Interpol Chief Admits Facebook ID Theft

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent Inc.

As most people have heard by now, Interpol Chief Ronald Noble announced at the inaugural Interpol Security Conference in Hong Kong that criminals had used Facebook to steal his identity.  Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, they did not gain access to his identity by stealing information off of his Facebook Account.  Two Facebook Accounts were set up in Noble’s name where the criminals gathered information about a recent global Interpol-led Operation Infra Red.  The operation was for tracking down criminal fugitives who had fled national jurisdictions. 

Web 2.0 social networking is a catch-22 for many people.  Some think it is dangerous to put any information about themselves out on the web.  While others have no qualms about putting everything about themselves out on the internet.  There have been numerous articles written on the dangers of putting too much personal information on the internet.  In contrast, very few articles have addressed the consequences of not owning and managing your Web 2.0 social networking information.

If you do not claim your identity, brand and image someone else might. If Interpol Chief Robert Noble’s identity can be stolen, then anyone’s can.  It shows the ease with which the criminals are able to forge people’s identities across all forms of social media sites to steal information.  While I would not necessarily suggest everybody sign up for every Web 2.0 platform available, I would strongly suggest executives claim and control their Linkedin Profile.  For an executive, his/her contacts, clients and industry knowledge could be at stake if he/she ignores their Linkedin Profile.

According to Alexa, Linkedin traffic rank is 17th in the US and 27th in the world.   What does this mean to the typical executive?  Linkedin will come up before almost every company website in the US.  I.E. There are only 16 websites in the U.S. that rank higher than Linkedin.  If someone claims your identity on Linkedin, they have effectively stolen your identity.  Google Search and most other search engines will pull up your name in Linkedin on the first page before your company profile or any other internet information.  With aggregators such as ZoomInfo, 123 and many more, if someone steals your identity on Linkedin, the false information will get picked up by the web aggregators. It doesn’t take long for the identity theft to go viral.

What Executive group is the most vulnerable to Web 2.0 identity theft? The group that Interpol Chief Noble belongs to, 50+ years old.  According to Alexa, the largest group to participate on Linkedin is the 35 to 44 year age range.  The 55+ years and above age range are statistically too low to calculate.  This means that a large group of some of the most influential executives in the U.S. have left themselves vulnerable to a situation similar to Interpol Chief Ronald Noble.

To learn more about the incident visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100917/tc_afp/hongkongitinternetinterpolsecurityfacebook.

Why Do Senior Financial Professionals Change Jobs?

Although issues of business volatility and unemployment continue to garner a large share of the headlines in business journals today, the trend of rapid business change has been accelerating for several years. This tendency toward change impacts companies of all sizes, whether public or private. The combination of a dynamic business environment and the recent economic downturn has caused many Financial Executives and their employers to rethink their stance on employment stability. Financial Executive change in employment every two or three years is no longer unusual, and many employers are beginning to consider a break in employment to be the norm.

Even though tolerance of job change is increasing, there is still a large contingent of employers who believe that executives who have not been working in their current job for at least the last 5 years are somehow ‘tainted.’ The common perception is that job change can only be the result of deficient job performance or poor decision-making skills related to choice of employer. This is an out of date belief that does not correlate with the reality of the business environment during the last 10 years. The volatility in the US economy has created a new host of reasons why senior Financial Executives change jobs. The following are examples of these causes of job change and the impact on Senior Financial Executives and their employers.

  • Change in control, the new guard wants a new CFO. Often a CFO will find that he or she is in a position where the senior management team and / or members of the board are replaced (partially or completely) by new leadership team members. New teams often bring with them new perceptions of the skills required by the senior financial executive, or they have a person in mind who they have worked with in the past and trust to execute their new agenda. When this happens, the sitting CFO often loses out to the goals of the new team. The company suffers the loss of institutional knowledge in exchange for their perception of a brighter future.
  • Change in strategy, new skills needed. Because of the velocity of change in the economy, often the only reason that an employee is hired by a company is that a problem exists in the company, and the hiring authorities believe that the candidate for the position can solve the problem. These problems can be very specific and tactical, or more general and strategic. A person who is hired to ‘clean up’ finance and accounting departments may find themselves with a clean and fully functioning department, but the CFO’s boss may have acquired a new vision, i.e. an Initial Public Offering, or a strategy of Merger and Acquisition that the CFO is not experienced in. If the CFO is not able to sell the remaining members of the leadership team that he or she can handle the new strategy, the CFO will be looking for new employment.
  • Major problem is solved, overhead mentality of CEO. If a CFO is hired to solve a specific major problem and handles that problem, there is an inherent risk that there may not be another major problem to solve. Once everything is running smoothly, the CFO is at risk of being considered ‘overhead’ by the remaining members of the leadership team. Some management teams do not recognize a distinction between a controller and a CFO. They feel that once the problem is solved, only the controller’s services are required. Because management is under continuous pressure to eliminate components of overhead, a CFO who is perceived as being overhead is usually terminated quickly.
  • Company is acquired, replication of CFO. Successful companies are often acquired. After the acquisition, there is often a period of post-acquisition integration of the acquirer and the target company. Depending on the complexity of the combined entities and the philosophy of the surviving board of directors and the CEO, that period may fall within a range of as little as a few days or as much as several years. Unless the CFO of the company being acquired has a significantly stronger skill set than the CFO of the company doing the acquiring, the CFO of the target company will often be eliminated by the end of the post-acquisition integration period.
  • Company fails. CFO’s occasionally join companies that ultimately go out of business. Obviously the lack of a paycheck from a company will cause this CFO to search for another opportunity.
  • Politics. Although most company executives claim that politics are not a factor in their organization, many companies continue to be subject to the political agenda of members of the executive leadership team. If a CFO does not see eye to eye with the initiatives of other executive team members, the company may search for a new CFO.
  • Fraud is identified by the CFO, and CFO leaves. In cases where fraud of others is identified by the CFO, the results are mixed. In some situations, the executive team will do the ‘right thing’ and terminate the offending party and fix the problem. At other times, executives will try to sweep the issue ‘under the rug’ in an attempt to put some time and distance between them and the perpetrator, with the hope that the issue will not be exposed again later. If the CFO fights to clean up the fraud in this situation, the reaction of the remaining members of the leadership team often leads to dismissal of the CFO. In other situations, the CFO leaves the company in frustration.
  • Not truly a CFO position. Often a CFO will work for a company that does not differentiate between a CFO and a ‘Head Accountant’. This CFO often comes to the conclusion that they would rather hold CFO responsibilities. If an opportunity comes to them to work at a company that provides acceptable challenge in a true CFO role and enhanced compensation, the CFO may leave to take the better opportunity.

Experience shows that in many cases, the only difference between employed and unemployed people looking for a new opportunity for employment is the timing and impact of forces outside of the Financial Executive’s control. Some Financial Executives are able to identify opportunities to move to a new employer before they find themselves in a state of transition, and others are unable to avoid unemployment. No matter how much importance a Financial Executive places on continuous employment, there are in fact some environments where the risk of being employed is much higher than any reward that may come from working there. When an Executive joins a company, he or she receives 3 proverbial keys; the key to their office, the key to the bathroom, and the key to the closet where the skeletons are kept. Sometimes the skeletons in the closet are scarier than being in job transition.

Some companies are weak and/or on the edge of insolvency, and others create a CFO position that is not worthy of a credible CFO. A CFO may take a calculated risk to take on one of these new positions with the knowledge that they will grow professionally if they take the ‘special’ role. Jobs in this category may have limited duration. Also, transparency of public companies is questionable at best, and is often close to nonexistent for private companies. As a result, even the best due diligence by a CFO candidate will often not uncover some of the risks identified above. Most people with an understanding of the reasons why CFOs frequently change jobs will also understand that finding stability in a job is often more a matter of luck than skill.

It is obviously much less expensive for an employer to maintain a stable work force. Employers may have valid reasons for demanding stable employees, but if these employers maintain their absolute requirement for longevity, they will miss out on a huge pool of candidates who are capable of doing an effective job for them.

Just because a Financial Executive has worked for the same employer for the last twelve years, doesn’t guarantee that they will be successful in maintaining longevity in a new work environment. Proven flexibility can be very valuable to a Financial Executive as they enter a new employment assignment. People who have a variety of employer experiences have proven that they have most likely exercised their ’employment flexibility muscle’ and can most likely adapt to new environments easily.

5 Reasons Applying for a Job Online Does Not Work

Applying for Jobs Online

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent Inc.

As a recruiter, I have been approached by numerous people complaining about having to apply for most jobs online.  They want to know if it works for anyone.   Ignoring the tongue in cheek title of this blog, the answer is yes.  Most people will start their job application process with a company by applying for the job online.  This could be directly on a company’s website, a recruiter’s website or a job board.

Job Hunters take actions that assure they will not make it through the computer gatekeeper to even be considered for a job.  The following is a list of the top 5 reasons why applying for a job online does not work for many Job Hunters.

1. Downloaded resume templates with formatting. 

It may make you feel good that your resume looks totally traditional or “pretty” but the computer gatekeeper will not be impressed.  All computer databases utilize plain text.  This means your resume will be converted to the most basic of letters and numbers.   Plain Text does not read pictures or any type of formatting other than indent and return.  Therefore, the computer will interpret the tables and other formatting the best it can.  Your information might not make it into the correct fields.  If you cannot be found, you will not be hired.

2. Submitting Functional Resumes.

Do not even bother to apply online if you use a functional resume.  A functional resume almost assures that you will not come up toward the top of a list or on a list at all.  This is even truer if you post on a large job board.  Functional resumes are not computer gatekeeper friendly.  The computer cannot determine how much experience the candidate has within any particular skill or when the candidate last used the skill.

3.  Applying for jobs that the Candidate is not qualified to fill.

Many job hunters have become spammers.  DO NOT Apply for jobs that do not match your skill set.  Experts have been telling the unemployed to think of different ways their skills can be used.  Good Advice but irrelevant when applying for jobs online.  Computers do not think out of the box.  They find the resume that fits the exact words used in the data base search. Do you fit the job description?

4.  Trying to bypass the online application process.

There are many experts that are erroneously telling candidates to bypass the online job application.  These “experts” believe you are more likely to get the job if you send your resume directly to the recruiter or hiring manager.  In most cases this is not a good idea.

Larger corporations use the HR department for a reason.  In the past, many of these companies have been accused of hiring discrimination and sued.  To prevent any appearance of impropriety these companies make candidates go through the HR department first.  Depending on the company, going directly to the hiring manager automatically gets the candidacy denied.  Trust me on this one; it happens more than most people know.  In most instances the candidate will never know this is the reason they did not get the job.

In today’s market, employers and recruiters are inundated with resumes for each job opening. The employer posts jobs online to keep their e-mail box from getting bombarded with 1000s of resumes not attached to a specific job.  Sending the employer or recruiter an e-mail can backfire.  Do not do it unless you are truly the best or an expert in the field as it relates to the job that has been posted.  I cannot speak to others’ practices but we do read all of the resumes attached to job orders.  Typically, the person in charge of the job will look at all of the resumes for the job at once.  It is easier not to let any candidate slip through the cracks if the job description and the candidate competition are viewed simultaneously.  If the candidate is the right person for the job, they will be found in the group review.

5.  It is a lottery.

Anyone who has a computer can apply for jobs online.  It is easy.  Therefore, the competition is greater.  This should not discourage a candidate from applying.  We have all heard the saying, “The cream will rise to the top.”

Applying for jobs online does work.  If you are not having success it might be because of some of the things listed above.

The Devil Went Down to GA: Goldman Sachs vs. Credit Suisse-Noncompete Agreements

AtlantaBy: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent Inc.

In February of this year, Credit Suisse lured away seven of Goldman Sachs’ top Wealth Managers.  Purportedly some were offered upwards of $10 million to move to Credit Suisse.  According to some of the articles written, Credit Suisse is the devil, and companies like them are the reason Georgia needs to change their view on noncompete and non-solicitation agreements.  It is amazing how much media this situation got in Atlanta that was not just gossipy news but highly politically charged news.  I am sure the defection did hurt Goldman Sach’s business.   However, Goldman Sach’s is hardly the poster child for reform.

How shocking, a Wall Street firm stole top talent from another top Wall Street firm.  Wrong.  This is not shocking at all and is business as usual. The top Wall Street Firms have been raiding each other’s top employees for decades.  In this instance, Goldman Sachs filed a lawsuit not against Credit Suisse, but against the seven wealth managers.  It was voluntarily dismissed the next day.  What makes this situation so ironic is that Goldman Sachs is no saint.  This is a situation of what is “good for the goose is good for the gander.”  In 2010, I believe the score is Goldman Sachs 55 and Credit Suisse 7.  Earlier this year, Vestra, a Goldman Sachs backed UK company lured an estimated 55 employees from UBS.  Shocking really shocking…..not.

Full disclosure: Back in the 1990’s, I was an employee who was lured away from Credit Suisse, then Credit Suisse First Boston, by Smith Barney with 3 other employees.  In that point in time very few people had non-solicitation agreements.  Obviously, Credit Suisse has more than thrived since then to have the money to lure people from Goldman Sachs for millions of dollars.  Over the past three decades, it hasn’t been unusual for the very top Directors and other top employees to be lured away from one Wall Street firm to join another and lured back by the original firm in a year or two.    

So why has this business as usual situation in Georgia led to many trumpeting the horn for stricter noncompete and non-solicitation agreements?  Wall Street already has a current master agreement that all Wall Street Firms and Investment Firms are encouraged to sign that says a firm will honor nonsolicit/non-compete employment agreements.  If Goldman Sach thought honoring non-solicitation and noncompete agreements were good for business in the long run, they would have signed it.  Or was it their arrogance of being one of the biggest or strongest bullies on the block that made them feel immune to the ramifications of not playing nice with others?  Credit Suisse is another firm that has up to this point not signed the agreement either; probably for the same reasons as Goldman Sachs.

Noncompete and non-solicitation agreements have been problematic for both employers and employees in Georgia’s current environment.  I agree Georgia needs to review their approach to non-solicitation agreements and noncompete agreements.  However, it needs to be viewed in a real context and not the lens of hyperbole.  Goldman Sachs is not a victim but the recipient of their own practices.  Yes, they might lose millions of dollars.  I am sure UBS probably lost millions of dollars also when Vestra hired their employees.

In the real world, it is not appropriate to leave each contract brought before the court to individual judge’s discretion on whether they are enforceable or not.  The Georgia Courts’ approach with these type of contracts is a little like defining pornography…I know a bad contract when I see one.  On the flipside it is not o.k. to go too far the other way by changing the Georgia Constitution to the point it makes it impossible for an employee to work for up to three years after leaving a company due to corporate downsizing.

In November, the public is going to be asked to vote to make the following changes to the Georgia Constitution in regards to non-solicitation and noncompete agreements.

H.B. 173, codified in relevant part at O.C.G.A. §§ 13-8-2.1 and 13-8-50 to -59, provides for a host of revisions to the current status of Georgia law on restrictive covenants.

  • Georgia courts will be allowed to partially enforce restrictive covenants that are otherwise overbroad, thus reversing Georgia’s strict and longstanding “no blue-penciling” rule;
  • provides that in-term restrictive covenants will not be considered unreasonable because they lack specific limitations on the scope of activity, duration, or territory, as long as the covenants promote or protect the purpose or subject matter of the agreement or deter any potential conflict of interest;
  • establishes a presumption that post-employment noncompete agreements with a duration of two years or less are reasonable;
  • establishes a presumption that post-employment customer and employee non-solicitation agreements with a duration of three years or less are reasonable;
  • permits employers to extend post-employment restrictions on customer solicitation to customers and potential customers with whom an employee did not have actual contact as long as, within two years prior to the date of termination, the employee supervised the employer’s dealings with the customer, obtained confidential information about the customer, or earned compensation, commissions, or other earnings as a result of the customer’s purchase of the employer’s products or services; and
  • permits employers to enforce post-employment restrictions on employee solicitation that lack an express reference to a geographic area.

See Paul Hastings Client Alert for complete information.

It is about time that Georgia did away with the non-blue penciling law that made it hard for employers to have any kind of meaningful protection.  The rub for the employee is that Georgia is an “at will” state.  A company can end your employment at anytime.  This wouldn’t be such an issue if noncompete and non-solicit agreements were only being signed by the very top level executives.  Up until recently, they were the only employees asked to sign such agreements.  Now many companies make all employees sign a non-solicit or noncompete agreement whether they are a top level executive or integral to the overall big picture or not.  It is hard to discern what the appropriate balance is for protecting the employer, the employee and the public’s intrinsic right to have free competition and the right to do business with whomever they want.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the amendments to the Georgia Constitution.  Is it not enough of a change? Does it go too far? Or do the changes strike the right balance? Why do you believe that some of the Wall Street firms don’t see the advantage of agreeing to honor nonsolicitation/noncompete agreements and completely ignore employment agreements?

Tweet Your Resume on Twitter?

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent Inc.

Recently many blogs have popped up about how to post your resume on Twitter so recruiters can find you.  Purportedly, droves of recruiters and hiring managers are using Twitter to find their next employee.  I do not know if this is true or not, but it never hurts to go ahead and get your name out there. You never know where your next job will come from.   With that being said, it is important to understand who uses Twitter so you can understand the audience and set realistic expectations.  There are no concrete numbers on how many people actually use Twitter versus those who have opened an account and subsequently abandoned it. The number of Twitter Accounts are growing with an estimated 18 million people who visit Twitter at least once a month accounting for approximately 3 ½ to 4% of adult internet users. On the flipside, almost 60% of the people who sign up for Twitter abandon their accounts.  The median age of a Twitter user is 31.  Most of these statistics can be found at Pew Internet & American Life Project website. (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Twitter-and-status-updating.aspx)

As an Executive Recruiter who has talked to other Executive Level Recruiters, my impression is not only would they not look for resumes on Twitter many just don’t get Twitter.  My personal experience with Twitter is new.  I use Twitter to tweet jobs because it drives people to Advantage Talent, Inc.’s website to submit resumes directly.  I have no statistics on whether this is helpful or not.  My followers are not huge but since I started tweeting, Advantage Talent, Inc.’s jobs have been showing up on numerous job boards run by private individuals and bloggers.  In a roundabout way I am looking for resumes for specific jobs on Twitter and garnering some success. This is not the same activity as searching for posted resumes on Twitter.  So if someone asked if I looked for resumes on Twitter the answer would be yes and no.

Yes. Tweet your Resume.

The main reason you should Tweet your resume has nothing to do with Recruiters or Hiring Managers.  It is hard to find a job if no one knows you are looking. Tweeting is another form of networking. If you are currently using Twitter, let your contacts know what type of job you are looking for and guide them toward your resume.  The following is an example of how to notify people you are looking for a job in the 140 character limit and direct people to your resume.  In this example, the link goes to my Linkedin Profile.

RT #Tracy Levine seeks a CMO Job Atlanta #Resume #CV http://tinyurl.com/29pdyzo

  • RT is shorthand for retweet.  When you send the original tweet this encourages people to retweet to their followers.
  • # is the symbol used for hashtags which are terms people search when looking for posts.  For example Resume and CV have hashtags.
  • At the end is the URL address back to my LinkedIn profile. You will notice that the URL is shortened.  You do this by going to http://tinyurl.com  and pasting your LinkedIn Profile address into the space provided. You will be provided with a shorter URL.

Follow me on Twitter @TLevineATI.

Happy Tweeting!

LinkedIn Recommendations For Your Job Hunt: Do They Help?

LinkedIn Recommendations For Your Job Hunt: Do They Help?

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

Recently, I was forwarded an article about how Executives could get a job through LinkedIn.  One of the suggestions was to solicit recommendations for the hiring manager to read.  The observation was made that in the normal job situation you only get to provide a few recommendations but now with LinkedIn you can give the hiring manager even more positive recommendations to read.  The declaration made me laugh out loud.  Published studies show that the average hiring manager only looks at a resume for 10-15 seconds.  It flies in the face of logic to think that the hiring manager who only takes seconds to read a candidate’s resume is going to take even one second to read recommendations on LinkedIn.   Professional Executive Recruiters and HR Directors are tasked with asking specific questions that relate to the job at hand when calling a reference.  A short recommendation on LinkedIn isn’t even in the same league as a real recommendation and cannot be compared.

Some people have taken to attaching their LinkedIn recommendations to their resume. Most Executive Recruiters and hiring managers I have spoken with say they take recommendations on LinkedIn with a grain of salt.  Recommendations that are from people who have actually worked with the person or used a person’s services are the closest to real recommendations.  The problem with LinkedIn recommendations is that many people solicit recommendations from people who know them from social situations and networking but cannot speak to the person’s work experience.  Another problem is the “you give me a recommendation” and “I will give you a recommendation” situation.  Typically, these exchanges are not conducive to real or to meaningful recommendations.

Getting recommendations are great if you stick to only getting and giving recommendations to people you have personally worked with in a meaningful capacity.  However, no amount of recommendations can erase a checkered history.  It is the job of the Professional Recruiter or HR Director to do a thorough background check.

10 Rules of LinkedIn Group Etiquette

10 Rules of LinkedIn Group Etiquette

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

1. Do not ask to join groups you are not qualified to join.  For example, if you do not qualify for the XYZ professional organization in the ‘real world’ then you don’t qualify in the LinkedIn world either.  Asking to join groups you are not qualified to join makes you appear to be a spammer.

2. Do not post job orders in the discussion section of the LinkedIn Group.  There is a job posting section…..Use it.  It may seem like everyone is looking for a job these days but many are not.

3.  Make sure to be relevant with your postings.  Don’t post just to post or to have your name everywhere. Make sure that the topics you chose are relevant to the group’s interests.   For example, if you are part of a LinkedIn wine group don’t post about your car collection. 

4.  Do not post inflammatory comments.  Most users of LinkedIn are established professionals.  They did not join the group to argue with you.  Also, posting inflammatory comments is a quick way to burn bridges in the professional community.

5.  Do not sell to members.  People do not join LinkedIn Groups just so you can have access to spam them with personal e-mails through LinkedIn.

6.  Do not, not, not post sale pitches for products in the Discussion Thread of a LinkedIn Group.  This is the quickest way to achieve negative brand recognition.

7. Do be a mentor.  Sharing your expertise with others and helping them reach their goals is appreciated by all.

8.  If you are the administrator of a group, check the requests to join often and frequently.

9.  Do not write anything that you do not want out in the public.  It may be a LinkedIn Group but it is not a confidential group.

10. DO NOT use the LinkedIn Groups as your personal blog.  This is my personal pet peeve and seems to be a growing trend in a couple of the LinkedIn Groups that I am a member.  Get your own blog, it’s cheap and it is free. (WordPress.com).  If members of a group find you interesting they can sign up to follow your blog.

Marketing Begins in the Past

We have all heard the following sayings.  “It’s a small world” and “Reputations take years to build and minutes to destroy.”  These truisms are particularly relevant for professionals working as independent contractors.  Today’s job will be tomorrow’s past job.   With these thoughts in mind, contractors increase their marketability by following a few simple rules.

 Make smooth transitions:  If you are offered a permanent job with another company, it is professional courtesy to give your current employer two weeks notice.

Keep the firm your are working through informed of any changes in the scope of the engagement or any changes in the political environment.  This is for your benefit so that the staffing firm you are working for can help you achieve your personal career goals and help mitigate any possible challenges in a changing environment. 

Document your current assignment duties and successes.  These are the heart of your resume.

Remember you were hired for your expertise.  Each day assess what problems you can solve to make the process smoother.

Be respectful of your immediate managers and peers.  Do not insert yourself into company politics.  You are a neutral party that has more to lose in the long by choosing sides.  No matter what the fight, it is not yours.  The people on both sides of a political issue are your references for your next career step.

 Avoid the appearance of handling personal business on company time.  No checking personal e-mails or excessive cell phone use.  The company is paying you by the hour and expects your full attention to the task at hand.

Even if you hate the assignment and cannot image working another day at the company, it is still important to give two weeks notice.  Contractors who just decide to not come in the next day create an image of irresponsibility and are not likely to be placed as quickly as the contractor who conducts business as a professional.  Always contact the staffing firm you are working through when difficulties arise.  They may be able to extricate you out of the situation sooner without burning bridges or may be able to help resolve the problem that is the cause of concern.

Please feel free to contact Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc. if you have further thoughts or questions.

What Candidates can learn from the Bachelorette!

If anyone has looked at internet trending topics, they will see that reality shows, such as, the Bachelorette rank toward the top.  Out of morbid curiosity, on Monday night, I watched the premiere of the Bachelorette with growing horror along with pure amazement.  WOW! People truly do not know what TMI (too much information) is.  While a certain amount of outrageousness is to be expected on an entertainment reality show, somehow this ease of sharing inappropriate information with total strangers and with the world has crossed the line into everyday life.  For those who have not watched any of the comedians or spoofs of the Bachelorette, one of the Bachelors explains how he received the name “Shooter”.  I will not go into it in this blog but a search of the Bachelorette and the word “Shooter” will bring up this truly amazing and unbelievable revelation.  This Bachelor did not receive a rose and will probably never go on another date….ever.

Unfortunately, over the years I have seen professional candidates, like this Bachelor, who did not know what is appropriate or funny when dealing with their job search and employment.  For example, I placed a candidate in a management job with a major company.  An offer was extended and accepted.  In the end, the job offer was rescinded.  Why?  When filling out the requisite company application paperwork after the question, Sex, the candidate wrote, “As often as possible!”  When I received the call from the Client explaining why the candidate was no longer welcome at the company, I could not believe what I was hearing. 

Recruiters help candidates with their resumes and prep them for interviews.  However, it should be obvious that any references to topics, such as, sex, politics and religion have no place in the job hunting and employment process.  Nothing seems to be off-limits on Reality T.V. anymore, but that does not translate to everyday life and career moves.  If you want the rose, job offer, DO NOT share inappropriate information or discuss inappropriate topics.

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

Did “Fat Finger” Syndrome contribute to Thursday’s market plunge?

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

Thursday the stock market dropped 347.8 points by closing.  During the day, the stock market had plunged even lower, almost 1,000 points.  The world news alone does not explain this huge plunge.  Yes, there looks like there might be a hung parliament in the U.K. with no decisive winner and Greece’s economy has crashed.  All of this is old news.  Back in December political watchers were predicting that there would be no clear victory in the Parliamentary elections.  The news about Greece’s economy came out last week.  It is to be expected that the stock market would be affected by these events but not to the degree it was on Thursday.

Wall Street Veterans are blaming it on “Fat Finger” Syndrome.   “Fat Finger” Syndrome is when a trader makes an error in keying in a quantity or presses the wrong button. According to CNBC, the spotlight has been focused on a Citigroup trader who has been accused of having “Fat Finger” Syndrome and keying in the wrong number.  Over the years sophisticated computer trading systems running algorithms which trigger trades under preset conditions have become the norm at many Brokerage Firms.  Many believe that the Citigroup Trader’s supposed “fat finger” mistake contributed to Thursday’s huge market plunge and triggered automated trading by these algorithm programs.  Purportedly, the trader meant to key in a $16 million futures contract but instead typed in $16 Billion.  Citigroup has denied that a trader at their firm had made an error while keying in a trade.

It is surprising that something like this has not happened sooner.  In reality computer trading over the past twenty years has affected the markets.  Thursday’s supposed “fat finger” mistake only served to magnify the impact of automated trades on the stock market.   As Washington looks at financial regulation reform, it will be interesting to see if anyone will address the impact that one human error can have on the market in this age of fast, market responsive computer generated trading.

Post Update: May 07, 2010 est.—The following new articles contain more information and speculation about what happened on Thursday.  There is a debate over whether this was human error or a swing caused independently by computer trading.  Either way it caused investors to take notice yesterday.  The debate will continue as the incident is investigated further.

Did a Citibank Traders Error Worsen the Market Collapse? By Sam Guston http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/investing/did-a-citigroup-traders-error-add-to-market-collapse/19467905/

NYSE & Nasdaq’s 60% Cancellation Mystery: http://www.cnbc.com/id/37019184

Trading System May Have Dangerous Flaw: http://www.cnbc.com/id/37016611

The Blame Game: NYSE vs. Nasdaq:  http://www.cnbc.com/id/37017292