Monday, May 28, 2012

How Start-ups Help Employers Find the Best Job Candidates

Harqen Ceo Kelly Fitzsimmons
               With signs that the economy is warming up, a bevy of new start ups stand ready to help companies and employees make the right match. While admitting that during the recession, “the hiring space was hellacious,” Kelly Fitzsimmons, CEO of   Milwaukee-based HarQen, made good use of the time to improving existing systems and to work on new products.  Founded in 2007, HarQen considers itself “a pioneer in the virtual interview space,” with its application called Voice Advantage that allows recruiters to use their phones and a simple web-based dashboard to create and distribute customized, prerecorded phone interview questions. On their part, job candidates  take the interview at their own convenience by clicking on a link through email or on the web; they type in a phone number and answer a callback a second later to begin. Once the interview is completed, recruiters can review the exchange and forward it to others who play a role in hiring. Hiring managers, says Kelly, like the product because it is “a real timesaver, eliminating scheduling hassles”.  And so do job seekers. HarQen reports that 90% of candidates complete the interview within the first 24 hours and 40% of them take the interviews evenings or weekends.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Farming For Agritourism Dollars

Farming for Agritourism Dollars

Jane Eckert in the orchard
    A 6th generation farmer, Jane Eckert grew up with a first hand view of the rigors of farm life “where one night of bad weather can wipe out a year of hard work.” So after picking up a business degree, she left home to work at Atlantic Richfield in L.A. After several years in executive marketing positions, Jane decided to help the family fruit farms in Belleville, Illinois develop  agritourism business because “it is very hard to make living selling wholesale crops.”  The farm now features  Eckert’s Country Store,   which offers a full line of produce, meats, wines, bakery, and deli  products, as well as country favorites such as preserves, pickles and buckwheat pancake mixes; it also has added  a  320-seat restaurant.  Because Eckert Farms,  currently managed by 5 family members, attracts some 500,000 customers a year, Jane’s marketing reputation spread quickly.  In 2001 she founded  Eckert Agrimarketing with a  lofty  mission “to help the family farm—the backbone of our country’s heritage-- thrive and survive in future generations.”