There Are No Barriers To Entry Anymore

Social media has changed the world dramatically in less than a decade. Most significantly it has empowered people and brands in an incredibly human way.  Just look at Instagram. Brands are REALLY listening on Instagram. Here is how I know:  Just this week, when I posted a photo of my delight at Whataburger offering their Fancy Ketchup at my local grocery store, the Whataburger corporate page liked the photo.

Then, today, I got a like on the pic I took yesterday of my new Google ‪#‎Chromecast‬ by the official Google Chromecast Instagram account.

It seems silly to get excited by such a thing but when you think about it…it’s quite significant. We live in a world where anyone can be a brand ambassador. Anyone can have a voice about a product, service, brand, celebrity, political figure—whatever—and your voice can be heard.

Another example of social making us more connected to things that were before unreachable would be my proposal to my wife  over a year ago. A single tweet to the band Foster The People landed me on stage with the band proposing in front of 8,000 people to the love of my life.

The year prior to that, a single YouTube video I posted about my Movember Austin fund raising landed me in a Google Chrome commercial showing how the internet can be used to do good. I’m the guy after Hulk Hogan that says “Allllriiiight!”

Also, earlier this year a single tweet landed me the opportunity to be a Google #GlassExplorer through their #ifihadglass promotion. Now, I have the most advanced piece of technology being worn on my face. A single tweet did this.

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 6.53.54 PM2013-06-18 09.42.43

Imagine how you can elevate anything that you’re doing. Hiring people, growing your business, or sharing a common hobby or interest while learning from others geeking out about that same thing. I still feel like a lot of people resist social. Still think its not worth it for them to put themselves out there….but it is. It’s very rewarding and a very HUMAN thing to do.

Have I had a lucky past couple years? Maybe. Would any of this have happened if I didn’t have social media as a tool to reach out and make things happen? No.

The world is at your finger tips now, people. Reach out and grab it. Engage. Make some shit happen. There are no barriers to entry anymore.

The Death Of The Social Media Career: Why You Don’t Just Want A Job In Social Media

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Image courtesy of The Undercover Recruiter

A question I get a lot from new graduates looking to get into the professional world and even professionals looking for a career change is, “How do I start a career in social media?” or when asked what they want to do they say “I want to work in social media.”

There is No Such Thing as a Social Media Expert

The reality is there is no such thing as a career in social media or ‘working in social media’. That’s like saying I want a job in email or carrier pigeon. Social media is merely one of many digital channels of communication—it’s a tool. When trying to define your career path, think bigger. A career is something you can be an expert in. Social media “experts” do not exist. There are people that are really good at using it…but even they are merely students of the medium. That’s like saying you are a texting expert. Before you say, “But I AM a texting expert. I know all the abbreviations ROFL, LOL!”–you’re not. There is no such thing.

Social media is a communication technology that is constantly evolving and bleeding into everything from advertising to corporate communication. No one can possibly be an expert in something like Facebook because, in reality, it could be gone in 5 years (Ask Tom from Myspace) or just drastically different. Seriously, do you remember what Facebook looked like even a year ago? It’s already evolved drastically in just the last 6 months.

The ‘Hyped Up’ Toddler

In the mid-2000’s, when social media was still in its infancy (some would argue it still is but I’d rather look at it as a toddler now), many industries were trying to figure it all out. Social media became a big hype and everyone thought it was this great new industry that would revolutionize everything. That there would be a whole new workforce of people that just do social media for a living. The problem, though, is that social media isn’t an industry or a job–it’s a communication skill.

It is Revolutionizing…

Now don’t get me wrong, social media is revolutionizing and some people do make a complete living using social media (either as a marketing channel or by consulting in it’s use, etc). It has definitely allowed humans to communicate online even more efficiently than offline and created some major efficiencies in mass communication, to a point that it’s literally sparked revolutions.

Social Media as a Profession is Dying

While social media is revolutionizing as a communication technology, I would actually say that social media as a stand alone profession is dying and I’m not the only one. Though, maybe, it really never existed to begin with and people were confusing what category to put a job like a community manager or social media strategist into. What if you looked at a community manager as a customer service rep or PR/marketing person that uses social as their channel to communicate with their audience, not a social media person who helps out customer service or PR. See what I mean?

This is causing a lot of confusion. For example, I’m a Director of Recruiting but I use social media A LOT. Many of my friends confuse my career and assume I do social media for a living because I use it to brand my company, myself and as a way to make hiring people more human and effecient. I attract talent and hire talent…I’m in recruiting….not social media. Social media is a tool I use for recruiting.

Don’t Work IN Social Media, Work WITH Social Media

What I’m noticing is that, by now, most professional jobs have been enhanced by social technology and almost all jobs require some social media skills and understanding. Large corporations now use enterprise social networking software like Jam to collaborate across global teams and recruiters use social recruiting software like SuccessFactors Recruiting Marketing to find talent and select top talent (Disclaimer: I work for SuccessFactors/SAP which is why I used those as examples but we do happen to be the industry leader in these products). The better you know social the better you could be at any job. So, don’t go looking for a job in social media. Look for a job with social media and use social media to be better at your job.

For example…

Let’s say you are a Java Developer. You can build a network of other Java developers on GitHub.com, Google+ or on Twitter and learn from each other. You could write a blog about new techniques and programming languages you’re learning which highlights your skills to potential employers and shows you as an expert. You can highlight your coding skills and teach others or land new jobs.

Really, this can be done with almost every profession. You could love making quilts and build a community of quilt makers and fans of quilts. Let’s say you  then build a website where you sell those quilts to that community you’ve built, and write a blog about awesome quilt making tips and tricks to create new quilting fans who would buy your products because they see you as a knowledgeable and talented quilter. See where I’m going with this?

All I’m saying is you don’t WANT a job in social media. You want a job that centers around what you love to do and then use social media to achieve your career goals faster and more efficiently and foster the genuinely natural human inclination to be a part of a community of like-minded individuals who elevate each other. Put yourself out there. Use social media to brand yourself professionally and build your career.

So, find something you love to do and use social media to grow your skills and a professional community (and I don’t mean just on Linkedin…which is a given for professional networking) to move your career in the direction of your passions.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below if you think the social media career is dead and why/why not?

Recruiting is Strategic…or it Can Be

By: Will Staney, Director of Recruiting, Strategic Programs at SuccessFactors

Let’s face it. The times they are a changin’…and fast! Like many industries, the recruiting business over the last handful of years has seen a boost from social media and technology innovations, including mobile, making it more complex and candidates even more segmented across the web.

The number of tools, online sources, social media sites, and yes job boards, are vast and can range anywhere from free to extremely expensive. Like with any business, as an industry becomes more complex, the need for a strategy to meet goals becomes even more important. Now, more than ever, is the time to get strategic with your recruiting efforts and measure those results with analytics. After all, recruiting IS strategic…or it can be!

How does this effect the role of a recruiter? Well, I believe the role of recruiting is quickly moving closer to the Marketing department than the HR department in many ways. If you know anything about marketing you know that strategy is key, analytics are essential, and branding is everything.

To understand how complex recruitment marketing has become, let’s first take a look at how we got here. The evolution of recruitment marketing can be split into 3 “eras”:

The Pre-Web Era aka “The Dark Ages”

Remember what it was like to recruit before the internet? Maybe you’d rather not think about it? Honestly, these were the good ol’ days and if you ask me things were a lot simpler.  If you wanted to advertise an opening there were only a handful of things you could do. Candidates were looking for jobs all in the same place: the newspaper. A “help wanted ad” would hit all jobs seekers and theoretically they would self-qualify and either fax or personally come in and hand in their resume. Recruitment marketing was extremely transactional and reactive. ABC company has a job that just opened, they post it in the news paper with only a small character limit to describe the position, and then hope the right candidate walks through the door. I also call this “The Dark Ages” because, honestly, there just wasn’t enough information or communication pre-application/interview at all and both sides were largely in ‘the dark’ before making a large time commitment. Recruiters had to greatly rely on referrals and their own networking to proactively get ahead and hire the best talent. Later I’ll talk about how we are going back to that mindset.

Web Era

Hurray! The internet is born and shortly after job boards begin to emerge and recruiters and companies have the ability to instantly get jobs in front of the eyeballs of candidates all over the world. Candidates could go to CareerBuilder or Monster and apply….and apply (repeat 100 times)…spraying resumes into the databases of companies faster than they can read them. The role of the recruiter went from networker to resume sifter looking for that needle in a haystack. A plus side for the candidates was that job descriptions were longer, more descriptive, and career sites on corporate websites, though underwhelming, could give a better picture of what that company was all about.  While still transactional and reactive this was a step in the right direction and recruiting organizations had to begin thinking a little about how to brand the company and the job at least in text form but they were still pretty in the dark relying on purely a resume or bullet point skills to determine if a candidate was worth pursuing. Candidates were a little more segmented but still primarily going to the same few places on the web to find jobs in addition to being referred by friends.

Web 2.0+ 

Here we are. Like I described at the beginning of this piece, the landscape has become way more complex and candidates more segmented with new layers added to the web including the social web (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube etc), the mobile web, aggregators, etc. Now SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become even more important as more and more websites emerge on the scene competing for candidates attention and career sites become the hub of a companies employer brand and gateway to apply to jobs at that company.  The economy is in tough shape with unemployment hovering from 8-9% over the last few years. This means there are A LOT more job seekers and companies can afford to be picky. The war for specialized talent though, especially in the tech sector, is very real and the old ‘post and pray’ mentality of the web-era doesn’t work anymore. A social, mobile and proactive strategy using dynamic content is the best way to effectively recruit in our current climate.

I believe that recruiters should be expert recruitment marketers and utilize the power of employer branding and social sourcing. This is the the key to a recruiter’s effectiveness adding efficiency to the recruiting process while not forgetting those important skills from “The Dark Ages” of proactive networking and referrals. To stay ahead recruiters need to try new techniques, new ways of marketing their employer brand and open positions but at the same time measure the effectiveness so that they can hone in their strategy over time. For the most part recruitment marketing is a lot like an old saying they used to say in the advertising business in the 1960’s, “We know our advertising is working 50% of the time…we just don’t know which half.” Today, it is possible to know what parts of your recruiting strategy is working and what parts aren’t if your measuring it through web analytics. Then, once you know whats working and what’s not you can pull your resources from tactics that aren’t working and put more time and investment in what is.

I leave you with the following questions:

What are recruiters doing right when it comes to driving strategy today?

What do recruiters need to do better to move from a reactive to a proactive function?

What makes recruitment “strategic?” Is this a matter of role/responsibility or perception?

What role does social media and technology play in determining recruitment strategy and efficacy?

How is the recruitment function evolving, if at all? What does the future of recruiting look like in 5 years? 10?

How would you answers these questions? Answer in the comments below or check out my past appearance on TalentNet Radio where we recently tackled these very questions!

Cracking the Social Recruiting Code: 4 Proactive Job Hunting Tips To Stand Out From the Crowd

For the past couple years I’ve been building out corporate social recruiting strategies and programs as well as training recruiters on how to find candidates and engage with them in more of a human, relationship focused way using social media. In this post I spill the beans on a few of these tactics that can be flipped around and used by job seekers to find and build relationships with recruiters and key contacts at organizations you are looking to find employment with. Whether you are currently on the job hunt or not, these are some useful tips for getting inside a social savvy recruiters head that will help you throughout your career.

1) Personal branding 101

This first one is a no-brainer and I’m sure you’ve all read a million blogs about personal branding. However, it is the necessary first step. After all, you are theproduct you are selling in your job search. Be regularly active on the sites where recruiters are living such as LinkedinTwitterGoogle+ and Facebook. Actively post about your professional endeavors and projects highlighting yourself as an expert in your field. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get personal on your social networks, but you should also always be cognizant of what your audience is seeing (and the risks involved) so consider your audience and privacy settings before clicking that share button.

But remember, employers are starting to care more about you actually having an online presence than not having a bad one.

2) Spit it back at them.

Recruiters are out on social networks trying to find you, so go out and and find recruiters. If you just applied at a company for a marketing job – search for the recruiters hiring for marketing jobs at that company. Every recruiter is on Linkedin…start there. Find people who work at the company or in a similar position and network with them. Ask them how they got there.

Use Social Media and Social Directories to Find People to Network With

Google+: Search Google+ itself by keyword or use the directory findpeopleonplus.com to use filters to find users that work at specific companies or who have particular roles.

Twitter: Use Twitter Search itself to find conversations mentioning the keywords you search when they use in them tweets, hashtags, and narrow down by geographic location. One of my favorites is a Twitter directory called Twellow. It’s like the Yellow Pages for Twitter and can be used to find people who are influential in certain industries or topics that may be making hiring decisions. You can find and follow employees at your target companies as well.

Facebook: Search Facebook itself by keyword and find events (for in-person network), groups to network with others in your industry, and even public status updates to find conversations in real time! Also, check out the BranchOut app on Facebook. It’s the largest professional network built on top of Facebook so it allows you a safe way to connect with professionals (without becoming Facebook friends) but still leverage your personal social graph on Facebook to find jobs and people at particular companies.

Why use Facebook in your job search? Well, according to Jobvites Social Recruiting Survey, almost twice as many people found jobs using Facebook than Linkedin. Why is this? Think about the people who are most likely to refer you to a job. It’s not that guy who gave you a business card at a conference that one time that you connected with on Linkedin. It’s that friend you went to college with, your uncle in the banking industry, or your old friend from high school. These people can really vouch for you and are comfortable reaching out to their network for you to help you land that job.  Your personal network.

3) Get creative

Go above and beyond if you really want that job! Do things that will get a recruiter or company’s attention. Recruiters receive resume after resume as well as emails just like the ones you’ve probably seen blasting out on CareerBuilder or Monster so get creative! Including something like a clever video resume or a link to a website you created highlighting your skills in your cover letter or resume can really give you that ability to separate yourself from the heard!

Did you see that “Google Please Hire Me” video resume to Google by Matt Epstein in September that became a viral video? That guy got 80 interviews and a pretty sweet gig out of that. Read more about that here.

Also, anytime you can get creative in your job search using the product of the company your looking to get hired at is s a winning combination! At SlideRocket, a division of VMware, an applicant (and now employee) Hanna Phan did just that. Watch the presentation and check out Hanna’s story here.

Within weeks of this being virally shared throughout VMware, without even landing the job officially yet, she already began building a fan base! Talk about a great first impression, right?

If you are a web developer – build a website that highlights you in the position you want at the company you want. It’s so much easier to share a link to a recruiter or company employee on social media than it is a paper resume (and it’s more likely to be seen as well)!

Recruiters are so bored with the basic resume that when something compelling comes at them, they WILL remember you. If they get a lasting impression from you, and you don’t qualify for that immediate role, they will think of you for the next position that comes along.

4) Resume Blasts are a thing of the Past

This is a mindset recruiters still need to break as well. Just as the days of recruiters blasting their jobs on job boards hoping the perfect candidate applies are over also are the days of career seekers blasting out their resumes hoping that perfect job comes calling. In this job market, in the days of social media, that just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Start your job search by researching and identifying 10-15 companies whose culture and vision match your own and proactively reach out to people at those companies. Learn about the manager of the department you want to work in and even their leadership. You landed the interview? Great, now ask the recruiter for the names of the people you are going to be interviewing with and do some research like I mentioned in point 2 above before you go in there!

Do you currently use social media in your job search? What are some creative ways you have seen either job seekers or recruiters use social media?


Using Social Media in Your Job Search

As you probably know, each week I reach out to our recruiters at VMware to provide me with a tip to share with our communities. This week’s #careertip is brought to you by another brilliant VMware staffing professional, Kylie Tobin. Kylie is a recruiter in Cork, Ireland:

“My career tip is how to enhance your use of social media. It has never been more important to create a strong, professional online presence. More and more employers are using social media to find potential candidates. Make sure your profile is up to date specifically LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook, Twitter etc. On these sites highlight your career-oriented professional self, get recommendations from colleagues, start discussions in relevant groups, Be Active!  and provide links to these on your CV/resume.

Use social media sites to help you in your job search. It is important to have the right key words on your profile this will increase your position in searches (search yourself using key words that a recruiter may use and see where you come up in a search) check your spelling and presentation, have your contact details clearly visible, update your education, qualifications and skills, expand your network connect with people whom you worked with previously (they could be working in your preferred company now), and have a nice picture!

Once you have identified target companies connect with people in these companies especially with those you are interviewing with. Research the company and the people. Use this knowledge in your cover letter or the interview. If you have something in common with the interviewer then use this. I recently interviewed a candidate who knew I had been in Australia and I was really impressed he had done his research.  It can be a great way to make an interviewer remember you!

Remember if it is on the internet then potential employers will see it, if you don’t want people to see it then don’t post it or make sure to take the time to set up your privacy settings appropriately on Facebook and Google+ .”

Follow  Kylie on: 

Linkedin: The Old Online Professional Networking Model?

I had an interesting conversation about Linkedin on Twitter today when I saw someone in my Twitter feed post that they closed their Linkedin account. I was  a bit shocked to see that and knowing the kind of money companies spend to advertise and source this network for talent, mine being one of them, I was curious enough to probe further as to what these IT professionals didn’t like about it and what other social media they were using for professional networking.

reillyusa

reillyusa: RT @rjweeks70: Closed my LinkedIn account. What a colossal waste of time that was over the years.

willstaneywillstaney: @rjweeks70@reillyusa Would love to know why you feel Linkedin is a waste of time? Companies spend A LOT of money to find talent there.

rjweeks70rjweeks70: @willstaney@reillyusa The interface is awful. There’s no actual useful information there, just regurgitated twitter streams.

willstaneywillstaney: @rjweeks70 That’s good feedback, thanks. Do you find other social networks more effective? Which ones? cc: @reillyusa

rjweeks70rjweeks70: @willstaney@reillyusa The social network we’re using is remarkably effective. I’ve learned more from Twitter in a year than LinkedIn in 6.

reillyusareillyusa: @willstaney@rjweeks70 I would argue, weakly perhaps, that the # of inbound “connect with me” emails I get from ppl I don’t know is the prob

reillyusa

reillyusa: @willstaney@rjweeks70 I don’t categorize LinkedIn as social, it’s professional.

rjweeks70rjweeks70: @reillyusa@willstaney Agreed, the number of folks who want to connect without any actual previous connection is also a problem.

rjweeks70

rjweeks70: @reillyusa@willstaney For instance, I wouldn’t add either of you on LinkedIn based on this twitter conversation, but other people will.

 

This raises a lot of questions. Obviously, there are a lot of choices out there for social networks now (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Quora, Google+, etc etc) and that’s A LOT to manage. Maybe a shift is happening. Are we beginning to see people have social networking site overload, forced to start weeding out the networks they feel less essential to focus on the ones they do? Christian Reilly (@reillyusa) said he didn’t even consider Linkedin a social network! Is that assuming we do not socialize when we are being professional? Are we not being professional when we socialize?

Are social networks becoming more of a preference choice? It’s almost impossible for a person to be fully active on all of them. So like car brands or cell phone carriers…they are going to have to chose the few that they like the best to get the most value out of them. None of them will have “everyone” so is it becoming even more essential for recruiters and companies to have a presence on many to be able to engage and find talent they’re looking for? I think so.

Will Google+ be the everything network that allows you to manage all of your life online in one place yet keep your different social groups separate but equal thus eliminating a need for separate “professional networks?” That remains to be seen but I will tell you that Google+, especially as it is now, with mostly early adopters and tech professionals on there is a tech recruiters dream pool!

With professional networks like Branchout, that leverages “personal” social networks like Facebook a better place for career growth? (Honestly, who’s more likely to recommend you for a job, your buddy from college or that random person you connected to or met at a conference on Linkedin?) Will Branchout eventually break away from their dependence on Facebook and offer a stand alone site that is compatible and pulls social profile data via applications within MANY social networks? Facebook & Google+? That seems like a better business model than Linkedin!

I’ve been seeing a lot of headlines lately that reflect that there are an overload of choices of social networks for advancing your career . I’m beginning to wonder if specifically career focused social networks are less appealing and/or are less effective because your career is one of many aspects of your life…not a completely seperate one. Also, it’s all just becoming too much to manage, right? People want at most a couple of networks that allow them to connect and share with both their personal and professional contacts. I think our personal and professional lives merge more than people believe are willing to admit.

So, how does Linkedin justify their stock price and being such a costly service to employers when there are so many FREE social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ out there that could be just as effective for recruiting?

Some interesting reads related to this:

Could Google+ Be the Best Social Network for Your Career?

Facebook vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn vs. Google+

More Employers Using Social Media to Hunt for Talent

Facebook Apps BranchOut and BeKnown Take on LinkedIn

Multiple Social Networks: The Places for Recruiters to Be

Is the CV dead?

 

What do you think? Comment below and lets talk.

Recruiters Change Employee-Hunting Tactics Towards Web 2.0

I saw an article pop up in my feed by the WSJ this morning and I think it sheds some light on a key happening within the staffing and recruiting business. The recruiter’s job is changing. I believe this shift from recruiters being paper pushing resume sifters to expert networkers  and project managers is a needed shift. Companies will start making sure this year that the recruiters they bring on are social savvy and are bringing with them a large network of individuals to help them place their jobs.

The article highlights some pretty staggering statistics in regards to less dependency on 3rd party job boards like Monster or CareerBuilder .

About 24% of companies plan to decrease their usage of third-party employment websites and job boards this year, according to a December survey from the Corporate Executive Board Co., a business consulting firm. Meanwhile, nearly 80% of respondents said they plan to increase their use of job-board alternative methods this year, such as employee referrals and other websites like Facebook Inc. or LinkedIn.

Posting a job to those job boards can definitely increase the amount of applications you recieve…but also the amount of unqualified applications as well. Lot’s of time is wasted by recruiters spending their time sifting through all those applications. The author also gave examples of how large companies are changing the kind of recruiters they are looking for:

The number of applications to some executive openings at Sodexo rose more than 50% to 300 since the downturn started, Ms. Ball says, but the increase brought many unqualified candidates.

“Recruiters had to put in all this extra time to read applications but we didn’t get benefit from it,” she says. Now, the company is hiring different types of recruiters who specialize in headhunting, including finding candidates to poach from competitors, rather than those who are good at processing and filtering applications.

You can find the full article here. Definitely worth a read.

Do you think it is more necessary now for a change in the recruiters role? Are other roles forming? We now need sourcing teams to headhunt, schedulers to schedule the appointments, and recruiters to network and project manage. I don’t think this changes things that much but definitely shows that social media and online networking is becoming a much more important skill when hiring effective recruiters.

I don’t mean recruiters need to just be active with social media. There is a big difference in being active and being effective. Spamming will get you nowhere. Just posting out your job descriptions on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin will not do the job. Recruiters need to be out there building relationships, talking about company culture, unique value propositions and organically growing their online communities of advocates helping them get their message out. In other words, recruiters need to start thinking like employment brand ambassadors and marketers but at the same time be human and add value!

Are you a recruiter? How do you think social media has changed your job? Comment below.