Next week

Well for the next 8 days we (the family) will be spending every waking moment on planks hurtling down a mountain covered with snow while at night tucked away in our Snowy Mountains retreat at Charlotte Pass.

Guess what, not blogging at all. In fact most modern day technology is not easily available. Mobile phones generally do not work there, unless you go to the top of the chairlift and sit at the top of a rock. No land lines or TVs in the rooms. Just a great break.

See you all on the other side.

links for 2005-07-22

Recruiting in Australia (Part 1)

Over the last few weeks I have become very concerned about the state of the recruitment industry in Australia, in particular around IT although the comments will also hold true of other industries. I am preparing a few posts to work through the issues, mostly for my purposes but others might also benefit. (Had to put this disclaimer in after the build up at Recruiting.com.)

While the last few years have been very difficult within the IT industry in Australia things are starting to look up. The demand for good technical talent is up, news reports have been flowing for several weeks now about the needs. This growth in demand is resulting in salaries begining to rise, sometimes for the first time in 4 or 5 years, 7.9% for the first half of the year. We are also seeing sign on bonuses being paid again, up to 10% for mid level and 100% for senior executive. To me this indicates a hot job market that is going to make it very hard to find good quality talent and recruiters are going to have start looking at the old passive candidate or new graduates to fill the gaps.

Enrollments in IT courses at universities have been falling for several years now, with most states reporting a fall of over 40% since 2001, causing several institutions either to shut or significantly downsize the IT faculty. Monash Uni, one of the biggest IT faculties has laid off the equivalent of 22 full time teaching positions in the past year alone, with more predicited to go!

IT as a career has lost the shine that it had in the 90’s when we could not get enough graduates, I suspect the dot com bust has had a significant factor to play in this. Most kids who are graduating from high school today would have been 13 or 14 during the blow out, old enough to remember. They were the ones who were fuelling the growth in consumer usage of technology and have had access to enough information to understand the state of the IT sector. Salaries have been falling, job security evaporated, growth in outsourcing and if you had a job you kept your head down and rode out the down cycle. Now the industry has decided to grow in the last few months without a sufficient supply of new graduates.

The industry has a 3 year lead time for university graduates and usually another 2 before they have “experience” and can “add value” to an organisation or project. IT budgets changes every 12 months and can go up at any time. On top of this technical skills and techniques can change overnight. If I was to review an IT course from 2001 would it have covered AJAX, .Net, J2EE, XML, RSS, Web Services, security technologies that are required today? Some might have been discussed but would they have been taught? Some techniques/technologies like AJAX, are brand new. This is not a jab at the professionals who teach but more a recognition that things change rapidly and it can be very difficult to keep up, even once you are in the industry. I am not even going to open the door to business applications skills in areas such as ERP, CRM and BI as things get even more complex and in general the same can be said.

So where to now……

New RSS Reader

Today I moved my RSS reader from Newsgator Online to Pluck a free web based reader for IE and now Firefox. I had been looking to go back to BlogMatrix Jager but I just could not get it to work through the proxies. I must say the interface for Pluck is fantastic it is almost like using Newsgator Outlook Edition just in the browser I am using it on IE at work so I assume the Firefox implementation is similar. The speed of the tool is amazing when compared to Newsgator Online as it combines the best of a browser with the best of a client side application, in fact you are hard pushed to realise when each portion of the interface takes over.

Overall I highly recommend the tool, even after just 4 hours of use. Now I wonder when it will have the comment features we have been talking about…..

Commenting in RSS

(From Enterprise RSS via Barnaby via Scoble)

Russell Beatie is thinking about comments in RSS an idea that I have been kicking around since BlogTalk Downunder and the whole no comments thing, although when don’t post your ideas you really can’t say I had the same idea.

I was thinking of the aggregator showing both the post and the existing comments and then being able to push the comments back to the original blog via the RPC-XML calls so that they appear again in the RSS feeds. This way readers would get notification of comments in the same way as new posts and we can reduce the need to subscribe to comments via email or RSS.

Ok I said less posting but I just could not help myself.

Less posting here

What is going on? Now that the takeover at work is in full swing I have moved into a new role which is taking a lot more of my time. Coupled with this I have set up an internal blog and will be spending time there. I will continue to post here maybe not as often as I do not have the time to research, I do research (sometimes), and write.

I do have a couple of posts I want to try and get up about the collapse of the recruitment business, maybe today maybe over the weekend I don’t know.

Coldplay XY a copy controlled CD

Last week end I purchased Coldplay’s new album XY and I have just gone to import into iTunes and move onto my iPod when I noticed a small note on the front of the CD case.

“Copy Controlled CD”

Not the easiest warning to see, it is in a small dark green font on a very dark blue background. This sucks! 95% of all of my listening is done via my iPod and I cannot easily move the songs on to it. I have listened to the CD once in the car when I bought and now I need to spend sometime time moving through different conversion processes to get it into an MP3 format so I can listen to something that I legally purchased!

So without iTunes in Australia how do I legally listen to ColdPlay XY on my iPod? I can’t. Instead the music industry is pushing us to use illegal avenues to gain access to the music. I guess that will teach me for not listening to more “podsafe” music.

Weird chess rules

During the school holidays a couple of weeks ago my Dad visited us from Sydney during the trip he engage in several games of chess with our son. The travel chess set we have is Chinese made and the rules have been translated into very strange English. They baffled him to the point that he wrote to Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I enjoy the occasional game of chess but have never had much success,” writes Jim Specht, of Ultimo. “While playing a game of chess with my seven-year-old grandson recently we checked the rules provided with the Chinese-made set, and I found out a possible reason for this. The rules state that ‘it is not alligator to capture your opponent’ and, when the king is in check, ‘the opponent is iodide to protect his long’. Finally, I found that I have been confused about castling. ‘We must stall mention one pecuniary: casing. Cashing is a company move of the king and one rook.’ I will now stop being alligator, try to be more iodide, and see how much money I can make out of castling.”

Frank asks where are all the Biztalker’s?

Here is comes a rant.

Frank Arrigo is asking for all Biztalker’s please contact him about jobs at Microsoft Australia, he is joined by a few others. Pity there is nothing on the Microsoft Australia recruitment blog about this fact. The comments below are not directed personally to the blog but more to use it as an example.

The blog has been going for 7 months and had a total of 32 posts about 1 a week on average, however in the last 3 months they have only managed 5. Now with the fantastic example being set by Gretchen and Heather, not to mention all of the other MS bloggers, I would have expected a bit more, especially considering there are 3 of them. The growth in blogging in the last 7 months has been huge and when they first began to blog I felt a sense of excitement about what they could achieve. Here was a company that globally seems to embrace blogging and we had our very own recruiting bloggers right here in Australia.

If you start a company blog, do not let it fail! This is worse than not starting at all!

I am sure that the situation around BizTalk resources did not appear over night and right now there is probably a far amount of pressure on the recruiters locally to find the resources. Could this have been avoided? Does Microsoft Australia have an retention and attraction strategy? Is it a traditional one or does it really include the emerging trends in recruitment, such as blogs, vertical search, social networks, Jobster etc?

What can be done to solve this problem, besides the basics of recruitment?

  • Ensure all jobs are advertised on the Careers site. A quick review today found 12 jobs at the Microsoft Careers site and 16 on Seek.
  • When you refer candidates from Seek to your corporate site ensure they can match the jobs. The Mid Market Software Asset Management – Engagement Manager role on Seek does not seem to exist at the corporate site, but the candidate is referred there for more information.
  • Contact Jobster and get a campaign going
  • Read the CareerXRoads Job Seeker Survey and implement findings
  • Join LinkedIn and start searching the social networks
  • Actively use existing Microsoft Bloggers to help promote the call further
  • Buy some Google Ad words to drive traffic to your jobs
  • Actively blog to promote a transparent community of longer term possible candidates
  • Promote your jobs, especially hard to find ones, on the blog
  • Contact Joel Chessman and see if you can ensure your jobs or your site are appearing in search results. A query of microsoft and job in the Australian properties of Google, Yahoo and MSN did not turn up the local Microsoft Careers site in the first 20 sites listed.
  • Attend major technology conferences with sales teams to attract passive candidates
  • Talk to the ever expanding HR blogging community about how to generate the content for the blog to promote growth and awareness
  • Read other HR blogs

For all I know they are doing all of the above (well most of them) and still coming up short, however from the investigations I have done it does not look that way.

Not to leave on a purely down note, if you know anyone who is a BizTalk expert, lives in Australia and might be interested in a job (even if they are not looking) get them in contact with Microsoft Australia or send an email to Chris Vidotto at cvidotto@microsoft.com.