What Every Company Needs To Know About Social Networking

July 30, 2009

social networkingA recent study released by Universal McCann reveals that we are immersed the fourth wave of internet usage that is being defined by social network participation. Their study notes that social networks are becoming the dominant platform for personal interaction and content creation and distribution.

The global internet audience now totals 625 million people, with almost 100 million of those users located in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of these users are active in one or more social networks.

What’s also revealed is how these users spend their time on the social networks. The most popular activity was watching video, followed by listening to streaming audio, blogging and connecting with friends.

What does this mean for you or your industry?

First of all, the place to connect with people – whether personally or professionally – is on one of the social networks. They’ve made their choice how they want to interact with others, and it’s not through email. For professionals, this typically means LinkedIn, though Facebook is being used more and more by professionals who have learned to adjust their privacy settings so as not to share overly personal information with other professional contacts.

These trends also mean that you need to generate content that is interesting, engaging and compelling enough to generate views and inspire your connections to share your content with their own network of friends and colleagues. The dominant format for this content: video. If you’re not creating videos to put on your site, your blog, your LinkedIn page, your Facebook Fan Page, then it’s time to start.

polaroidBut don’t stop with video. Over 70% of social networkers also post photos to their pages. People want to see who they’re connecting with, and a thoughtfully designed series of photos can generate a powerful impression. For the professional, these can include images of your office, your personal workspace, your coworkers and even photos from events that you participate in. Sharing some personal visual insights will increase your familiarity, strengthening your connections with your networks.

Finally, if your company really wants to engage online, you need to create a community that’s worth joining. That means frequently updated, compelling content. The promise of interaction with other, like-minded people.  A thoughtful, meaningful – even delightful – user experience. And the ability to listen to your community members and adjust your activities to satisfy their needs, not yours.


The Interviewing Intangibles

July 21, 2009

interview2Yesterday’s post How To Make $5000/Hour dealt with the preparation that job seekers need to complete before stepping foot into the interview. As critical as the preparation process is, nailing the essential details on the day of the interview is just as important.

Make thoughtful wardrobe choices. There are plenty of articles dealing with what to wear to an interview, but they all boil down to just a few points: dress conservatively, dress up not down, and avoid cologne or perfume. The interview is not the appropriate venue to display your keen sense of style or your contemporary fashion sense. You have no idea who will be conducting the interview, how old they are, how familiar they are with fashion or what their own fashion preferences are. Take no chances that you might alienate the interviewer and simply wear a conservative, sensible outfit that will not detract from your personal message.

Arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Even though you may pull up to the building 40 minutes before your interview, it is entirely inappropriate to enter the building and wait in their reception area. Stay in your car until 10-15 minutes before the interview reviewing your resume, revisiting your anticipated interview responses and checking your teeth one last time to make sure there’s no lettuce trapped between your incisors.

Schedule enough time for the interview. If your interview is scheduled for 9 am, you’d better leave your whole morning open. Don’t schedule another interview at 10:30 or you risk alienating your interviewer just as things are going well. If the interview goes long, it’s likely because the interview is going well. Your interviewer may want to run you by two or three others in the department to get their impressions. Each of these visits may last 20-30 minutes, and if you’ve got to dash to another interview you’re going to alienate someone. Don’t risk it.

Exude confidence. The most difficult task facing most managers today is finding, hiring and retaining talent. Your job is to demonstrate that you possess the talent, technical proficiency and interpersonal skills that will make their life easier. You’ll be a lot more confident if you took the time before the interview to prepare thoroughly, to learn about the company and the interviewer and to think carefully how you can add value to their organization.

Why You’re Really Hired

June 30, 2009

interview v2While a carefully crafted resume is a crucial part of your job hunt, it’s important to acknowledge that your resume serves one task: getting you an interview. The resume does not get you hired – your interview does.

That’s why it’s so surprising to see so few candidates prepare thoroughly for each job interview and take the time to understand what’s really important to the hiring manager.

Too many job seekers focus exclusively on their specific skill set. Their accounting skills. Their programming expertise. Their writing ability. Although these skills are essential to any hire, they are the minimum required for anyone invited to interview. How will you separate yourself from every other candidate with the same professional skills?

Focus on your personal skills. In an excellent post in the Detroit Examiner, Christine Wodke outlines the seven personal skills that employers are looking for in any hire. These include:

  1. Leadership
  2. Team Player
  3. Motivation
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Time Management
  6. Flexibility
  7. Sense of Humor

Your job in the interview is to find a way to weave these personal skills into stories relating to your previous positions.

Don’t just describe the technical complexity of your last programming project, detail how you assembled a team, kept them motivated, managed the project to ensure you met the deadline, and how you stepped in to help when one of your team members needed support. These are the truly valuable skills that separate you from every other candidate whose answers focus solely on their professional proficiency.

And You Think Your Job is Tough

June 29, 2009

firefighterMost people think their job is tough. Long hours, demanding boss, unyielding stress. But does your job crack the list of the top 8 most demanding jobs in the country?

CareerCast.com released a study of the country’s most demanding jobs, and they were, in order:

  1. Firefighter
  2. Surgeon
  3. Corporate Executive
  4. Police Officer
  5. Roustabout
  6. Sailor
  7. Physician
  8. Psychiatrist

The study factored in work hours, stress and physical demands to arrive at their conclusion. While it’s not surprising that firefighters topped the list, many may be surprised to find Corporate Executives at #3. The study’s authors claim that while the physical demands of the typical executive are low, they work very long hours and are under constant stress, especially in today’s deteriorating economic climate.

Still want that promotion?

They’re People, Not Parts

June 16, 2009

people gearsThere are days when I’m jealous of my counterparts in the manufacturing sector. They deal with precision every day. Engineering drawings show detail to .001″, the machinists program their machines to produce parts with specific tolerances, and customers know exactly what to expect when they open the box.

I deal with people. Employers. Employees. Recruiters. Managers. Just people. All of whom are distinctive individuals with their own values, priorities, interests and motivations. Not at all like precision machined parts.

So we face an entirely different set of problems every single day. An ideal candidate whose resume is polished perfection, whose references are sterling, who dazzles at their interview, whose follow up is immediate and who shows their appreciation for getting the job by not showing up. Ever.

Think it’s unbelievable? Well, it happens. And when it does, you can imagine the anger, frustration and disappointment on the part of the hiring company. All of it entirely justified.

What can we do? The best we can do is apologize, empathize and try again. Believe me, we’re just as disappointed as the hiring company. We invest an enormous amount of time in finding, screening and presenting potential candidates and are just as shocked and frustrated as our client company when the process goes bad – no matter who instigates the breakdown.

But the satisfaction of placing the right people in the right jobs, of helping companies find the precise talent they need to thrive trumps the occasional disappointments that working with people, not parts, provides.