AOL Cuts Nearly 1,000 Jobs

AOL BUILDING

AOL cut 20 percent of its workforce today, eliminating 950 jobs in the U.S. and India. Last year, the company cut 2,300 employees during its first round of layoffs. This year’s round of layoffs was aimed at trimming the budget, getting rid of positions that no longer serve a purpose, and eliminating jobs that overlapped with the Huffington Post website, which AOL acquired just days ago. None of the 250 Huffington Post employees that joined AOL lost their jobs. Instead, 200 employees who work for AOL’s media and technology groups lost their jobs, and 750 employees in India.

In the U.S., AOL laid off reporters and editors who worked for its travel site and business, personal finance sites Daily Finance and Wallet Pop. It also cut across its news and politics sites, including Politics Daily, according to people familiar with the matter. Employees who were laid off started packing up their belongings on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

The operations in India are in part a vestige of AOL’s old business as an Internet service provider, starting with call center outsourcing into 2002 and later changing into a business operations center. Recently, the group focused more on tech and financial support as well as functions such as advertising operations.

Although AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million, the company is still on shaky ground. According to WSJ, AOL shares are trading at their lowest levels since the company split off from Time Warner Inc. in December 2009. Shares of AOL were off 34 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $19 in Thursday 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. And according to research firm eMarketer Inc., AOL’s ad revenues dropped 26 percent in 2010, while the overall online ad market grew around 14 percent. AOL has steadily lost market share to rivals Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said he expects AOL’s online advertising business to start growing again during the second half of the year.

“AOL remains in the middle of the disruption that the Internet is causing and we are starting to move from being a disrupted brand to a brand that is leading the disruption,” Mr. Armstrong said in his memo. “The changes we are making are not easy, but they are the right changes for the long-term health of the company, the brand, and for our employees.”

After all is said and done, AOL will employ about 4,000 people. This figure does not include staff that currently work for AOL’s local Patch news sites, which recently hired 1,200 new employees.

  

Employers Rejecting the Unemployed

Unemployed Man

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, promotes jobs for lower-wage workers. She, along with worker advocates, claims that employers are screening out job applicants who are unemployed.

Owens said a telephone company in Atlanta, which she didn’t identify, ran an help-wanted ad saying only the employed should apply. Jobless applicants were also turned down by a temporary staffing firm and a Texas recruiter because they were unemployed, she said.

“What’s startling are the lengths to which companies are going to communicate this such as including the phrase ‘unemployed candidates will not be considered’ right in the posting,” she said.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating similar claims after media reports revealed that some employers are keeping applicants without jobs from being considered. The practice has also raised concerns about discrimination. Still, many others feel that the practice just doesn’t exist.

The Society for Human Resource Management, which represents more than 250,000 personnel managers, is “unaware of widespread recruiting practices” that exclude the jobless, said Fernan R. Cepero, representing the Alexandria, Virginia-based group.

Applicants who have been out of work may struggle because their skills are more obsolete than those who are employed, said Cepero, vice president for human resources at the YMCA of Greater Rochester in New York.

If you feel you have been discriminated against by an employer, contact the EEOC at 1.800.669.4000 or email info@eeoc.gov.

  

Tough jobs report for December

While the pace of job losses has declined dramatically, we haven’t turned the corner yet.

The job market remained in a deep funk in December, according to a government report Friday showing that employers view the economic recovery as too weak and too fragile to begin hiring again on any large scale.

The pace of layoffs has slowed sharply in recent months, but businesses still cut 85,000 net jobs in December, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 10 percent, but economists suspect this is only because hundreds of thousands of frustrated workers stopped looking for jobs.

The key is that the trend in is the right direction. The recovery is going to be a little choppy, but hopefully the trend continues in the right direction. If you’re unemployed, the key is to continue being persistent. Don’t give up!

  

Time to play offense?

If you’re a small business owner or a manager in a larger company, this is the question you should be asking yourself. Many of us had to make tough decisions at the beginning of the recession, and now with a possible recovery on the horizon we need to re-examine those decisions.

It may not feel like it yet in your town or in your industry, but there are indications that things are getting better. After a year or more of hunkering down, it is probably a good time to consider what the recession has done to your business and your industry. At some point, whether now or in a few months, business owners are going to have to switch from playing defense to playing offense.

For many of us, hiring freezes, layoffs, salary reductions and furloughs have helped us survive, but they have probably caused collateral damage to the psyche and bank accounts of our employees. Most of them went along with the program because they understood and because they had few options. But those options are coming. More companies are going to start to hire again. This should mean several things to business owners.

I suspect that many entrepreneurs have figured this out already. You have to be nimble in business, and making quick adjustments is critical to success.

This also bodes well for anyone looking for a job. Circle back to the leads you followed six or even three months ago and see if their situation has changed. You might find opportunities where they didn’t exist before as more companies start to play offense again.

  

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