Friday, September 23, 2011

Talent Management?

Okay, so I'm from the entertainment industry. Well, not so much lately but I used to be. And when I hear the term "Talent Management," I either think of someone who's a manager for an actor or a singer or a band, or I think of what I used to do as an animation director, and what I still do as a director in community theater.

But there's another definition of talent management out there at the moment, and in my opinion (which is something I get to express here), it does not bode well for the employment situation, either for job seeker or for potential employers.

I just applied for a position in a nursing care company that has a facility near me, for an activities assistant. Now, this is nothing I have actual experience at, but I do have what people in the Employment Security office like to refer to as "transferable skills." As a director I've had to be outgoing and patient. I've spent a lot of time with elderly people in my own family and at the theater. And I have a solid experience entertaining people and helping others attain their best potential. Maybe not a perfect fit, but worth a try.

But I never get the chance to tell anyone about my transferable skills because the online application has no place for a cover letter. So I get no chance to tell them what I might be able to offer them that doesn't show in my work history. And they miss out on the chance to maybe have someone with a very special and useful background join their organization.

And all of this is managed by an outside company. The Talent Management Systems division of a major job-search company.

But by outsourcing the hiring and management of employees, these companies further distance themselves from the people who actually make their companies work. Yes, we as job seekers lose. But so do the employers.

Look, Human Resources people and corporate managers, we are more than our resumes, and more than the fill-in-the-blanks online applications you force us to use. Continue this process long enough, and you have doomed your company to a staff of qualified, but mundane, people. When you hire curricula vitae via computer, you make yourself middle-of-the-road.

And middle-of-the-road in business will someday mean obsolete.

Just think on that for awhile.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monetary Gain

Recently I was offered the opportunity to monetize my YouTube account by carrying ads on my videos. I have nothing against that. I'm supplying Google with eyes, I might as well get a little of the ad revenue in return.

I got this offer because one of my videos passed a magic milestone: it received over 1,000 views. That isn't a lot. Some of my favorite YouTube accounts bring in hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of views.

Still, if YouTube thinks that a thousand is a good place to start, who am I to argue? That's an opportunity I haven't gotten from any of my blogs. Even the two that I carry ads on haven't gotten enough hits to earn me a single penny.

There's only one problem. The videos in question are not my professional videos. They are my family videos. The one that's gotten the big number is of my kids and me riding the Twirling Turtles at Storyland (for some reason, amusement park rides pull in a fair number of viewers). That's not something I want to make money on.

So the trick is that I have to find a way to make my other videos attract enough viewers that I can get a little cash out of it without the guilt.

Maybe I should grab my camcorder and head out to the local amusement park.

It's worth a shot.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Well, I've finally made it to the 21st century, even if I have arrived a bit late. I am blogging (and, I feel compelled to point out, using the word blogging as a verb) from my cellular telephone.

Having passed the half-century mark a while ago now, I sort of grew up with the personal computer; the microprocessor was invented when I was 16. My first business computer had 64K of RAM (that's 64 thousand characters, folks), two 384K disk drives (no hard drive), and no video output or keyboard; the input and output were accomplished using something called a terminal, which hardly anyone remembers anymore.

And here I as am holding unimaginably more computing power on the palm of my hand. The tiny MicroSD card in my phone stores 40,000 times as much information as the five-inch floppy diskette from my first computer, 500 times as much as the washing-machine-sized hard disk drives I used professionally at the time.

And this tiny little computer will perform functions I would never have dreamed of thirty years ago.Online banking. A bar code scanner.Global positioning. Streaming movies. A high-definition camcorder!

And it also makes phone calls.What'll they think of next?

Friday, July 15, 2011


My wife was driving our family back from an outing today along Route 16 in the White Mountain area of New Hampshire. Somewhere along the trip, we heard a little clunk on the roof of the car. We looked at each other. Acorn? Twig. Then we heard another clunk, and then nothing. My wife stopped the car. I got out and looked. Nothing on top of the car.

Had we left something on the car which had just fallen? We couldn't imagine what. Until my wife realized that she didn't have her cell phone.

Now, this didn't panic us completely. We are on the verge of replacing the older LG Chocolate with some kind of smart phone, and the old LG, while still functioning, was beginning to show its age with scuffs on the shell and a pitted and scratched screen.

But it did have some pictures on it, and I knew that, even if the phone was trahsed, there was a good chance that the MicroSD card inside the phone was just fine.

So we went back and looked. And we found the phone. Flipped open, laying face up at the side of the road. It looked pretty much as it had before it fell off the roof of a moving car. I turned it on. It worked. I still can't quite believe it.

Now, I don't recommend as a rule leaving your cell phone on top of your car and driving away. But I must say that, although I have often marveled at the course of technology that give us a pocket-sized phone that also takes pictures and video and can even serve as a portable music player, I never thought that such a small miracle would be built like a tank.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On The Verge of Invisibility

Very soon, my current temporary job will come to an end. Am I crushed? No. It's not a very good job, the commute is very long, and now that summer vacation has come for my children, the daycare expenses were eating me alive. I will be back on the job market again or, if I have my way, on the way to self-employment.

But there will be a step in the middle: invisibility.

Last time I heard, the official unemployment figure was nine-point-something percent. That's high, but it hardly tells the whole story, and I'm a good example of one kind of person who makes the numbers come out all screwy.

I was unemployed for 22 weeks until I found my current position. I was unemployed for one week in the middle of my current position (I forgot to mention that the job was also kind of unreliable as a source of steady income). That means I have three weeks left on my prior claim. I won't qualify for a claim on the current job for some time. So then my remaining three weeks of unemployment insurance are used up, I become invisible.

Because the unemployment statistic reported by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, only measures the number of people collecting unemployment insurance as a percentage of the total number of people employed full-time. It also reports those working part-time who desire full-time employment (based on a sampling, of course; they don't ask everybody) as underemployed.

So, while I was working 37.5 hours a week making less than one-third of what I made fifteen years ago, I was not underemployed. Get it?

But when my insurance runs out, or if my business fails, since I cannot collect unemployment insurance, I won't be counted as underemployed or unemployed. I'll just be invisible.

I'm not upset that my benefits are running out, or that self-employment won't qualify me for benefits. After all, unemployment compensation is supposed to be an insurance policy, paid by my employer, which I do not pay into if I choose self-employment.

I just don't want my situation to be yet another way that the Government uses statistics to paint a rosy picture of a failing economy.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Waning Poetic

When I am old
And my eyes and my memory grow hazy
I think I will buy a bright yellow car
And save myself countless hours
Of wandering around in parking lots.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Editing My Life

I have decided to give my life a good editing. Taking out the stuff that doesn't contribute. Adding the details that matter. Rearranging things so that they make more sense. Giving the story a lot more substance and a lot less fluff.

Out with the old 35mm film cameras that I love, but will never again use. In with a nice used camcorder that can be adapted to my style of filmmaking. Out with lots of old furniture that gathers more junk and takes up more space in my new, more compact house. In with more time traveling with my wife and children.

Out with random 'Net surfing. In with directing theater, making music, and making movies.

What are the essential elements of a good life? "The Good Life" usually speaks of a life with lots of money and really big toys. That's not my good life. I had something like that a decade or so ago, and it had its moments, but it still wasn't where I wanted to be.

I don't need a fancy car, though I'd like to own one that I don't have to worry about being stranded on the Turnpike with. I don't need a big house; in fact, my wife is in the process of designing a much smaller house for us to live in when the kids are grown and get kicked out of the house...I mean, when they leave to get on with their lives. That alone has forced me to think about the physical size of everything I own, from computers to stereo equipment.

But then, realizing that the day when the youngest graduates high school is only a decade away, and that I'll be around retirement age by then, has forced me to think about how much space things take up in my schedule. And though a lot of unnecessary junk is using up room in my house, that problem pales in comparison with the unnecessary junk that's using up time in my life.

And so it's definitely time to take out the red pen. Hmm, haven't updated that blog in almost a year. Slash! Video games? Big old "X" on that one. Already eliminated most TV....

Now if I could just find a way to cross out shoveling snow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seeking Employment: No Muss, No Fuss, and No Jobs

Looking for a job in the Internet Age is a tremendously frustrating process. It's not just that the job market is tight, as well it is, and especially for someone whose most impressive accomplishments are many years in the past. But I still have the skills, and I've used them outside my employment to keep them sharp. But aside from a limited cover letter, I never get the chance to tell anyone about them.

That's because nearly every job application I submit now is either an email or an online application. And I rarely get any reply. Oh yeah, the occasional auto-responder, and one company even sent a little card. But mostly my application, cover letter, and resume just disappear into the ether.

Today I submitted an application online, for a company which shall remain nameless. After the entire process was complete, before I pressed the button to submit my application, there was a final set of instructions. I didn't copy them, so I am paraphrasing. Okay, interpreting:

"We don't actually want to deal with you as a person, and so don't call us on the telephone or expect any kind of reply unless we've already decided, pretty much, that you're right for the job. If we don't contact you in the next 30 days, you can assume we've hired someone else. You're welcome to apply for any of the other jobs we have listed here, provided you go through this online system once again and don't bother us in any way. Thanks."

Sounds like a great way to get high-quality applicants. I think I just became a "discouraged worker."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Problem With Tools

I'm a great admirer of tools. Given the proper tool and the proper skill, many amazing things can be accomplished and often are. The problem with tools is that owning a tool, having spent money on a tool, having committed storage space to a tool, confers an obligation to actually use the tool.

I'm all for that if the tool is a camera, or a sound recorder, or any of the myriad software tools I use to create pictures and music and sounds and stories. But lately, being the owner of an unfinished house, I have begun to acquire the kinds of implements that everyone thinks of when you say "tools."

You know, the kind of stuff that comes from the tool department at Lowes. Circular saws and table saws and miter saws. Power drills and compressors with nail guns. Snow blowers, for crying out loud. Here am I, a native of Southern California, the land of perpetual sunshine and I own not only a weed trimmer, but a snow blower. Along with snow shovels and ice scrapers.

And I use every single one of them. I clear snow and I hang drywall and I do carpentry and wiring, and even a little bit of plumbing.

When I look in the mirror I hardly know who I am.