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Watch Your Face on Facebook

Community sites such as Facebook, Plaxo, Linkedin to name a few, have such large followings that most of the people you want to locate are either in it, or are related to someone in one of these sites. Even Presidents and Ministers have their own Facebook pages. It is both a tool to communicate and to network.

Different sites have different characteristics, and people join these for different reasons – I joined because in one of my previous companies, the staff (young and vibrant) invited me to Facebook. Soon after, I was linked to colleagues, alumni friends, candidates and clients.

How does one leverage this network, whether it’s a purely social or professional network, especially in such times?

For potential candidates, whether you are an active or passive jobseeker, it’s a good place to get connected and contacted – especially if there is sufficient information about your skills and job profile. You can get ‘hunted’ through this space, but at the same time, be careful about what you (or your friends) add to your profile. First impressions are formed very quickly – especially if there are contents not fitting your professional life. Your friends who are linked you can become your virtual (or real) character references. This could be unintentional, when they make comments about you or tag you in one of the photos. Or it cold even be the way you comment on one of your friends. Your private life has never been so open whether you want it to be or not once you get into a community site. Food for thought – how much should employers (and headhunters) allow your private life impact their decision, though it may have not bearing to your work performance?

For employers, many participants are open to career opportunities if approached – but it’s a mammoth task sifting through all the names if you (say a HR recruiter) has an extremely large network. Conversely, if your network is small, then the candidate pool would be very limited – you are better off using a traditional recruitment strategy. Perhaps, one of the better values could be to use the network to validate the references. Food for thought – what would you do if you find one of your existing employees (or even bosses) has put his profile on the job market through the site?

Some years back, I had the ill fortunate of a Straits Times article citing a property con case where the one of the company directors has exactly the same name as mine. I had embark on a PR journey I posted on Facebook to inform my network that it is not me. One friend made the effort to validate and responded that he checked the telephone directory and found 9 persons with the same spelling. My experience may not be the same as yours – but one thing is certain, with the networks and connections – it’s up to you to best leverage it whether be it for social or professional purposes.

The world is watching your face in Facebook.

Having a Hard Time Recruiting?

Its not uncommon for companies that having some trouble acquiring talent. Potential candidates who are looking out for better opportunities, decline attractive career offers  – sometimes even before they are told of the details.

I like to offer an additional but often over-looked reason why this could or has happened – and its not something that happens overnight. Many of these potential candidates could have either heard or had bad experiences with the company before. These could be in the course of work, for example at business meetings, at joint marketing exercises, or even when competing for a business. They see an obvious mismatch between what the company professes to be and what is been practiced.

Closer to home, it could be that he or she has had a bad hiring experience with the company. In the normal course of recruitment, there are probably 5 or 6 rejected candidates for every successful candidate. Let’s focus on these rejected candidates. Did they, even though rejected, had a good experience with the company’s recruitment process? (either with the company directly or through its recruitment agency). When rejected, how was the rejection communicated? Did they go away thinking that they missed a great opportunity to work with a great company, or did they go away telling themselves they will never want to work for the company again?

A company could profess that it wants to be the employer of choice – but during in the first meeting, the candidate had to wait for more than an hour for the hiring manager who’s busy with other priorities. The candidate was put down during the interview, and told flatly that he will not ‘make it’ in the company. For some, its the deadly silence – they are not notified that they have been rejected after an interview and been kept waiting. For others, by the time they are to go for a second interview, they have already found another position – with the company’s competitors.

Other than being rejected candidates – who are these 5 or 6 individuals? They could, either now or in future, be one of your vendors/suppliers/business partners or competitors. He could even be a potential client/customer deciding who to give the company business to. These are also the ones that other potential candidates may check with  – whether your company is a good company to work for. Their answers would be obvious. They may be personal friends, or connections made by word of mouth and through the internet community and discussion sites.

Over time, a community of ‘ex-applicants’ who gives the company bad references has been built. And it all starts with a bad hiring experience.

These rejected candidates could have been a community of strong advocates if managed properly.


On Talent Management

This is probably a topic that has been beaten to death, but is also one that we as managers should constantly remind ourselves of. “People don’t leave their jobs, people leave their bosses.”

There are enough studies that point to the many reasons why people move jobs –  from poor working conditions, to compensation packages. The major reason that invariably stands out across all levels is the employee’s workplace relationship with their manager. The relationship determines whether one looks forward to the office or drags his or her feet to work. Seemingly, basic issues are taken for granted – lack of trust, unfair treatment, lack of appreciation for a job well done, respect for the individual.

These are side lined in a fast paced environment – there the quarterly sales targets to achieve, customer service level agreements to meet, rapid technology change to keep up – the temptation to become a task oriented manager is really great . Deliver my numbers and all will be well, to the peril of losing the most valued talents in the company because they have not been looked after.

In a recent book entitled “The three signs of a miserable job” by Patrick Lencioni, he outlined the 3 signs as anonymity, irrelevance, and “immeasurement”. Put together, the worker feels that management has little or no interest in them as a human being; takes no interest in their personal lives. They cannot see their job or contribution making a difference to the company, customer, fellow worker or even the manager himself. The third, is where employees cannot access for themselves their contribution and have to rely on subjective opinions of others to gauge their performance. So much for self worth in the work place.

Paying the appropriate attention and showing genuine interest to employees to establish their sense of belonging and self worth has long been studied, since the Industrial Revolution. Enough of the theories….  by why does it still happen? Lencioni suggests 3 root causes –

Many managers think that they are too busy, and suggests that the real reason is these managers see themselves as individual contributors who happen to have direct reports. There’s a lot of truth in this. Many of the candidates we speak to have been promoted to managerial ranks because they have met their sales target or have excelled in managing at a project. Managing people especially knowledge workers, as oppose to task execution, requires a very different skill set. HR plays a key strategic role here in preparing managers to manage.

Managers don’t communicate the concern and feedback performance as they simply forget what it was like before they moved into management. They forget how their previous managers took an interest to them and motivated them to grow into their new role.

The third is that managers failed because they are either too embarrassed or to afraid to try, hounded by the fear that the employees will see them as being manipulative or even hypocritical.

In the midst of our tight schedules, we should take time to evaluate how we are managing the most valuable resources that have be entrusted to us as managers. Human Resource has a invaluable role to ensure that managers who are either promoted because of their performance or have been in management for years are trained and constantly reminded – that they will only do well when their employees do well. In the words of one of my ex-managers at IBM a long time ago. ”I will only make my numbers if you make your numbers.”  – communicates my contribution, relevance and measurement.

Writing a Good Resume

It’s been said that writing a resume brings as much delight as filing an income tax form.

Most people write one because its part of the process in seeking out a job with a prospective employer or in working with a headhunter. Having said that, a great resume is the first step to being surfaced as a candidate in a short list, or to get into the headhunters ‘level 1 cache’ – the top candidates that’s always fresh in the mind of the headhunter.

A resume is not really a history of one’s career but the goal is to communicate how you can add value to the prospective company – and to get to the next step, which will be an interview. It should generate interest and create in the reader the desire to probe further, rather than have it end up in a database only to be surfaced when the correct key words are matched.

So what are the areas that one looks out for, speaking from a headhunter’s perspective. I would think that an in-house recruitment specialist also look for approximately the same areas.

Bearing in mind that search companies are engaged to seek out the best, we would want to know that the candidate is a top achiever, and out of a group of candidates, he or she is easily identifiable as the ‘winner’.

Most CVs contains an executive summary or for some, a covering letter summarizing the candidate’s profile. Most time, it’s a general description of the capabilities, skills with some career history. What would be most useful is to be specific about the areas of interest, career goals. It is best to be honest and straightforward – do not throw in too many nebulous marketing jargons and phrases – so that the reader does not have to filter these to get to the key critical experiences and competencies. It is useful to be targeted in the role and career aspirations, while leaving some leeway for flexibility.

The other area that most CVs neglect to highlight is the achievements and accomplishments area. The headhunter’s wish, and indeed the client’s, would be to see a good list of accomplishments with quantifiable targets achieved, savings made through initiatives, percentages in revenue, profit or market share growth. This makes the profile more appealing to the Client – and one can easily identify these with the KPIs that successful candidate will be measured on eventually. Focus on the results that have been delivered.

Short of a impressive list of achievements, providing 2 or 3 references at the end of the CV will help greatly, especially if the references are well known in the industry and they are willing to vouch for your credentials and character. It does give a sense of how well connected you are and also that these people are willing to ‘stand up’ for you when approached.

In some cases, there could be short career stints – both the prospective employer and the headhunter will be very curious about the reasons for the moves. It can conjure negative connotations that you are a job hopper, or have being asked to move on for performance reasons if not clarified. Rather than be asked, have a couple of liners that explain the reasons for these moves. One candidate I had had the unfortunate experience of short stays of 6 month each in 3 companies, and on clarifying, 2 were restructured, and 1 was because the company was bought over. The Client who is in the market is aware of the circumstances, understood the reasons for the move and eventually hired the candidate.

Do invest some effort when crafting your resume – it will pay off.