Tag Archives: HR

Top Tips for a Positive Social Media Footprint

The advent of Social Media has seen more and more of us expose our personal lives online.  From photos on Facebook and videos on YouTube, to updates on Twitter and Foursquare check-ins, our personal lives are very much in the public domain – but have you ever stopped to consider the effects of your social footprint during the recruitment process?

Whilst this practice is frowned upon (indeed, countries such as Germany are drafting law to make this illegal), as many as 50% of employers are vetting your Social Media profiles during the selection process.

But this need not be a daunting worry that stops you from enjoying Social Media – after all, we’re all adults and all of us have the right to enjoy separate professional and a personal lives.  But to ensure you manage your online presence effectively, here are some tips to ensure that when you’re looking for a job, you leave a professional social footprint.

Facebook

This is one of the sites that candidates ask us about the most, but also one of the easiest to manage.  Should you refrain from posting fun pictures of your holiday with friends?  No.  Should you refrain from posting jovial status updates laden with expletives?  Not necessarily.

i)    Go into Account Settings > Privacy Settings and ensure that all of your privacy settings are set to ‘Friends Only’.  Many people tend to leave everything publicly visible, which is the default privacy setting in many cases.  By ensuring everything is set to ‘Friends Only’, this means people who are not your friends (prospective employers, for example) will not be able to view any of your Facebook content.
ii)    Be careful who you become friends with.  It sounds obvious, but many people are frivolous when it comes to accepting new online friends.  You may get on well with friendly Lynsey in accounts, but she may very well be Facebook friends with your line manager.  If you write on Lynsey’s wall that you’re fed up with your job and have an interview on Monday, your boss will be able to see this written on Lynsey’s wall.  Be sure to keep conversations pertaining work confined to private messages and email.

Twitter

With so many people using Twitter for networking purposes, keeping your tweets set to ‘private’ can seem a pointless exercise.  Ensure that you’re aware of the following and you’ll have your Twitter footprint covered during the job seeking process.

i)    Presume that everything you write on Twitter is visible to anyone.  Which, in fact, it often is.  Twitter is very highly ranked by Google and so Google searches for your name will often pull up your Twitter profile – and recent tweets – on the first page.  If the first thing a prospective employer sees when they Google you is a tweet containing a derogatory comment, the chances are that they won’t be impressed.
ii)    When having a conversation with someone else on Twitter, be aware that @replies can be visible too!  Similar to Facebook, if you follow your friend at work, and your boss also follows both of you, an @reply between you and your friend will also be visible to your boss.  If you do want to discuss anything that could be seen as contentious, the best thing to do is say it through a direct message – or not at all!
iii)    Similarly, if you have a handful of interviews with different companies, remember that many businesses employ Social Media monitoring tools.  A tweet saying that you have had an interview with Brand X but are hoping for more luck with tomorrow’s interview at Brand Y could easily end up in front of a manager at Brand X.  Tweets like this have resulted in candidates having an offer retracted due to their lack of tact.  Ensure that you keep your personal thoughts just that – personal!

YouTube

Publishing video content has become as easy as, well, sticking a video on YouTube!  More and more of us are uploading content to YouTube, whether it’s a hilarious video of your friend after a few too many work drinks, footage of a hobby such as motor racing or simply a clip of you doing some impressions, your content is published and live on the Internet.

If you’re looking for a new role, it may prove worthwhile to review your current crop of content and see which ones do – and don’t – convey a professional appearance:

•    Videos of you delivering a knockout presentation at work = great!
•    Videos of you simultaneously drinking 6 shots of tequila in Spain = bad.

Again, privacy settings can quickly and easily be implemented.  Common sense should prevail.

Blogs

Gone are the days when mass publication was the sole preserve of impoverished writers drinking coffee and smoking furiously!  The Internet has allowed all of us to publish whatever we want – and blogs have experienced an almost meteoric rise in popularity.

Whether you blog about professional issues, hobbies or politics, your name is instantly connected to the blog your write – unless, of course, your write under a pseudonym!  We’ve seen many instances of people leaving a small disclaimer on their blog, for example, “the views expressed herein are my own and not those of my employer.”  However, if a prospective employer is rooting around and sees your blog on radical liberal politics, this may influence their views on you, regardless of the legality of making such a decision.

If you write a blog that you wouldn’t be comfortable showing to a prospective employer, make sure that you apply appropriate privacy settings during the recruitment process.

LinkedIn

‘LinkedIn’ we hear you cry?  Surely that’s a professional site that can’t convey a negative impression, right? Wrong.  Although LinkedIn does not include many details of your personal life, it does broadcast your professional life – and a bad, out-of-date profile can be just as off-putting as a negative personal site.

Just as you prepare a CV before looking for a new job, you should also ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch.  Ensure that you highlight achievements in each of your roles; ask for recommendations from current members of staff; treat your LinkedIn profile like a digital CV – after all, it’s one Social Media channel that prospective employers are justified in looking at when considering your suitability for their position.

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These steps should ensure that, when looking for a new job, your personal Social Media presence remains discreet, whilst your professional presence is enhanced.  The underlying thing to remember is ‘use common sense’.  You may be worrying about nothing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Here’s a final few points to bear in mind:

i)    Put yourself in the employers shoes – if you were hiring someone and saw this, what would I think?  If it doesn’t convey a professional opinion to you, the chances are that it won’t convey one to the interviewer either.
ii)    Think before you post anything anywhere!  This really is an effective failsafe.  If you think that what you are about to post would not sit well with a prospective employer – don’t post it!
iii)    Many of us open our hearts to friends through Social Media channels.  If you want to have a frank discussion about your employment situation or prospective jobs, the most advisable course of action is to do so through private messages or emails.

Lastly – continue having fun!  The recommendations made in this document aren’t designed to stop you using Social Media in an enjoyable way – they are intended to ensure that your personal activity is managed professionally.  Don’t be afraid to use Social Media – just ensure that employers only have access to professional social footprints.

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Burn the Witch! HR’s (Incorrect) Vilification of Social Media…

HR practitioners around the country are facing an acute legal headache over the new corporate practice known as ‘Social Media Dunking’.  Line managers nationwide have reportedly been taking whole teams to rivers, lakes and ponds and hurling terrified staff into Britain’s murky waters.

If employees float, the only possible conclusion is that they have been wasting time on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, justifying a hand out of the water followed by instant dismissal.  Conversely, if staff sink, this signifies that they have never misused Social Media at work, which clears their name, but creates an extra parking space in the office due to death by drowning.

This example is, of course, fictitious (one would hope…), yet many companies vilify users of Social Media as if they were in fact mediaeval witches.  But why?  Of course, spending three hours in the office creating a photo album entitled ‘Magaluf Mayhem – Boys Weekend 2010’, and tagging all of your mates in compromising photographs that will irk potential employees is NOT conducive to productive use of the medium.  But, contrary to widespread belief amongst management functions, this does not comprise the sole use of Social Media.

One of the most frequently cited criticisms of Social Media in the workplace is that people ‘waste time on it.’  But what about employees who slink off to office kitchens and spend a good 10 minutes gossiping to colleagues about the previous Friday’s leaving do?  Surely, by default, an employee who spends 5 minutes chatting on Facebook is wasting less time than the office gossips?

And what about those who actually harness the power of Social Media for productive work use?  Multi-faceted, Twitter is a powerful communications tool that allows real networking to take place – simply look at the results of #ConnectingHR for a tangible example of Twitter’s ability to connect professionals.  Want to build a professional network that will benefit your business or brand?  5 minutes of tweeting a day could easily serve this purpose – while others discuss Sheila’s new toy boy over a slowly boiling kettle.

Sure, HR as a function has to ensure that Social Media is, like anything else, not misused.  Naturally, there will always exist a faction of disgruntled workers who do try and waste time on, amongst other things, Social Media sites.  But the trap HR practitioners desperately need to avoid falling into is demonizing Social Media and believing that it is inherently a ‘time-wasting’ exercise.

Proactive use of Social Media can greatly enhance the professional reputation of your staff as brand advocates and professional thought-leaders, which naturally leads into a debate surrounding the merging functions of marketing and HR. But Social Media, like many online tools, can greatly enhance the productivity of your people – and it’s crucial that HR functions don’t lose sight of this – proven – fact.

#ConnectingHR 2: The Square Pig & a Well-Rounded Community

In a similar vein to @TheHRD, I could well indeed reel off a list of trivial facts about last night’s #ConnectingHR tweet-up:

•    I went into the evening believing that stickers would be easier to manage than badges.  Much to the delight of the aforementioned anonymous blogger (whose shirt was anything but), I was wrong. Apologies to everyone whose sticker I ripped…
•    Staff at The Square Pig use a bucket for their wine measures – great news for those who like a vat of vino in the evening; bad news for a collective gaggle of HR heads this morning.
•    @garyfranklin has some amazing ties.
•    @garelaos brushes his hands through his hair when he’s had a few shandies.

Now, those that know me will know that although very true, these ‘observations’ are indeed intended to be tongue-in-cheek.  If I desist from being facetious for one minute, allow me to draw your attention to what were, for me, the ‘real’ points from last night:

•    @mattalder and @garyfranklin KNOW LinkedIn.  The introduction of two informal ‘discussion’ groups for people who wanted to know more about Twitter (with @rapidbi) or LinkedIn were an excellent way to steer the conversation from World Cup football to Social Media and HR.
•    Expectation does NOT always spoil a party.  I had feared that after the success of #ConnectingHR, where no-one had really known what to expect, last night wouldn’t live up to the hype.  Happily for all involved, it did.
•    This is a point that @mervyndinnen has made many times in his excellent blog, but people really are ‘like’ their Twitter personas in real life.  Social Media isn’t full of people ‘acting up to an avatar’ or portraying a ‘manufactured identity’ – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – they are all extensions of us as people.
•    There really is no substitution for face-to-face networking.  There’s no denying the fact that Social Media allows people to connect with relevant, interesting people that they wouldn’t normally have met, but this does not make the need for ‘face time’ redundant.  Social Media is simply a channel that can increase – and enhance – interaction prior to establishing ‘in-person’ relationships.

I’m not strictly an ‘HR person’ per se, so I was always wary about whether I would be a viable member of the ‘community’ – but nothing could be further from the truth.  The beauty of #ConnectingHR is that everyone there had something to offer – yet everyone was equally willing to learn from other people.

I remain adamant that HR and marketing are natural bedfellows and will continue to merge as Social Media plays an increasingly prevalent role in personal and professional life.  And you know what?  Informal tweet-ups such as #ConenctingHR are simply one of the many ways in which this shared pooling of knowledge and support will continue to benefit us all.

Connecting HR 2 – Fresh Anticipation

I’m not going to beat around the bush.  At the last Connecting HR, I was flying into an event blind; my supportive role in a marketing / Social Media capacity not affording me the same levels of excitement as my Courtenay HR colleagues.

After all, this was an HR event in which HR Twitter contacts and HR professionals were coming together to solidify virtual relationships.  Me?  I was badge monitor, brand representative and apparently, a Social Media ‘guru’ – thanks for the David Brent-esque moniker Gareth…  Either way, I was attending in a supportive capacity; a square-pegged marketer trying to fit into an HR-round hole – which meant I didn’t share the same excitement as my peers.

But now?  How things change.  With the second Connecting HR now only one week away, I am relishing the forthcoming event and the opportunities it brings.  Why?  Here’s why things, for me, have changed exponentially since March:

i)    First and foremost, I now know people. Since the last event, I have started engaging with many of the attendees on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and even through email (how very old fashioned / Web 1.0 of me)!
ii)    I’m looking forward to conversing in person. I had many insightful conversations last time, which I’m looking forward to following up; however I’m also looking forward to discussing new conversations that have so far been limited to 140 characters on Twitter.
iii)    I’m excited by the opportunity to learn. Whilst I feel I have plenty of Social Media information and learnings to share, I’m also excited by the prospect of learning from other people.  I genuinely believe that the lines between Marketing and HR have blurred, due in no small part to the advent of Social Media.  And I’m looking forward to learning from HR professionals and taking some new knowledge away from the evening.

I could go on: these are simply three of the many reasons that I am eagerly anticipating next week’s gathering.  But another key point lays simply in the fact that this event really is a superb opportunity for people to network.  I’ve enjoyed a daily glut of personal conversations with members of the #ConnectingHR tribe on Twitter, ranging from football to vintage paperback books.  However, I have also built a valuable network that has helped me professionally over the past couple of months:

•    Thanks to Abi Signorelli for technical advice on Facebook pages – we seem to be forming a good team that can muddle through together!
•    Anna Birtwistle – provided a fascinating article on employment law under the new coalition government, as featured on the Courtenay HR blog.
•    Michael Carty – provider of an unending stream of useful HR news, blogs, articles and opinions.
•    The enigmatic and elusive HRD – a valued (albeit anonymous) contact who has provided me with no end of information on the virtues of different blogging platforms.
•    Charlie Duff – a fantastic HR publishing contact and author of a very well received Connecting HR review
•    And of course, Gary Franklin – provider of some fantastic classic rock tracks that have been played in the office!

So many people still question the value of Social Media, claiming that it doesn’t deliver a measurable ROI.  Well, drawing upon the illustrations detailed above, I’d boldly purport that for those seeking monetary ROI, they’re missing the true value of Social Media.

My own mini Connecting HR network has already reaped fantastic value and it’s this – along with the opportunities to meet ‘social friends’ once again – that has got me so fired up about next week’s Connecting HR.

Marketing & HR – In Bed Together At Last?

Despite the (unfortunately all-too-common) perception amongst my peers that all I do is ‘play around on Twitter and Facebook all day’, my day-to-day role at the Stopgap Group is in fact rather diverse and indeed, unique.

For those of you that are still unsure as to what I actually do (including my other half!), I look after the marketing and Social Media functions for Stopgap, Fitzroy and Courtenay; marketing, executive and HR recruitment firms respectively.  Whilst this variety in brands affords me an enjoyable amount of diversity in my day-to-day role, it has also allowed me to look at both marketing and HR from a holistic viewpoint.

If I look back to when I started in the Marketing department here in late 2007, I wouldn’t be alone in claiming that HR and marketing were separate entities requiring different methods of thinking, marketing and strategy.  Move the clock forward to 2010 however, and Social Media has been a huge catalyst, I believe, in bringing these two functions closer together.

I first gained my first real glimpse of this at the well-received Connecting HR event in March.  I attended the event in a professional capacity representing the marketing function of Courtenay HR, but soon found I had more in common with the HR community than I had previously thought.

Several insightful conversations with various HR practitioners caused something of an epiphany for me.  Listening to these HR professionals discussing the role of Social Media from a human resources perspective, I found that this new medium has blurred the lines between marketing and HR exponentially.

Employees are now much more accountable in terms of ‘employer branding’ than ever before.  Traditionally, it has been marketing departments that have set the agenda for controlled communications.  ‘Digital Democracy’ however, has given all workplace denizens a voice – and thus an opinion that audiences listen to.

Similarly, ‘brand advocates’ within an organisation are being increasingly used to market the company.  In our own organisation, we have several prominent Social Media users whose primary function within the organisation is not marketing.  Nevertheless, their blogs, tweets and LinkedIn interactions have all combined to create an additional Social Media marketing / branding function that has undoubtedly complimented the more ‘established’ marketing efforts coming from my direction.

HR and marketing have so many similarities.  Both aim to engage groups of people.  Both functions wish to market an organisation in the best possible light.  Both look at new ways of communicating and engaging – the list is endless.

Now these similarities are not ‘new’ – these principles have been fundamental to these two disciplines for a long, long time.  However, the way we as humans communicate is shifting dramatically – and this can be ascribed almost wholly to the advent of Social Media.

As long as HR and marketing remain intrinsically about connecting and communicating with people, I have no doubt that Social Media will be the catalyst that draws these functions even closer together – and why not?  Marketing and HR are natural bedfellows and I believe it’s crucial for early adopters of this way of thinking to champion this union and achieve some very big things.