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Want to Recruit Great Talent? Focus on Your Online Presence

There’s no question that technology is a game changer today—no matter what your industry. One of the greatest changes happening with the advances in mobile technology, for example, allows businesses to both find and work with employees located quite literally around the world.

While this opens up millions of hiring opportunities for recruiters, it’s also a bit of a Faustian deal. While recruiters may be able to pick and choose from a vast pool of talent that pool is so huge, that you can end up wasting time while attempting to separate the wheat from the chaff. What do you need? A way to identify top contenders among the many applicants. Cue “personal branding” and your online presence.

An Online Presence for HR Means a Competitive Edge

The concept of having an “online presence” has only emerged over the last 15 years or so; in the past, job seekers may have used the Internet to look for opportunities through online sites like job boards or forums, but for a long time that research didn’t go much farther.

Today, your online presence is everything. Employers and employees alike are evaluated in part by their presence, connections, and behavior on the web.

Companies that engage with potential employees through social media are carving themselves a competitive edge; it starts a relationship and sets the tone for an open and tech-savvy workplace culture, which is particularly important to Millennials.

Now that you have tools that help streamline hiring processes, making back-end operations much more efficient, you can grab more time to refine your online presence to make sure you’re recruiting the best talent for your brand.

How Online Presence Affects Both Sides of the Job Hunt

Just as an individual’s online presence can affect his or her ability to get hired, a business’s presence can impact its recruiting strategy.

Imagine this scenario: You want to hire a new social media manager, and you have a promising applicant. You look through his or her social media presence only to find poorly managed profiles and posts that consistently show questionable judgment. You might pause to rethink your decision.

The same is true from a candidate’s perspective. Before an interview—even before they apply—they want to learn about your company culture, and they expect to be able to do that easily. Businesses with little or no online presence will have trouble finding the best talent because job seekers won’t take the time to pursue an opening without a clear sense of the corporate culture, company values and how it behaves in the marketplace.

Recruiting the Best Talent Requires a Strong Online Presence 

There’s plenty of information about building a solid presence to reach customers, but not as much to help you reach job seekers. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Use social media to its full potential: Connect with other industry professionals and businesses, and build your reputation by writing and sharing opinion pieces (like this one!) on LinkedIn and other community forums. Having a vibrant social media presence establishes your business within the industry and gives readers (and job seekers) a sense of your brand voice.
  • Revamp or eliminate your employment webpage. I’ve previously discussed how Zappos’ decision to do this was wildly successful: It eliminated its job page in favor of building long-term relationships with candidates through a new program that’s similar to a social media app. This kind of outreach allows companies and potential employees to get a real sense of each other before the hiring process even begins.
  • Pay attention to feedback on sites like Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com. These companies pull job listings from your site and match them with feedback from previous or current employees. Many job seekers will check these sites to review information about pay, benefits, company culture, and strong and weak points within an organization. Use this opportunity to your advantage—if there are some negative reviews, get in front of the story, and don’t end up caught off-guard by other people’s comments.
  • Make it easy for job seekers to apply once they find out how great your company is. Job hunters are busy; they don’t want to waste time filling out lengthy forms that ask for the same information over and over again.
  • Leverage the power of Google’s “near me” searches. Google’s own research found that “near me” searches have increased by 34 times since 2011 and almost doubled last year. And where do most of those “near me” searches originate? You guessed it, mobile. While those people might be looking for a juice bar or the nearest movie theater, they also might find your ad interesting. If you’re headhunting, don’t forget to source locally as well.

In today’s Internet-centric society, building an online presence is one of the most valuable investments you can make. For businesses hoping to hire the top talent in their industries, it’s not only helpful—it’s necessary. Otherwise, you might end up swimming in a sea of candidates.

Image credit: StockSnap.io

Five Reasons Why Social Media Should be On Your HR Radar

Social media has become an incredibly valuable part of HR recruiting efforts, both for relationship building and to identify and vet top talent. And truthfully? If you’re not building social media into your recruiting efforts at this point, you’re not really recruiting on par with today’s industry standard.

The HR industry is using social media to source and recruit top talent—and, social media is where the candidates are. In fact, two-thirds of hiring managers say they’ve found successful candidates through social media. Social media, already so effective at digitally bringing people together, facilitating the sharing of ideas, and spurring conversation, is proving to be an excellent resource when it comes to attracting great employees. It also lets recruiters have access to fairly comprehensive views of candidates, whether or not the applicant intends that to be the case, which provides another way to sidestep potentially unpleasant surprises (and hiring fails). 

Social Media: Mainstream or Niche

As the largest social network targeted to professionals, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for recruiters and job seekers—but, if you think LinkedIn is all that’s out there for recruiters – you’d be wrong. Recruiting has gone multichannel. Forums like Quora and Twitter (especially HR or industry-related Twitter chats) bring experts to the surface while niche groups and sector-specific platforms are gaining relevance.

For example:

  • Albert’s List is an incredibly active career networking group on Facebook that boasts more than 13,000 members in the Silicon Valley and beyond.
  • AngelList is a platform that allows job seekers to apply privately to over 40,000 startups, and also pairs recruiters and companies with like-minded individuals.
  • Doostang is a networking site for graduates of top-ranking undergrad and MBA programs.

Online networks are filled with communities like these, which allow recruiters to target top talent in their industry with laser-like focus.

Improve Candidate Quality

Whether you incorporate niche networks into your recruiting strategy or not, social media can have an impact on the quality of the people your organization recruits and hires.

How is HR leveraging social recruiting? According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, recruiters rely heavily on social media:

  • Only 4% of recruiters DON’T use social media in the recruiting process.
  • The 92% of recruiters that do use social media cast a wider net than ever using social networks from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to Google Plus, Instagram, and even Snapchat.

Pew Research reports nearly three-quarters of online adults use social networks. Among Millennials—the largest generation in today’s workforce—that number jumps to 90 percent. Interaction drives these online communities. By cultivating an engaged and diverse community, you can connect with a broader range of candidates, which increases your access and exposure to the global talent pool.

Connect With the Right People

Building a stronger social presence gives you leverage to shape the way people perceive your brand. Candidates want to know your organization’s vision, value, culture, and reputation; a strong brand will articulate these and attract like-minded professionals.

People learn about brands through interesting posts, shared articles, conversations with friends and colleagues, and other types of interaction. All that activity does wonders to raise awareness of brands. In fact, a majority of Millennials described themselves as almost always online and connected while 88 percent of them get their news and information from Facebook, according to research published by the American Press Institute.

That curiosity extends both ways, of course. Just as people now have unprecedented access to potential employers—and their employees—through online networks, companies can build relationships with potential candidates to learn more about their skills, experience, and cultural fit before they even begin the hiring process. 

Reach a Wider Audience

Work is no longer a place; it’s an activity—one that many skilled professionals can do from anywhere in the world. This independence has expanded the talent pool; businesses can (and do) work with people all over the world, finding the best fit for the job regardless of location.

Plus, a community of local and international connections makes it easier to locate that talent when you need it. More than two-thirds of recruiters said social media helped them find candidates they otherwise would have never found or contacted. What’s more, 59 percent of recruiters said candidates found through social media are of the highest quality. Networks don’t just help you find “hidden” candidates; they help you find the hidden gems.

Grow Your Brand and Engage Your Employees

Recruiting isn’t the only way HR can use social media, of course. It can also be used to engage employees and candidates, and build awareness of your online brand (or that of your company’s) and tell the brand story, which is becoming more and more important in today’s job market. According to CareerArc’s 2015 Employer Branding Study:

  • 75 percent of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.
  • 62 percent of job seekers visit social media channels to evaluate employer brand.
  • 91 percent of job seekers find poorly managed or designed online properties damaging to an employer brand

Social media has become the top way to stay ahead in the game. Simply put, if you’re trying to find promising new talent, you must be active in social media and work to build out your company’s social media presence. Many more candidates are using social media than aren’t and most of the top talents

Bottom line? Social media has become one of the most valuable tools building employer brands, building and maintaining relationships, promoting jobs, sourcing candidates, and vetting applicants. Recruiters understand its importance and investing their time and money to get (and stay) up to speed with all things social. They have to. The talent won’t wait for them to catch up.

photo credit: ET Phone Home – urbex via photopin (license)

Introducing the TalentCulture #WorkTrends Chat and Podcast

We’ve all seen many a site proclaim significant changes for 2016, but in this case, the proclamation is earned, and real. It’s been quite a ride and I will continue to make new things happen here. My friend in forecasting and futurecasting about the world of work (Kevin W. Grossman) is heading for some exciting new ventures and partnerships, and so am I—right here— with the TalentCulture Community. Kevin is still going to be a featured voice here on the blog as we move forward.

I’m amping up my own podcast, shifting from #TChat to a focus on something new, and we’re incredibly thrilled to announce the launch of #WorkTrends—the new incarnation of our current podcast and Twitter Chat on The Future of Work, but with a sharper lens.

Our new #WorkTrends podcast and Twitter chat kick off on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, from 1-2 PM EST.  It’s the same time and channel for those who participate along with us weekly. 

As you know, my passion is about the workforce and most importantly, its valuable people; both in the workplace as well as how we navigate this amazing new global, multicultural workscape. Things like big data, cloud technology, mobility, and social media continue to influence all things about work as we know it today, and as it will be in the future. How those things impact your brand, recruitment and hiring practices, loyalty, corporate culture, marketing, social media, employee retention and beyond are all things I’ll examine in great detail moving forward.

And yes, I see this as a workscape for The Future of Work. The clarity with which innovation bumps us into a new awareness is the same vision we need to maintain, and that’s what #WorkTrends is all about.

The world of work has so radically evolved in the past decade. It has changed, and when looking back, sometimes it’s hard to fathom the incredible leap we’ve taken. In honor of that evolution, I was reflecting on all the work and adventures Kevin and I have been fortunate to be able to do, and I realized that he and I have taken one incredible social and learning journey together. It’s always a leap of faith to trend cast, particularly when it comes to brand and talent issues these days: like weathercasters, getting it wrong can have profound consequences. We are still searching for answers and asking questions along the way.

But we’ve also managed to get it right. We both share respect for the power of analytics and the importance of cross-generational teamwork, along with an appreciation for the value of employers who understand brand awareness and the candidate experience. We live on mobile devices and in social channels, so the leap to seeing work take on these facets has been a natural one for us, and always exciting to share with the community we’ve created.

As a fellow work-caster, Kevin has been a font of wisdom and a great friend along the way. Kevin also understands, firsthand, the value of seemingly trivial things–like middle initials. I applaud Kevin and all he has accomplished and continues to do at The Talent Board and am looking forward to watching him do what he does best—make great things happen.

As for me, I’m interested in how we dovetail talent, technology and business, enabling the right kind of intelligence without disabling the right quality of interaction for the future of work. What we’re learning about this is incredibly exciting, and in the same vein as we work to forecast new trends. I’m also profoundly impressed by the team of talent and the community I have with me, and you’re going to see the results of all this work I hope.

It’s going to be exciting to set off into 2016 with this super foundation as a jumping off point. So hang onto your hats. Here we go! I have more exploring and collaboration to do. We all do.

4 Reasons Social Media Is A Critical Recruiting Tool

There’s always that tipping point when the future turns into the present; novelty becomes the new normal. In tech recruiting, that’s the case with social media. If you’re not building social media into your recruiting efforts at this point, you’re not really recruiting on par with the industry standard.

Need a kick in the pants before life puts you in a food coma? Here are four ways social media is now a recruiting must:

1. It’s the best way to reach job seekers. I’m seeing a lot of confusion in this realm, but simply put, far more job seekers are on social media than aren’t. Is it because they’re younger and they do everything on social media? Perhaps. Does it matter why? It doesn’t. This is one instance where accepting the status quo is actually forward thinking. According to a white paper by iCIMS, putting a job posting up on social media can increase candidate applications by between 30 and 50 percent.

2. It’s part of a cultural shift. Recruiting success isn’t just measured by jobs filled, but by who fills them. And what drives top employees now is more than just a paycheck. Purpose, we now know, is a critical driver of talent. Interesting that a recruiting hub would lead the way here; LinkedIn has grown exponentially (78 million to over 400 million members in five years), and now looks for employees driven by purpose. Its staff includes 41 percent who cite self-fulfillment and a desire to serve others as key, according to the 2015 Workforce Purpose index. Recruiters take note: competencies are only part of the equation; the very concept of work needs to be screened for as well. Those who view their work as far more than dollars or promotions perform better on all fronts, found recent research by NYU and Imperative.

3. Transparency goes both ways. The fact that 48 percent of job applicants in a recent survey are active in social media is more than a “don’t get left out” for recruiting. It also means there’s access to a full-circle view of the candidate, whether or not that’s the intention, and one more way to take some potentially nasty surprises (and hiring fails) out of the equation. Recruiters are learning to follow a different kind of gut reaction than the old days of handshakes and necktie patterns: 61 percent of hiring managers found something they didn’t like on a candidate’s social media account, and 55 percent  of hiring managers reconsidered the hire based on what they found.

4. It’s not the “good-old-boy” network anymore. Recruiters surveyed in 2014 anticipated an ever-tightening and more competitive drive for candidates in 2015. The top way to stay ahead of the game was social media: 73 percent of recruiters planned to invest more in social recruiting, versus 63 percent in referrals. This is an entirely different world than Armbruster putting in a good word for his prep school buddy (and I’m not trying to be gender specific here, just culture-specific). The same survey found that 93 percent of companies and recruiters were using social media — up from 82 percent four years earlier.

Not so unlike the way the Cloud blasted open our conceptions of how much information we could live with, social recruiting has changed the game. This is a far, far different playing field, with the same extreme contrast. You’re either on it, or you’re not. Social is a key tool for promoting jobs, building brands, sourcing candidates, creating relationships, and vetting applicants. Recruiters know it’s the future (or the now), and they’re investing their time and money accordingly.

The talent’s not going to wait.

Image: BigStock

A version of this article was first published on Forbes on 11/25/15

Recruiters: Here Are Five Reasons You’re Failing on Social Media

You’re probably wondering what kind of results other recruitment businesses and teams are getting on social media. You’re wondering whether your business is missing out—and whether that should be a cause for concern or not. I’d like to lift the lid on this subject and share with you the kinds of results you can expect. Plus, I’ll help you to figure out how you can improve the results you’re getting—because you’re going to want to, once you realize what’s at stake.

The Size of the Prize

We have numerous clients across the world and their goals for being on social media vary enormously. But let’s try to put a marker down, so you can assess the types of results you might see in your business.

A recruiting team that has made driving candidate traffic to their website their absolute priority can expect to attract 1,000 to 2,500 candidates each month with only a modest budget (and for most small recruiting businesses and teams that’s likely to be a massive number of visitors relative to what they already attract). If you’re in a big business and have a bigger budget, the candidate flow can be many times this—and could even become the single biggest source of new candidate traffic to your careers pages.

For those who’ve prioritized getting recruitment client leads into their business, a dozen or more leads a month is perfectly attainable. While those who want to produce authoritative content for their market can expect to see their posts shared several hundred times each month (with some months breaking the 1,000-shares mark).

If any of these results sound like they would move the needle in your business, then perhaps it’s time to start prioritizing getting a handle on the right social media strategy for your business? To put things in context, you’re looking at investing a budget of about $1500 a month to start having a significant impact, i.e. far less than the cost of a new employee. Results don’t happen overnight, but striving for these outcomes within three to six months of starting is certainly realistic.

The good news is that as of today, the majority of all recruiting businesses and teams have yet to really crack their social media strategy. But with more and more figuring out how to get ROI from social media, it’s not going to be much longer until your business is falling behind in a way that’s costing you tangible dollars each and every month.

So if your team has not been getting the results you’d like from social media, here are five reasons to explore that could explain where you’re going wrong.

Reason One: No Personality

The best salespeople are those who naturally make others warm up to them, who can build rapport and who easily prompt their prospects to open up to them. They instinctively know that the harder you try to sell, the less you end up selling. Social media is no different.

Think of a recruiter or a recruitment brand on social media and the odds are you can picture them sharing an endless series of job adverts. They use it as a broadcast channel rather than as an engagement channel.

Let me ask you this: If your company were going to exhibit at a careers fair, which do you think would be more beneficial for your company? One: Handing out 500 flyers to candidates at the event or … Two: Speaking in person to 500 candidates at the event. The second option would win hands down, wouldn’t it?! Well, the same is true on social media. The strongest results are achieved by those recruitment teams that focus on being valuable, helpful, and interacting with people in their market.

(I could easily blame the various job posting software tools out there that encourage you to automatically post your jobs on social media, without question, one of the most misinformed social media tactics a recruitment business can deploy. Maybe a theme for a future blog!)

Reason Two: Poor Targeting and Unclear Objectives

To really get positive business results, you need to be thinking of your social media presence like a sales funnel. What is the end goal of your sales funnel—and to achieve that goal, what audience do you need to be reaching on social media?

An established market leader might choose to use social media to stay front of mind with its existing client and candidate base. Conversely, a newer business might be entirely focused on reaching new clients and candidates. Depending on the nature of your business, you might be looking to reach candidates who can start in a new job next week; or you may be building up relationships for the future. So as a first action point, be sure to define your target audience really clearly and communicate this to your whole team.

Your goal for being on social media also needs to be clear. What action do you want to drive?

  • Potential new clients requesting your latest market report or signing up to a webinar?
  • Past clients or existing clients setting up a time to have a call with you about their hiring needs?
  • Invitations being sparked for you to speak at key industry events and be published in specialist publications?
  • Candidates being encourage to register their resumes with you or being enticed to a Web page where they can view your open vacancies?

To be clear, everyone in your business needs to know the audience you are striving to reach and the end outcome that you want social media to produce. That way, everyone’s efforts are pulling in the same direction and the results of your social media efforts can be clearly monitored.

Reason Three: No Focus on Your Conversion Rates

Try to think of your social media profiles as if they were landing pages on a website. How effectively do they convert initial candidate/client interest and how effectively do they then drive candidates/clients to take the desired course of action? These numbers need to be monitored and then you need to tweak and refine your messaging accordingly until social media has become a lead machine for your recruiting business.

Let’s take a couple of examples. If we can get 100 candidates from your industry to look at one of your social media profiles, what percentage of them will feel compelled to follow you (effectively signing up to receive your company’s updates on an ongoing basis)? If your bio is all about your company (rather than why candidates should follow you) and your updates are mostly job adverts rather than content that candidates will find informative, your conversion rate is going to be atrocious. The difference between doing this well or doing it poorly is a 45-fold difference in candidate sign-ups. Poor performers will get a less than1 percent conversion rate of candidates choosing to follow them, while high performers could hit a 40 percent conversion rate or more.

Optimizing your conversions doesn’t stop there, though. As a recruiting team there are a variety of messages and options you could put to candidates (or clients) to try to convert them from followers into actual candidates or clients for the business. Those options—and the messaging to convey them—need to be A/B tested to drive up your results. A recruitment business might be surprised to find that e.g., in their industry, candidates are much more receptive to scheduling an evening call than to sending their resume. By continuing to suggest that candidates send a resume, the business only generates a fraction of the candidates that could be generated if all messaging were switched to proposing an evening call. Always be optimizing your conversions and learning from the data what options and messaging really work in your particular niche and location.

Reason Four: An “If We Build It They’ll Come!” Mentality

You can have the very best social media profiles for candidates or clients in your sector. You could have an industry-beating, pulverizing all-comers conversion rate of 50 percent on your social profiles. But 50 percent of nothing is still nothing!

On each social site you have to actively take steps to ensure that more and more of your target audience is drawn to having a look at your profiles. What’s more, you have to make these activities part of your routine—so that each and every week you are producing a flow of new leads to your profiles.

You have to understand each of the social platforms where you have built a presence and figure out the steps that are needed to get your profiles seen on those sites. This requires consistent and informed activity across your social networks. If you aren’t doing this, your audience and your network will simply never grow at the rates needed to become the dominant recruiting brand in your niche.

Reason Five: Forgetting That You’re on Social Media to Spark Conversations

Engaging on social media is absolutely critical. You can build up a huge audience on social media. You can cultivate legions of fans who regularly re-share your updates and help you reach an ever larger share of your total target market. But even then, you’ve yet to extract real business value from social media. You have an asset, but you aren’t using it to its full potential.

If you think back to the beginning of this article, we talked about turning your social media presence into a sales funnel—with a defined outcome that you want that sales funnel to produce. With a large audience you could start to share promotional messages—and some of your audience would act on those promotions. But far more potent is the tactic of engaging with your prospects and only then encouraging them to take the step you want them to take once you’re actually in conversation.

Compare and contrast:

  • A recruitment team who share posts encouraging all their followers to book a call if they’re interested in discussing their career options.
  • A recruitment team who looks at everyone interacting with their posts, assessing who looks like a promising lead for the business and then engaging with those people one on one. Only then, asking each person individually if they’d appreciate the chance to book a call to discuss their career options.

That second approach—being personable and engaging—outperforms the first approach by twice as much. Which is yet another reason that so many recruitment businesses and teams aren’t getting proper results from social media, the temptation to send promotional messages rather than put in the hard graft required for one-on-one interactions is often too great. But if you’re tracking results and experimenting, of course you’ll discover this for yourself and change your tactics accordingly.

Final Observations

These insights I’ve derived from our experiences of working on hundreds of social media accounts for recruiting businesses and teams around the world. If you have been investing in your presence and have been disappointed with the outcome to date, I can guarantee that one of the above is a major contributor to your poor results. You’ll need resources to address these shortcomings, but start to get the results that are possible from social media and it’ll be easy to justify the ongoing investment—of either your time or of some outside help.

Good luck—and if you’ve any experiences of your own that you’d like to share—or would like me to comment on—please feel free to get in touch.

photo credit: The Art of Social Media via photopin (license)

Are You a Social CEO?

Richard Branson lives large on social media, weaving stories about a life lived on the edge in <140 characters. Jack Dorsey tweets of past presidents, music and business wisdom filtered through poets and writers. Elon Musk narrates rocket launches and provides matter-of-fact commentary on innovation. But the C-suite at HP, Oracle, GE and many other companies has largely been silent on Twitter, LinkedIn and other widely-accessible social media channels. Why, when it would appear social media has changed the rules of communication, would a leader be silent? Hasn’t social media rewritten the rules of leadership? It’s arguably lowered barriers to communication, connected us near-real time, revolutionized hiring and altered the company-to-customer relationship. Internally, it has redefined communication and collaboration. It has made business social.

And it’s increased the risk and rewards of being social. As attention spans wither and society moves away from long-form novels, news, marketing materials, even advertising, businesses are being forced to swim with the tide. There’s no reasonable assurance that investment in social will yield returns a Board will accept, and little reason to expose a CEO to the often-fast paced, sometimes aggrieved world of social “wild west” — but there’s no turning back.

Attention, Intention and Retention

Perhaps the problem is we’re looking for ROI when we should be looking for a pulse and for some form of humanity. It’s early days to tie an executive’s social profile to sales, although the tools are there to begin. Where social makes sense for the C level today is in its ability to affect three things — Attention, Intention and Retention.

Attention = The heartbeat of social media.
People are out there for a reason: they want to be heard, some rather desperately, while maintaining the lowest coefficient of friction. They want to be heard now, and they want it to be easy — easier than shaking a hand while looking someone in the eye. Which is fine, for most people. CEOs are a different matter. They get plenty of attention — from investors, the Board, their direct reports, employees, partners and competitors. Do they really need the attention of the Twitterverse? I’d say it depends what stage company you’re running. If you’re in an early-stage hot tech startup, building mobile apps, video games, big data aggregation tools and the like, then yes, to some degree you should have a social profile. You shouldn’t be on Twitter all the time if it’s not being true to your wants, but six to 10 blog posts and a few retweets of other influencers in your sector, with commentary, will be sufficient. If you’re a private company with a few rounds of funding, building to a liquidity event, in an established market, the pressure to be social may seem less.

Yet this may be the time for CEOs to be more active, targeting influencers, investors and thought leaders in your industry. Visibility is critical. If you can’t do it yourself, get help from an insider. If you can’t deal with Twitter start blogging and have your communications team handle the other social channels. If you’re in an established public company you should have trusted lieutenants listening to social channels and helping to craft social content. Think of social as one place where your leadership style can be communicated to shareholders in a direct and conversational way. It can be a proof point that you’re tuned in not only to the business’s big issues but shareholder issues. It’s all about staying flexible with change.

Intention = Increasingly, social content is affecting purchasing and brand decisions. Companies and CEOs which aren’t attuned to corporate reputation on social channels risk committing brand suicide. Instead, leaders can use social channels to influence and align with consumer intent. Consumers are increasingly empowered to meter their interaction with brands; social is a powerful tool to create demand, bolster reputation and nurture intent to buy.

Retention = Your employees are on social media, at home and at work.Their view of your company will be affected by its online footprint. Use social to connect and build confidence with employees and potential hires; it delivers information, which can be filtered for relevance; it keeps you up-to-the minute on trends in your industry and the culture at large; it creates a global hiring pool, making your organization a talent magnet; it facilitates collaboration; it creates voluntary transparency; and it humanizes your organization and your brand, building a bond that will increase opportunity and allow you to weather challenges. Finally, be ready to respond. The great beauty and power of social media is that it’s interactive, which builds community and buy-in. People will be commenting on what you say. Which is a great thing because, when it works, a comment sparks an idea that sparks an insight that sparks action. One of your jobs as leader is to encourage and nurture this exciting dialogue. So be ready. Also be ready for negative feedback. How you handle it says a lot about your leadership skills. Constructive criticism is a great thing, it makes us better. There will also be snarky comments from people who have a chip on their shoulder. Never ever let people get under your skin. Stay focused on the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish, which is community-building, engagement and results.

Most social media neophytes I work with find the initial commitment the hardest step to take. The right mindset going in is crucial. I always ask them not to think of social media as an arduous chore, but as a friend and ally, a partner in the quest for innovation, progress and profits. Be human as a leader. It’s time.

A version of this post was first published on Huffington Post on 10-28-15

Photo Credit: menshealthcentre via Compfight cc

7 Ways Candidates Blow A Phone Interview

I’m consistently amazed by how unaware the average job seeker is of how to establish a positive first impression on a phone interview. I hear the same frustrated complaints from employers of all industries and sizes – that candidates who voluntarily submitted their resumes in hopes of discussing a position they’re supposedly interested in just can’t seem to get it together. Remember when all you needed was a solid resume to be guaranteed a face-to-face interview? For the sake of saving time, resources, and money, recruiters have become much more selective on who they decide to meet in person. In an effort to weed out time-wasters and soft-skill-deficient candidates, recruiters are conducting phone screens to find out who’s off their game.

1. They’re unprepared to take the call.
If you’re 4 beers deep at a Yankees game or trying to wrestle a dirty diaper off a screaming baby, you probably shouldn’t answer a call you don’t recognize. Yet, most of the candidates my recruiting team speaks with are under the impression that it’s better to answer a call you’re not completely prepared for than to miss the call altogether. It’s not. If you find yourself in a situation that isn’t suitable for a professional conversation, don’t pick up. Instead, call back within 24 hours, after you’ve collected your thoughts, can speak confidently, and have locked down a quiet location.

Not to mention, they start timing you from the second they leave a voicemail, which brings me to my next point. If you’re actively looking, you should have a professional voicemail with specific instructions to avoid an unwanted game of phone tag. For example, “Hi, you’ve reached Mark Smith. If you’re calling in regards to my resume, please leave your name and number as well as the best times for me to reach you.”

2. They expect the recruiter to fill in the blanks.
“Hi, what job did I apply for again? What company are you calling on behalf of?” It pains me to admit this, but these responses are the norm when an employer reaches out to a candidate, even for high-level positions. You’re a job seeker, which means you probably apply to several jobs each week. We understand that it’s tough to keep track, but it’s essential – if only for the sake of a recruiter’s sanity – that you start taking notes. Just by picking up the phone and saying, “Hi Wendy, you must be calling in regards to the Customer Service position I applied for last week.” Mind blown.

3. They conduct an unorganized job search.
This goes hand in hand with my last point. Today, it’s not enough to print out a handful of resumes and call it a day. We always recommend that our candidates keep a spreadsheet of every job application they submitted with corresponding dates, company names, and relevant contacts. Or, if you’re a tech wiz, try these awesome job search apps. That way, when the phone rings, you’ll have a handy guide that’ll save you from playing guessing games. Also, it’s important to keep your background information and portfolios within arms reach to provide some quick material for preliminary questions. It says a great deal about your personal brand if you’re prepared to answer a challenging question, and even have some on-hand stats to back up your argument. And for bonus points, don’t forget to browse company websites and connect with HR personnel on LinkedIn. Taking that extra step makes a huge impression.

4. They don’t understand why recruiters really call.
More often than not, recruiters aren’t calling to simply schedule a personal interview; they’re calling to conduct a prescreen. In other words, to decide whether they want to move you forward. Remember all that research you were supposed to do when you applied for the gig? Use it to show recruiters you know something about how their company culture works and that you’re serious about the job.

5. They have a bad “radio personality.”
Phones are tough – all you have to make an impression is your voice. Candidates, especially introverts, often fail to heighten their energy over the phone. Nobody’s expecting you to sound like Ron Burgundy, but you should at the very least sound excited, confident, and prepared. Excessive “umms,” stammering, or sounding like you’re dead inside are huge turnoffs to recruiters. The only way to overcome this obstacle is through practice. Record yourself on any device you have handy, and ask yourself this difficult question: “Would you hire you?” Getting your career narrative down in a way that engages and connects with an employer is essential to winning that face-to-face meeting.

6. They have a weak or unprofessional online presence.
Chances are, if recruiters are interested in what you have to say, they’ll be googling you before then end of your conversation. A half-complete LinkedIn profile or a racy Facebook picture is all it takes to eliminate you from the game. Just last week, one of my recruiters found a candidate with a stellar background and scheduled her for an interview right away. But just minutes before their call, she discovered an R-rated photo online that involved a stripper pole. Needless to say, the recruiter’s mind was made up before the conversation started.

7. They fail to treat a phone interview with the same decorum as they would a personal one.
Just because you didn’t put on a suit or block out time in your day doesn’t mean it counts any less towards your chances of securing the job. Request follow up procedures, send personalized thank you notes, and be sure to highlight any takeaways to reinforce your sincerity. Take it from me, the small things really do matter.

photo credit: Phone Talkin via photopin (license)

#TChat Recap: How Social Recruiting Makes the Talent Business Case

Do you ever wonder how prevalent social recruiting is today – especially versus five years ago? Or what are considered best practices for reaching out to candidates on social sites? Social recruiting is no longer a trend. It’s the new norm. According to new Dice research, 9 out of 10 recruiters are using social media in talent acquisition.

This week, the TalentCulture community enjoyed a fast-paced and high-energy discussion about how social recruiting makes the talent business case with this week’s guests: Stacy Zapar, Founder of Tenfold, and recruiting strategist, trainer & advisor; and Allison Kruse, Senior Manager of Social Media and Talent Acquisition at Kforce.

Social media has become the tool for promoting jobs, building brands, sourcing candidates, creating relationships, and vetting applicants. Dice research also shows that social has improved or is greatly improving tech recruiting results including quality of candidates, referrals, and time-to-hire.

Think social media is big now? It’s only getting bigger, along with its importance to tech recruiters looking for results. However, there is some art and science to doing it right. Listen to the recording and review the #TChat highlights to learn more.

Thank you to all the TalentCulture sponsors, partners and supporters!

#TChat returns Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015 @ 1 pm ET/10 am PT. The TalentCulture team will be talking about our favorite #TChat shows from 2015. Join us and share your favorite #TChat moments from this year.

Join our social communities and stay up-to-date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #TChat Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

photo credit: 3D Social Networking via photopin (license)

4 Reasons Why Job Boards Are Still A Useful Tool For Employers

Many professionals believe that the humble job board is on its way out. With social media taking the recruitment world by storm, you could be forgiven for thinking this is the case. But the advent of social marketing doesn’t necessarily spell the end for job board advertisements.

In fact, there is no reason the two can’t work side by side. According to studies, job boards are responsible for 18% of all successful hires, whilst social media only contributed a mere 3% of them. Not too bad for a method that is supposedly becoming obsolete. Not only this, but job boards are the people’s choice. Around 65% of candidates are seeking new employment directly through these sites, with 1 in 6 external hires made in this way. So what exactly does the job board offer that other forms of recruitment don’t?

Discover Candidates From Unexpected Sectors

The main problem with social media recruitment is that you are unlikely to reach a diverse range of individuals. In order to secure an employee long term, you need to find a candidate who is already skilled in your chosen area.

This can be difficult if you are only advertising to a small number of Facebook or Twitter followers. The likelihood is your ideal candidate won’t be following you on either of these sites. By taking the time to enter your criteria on a job listing site, you are reaching a much broader spectrum of workers and will find that more of your candidates match up to your high standards.

Simplify The Recruitment Process

Skilled entry level employees do exist, but trying to discover them one by one isn’t worth anyone’s time or investment. If you are hiring for multiple positions this problem can be a hundred times worse. A recruiter spends on average 2 hours of their time sourcing and communicating with a single prospective candidate. If you have 50 people to interview, then these hours soon add up.

A specialised job board (focusing on a specific field of expertise) cuts down the number of unfit candidates who apply for the role and makes it easier to scan through CVs. By shortening the recruitment process you save yourself a lot of unnecessary work and manpower.

Cut Your Recruitment Budget

Everyone knows time equals money and in-house recruiters aren’t going to work those hours for free. Although job board advertisements are considered by many to be expensive extravagances, they can actually be a cheaper alternative to costly salaries.

The average job post will cost you around $250, whilst the average salary of a technical recruiter comes in at just under $70,000. This means you could post 280 ads per year, across a number of job sites, for the price it would cost you to hire a skilled recruiter.

According to Forbes, a single job post from a well-established company will attract around 118 candidates. With 280 ads online you could potentially receive an incredible 33,000 applications each year. Although this is only an estimate, a recruiter working flat out would struggle to get anywhere near this figure, proving that you really do get more for your money with the job board.

Work In Harmony With Your Social Media

At the end of the day, there is no reason why you should favour using either a job board or a social media platform. It is a simple task to link your job listings with sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, meaning you can cover a much larger network of candidates.
By operating via a job board you increase the chances of finding skilled and professional applicants. Although social media can help you unearth new talent, it is simply not sufficient by itself. So before you start designing a recruitment campaign solely for your social media presence, consider how a job board might help you find your next employee of the month in half the time.  

Photo Credit: Resume Service Plus via Compfight cc

Build a Career Plan That Drives Best Results in 5 Easy Steps

The future of employment is right around the corner and about to rear its ugly head to an already floundering middle class. It’s real and it’s starting to happen right now. Here’s the inside scoop on what growing employers really want from their candidates and employees, and how to create a career plan that fits.

For job seekers, today’s new normal economy calls for a strategic, multifaceted approach. Whether you are a janitor, administrative assistant, general laborer, accountant, or sales representative, taking your career to the next level begins with you. Employers don’t want do-it-all generalists; they want top performers who specialize in one field and have systematically built in-demand skill sets that make them masters of their craft. And they’re no longer looking for bodies to fill a seat and perform a function. They want an innovative, forward-thinking person they can call their partner. By being proactive and taking the initiative to speak up for your professional future, you are giving potential employers exactly what they are looking for: accountability.

Most job seekers I interview have the same goal in mind: to secure a position in a company culture that brings them joy, presents new challenges, and offers opportunities for career mobility and salary enhancement. But there’s one factor missing: they have no idea how to make a career plan that leads to happiness. Left feeling stuck in their crappy job situation, working professionals often turn to their inner circle of influence (family, friends, mentors, and colleagues.) They tap everyone around them for career support and neglect the one person who holds all the cards: themselves.

1. Treat Your Career Like A Business And Yourself As Its Owner

An overwhelming majority of the candidates who walk through my door believe that an invisible force is guiding their future—the economy, their current boss, the tooth fairy, whatever. But my team’s extensive research tells us that it’s just not that complicated. The most successful people (physically, mentally, and monetarily) are those who recognize that it’s up to them to decide their fate. These people also approach each new position as an opportunity to add to their skill set in a way their previous position couldn’t. And they’re constantly evolving professionally in order to establish a well-rounded background. If you drop the self-sabotaging mindset that you work for “the man,” and realize that the choices you make guide your professional development, it can be incredibly empowering.

2. Identify An In-demand Specialty That Aligns With Your Skill Set And Background

Although they’re undoubtedly well-intentioned, your friends, relatives, and colleagues aren’t expert career advisors. Too many people choose occupational choices based on outdated and limited viewpoints. “It’s the family business and I sort of just fell into it,” or “I went to law school because my parents wanted me to” are common excuses I hear all the time. Not enough professionals take the time to explore their options and find out what type of work makes them happy. Or they’re hesitant to follow their dreams because they were taught to think traditionally. Step out of your inner circle and research in-demand jobs that align with your skills. Take advantage of career assessments, which never fail to provide some much-needed perspective.

3. Choose Educational Training Opportunities That Support Your Career Goals

Because traditional higher education is a big promoter of stereotypical high-paying jobs that have been around for ages—medicine, law, finance, engineering, teaching—many budding minds miss out on new positions in emerging technologies and marketing, for example. So many positions go unfilled due to a lack of awareness, which is a shame since job creation is soaring. For those of you already working, be sure to keep your skills sharp both inside and outside of work. Very few companies that offer optional training programs have a healthy number employees who actually take advantage of them.

4. Build A Marketable, Online Professional Brand

It goes without saying that your professional brand plays a significant role in your current and future success. Employers aren’t relying solely on resumes and cover letters to fill their next role. They want to get to know their candidates on every level possible. At the very least, candidates must create, optimize, and maintain a LinkedIn profile. But, make no mistake, I don’t support the “build it and leave it” approach. Keep active by sharing growing trends in your field, contributing to group conversations, and connecting with thought leaders you admire. Not only does it demonstrate your expertise and show that you’re not letting your skills soften, it also shows you’re tech-savvy and ambitious—traits employers look for in a new recruit. Not to mention the fact that the professional exposure is in itself worth it.

5. Map Out A Blueprint For Achieving Short-term And Long-term Goals

If you don’t know what your ultimate dream job is, that’s ok. That doesn’t mean you can’t accept positions strategically. The key here is to amass a variety of experiences that build upon each other. Staying at one job in one capacity is no longer a sustainable career plan. If you’ve spent some quality time working for a large corporation, try a smaller company. No matter your career situation or experience level, it’s important to have a written professional plan you can commit to.

Photo credit: Bigstock

Use SEO to Enhance Your Recruiting Process

This month, over 226 million people will search Google for job postings.  If your job postings aren’t displaying on the first page, you could be missing out on candidates.  So how does a recruiter get their job postings featured on the first page of Google? Contrary to that salesman’s pitch, they don’t hold spots open for anyone.  The best way to feature your job postings prominently is with SEO.  SEO, or search engine optimization, is increasingly being adopted by savvy recruiters.  Used during the recruiting process, it can be a secret weapon.  SEO can translate to more visibility for your open positions and more candidates. If you’re not flush with resumes, SEO can be your game changer.

How to Effectively Use SEO in Your Recruiting Process

SEO may be a new tool to many recruiters, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.  SEO can become second nature in no time.  So how does a recruiter insert SEO into the recruiting process? Try the following methods:

  • Film a Job Posting Video.  Search engines are increasingly showing more visuals in the top few spots of search results.  If you want to be among those in the top, you should film a video.  Video currently accounts for 62% of all internet searches.  Whether people are searching for information about a company, job postings, or entertaining cat videos, video represents the most widely searched and shared media today. Video job postings are wonderful tools in the recruiting process because they are also highly shareable. Candidates can view the video, assess whether the position sounds like something they’d like, and share it with their friends.  This boosts links to your job position and attracts candidates.  Your recruiting process could be improved dramatically by filming a video of open job positions.
  • Write Keyword Driven Job Postings.  All SEO is driven by keywords.  Keywords inform a search engine what your post is about.  When there is a great mixture of organic keywords in your job posting, it tells search engines that your posting is relevant and important to job seekers. The key is to not overstuff your keywords in a posting.  You don’t want every other word to sound like spam.  Focus on creating a well written job posting and then evaluate whether you’ve included a healthy mix of keywords.  For example, if you’re hiring for a sales director in New York, you’ll want to feature these keywords within your text.  If your job position only mentions them once within a block of 400 words, you communicate less relevance to search engines.  Top performing job postings feature keywords peppered throughout their text.
  • Share Socially. SEO’s two main components are links and keywords.  Social media is a great place to combine both efforts and attract more candidates.  Try tweeting out a link to your video job posting with a hashtag of your keywords.  These stand out in users’ news feeds and are hard to ignore. I see video job postings in my Twitter feed all the time and am always tempted to click on them.  The more your followers share your post, the more you’re visible to networks of potential candidates.  This can be a game changer in your recruiting process!

The key to being effective at SEO is to keep it simple.  As a recruiter, your primary focus is to attract and hire talent, not build back links to job postings all day. Using these three SEO tools alone you can increase visibility of your job postings today.  Try it out and see how many new candidates you can attract!

Photo credit: Bigstock

2015 Trends for Optimizing Your Company’s Web Presence

Keeping up with changes and trends in SEO isn’t an easy task, but it’s important to do. Facebook users alone account for 2,460,000 pieces of content shared to the web every minute. It’s easy for content to slip through the cracks if it’s not optimized properly. SEO has the ability to make content on websites stand out.

So what are the trends for 2015 in optimizing web content to gain readership among candidates and clients? Nine in 10 job seekers say they’ll use a mobile device during the job search. If you’re experiencing low website traffic and engagement, there are some steps you can take to keep up with the talent competition.

How are you posting?

SEO has been the longstanding foundation of optimizing web content, emails, social posts and everything in between to increase traffic. Companies find top keywords that would rank highest on the search lists and integrate them into their content where appropriate. However, 2015 brings a shift in search terms. Search engines are increasing their focus on semantic search. Instead of matching keywords, the trick is to work common vernacular into the mix. Generally, when we go to trusty Google for the latest on job postings or to conduct research on a company, we search exact questions or statements. This is essentially what semantic searching entails. Tommy Landry (@tommy_landry), founder and president of Return on Now explained:

 

“A good analogy is that of a headhunter or free agent recruiter. Have you ever received an email about an exciting new opportunity’ for which you were completely unqualified? Did they say your resume suggested you’re a fit? This is a case of blind matching of keywords with no qualitative overlay.”

 

In your web content, emails, social posts and job ads, instead of linking words from a keyword list, try linking the full statements or questions that candidates or clients might search to find your content. Consider searcher intent, and make your content contextually applicable. This style will help search engines guide your audience toward your site.  

 

What are you posting?

When looking for the right voice to use in your posts, pick something that not only embodies the employer brand, but is engaging as well. Past SEO trends suggested that each piece had the right amount of relevant keywords; today, there’s an urge to focus on what readers will engage with. With the increased emphasis on language-based optimization, HR has to make the copy more engaging through highlighting benefits, position requirements, and even key ‘call-to-actions.’ Highlighted text, links and headlines draw the most attention to a post. Frontloading information at the top of the post is vital, considering only 10-20 percent of readers actually make it to the bottom of a post.

 

Keep in mind, 55 percent of readers will only stay on a page for less than 15 seconds. Google will track the number of visitors your page receives. This calls for grabbing your audience within the first sentence before you lose their interest. Reach out to humans, not robots: write content that will entice readers to your brand instead of bore them. Use statistics, useful facts and up-to-date information so your content is useful to readers. Give them a reason to read on and stay on your page for more information.

 

The key to creating content that entices readers lies in that old saying, “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Offer rewards or drawings to those who click and engage in your posts. This easily gains interest because readers have a chance to win or learn something. If you don’t have anything to offer, feature a video: 84 percent of all Internet traffic by 2018 will be video content. Simply posting the video alone isn’t enough, though. Since Google can’t watch your videos, you should still optimize your video description for SEO in order for the video to show up on your audience’s search pages.

 

When it’s time to promote your content on social media, keep in mind that brevity rules. On Twitter, the perfect length of tweet hovers right around 100 characters. On Facebook, the posts that receive the highest level of engagement are less than 40 characters. Whether it’s a tweet or an email subject line, it can be tempting for content producers to utilize the maximum length allowed. But keeping it concise will produce the best results.

 

Once you have a strong following, your audience will assist with the rest of the work. Americans who follow brands on social media are more loyal to these brands (53 percent). Familiarity and engagement will pat you on the back after all that work. Top deciding factors for job seekers to reach out to a company include a good reputation for great services and products (20 percent), a great reputation for a good place to work (56 percent) and reputation for great people within the company (17 percent).

 

Organizations can optimize their website, email and social pages to best attract and engage their desired candidates and clients. Overall SEO copy optimization will improve searchability and make job seekers more aware and interested in what your company has to stand for. Doing so can easily manipulate who the company pulls in and quickly measure what words and phrases are working and which aren’t.

 

Finding Value In Social

Social is the great ice breaker. It allows people to get introduced, forge relationships and to share experiences and information, of all types, with ease and speed. The world of social has changed immensely over the past 10 years. When I think back to my early forays into this medium, I’m astonished at how much it has grown; exploded is actually a better description.

Social Is What?

Initially, many people were unsure of how to use social, so it got a bad rap as a nonsensical waste of time. Updates about what someone was eating or watching on T.V. were not highly received, however over time, people learned and adjusted their POV to socially interact in more meaningful ways. It, also, became apparent that social could unlock the door to reaching greater masses of people in meaningful, business ways. This is when opportunities opened up to greater possibilities and social was allowed to assume its place among other media and communications platforms. In the scheme of things, social is still a relatively new medium and undergoing immense evaluation.

Newness aside, social is certainly a highly sought-after communications platform and without a doubt has eclipsed other media sources as the go-to source for a multitude of interactions. In my opinion, the only other two communications platforms that come close to social with a substantial share of audience capture are broadcast and mobile. Where social is concerned, it has done something which few other communications vehicles can boast; it has brought groups of people together in such a way as to unite them with like causes, beliefs, professions, and pursuits. And more to the point, social has given them a platform from which to interact in real-time.

Social As A Public Service

Never before have strangers been united and able to interact in such a familiar way. For example, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children uses Facebook, to issue Amber alerts. Prior to this, Amber alerts were broadcast in more traditional ways using television, radio and on highway signs. Comparatively, these communication vehicles pale by comparison to social. When given the time sensitivity of finding missing children, social has certainly stepped up to the task of disseminating urgent information.

Enter The Marketers

People much more creative than I have found ways to optimize social and turn it into the behemoth it has become. Marketers continue to find ways to manipulate it to their benefit, but its full potential has yet to be recognized. A few years from now, it would not surprise me to see it as a different and very grown-up communications source. The professionals who research it, study it, calculate its value in terms of money, and apply tools to uncover who in the population is paying attention to it, will find ways to help social develop into a more functional and well-rounded medium. Marketers have already found that social can be included as part of a successful integrated marketing solution, when coupled with other more traditional communications.

Social For Employment

Another way that social is being used successfully, is by recruiters and employer branding professionals who are seeking out potential new talent and promoting the employment benefits of their organizations. Given the number of people and job seekers (passive and active) using social, this makes a lot of sense and is a good way to promote jobs and branding. For job seekers, it’s a fine way to network and conduct company research. Social can reveal a lot about a company, and likewise, uncover information about job seekers that may go beyond work history.

It’s Not Perfect And Neither Are We

As with anything, common sense and discretion need to be used when interacting on social media. There is such a thing as TMI (too much information.) This can be an area where it can go wrong for people. In our desire to forge relationships and show the human side of ourselves, we can lose sight of what we say and how we say it.

We have all heard the stories of how someone lost a job because s/he bad mouthed the boss or revealed a proprietary company situation broadcast style on social. What these individuals lost sight of is that social is, well, social. This means that comments published on social becomes public knowledge for anyone to see, and this also includes, photo opps and selfies that reveal too much.

Likewise, social is a great vehicle for promoting products, events and recognitions, but no one wants to be barraged with information that is self-serving. Also using social in high-volume for the purposes of selling is tantamount to telemarketers calling during dinner.

So in closing, some of the nuggets we have learned about social to date are: use it with care and conscience, integrate social with other communications vehicles when it makes sense, be friendly and show your human side but don’t over share, be sensitive to how social is used for the greater good, use it as a resource in job searches and job updates, build relationships and share valuable content and last but not least, have fun and enjoy it for what it offers. And remember, social is the great ice breaker.

#TChat Preview: How Social Networking And The Job Search Pay Off

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about how employers can help bridge the great debt divide, and this week we’re going to talk about how social networking and the job search pay off.

The power of social networking and social media is well known these days. It can be an amazing boon for your career development, but used unwisely can ruin you forever.

Managing your online profile and persona consistently and accurately is where it all starts. Those organizations searching you and your “brand” out and reviewing who you are will be looking for anomalies that don’t add up — and you want to always have everything add up — even if you’re not looking for a job.

Social networking isn’t a quick fix for managing your career. You need to be thoughtful about your brand and your point of view and nurture every single day for it to pay off.

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: How Social Networking And The Job Search Pay Off

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Aug 12 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about how social networking and the job search pay off with this week’s guests: Robin Schooling, accomplished HR Leader, strategist and advisor; and our very own Cyndy Trivella, marketing manager for SmartSearch applicant tracking systems and events & accounts manager at TalentCulture.

 

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, Aug 12

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, Aug 12 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Robin and Cyndy will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the top 3 things job seekers should use social networking for? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How can job seekers use social for researching potential employers? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How can job seekers use blogs, podcasts or vodcasts to promote their personal brand? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

Subscribe to our podcast on BlogTalkRadio, Stitcher or iTunes:

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Why More Social And Less Stupid Are Music To My Ears

“You’re a big music fan, aren’t you?”

We stood there talking among other parents who mingled while kids ran around celebrating our Little League T-ball season.

“Yes, indeed,” I answered.

“You heard about B.B. King?”

“Yes, what a loss to the music industry. A living legend whose impact will live on and on. In fact, I saw that he had passed away via my Facebook news feed yesterday.”

The conversation continued, two dads talking music, one a guitar and Hammond organ player who had played in bands and had even cut an “album,” the other (me) an aspiring drummer who couldn’t stop gushing about the last big hurrah Rush tour – R40.

Soon after our conversation, we moved on to our spouses and kids, in between checking our phones for various “newsy” updates and social “pings.”

Ah, the bliss of instant connectivity to anything and everything all in the palms of our hands that some would say without really understanding the advanced intelligence and power we have access to. Some would even say this bliss sides with ignorance. Actually, Carl Sagan once said that we’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. 

I do understand Carl’s greater geopolitical context, but when it comes to everyday progress, I beg to differ. This is why the arguments in favor of the fact that technology makes us less social and more stupid are, well, stupid.

Okay, maybe it makes the stupid stupider, but I have to give the majority of us more credit than that. Smartphone technology has advanced dramatically and in the next few years smartphones will be smarter and continue to supplant desktop and laptop computers. In fact, the way in which people access the Internet has already been transformed as more people use mobile devices to go online practically anywhere today. There are now 5.2 billion mobile devices in use across the world, compared to only 789 million laptops and 743 million desktop PCs.

According to the Pew Research Center, Smartphones are used for much more than calling, texting, or basic internet browsing. Users are turning to these mobile devices as they navigate a wide range of life events:

  • 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
  • 57% have used their phone to do online banking.
  • 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
  • 43% to look up information about a job.
  • 40% to look up government services or information.
  • 30% to take a class or get educational content.
  • 18% to submit a job application. 

While it’s the higher percentage of all younger folk that embrace social networking, watching video, and listening to music or podcasts more than older folk, the same Pew Research shows growing utilization across the generations. So don’t let me catch you requiring your jobs for digital natives only. You know, those who’ve grown up wired to the Internet, as opposed to us older folk who adopted it. That kind of age discrimination can get you into hot water sooner than you think. Talk about stupid.

Plus, long gone are the formal protocols of the “offline” networking world. Mobile devices and social media have made connecting and networking so much easier to nearly everyone with an Internet connection. Rob Garcia, Silicon Valley product executive and co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ConnectUp, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that we’re now in a hyper-connected world, those who are able to build, maintain, sustain and leverage their entire network outside of social, be more successful, and impact the world.

Along with that, we are becoming a more responsible global community of multigenerational digital citizens from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds not bound by the blatant ignorance of short-sighted governments and business leaders. That’s why those of us who are much more social and much less stupid can and do incite and sustain positive change.

And that’s music to my ears.

#TChat Recap: How To Look People In The Eye Digitally

Building and sustaining authentic relationships IRL are not always easy, and it could be even more challenging to do it online. It has never been easier to connect with people by a simple click on the “add” button, but how do we foster and strengthen the relationships?

This week’s #TChat guest: Ted Rubin, a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators, shared his insight on how to build strong relationships online and how to look people in the eye digitally.

Many of us learned how to connect properly with people at a very young age. We learned how important eye contact, strong handshakes, and listening skills were. Paying attention online, where acceptable response time is shorter and content is populating on your Twitter stream in a millisecond is hard, but it can be done.

Relationships are a two-way street and to maintain them we need a genuine interest in the person on the other side of the screen. Simple gestures such as tailored comments, questions about shared interests, birthday wishes, and thoughtful advice goes a long way. To call people by their first name and learn something about them while reaching out consistently will make a difference.

When we listen and really hear people, only then can we figure out how we can serve them in the best way possible. This is key advice for organizations, brands and professionals working on growing community, land new business or connecting with customers.

At the end of the day, we are all humans that want to be understood and connected with like-minded people.

Did You Miss The Podcast Show? Listen On BlogTalkRadio, iTunes or Stitcher:

See What The #TChat Community Said About How To Look People In The Eye Digitally:

 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Wednesday, April 22nd, with a NEW time:

#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 1pm ET / 10am PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. Next week’s topic: How To Turn Horrible Bosses Into Happier Relationships.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

photo credit: Bucket Listly

#TChat Recap: Adopting Social Software For Workforce Collaboration

There is no question about it – social software enables workforce collaboration and communication. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees, and the potential for revenue amounts to $1.3 trillion per year.

So why is it so hard to get adoption traction for internal social media and internal communication? How can enterprises today resume responsibility for communication happening among employees and even encourage it?

This week’s #TChat guests: Shel Holtz, Principal of Holtz Communication + Technology and a prolific blogger and co-host of the first and longest-running communications podcast shared his insight on the adoption of social software for workforce collaboration and communication

Email has proven to be very hard to move away from as an internal communication method, and is often the only communication tool that organizations use. So what happens when employees are not given tools that provide value and can work alongside with email? They find external collaboration tools on their own.

With a lack of better options, email do provide stability in a fast-paced world where tech is constantly changing.

Organizations will need someone to be in charge of the message mission control. It is vital to be looking at the company culture and then initiate leadership mandate to initiate change. When leaders empower their employees to use social software and inform them about benefits such as an increase in efficiency, collaboration, and productivity, only then will we see the true benefits of social software.

Some enterprises are concerned with controlling the message, especially in highly regulated industries.

What would happen if instead of fearing the message, leaders would rethink the communication in their organizations based on mobility? It could encourage brand ambassadors to emerge, working collaboratively towards a common goal and strengthening the Oh-So-Important company culture.

See What The #TChat Community Said About Social Software For Workforce Collaboration:

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Wednesday, April 15th!

#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. Next week’s topic: Looking People in the Eye Digitally with Ted Rubin

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

photo credit: by timothy muza

Unleash The Power Of Social Media Recruitment

Social media is everywhere in the modern world. Its ability to improve communication and to compel our attention makes it one of the most powerful forces of the 21st century. This makes it incredibly useful to recruiters, but many have yet to unleash that power.

So how can you get the most out of social media in recruitment?

Innovation And Imitation

Most companies have now jumped on the social media bandwagon, making it a feature of their recruitment strategies. But they use it in the way that they used old-fashioned techniques like mass advertising.

The old way is a spray-and-pray approach to recruitment. Like a Gatling gun, designed to throw hundreds of bullets into the air in the hope that just one hits, the old-school recruiter hurls adverts out into the void in the hope that someone will see them. Sure, the eyes of the world are now on social media, and so adverts there have a chance of getting anyone’s attention. But unless the social media strategy is better differentiated, unless the adverts are correctly channeled and carefully crafted, they have very little chance of reaching someone who cares.

Social media is an innovative medium, but many of the adverts just imitate old ways of working.

Standing Out And Being Heard

A select few companies approach social media in a way that differentiates them from the crowded, noisy marketplace of social media. They do so not by following old patterns but by disrupting the way companies communicate with the talent community.

As Seth Godin has often pointed out, this sort of marketing is about connecting directly and personally with the people most likely to be interested in you. It is about building the right relationships, not trying to talk to everyone at once. It is about showing what unique things your business has to offer.

The most powerful way to do this is to tell a story. Humans have been telling and responding to stories since we first sat around campfires in the dark of night. We instinctively respond to stories and the emotions they evoke. So use social media to tell a story about your company, what you stand for and what opportunities you offer. Make it a story that inspires, that engages, that elicits an emotional response, and that declares a call to action – to come and work for you.

Reaping The benefits

A company that can disrupt the communications of the talent community will see real value in return.

You will see increased brand recognition, as your story lodges in people’s hearts and minds. You’ll become a company that people are interested in working in for your sake, not for the pay and benefits.

You will see increased access to passive candidates, those who are not actively seeking a new job. These are often the best people to recruit as they have the skills that others also want and the right attitude to turn their work into something productive and fulfilling. But without that story they may never notice the opportunities you offer.

You will see greater process efficiency in recruiting talent as you make use of the best tools. You will also see reductions in talent acquisition’s process costs. Increased access to candidates means you have to spend less time and money hunting them out, decreasing the amount of time in which jobs remain unfilled. And as brand power overtakes salary concerns in attracting recruits there will be less need to offer expensive packages to get the best.

So get out there, tell your story, disrupt the recruitment landscape. Get the best out of your social media recruitment.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

Empowering Your Brand: From The Shades To Personable Sunshine

“The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect…”

—Neil Peart (writer and musician)

In all fairness, I didn’t read it. I only called the post out for the sake of comedic relief when others use popular, head-turning headline hooks. But then a Twitter follower asked me if I read the post in question, because it was actually tongue-and-cheek post about why recruiting is like Fifty Shades of Grey.

But I didn’t care, because I’ll never read that post, or listen to anything referencing the books’ premise metaphorically, or the actual novels themselves, nor will I ever see the movies. I chose to turn the page because what it represents to me and my sensibilities – equating abusive sexual power over women (and/or each other) to love, or at least to something that resembles mutual “like” and attraction.

You may like it and that’s fine. Enjoy. You may continue to leverage the marketing metaphor. By all means. Since the books were published and leading up to the release of the first movie on Valentine’s Day this year, relating the “shades” to HR and recruiting has been a marketing pastime.

Who am I to judge, since I’m now the one referencing the shades in this very article?

You may agree with me or not, but either way, I’m a vocal proponent of domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness. That is something I’ve been crystal clear about it, growing up in it. Plus, now that I have two young daughters, it’s even more acute to me – and I hope to you, too.

In fact, the next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about the following (according to statistics compiled by NOMORE.org):

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
  • 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

But that’s me. That’s part of my background, my now life, my persona, my personality, my personal brand, and what I choose to share about the sensitive subject includes being an advocate for awareness. That’s how I hope the world chooses to see me as well.

We are defined by where we stand and how we stand when it comes to our presence and our personality. That has never been truer than with online visibility. On the one hand it’s elevated the visibility of many more individuals across industries (while, some would argue, lowering the bar of quality and integrity).

We’re also under the microscope more than ever, and whatever we share online, stays online. Social media has forced more and more companies to use it as an early warning system to improve risk management, and for good measure, since there are plenty of missteps. Plus, every word we release online powers up the perpetual personality assessors – which are the rest of us.

And since the rest of us are judge and jury who can eviscerate and empower at a moment’s notice, wouldn’t you want to always power up that personable sunshine, the kind that drives long-term innovation and positive change? Wouldn’t you want the world to see how fascinating you are and how valuable you are to that same said world? Especially if you are innovative, passionate and positive?

If you do, understanding how the world sees you can help. There are plenty of personality assessments out there that tell you how you see the world. But how does the world see you? On the TalentCulture #TChat Show we talked about one such way via The Fascination Advantage, a “how the world sees you” assessment based on over two decades of communication research about how people and brands become more fascinating conducted by Kelton Research.

I took the personality assessment and found out that my primary advantage is “innovation,” my secondary advantage is “prestige,” and my archetype is “The Trendsetter,” which is a combination of the two.

What does it all mean? Well, it means that the world sees me as competitive and ambitious, that I’m able to influence direction with a fresh interpretation of market opportunities, that I’m a trailblazer who guides others in often-uncharted territories. I’m able to see opportunities where others see only threats and I implement change with determination.

Right on. I’ll take all these empowering words any day. Sally Hogshead, the creator of “The Fascination Advantage,” shared that, “When you find your more perfect words, that’s when you make a difference.” And because everybody has strengths, it’s the differences that matter and how we maximize our hopefully positive personas.

The differences – that’s how we power our personal brands. But unfortunately the carbon footprints we sometimes leave pollute our mindful presence and the very personal and professional relationships that are supposed to be the natural resources critical to thriving.

That’s why I recommend to live as inspirationally as possible and strive for more perfect words, and take ownership of your personality and your personal brand, online or off, to move from the shades to personable sunshine.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: Arise to a whole new world via photopin (license)

How To Step Up Your Content Marketing

Spreading the word about your content can be a difficult task if you don’t have a strategy in place. This is why it’s important for marketers to create a content amplification strategy to build awareness of their content.

Amplifying content is the most important element of any marketing strategy. Regardless of how amazing your content is, the only way you can reach your target audience is if you amplify your content. Whether it’s a blog post or video, make sure you have a documented strategy in place to help you spread the word about your content.

Now you’re probably wondering, why do I need to amplify my content? Well, there are at least 4 billion Facebook shares and nearly 500,000 WordPress entries every day. If you fail to amplify your content, it’ll be impossible for you to stand out from other brands and voices.

There are a number of ways to amplify your content; however, the most important step is to create a goal and identify your target audience. When creating your goal, determine if you want to increase leads, boost sales, drive traffic to your website, or build awareness to your brand. After you create your goal, identify the audience you’re going to reach and how you’ll reach them with your content.

Once you’ve established your goal and target audience, connect with influencers who will spread the word about your brand. These people and brands will share your content and help you amplify your content. To find influencers within your niche, use tools such as Twello or Topsy to find influential people and brands.

Finally, it’s important to think about your content amplification tactics. There are a number of tools available that can help you build awareness of your brand such as blogging, social media, paid social advertisements, and targeted LinkedIn posts. By using these tools, you’ll be able to reach more people and accomplish your marketing goal.

As you can tell, content amplification is critical to the success of any marketing strategy. To learn more about content amplification, check out the infographic below.

AmplifiedContentUnder1MB

About the Author: Jennifer Landry is a web journalist based in Malibu, California. She specializes in articles about business management and the current social media landscape, which are inspired by her own small business experience.

photo credit: Incase. via photopin cc

#TChat Recap: Social Leadership & Its Incredible Power

Social Leadership & Its Incredible Power

#TChat is ready to tackle the toughest challenges in the World of Work in 2015. This week our community dove into the world of social leadership and its incredible power.

We are living in a new era of business: The Social Age. Today’s effective leaders have tossed the dusty rulebooks and integrated social across their organizations. Social leaders create powerful networks that give them a significant competitive edge.

This week’s guests: Ted Coiné, Chief Relationship Officer of Meddle.It, and Mark Babbitt, CEO and Founder of YouTern, joined our community to share their insights on the power of OPEN in a world gone social.

So what does social mean in this new era? Our good friend Mark said it all:

We must keep being human top of mind. How we can add the most value to our organizations with trust, listening, and accountability?

Many still fear becoming a social business despite the advantages to their organizations:

Social leadership nurtures robust networks and connections. Collaboration begins with being authentic. Anyone can be social, but not everyone can be authentic. Authenticity and organizational transparency fuel innovation:

Leadership is about driving results. Great leaders inspire others and build the creative highway for their people to ride on. Social leadership connects people with relentless giving:

Business outcomes need to be achieved. But in a world gone social, the path to success has changed. Social media has transformed the way we communicate, connect, and conduct business.

Social leaders face unique challenges in this century. They must do their best to manage constant change and employee engagement levels. Social leadership creates the powerful networks to succeed in a world gone social.

Here’s What #TChat-ters Said About Social Leadership!


 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Next Wednesday, Jan. 14th!

TChatRadio_logo_020813-300x300#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. The topic: How to Maximize The Cowbell Principle.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET/ 4:30pm PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date! 

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

Photo credit: Techndu via Flickr cc

#TChat Preview: A World Gone Social And The Power Of OPEN

The TalentCulture #TChat Show will be back live on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last time we talked about how to make waves and initiate positive change, and this week we’re going to talk about a world gone social and the power of OPEN (Ordinary Person | Extraordinary Network).

Thankfully, the Industrial Age is gone, and finally so is autocratic, dictatorial leadership style that came with it. Today’s business world has entered a new era—one in which social media has fundamentally changed the way companies innovate, market, scale, build teams, and serve customers.

Welcome to a world gone social!

Companies that build socially enabled teams and put the customer experience first are the ones with the competitive advantage today.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for the first show of 2015 as we learn about a world gone social and the power of OPEN with this week’s guests: Ted Coiné, Chief Relationship Officer of Meddle.It and Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer, and Mark Babbitt, CEO and Founder of YouTern, President of Switch and Shift and a co-founder of ForwardHeroes.org.

Sneak Peek:

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: Go Social Or Go Home: How Leaders Can Win in 2015

Shiyang Gong: Does Tweeting Impact The Bottom Line?

Peter Brooks: Social Media Marketing ROI — The Business Value Of Friends, Followers And Connections

Gail Moody-Byrd: Break the Social Value Chain In 2015

Russ Carpenter: What’s The Real Business Value Of A Social Media Following

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: A World Gone Social And The Power Of OPEN

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, January 7th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guests: Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, January 7th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, January 7th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Ted and Mark will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: We live in a world gone social. What does that mean? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How do open networks of partners, collaborators and competitors enable business authenticity and agility? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: Can brands be relentless givers to their employees and still drive business outcomes? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: xJason.Rogersx via photopin cc

The Hot Potatoes Of Social Screening

“The vacant laugh
Of true insanity
Dressed up in the mask of tragedy
Programmed for the guts and glands
Of idle minds and idle hands…”

—Neil Peart (musician and writer)

That’s when I saw the photo — a full view of a man’s naked back severely cut open from multiple slashes of some kind of large knife. Before even knowing the context (and not really caring at first), I cringed and rolled my eyes. I’ve seen a lot of inappropriate images online since I’ve been playing and working in online networks, usually the more social of the bunch like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, even Instagram (of course, since that’s where you share photos, and my appropriate share is plentiful).

This one, though, was really offensive, although I didn’t point that out to my friend who shared it, nor did I comment on it at all. I had just been scanning my news feed like I usually do and – smack – there be the gore. The context, which I did take 30 seconds to digest, was a story about a police officer that had been cut up by an assailant (not sure if it was true or not and didn’t take the time to fact check). The slant of the piece was why officers should be allowed to make a split-second decision to shoot an assailant if it’s a life-and-death situation.

My father was an officer and police detective for over 30 years, and he always told me that he’d rather face a “bad guy or gal” holding a gun than wielding a knife, because at least with the gun you knew where it was pointing. One night when I was in high school, my father and mother were leaving one of my football games when he confronted a “high” kid threatening a school official with a knife. My father was off duty and carrying his gun (like he always did), but chose instead to hit the knife-wielder with his camera bag over and over again once the kid attacked. My father was stabbed multiple times and the kid was arrested. Years later the kid-now-adult died in prison from multiple stab wounds.

But that’s not the point of my story.

No, where I’m going with all this is the offensive photo I found in my news feed. And, because of the industry I’m in and the perspective I usually take, I imagined if I were an employer looking at public candidate profiles across social and professional networks as part of my pre-employment screening process, finding these horrible hot potatoes along the way.

The reality is that I don’t have to imagine, since I have sourced, screened and hired multiple positions and team members over the years in my various incarnations, and that includes going online to see what I can find. I mean, where’s usually the first place most sourcers, recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers go today when screening a candidate? We Google them and more, right? And we search for them via social media to see what’s up in the virtual world — even if we don’t admit it (or admit they based hiring decisions on what they find).

The fact is, we can easily find professional or personal information on a job candidate with just a few clicks, and something we talked about in depth on the TalentCulture #TChat Show. However, alongside the ease come real and rising legal risks that employers must be aware of when researching candidates on a social network or through a search engine.

There are certainly both the risks and rewards of screening job candidates online, but understanding the legal considerations facing companies that turn to the Internet to check out job candidates due to privacy, discrimination and accuracy is critical. According to my friends from EmployeeScreenIQ and their The Unvarnished Truth: 2014 Top Trends in Employment Background Checks report (surveyed over 600 individuals representing a wide range of companies):

A substantial portion of respondents (38 percent) search online media for information about their candidates as part of the hiring process. It’s not an insignificant portion, but the vast majority of employers forego this activity. Eighty percent of those who check online sites turn to LinkedIn for information.

Plus, whether or not employers consider Google and other online social and professional network searches “background checks,” the FTC has ruled that some social media data aggregators are, in fact, subject to the same laws as traditional background checks.

Heck, if my friend was a prospective candidate of mine, I would’ve dropped him/her like a hot potato, without question or context. Of course I wouldn’t have documented that decision, since I’m not going to go on the record that I made a potential hiring decision based on what I found online, but nearly 50 percent of those above who said they screen socially drop because of inappropriate photos, and nearly 50 percent are screening via Facebook.

That all said, whether becoming or handling social hot potatoes:

  1. Employees should be much more self-aware of what they share online and why. They should always be vigilant, since they’re always perpetual candidates regardless of role or classification, and no matter how happily employed. Human beings are horrible decision-makers on the average, so making bad judgments of posting graphic photos online because you’re trying to make a point when a future or current employer (maybe one of the nearly 40 percent that won’t like it), or even potential investors if you’re launching your own business, doesn’t matter when they care about or for your point, then you’re forgotten as fast as you posted your point. No longer in consideration. Good luck to you.
  2. Employers should be much more self-aware of their screening processes and who’s screening whom, what, when and where. They should also always be vigilant, since they’re perpetual suitors regardless of the roles or classifications they’re “hiring” for. People are their greatest asset, and their greatest liability. Transparency I believe in, but there’s a reason for privacy and discrimination laws. There are just too many hot potatoes of social screening, so do yourself a favor and underscore your screening process with legitimate pre-employment screening practices that are EEOC, OFCCP and FCRA compliant.

Those acronym hot potatoes will get your company burned otherwise, most likely audited and fined. Then neither of us is in consideration any longer (employee or employer).

Good luck to you. Maybe start using an oven mitt.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: pirate johnny via photopin cc

#TChat Recap: Leveraging Social Recruiting Legally

Leveraging Social Recruiting Legally

Using social recruiting to determine if a candidate is worth investing in is a sensitive process. But it is a modern-day practice being widely used, and it needs to be understood before it is greatly misinterpreted. Finding talent is a tough business, but screening candidates becomes too delicate of a process to simply let content on a candidate’s social profile affect their candidacy. This week, our community was joined by: Jason Morris, Co-Founder, COO and President of EmployeeScreenIQ; and Nick Fishman, Co-Founder, EVP and CMO of EmployeeScreenIQ. Both specialize in helping organizations screen talent efficiently. They taught our community about the value in screening talent, but also how it is vital for every organization to perform it.

The embedding of social media in our DNA has proven to provide constant change to old processes and adaption to new ones in the World of Work. It is what has brought about the usage of screening candidates by checking their social media accounts. But why? What does social media screening teach us? The reality is:

Ultimately, every organization searches for a glimpse into a candidate’s character and his/her skill sets. Evaluating candidates goes beyond reading resumes and checking references. It extends to evaluating the content they post on their social networks. Truth be told:

The trouble with socially screening candidates is that our perceptions can be misleading in the process. Sure, there are some scenarios that showcase why certain selfies or socially shared thoughts should remain unpublished. However, understanding the difference between viewing a family holiday selfie versus a spring break group selfie is about learning how to interpret character.

Simply saying, social recruiting goes by checking social networks. There is a big digital world out there. It’s also about finding an effective means for screening candidates. Find an effective means for screening talent, because investing in people means coming up with the best possible answer for knowing what you’re getting. We cannot forget that:

When it comes to hiring talent it is better to be safe than sorry. Yes, we all know that hiring talent costs money and that there are high turnover rates associated with it. Still, verifying talent is about being strategic. It’s about keeping your organization healthy. When we hire new talent, it changes the chemistry that exists and we must adjust with it. However, we owe it to our current employees to be diligent when it comes to hiring talent. Social recruiting is an alternative means to evaluating talent, but it has to be thoughtful and mindful of all legalities. Hiring talent is a serious business. We must understand what our social recruiting game plan is and what it looks for.

What #TChat-ters Shared About Social Recruiting

What’s Up Next? #TChat Comes Back Next Week! On Wednesday, Dec. 17th!

TChatRadio_logo_020813-300x300#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly live broadcast runs 30 minutes. Usually, #TChat-ters listen in and engage with our Twitter community.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET/ 4:30pm PT — Our Social Hour midpoint begins and ends with our highly engaging 30 minute Twitter discussion. We enjoy taking a deep social dive into our weekly topic by asking 3 thought adrenalizing questions. So join in on the fun during #TChat and share some of your brain power with us (or tweet us @TalentCulture).

Become A Part Of Our Social Community & Check Out Our Updates! 

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

Photo credit: Link Humans via Flickr cc

Dos & Don’ts of Screening Your Candidates Online

Should employers use social media to screen candidates? A good question without a right answer; it’s a gray area both in the law and company policies, especially because many employers don’t even have a social media policy. However, there are pros and cons to utilizing social media and search engines in the hiring process, and hiring managers want to know—to snoop or not to snoop?

First, let’s take a look at how many in HR say that they use social media in the hiring process. A significant portion of employers do use social media but not for screening job candidates. According to recent data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77 percent of all employers surveyed “are increasingly using social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates.” Far fewer employers — just 20 percent — use social sites or online search engines to screen job candidates.

Even with legal dangers overhead, some employers feel that using social media gives them another powerful tool to protect their interests, especially when it comes to hiring the right kinds of people and building an effective workforce. Take a look at these three key legal concerns.

Privacy: Employees and job applicants expect and are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy. State and federal laws, as well as the contractual terms for some social media services, may limit your reach into a prospect’s profile.

Discrimination: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state laws prohibit employers from making hiring decisions based on protected class information — information that could be seen inadvertently on a job applicant’s profile.

Accuracy: The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) requires maximum possible accuracy in background checks. If you can’t prove something, you shouldn’t use it.

Alongside the risks, there are seven crucial dos and don’ts as you determine whether or not you should be using social media in the hiring process.

  1. Do designate a project owner. Consider putting a knowledgeable, well-trained individual in charge of reviewing and vetting the information found on social sites before turning the information over to the hiring manager.
  2. Don’t ask candidates for passwords. It’s already illegal to request passwords in six states, and 21 additional states are considering similar legislation. Asking for passwords may also damage your company’s reputation (if candidates start spreading the word) and employment brand, making it harder for you to engage and hire top talent.
  3. Do consider FCRA implications.The FTC has been calling out web services for acting as consumer reporting agencies when supplying employers with aggregated social media data for employment. This means that employers who use such sites have to follow Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) procedures and obtain prior written consent from job candidates to conduct a search and also supply them with advance adverse action notices.
  4. Don’t believe everything you read and see online. Verifying the accuracy of information you find online can be extremely difficult, especially in a world of user-generated content, photo-altering software and open networks.
  5. Do beware of TMI (too much information). In fact, be prepared to find more information than you want, need or can use legally. A simple Facebook search could turn up information that, if used against a candidate, could result ina Title VII discrimination claim. Remember, information readily available on a public page (religion or race, for example, gleaned by glancing at a profile picture) is protected class information. And once your hiring manager sees it, you cannot “un-ring the bell.”
  6. Don’t use social media inconsistently. One danger of using social media lies in applying it inconsistently — in other words, conducting an exhaustive social search on one job candidate but doing only a cursory investigation on another. If your internal search practices are scrutinized, inconsistency could lead to legal problems.
  7. Do create a written policy for using social media in the background screening process. Make sure that applicants are not taken by surprise and are made aware of the policy in advance. Work with your attorney to make sure that the policy defines your search parameters, who reviews the results, privacy considerations and what information you are and are not looking for.

About the Author: Nick Fishman co-founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and serves as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President. He will be a guest on the December 10th #TChat Show.

photo credit: faungg’s photo via photopin cc