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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

I have to admit that my tweets are pretty boring. I do not do a great job of creating a buzz or even contributing to the buzz. Why? I forget, well that and I fell like the energy and work that I put in to my blogs are enough, or they should be. Jessica Merrell-Miller writes about creating the buzz as recruiters, employers, executives and sales people so that people are interested and engaged with you; one of my favs is why people follow and un-follow you. It sounds simple and common sense enough, that simply posting a job that you are looking to fill is not going to excite anyone.

Maybe I should look at myself as the Laziest Recruiter Ever (rather than job seeker) if I am not going to do all that it takes, I cannot be frustrated when I am not gaining results using certain tools like Twitter. Isn’t that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing in the same way expecting a different result? I would say it is also the definition of a know it all. I think I have all the answers and know what I am doing.

The problem with me is that I have a bit of recruiter ADD sometimes, I put my plan together and map it out, but then I get distracted. I move down a path and start seeing some momentum and keep going and then that takes me to a new path and I move down that and by the time I am ready to wrap up the day I have 4-8 windows open (none of them are shopping sites). I know that other professionals have this same issue; typically this is when there are 5 people in and out of your office door or you have sent a plan for review and it takes on another life.

With Twitter you have to remember that you have to start following and listening to what others are saying and share that with others who are following you. I know many of you are saying this is a lot of work and how can 140 characters be valuable or make an impact? Well, even if you are not a recruiter, it is important to understand what recruiters are saying about Twitter and how they use it.  Think about it, in business, you want to know what your competitors or the experts in your field are doing to stay on top, right? Then it is in your best interest whether you are corporate HR, business manager or job seeker to know what recruiters are doing to find the best talent.

The common thread and theme I have found that really resonates with me re: Twitter is to BE SOCIAL!

  • You have to work it in to your daily lives and ping.fm and other tools make it easy to use your other social media content and incorporate them all together.
  • Follow people that you find interesting, you will be that much more likely to check in, interact and be inspired
  • Add the Twitter feed to your phone, when you are waiting in line at the grocery store check in and retweet
  • Know what your specialty is and find and follow others in the field
  • Believe that you are a person of interest and share your ideas
  • Question and poll your followers with something you need an answer to (be sure it is relevant to others)
Feed your followers or they will die? Maybe, but then I have to investigate why I follow people and really it is because they have something interesting to say not because they retweet my stuff.
Image borrowed from Carlos in a 2009 article re: Twitter and if it is stupid or not and that people can’t figure it out so he created some visualizations!

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

So I was just reading an article by Erica Swallow  about how recruiters use social media to screen candidates. The article is more of an infograph than an article and it is packed with incredible detail. One of the strongest findings, recruiters who participated in this confidential survey shared that 69% of recruiters had ruled out candidates based on what they viewed on their social media sites. Conversely 68% of recruiters hired a candidate based on the profile or pages of a candidates social media presence.

Obviously this type of information is going to send lawyers and candidates everywhere in to an uproar, but wait a minute I am confused! I personally don’t search out candidates to see their activity on Facebook however I have searched for candidates on Facebook and LinkedIn and I post jobs on both. I also use LinkedIn to review a candidate.

I have put together a hypothetical thought. Here are some potential ramifications if recruiters are not supposed to use social media to make hiring decisions and stop:

  1. No more posting jobs on twitter, google+, LinkedIn, LI Groups, Facebook, etc…
  2. No more asking for recommendations from colleagues, former bosses, customers, etc… on LinkedIn because we won’t be looking at those
  3. re: #2 it will be back to company policy of dates of employment and title only
  4. Passive job seekers will have to go back to putting their resumes on CareerBuilder and Monster for their current employers to see
  5. Most people learn about openings from referrals and people in their “network” that they trust without social media our networks shrink considerably and so do the candidates
Maybe I am in the minority, I believe that what people are doing is working if just as many recruiters have hired candidates based on their online presence as not, they are better odds than the traditional job boards. Honestly, we are looking for strong positive connections to make a good hire that we know will last and by seeing deeper connections through your online profile we feel that much more confident in the decisions we are making.
It is fairly simple what we are looking for:
  • We want to see that you have recommendations from former employers, colleagues, customers, etc…
  • We want to make sure your resume and profile match
  • We want to see that you have connections with a variety of professionals in your industry
  • We want to see that you have joined groups in your field
Does this mean that a recruiter should only be using social media to find the positives about a candidate?  Define what is positive? This DOES vary from employer to employer and job to job. It isn’t feasible.
RE: YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT (this is the one people seem to really struggle with) Here is the biggest thing to understand, as a job seeker or potential candidate, even a current employee “we” see what you let “us” see! WOW, crazy isn’t it! I don’t want to see any interrogating or compromising pics or posts from any of my friends let alone someone I don’t know; it honestly makes me uncomfortable. If you have an issue with an employer, your grandmother or anyone else seeing you sloppy drunk then use your security settings to block us, we aren’t friends, so that should be easy, as far as grandma you will have a few extra steps to take.
Recruiters and Business owners please note that there are unwritten guidelines and ethics we use as guiding principles in all of our recruiting and sourcing efforts, this is no exception. The laws are detailed and vary based on the use of social media in recruiting be sure that you are staying on top of them or reaching out to a professional when you are unsure of proper protocol.
thank you Social Media Sean for the image

Leaves Change and So Can You

I am not an expert on change management but I do happen to believe people, teams and organizations can and do change (sometimes in directions we are not interested in). It could be the change of seasons, it could be the people who have been entering my life or where I am in my current state, I am sure it is a culmination of all 3, I have been writing of growth, change and expansion quite a bit lately.

There is a process to change and when you are in an organization where you are looking to create and motivate change that process should be more structured. Some initiatives you may be looking to change:

  • Mission changes
  • Strategic changes
  • Operational/Structural changes
  • Technological changes
  • Changing the attitudes and behaviors of personnel
Businesses, their plans and the people who support them and make them work are all living, breathing, moving parts therefore it could be assumed that as all living things change occurs. There are also times when we want to initiate change in order to move ourselves, our department, our business forward.
  • We first must review what is our current status and how has it changed and adapted to this point?
  • Why did “it” change in that particular way and what were the driving forces?
  • If we put a plan of action together to implement and manage change what are 1-2 core areas of focus?
  • Who are the leaders to promote this change?
  • What are the top 2-3 results we are looking for?
  • Create benchmarks to judge successes and stress points and be able to continue to ADAPT your plan to move towards desired results
Change is exciting and invigorating to some while for others it can literally freeze them or make them panic. Recognize that not all people react well to change if the plan is uncertain for them. You cannot always share the long term plan and each and every detail with your entire team or group but you can share the vision and direction and what or why you need this to be successful.

I relate it to when you go on a diet but you don’t tell anyone because you are the type of person who needs to  have success on your own and privately first. So you may share with your friends and your family over time that you are really just looking to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself rather than your goal of loosing 25 pounds.

Getting people on board and having support is important but who and how you incorporate different individuals will depend on what you are looking to change, your timeline and what the plan looks like. Like anything, it can be done, but the more invested you are in a plan or outline and setting goals and checking in with various benchmarks the more likely you will see your desired results and with less bumps in the road.

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

Poor HR, employee engagement is their responsibility, yet it is definitely one of those things that cannot be done alone. Employee Engagement is one of those things that companies really struggle with when it comes to prioritizing, surveying, implementing and monitoring effectiveness; why? Well it is overwhelming. When we think about engaging our employees and our teams we want to be sure that we have all of the pieces together, we want it to be successful and repeatable and there are a lot of employees.

Let’s start with the survey, you must have a benchmark to judge from right? There are incredible companies out there that manage this process so if you have a serious problem in service, attendance, sales, operations, etc… you may want to engage someone. If you are going to attempt to build this on your own reach out to your networks, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Your survey should ask questions like:

  • People in my work group/team work resolve conflict as soon as it arises
  • I feel that I am recognized for the work that I do
  • I feel personal satisfaction from the work that I do
  • Team meetings are informative and efficient
So you have this series of questions (and please ensure that your process allows for complete confidentiality) but what are you measuring for? Well before you implement anything let’s look at what you are trying to impact:
  • What is your current turnover rate? Can you break this out by sector?
  • What is your absenteeism? By sector?
  • What are your sales numbers? What is the % to sales goal?
  • What do your customer satisfaction surveys look like?
  • What is your quality error number?
Alright, we are starting to get some where. We need to really move towards what to do with the survey. Employee engagement is when an employee feels that they are valued and appreciated, believe in what they do/who they do it for, is intellectually committed to their work and has a sense of satisfaction from their work.
Do you, as an employer care if your employees are engaged (satisfied, feel valued, appreciated, etc…) Don’t answer that, let’s ask it another way:
Do you as an employer care if your employees close more deals, increase your customer satisfaction, grow the business, show up so you can run a line, decrease rework and quality errors?
Then the answer is plain and simple: YES, you as an employer feel that employee engagement is powerful, important and a priority in your organization. Why? Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it impacts your bottom line.
There are studies out there, DDI did a great one, that show that the difference in an employee engaged workforce vs unengaged had the following stats:
  • 14.5% vs 4.1% turnover (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)
  • 8% vs 4.8% absenteeism
  • 91% vs 99% of their sales goals
  • 5,678 vs 52 quality errors (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)

Employee engagement starts with hiring the right people

  • managers who are innovative, empowering and motivating
  • employees who have the innate characteristics you are looking for to be engaged in the work you do and the culture you offer
  • putting the right people in the right jobs
  • getting rid of dead weight
  • removing an unsuccessful manager to another position for the betterment of the entire team
Employee engagement is one of those banks that you have to make deposits in to in order to see the rewards being withdrawn. When you provide and create a high performing organization with supportive leadership that motivates you will reap the rewards of increased customer satisfaction, profitability and a decrease in turnover. It may sound like a great deal of work, but the more people that are on board and assisting with the process the more seamless the process will be and your return on investment will be that much greater.

Hillis Takes Medical Advice From His Agent, Who Do You Take Advice From?

I am following football a bit more this year because of my fantasy football team (I am 3-2-0 right now) and one of my players is Peyton Hillis, the Running Back for the Browns. So leading up to week 3 he didn’t practice because he wasn’t feeling well, I thought for sure he would start. I mean as a recruiter I have had people call out of work for a paper cut but a 6 foot whatever 250lb NFL player, he was playing… or not.  When Hillis didn’t take the field on Sunday, first of all it was a good thing I did not start him, but more importantly, I was quite shocked that he did not play. Don’t we teach even the most elementary employees that they should show up to work and then be sent home or to sit on the bench?

The story continues with something that has recently come about. Hillis was questioned about being ill and he made the following statement:

“By the way I was feeling, I just needed somebody else’s opinion,” said Hillis. “If [agent Kenneard Maguire] would have said, ‘Peyton, you probably can do your thing,’ I’d have listened to that. But he is my agent and he does help me out and I think we made the right choice, because I was definitely not healthy enough to play.”

Who takes medical advice from their agent? Would you go to your dentist and ask the best way to get a promotion? We all have advisors, mentors, coaches, judge, guides, referees, friends, etc… but they each have a role. Let’s be honest, if we need love and support we go to our family or friends, if we need a critique, we go to our advisor or mentor, each person has a different point of  view and knows us differently than others.

Peyton Hillis has just slapped his team in the face in public with his statement. Most people mean well with their advice, but we have to remember that everyone has a motivation. Some are motivated emotionally or financially to see us succeed while others feel threatened by another’s success and then there is another group, the naysayer.

There is a big difference between a naysayer: someone who is negative offering minimal to no advice or guidance but plenty of negativity surrounding an idea. Then there is the person who makes what sound like negative statements but offer an alternative to help you succeed at what you are inquiring. The person could be a naysayer because they are not equipped to assist in this particular area.

Next time you are met with a naysayer?

  • ask them what they would do – typically naysayers like their ideas better than yours and it doesn’t mean you have to go with it but it does turn the conversation in to something a bit more positive and you may take a tip or 2 away
  • challenge them politely and ask why they are thinking the way that they are
  • ask if they have seen this before and what was their experience
  • ask if they have any ideas that they can share that might help you move to a next step or in a good direction
The bottom line, when we are making decisions, we do want to ask for others opinions, thoughts, take, suggestions, etc… We do this because it is good to brainstorm but we must be mindful when we are searching for acceptance or even worse, when we are looking for someone, anyone to tell us that they aren’t sure of our idea. Be mindful of not only whom you are asking for advice but what your motivations are behind your questioning.

The Dreaded Cover Letter

The Dreaded Cover Letter

It is getting to that spooky time of year and one of the most frightening pieces to the puzzle for a recruiter and job seeker alike? A poorly executed cover letter. There are all types of schools of thought on the cover letter, including whether you include it or not? Well, as a rule, a cover letter is a good opportunity for you as an applicant to assist the recruiter or hiring manager with sharing why you are a good fit for the job using cliff notes. This is not an essay or a sale presentation, this is a brief introductory document that is informative and engaging.

If you are not getting calls re: your resume you could be getting beat out at the starting gate, especially if your work history is not strong or you are competing for a highly sought after position. You could be making some very simple but fatal errors. I will be brief as to what not to include:

  • Spelling errors
  • Grammatical errors
  • To Whom it may concern:
  • Addressing the incorrect company
  • Being vague and nondescript
  • Being too brief
  • Too long-winded
  • Copying your objective statement from your resume
What are we looking for? Substance. Direct impact statements that are specific to the job and your experience. Drawing parallels between what you have done and what the job requires. I recently had the pleasure of reading a very good cover letter and it was extremely refreshing. I was engaged in the first 2-3 sentences, there were bullets that drew the parallels with quantitative facts and it addressed the job specifically. It peaked my interest and made me want to learn more.
Have you ever read a book and gotten through the first 2 or 3 chapters and just felt like the book was going nowhere? What is the difference between that book and one you don’t put down from the very start? You are drawn in and intrigued, there is a curiosity that is evoked that makes you want to learn more. What is it that you can quickly and briefly share that will keep us engaged? It is challenge for sure but it truly can make or break you if your current cover letter is weak you might be better of leaving it out.
I recommend keeping your cover letter under 300 words, have 2-3 quantitative or impact statements that you place in bulleted form prior to your conclusion statement. If you state that you will be contacting them in the next week, be sure and put it in your calendar and follow through.

What to Do If You Have No One

It isn’t something we really think about in this information age when we have 500 friends on Facebook and can text 30 people at once to make plans for the weekend, but it is a reality for many. The family unit just isn’t what it used to be; families are sprawled out across the country, some purposefully and others are based on necessity. Not everyone has the same tight-knit group of friends they once had, etc… many people feel alone even when they are surrounded by a group.

I have been extremely blessed to have been surrounded by friends, family and colleagues who appear to enjoy my company, for my entire life. Although I did not grow up in the generation where everyone gets a trophy, I was involved and am still involved in a number of different things that have helped me to meet new people and make new acquaintances. I have realized recently that this isn’t the case for everyone which got me curious, what would I do if I didn’t really have any one to lean on, a support system, a family?

You can’t just create a family from thin air, a family is something that has to be cultivated and is built over time based on a great deal of trust, forgiveness, concessions and understandings. But you can start with building relationships with those you have something in common with. So let’s say you are not overly athletic, you can barely walk a mile let alone go to the gym, go to the gym and take a class – I don’t care if you are male or female, take a class and go at least 3 times within a two week period; trust me there are plenty of courageous people at the gym just like you. Maybe you have thought about taking up running, I know a woman who runs 5k and 10ks and couldn’t finish a 15 minute mile a year ago. Every city/town should have some sort of running club and please know that the majority of these clubs are for the slow runners so NO intimidation; support only.

Enough about exercising, not really in to talking to people or taking a ceramics course? I get it, volunteer to  build a house for habitat for humanity and swing your hammer. No touchy feely stuff, just hard work. Join a support group: AA, divorced mothers/fathers, maybe even a job search club.  Don’t like any of those? Take a class on Microsoft Excel, Planning for Retirement, Building an Arch… whatever you might be interested in. Most of the classes are about $60 and are usually one night a week for a few weeks. Did you read my last post? Take dancing lessons!

Even though trying something new is intimidating but the quicker you get out and do it the faster you will reap the rewards (kind of like ripping off a band-aid, it only hurts for a moment). Take your time and don’t push yourself but recognize that what you are doing is not easy and that you should be proud.

On the complete polar opposite of this, if you are always surrounded by people, take an hour out of each day or at least 30 minutes and be by yourself. No TV, no Ipod, no distractions. Take a walk, meditate, write. Just pull yourself out of the grind and refresh.

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