Why Portland Home Prices and Building Permits Rise While the Suburbs Recover Slowly

3 12 2012

The full answer to the question in the title is in the Census Bureau statistics and details, however you can see what is happening in this simple statement I received via email correspondence with a Portland area economist.

“But many suburbs look like they aren’t returning to normal any time soon. Excess inventory – still unsold – must be scaring off developers in certain communities. For those cities, this is a very nervous making. Will they ever fully recover?

Meanwhile, developers seem optimistic that they can continue selling apartments and condos to the huge numbers of younger adults with college degrees that keep moving to the City of Portland and avoiding the suburbs.

That is it in a nut shell.


Free Online Job Posting Websites and Resources

21 11 2012

I recently received a question about posting job advertisements on a tight budget. The question and my response are below.

Are there any free websites and online job boards where I can post vacant positions for free? I have been tasked with conducting a nationwide job search on a shoestring budget.

My Response:

With a budget of “cheap to free” you are not going to find a lot of sources with huge nationwide networks and audiences. Any business with a nationwide network or audience is not going to give away the milk when they can sell you the cow so to speak. That being said there are many ways around your issue.

There are many free job posting sites or networks, but most are locally or industry focused. For free sites you might checkout PDXMindshare, Joblab and Portland Creative List. However they many of these examples are for marketing, digital, design and interactive jobs in the Portland metro area. State employment departments will also post jobs for free. Sometimes applicant tracking systems (see below) and employment department postings will be picked up and syndicated by the big paid job sites. Veterans services and disability advocacy organizations will also often post jobs for free.

If you are willing to pay to post on Linked-In you can syndicate your posting onto all the groups you are a part of. You might be able to do this without paying by posting positions to groups, but it would be time intensive if even possible. Craigslist is super cheap and even free in some areas such as the Oregon Coast for example. Of course bigger population center postings will cost more.

Twitter and social media might be a really good option for you too. Just research which tags might work for your position and company. #PDXJobs, career(s)# and #jobs all would be good. Under the bigger tags you will need to repost to stay out there. Of course the biggest free network you have access to is your companies employees, friends and families using them for referrals and outreach will be your best sources of good candidates (think social media). Alternatively you could research potential candidates by looking up resumes on Indeed resume search and contact them for free.

Also the applicant tracking systems like the Resumator and Smart Recruiters both have free job boards they syndicate to, an example list is below and linked. You might check some of them out. Although I suspect many of them will charge employers for direct postings.

  • Bright.com
  • Careerjet
  • CBCJobs
  • Diversity Employment
  • Hound
  • JobInventory
  • JuJu
  • Oodle
  • Trovit
  • Vast
  • WowJobs
  • Glassdoor


Whatever you decide, read the Indeed White paper on job advertising sources and analysis. It is a must read for anybody deciding on job posting budgets and sources. If it helps I think the big job sites like Monster and Career Builder are overpriced anyways. Hope some of this helps.

Eric Cook Featured in Amazon eBook

19 11 2012

Yours truly was featured  in a recently released book on Amazon. I was interviewed by the author Charles Dye on hiring secrets, online job applications and best practices.

Available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009RT6WAW


Introduction to Human Resource Analytics

12 11 2012

Human Resource analytics do not require an advanced degree in mathematics, economics or statistics. Any operations, HR or business management professional can become an expert in their client or companies people based metrics. Just tracking and reviewing some of these metrics is often all the evidence you need to prove or quantify what you already knew about operations, recruitment, benefits and organizational development.

Lets take a look at a simple broad metric, Revenue Per Employee (“RPE”).  So compare two similar companies with similar workforces but one has double the revenue per employee. It paints a very different picture of productivity, profitability and compensation at these companies. Based on economic theory and my understanding of scalability, software and manufacturing companies would lead the pack here when it comes to RPE. This is likely due to scalability and the nature of their industry and products. The RPE laggards on the list should be food and professional services (low-tech). The implication is that these low RPE companies and industries often need twice or three times as many employees to produce the same revenue as the higher RPE companies.

A later post will delve deeper into an industry comparison of data I gathered from fast growing Oregon businesses across several industries.

Portland Technology Hiring Introduction

13 09 2012


I am new to recruitment in the technology or marketing field, do you have some basic resources to help?


I should preface this that I am not the most senior expert on this topic but I will share these tips. Most of this post concerns internal recruitment efforts. External recruiters or agencies are very helpful when you need  talent fast or are in a bind, but the good ones and their good candidates are always expensive.

My first suggestion is that you join the Jennifer Johnson HR Network Listserv and PHRMA/SHRM. The jobs posted in the listserv are for HR or recruiting positions but as a resource, the network is great. The emails you get are focused on HR but it is a priceless resource for random questions and connecting with other hiring folks in your industry. One great lecture I heard at a special interest group concerned connecting with other recruiters or hiring managers in your industry to share leads and best practices (this is how this post was born). I ask and respond to questions from another HR manager at a similar sized agency and that relationship is invaluable.




Fortunately, for hiring developers, Portland has a decent or at least growing software scene. Sometimes you can find out if one of the local larger software companies write similar code or applications to what you create. If so, you’ve got a great talent pipeline or source. Of course this does require a strong understanding of the technologies you work with.

Craigslist is great with its multiple categories and huge volume. It is also still very cheap even with multiple categories and cities. Monster and Simply Hired are never worth it in my opinion for the cost and results. There are usually free industry specific posting spots as well. There are a lot of free posting sites for creative, marketing and technology fields. I have not tried Indeed (cost per click) but their free resume search feature looks really promising (http://www.indeed.com/resumes). You can also find other tech job boards like Dice, but I have not used them yet. I have not tried the Software Association of Oregon yet, but they have pretty good syndication and low prices for members. $25 for members ($50 for non-members) for a posting to their sites, their social media and Simply Hired syndication is worth way more than the price they charge. Linked-In of course is every professional recruiters best friend. If you are not already there I’d suggest you get a profile and start using it. Linked-In job postings cost a little more but are always worth it based on the quality of candidates and volume. Linked-In also has group features that makes it really easy to connect with talent. Plus you can post your Linked-In job posting to your groups for a wider audience. I’d suggest you look at some groups I joined (http://www.linkedin.com/in/erictcook).  They have some add-ons and premium recruiter features but they have not blown me away considering the cost.

Social media is another huge potential source. The Twitter tags of #PDXjobs and #jobs get  a lot of traffic for free at that. Just search the #PDXjobs tag to see how other companies are using it. Sometimes you can find great Meet-up Groups like PDX Web & Design. These types of groups are a great source for referrals, connections and applicants.

As far as what source or methods are most fruitful, it really depends. I highly recommend reading the Indeed white paper in recruitment advertising (linked below). You really can’t know how successful a given form of recruitment advertising is unless you track the numbers or the quality of hire. I also linked a relevant post from my blog that is somewhat related. Hiring sourcing  analysis can be done on the small scale with excel or empirical evidence, or with more complex statistical and data tools for larger organizations. Alas big data and hiring analytics is too grand a subject to dwell on this particular post, maybe another day.



Portland Free Sites




Hope some of this helps.

Portland Human Resource Management Association August Luncheon

23 07 2012

A committee I work on with PHRMA is hosting an amazing luncheon on August 15th. The theme is political advocacy with some legislative updates as well. The guest speakers will be discussing how to affect the legislative process. The event will have some great guest speakers with a lot of experience in Oregon employment legislation.

This should be a really great lunch and discussion. Additional details below and in this link.

Portland Human Resource Management Association

August Luncheon, August 15, 2012, 11:30am – 1:00pm

Portland Doubletree Hotel – Lloyd Center

Member – $25, PHRMA Members & members of affiliate organizations, Guest – $40 non-members

Register – www.portlandhrma.org (Calendar of Events)

The Inner Workings of Oregon’s Legislative Process

Session Summary:

Human Resource and business professionals are challenged with running their organizations while keeping current on changing laws that have a large impact on the businesses they operate. Have you wondered if you can influence the legislative process? Well, you can! Our panel discussion will answer the following questions.

  • How to have real influence within the legislative process?
  • What creates positive or negative impact with your legislators?
  • How can you leverage communication channels such as social media, email, phone calls and letter writing to have your voice heard?
  • When is the best time to schedule a visit with your legislator?

There will be time for a Q&A at the end of panel discussion. However, have a question you would like to be included on the panel, please send your questions to Programs@PortlandHRMA.org and we will do our best to accommodate them into the panel discussion.

HRCI recertification credit pending.


Chris Garrett has represented Lake Oswego and Southwest Portland in the Oregon House of Representatives since January 2009.  Chris grew up in Portland and graduated from Reed College.  He went on to earn his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School and clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.  Since 2002, Chris has practiced law with the Portland law firm of Perkins Coie.  He also served as Senior Policy Advisor to Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney. Chris currently serves as the Co-Chair of the House Committee on Business and Labor.  He also serves on the Judiciary Committee and the Rules Committee.

JL Wilson is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Associated Oregon Industries.  AOI is Oregon’s largest statewide business association.  JL grew up in Grants Pass and graduated from Willamette University.  He was the Legislative Director for two Speakers of the Oregon House of Representatives before becoming the Oregon State Director of the small business group NFIB in 1999.  In his 13 years as a lobbyist and advocate for Oregon employers, JL has helped numerous companies and business associations accomplish their public policy objectives.  JL currently manages the government affairs and political operations of AOI.  His lobbying efforts focus specifically on representing Oregon companies on employment law and tax issues before the legislature and state agencies.

Moderator Bio:

Randall Sutton is the 2012 Director of the SHRM Oregon State Council.  Randall has also served as the SHRM Legislative Affairs Director for the SHRM Oregon State Council and the SHRM Salem Chapter for many years.  Randall practices management-side employment law at the Saalfeld Griggs business law firm in Salem Oregon. As Chair of the firm’s Employment Law & Litigation Practice Group, he advises employers and handles claims brought by current and former employees.  Randall also has considerable experience litigating noncompete and trade secret cases involving former employees.  A frequent public speaker on employment legal issues, Randall tries to bring a practical approach to employment law compliance.

August Luncheon Sponsors (The Commerce Company, The Columbian/Monster)  

Workplace Bulletin Board Best Practices

18 06 2012

Some employers have a bulletin board that employees can post items of interest like vacation post cards, art and such. Often these are not policed and employers would only take down material if it was inflammatory or in violation of a policy. That being said, most employment attorneys would say that employers should prevent employees from posting personal items up there because once you start its hard to defend making editorial decisions of what is up there. For example if you let employee X post about their side business or school bake sale, its difficult (and maybe an unfair labor practice) to prevent an employee from posting about their own union organizing event.

The central point is that when you let employees post personal items on a bulletin board you need to be prepared to accept material you may not like. In other words be consistent and enforce the rules you establish equally.

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