Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for September, 2009

Nortel to auction carrier networks division without initial bid

Posted by sweens on September 22, 2009

By Ottawa Business Journal Staff

Tue, Sep 22, 2009 3:00 PM EST

Nortel Networks Corp. has decided to auction off its carrier networks business and, unlike its previous division sales, is doing it without a “stalking horse” bidder this time.

The ailing telecom firm said its principal operating subsidiary, Nortel Networks Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary Nortel Networks Inc. are planning to sell by auction the assets of its carrier networks division associated with the development of next-generation packet core network components.

The assets consist of software to support the transfer of data over existing wireless networks and the next generation of wireless communications technology, and include relevant non-patent intellectual property, equipment and other related tangible assets, the company said.

The purchaser will likely also get a non-exclusive licence of relevant patent intellectual property, Nortel added in its release.

The announcement marks the third Nortel business to be sold off since the company filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2009. However, this auction process is slightly different from the previous deals as it does not include an initial “stalking horse” bidder with a firm offer.

Bids will be accepted for the carrier networks business until the deadline of Oct. 16, with the auction to take place two weeks later.

The federal government on Sept. 17 gave the green light to the $1.13-billion sale of Nortel’s wireless business to Ericsson, and the company is now awaiting the final approvals for the $900-million sale of its enterprise solutions division to auction winner Avaya, which was also the “stalking horse” bidder for the business.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by sweens on September 22, 2009

Further to my last blog post, I would like to continue the discussion on the difference between transactional and strategic recruiting, with focus this time on strategic recruiting.

Strategic recruiting is not a numbers game. It is as the terms suggests, strategic. In a strategic recruit the emphasis is on the overall fit of the candidate to the opportunity and non-technical factors are heavily weighted in the overall hiring decision. Where a candidate sees themselves in five years or whether or not they are comfortable leading a team are just as important in a strategic recruit then their technical abilities.

For example, you may have the most technical candidate in front of you, but their communication and leadership skills could be dreadful. This candidate would not be a good fit for a senior developer role where they are going to be required to lead and mentor junior developers. Hiring this candidate is simply setting the candidate up for failure.

I would suggest that when an account manager is ‘taking’ this order from their client, they need to get a lot more detail in terms of what the hiring manager is actually looking for then they would for a position that would be considered a transactional recruit. This step is often a problem between recruiters and account managers and can lead to missed opportunities. Recruiters need to know the soft details for strategic recruits in order to find that true fit candidate.   Knowing these soft details can usually allow a recruiter to screen their candidates in to the opportunity during an interview, rather then having to screen them out.

It usually takes more time to present on a strategic recruit then it does on a transactional recruit as well. This is for many reasons but I would mainly argue that the emphasis is on finding the right candidate and it can take a bit longer to narrow your field down in order to find that one true candidate. I have also found through personal experience that the best candidates for strategic recruits usually come from candidates who are presently working. This means that finding them is done without the use of traditional job boards with a focus on referrals or non-traditional search platforms like LinkedIn. Using these tools usually takes a bit more time to deal with your candidates as they likely are not in a full-out job search.

All in all, both strategic and transactional recruiting can be effective strategies of recruitment. Firms either specialize in both or one over the other. The challenges with both are some clients may want a transactional approach to their open positions where as the recruitment cycle is that of a strategic one (or vice versa). As I said last time, transactional or strategic recruiting can be a product of the location or client base where the office is located and firms who have recruiters in one city recruiting positions in another city should take this into consideration when they look at their recruiting cycles.

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by sweens on September 18, 2009

From the time I have spent in the recruiting industry, I have found there to be two styles of recruiting: Transactional; and Strategic.  I would argue that there is a big difference between the two and some recruiters are a custom to one style over the other.  Let us focus on transactional recruiting.

 Transactional recruiting is a numbers game.  In a nutshell, a company gets a position to recruit and the recruiter(s) throws as many ‘bodies’ as possible at this open position in the shortest time possible.  The emphasis is on quantity over quality and ultimately the hiring decision is made by the clients’ hiring manager with little to no recommendation from the recruiter(s).

 In transactional recruiting, there is very little time spent on behavioural based interview questions, and more time spent on technical questions such as: have you worked with the following technologies; have you lead a team of developers before; etc.  Typically the recruiter tries to match as many people to his/her requirements as quickly as possible and tries to screen candidates in, rather then screening candidates out.

 This type of recruiting is usually done for a low profit margin (less then ten percent) and is fuelled by systems integrators.  Account managers usually know little information in terms of the overall project or needs of the client, and strictly work off an order sheet with a list of technologies and vague deliverables.

 I would suggest that transactional recruiting takes less skill then strategic recruiting (no offence meant to anyone) as most of the skills required for a transactional recruit involve key word searches and the ability to phone candidates as quickly as possible.  I would also suggest that transactional and strategic recruiting can be influenced by the industry, the clients and the location of your work.

 I recruit positions in Ottawa for the Federal Government.  This means that I usually get to submit one candidate for one job and do not have the luxury or option of submitting multiple candidates that kind of meet the job description fort my clients.  I need to find ‘the’ candidate for the job and I need to do it quickly.  Therefore, I would suggest that my focus and expertise is on strategic recruiting and this is the value I bring to my organization and my clients.

 A recruiting firm who specializes in transactional recruiting can be seen as an extension of their clients’ human resources department.  They screen and highlight candidate skills and then pass many bodies off to a hiring manager to make a final decision.  As a recruiter I would classify myself as a subject matter expert with exceptional skills in sourcing, screening and interviewing candidates.  If I do not get to practice these skills on my recruits, I feel as though I have become a transactional recruiter and are not providing my clients with the services they are paying for.

 Simply the thoughts of one strategic recruiter….

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spanish court says hurling zinger of an obscenity at boss is no grounds for dismissal

Posted by sweens on September 18, 2009


MADRID, Spain – A court in Barcelona says insulting your boss with one particularly foul obscenity is not grounds for dismissal, insisting the slight is common in arguments in Spain and not that big a deal.

The zinger in question translates as “son of a b-,” and was used by a worker against his boss during a January 2008 money dispute in the northeastern city of Gerona. The worker, who also called his boss “crazy,” was promptly fired.

The man lost a first court challenge, but won on appeal with the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia in February.

The ruling – first reported this week by Spanish human resources Web site Carta de Personal – said the worker should either be reinstated in his job or receive C6,483 ($9,472) in compensation. It is not known which option the employer picked.

“Without a doubt, both expressions are insulting,” Judge Sara Maria Pose Vidal said in the ruling, a copy of which was obtained by the AP. But she noted that when the man called his boss crazy, he had been on his way out of the office and the boss did not hear it.

She also wrote that the “son of a b-” remark should be viewed in linguistic context.

“The social degradation of language has caused the expressions used by the plaintiff to become commonly used in certain settings, especially in arguments,” Pose Vidal wrote, calling his dismissal a disproportionate punishment.

The court-provided copy of the seven-page verdict had the names of the employee and company blotted out – a common practice in Spanish court dealings with the media.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Looking at recruiting trends for 2009

Posted by sweens on September 17, 2009

Founds this interesting article…

by Benjamin Yoskovitz –

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Michael Specht lists 10 Recruitings Trends for 2009, including:

  1. quality of hire
  2. time to hire
  3. ROI, ROI, ROI
  4. use your talent pool
  5. look for innovative and cost effective advertising
  6. branding
  7. referrals
  8. social media
  9. social networking
  10. learn to use search engines to find candidates

John Sumser had a Recruiting Trends list (published in the Fall) with similar items, although there was some variation. I added my own thoughts to the mix when John published his trends list, referencing how the recruiting trends are relevant to Standout Jobs and our future plans.

When we look at Kevin Wheeler’s thoughts on what would be hot in 2008, we see quite a few similarities.

Looking at the combined lists, here are some additional ideas / expectations for 2009:

  1. Strategic Recruiting becomes a priority. Transactional, shotgun recruiting has been diminishing in value for some time. A recent report indicates that Monster’s revenue will drop 37% in the coming year as companies abandon or lower their job posting contracts. Companies need to look at recruiting strategically and what that means for budgets, time to hire, etc. In my mind, this is a meta-trend for some of the items Michael and John have listed.
  2. Consolidation. The job market is incredibly fragmented, which makes sense given the size of the market and the problems that have existed in it for so many years. I expect 2009 will see more consolidation, although the economic downturn can make it harder for big companies to acquire smaller ones. Nevertheless, I see this trend expanding in 2009 and certainly beyond, when things pick up further.
  3. HR converts into a Marketing Department. Maybe this is just a pipe dream, but the writing would appear to be on the wall. Again, I see this as a meta-trend – encompassing at least half of the recruiting trends Michael references, and at least an equal number of the recruiting trends in John Sumser’s list. Human Resources departments are shifting, and that shift will accelerate in 2009.

It takes time to make monumental change.

That’s certainly true in Human Resources, where many of the points listed above have been on people’s minds for many, many years. But things are changing. More and more recruiters are using Twitter. HR people (corporate and 3rd party recruiters) are blogging. Social networks like RecruitingBlogs are growing in popularity.

Things are changing.

2009 will be a very interesting year. Budgets are being cut (or frozen), people are nervous (or downright panicked), and as much as you can look for opportunity in tough times, driving change and innovation through tough times is extremely hard. It’s easy for people to fall back on what they’ve always done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You can’t be fired for posting on a big job board…”

Well … give it some time …

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Nortel customers support US$915M Avaya purchase of enterprise solutions unit

Posted by sweens on September 15, 2009

By Ottawa Business Journal Staff

Mon, Sep 14, 2009 12:00 PM EST

A group representing more than 4,000 Nortel customers has praised the selection of Avaya as the winning bidder in Friday’s auction for Nortel’s enterprise solutions business, a deal which makes Avaya Inc. the top provider of unified communications services.

The International Nortel Networks Users Association expressed its support for the US$900-million cash acquisition, which will transfer to Avaya all assets of Nortel’s global enterprise solutions business, as well as the shares of Nortel Government Solutions Inc. and DiamondWare Ltd.

“We are excited to begin working with Avaya, and are ready to turn the focus back on providing our members the great education, user-driven perspectives, and other services they have come to depend on,” said the association’s executive director Victor Bohnert in a statement. “Both Nortel and Avaya have been at the forefront of delivering high-quality, innovative products to the market. With their strengths now combined, we believe the customers of both companies will be the true winners of this deal.”

As part of the deal, Avaya has also agreed to put up $15 million for an employee retention program, following an announcement that it will be hiring 2,500 former Nortel staff worldwide, with roughly 800 of those in Canada and 680 in Ottawa alone.

“This is fantastic news for our customers, as this will empower us to continue to deliver industry-leading solutions and services focused on unlocking the enterprise business potential enabled by unified communications,” said Joel Hackney, president of Nortel’s enterprise business, in a statement.

Avaya’s final bid was almost double its initial “stalking-horse” offer of $475 million, as two other unidentified rivals also entered the fray.

The company must now wait for Canadian and U.S. court approvals of the proposed sale agreement at a joint hearing on Sept. 15, with the sale expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The transaction is facing some opposition from competitors and former Nortel partners, including Verizon Communications Inc., which has filed a suit arguing that Avaya’s purchase could leave Verizon customers in the law enforcement, anti-terrorism and national security sectors without communications network support, since Avaya is allegedly refusing to take on Verizon’s support contracts with Nortel.

Earlier media reports also said a group of telecom industry companies has complained to the U.S. Department of Justice that an Avaya-Nortel union would create an unfair “duopoly” controlling nearly 80 per cent of the enterprise market.

Available at –

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I survived the ‘economic crisis’: now what…

Posted by sweens on September 9, 2009

Reading some of the statistics from the survey I published in my last blog, I am wondering how employees who have managed to avoid layoffs during the economic crisis will react once everything starts to turn around?

 The survey had some interesting points to consider, especially where it discussed how fifty percent of all employees who were surveyed, plan on making a career change or going back to school once the economy recovers.  How will an organization handle such a high turn around of employees?

 The survey suggested that initially, most employers will offer higher compensation to keep their current employees.  Alternatively, as each company begins to grow again, most employers feel that they will promote internal staff rather then going to the labour market to fill new management positions.  This opens some good opportunities for those who have managed to survive these difficult times thus far.

 But is it enough?  Are higher wages and the prospect of a promotion, going to keep employees where they are?

 I do not know, but it certainly is a start.  Many recruiters read this and think, boy oh boy there is a real opportunity for me coming.  All of those people are going to change jobs and internal HR departments are not going to be able to keep up with the demand of the hiring managers.  This is likely true, but it will come in waves.

 Recruiters like me, who place IT professionals and have a large presence in staffing R&D or production type of positions, will likely be the last to hit this new wave of recruiting business.  Employers typically feel that their customer support, sales and marketing roles are the first to grow and once the business is big enough to support it, they will hire new back end people to develop new products and modify the old ones.

 I would be interested in the intentions of many local candidates once the economy comes back around.  Any movers…??

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Annual Study From Robert Half International and CareerBuilder Provides Preview of Post-Recession Job Market

Posted by sweens on September 2, 2009

Key Findings:

 In the next 12 months, more than half of employers polled plan to hire full-time employees, four in 10 will hire contract, temporary or project workers, and four in 10 will hire part-time employees.
– Technology, customer service and sales are the top three areas in which employers expect to add jobs first once the economy rebounds.
– The average time to fill open positions, depending on the job level, is 4.5 to 14.4 weeks, the same time range as last year.
– Despite an abundant labour pool, six in 10 employers are willing to negotiate with qualified candidates for higher compensation.
– Four in 10 employers expect the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to create jobs in their organizations over the next two years.
– More than half of employees polled plan to make a career change or go back to school when the economy recovers.
– Forty percent of hiring managers said that when the economy improves, giving pay raises will be their primary method for retaining top performers.

TORONTO, Aug. 27 /CNW/
– The economy has posed many challenges for businesses – including the need to make sure they are prepared for the upturn. According to a new U.S. survey, managers are planning to hire a combination of workers to support both long- and short-term initiatives. Fifty-three per cent of employers expect to hire full-time employees over the next 12 months while 40 per cent will hire contract, temporary or project professionals and 39 per cent will add part-time employees.

Now in its fifth year, The Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report provides an overview of the current employment situation, as well as a glimpse of the future hiring landscape. The report offers information on what types of professionals employers will be looking for when economic conditions improve and the strategies businesses plan to implement to recruit and retain talent. The EDGE Report is based on an annual survey by Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, and CareerBuilder, the global leader in human capital solutions. More than 500 U.S. hiring managers and 500 workers participated in the study, which was conducted by International Communications Research from April 30 to May 31, 2009.

 “Companies already are identifying the key skill sets they will need in new hires to take advantage of the opportunities presented by improving economic conditions,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Firms that cut staffing levels too deeply may need to do significant rebuilding once the recovery takes hold.”

Where Jobs Will Be Added First
Customer-facing roles are indispensable in good times and bad. In the current economy, hiring managers consider customer service the function most critical to their organization’s success, followed by sales, marketing/creative and technology. Public relations/communications, business development and accounting/finance round out the list.

Looking ahead, respondents cited technology, customer service and sales as the departments that will add positions first. Marketing/creative, business development, human resources and accounting/finance also were cited.

When the pace of hiring begins to accelerate, entry- and staff-level workers can expect to benefit the most in terms of new opportunities. Thirty-two per cent of hiring managers plan to hire staff-level professionals, while 28 per cent will hire entry-level workers. Companies may be looking to restore positions affected by layoffs or hiring freezes while continuing to rely on existing staff to occupy leadership positions.

Because companies are operating with fewer resources, hiring managers further appreciate the value of team members who can wear many hats. Asked to identify the most valuable characteristics in an ideal new hire, employers cited multitasking, initiative and creative problem-solving.

Continued Challenges in Recruitment and the Impact on Compensation
Despite high unemployment rates across the United States and an expanded pool of available talent, employers continue to report difficulty locating skilled professionals for open positions. Employers said that, on average, 44 per cent of resumes they receive are from unqualified candidates. Forty-seven per cent of hiring managers cited underqualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge, followed by the reluctance of qualified candidates to leave secure positions (22 per cent).

As they lay the groundwork for growth in their organizations, employers are open to paying more for hard-to-find talent. Sixty-one per cent of hiring managers said their companies are willing to negotiate higher compensation for qualified candidates.

What employers are unwilling to do is accelerate the hiring process. The average time it takes to recruit a new full-time employee is the same range as this time last year: 4.5 to 14.4 weeks. In addition to spending time reviewing and screening out a high volume of resumes from unqualified applicants, employers also are more carefully evaluating those job candidates who are invited for interviews in order to avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Holding on to Talent: Money Talks
“As businesses look to the future, they also have to consider how tough decisions made during the financial crisis have impacted job satisfaction and loyalty of their current staff members,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Fifty-five per cent of workers plan to make a career change, seek out new employers or go back to school once the economic recovery is underway. In addition to competitive pay and benefits, showing a committed investment in the professional development of employees will play a key part in retaining critical talent.”

Nearly half of workers polled (49 per cent) said that after the economy improves, the most effective way to keep them on board will be pay increases. In fact, 28 per cent plan to ask for a raise. Employers seem amenable, with 40 per cent stating that increasing pay will be their primary method for retaining top performers.

Another 20 per cent of employees said they hope for better benefits and perks once the economy turns around. The top perks workers expect are technology upgrades, followed by tuition reimbursement or subsidized training.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted by International Communications Research on behalf of Robert Half International and CareerBuilder among more than 500 employers (employed full-time; have employees who work for them if self-employed; involvement in hiring decisions) and more than 500 employees (employed full-time; not self-employed; no involvement in hiring decisions) ages 18 and over within the United States between April 30 and May 31, 2009.

About Robert Half International
Founded in 1948, Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, with more than 360 offices worldwide. The company’s professional staffing divisions include Accountemps(R), Robert Half(R) Finance & Accounting and Robert Half(R) Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam(R), for highly skilled office and administrative support professionals; Robert Half(R) Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half(R) Legal, for project and full-time staffing of lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel; and The Creative Group(R), for creative, advertising, marketing, web and public relations professionals. For more information about the specialized staffing and recruitment divisions of Robert Half International, visit

About CareerBuilder
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset – their people. Its online career site,, is the largest in the United States with more than 23 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 32 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to talent acquisition. More than 9,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Available online at –

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canadian Hiring Intentions Perk Up

Posted by sweens on September 1, 2009

By Ottawa Business Journal Staff

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 10:00 AM EST

Eighty-five per cent of Canadian businesses will likely maintain or increase staff sizes in the next 90 days, according to a new report by a recruiting and HR company with offices in Ottawa.

The report, by David Aplin Recruiting, polled more than 450 “business leaders, hiring managers and decision makers” in Canada and found that Ontario, Alberta and British Columbian respondents were most optimistic.

As well, more than 75 per cent of those surveyed said they anticipate overall employment rates in Canada to improve in the near future.

“Sixty-eight per cent of those companies surveyed acknowledged that they were affected by the recent recession,” said Jeff Aplin, executive vice-presiden, in a statement.

“Organizations were forced to deviate from their business plans and enter into survival mode in order to survive the last year.”

Among the methods Mr. Aplin said companies used to survive were reduced hours or shortened work weeks, time off in lieu of overtime, wage or hiring freezes, work-share programs and voluntary unpaid leaves.

“(But) in some cases, reducing overall headcount was the only means to remain viable,” Mr. Aplin said. “The recent survey results are great news for Canadians – there are signs everywhere that business is starting to return to a more optimistic times.”

Online at –

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »