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Browsing Posts tagged Social Media

In the comments of a number of different blog posts, I’ve been discussing the pros and cons of social media and HR in terms of googling candidates or employees, the ethics of using any of this info for decision making, and whether a policy is necessary.  As I’ve said, the subject of social media and human resources is creating far more questions than answers and I typically comment with opinions on specific examples.

Yesterday I was asked pointblank on Twitter (thank you, Chris!) what I think of using social media monitoring services such as this one

Now I am a pretty opinionated person and typically have no issue  communicating exactly what I think.  I’m not a waffler.  I do not find decision making difficult or stressful.  I don’t hem and haw.  I am annoyingly over analytical, logical, and I love when people ask my opinion.  Just ask my friends.  But when it comes to this topic, I am in a foreign land. 

I provided some kind of non-committal answer about waiting to see what happened in the next couple years before I would endorse the use of this type of product. 

My own answer annoyed me and then I drove myself crazy thinking about it and trying to take a stand.  (I like concrete answers.)  But the more I thought about it the more I flip-flopped back and forth.  Yes.  Wait…no.

Why am I so indecisive about this? And am I the only one who is struggling with this topic?  Is this another example of cognitive dissonance?

The only conclusion I can draw is that from a business perspective I think it makes sense to use these tools.  People should be responsible for the information they choose to distribute in cyberspace.  If you put something crazy out there, you have GOT to know someone’s going to read it.  If it affects your career in some way, well, you really should have thought about that and used better judgment.   It doesn’t seem like some complex, mathematical equation is necessary to determine what might be offensive to a current or future employer.  And each individual is responsible (for the most part) for their own online reputation.  It reminds me of a question I answered a while back about whether I share 100% of my real self  at work.  My reply was that I may not share 100% of myself, but what I do share is 100% genuine.  

That being said, from a humanistic perspective, I have an issue with it.  The idea of Big Brother watching every move we make and then using this information to decide what kind of character we have, what liability we pose to an organization, and to predict decisions we will make in the future really bothers me.  If we do our job well right now, everything else should be irrelevant.  And how can anyone guarantee the information is in the proper context?  For example, am I going to lose out on future opportunities because of this post?  If a company were to data mine my info will they report that I’m against data mining, I must have something to hide and then classify me as an employment risk? 

In addition, the thought that Human Resources can be held accountable for employees’ future actions does not sit well with me.  This is HR’s crystal ball???  If you could use this info to predict behavior that accurately, shouldn’t this monitoring sometimes result in an employee being promoted to President 3 weeks into a new job? Or being given a $20,000 raise because Human Resources now knows that this employee is going to end up earning that in the future?  I haven’t participated in any discussions about that. 

So I still find myself unable to answer the question of whether to use these types of services or not.

Can you?

As I read article after article about social media and what it means to Human Resources, the more I see that this is a huge topic that is only going to get messier and probably create far more questions than anyone will have answers for.

Here are some examples of the different topics and the opinions being formed. I encourage you to take a look at these articles, and particularly the comments, to see the many discussions taking place.

  • There is the argument made by fellow blogger Lance Haun that you don’t need a social media policy. His opinion is that too much policy is a bad thing and if the focus is on education, there isn’t a need for policy. Do you have a policy? Do you need one?

 

  • Another example is a very scary article about Pre-Crime coming to HR by Mike Elgan that essentially shifts responsibility for employees’ future behavior to the company based on what can be learned by mining social media platforms. Will HR ultimately end up responsible if you don’t monitor social media?

 

  • There is an interesting article written by Michael Greco regarding whether updating profiles after an employee leaves is considered breaking the non-compete agreement. How do your contracts read? Is social media included when your employees sign their employment contracts, non-competes, and confidentiality agreements? Do you think it should be?

 

  • Then there is the debate about whether it is ethical to use social media when recruiting. Laurie Ruettiman wrote a post citing personal experience as an example of why it is wrong to do so. Do you use it to recruit? Do you believe it is public and therefore okay? Do you think it is unethical?

 

  • Jeannette Palodino wrote a blog post about the success IBM has had in using social media to engage and retain employees. The choice of whether to promote its use or restrict it is yet another hot topic. Has it been a useful tool for you to engage employees? Have you considered using social media in this way?

 

Reading all of these articles has led me to three conclusions:

There seem to be an equal number of people on each side of each issue and pretty much all the arguments are compelling.

The only certainty is that there is no certainty. Things are changing rapidly and even the Supreme Court is ruling on both sides of many of these subjects, depending on the situation.

Human Resources should not ignore social media. It is already having a huge effect on your department whether you like it or not, and it is not going to go away.

Do you discuss the impact social media is having on your employees, your company brand, your methods, and the legal ramifications of these impacts? Do you use it, monitor it, and keep up to speed on the debates that are occurring around social media?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

YouTube is a platform that is fast becoming a huge tool for recruiters, hiring managers and job seekers.  There are many different ways this tool is being utilized.  The days of YouTube just being a collection of Funniest Home Videos are over.  Here are a couple examples of how video is being used in the job market.

Video Resumes – Yes, people are making video resumes and spreading the link all over social media.  While I wouldn’t recommend simply posting a video resume to YouTube because no recruiter is going to take the time to search for a candidate there, it can be effective if included as an additional link like an email address on ALL correspondence with your organization of choice – emails, cover letters, paper resumes. 

A video resume should be short, a minute or two, and should be explain your background in a story-like fashion.  It should also specify why you are the best person for this job and what value you would bring to this organization with the skills you possess.  In other words, the most effective video resume is one that is tailored to a specific job and organization just like a hard copy resume.  You should only do this if you have a lively and outgoing personality.  If you don’t think you could be comfortable enough to be engaging, don’t do it.  Remember the goal is for this to help you, not hurt you.  It is simple to upload and because you are in control of when it is uploaded, you can try it many times until you are happy with results before you choose to post it.  This should be one piece of an overall marketing plan, but if you can create a good one it will really set you apart in the job market.

Recruiting Videos – Many companies are using YouTube to create recruiting videos.  As you are targeting organizations you may like to work for, do some searching.  Search YouTube using the name of the company and other keywords such as recruiting, employment, or careers.  You will find videos on job opportunities, interviewing, working at a company, company culture, and benefits.

Video Interviews – Many companies are beginning to use video interviews.  Here is an example of the process:

  • The company selects candidates for video interviews.
  • Arrangements for an interview are scheduled – either at a company office, an off-site location with a webcam setup, or via a webcam sent to the applicant.
  • A tutorial will provide instructions on the webcam and the interview.
  • There will be 10 – 15 questions related to the job the company is hiring for.
  • The applicant will have 30 seconds to read the question and two minutes to respond.

 

Here are suggestions for how to prepare for a video interview:

  • Review all the instructions. Ask for help (which is typically available online or by telephone) if you’re not sure how the webcam works or if you have questions.
  • Follow the directions.
  • Dress appropriately in professional interview attire, just like you would for an in-person interview.
  • Practice – if you have a webcam, record yourself to see how you appear on camera.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the lighting.
  • Look at the camera, not down at the desk or table.

 

In short, treat this exactly the same way you would an in person interview.

Video in the job search allows you to be creative.  It also allows you an inside peek at what it might be like to work for a particular organization. 

Have you had an opportunity to use video in your search?  As an HR professional, has your organization invested in creating corporate videos to show your culture?  Has it been an effective interviewing tool?

There are a lot of challenges and different points of view around a previous post I wrote regarding regulating the use of social media in your company.   Since then I have also read a lot of articles about using social media internally as a way to increase engagement. 

I see a number of ways an internal network could make work more productive, such as instantaneous communication (like Twitter), problem solving, (like Groups on LinkedIn), and a consistent documentation of all conversations, which would help keep things on track because you can always refer back to it.  (This is different than meetings where communication is verbal and each person documents their own interpretation in notes.)  Forums would also be helpful, particularly to improve communication for multi-location organizations.  But does any of this truly help engage your employees? 

This article says yes because it inverts the pyramid of communication from top-down to bottom-up. 

What do you think?  Is that giving employees too much control?  Can using social media internally help engage your employee?  How?  Is there too much risk and what are those risk factors?  Could it help you support the company brand, as I discussed here?

For those of you who aren’t familiar, TweetDeck is a platform that helps you manage your Twitter account.  It is very user friendly and has become one of my most valued resources.  For newbies, it may seem to tough to understand what’s going on at first.   I recommend you use Google to find tools that can help, like this Twictionary

Here are the reasons I love TweetDeck and why you should too:

Research– TweetDeck allows you to build numerous columns that revolve around keywords.  For example, I search for words like management and leadership.  Any Tweet by anyone that contains those words or is hash-tagged (if you add a # before a word it creates a group and you can search by these as well) appears in this column.  Typically Tweets mention a subject and have a link to an article, post, or video about this topic.  Do you need to research performance reviews or are you looking for ideas to retain your top talent?  Do you need help developing a social media handbook?  Do you want to advance your career by knowing more about your industry than anyone else?  Do you want to know what people are saying about your company? Do you want to see what your competition is up to?  Do you know how your company will be impacted by Healthcare Reform?  Create a column and read, read, read. 

Job Search– This is another area where TweetDeck is invaluable.  Are you looking for a job?  I built a column called human resources and realized quickly that it wasn’t going to serve my purpose very well because it is non-stop Tweets announcing job openings.  We’re talking 100’s of them a day!  I’m not looking for a job, but if I were, I would create columns for every opening I would ever consider and see what pops up.  I haven’t tried it, but I believe you can narrow the search by city, too.  Even without that, I have seen openings right down the street from me.

It Runs All The Time – When you minimize it, you will get a little black box that flashes whenever a new Tweet appears relevant to any of your columns.  It takes a second to skim it and see if it’s worth clicking on a link to check out an article but you don’t have to go to a website every hour to see what you’ve missed.  You can ignore it if you’re busy with something else or take little breaks from your current project to read some valuable info. It also makes a really cool, zingy sound when a Tweet comes in, but that’s beside the point.

It Has Not Screwed Up My Computer (Yet) – I’m always nervous to install and download new things, but this was a piece of cake and so far I haven’t seen any ill effects from using it. 

It’s Really Just Fun! – You can learn about whatever you want but I will tell you, there are some seriously witty people on Twitter!  One of my columns is Severance.  Can you imagine the Tweets I was reading when Tony Hayward’s package was announced?  Hilarious.  And even though you feel stupid laughing out loud at your desk, you don’t feel stupid enough to stop.  Tweets are only 140 characters so it’s kind of like hearing a one-liner multiple times throughout the day.  I actually think it improves my mood.

It’s Great If You’re Not Into Social Media- TweetDeck is a perfect social media tool for people who want nothing to do with social media.  If you aren’t ready to join a bunch of networks and start gathering friends, followers, or connections, you can just watch.  It’s entirely up to you whether you jump in and play or sit on the sidelines.  But while you’re watching, you’re reaping the rewards that are out there simply because a bazillion people want to provide value for each other.

LinkedIn is a definite must when breaking into the world of Social Media in a professional sense.   It has become my most used resource for finding information about companies, information about trends in certain industries, and information about people. There have been some changes to LinkedIn recently and I want to offer some resources for learning how to use it more effectively. 

Initially you want to create a profile.  It is very easy and LinkedIn is very good about pointing out the different ways you can provide a more comprehensive and complete profile.  Once you have that created I recommend you visit http://learn.linkedin.com to scroll through all the different areas, ideas, and technical information to get a feel for how to use this tool to your advantage, whatever your purpose.

One of the best ways to build a presence is to use groups.  This is a tremendous tool that can really help you stand out as an expert in your field.  You can share information, gather information, and create all kinds of opportunities for yourself.  This can help you find a new job or perform more effectively at your current position.  It also gives you an opportunity to follow, connect and interact with the top influencers in your field.  Here is a great resource for learning to use groups. Remember the culture of social media is to give.  Give information, share experiences and give advice.  By doing this you will build a network and provide yourself with improved career opportunities.

With the advent of social media a new truth has emerged.  Companies no longer own their brand.  Back in the good old days (the 90’s, ha ha), a company was responsible for the message and image it displayed for the public.  This came in many forms such as attending conferences, controlling mentions in news and editorial pieces, creating press releases, and by working to earn awards.  These attempts at controlling employer brand are not obsolete but they now hold a lot less weight than they used to.  The people who now control your brand are people out there that you cannot control. 

The most common groups that have control over your brand include past and present employees, vendors, and current clients.  The world of social media has ensured that any experience, positive or negative, can be shared instantaneously and widely. 

Think about your options if you have something you want people to know:  You can send out a Tweet (from your phone, no less), post a status update on Facebook or LinkedIn, comment on an article (including articles on credible sources like newspapers or TV stations), post a picture – the options are practically limitless.  And accessibility to these platforms via handheld devices means the person posting doesn’t mull it over until they get in front of a computer and potentially edit what he or she was going to say.  We’ve always had gut reactions but these are instincts that many times we didn’t act on.  Now the odds are higher that this will become THE reaction.

In addition, a sad fact is that these types of comments are considered more reliable than any good PR your company puts out.  So what if you’ve won an award as one of the greatest places to work?  A few disgruntled employees who are verbal on social media platforms can make this award almost meaningless.  There is skepticism that messages sent by a corporation are true and a desire to embrace the messages of people who have actually “been there”.

This is where Human Resources is so important.  It has long been known that productivity is directly related to happy employees and HR’s job is to make sure their people are happy.  But have you considered the effect of a strong HR department when it comes to company brand?  What if everyone who worked for you, with you, sold to you, or bought from you only had good things to say about you? 

This starts with HR and moves outward.  If the employees are happy and well-treated, they will support you to other employees, both past and present, spread the good word to your vendors and prospects, and reiterate it to current clients.  Now you are taking all the worrisome effects of social media and using them to your advantage. 

Realize that how you treat your employees will be shared instantaneously and often and encourage this.  Spend time on these platforms and learn what people say about you.  Humbly view this material and use it to make improvements when the comments are valid.  Get technologically savvy enough to follow alerts, bring the positive to the forefront, and bury the bad.  But know what is being said.

HR is about supporting people and people are controlling employer brands now.  Start a movement in your organization where you commit to treating your employees right, watch it grow and then show the company owners the effect this will have on your brand.  Soon HR may be the most valuable department in your company.

I am very intrigued by the role (and havoc) that Social Media is playing in the workplace.  It would be very interesting to be able to compare the number of businesses that have been hurt by it versus the number that have been helped.  My gut tells me that if your organization is an ethical and fair place to work, there should be no fear.  If you have something to hide, watch out.  (Check out Drowned Rabbits)

That being said, you can’t please everyone all the time and there will always be a disgruntled employee out there ready to speak negatively about their company to anyone who will listen.  This has always been true, but social media sure broadens the reach and power these people have.

Unfortunately, it seems like the answer is to regulate, regulate, regulate.  I will go back to my previous post regarding trusting your employees.  How much money and effort should a company invest in trying to control that which is pretty uncontrollable?  There is no doubt that social media can cause a lot of problems for businesses.  But people are people and you cannot control what they will do. 

Don’t most people in the world understand that there will always be others who want to get a rise out of people?  It seems to me that this is not a new issue.  Only the vehicle with which to abuse company time and spread negative messages is new.  Most individuals will take corporate bashing with a grain of salt.  One well-known aspect of social media is a lack of reliability – you can’t believe everything you read.  What is the main issue from a manager’s point of view?  What employees are saying, or the time they are spending on the company dime to say it? 

I think another important consideration is the ability to do all this social media stuff on cell phones.  If it is on the computer at the office at least you can monitor it but if you try to prevent that, won’t people just use mobile devices? And then who knows what they’re doing or how often?

Do you work hard to control this or do you have faith that the company’s reputation will prevail?

I would think that one of the best solutions would be to have some guidelines that ask an employee to respect what they are being paid to do just like with email, surfing the net, and making personal calls.  Guidelines make you think, but a list of punishable offenses complete with threats of firing just creates ill will.  I have a friend who worked at an organization where the employees couldn’t even use Yahoo or LinkedIn.  Want to guess what the morale was like at that office?  I like the idea of “Give and You Shall Receive.  Trust and respect your employees and they will give you trust and respect in return.  (Here comes my idealism again.)  What if you allow them the freedom to participate in social media and they say all good things?  Now you’ve just done your organization a huge favor.  What does it say about a company whose employees like what they do and how they do it?

Another risk of restricting use is a passive aggressive revolt.  What if your employees join forces and form groups in social media where they go specifically to bash their company?  What if they let anyone join who wants to know what goes on there?  Negativity will just feed on itself and will hurt the company’s reputation and brand in the long run.

I’d love some comments from HR people who have to enforce strict rules as well as those who don’t have any at all.  I’d also love to hear any stories of successful management of social media.

Lately it seems like everywhere you turn, there are articles and blog posts discussing using social media to find a job.  This can be very overwhelming, particularly for job seekers who have never used social media before.  I have summarized some helpful tips on using SM.  It can be a lot of fun but like anything else online, if there is not a plan, you can get lost for hours and not really accomplish anything.  I hope this will help someone  to be less intimidated by social media and use if effectively in the  job search.

1.  Just get started and don’t worry if it starts slowly.

First, set up profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, and maybe Facebook.  Then think about who you would like to reach.  Realize that this is not about asking for jobs but getting to know the right people.  Read blogs that pertain to your area of expertise and just make comments.  Search for both people and subjects on Twitter and respond.  Search for subjects in discussion groups on LinkedIn and join those groups. Use these comments and discussions and tweets as a way to reach out on other forms of SM.  

2.  Remember the culture of SM is to give.

Give information, give product or industry knowledge, give suggestions.  You search Twitter for relevant subjects and follow the people who are discussing these subjects.  Most of the time they will follow you back.  Read blogs on your industry and comment on them.  Then search for the bloggers on Twitter, etc and use your comment as a way to connect with them.  If you can come up with valuable information for people it provides a springboard for many ways to build up your network.   Answer questions and provide solutions using your own network if possible.  All of these things are important but the most important thing to remember is to try to be connected to people at the organizations where you would like to work or who are hiring managers in your industry.

3.  Use SM to demonstrate your knowledge.

If you know a lot about something in your industry, follow the people in your industry and respond to tweets, comment on blogs, participate in group discussions relevant to the type of job you are looking for.  Anything to make yourself more visible and demonstrate your knowledge to the crowd that will be hiring you.

4.  Define your target audience.

It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 followers on Twitter if the people who need to be impressed by your knowledge are not in that list of followers.  Also, remember that everything you do on SM is visible so be careful of political posts and pictures or status updates that you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see or read.

5.  When builiding your network, personalize your invitations to connect. 

Write something like, “I read your blog and commented about your most recent post.  This topic is very interesting and I thought you brought up some great points.  Can we connect?” in a LinkedIn invitation.  

6.   Set a strategy to leverage your network.

 An example of lack of strategy and incorrect use of SM would be for a job seeker to ask their networks if they have job openings.  That is not really the best way to utilize networking of any kind.  The best way to take advantage of your network using social media is to target companies who have the type of job you are looking for, and then use your connections to figure out how to get in the door of that organization.  Or target specific people (hiring managers) and try to connect to them through a SM platform like LinkedIn or Facebook.  Your networks can help you figure out who is connected to whom to help you with personal introductions. Think of it as a people or company search, rather than a job search. 

7.  Use a number of sites together. 

I consider LinkedIn and Twitter a must.  LinkedIn is the professional platform and Twitter is a great tool to search for organizations and people.  This allows you to follow them, read the things they are reading and find other ways to connect.  There are also a lot of niche SM sites out there that can be found by reading blogs and learning about the people who comment on those.   Subscribe to these blogs and comment regularly.   Once you are doing it, you will see how different names pop up repeatedly and different sites will be referred to consistently.  All of these things will tell you what you need to be reading and where you need to participate to build a following in your industry.

 8.  Be creative and aware that you can touch TONS of people.

I think the best thing about using SM for a job search is that you are able to demonstrate your knowledge and interact with many, many more people than you can using traditional job search methods.  Also, it demonstrates that you are progressive in that you have taken the time to learn how to use it.  It  allows you to include links on your signatures in any format – traditional cover letters, emails, your resume, etc.  For example, you can create a minute and a half video resume and post it on You Tube and then post that link all over the place.  Or include the link to your video resume on a cover letter, or in your email signature.  Use your profile links on all your correspondence.  Using SM for a job search allows you to be very creative.

9.  Do not disregard traditional job search methods.  Instead use SM to augment your search.

 The best job search strategy is a combination of the old and the new.  If you can engage in SM with employees of a company you’d like to work for or hiring managers in your industry, you can then take it to a personal stage with a little bit of trust and credibility already in the bank.  You can use whatever means possible to connect and engage with your target audience to turn a cold call or cover letter type of situation into a quick conversation between two people who already know each other.  For example, you may follow someone you need to know on Twitter.  They follow you back.  You comment back and forth and start a relationship.  You then use that to connect on LinkedIn.  There you see in the profile this person likes golf and so do you, so you now create conversation about golf.  The natural progression is the ability to call this person on the phone and have a conversation.   What would have been a cold call to try to meet someone is now a warm call because some conversation has already taken place. 

10. Have fun and use SM to keep your spirits up. 

You will also find that there are a lot of other people in the same boat – searching for a job.  Connect with other job seekers to share experiences, learn from others’ mistakes, and stay motivated by reading success stories.  Provide assistance everywhere you can and you will get the same in return.