45% of Employers Screen Social Media Profiles (Mashable)

26 08 2009

I thought this article from Mashable was especially interesting.  As a follow up to my guest post on Recession Mama, I thought I’d share this sobering information with you awesome people.

CareerBuilder.com surveyed over 2,000 employers and found that 45% of them are using social media profiles (i.e. your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other pages) as part of the screening/recruiting process.

Does this scare anyone?

Let me scare you some more.

According to the study, “thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.” The big lessons you can learn are quite obvious, but bear repeating. Provocative photos and info are a bad idea (53% of employers won’t hire you), shared content with booze and drugs is also highly dangerous (44% dismissed candidates for this reason), and bad-mouthing former employers is very risky behavior (35% reported this a the main reason they didn’t hire a candidate).

-Jennifer Van Grove, Mashable blogger, 8/19/09 (http://mashable.com/2009/08/19/social-media-screening/)

As much as you want to remember the great times with the keg stand, it’s so important to make sure those photos are private.  It’s like running for president.  To quote Bill Clinton, “I tried marijuana once, but I did not inhale.”  Or how about this photo of Michael Phelps?

He almost ruined his entire reputation as a serious athlete with this photo.  What makes you so different?  Why would you be the exception to the rule?

I knew of a guy who blogged about “what a joke” his interviews were and how easy it was to get an offer from this company.  What happened?  His offer was rescinded immediately.

Employers want to know that they are hiring someone who is respectable and represents their business well.  In client interfacing roles, this is especially important.  What if a client happens to come across your profile… and you have a photo of yourself passed out on the sidewalk from your 21st birthday?

Not so hot, right?  They will wonder–is this guy serious?  Is he really trying to build a relationship with me when he can’t even compose himself?  The photo, of course, is completely out of context, but unfortunately, no one is going to ask about the circumstances around one inappropriate photo.

Don’t be that person.  Leverage social media to your advantage.  Or just make everything private!


Your Elevator Pitch

17 08 2009

Alisa B. from Boise, Idaho posted me a message on LinkedIn and I thought that it was totally relevant for everyone else, too!  So here goes…

Stephanie-I loved your posting but here is my dilemna: I have been doing a lot of research online about personal branding and I have seen so many blog postings and web articles on the subject but I have yet to have an author give me examples of what are good branding statements or 30-second elevator pitch statements. Isn’t that how much time you have to engage your audience? What would you consider to be a good couple examples of strong branding statements? Thanks so much for your insight!

To be honest, I don’t believe the idea that you have 30-seconds to sell yourself in an interview.   I really don’t think it’s true.  Let’s break it down… what could people possibly learn about you in 30-seconds?

  1. Your level confidence and your presence (or lack thereof).
  2. Your communication skills and the ability to articulate your ideas.
  3. Your level of engagement (eye contact, active listening, ability to understand what they say).
  4. Perhaps some astounding accomplishments… but really, the majority of us are quite average–I know I am!
  5. Perhaps an interest/passion or 2.
  6. Perhaps you said something that piqued their curiosity.  But that probably will vary by person.

If you can’t yet deliver on 1-4, please practice.  For those of you who are confident, good communicators, engaged, and have some great accomplishments to boast about, let’s move on.

Nowadays, people have the opportunity to provide an abundance of information about their strengths beyond 30-seconds of face time at a career fair.  I would encourage people to get creative, and get scalable.   Build a website about yourself, your interests, your specialties, your accomplishments.   Tweet.  Leverage social media to show them your influence and scope of interests.  People are searching.  Let them find you.  You’re awesome, just unemployed!

So how long do you really have to sell them on you?  Well, you have 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, however long they’ve scheduled you for your interview!  But you should always try your best to start and end strong.  Albeit, most interviewers know in the first 10 minutes (first few questions) if you’re a fit for the role or the company.   That being said–you won’t be able to gauge how well or poorly you’re doing in the interview, so don’t focus on that–focus on delivering YOU and solving their problems.

Therefore, positive impressions are important, so how can you make sure this impression is a good one?

You understand their business and gave personal attention to understanding how they differ from their competitors.
You have done as much research as possible to understand the role and to understand the company and what it does.  You’ve looked for similar people on LinkedIn.com.  You’ve read the latest news articles on the role/business/industry.  You are interested.  You really are.   You also either have direct experience, or you have translatable experience and you can articulate how this might be helpful.

Understand their company mission statement and philosophies.
Not every company has this, but many of them will.  In your sales pitch, or interview–whatever,
provide solid examples that tie you in with their core philosophies & mission.  Let’s use McKinsey & Company, a top consulting firm, as an example.  Their “What We Believe” page (as of 8/17/09) says that they aim to…
1)  Put the client’s interest ahead of our own. (How do you do this in your daily life?  at work?  at school? Articulate it.)
2)  Behave as professionals. (Good grief, see my guest post on Recession Mama as an example of an extreme no-no.)
3)  Keep our client information confidential. (You can bet they’re going to ask you about a time when you were asked to keep or breach a secret.)
4)  Tell the truth as we see it. (Have you ever stood up and said, “That’s not right, because…” or “I know a better way…” and you saved the company from harm?)
5)  Deliver the best of our firm to every client as cost effectively as we can. (How have you solved a problem and come up with the trim, streamlined solution?)

Sense of self.
Really–what are your core motivations for choosing their company?  Are you a walking model of their core philosophies and business practices?  I once went into an interview with a potential employer and (being honest) I told them that I would love to work for them for a few years and that I would love to move on to a larger company.  They later told me that as much as they loved me for the role, they knew my heart wasn’t in it long term, so they gave it to the next person.  But it was important that I didn’t get it.  I wouldn’t have been happy.  You should be really honest about what motivates you and what gets you excited to wake up in the morning.  They are looking for people who want to wake up in the morning and do what they do every day.  If that’s not you, then don’t worry–there is a company that is just right for you.

Square Peg, Round Hole (From Flikr.com, December 8, 2007, by danstorey14)

Square Peg, Round Hole (From Flikr.com, December 8, 2007, by danstorey14)

For the average person, there is no one size fits all pitch, unless you’ve started your own company, competed in the Olympics, or played at Carnegie Hall at the age of 12 (or something else that very few people in the world can say that they’ve done).  So, voila.  If you’re averagely unique, like me, your sales pitch will change by company and it will show them how YOU are aligned with THEM in every way.

But don’t take my word for it–what are your stories?  Does this really work or not?

Revised 4 hours later: haha — I’m re-reading Alisa’s questions and the short answer is that there’s no secret sauce for the elevator pitch which is why no one gives an example of a good one.  Hopefully, you can align your strengths and experiences with each company’s core principles and show them how you’re a shoe-in for the role.  Thirty seconds or 30 minutes, at all points in the conversation, this perfect alignment of you and the company should be apparent to your interviewer (or recruiter, or whoever).  Funny how it takes writing a novel to finally come to a 3 sentence conclusion! 🙂  Thank you for reading!! 🙂

Defining Your Personal Brand

28 07 2009

Get on it!  Create your personal, virtual brand (or clean out your drunken photos from last year’s mardi gras):  Check out this SF Gate Article on Social Networking and Jobs.

How timely 🙂  For your convenience, the article is re-posted here from SFGate.com.

Need a job? Show them you can Twitter

By Benny Evangelista, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On Craigslist this week, one job posting asked applicants to “e-mail your resume, online portfolio and the URL to your Facebook profile.”

Another posting required a “demonstrated love for social marketing technologies, including Facebook, blogging and Twitter.”

Experts say social media skills are moving alongside knowledge of e-mail and Microsoft Word as basic job requirements. This emerging trend suggests that in finding a job, it’s no longer just who you know, it’s who you tweet.

“Now when companies hire you, they know you’re going to be an ambassador for the company,” said social media and career counselor Nance Rosen. “Who you have as your friends and how many people you have influence over have become a part of the vetting process.”

And that’s true “whether you’re an administrative assistant or a finance person,” said Rosen, chief executive of Pegasus Media World.

Rosen said her staff found hundreds of listings on jobs sites like Mon-ster.com and Career-Builder.com requiring some familiarity with social networks, either as a job skill or to keep abreast of job openings.

Most, like the Craigslist postings, were related to marketing or setting up a company’s social media presence.

One sales associate position on Craigslist came from a San Francisco firm that required no prior technology experience. But the post asked for a resume and a LinkedIn or Facebook profile because “we are looking for any information you feel would help reflect your qualification and interest in this role along with helping us get a feeling for who you are and why you would be a good match for this position.”

“I have friends who are HR directors, and they all say they look at Facebook profiles,” said Shama Hyder, a Dallas business consultant for social media. “They’re looking to see what the person says, how they represent themselves when they’re out in the real world.”

In one extreme example, the city of Bozeman, Mont., asked applicants to list their user names and passwords to all of their Web sites and social media networks. After a storm of criticism, the city dropped the policy in June.

And retail giant Best Buy recently posted a new position of senior manager, emerging media marketing, requiring a graduate degree and at least 250 Twitter followers.

After the blogosphere reacted, Best Buy decided to rewrite the job description and dropped the exact number of Twitter followers as a firm requirement.

Job applicants may not think it’s fair for employers to judge them by their friends, but the reality is that if that information is public, companies can and will use it, experts say.

“It’s just the way we’re evolving,” said Hyder, who has 18,000 Twitter followers.

The information could help a company build a strong internal culture and could help the job applicant find a suitable work environment. “You’re going to be a more satisfied worker if you personally fit in with the company’s values and culture,” she said.

But she warns workers to watch what they post. “You don’t want to commit career suicide on Twitter or Facebook,” she said.

Social media tips when you’re laid off

— Set up a blog and Twitter account so recruiters can find you and know you’re up-to-speed on social media skills. Post short notes with links to industry news. Re-tweet comments from people whom you admire – they’ll hear about it.

— Participate in LinkedIn discussions and pose questions on discussion boards. Recruiters are watching for smart people with good communication skills.

— Don’t post “job needed, desperate!” Do post attention-grabbing questions such as, “What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?”

— Clean up your Facebook page. Remove photos of your wild time in Cancun, and use the de-friend feature if someone’s posting crazy comments. Consider what quizzes you take: No recruiter wants to know “which one of Snow White’s 7 Dwarfs you’d be” or if you’re a “fan” of sleep.

Source: Nance Rosen, Pegasus Media World