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Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

That this time, the job market is different.  Normal job search methods are not working well, yet nobody seems to be offering new ideas that might respond to the modern marketplaces.  In our session at New York SHRM, we emerged with some clever new ideas…

If you want a list of the problems, read my original post here.  While they are targeted to some specifics in the HR profession, they fit anywhere.

Let’s apply some fresh ideas.  I have made the following recommendation to several people – and most of them just edge away from me with a scared look in their eyes.  Whatever.  As Ashleigh Brilliant, the English cartoonist said – “Good ideas are common – what is uncommon are people willing to work hard enough to bring them about.”

First, use LinkedIn in a proper way – research and introductions.  Simply put, posting a resume and sending a vague posting does not work.  Ever.  If you know of an organization of interest, use the search and research functions in LinkedIn to find people inside the firm, then use the power of LinkedIn to see which of your friends in your network knows someone inside the firm.  Ask them for an introduction, and you are knocking at the door with a warm call, not a cold call.  Warm is better.

Second, and this is the big one  –  use benchmarking and research instead of what people call networking.  What most people are currently doing is just plain wrong.  You ask for a brief meeting to get advice on the market and job opportunities, promising to only need 20 minutes.  When you show up, it is a show all about you.  You review your background, then bug them for job leads, then ask if you can bug their friends.  What benefit is in this for the person who is opening up their calendar and rolodex?  A warm feeling from being altruistic, perhaps.  You will probably not be welcome for a second meeting, as there was nothing in it for them.

Let’s agree that people in leadership roles are under time pressure, and they are feeling out of touch with the world because of business pressures.  They have a hunger for current information from the front lines of business.  Use this in your job search.  Offer them fresh information.  Offer something they value, and do it in a meeting that is worth their time.

How? First, select a hot topic of interest to you and to the type of person you are approaching.  Something current.   If the audience is COO, make it operational.  If CFO, make it financial.  If CEO, make it an issue focused on strategic advantage.  If HR, look at workforce planning or performance management.  Want ideas?  Read CFO Magazine, or Fortune, or Forbes, or The Economist.   Then, select 20 or so organizations that are of interest to you as possible employers.  Do a direct approach to the leadership team of those organizations, offering them the chance to participate in a benchmarking of this topic, and all who participate will get to share in the results.

If the goal of networking is to build high quality business relationships in a non-threatening environment, this will give you just that.  You have to be a good communicator, interviewing them about how their organization handles your topic.  You will then write a white paper from all of the information gathered from all of the organizations, and share it with your participants.  This will elevate you in their minds as an expert in your field, will give them fresh, local insight on a current topic.  Best of all, they now know you and they will help you on your next steps, or perhaps they may need you in their organization to fix a problem or two…

For extra credit, have your white paper published in the business press to elevate your brand or status in the community. 

In all of this, you, the job seeker, are acting as a high quality consultant and professional, not a time-wasting job seeker.  Best of all, you are making the job search process more of a “LEAN” process, and advancing your own knowledge as you do it.  A win-win-win.

Best of luck as you implement this.  Don’t hesitate to ask for my guidance on making it work.  Happy to help.

Happy new decade!

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Ten red balloons from the Pentagon are evidence of the next  step for Facebook.  This news is either very scary or very exciting.  You pick.

We are starting to get a picture of where will social networks be used, when they mature.  Watch the government, and how they start to use new channels and ideas.   Above the constant noise of being reminded that we must participate in social networks is the harsh reality of short attention spans and crushing work loads.  Many are taking a wait and see approach.   Not me.   I am in the social networking gene pool with both feet, and am paying attention to where it is going.

It isn’t mature yet.  Baby steps.  I have been encouraging everyone to stick a toe in the water.  Some are reporting problems.  One friend reports that after building a good set of followers in Twitter, his account was hacked and everyone started getting spam on the channel.  Not just spam, but offensive spam.  He is a senior communications manager at a national firm.  Not good.  I assure him these are teething problems.

Now, for the balloons.

There are 10 of these - find 'em all and win!

You may know of DARPA.  It’s the Department of Defense.  The full name is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and it was created as a reaction to the Russkies launching Sputnik.  DARPA started what would become the Internet.  When DARPA gets interested in Facebook, we should pay attention.  Well, they just did.

In their project, which just ended a few hours ago, they did something clever.  They recently announced the Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet. They said that the  competition was meant to explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.

What DARPA did a few days ago was tether 10 red weather balloons marked with numbers in random sites scattered all over the US. The first person or group who could use social networking tools to identify the latitudes and longitudes of the 10 balloons across the continental U.S. was promised$40,000.

How long did it take for ad hoc groups to form?  Minutes.  How long till all 10 balloons were identified?  About 9 hours.  Wow.  Read the press release here.  The winning group’s page that explains how they did it is here. A news story with a good summary is here.

What does this all mean?  The important lesson is that social networking is important enough to be taken seriously by the Pentagon.  On the good side, it clearly indicates that those of us who study and advance the use of these new tools are clearly not wasting our time.  On the bad side, the Pentagon is getting involved.

Scary.

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We’re number one!

Portrait178

Of course, with marketing it is tough to get numbers and metrics that you can trust.  But, we’re number one!

Specifically, a global tracking survey on perceptions of national global image is in.  The 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, which measures the global image of 50 countries, show the United States taking the top spot.

From the survey –

“What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009,” explains Simon Anholt, NBI founder and an independent advisor to over a dozen national governments around the world. “Despite recent economic turmoil, the U.S. actually gained significant ground. The results suggest that the new U.S. administration has been well received abroad and the American electorate’s decision to vote in President Obama has given the United States the status of the world’s most admired country.”

Read all about it here – Click to read the story.

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I got several phone calls yesterday about my rant on the USA Today survey.  The calls weren’t about something I misspelled or mis-interpreted, it was about the remark on how social networking and free job sites were hurting CareerBuilder and Monster, the big job posting boards.

The calls were not to pick apart something I said, or to defend the big job boards.  The callers wanted to find out how to it.

Specifically, they wanted to know how to use new tools to get good candidates without having to pay the onerous rates of the big job boards.  It’s not easy, but it can pay off.  Here is what I told them:

First, get working on your employment brand. Get your marketing people (or pay one if you don’t have one in house) to build your employment brand.  Tell the truth, loudly.  Brag.

Next, get online. The people you want to hire are out there, not in the conventional job lines.  With lots of people in the system, you need to use technology in a way that sets you apart.

Then, build a cloud of people around your web portal of high quality people that might want to work for you.  That’s where the branding pays off, and the proper use of social networking is the “game changer” that will do it.

Finally, have an Applicant Management System that asks better questions and helps the low performers self-select out of the system.  This system will work with the free job boards and get your message out.

…that’s the secret to getting  better candidiates for free.

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Well, USA Today is at it again.  The newspaper famous for zippy pie charts and short stories has published a Staffing Plans Survey in last week’s paper.   While I hope the perky scenario they project is true,  I have several problems with it.

First, look at why they’re doing the doing the survey at all.  Their partner in the survey is CareerBuilder.com, who are in the business of making money from the hiring process.  Who owns CareerBuilder.com?  Gannett.  Who owns USA Today?  Yup.  Gannett.  I recognize the practice of  “log rolling” from book publishing.  If I’m writing a book, and I find another author who is similarly inclined, we can write glowing reviews of each others’ work.  (Actually, I am writing a book and I assure you I will not be doing this.)  Simply put, both USA Today and CareerBuilder benefit from this – and it should be marked as advertising, not journalism.

Second, watch the fine print.  In the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, the data has a big “gotcha”.  “Responses weighted when necessary.”  Yikes.  They should tell us specifically which of the data sets were weighted, and why.  They have the room to do it – advertising space sales are down so they have room to fill.  Also, they did the disclaimer in the smallest type face they could find, so giving us data geeks a few more clues about what is “weighted” and what is not would be very helpful.

The big job boards have been laying off staff in large numbers.  This will continue.  They will probably not restaff much – organizations are finding them less and less cost effective, and with the dangerous combination of free job boards and more advanced social networking taking their place.

So, this will be a very interesting “jobless recovery” for the job hunting world.

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Dan Griffith did a FABulous session on social networking – and he promises that his stuff will be posted on the Indiana SHRM website in a day or so.  Go check out http://www.indianashrm/speakers and look for his session by the end of the week.

He gave great examples of the explosion of social networking, and specifics on how to use it in recruiting.

It took 9 months for Facebook to get 100 million subscribers.  It took 4 years for the Internet to hit 50 million.  It took 13 years for TV ot get 50 million.  It took 38 years for radio.

He also recommended that small organizations do not need a web page – they need a blog.

Chris takes notes

Chris takes notes

Here is a shot of Chris Schrader taking notes as he does everything else – very quickly…

A full house

A full house

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