A few weeks ago, one of my good friends was tapping away at his phone, and I asked him what he was up to. He told me that he was playing this “Clash of Clans” game online.

During my college days, I played games regularly. I enjoyed it, and it was a great way to pass the time. Now that I have kids I don’t have much time for games anymore, so I started to dismiss it. Then he said something that struck me. He was playing on a team with some of his peers from work.

After digging deeper into the story, I knew I wanted to share about it. Not just because I still have a fondness for games, but because this has some interesting impacts on the workplace as well.

Growing Up

One of my best memories growing up is playing games with my family: board games, word games, and all kinds of others. One of my absolute favorites is still Scattergories, in case you were curious. And when I think about those games I don’t think about which ones I won or lost. I think about the way I felt playing together and feeling like I was part of something special. Continue reading

google job candidatesThere is a phenomenon that doesn’t get talked about much publicly, but it’s something that in-the-trenches HR folks deal with fairly regularly. While we want to “rise up” and think about big picture, have a strategic viewpoint, and assume the best, there are always going to be friction points that hold us back. It’s a part of the whole “working with people” thing. :-) Today I want to talk through a few recent questions I have received around the impact of social media in the workplace.

We recently hired someone, but after he started I found out that he is posting offensive content to his Instagram page. Should we fire him? This is his first real job after college.

In some cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to terminate someone for what they are sharing online, especially if it would be harmful for your company if it were to come into the public eye. In this case, I’d take a coaching approach initially. The guy’s in his first job and might not realize the implications of what he is sharing. Take him aside, explain why he should NOT be sharing offensive things on a public social media site, and ask him to make it private and/or stop. Continue reading

driving social learningRecently I was speaking to a local SHRM chapter about the changing world of HR through the lens of social tools. This isn’t the “you should use Facebook!” session, and I’m not sure if I even mentioned that platform a single time in the conversation. No, it was all about how both vendors and corporations are leveraging social tools to improve their learning, recruiting, and talent management initiatives.

One of the questions from the audience at the end of the session was this:

We are using a discussion board/forum as a way to increase the community aspect of our learning initiatives. However, we’re having trouble getting people to share out there. If we ask them to specifically, they usually do, but otherwise they don’t post. How can we get our people to be more engaged?

I think there are a few ways to make this platform more active, especially if it has proven to be a useful tool and isn’t just a “flavor of the month” sort of project.

  • Inertia: start some momentum by researching some of the most common questions posted in the forum and post a “frequently asked questions” section answering those specific inquiries. If you want to make it even better, you can link the specific answers to specific users, allowing people to follow up for more detail on their individual situation. Then it’s more of a two-way, social communication channel.
  • Hey, Bob, how do you feel about being an expert? Expert directories are becoming a more common way of helping to assign responsibility in a social learning context. In this situation you’d tag specific people to be recognized experts with the responsibility to respond to questions in their lane. That helps to ensure questions not only get answered, but that they get a response from someone who is qualified to actually respond.
  • Performance: if all else fails, make interacting part of everyone’s performance goals. When I took distance learning classes in college, we had requirements to post one thought and respond to one other person’s post on a weekly basis. It took maybe fifteen minutes to complete, but it kept a steady stream of insightful commentary flowing through the discussion board. We were graded on our participation, and I see no reason why we couldn’t expect the same from our employees.

These aren’t the only answers, and they might not even be the best answers; however, it’s important to recognize the problem (lack of engagement in this case) and begin testing solutions to resolve the issue.

Have you run into this sort of issue in the past? How did you resolve the problem? 

This morning the social media team and I went to a presentation on social media “hazards” presented at the TNSHRM conference. I had high hopes for the session covering some of the important concepts to understand. as an HR professional. Unfortunately, the speaker took approximately 99% of the time talking about how social media is a dangerous thing for HR and recruiting professionals.

In the presentation that the social media team and I are doing, we plan to mention that yes, there are potential pitfalls; however, there are also great gains to be had by participating in social media. I think it says a lot about your leadership practices by what you do or don’t allow employees to say.

More importantly, if your company is terrified of what people are going to be saying on social networking sites, then that’s a bigger problem than just social media. Here are two short videos from others on the team discussing their thoughts on this topic and what companies should do instead of following the standard lawyer advice of “stay away at all costs.”

Dave Ryan

@DaveTheHRCzar

Melissa Fairman

@HRRemix

Lyn Hoyt

My good friend Lyn Hoyt talked about this topic a while back in relation to another edition of the TNSHRM state conference.

But, the lawyer’s presentation did not start out as well as it ended. The round table began with the pitch. It was a power point talking about the ‘why you should have a social media policy.’ It was based in fear as the motivator to take action and illustrated with a sewer pipe. Yep. You heard right. A sewer pipe photo illustrating that the information flowing through social media is nothing more than $%*#. And then a picture of a manure spreader popped up illustrating how this sewer of information spreads. To me it illustrated the uphill perception battle that there is nothing of value being published through social media. They see it as a pure social, entertainment and marketing tool. It is a waist of time, not a business tool. Big mistake.

After the lawyer finished, many of the questions revolved around Labor Board and protected conversation. Then I introduced myself as the Social Media Outreach VP at Middle Tennessee SHRM. I immediately told him I did not share his view that all social media was a sewer pipe. He was a bit embarrassed. I asked if he tweeted or was on Facebook. He did not. So I respectfully asked that I hoped he or someone in his office would be involved in social media as a way to best advise their clients. Because policy should not only address negative outcomes but educate on positive practices. I specifically addresses a point in their policy that tells management not to friend employees on Facebook. I asked why? And told him managers should be trained to engage employees at all levels in order to foster communication. source

And finally, one of the things I have said for five years is this: if you are afraid to use social media, don’t do it. But just know that if I’m in the same industry, my company will eat your lunch, because we are not afraid to find the good candidates, engage our employees, and build our brand using social tools.

Look for more great content coming from the TNSHRM state conference this week!

Recently I was talking with a friend about recruiting, and LinkedIn came up. I mentioned my success with the tool, and that led to some discussions around how to use it, what to do, how to connect, etc. In the video below I go over my tips for how to use a free LinkedIn account to recruit like a rockstar.

Video notes

In the video I cover three key areas for the newbie or the advanced HR pro to take advantage of LinkedIn for recruiting.

  1. Searching LinkedIn with Google using the site:linkedin.com operator
  2. Crafting a connection message that people want to respond to
  3. Leveraging new contacts’ connections for referral purposes

Have you used LinkedIn for recruiting? What has been your experience? Any other questions I could answer?

One of the highlights of my early career days was a year spent in a group called NMU–NASHRM Mentor University. I learned much, developed some amazing friendships that I still appreciate to this day, and got to participate in a pilot program to improve the career prospects of local HR professionals. This year the group is still going strong, and one of the assignments was to create a blog post and have it published online by a known HR blogger. Donna Quinney, an HR pro from Huntsville, was paired with me. Her first ever blog post is below. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Donna!

Social Media Recruiting: Should You Believe the Hype or Not?

I had the privilege of serving as a Mentee with NASHRM Mentor University program this past year. As part of the program, we were asked to prepare a 30 minute Powerpoint presentation, present to the class, and develop a blog post from that information. My presentation was titled “Social Media Recruiting: 7 Good Benefits Every Recruiter Should Know.”

Much to my surprise, I found that there was less negative and more positive information out there on social media recruiting. I’ve heard a lot about the security risks associated with having too much of your personal information hanging out on the internet. That’s it…the only negative I could find on social media recruiting. But I must say, that one negative could potentially cause some major problems for you, your financial state, and most importantly your family. So be careful with that!

But, on the flip side, there are several positives for implementing a social media platform in your recruiting strategies. Here are just a few that I discovered:

  • Cost Saving – Post positions on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s basically free!
  • Improves Talent Pool – Connects you to the largest active and passive job seekers!
  • Fill Positions Faster – Compared to traditional approaches: newspaper ads and/or job boards!
  • Increased Candidate Diversity – Helps widen your search options even further!
  • Company Branding – On-line presence gives candidates a glimpse into the company culture/ environment!

Now that you are up to speed on a few benefits of social media recruiting, are you ready to jump on board and recruit your next new hire via LinkedIn or Facebook? Are you convinced that social media recruiting is here to stay or is it just the next big hype? I’ll let you decide!

Thank you NASHRM Mentor University for a great year…and the yummy cookies! I’ve officially been HR stretched!

Okay, so I had to eat my words last week. It actually wasn’t bad, and I am hoping the result was worth the effort. One session I attended during the 2013 Alabama SHRM Conference was focused on using keywords in job ads to find more applicants. I was interested in learning 2-3 new tips, because I assumed that I already had a good handle on search engine optimization, utilizing keyword searches, etc.

recruiting with keywords

Let’s be more high tech than this in our recruiting practices, okay?

Then I realized how much I knew but wasn’t putting into action. And that’s a humbling sensation.

I can’t remember the speaker’s name, but he was fantastic. If someone remembers please drop a comment below and I’ll edit the post later. 

Six key points

As a blogger, I have a good handle on keywords, search engines, optimizing content for search, etc. But I’ve been lazy with my job postings online. Confession over, now let’s move to the good stuff.

  1. Studies show that the first search result in Google gets over 50% of clicks. That’s major. The same theory could be extended in part to job boards. The top results in a search will get the majority of the traffic. That, of course, brings us to the question–where do your job postings show up in job board keyword searches?
  2. Go to the job board where you posted your job and do a few searches for related terms, words in your posting, etc. For example, if you posted an “accounting intern” job, search for “accounting intern” or “accounting internship” or “entry level accountant” and see how many times, if any, your job posting shows up.
  3. Those other terms I used are related terms, and you should have them in your job postings to ensure you cast the widest net. Some people will never search for your exact job title, so try to broaden your title to be generic while still being narrow enough to reach your target candidates.
  4. Don’t use job titles as position titles in a job board posting. Nobody goes to Indeed.com looking for “accountant II.” They do go looking for “junior accountant” or “accounting specialist” or “staff accountant.” So try to incorporate some of those words into your position title when you post it online. I’m restating myself here, but it’s critical.
  5. Location is key. If you are in a small town next to a big city, be sure to use words for the city in your job ad to get traffic from those sources as well. Nobody is looking for software engineers in Nowheresville, IL, but if Chicago is 20 minutes away, then use Chicago as your job posting address.
  6. If you get nothing else from this post, think of it from this perspective: write job postings like job seekers think/search, not like you categorize them. Write about what the person does, not what the job is. A great example given was “accountant jobs” and “accounting jobs.” People search 20 times more often for “accounting jobs” than they do for “accountant jobs” in Google.

Use metrics and measurement or risk failure

Recruiting is a competitive game

Using Twitter to post jobs

Twitter job search testimonial

Final thoughts

As I said early on, I didn’t really learn anything that I didn’t already know, but taking the time to apply what I know to recruiting is the key takeaway for me. I’d love to hear some thoughts from others who have done this successfully!