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Albany City headhunter picks puzzling

By   /   September 2, 2009  /   Comments

I recently read with considerable interest an article published in the New York Times (Aug. 17, 2009) entitled ‘… Big Pitches, Big Fees, Few Jobs” regarding job search companies. They are commonly known as headhunters.

My question: why do we need the services of a job search company?  Does Al Lott feel a sense of gratitude to Slavin for recommending him?  Does he not trust the competency of the city’s Human Resources staff?

The article cites experiences of newly unemployed persons who thought they would have an edge as they succumbed to the fresh maelstrom of emotions. The constant pressure of the companies’ salespersons compounds their anxiety. Consequently, they are paid from $5,000-8,200 advance fees and to date some remain unemployed.

The article noted that state attorneys general had researched complaints about career counseling companies during this recession. In fact over the years, several state attorneys generals have filed lawsuits after consumers reported having been misled.

Now, I wonder how successful has the city of Albany been as it has paid thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to Slavin Management Consultants for their services. In 2004, they were contracted for the city manager’s position. Since then, City Manager Alfred Lott has consistently used Slavin to search for the chief of police, finance director, human resources director, assistant city managers, Civic Center director and the intriguing, infamous downtown CEO/Manager Don Buie. It seems difficult to understand that Slavin

missed Buie’s incarceration and felony conviction, citing ignorance of the law of limitation changes regarding a criminal background search. Ignorance or selective memory loss?

Incidentally, of the placements listed above; the police chief was under pressure to resign; the finance director at that time was fired by Lott, and the new one replaced by Slavin, Robert Jones, who was known for getting a short nap during city commission meeting, also resigned with a handsome severance pay; and Jim Coston, the HR manager, was hired by default after the Slavin recruits declined the job offer. It’s no secret Lott and Coston’s relationship was more confrontational than most; Coston abruptly retired. Wes Smith and John Mazzola have managed to remain in place.

What really comes to my mind is the good ole’ boy system; it almost sounds as if Slavin had no competition and automatically received contract renewals. Therefore it appears to have been very little opportunity for healthy negotiations among other possible vendors. Perhaps Buie felt the same way; why couldn’t he make his own deals and throw process and procedure out with the wash?

My question: why do we need the services of a job search company? Does Al Lott feel a sense of gratitude to Slavin for recommending him? Does he not trust the competency of the city’s Human Resources staff? Given the poor success of headhunters and the excessive expenses incurred, I would strongly suggest the City of Albany to develop its own search process. I like the mayor’s approach. Pass the ballots around — Slavin yes or no. Just something to think about.

Written by Leon Modeste, Albany, Georgia.

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