Category Archives: Other

Susan’s Snippets

I’m happy that some of you recognised the Code of Ethics mentioned in our last newsletter as the 4-Way Test adopted by Rotary International. I highly recommend it as a useful guide when you are unsure of the right way to approach a situation.

CRS is proud to be celebrating 12 years of business. We recently had a “paint” staff party, whereby new staff members painted a picture to join our collection of masterpieces all painted by CRS staff members. This is the result. What do you think of our talent?

 

“Wait and See” Causes Downturn in Recruiting

If you read the local and international news on the economy, you may be feeling a bit alarmed about the future. Are we heading for a recession? Will escalating food and other prices make the cost of living untenable? What about the effects of global warming and climate change?

Over time I have noticed that the volume of recruitment business is directly proportional to the perceived strength of the economy, which is strongly affected by what is happening in the local (Trinidad & Tobago) oil industry. For instance, when oil prices dropped in the early 2000s then so did general confidence and that led to a sharp decrease in recruiting activities. Companies that are experiencing a downturn in business naturally put a stop to recruiting until business picks up again; then there is a frenzy of hiring to make up for the personnel shortages accumulated during the hiring freeze.

I have observed a more than 40% drop in new I.T. recruitment requirements from this time last year. This has been noticeable since December 2007. There is normally a spike in the amount of new business in January which just did not happen to any great extent this year.

Right now oil prices are at a record high and experts have been saying that the economy in Trinidad & Tobago is strong. So why the fear of making normal business decisions of expansion and renewal? A major factor may be that many of the large oil companies in Trinidad have been laying off staff. This reflects the slowing down of new gas and oil finds (yes, it ought to be said that way round) and the oil companies are quick to cut costs when their profits are in jeopardy.

Yet, it is clear that there is gas and oil here to last for many more years, plus the strong likelihood that more will be found. It looks like the stock markets are recovering and there is no prospect of a recession like we’ve experienced in the past. The lay offs are mostly confined to the oil industry. For everyone else, a “wait and see” approach to business could actually trigger a self-fulfilled prophecy by causing a downturn.

I say we should be confident in our business prospects and plan for increasing success. There are plenty of opportunities and plenty of money around and it is a good time for strategic career moves. That is why CRS is currently investing in new systems to cope with future recruitment growth and market expansion. Is your business ready to do the same?

 

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

Congratulations to T&T’s Soca Warriors for winning the football (soccer) match against USA (first time this has ever been achieved) and hopefully on their way to getting into the second round of the Football World Cup qualifiers. We have eyes on South Africa in 2 years time for the team to repeat their extraordinary performance in Germany in 2006.

What else is there to say except that “we are living in interesting times”.

 

Jobs in an Uncertain Economy

If you are living in Trinidad, then you know that the question on everybody’s mind is whether or not we will be affected by the global roller coaster economy. Our economy is still strong but there’s a feeling that we must be affected somehow by the crisis in the USA, Europe and elsewhere. We are always affected by the price of oil and, more importantly, gas, and these prices have been dropping and rising in an unpredictable manner globally. Nevertheless, the world needs oil and gas and known reserves are depleting, so oil companies must continue to fund increasingly more expensive exploration and drilling in order to meet future demand.

Historically, Oil & Gas companies tend to lay off staff as soon as their profits dip, and this is one reason why many young people in North America and elsewhere do not choose to work in that industry. This has led to a shortage of skills world-wide, with the prospect that this situation is about to become much worse as a large percentage of skilled and experienced oil and gas professionals are due to retire soon. Therefore, I feel that our international energy sector companies are more likely to relocate skilled staff to other countries, if the local situation should warrant this. This could be a great opportunity for our local talent to gain international experience in this industry.

I.T. skills also appear to be in great demand, both locally and internationally. It seems that the dot.com crash earlier this decade caused many undergraduates in North America to avoid the computer industry as a career. Now there is a shortage of I.T. skills and in fact, according to the (U.S.) National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, I.T. employment in the USA is on the rise, despite layoffs in other sectors. This makes sense – I.T. is integral in ensuring that a company is operating as efficiently as possible, and that product development can continue to keep the company competitive, when the economy is tight.

I have experienced this myself. Many years ago, I was a programmer at British Airways when the company decided to lay off 20,000 staff world-wide. All staff were invited to apply for voluntary redundancy with generous termination packages. About 80% of the computer staff applied (as we knew we could get jobs elsewhere) before they announced that the computer department was to be the only exception and so our applications were rejected. Unfortunately for the company, many staff had already got job offers and left anyway, me included. But this demonstrates how vital I.T. is to any organisation.

What’s the conclusion in terms of job prospects? I.T. and Energy sector professionals should continue to enjoy a high demand for their skills with consequent salary increases as companies compete for their talent. However, be prepared to seek opportunities abroad to capitalise on this demand.

 

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the long Easter weekend. I particularly loved watching hundreds of kites in the Savannah, some flying more successfully than others. Speaking of success, I’m very proud to announce that CRS is now 10 years old. To commemorate this achievement, I thought I would tell you what it was like in those difficult early days when I started this business selling a new concept in Trinidad & Tobago.

I wish to thank everyone who supported and encouraged me along the way and I especially wish to congratulate my staff, as without them, I would not be here today.

 

CRS – The First 10 Years

“Why don’t you stop talking about it and just do it!” These words were like a slap in my face. Sylvia was right – I had been talking for months about starting this business and never really progressed to make it happen.
Sure, I had done some market research which demonstrated an almost unanimous “yes” to the idea. I had a laptop with the latest Windows 95 and Office software, a printer and some accounting software. I had researched the idea in England and even went on a three day seminar there on recruitment strategies. So what else did I need to start?

I needed moral support. Working out of my home was not an option and I couldn’t imagine being all alone in an office making a go of it. I really wanted my sister, Karen Jackson, to work with me but she had a good job with a salary that I couldn’t match. These thoughts were going through my head when the phone rang. It was Karen saying she had decided to resign her job. Talk about fate!

We cracked open a bottle of wine and toasted to the success of the new company! It was a Friday in March 1996 and Karen agreed to work with me to fulfil my dream of match-making I.T. professionals and companies needing their services. I decided to name the company “Caribbean Resourcing Solutions” as it would operate throughout the Caribbean to provide the best resources for I.T. jobs and thereby solve the problems that I.T. employers have in finding suitable talent.

Why did I think I was qualified to establish the first technical recruiting company in Trinidad & Tobago (and probably the Caribbean)? Well, I was an I.T. person with a Computer Science degree and over 20 years I.T. experience at the time.
I had worked as a Consultant for the previous 9 years, the last 2 years as a free-lancer in Trinidad and the U.K. I knew what kind of quality service I wanted from an agency to find me my next contract job, and I wanted to offer this type of service to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

It’s amazing how things move to facilitate you once you’ve made the decision to do something. That weekend, Karen learnt of a small office for rent in Diego Martin. I went to see it on the Monday and I was in there a couple of days later. Karen didn’t join me as my Office Manager until mid-April as she was working out her notice.

Being an I.T. person, I had contacts to start establishing a Candidate Database, and I distributed brochures at every possible opportunity to attract more. Then I sent out a mail-shot to about 150 companies, following up with phone calls. I’m not a sales or marketing person so this was the hardest thing for me to do. That’s why I needed Karen there – to keep me going.

Not many people know this, but in the beginning, CRS only offered contract services, a new concept in the I.T. world in Trinidad at the time. I nearly starved! I had my first contract job in August with my brother’s company. It was for a 5 hour job and I made TT$400 after paying the contractor. My brother said I should frame the cheque!
We also launched the first version of the CRS website www.crsitjobs.com in August 1996 – the first job site in T&T.

When I realised that companies were asking for permanent staff, I wised up and catered for that as well. Interestingly, these days most of our revenue is from contract sales, but I was a little ahead of the times back then.

While I got quite a bit of interest from various companies there were also many disappointments. What I thought was going to be an easy money-earner turned out to be a lesson in surviving in a tough business world. I tried to make each mistake or disappointment a learning experience.

By November, I had several “sure” projects collapse all at the same time and I was thinking of quitting. That’s where Karen earned her keep. She persuaded me that I’d been very unlucky so far and I should give it at least 6 more months as I had already invested so much effort and money into this venture. Our first Christmas staff lunch was at an Indian restaurant and was funded by 2 vouchers for free lunch that Karen had acquired.

We also had our good times. When I got my first business enquiry in June 1996, I celebrated by inviting all the other tenants in the building to share in some wine and snacks. They couldn’t believe it wasn’t even a sale! Since then, we always celebrate first/big events with wine (bubbly these days).

We got our first permanent sale in January 1997 and then they started pouring in! It was like I had been humbled and been taught lessons so now success was coming my way. By July I was so swamped with work that I hired an HR person, Peter Gregoire, as a Recruitment Consultant. Pretty soon, we had to move to a much larger office in the same building and hire more staff. In December 1998, we moved to brand new and much larger premises in Woodbrook, and that is where we are still located.

We continued to learn lessons and adjust our business practices to suit. In 2003, we expanded our services to include technical recruiting (engineers, drillers, geologists, technicians, etc) in the Oil & Gas sector with its own website www.crsoilandgasjobs.com.
This was the next step in my dream to establish a quality recruiting service specialising in sourcing technical professionals of all kinds, not just I.T. This has naturally expanded to include the petrochemical and construction sectors as they employ similar skills.

While we don’t market our services regionally, we still get quite a few I.T. jobs for other Caribbean islands from referrals. Over the years we have placed Jamaicans in Jamaica, a Bahamian in the Bahamas, and Trinidadians in Barbados, St. Vincent and Mustique Island. We’ve had enquiries from islands as far apart as the Dutch Antilles, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic and Grenada. We’ve been approached by several North American agencies to supply talent to their market.

Our success has been a result of the efforts of our staff (currently Susan, Karen, Amelia, Stacey, Sonja and Keisha) who strive to ensure that our clients and candidates like the way we do business and deliver results, and therefore choose CRS to give them the service they need.

So where do we go from here? Let’s just say that CRS has eyes on the world! Watch this space.

 

Tell Us What You Think

Letters to the Editor:

I believe that the newsletters provided by the CRS are essential and much needed in fostering awareness for the potential of IT/IS, as only IT has the power and capability in modern society, to facilitate communication and collaboration among all individuals to aid the development of our country, the region and more importantly, the world. I would like to commend your work once again. Keep up the good work … Paul

Thank you for your kind words, Paul … Susan

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Issue 2.1
August 2004

We are back!

It has been many moons since the CRS Newsletter graced your screens. We were stonewalled by anti-spam software, including being blacklisted by our own server! It became very difficult to overcome all the barriers out there, despite the fact that ours was a legitimate opt-in newsletter.

So, I retreated and subscribed to a few how-to-run-your-own-internet-marketing-business type newsletters to find out how they managed to get their newsletters through to me. In the process, I learnt a lot, and our resurrected newsletter is in a completely new style and format. I hope you like it. If you wish, you may unsubscribe as indicated elsewhere in this newsletter.

We have now acquired state-of-the-art email marketing software to handle our newsletter more efficiently and to overcome the problems that we encountered previously. Do not worry, we will not spam you. If you are receiving this, then you had subscribed to us at some point.

 

Anti-Spam Legislation

If you are like me, you get tons of unwanted junk mail every day. There is a variety of software (many are marketed through spam, ironically) that can effectively manage this for you. I have been using Outlook 2003 and I’m very impressed at how this filters junk mail. I have not found a single valid email filtered out by mistake yet.

Did you know that there are now US laws regulating commercial mailings? Amongst other things, newsletters must have a working opt-out link in each email. Each unsubscribe request must be suppressed from future mailings and the address must be removed from the mailing list within 10 business days. So, in theory, you should be able to get rid off unwanted mailings by simply unsubscribing from them.

This is an excellent analysis of the legislation in PDF: http://www.customerparadigm.com/can-spam/can-spam-act.pdf

Getting caught breaking the law can result in a jail sentence in the USA. I wonder how that will stop the European junk mail! It is still best to avoid displaying your email address out there on a website or to enter it into any web based database. Difficult, I know, in this age of global communication.

I do promise that I will do my best to comply with these laws even though I am not governed by them as I live in Trinidad & Tobago.

 

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those, too!