Dave Lefkow, vice president of professional services for Jobster, talks about his efforts to find new opportunities for the 60 skilled workers, overall office morale, and the “silver lining” in the recent layoff.
What are some of your efforts at helping these people get jobs?
DL: “I personally have a good network of contacts. A lot of people at Jobster have been doing the same things. I have had over a dozen recruiters or managers call me to say they are looking for people. Over the last couple of days, I have arranged at least 15 or 20 interviews [covering about 20 employees]. I would say this is happening in a lot of areas [throughout the company], with both individual efforts and combined efforts in the form of career counseling. The bottom line is that this is a business decision. We laid off good people who are typically very hard to find. I told recruiters they might want to act fast. It’s true.”
What was the typical age of the workers who were laid off? Nobody wants to be unemployed, but did you sense an added pressure to seek reemployment from certain workers? Perhaps from workers with young families to support?
DL: “It was a cross-spectrum of age ranges: 20s to 40s and up. I don’t think people were upset. The general consensus is that it was a business decision. It wasn’t a personal decision…I don’t think they were disgruntled or upset. [Despite some online accounts.] It’s understandable you want to provide for your family, but I haven’t see a difference between people with families or those without. These are very qualified people. The silver lining is that it is a good job market right now. I encourage any employer to talk to us as quickly as they can [about these workers].”
If I walked into Jobster’s office today, what kind of a vibe would I sense? How is morale overall?
DL: “It’s Seattle; the weather is gloomy, but I don’t think the people are gloomy. There are going to be hurt feelings, people who lost friends who were part of the restructuring. I am empathetic to that. It’s really going to be a bit of a healing process for those folks. There is work to be done and customers to be serviced. We went out for drinks with some of the affected workers [the night the news was announced], and it was actually a very nice atmosphere.”
Have remaining Jobster workers been approaching you directly, perhaps sharing their thoughts with you?
DL: “I have a team of people and encourage them to be as open and candid as possible. We encourage people to tell us how they are feeling.”
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Are you annoyed that internal emails got leaked?
DL: “It’s to be expected. The Internet is the great equalizer; access to information is unprecedented. Anything you do you have to assume most people are going to know about it. I’m not bothered, but not pleased, of course. Overall, I think in this wired world, just about anything you say has the potential to be out there in less than a minute.”
What is Jobster’s role in the expansion of social networking?
DL: “The way that most people get a job is through their personal connection. Job boards still have a role. Advertising is still a component. But how they get the job is a different story; now it’s who they know or their access to information. Social networking is an attempt to build in technologies…and using connections to get the job versus applying in too many different directions.”
Let’s say it’s January 5, 2008. What are people saying about Jobster, specifically their role in shaping social networking throughout the year.
DL: “I would think that you’re going to see some big things on Jobster.com that are helping support job seekers as they try to network for job opportunities. The challenge is, how do they find good people through relationships in a scalable way? And how do we help qualified job seekers stand out from the crowd? There is going to be more information and more ways to connect. There are some things that will be launched that will be really exciting people.”