USSR, Computers and Resumes
Russia and Computers – The economy of the 1990s
No one would ever have guessed that the fall of the Soviet Union, combined with increased computer (including the Internet) use in the late 1980s, would plant the seed for an economic boom of astounding magnitude. Some reading this may not see another breakthrough like computers and the Internet in their lifetimes, and some may be lucky enough to see one. There have been a few life changing inventions or discoveries in modern history and they include the harnessing of electricity, the steam engine, the car, the telephone, the plane and the Internet.
When the Berlin wall fell, global trade began to expand at an astounding rate. In the last half on the 1990s our economy witnessed four straight years of gross domestic product (GDP) growth above four percent, the longest such streak since the 1960s. Throughout the 1990s, businesses took advantage of low interest rates promoted by the Fed to expand, giving rise to new jobs. Someone could open a software company and that company might be bought before it even started generating revenue. We were looking for the next big thing in technology. People began claiming web domains that would be worth more than we could ever imagine. Today, if you Google “online shopping” you will find a website called www. shopping.com. It’s not a well done website, in design or in function, however it would take over ten years and a full time staff dedicated to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to obtain a ranking that would approach Shopping.com’s search ranking. The worth of this site is infinite and, believe it or not, someone got it for $50 few decades ago. Yes, less than you would pay for a dinner in New York City. Granted, if they were in Europe, they had to wait a few weeks until the paperwork was approved, but i guess the wait was worth it. To give you an example in 2007, Business.com was sold for $350 million, 47 times the amount that Sky Dayton bought it for in 1999. Finding more big sales of domains is tough, because people don’t know how to value them: they are the Mona Lisa of the Internet.
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering how this pertains to the recruiting world; bear with me.
Some economists refused to believe in the boom. The most memorable and documented comment was by Alan Greenspan in 1992 when he claimed this country was in a state of “irrational exuberance.” Immediately after his speech, the stock market dropped. At first, some listened to him. However, those who did lost the opportunity of a lifetime. Soon after this comment, a bumper stick reading, “I want to be irrationally exuberant again,” by political satirist Zack Exley popped up around the country. The stock market jumped.
What you can decipher from someone’s work history in the 1990s.
Armed with this knowledge, you can put it to use when recruiting. There are certain things you should look for, since every resume is essentially a story. If someone left, or got laid off from their company due to an acquisition you must ask yourself, why were they not kept around? Surely if the sales representative was making money, the acquiring party would consider him/her as a part of the deal, thus justifying the amount they paid. Therefore, if a salesperson got laid off from 1995 – 1999, it is essential to ask questions. If someone had two jobs between these four years, I’ll put them in the “maybe” pile. If the person has three moves within this time period, no matter how good their resume was in other periods, they land firmly in “no.” Because the stock market was booming, stock options were promised at nearly every company, public or private. Unless their company was a complete dud, no one wanted to leave because their new company could go public, and that big payout could be right around the corner. Another thing to look out for is how much the employee sold. I came across a resume today that looked extremely promising, until it became clear that a chart of the applicant’s revenue gains would look like a triangle peaking. The ascent began in 1995, peaked in 1999, then fell dramatically in 2000 and on. Other things to look for are whether the salesperson had more than a three-month gap in employment; whether the person was laid off for more than six months right after the 1990s ended; and, if they can produce a W-2 saying they made over $300,000, noting in which year the person secured that income. If they made it in 2009 they should be in extremely high demand, though if they made that in 1998, it’s not as impressive.