outplacement firm to handle this stuff for you. My heavens, your business is not to put people out on their butts – so if you have to do it get help! There are plenty outplacement firms, big and small – local and national! Oh yeah… since you have a hard time looking into things here are some links for you: DBM (who says that companies that use real services like this are 3 times more likely to maintain stock price), LHH, and Spherion (yes, the do a ton of outplacement)… I imagine you can go find some more on your own.
  3. If you can’t afford outplacement (kind of ironic to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, very little of which will end up in the ex-employees pockets) then do this – e-mail me (jason -at- JibberJobber.com) and I’ll get you a group discount! How’s that? I bet paying for premium access to give your employees a real job tool like JibberJobber will be easier on the PR-nightmare than giving them a list fit for — NO ONE! And at least you are emplowering them to be prepared for stuff like this in the future.
  4. Be honest with your entire company and let them know that you love them but will terminate them when you need to. Encourage them to make other relationships – empowering your employees to strengthen their relationships inside and outside of the industry should make them more valuable to you…. here’s a great write-up on this concept by Phil801 – although I think this would scare most corporate settings and just be “common sense” for smaller companies. Note that company is now defunct and Phil and team are getting to prove how clever they really are.

That’s it folks. Ouch to Northwest. I almost wish I were there to read the memo alongside them and see their reactions in person. I wonder if the people that are responsible for this still have their jobs?


Checkout London jobs at CanaryWharfJobs.com.

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Are you networking like this?

August 28th, 2006

Here is a great example of “working your network.”  A couple of days ago I wrote about this bootstrapping new company without a name (they have a name now – as per the new VP), and how their layoff situation (and everything around it) was a little too close to home. 

But here is a great example of how to network in your time of desparation.  This post from local recruiter (and super networker) Rob Merrill is quite transparent – it bleeds of “help help help!”  Its funny because this is not the type of post I’d expect from a bunch of proud, highly competent and talented techies.

But I love it because it relates to me, as a job seeker. 

I am proud, and highly competent and talented (well, at least I think so.  And my five year old thinks so too!) professional.  But I didn’t scream out to everyone like this (which would require me to be more humble).  Why not?  What’s more important, your pride or getting the results you need??

As a job seeker, when you are talking about putting food on the table, what techniques and strategies are you incorporating?  Most of the higher level execs that I know that are in a long job search have lots of consulting going on.  Could you consult?  It is an excellent way to get your name (and personal brand) known.

Consider a variation of this Provo Labs tactic.  Get a website set up to let others know what you are doing, offer your services in a consulting or non-profit capacity, and for petes sake, find someone with some influence that can help you in your quest.  Rob is the guy behind UtahTechJobs.com and I’ve found him to be “for the little guy” – this is a guy you want on your team, and helping you. 

I just finished the chapter in Never Eat Alone that talks about connecting with connectors.  Keith Ferrazzi lists seven professions that include super connectors – headhunters was the second one he listed!  Do not discount the power of a headhunter, and what they can do for your long-term career goals (which may be very different than what you think about them doing for your short-term career goals).

Who is on your team right now?  Get out and meet some of the movers and shakers (connectors) in your community – you can find them by asking others who they read (local blogs), picking up the local business magazine, etc.

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I wish I were a marketer! I’d blog about….

August 25th, 2006

A few posts ago I talked about creating a personal brand or identity through your blog. I gave the example of the marketing communications specialist that could really put this into practice.

Since then I’ve come across two marketing “things” (if I were a marketer I’d know what these were called) that I thought were awesome! If I were a marketing communications expert I’d create two separate blogs on each of these:

Thing 1: There is a running shoe store in American Fork (for local flavor, you can pronounce it “fark”), Utah that used to be called Hoppers. Pretty cute, I thought. The building is small but on a great intersection, with tons of cars passing all day long. Their old wooden sign was well worn, and I figured that Hoppers had been there for a long time.

I drove by yesterday (I haven’t been down there for about 6 months) and I saw they changed the name to… 26.2. At first I was thinking “radio station” but right away I got it – marathon!! Awesome! This is who they are… hoppers is fun and cute, 26.2 is all about bragging rights. Very clever!

Thing 2: I was gassing up in downtown Salt Lake at a 7-11 and the big ad on top of the gas thing (maybe I use this word too much) said “Free car with purchase of every slurpee“… and then right below that it said something like “just kidding. Now that we have your attention” blah blah blah.

I loved it!

Its amazing how you have to put those lame warning signs on things like blow dryers and lawn mowers (like, don’t operate in your living room or something dumb like that), but these guys can basically get you all excited about winning a free car…. and it works! I remember that stuff, which is what the marketers want.

Okay, so now I’ve proven I’m not a MarCom expert. Back to my point – these two things right here would be great to pick apart. It would be two weeks worth of blogging (one per week? Is that enough?) Imagine doing this for 10 or 20 weeks. And then going to a job interview, and anyone that interviews you has read your blog. Allowing them to peek into your brain like this could be more powerful than a shiny resume, or acing the interview. They can get substance and really tap into you!

Can you see how developing this type of personal brand could be so potent! As long as you do it the right way you will only be increasing your job security for years to come, as you develop yourself as an expert.

Here are two examples of bloggers that have been successful to this end (if you are serious about doing this, go through their blogs and try and pick out things that have made them successful – note this is different than bloggers that are just blogging about their job search process, which is okay, but you are not necessarily building a personal brand):

Russ – PR Expert – good job Russ!

Joel Cheesman’s blog has given him credibility as an expert, and look what it has done to his consulting business! This is what I’m talking about.

BTW, here is a new job board from Joel: http://www.ucheez.com/addsite/share.php

Update (October 14, 2006) – this post gets 99% of my spam comments so I’m turning off comments FOR THIS POST ONLY.  If you want to discuss it shoot me an e-mail (go to the contact us page on JibberJobber). 

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Dude! Where’s my (next) JOB?

August 24th, 2006

In this great job-seeker economy, how come it is so hard for me to find a job? Did it go to immigrants? Not according to this article. I thought I heard that companies were having such a hard time finding workers… so how come I keep going to network meetings and see the same highly skilled, articulate and educated talent month after month?

Where did the jobs go?

Don’t let the numbers fool you. Low unemployment does not mean that it is a breeze to find your next job. And what about that stat from the federal government about how many new jobs were created this month? I doubt that “300,000 new jobs” means “300,000 new well paying, great jobs that I am interested in.”

So what’s a guy to do? I’ve learned something over the last few months of an intense job search – stick to the basics.

When I started my job search in January I spent about 50 – 60 hours a week on the Internet finding and applying to jobs. After attending a two day workshop I learned that instead of spending 100% of my time on job boards I should have spent 15% of my time on job boards. The other 85% was for something else – you should know what that is by now (it rhymes with metworking)!

Make sure that you don’t drown yourself in what seems to be a very busy, productive day. When I ended the day with a target number of applications sent in, I felt productive. But It was far from productive – all of that work got me about a 2% return – that is, only 2% of the jobs I applied for asked me in for an interview! Not very productive!

Some of “the basics” include developing a job search strategy (with goals and some kind of accountability), getting a coach, and developing relationships with others (aka – networking). Learn how to network effectively! Don’t fool yourself – these basics are not a bandaid fix – they are things that you should be doing until you retire!

And since you are selling yourself (which is a lifelong pursuit) you might want to check out “How to Become a Rainmaker” by Jeffrey Fox (check out his cool logo). It is a great little book (you can read it in a couple of hours) that will teach you some cool sales techniques and tactics to help you sell yourself.

Your job is somewhere – but you need to do the right things to find it. All of my previous jobs I’ve had have come from people I knew – aka networking. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had been tapped into the hidden job market. It worked for me – and it is much better to be tapped into an opportunity than after it is posted online. Yuck.


You’ll find marketing jobs in Canada at HigherBracket.ca.

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It won’t happen to me … again!

August 23rd, 2006

My story is kind of weird – at least that is what I thought.  But I’m reliving parts of it through a local company, make that ex-company, here in Utah.  Perhaps it isn’t as weird as I thought.

Utah County is home to two big universities and lots and lots of young talent.  There are some very big companies there, it was the home of WordPerfect, has Novell headquarters as well as MyFamily.com.  And of course, a ton of previous employees from WordPerfect and Novell have been laid off and have gone on to start their own companies.

One company started fairly recently was Provo Labs, which was an incubator.  You should be familiar with this incubator concept – it has extreme talent dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start up their businesses.  They provide office space and all the goodies (probably even a water cooler to talk over), training, and an environment where entrepreneurs can network with one another and work through start-up issues.

It is a very very exciting environment.

So Provo Labs started … I’m not sure when.  But it ended recently.  Actually, it changed course.  It is no longer an incubator (in the “traditional” sense) but it is continuing to support the companies that it has interest in.  So cool.

How am I reliving my January experience?  Because the 10 or so employees that were just Provo Labs folks, dedicated to the incubatorship, were laid off.  Abruptly. 

So what do you do in a situation like that?  What did they do? More on that a little later :)   I want to bring out a few points here:

1. NO ONE is safe.  Ever.  Usually you are safe if you have “the right last name” … but that isn’t always a guarantee.  Don’t you remember how the employer stress that “Idaho (I was in Idaho at the time) is an at-will state” – this means – we promise you nothing, and can terminate you at any time with NO reason.  How’s that for loyalty?

Don’t get caught up in the illusion that you can work hard, do your job, do your best, and even bring in value and money to the company.  These decisions are made by folks who have a different vision than you do, and even though you are doing an incredible job your function or team can be terminated as part of a strategic reorganization.  No matter how good you are.  And then you may hear “if we had a position for you we’d hire you right away”… ya right.  That is a nice gesture but it doesn’t pay any bills!  Nice gestures don’t pay bills.  Nice gestures, for the guy who just got kicked out on their butt, are empty words.

2. You have to figure out who “Numbero Uno” is.  When I was General Manager for my past employer, they were Numero Uno.  Everything I did was for the company – I wouldn’t go network because I felt that I was cheating on my employer.  And how in the world could the GM, who is creating momentum and excitement with employees, going to work on his own career or other career options?  Wouldn’t that ruin the momentum with the team?  Well, I’ll tell you what I learned.  That momentum worked then for the company, but it did nothing for me once I got laid off.  You need to work on your job security.  Don’t look at your company to provide it.  What are you doing right now to increase your employability?  Aside from any training or educational endeavors (I network with a bunch of guys that are highly trained and educated but are still spending months in a job search) I strongly recommend reading “Never Eat Alone” AND using JibberJobber to build and manage your personal network.

3.  These first two points apply no matter how exciting an opportunity is.  There was a lot of excitement at my old company, and Provo Labs had a ton of excitement and employee loyalty.  But sometimes that just isn’t enough.  Sure my old company is selling the product that we were all jazzed about, and most of these products don’t just die and go away.  But again, if you have been booted out the door, what good is all that excitement?  You may follow the company news for a few months but that don’t pay the bills.  Regardless of how awesome the company is, how exciting the product is and all the rest of that stuff, you have to make sure that you are not getting myopic in your career path.  Keep options open, look for options, create options.

4.  Your excellent team and talent will not provide you job security.  It should, and Good to Great suggests that the great companies will hire excellent talent even if there is not a job for them – for “getting the right person on the bus” is more important than what the company or product is.  But… um, there are only 11 companies on that list that Jim put in his book.  And all CEOs have read the book, and swear they live by it, but when it comes down to it, when it comes to some personal pet project that might cost tens of thousands of dollars or keeping the incredible talent on board, I’m betting they’ll go with their lame pet project.  Talent gets to walk out the door.  Thanks for the book Jim, and thanks for the nod of approval by the CEOs but by golly… you need to watch out for numero uno, because they’ll kick you out the door with a nice smile and good luck.  By the way, good luck doesn’t pay the house payment – I tried that and the bank didn’t care.

I applaud the folks that got laid off from Provo Labs, who are now working in the ex-COO’s basement and working very hard to finish some jobs, get some cash flow, and work on getting more contracts.  I hope they can do it.  I know Phil personally, and keep up on some of their blogs.  If you want to follow a fun developing story, check out his blog.

For the rest of you, go read Never Eat Alone and begin to use the Networking aspect of JibberJobber which will help you weather multiple job changes throughout your career.  If you don’t have multiple changes then you are definitely an exception to what’s going on in the world. And if you don’t think that I’m right, then you haven’t been laid off yet.  Don’t worry, it will happen.


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Announcing JibberJobber Maps!!

August 22nd, 2006

I knew this day would finally come and I’m very excited! 

Perhaps you have seen other websites that incorporates Google’s maps with their own data.  Well, for the last several months I’ve had some ideas on how this would be useful for job seekers, and have been working on designing and implementing it.  We’ve had some “setbacks” just because there were other little projects that popped up and delayed it, but we finally got around to releasing the first version of integrating YOUR job search data with Google Maps.  Here are some questions that you may have:

How do you see the maps?

On the front page in the Quickview Stats panel (that is, once you are logged in) you will see a little world icon map icon.  Notice there is one by Prospective Employers, one by Recruiters, etc.  If you click on any of these it filters the data and shows you a map of, say, Prospective Employers. 

Also, if you click on My Companies or My Network you’ll see this world icon, and of course clicking it will result in the map with that data.

Finally, under the Tools drop down the first item is “Maps.”

There are a few things below the map that I should point out:

1.  There are drop downs that filter what you want to show.  This way you can switch the data points without having to go back to the home page or something like that.  You must click the “Refresh Map” button to see the new data points that you choose.

2.  There is a checkbox labelled “Show my address with an icon”.  This allows you to put your house on the map, and get a better perspective of where your prospective employers or network contacts (or whatever) are in relation to your house.

3.  The next line down shows the number of companies or contacts that ARE NOT on the map – this is usually because you don’t have a complete address for them.  There is a link to click that lists these companies so you can quickly add their address info.

Also, within the map there are two icons you should know about:

1. The Help icon (looks like a lifesaver) brings up a legend, so you can make sense of the different icons. 

2. The Save icon (looks like a disk) saves your preferences.

What are Global Companies?

One of the difficult parts of job hunting is knowing what companies you can apply to.  Of course you can find companies that hire through job boards and classifieds, but what about the companies that may be a perfect fit for you but never go through those channels?

Job seekers are all over the place, collecting great information on great companies – even the ones that don’t advertise on job boards.  All of this information is kind of lost since all job seekers aren’t necessarily talking with eachother (hey, I just found this great company down the road…) – but now there is a way to share this information.

When you find a company you can choose to add it to the list of Global Companies.  Notice in the Add a New Company page there is a checkbox at the top that says “Add this company to the global company map “?  This means that EVERYONE that comes to JibberJobber can see this company.  They will not see your personal comments or information – just company name and address!

This is cool for at least two reasons:

1.  For people that are new to town (like I was when I got laid off), this is a great way to find out about companies that you would not have known about, which really opens up someone’s job search.

2.  Now that a company is Global, anyone can comment on and rate the company!  Want to know what others think about a company you are looking at?  Go into the Global Map and see the ratings and comments for that company!  Maybe there will be some contact info, perhaps some praise or gripe.  Its an open forum – keep it clean – but share good info with others.

There is more to maps than this, and there is more to come in a later release.  I know there is one little quirk when using Internet Explorer (it works, but a drop down looks like it is in a wierd place).

Moving away from maps, the next release will be super exciting! I hope to have it released in about two weeks and it will add tremendous value to you, as a job seeker! 

If you have any ideas let me know – this is for you and we want you to be empowered in your career management.

Oh yeah, one more thing – the maps feature is all part of the free version – so you don’t have to upgrade to get this. 

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Noise Revisited

August 21st, 2006

A while back I posted on Noise, with the idea that I’d touch on it every once in a while.  Here is my second post on NOISE.

I’m afraid there isn’t really any way around this particular noise issue – but anyone that has posted on Monster (or some other big job boards) knows the deal.  So I guess this isn’t as much a “don’t do this” as a “get ready for this noise”.

After I posted my resume on Monster (and six other job board – but the calls I got were all from Monster users) I started to get about 2 calls a week from “employers.”  These were unsolicited calls and were quite discouraging because I thought that I was having an awesome company call me.  At first I’d spend about 30 – 45 minutes in an “interview” with these guys as we talked about their companies, etc.

In the end they were all 100% commission opportunities that were basically about starting an insurance company or a direct sales organization.

Not what I was looking for.  And it takes the wind out of your sails.

I know this works out well for some people but it would be really cool if Monster allowed me to include in my profile “I am not interested in …”  As a job seeker there are few things as exciting as getting a call from an employer.  But after a while these calls became telemarketing – sounding like insurance salesman wanting me to switch over to them (during dinner, of course).

And… I’m an IT guy.  Why in the world is a call to my house better than sending me an e-mail from a company e-mail address??

I understand what they are doing – they are trying to build their own businesses.  But these calls were not what I was looking for. 

I know some folks *try* to avoid the “spam” by having a junk e-mail account, and that is what they use on their Monster accounts.

There you go.  Noise II.  Like I said, I don’t think you can avoid it, but just knowning about it might help you figure out how to deal with it. 

Noise III will be coming soon enough.  Unfortunately.

Disclaimer: I realize that many people should be looking at different opportunities, and maybe it is time for someone to make a career change and go this direction.  I’m just not one of them.


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Types of Coaches

August 18th, 2006

As I’ve studied the “coach” thing, there are three things that are consistent.  A great coaching relationship will:

1. be based on true principles.  If a coach teaches fad junk stuff then you are off to a bad start.  I think 95% of the coaches will teach the true principles.

2. provide accountability.  This is key – even the greatest athletes have coaches that hold them accountable, and (usually) they recognize the value in this relationship.

3.  have tools to facilitate the relationship.  Obviously the tools include e-mail, phone, etc. but I think that JibberJobber is an EXCELLENT tool to greatly enhance a coaching relationship (have you seen the coaching features?)

Here’s a great article on different types of coaches, specifically types of career coaches.  I didn’t realize there were so many!  You gotta read this article to see the definitions – if you want a coach it will be very valuable to understand these differences. The breakdown is as follows:

Career Planning Coaches

Career Development Coaches

Career Management Coaches

Career Transition Coaches

One size doesn’t fit all, eh?

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Your blog… follow-up from yesterday

August 17th, 2006

Some follow-up from yesterday’s post about blogging for your personal brand (check out this “Cowboy Up” post – see the 4th bullet point in the list?).

If you think about everyone involved in the whole employment arena, recruiters obviously play a big role.  Check this post out from Spherion – even though they’re new to blogging they have been around for a long time and are well known – and huge ($2+ Billion).  Blogcruiting?  You better believe it.  Recruiters are a part of “the playing field,” and if they see the value of blogging doesn’t it make sense that you see it for a job seeker?

Ah, but you are not a job seeker.  Or you only want to find a job and then you’ll be set for decades.  Ya right – don’t forget that statistically you will change jobs about every 3 years!  So you are a professional job seeker as much as they are professional recruiters!

Coincidentally the Guerilla Job Hunting guy blogged about something quite similar as I did yesterday – not a blog but a personal website.  Excellent suggestion – note that what he suggests can be done with blogging software.  But having a personal website AND a blog (like his example at the bottom) is not a bad idea – think “my corporate image” plus the more current blog.  Again, companies are doing this – why shouldn’t you?

 

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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