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September 14th, 2009

Time Magazine’s Feature on Service and Responsible Business

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Buried in Time Magazine’s September 21 issue, whose lead story was “Out of Work in America” (sigh…), is a feature section on service in America. The section includes a few interesting articles – such as “The Responsibility Revolution” about responsible consumers, “25 Responsibility Pioneers” (which includes a number of our past and present clients), and an interview with President Obama and Michelle Obama around the concept of service in the United States.

While a lot of the content in there and initiatives featured are not new news to people who’ve been in this space for awhile, we take it as a heartening sign that these great companies – RecycleBank, Interface, CleanFish, among others – are getting national mainstream attention.

Another interesting theme that runs throughout is the idea of bringing public responsibility and “citizenship” back to the fore – Time’s poll reported that 68% of respondents thought most Americans do not live up to their responsibilities as citizens, 75% would pay $2000 more to buy a car that gets better gas mileage, and 46% think teh government should require stores to charge for plastic bags in order to encourage use of reusable bags.

This is, of course, all well and good, and more evidence of a heartening trend towards social responsibility at large. We just have to hope that people will actually go out of their way to do and pay for these things. Thomas Friedman’s 2007 editorial on Generation Q comes to mind- how millennials are replacing online activism and mouse-clicking with actual committed activism. There’s a lot to act out on and communicate to businesses and decision-makers – it’s on all of us to make sure we’re not just sitting back and hoping someone else will buy organic or lobby their company to initiate greener practices.

All in all, worth a read – if mostly for the inspiration from the 25 Responsibility Pioneers who’ve taken their beliefs to heart and to business to try to offer consumers more responsible options.

Image: Time Magazine

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August 18th, 2009

As if jobseeking weren’t hard enough…

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A recent NYTimes article highlighted yet another dark side of the recession -”Job Search Firms: Big Pitches and Fees, Few Jobs” explained how companies are trying to exploit the panic jobseekers are feeling with scams and offers to “guarantee” a job for a chunk of money.

What these companies are targeting is people’s desire to find a job immediately – which makes a lot of sense, given that bills need to get paid.

In the green sector, there are a lot of factors contributing to the reality that green jobs growth is happening by fits and starts and is hard to predict: companies are seeing funding wash in and out, start-ups that are hitting it big or failing to meet expectations, and stimulus funding is creating buzz.

As we’ve seen it in recent months, jobs in the green space are being landed by some combination of strategic searching, serious networking, inside connections, and a lot of serendipity. It’s a fight against entropy, and the results in terms of who’s getting jobs are, at times, essentially random.

There’s no guarantee for a job right away, but folks who are best preparing themselves are those who are getting education, volunteering, networking,* and trusting that in the coming months, things will pick up and the promise of green jobs will become more of a reality. Hang in there!

* Some upcoming networking opportunities – check out our Partners page for more info:

  • RMI2009 – BGT members get a 10% discount, or just check out RMIQ, an evening networking/mingling event here in San Francisco.
  • West Coast Green - BGT members get a 20% discount on full pass. We’re sponsoring the Green Jobs Pavilion – come find us on the Expo floor!
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August 7th, 2009

Things in the Job Market are Getting… Less Bad

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Well, a somewhat heartening labor market report today – check out the NYTimes article that discusses how the worst might be behind us.

On the green jobs front, we found this video from Mother Nature Network that’s entertaining, if somewhat illustrative of how green jobs are a concept that many folks can rally behind but few can define:

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August 3rd, 2009

Bright Green Talent in the SF Chronicle: Tough Job Market for Recent Grads

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This past Sunday, our new marketing intern Dana and I were featured in the Business section of the SF Chronicle in an article called Tough Job Market Requires that Grads Adjust.

The article is copied below, but I’d suggest you also check out the comments. Clearly, the job market is a hot topic – the comments range from fiery to frustrated to constructive. Lots of people suggested that recent graduates who are having trouble finding a job go start their own business. While I do know several friends who’ve been laid off and started in on their own projects, some of the same problems persist: recent grads’ networks aren’t as strong for funding and business support, they have a tougher time convincing investors they’re serious, and they don’t have the savings to back up the ventures on their own.

What this article is really about, then, is bootstrapping — that recent graduates are having to come up with creative ways to stay afloat and to pursue what they’re passionate about. That might mean working for free 3 days a week while supplementing with a restaurant or childcare job; it might mean working nights on getting a business up and running; or it might mean going back to school to get some more targeted experience.

For some of our job advice for recent grads, click here.

Tough job market requires that graduates adjust

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stanford graduate John Dryden didn’t have a job lined up before he got his diploma in June, but in this economy he feels lucky to have been offered a contract post.

“I look at it as a case where the glass is half full,” said Dryden, 22, a business major who had an internship last summer that, in better times, would have led to a job.

“The company has a hiring freeze but they’re still interested in bringing me back in the fall, not as a full-time employee with benefits but as a contractor,” Dryden said, adding, “I feel very fortunate.”

Young people nationwide are being forced to adjust their expectations and try new tactics as recent college graduates face the toughest job hunt in decades.

“The current situation compares to the early 1980s, which was also an extremely difficult job market for college graduates,” said Edwin Koc, research director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The association regularly surveys the nation’s largest employers about their plans to hire graduating seniors.

“Typically we have a positive story with an annual increase in the number of hires,” Koc said. “But when we asked employers what they expected to hire from this graduating class relative to last year, it was down 22 percent.”

The association also asked a sample of this year’s 1.6 million college seniors about their employment prospects and discovered a sharp drop from a prior poll.

“In 2007 when we surveyed students, over 50 percent of the class had a job offer before graduation,” Koc said. “This year it was 19.7 percent.”

Desiree Fabunan, 23, is one of those who beat the odds by getting a job with AT&T’s Western Region headquarters in San Ramon before graduating from Stanford in June.

“A lot of people were down in the dumps,” Fabunan said, recalling the mood on campus. “Back in January, people were really panicking because you know that at Stanford so many of the grads that had come before you had jobs by that time.”

Dana Lin, a recent college graduate who lives in Mountain View, said employers in this market are demanding more than a degree.

“Many jobs call for three or four or five years of work experience,” said Lin, 22, who earned her undergraduate degree in business from Cornell University in 2008.

April layoff

Back then, when the college job market was still strong, she got a marketing position with a Silicon Valley software firm. But she was laid off in April. To bolster her brief work experience, Lin is doing a part-time, unpaid internship with the San Francisco startup Bright Green Talent, a recruiting and staffing agency for the sustainable energy industry.

“We did not have much of a problem taking these internships when we were in college,” Lin said. “It allows me to learn new things in new areas.”

At Bright Green Talent, Lin works with full-time employee Carolyn Mansfield, a 2008 Stanford graduate who found that, even then, her anthropology degree didn’t impress employers. She also worked for free to gain experience, first as an unpaid media intern for the Sierra Club and later at Bright Green Talent, which hired her after a two-month trial period.

“It’s about getting your foot in the door and letting employers see your work ethic and how you perform on the job,” Mansfield said.

But while young college graduates face a tough job market now, long-term trends work in their favor.

“Many employers can forecast a large number of retirements coming up in the next three to five years,” said Tom Devlin, career center director at UC Berkeley.

Positions will open

Koc, the employment expert, said this retirement trend means positions will open up for young college graduates once the recession ends even if the recovery is too weak to create job growth.

But at the moment the circumstances are less favorable.

“Opportunities that may have been there in the past have not been as plentiful for our graduating class,” said Dryden, the Stanford alumnus.

E-mail Tom Abate at tabate@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/02/BU6I18SL7L.DTL

This article appeared on page D – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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July 13th, 2009

More Insight from Net Impact

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From Net Impact SF’s site, in regards to last week’s green jobs event:

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What a success! Last night we had over 60 RSVP’s and 2 great speakers that left the crowd in an upbeat and hopeful mood. Leonard Adler of Green Jobs Network and Christina Gilyutin of Bright Green Talent were there to assure us that there are jobs out there…we just need the right tools and strategies to sniff them out!

You’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it! People like you!

The burden of finding a job is not only like dating with its many high expectations and low results, but many of us feel like we need therapy just to get through it! How many resumes do we have to send into oblivion via Craigslist/Career Builder/Hot Jobs/Monster before we get a break? According to Christina Gilyutin, Director of Development and Chief Career Counselor for Bright Green Talent, we need to stay positive and remember that we are smart and talented, we just need to find strategies so that we are seen. Leonard and Christina helped the crowd to stay positive with some inspiring tips on finding a job.

Tips on how to be noticed: Networking

  • Volunteer to meet people or become a leader of a group, this not only helps you to meet new people, but it shows that you have initiative
  • Join affinity groups such as Green Jobs Network (www.greenjobs.net), Net Impact (www.netimpactsf.org) or SF Green Drinks (sfgreendrinks.org) which all serve to surrounded you with people who have similar interests
  • At networking/social events, TALK TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
  • Comments from the crowd included using your every day activities as an opportunity to tell people about your interests, you never know who you’ll meet!
  • Another suggestion from the audience was to organize dinners with friends and acquaintances who have similar/related career interests
  • A Net Impact leader mentioned that he found his job by talking to people in his field of interest as a peer, which resulted in a job! Confidence pays! He continued to say that if you’re looking for a job in sustainability, you need to find a 3rd vector to define your niche. Green + Business isn’t specific enough. Are you into design, procurement, logistics, materials science, …? The more specific the better.
  • Be a connector! Link people to others, they will likely return the favor!

Get Strategic! Leonard Adler of Green Jobs Network highlighted 3 points for us to remember:

  • Follow the Venture Capitalists! They might want to fund your idea!
  • Follow the money! Where is the government funneling money right now? To Green projects! Find out what kind of projects and to which companies the funds are going.
  • Follow the law! What laws have been passed recently? How does this legal change relate to my industry of interest?

Online Tips:

Spend only 10-20% of your time online for your job search and use the rest of that time giving your elevator pitch to new networks. While job boards are great, try to find job boards with a clear focus on your industry of interest such as Treehugger.com. There are a lot of Green job boards out there! General job boards can be more competitive due to their high amount of traffic and tendency to cover a broad number of industries. Also, try your old university’s job board, they often post jobs for alumni.

Need help with your resume?

Did you know about the Job Forum? The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds an event every Wednesday evening (6:30 to 8:30) called the Job Forum where they provide feedback on resume writing and give advice on job hunting http://www.thejobforum.org/.

What if I don’t have experience?

Try interning, its not just for the 20-somethings! If you don’t like that idea, try volunteering. Many businesses would love to have you work without paying while you gain valuable experience.

Seek Professional Help!

To learn more about Bright Green Talent’s Career Counseling Services, please visit http://www.brightgreentalent.com/

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July 6th, 2009

Update: Waxman-Markey, Stimulus Dollars, and Green Jobs Training

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Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

Watching this one minute video review of the energy bill in the House, one word resonates again and again: jobs. The potential for job creation in moving towards a clean energy future has become a rallying cry for proponents of the Waxman-Markey Bill — because who can argue with job creation when unemployment has officially hit 9.5% nationally?

In the past couple weeks, the Labor Department announced $500 million in grants for green jobs training programs. States and cities have also started to distribute stimulus dollars for training programs. If you’re interested in who’s getting funding and how, sign up for updates from Green for All — they’ve been giving a number of conference calls to keep folks in the loop and share information nationally about training programs. Most of the money that’s being doled out focuses on helping blue-collar workers transition into the green economy — providing “pathways out of poverty” as the nation undergoes energy retrofits, solar system installation, and more.

But some concerns remain. Yesterday, the New York Times brought into question the effectiveness of retraining programs in giving trainees a leg up in the job search. As the Times wrote, “a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were ‘small or nonexistent’ for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.”

Hopefully, the green jobs training programs will avoid the pitfalls that have led to the concerns raised by the NYT article, and will lend a hand to folks from all backgrounds and work histories — we hear from a lot of people who are looking to transfer technical skill sets and haven’t yet found a clear pathway in helping them do so. We have to believe that, with all the energy and enthusiasm focused on the green sector right now, there couldn’t be a better moment for these programs to succeed in training the next generation of environmental leaders.

To that end, we’ll continue to provide advice and resources to our jobseekers (keep an eye out for Bright Green Seminars starting in the next couple months), and we’ll support our partner Solar Richmond as they seek stimulus funding to support their amazing solar installation training program.

Stay tuned… more exciting developments are surely on the way.

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June 26th, 2009

Giving Voice to Jobseekers: 3 Ways Companies Can Clean Up their Hiring Processes

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Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

As companies have emerged from recession-induced hibernation, shaken off hiring freezes, and started to cautiously advertise job openings again, they’ve found an entirely different landscape than when they did their last round of recruiting.

Jobseekers who’ve been haunting job boards for months have started to dive on any vacancy that they come across. Companies are seeing floods of barely-if-at-all qualified resumes come through and have found themselves trying to tackle the hiring process when they’re still hesitant about hiring, understaffed in their HR and other departments, and with vastly reduced recruiting budgets.

We speak with hundreds of candidates each week who’ve been on the other side of this stunted hiring process — most have sent in a resume and never heard back, and a few have made it through up to 8 rounds of interviews before the company decides they’re not ready to hire.

Here are a few symptoms and solutions for making the hiring process run more smoothly in this economy, and for ensuring that bridges aren’t burned between high-quality candidates who might still be interested in a company when the economy picks up.

1. The Mountain of Resumes
The problem: Companies are getting swamped with resumes every time a job is posted. Jobseekers whose background is totally irrelevant to the job description are sending in resumes because they’re desperate and “it’s worth a shot.”

The outcome: Increased time spent on reading through resumes, decreased percentage of quality applicants, and a strain on those in charge of the hiring process (HR and recruiters). Those who are high-quality, relevant candidates are wondering why they’re never contacted and start to form negative perceptions of the company. More people call up demanding to know what’s happened to their resume. Lots of time and energy is wasted.

Solutions:

  • Write a tighter job description that gets into the nitty-gritty specifics of what a candidate has to have done (not “could do”) in order to qualify for an interview. Some applicant tracking systems allow you to create these applications online and will sort the responses according to whether the job seeker fits your description — this will automatically sort the “best fits” to the top where you can read them and get back to them promptly.
  • Require more documents for your application — such as a cover letter, two writing samples and a resume, or a couple mini-essay questions built into your website application. Creating a slightly higher bar will make jobseekers reconsider as they
    “spam” out their resume — and as people are asked to communicate why they’re a good fit for the specific job, they’ll make your determination easier as you read through their application.
  • Encourage employees to use their networks to get referrals. A lot of companies are hiring quietly right now without posting a public job description simply due to lack of time and money to put towards a full-blown process.
  • Hire a third-party recruiter to read through all the resumes and present you with the strongest fits.

2. The Lack of Communication
The problem: We often joke with our candidates that applying for jobs online seems like dropping a resume into a black hole — unfortunately, this joke has lost some humor in recent months as the majority of our candidates say they have 10+ applications out that they’ve never heard any indication on.

The outcome: Again, bitterness. Candidates pin the unresponsive company as lacking humanity or basic etiquette and spread that impression. Won’t apply for positions in the future because they feel like their application is falling on deaf ears.

Solutions:

  • Reject people, early and often. After meeting lots of folks who’ve told us they applied online for one of our positions and never heard back, we’ve started a strict policy of rejection when we don’t see a fit for a role. We go through every few weeks or month and shoot a batch note to the candidates we’ve reviewed and deemed not a fit to let them know that their qualifications aren’t quite right. You wouldn’t believe how appreciative people are to just know what their status is — they often thank us for rejecting them. If they’re talented and just not right for this role, they’re more likely to keep applying for other positions because they know it’s a dialogue and not a black hole.
  • If you don’t want to send a note every few weeks, at least send a blast to all applicants when the position has been filled to close the loop.
  • For less personalized updates, have your CEO or someone in the company write the occasional blog post on the state of the hiring process, whatever it may be — still looking, reviewing applications, rethinking the role.

3. Dragging Out the Hiring Process
The problem: Candidates are telling us that they’ve been through 5, 6, 7 rounds of interviews with an organization before being told they’re not the right fit — or worse, a couple have simply just never heard back from the company after such extended dialogue.

The outcome: We know that companies are unsure of budgets and anxious to actually take a step towards growing out their teams, but the risks of these messy processes are serious.

Candidates get very emotionally tied up in the prospect of potentially getting an offer, and the more they get to know everyone in the office, they more angry and hurt they are when after several months of interviewing, they’re turned down or told the company has decided not to fill the position. Your champions – people so passionate about your company that they wanted to work for you – may now perceive your company as disorganized and unclear on goals. Word from the disenchanted interviewee spreads, and the negative effects on brand can be serious. You may also inadvertently lose great candidates because you can’t get your act together – and it will take time and resources to woo them back after they’ have a bad experience.

The solution
:

  • Figure out if you are in a place to hire. Then check twice. Do you have the money for salary? Is it a priority for the company, or do you just want to see who’s out there?
  • Sit down with your team ahead of time and carefully design the metrics against which you’ll measure candidates. Clearly define the hiring process- who candidates will talk to, for how long, in what context, and in what order. Set deadlines, and do your best to meet them.
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June 18th, 2009

Bright Green Survey Results: Jobseekers Willing, Waiting, Wondering

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Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

We recently surveyed 430 jobseekers who are interested in moving into the green sector. A couple of the statistics from our results stand out:

  • 50% of respondents are currently unemployed
  • 61% have a Master’s or PhD
  • 40% have an annual income higher than $80k; 24% have an annual income higher than $101k
  • 83% have previous experience or some training/experience that would be relevant to a green company
  • 69% say one of the strongest barriers to getting into the green sector is the lack of available jobs
  • 41% say lack of proper training is a barrier to entry

With all the talk about green collar workers (blue collar jobs in the green economy) and the stimulus money that has been allocated to green workforce development, little attention has been paid to the demographic in this survey: highly-qualified, well-educated people that are willing and ready to move into the green sector.

So what’s the hold up? What are the challenges they’re facing as they try to channel their skills and background towards the green sector? Beyond the 69% who say there just aren’t enough green jobs (because, realistically, there aren’t enough of any kind of job right now, with unemployment rates at over 9% nationally), 41% of our respondents said they don’t have the proper training and 33% said they just don’t know where to look.

What this illuminates is a basic need for training programs and clear direction for jobseekers on how and where to find green jobs. In fact, this only reinforces our own anecdotal understanding of the state of affairs — people come to us every day just wondering how they can get into a sector that’s seeming daily more and more like a mirage. Of late, there’s more frustration in their voices, and people are wondering if all these green jobs evangelists are really just snakeoil salesmen.

But after two years in this space, we remain confident that the jobs are not an illusion — if they were, we’d pack up shop and head elsewhere rather than leading people on. The immense sense of hope and optimism hung upon green jobs was multiplied exponentially by the state of the economy and soaring unemployment rates. Yes, the sector is still growing even despite the economy (confirmed by a recent Pew report) and green companies are hiring, but not at a rate that can keep pace with the demand created from hundreds of thousands of people that have suddenly flooded into the sector.

The take-aways? Our same old line: there might not be a green job for you right now, but in 6 months or a year, when the dust settles from the economic collapse, there will be. The stepping stone in between, and how you’ll succeed in separating yourself from the crowd when that time comes, is training and preparation.

We’re not saying you’re not willing — over 30% of respondents said they’d take a week for training in greenhouse gas accounting or energy audits, and another 30% said they’d take a month. Most were ready to put up somewhere between $100-$1000 for the training.

Bright Green Talent and some of our partners are working on creating and facilitating training to help you get on the right path. In the meantime, there are lots of great resources to help you learn and network as we all ride out the storm. Hang in there — opportunity and a clean, prosperous future are waiting on the other side.

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June 9th, 2009

Students and Recent Grads: Unemployed? Get busy!

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We read marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog every day, and today’s struck as particularly salient – he notes that just 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for jobs actually have one. His prescription (below) largely coincides with a piece of advice that we repeat ad nauseum: while there might not be green jobs (or jobs at all) at the moment, there will be in 6 months or a year or two years, and you should be ready. Spend this time getting yourself ahead of the pack by volunteering, studying, training, networking. Here are Seth’s thoughts:

Graduate school for unemployed college students

Fewer college grads have jobs than at any other time in recent memory—a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey said that 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one.  So, what should the unfortunate 80% do?

How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):

  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery.
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
  • Self-publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.

Beats law school.

If you wake up every morning at 6, give up TV and treat this list like a job, you’ll have no trouble accomplishing everything on it. Everything! When you do, what happens to your job prospects?

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April 14th, 2009

Routine, Structure and Staying Positive: The Job Seeker's Trifecta

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Christina headshotPenned by Christina

Stick to your routine. Do you usually work-out in the mornings or wear a suit to work?! If so, keep doing it! The NYT agrees with this one.

Set-up an ASG* (Accountability Support Group.) If you have friends or acquaintances also looking for a job, set up a “check-in group” to bring structure and accountability into the process. You’d be surprised how motivating it is to have a friend ask you, “So did you call those 3 people you said you would?”

Stay positive. I know you have heard this about 1000 times but for the 1001st time, I’d like to add that you should find something that is uplifting that you can come back to as needed. That could mean joining a soccer league that gets you out running around on grass and really feeling the “team spirit” again. But it can be even simpler that that… My own personal choice for a 5 minute pick-me-up is listening to a story or two from This I Believe on NPR.  Hearing others share stories of dealing with obstacles much more harrowing than your own can put your own situation in perspective, help you feel grateful for all that you DO have and restore your energy to keep on keepin’ on!  Try a few and see how you feel!  (Send me your favorites!)

* Don’t worry, this is a made-up acronym…you aren’t behind on some fancy new lingo or anything.

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