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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Carnegie’s Advice to Business Graduates

“I can give you the secret,” said Andrew Carnegie in a speech at Curry Commercial College on June 23, 1885. “It lies mcarnegieainly in this: Instead of the question, ‘What must I do for my employer?’ substitute, ‘What can I do?’…. The rising man must do something exceptional, and beyond the range of his special department. He must attract attention.”

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: What Work Is Today

 by Julie R. Neidlinger from the Lone Prairie blog

The concepts of what work is, has changed.

What we think work is, both in culture and how it fits into our lives, has changed in the 21st century. Entrepreneurship, including micro-entrepreneurship, has lead the way, with 21st century workers wanting to work for themselves instead of for someone else.

Concepts of co-working, a tough economy and job market, and technology that allows for a low-cost entry into owning their own business, have helped push younger workers (and some older ones) into owning their own businesses.

This drive towards entrepreneurship and making a success of a business plays into the steady increase in more hours per week being dedicated to work.

Technology has made significant changes in how and what work is done. Fewer people are required to generate the same manufactured output thanks to technology, allowing (or forcing) people to shift to urban centers and find other kinds of work. Technology has allowed human workers to be unshackled from the office, giving them greater freedom.

Work in the 21st century is about being flexible and mobile, ready for change both in skills and financial savings.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: First Electronic Commercial Computer

On June 14,univac 1951 UNIVAC, the bungalow-size first commercial electronic computer,  was demonstrated in Philadelphia by the staff of the U.S. Census Bureau. UNIVAC, which stood for Universal Automatic Computer, was developed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, makers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. These giant computers, which used thousands of vacuum tubes for computation, were the forerunners of  today’s digital computers.

The UNIVAC 1 was the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention. UNIVAC computers were used in many different applications but utilities, insurance companies and the US military were major customers. One biblical scholar even used a Univac 1 to compile a concordance to the King James version of the Bible. Created by Presper Eckert and John Mauchly — designers of the earlier ENIAC computer — the UNIVAC 1 used 5,200 vacuum tubes and weighed 29,000 pounds. Remington Rand eventually sold 46 Univac 1s at more than $1 million each.

The search for mechanical devices to aid computation began in ancient times. The abacus, developed in various forms by the Babylonians, abacus 2Chinese, and Romans, was by definition the first digital computer because it calculated values by using digits. A mechanical digital calculating machine was built in France in 1642, but a 19th century Englishman, Charles Babbage, is credited with devising most of the principles on which modern computers are based. His “Analytical Engine,” begun in the 1830s and never completed for lack of funds, was based on a mechanical loom and would have been the first programmable computer.

By the 1920s, companies such as the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) were supplying governments and businesses with complex punch-card tabulating systems, but these mechanical devices had only a fraction of the calculating power of the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC).

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), was completed in 1946 at a cost of nearly $500,000. It took up 15,000 feet, employed 17,000 vacuum tubes, and was programmed by plugging and replugging some 6,000 switches. It was first used in a calculation for Los Alamos Laboratories in December 1945, and in February 1946 it was formally dedicated.

UNIVAC and other first-generation computers were replaced by transistor computers of the late 1950s, which were smaller, used less power, and could perform nearly a thousand times more operations per second. These were, in turn, supplanted by the integrated-circuit machines of the mid-1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the development of the microprocessor made possible small, powerful computers such as the personal computer, and more recently the laptop and hand-held computers.

eniac to handheld

Read more about the history of computers at binarymove.com and about UNIVAC at History.com

WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: 4 Facts to Know About Hiring Good People

Everyone talks about the importance of “hiring good people.”  Meaning what, exactly? Skills and experience? Character? Eagle Scouts? People like you?

Keeping these following facts in mind will help you hire employees who will be a good fit in your organization—they may even turn out to be simply good people.

1. People lie.

For whatever reasons, it is common for job candidates to exaggerate—or even just outright lie—on resumes and application forms, and even in interviews. This happens at all levels, including some infamous failures in hiring for the C-suite.

Some employers put it down to the intense competition applicants feel in a kind of escalating ground war with other similar candidates who may look better, but the reality is that lying to get a job is an indicator of the person’s character, and there is no reason to think that similar behavior won’t happen again when the person becomes part of your organization.

2. Turnover is expensive.

When you think about the costs to recruit, interview, and train, combined with the lost knowledge, lost productivity, and stress on staff who remain while the position is being filled and the ‘new person’ is getting up to speed, the costs are undoubtedly great.

Everyone knows there will be a certain amount of turnover in an organization, but you want to avoid mistakes in hiring that lead to premature departures. This puts pressure on you to devise a hiring process that is systematic and thorough even though that might seem to cost more in the short run. The ultimate quality of your candidates is affected at every step of the hiring process.

3. Blanket Exclusions are Dangerous – and May Be Unfair

For convenience or efficiency, employers sometimes choose to reject applicants based on simple or even single factor criteria. For example, some employers have excluded applicants, without further research, based on a single statement that they have a criminal conviction in the past. This strategy may expose you to litigation by rejected applicants and potential action by regulators, and it likely leads you to miss out on good hires.

There are jobs where a hard and fast rule for exclusions exists, such as rejecting applicants for law enforcement jobs if they have a criminal conviction. But your hiring process should be built largely around screening applicants for their qualifications based on job-related criteria and be sure the hiring process aims to evaluate the individual fairly for his or her own circumstances, and how they do or do not fit the position.

4. The social media ‘goldmine’ can just as easily become a minefield.

Employers have easy access to a trove of personal information about candidates via social media. But keep two things in mind before you succumb to the temptation to peek inside your candidate’s personal life.

First, remember that once you look into the candidate’s accounts, you cannot “unlook” at it. In other words, you cannot pretend not to notice things about the person’s history, political views, or any other matter of private belief or lifestyle. You are accountable for knowing what is in there.

Second, the use of any information you find in a social media account is protected by the same laws that protect the use of offline information. The rules about privacy are evolving, but some courts have found social media accounts to be off limits for use in employment decisions. You may need to look at this kind of information, but you are best served by giving the job to a third party agency that will follow the laws diligently.

No doubt about it: good people make companies great…. and with these facts in hand you are better equipped to bring more of the right people on board .

TIP TUESDAY: What Do Employers Really Need to Know About Job Applicants?

Employers invest significant time, energy, and resources in bringing a new employee onboard.  Recruiting, screening, and interviewing processes are all done with the goal of hiring an employee who will do a job well and work well within an organization.  So what do employers need to know to hire successfully?  And what are the things employers don’t need to know?

Need to Know:

Experience.  Does the applicant have relevant work experience (or other experience)?

Education.  Will the applicant’s education help him or her do the job?

Personality.  Does the applicant have the motivation, energy, and attitude that’s needed for the job?  For the organization?  Note—employers shouldn’t always look for an applicant who will “fit in.”  Sometimes the right person for the job is someone who will shake things up, bring a new perspective, or reenergize a team or department.

Not So Much:

Credit score. It’s apparent from recent legislation on state and local levels that employers don’t need to know whether an applicant has a good credit score—at least for most jobs.  The District of Columbia is the jurisdiction that most recently enacted a law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their credit history.  It joins 11 states that have similar laws. Generally, the laws allow employers to inquire about an applicant’s credit history if the job involves unsupervised access to large sums of money or to customers’ financial information.

Pay history. A new state law in Massachusetts and a new ordinance in Philadelphia prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s pay history; similar legislation is pending in other states and municipalities, including New York City, where a bill approved by the city council awaits the mayor’s signature. Basing an employee’s pay on pay history instead of the market value of the position can be a disadvantage to workers who entered the workforce at a lower pay rate; and it can perpetuate gender-based pay disparities.

Not Right Away:

Criminal history. Several states and numerous cities and counties have enacted “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application. Many require employers to delay these questions until after an applicant has been offered a job.

Not At All!

Protected characteristics. It’s a rare job that requires a job applicant to be of a certain age, race, color, religion, national origin, or sex (think female actor for a female role). If employers ask for information, it’s because they want the information. And if they want the information, it’s because they’re going to use the information.  At least, that’s what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “generally presumes” about an employer’s questions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions that are likely to elicit information about a disability before a conditional job offer has been extended.  Employers should avoid questions about an applicant’s history of using sick leave, history of hospitalizations, workers’ comp claims, etc.  Questions should be limited to whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

To get the information it needs while avoiding information that’s irrelevant (and possibly unlawful), an employer should focus on the qualifications for the job in question and make inquiries that will help it evaluate how the applicant’s skills and experience align with those qualifications.