/blog > archive > March 2012

newequation2

We’ve written a lot lately about major shifts occurring in how higher education is perceived and how it will be delivered in the near future. The need for a paradigm shift is beginning to sink in. So the following doesn’t come as any particular surprise: No Financial Aid, No Problem. For-Profit University Sets $199-a-Month Tuition for Online Courses “This is not buying a house,” says [education entrepreneur Gene] Wade, co-founder and chief executive of UniversityNow. “This is like, do I want to get cable?” New Charter offers a try-it-before-you-buy-it platform that mimics the “freemium” model of many consumer Web services. Anyone can create an account and start working through its self-paced online courses free of charge. Their progress gets recorded. If they decide to pay up and enroll, they get access to an adviser (who helps navigate the university) and course specialists (who can discuss the material). They also get…

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danridge

The problem of jobs looms over much of our national discourse, especially in an election year. It seems that weeks have turned to months and months have turned to years as we’ve been waiting for sustained improvement in the area of employment, with no particular reason to believe that change is coming any time soon. Some pundits are even suggesting that relatively high levels of unemployment are becoming endemic, and that some loss of middle-class jobs may be permanent. In fact we’ve had pundits on this very program make exactly that point. Meanwhile, even as 13 million Americans are officially listed as unemployed, there are millions of jobs that are unfilled and may go on being unfilled for some time. Are we suffering from one or more blind spots when we survey the job market? And if so, what can we do to correct our vision — how do we…

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coot

As most regular readers and /or podcast subscribers know, I work for Zapoint, a company that sells “self-directed career management software.” What this means, very briefly, is that many talent management functions normally performed by HR are performed by the employees themselves, including identifying skills gaps, setting a career path, etc. Although such a solution can be implemented with various levels of organizational oversight and control, the whole idea still makes some managers uneasy…to say the least. So we get the odd uncomfortable joke about the monkeys running the zoo or the inmates running the asylum, all of which is par for the course. Still, even among managers who have enthusiastically adopted our approach, I wonder how many are ready for this? Why Employees Should Decide Who Gets Bonuses At both Linden Lab and his new company Coffee & Power, Philip Rosedale took a radical approach to bonuses: He let…

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smiley2

So it looks like we may have gotten this mixed up somewhere along the line. Conventional wisdom is that we succeed and that makes us happy. But what if it works the other way around? What if we get happy and then that enables us to become successful? That’s Shawn Achor’s argument at Harvard Business Review. He backs it up with an interesting case study: In July 2010 Burt’s Bees, a personal-care products company, was undergoing enormous change as it began a global expansion into 19 new countries. In this kind of high-pressure situation, many leaders pester their deputies with frequent meetings or flood their in-boxes with urgent demands. In doing so, managers jack up everyone’s anxiety level, which activates the portion of the brain that processes threats—the amygdala—and steals resources from the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for effective problem solving. Burt’s Bees’s then-CEO, John Replogle, took a different…

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resumewithpicture

A very interesting piece in Harvard Business Review Blogs claims that women job candidates who include a photograph with their resumes actually hurt their chances of getting a job. Attractive women get the brunt of the bias, with single women discriminated against in particular. Unattractive women who include a photo are discriminated against less frequently than attractive women, but again do themselves no favors. Bottom line: women who don’t include a photo with their resumes are more likely to get called in for an interview than women who do. So the very practical takeaway is that women should avoid including a photo with their resumes. Guys, it doesn’t hurt you at all. In fact, if you’re good looking, it can give you a bit of a boost. Note that these trends apply when women are the ones screening the candidates; when men are doing the screening, the bias against women…

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susannahbreslin_136

Forbes career blogger Susannah Breslin (sort of) explains why people get bad advice. Actually, she explains why some people get no advice…from her. Basically, they write meandering requests, they don’t offer anything in return, and they refuse to comply with her terms. All of which is fair enough, of course. Still, she must get a lot of these requests, and they must be very irritating to her, to elicit this level of prickly condescension: If you’re asking someone you don’t know for advice in an email, that person is probably more successful than you are. Or, at the very least, they know more about something than you. Because they’re at least moderately successful, you could assume they’re also busy. Yeah. If you ask somebody for advice, you’re acknowledging that they’re smarter and more important than you are. Dumb, unimportant people shouldn’t expect anything from smart, important ones. (The nerve.) Where…

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drawsomething

Doing no more research than reading a random Tweet on the subject (so disclaimers apply to the following numbers) we see this interesting progression: Time it took AOL to get to a million users: nine years Time it took Facebook to get to a million users: nine months Time it took Draw Something to get to a million users: nine days Now they’ve been bought. And they’re up to more than 20 million users. (Pinterest starts to look kind of anemic by comparison.) Will we be surprised in the near future when some new entity signs up a million new users in nine hours? Probably not. Nine minutes? Wow, could that happen? Nine Seconds? I wouldn’t bet against it.Read More…

Privacy

How and why is this surprising? Employers ask job seekers for Facebook passwords When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password. Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. But as the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no. Am I just being cyncial? Once we established that they…

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ratherbeanywhere

A while back we reported how 70% of employees feel generally disengaged from their jobs. Here Derek Irvine reports that an extensive, long term workplace diary project shows that individual workers feel unhappy or unmotivated about a third of the time. This seems to jibe well with the statistic we reported a while back — about 34% of all employees are ready to bail at the first opportunity. Looking at things from management’s perspective, Erika Anderson writes that there is really just one reason why top talent leave an organization: Top talent leave an organization when they’re badly managed and the organization is confusing and uninspiring. I don’t know whether he was badly managed, but Greg Smith’s well-documented resignation from Goldman Sachs seems to have something to do with his feeling confused and uninspired. So maybe there’s something there. Meanwhile, John Hollon reports that the War for Talent is about…

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1935kindle

…or Nook, as pictured in 1935. More details here. Well, they certainly went to a lot of trouble. It’s too bad they attempted only to capture the book-reading capability. Imagine what a 1935-version of a Kindle Fire would look like — even a scaled-down one that could simply show movies and play music in addition to enabling you to read books. The thing would have taken up a whole room. (Or possibly house.) Cross-posted from The Speculist.Read More…