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Archive for September, 2008

Social Network Sleuthing

Let me state my position – I believe employers should research all sites when considering a candidate for hire.  That includes social-networking sites.  I know there are arguments for both sides of this new debate and I am not completely sold on my position.  However, it appears that the trend among hiring managers is to use these sites in their hiring process:

The study, reported by Reuters, found that out of 3,169 hiring managers, 22 percent of them (about 698 managers) used social networking sites to find out information regarding potential candidates. This is up from 11 percent, or 349 managers, since 2006.

Even though 22 percent may not seem like a huge number now, one can only expect that number to continue to rise. The study revealed that 9 percent surveyed were currently not using social networking sites for screening purposes but plan to in the future.

The web is a public domain so I am of the opinion anything you put up there can or will be read by someone else.  I think it is foolhardy to think otherwise.

If you read the rest of the article, you will find 4 suggestions for maintaining your privacy on these sites.

Return Of Middle Management?

Here is a trend I have not heard of recently (emphasis mine):

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 45 percent of U.S. job openings through 2014 will be in the hidden middle-level job sector, most of them technical jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Mid-level means middle management, right?  Ok, maybe not.  Nonetheless, I still have not heard of this trend until reading this short excerpt from The Career News newsletter.

And one last piece of information to offset a popular misnomer:

Charted on a graph, the image of a robust technician economy belies a popular misconception. Most assume the job market is heaviest on the low-end of the spectrum and the high-end. The Bureau of Labor statistics says 33 percent of job openings involve occupations requiring a high degree of skills, while 22 percent of the jobs are in the low-skill category, the report said.

I know, “high degree of skill” is a fuzzy phrase.  The article refers to this type of job as requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree.

Prospecting Via Email

Salespeopel are always looking for better ways to find new prospects.  You don’t have to look far to find articles giving advice about this subject.  Some common examples:  trying to make phone calls and undoubtedly leaving voice mails are futile, call at different times of the day or develop an email marketing campaign to push traffic to your website. 

Eyes on Sales has a very good article that gives tips on how to use email for prospecting.  However, it doesn’t just write off making calls, as some do, but reinforces the fact that a salesperson needs to use both.  Here is a quote from the article by author Craig James:

What should we not do with our sales emails? First and foremost, we should never use email as a way to avoid picking up the phone! Many salespeople, in particular, those who dread cold calling, hide behind email.  Never let email be a substitute for speaking with prospects.

Here are Craig’s tips or best practices about how to use emails as part of your prospecting regimen that you may want to incorporate:

  • Don’t write a novel. Keep your emails short, but not too short.
  • Don’t use big words. You may want to impress your prospects with your extensive vocabulary of three-and four-syllable words.
  • Don’t send emails too frequently. It annoys people and makes your emails more likely to be summarily deleted.
  • Do have a compelling subject line. “Checking in” won’t get too many prospects excited. On the other hand, a subject line that asks, “Want to know what your competitors are up to?” would surely get me to open an email. It’s intriguing.
  • Do offer value. Too many of the emails we receive are self-serving.
  • Do provoke curiosity, wonder, or concern. Most business people are either looking for ways to take advantage of opportunities, or to avoid problems.
  • Do use numbers. If you can quantify the scope of a problem or opportunity, people can more easily get their hands around it and will be more inclined to take action.

The True-Life Assessment

I was out all yesterday helping the medical clinic where my wife works move into a new facility.  I am a wannebe geek so I moved their small computer network for them and installed a new computer for the owner.  The interesting item I observed was the work ethic of the people involved.

I like to say that some times you just don’t need an assessment.  I think moving may be one of those times.  To be blunt, moving blows no matter how you look at it.  It is disruptive, tiring, laborious and messy.

However, one thing you can clearly observe is the work ethic of a person.  At one end of the spectrum, I observed people taking calls, scheduling appointments and selling products while they used moving boxes as their desk.  At the other end, some people didn’t even show up.  Needless to say, I was shocked.

No matter what the talent level of the employee, effort is the greater assessment.

6 Biggest Applicant Lies

What are the biggest lies that applicants or candidates make through the hiring process?  If you are thinking degrees or education…correct, that is one of them.  Maybe it’s just me, but why chance losing out on an opportunity by lying about your education?

Recruiting Trends has a post that gives the top 6 lies; a subject we have posted on many times – from embellishing a resume to all out lying.  Here are the other 5 lies:

  • Job Title
  • Dates of Employment
  • Compensation
  • False degree from diploma mill
  • Lack of Criminal Record

I truly wonder why if verifying this information is so easily done through background checks why more applicant’s don’t just tell the truth.  It was more than a year ago when we wrote a post about lies on resumes and all 6 were on the list back then.  So as an employer if you are not already doing it I would highly recommend that you start running background checks on all new hires to find out if they are revealing the whole truth. 

Best Companies For Working Mothers

This topic is one I can really get behind since this is one of the toughest callings you can have in life, especially if you are a single mom.  Kudos to General Mills for being a local company (local to us) that is a perennial resident on this list.

The story is from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal:

General Mills Inc. is among the nation’s top employers for working mothers, according to a 2008 list compiled by Working Mother magazine.

It is the 13th consecutive year that Golden Valley-based General Mills (NYSE: GIS) has made the magazine’s top ranking.

Initiative In Front Of You

This is a long set-up, but you’ll get the point.  I just read an interesting Q&A article on titled Being Pushy…or Taking the Initiative?  Here is the question posed by an office manager who is hiring for a sales position:

I’m the office manager in a branch of an international PR firm with more than 50 offices in the U.S. I run the administrative processes, work as the liaison with our U.S. headquarters, and serve as the HR chief for this branch. Last week I interviewed a candidate for an account manager position. This man had applied for the job through an online job ad. I do the first-screen interviews, and so I met with him to talk about the role and his qualifications. We had a fruitful cha (sic), and I was pleased enough with our meeting to say to the candidate in closing: “It’s been wonderful to meet you, and I’ll be speaking with Amanda Jones, our general manager, about our conversation and taking the next steps.”

As far as I could see, I was doing the candidate a favor by letting him know that I was taking his candidacy to the next level. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned Amanda’s name, because this morning I received a thank-you e-mail from the candidate, and saw that he had cc:d Amanda on the note. That feels really pushy to me. Because I mentioned Amanda’s name, the candidate figured out Amanda’s e-mail address and wrote to her directly. I’m tempted to cross his name off the list of finalist candidates. Any thoughts?

I am always perplexed by this belief that a salesperson should not be effective at selling.  If I were in her shoes, I would move this candidate to the top of this list.  he showed moxie in attempting to move this “deal” to the next stage.

We see this in interviews also.  A hiring manager will state that they didn’t think the candidate talked much, but we sat and observed the candidate asking the right questions to qualify the position.  I know it is difficult, but when hiring salespeople, you have to step back from the process and review the candidate’s actions and words.  Look at them in entirety.  This approach will show you the candidates with initiative…initiative that may be sitting there right in front of your eyes.

The Philosophical Ad

I’ve been reading through some sales ads and am seeing a trend regarding the introduction.  Many ads are now describing their company in, for lack of a better word, philosophical terms.

For instance, this excerpt is from a cell phone company’s ad:

Are you ready to join _______ and Live Life in the Now?”

“At ______, “NOW” is not a mantra, it’s not a demand and it’s not a time in space. NOW is a fact. It’s a lifestyle. It’s the way we conduct business with each other. And it’s the very essence of the experience we deliver to our customers every single day.

We believe in the now. We live in the now. We deliver the now to our customers. We do this by taking immediate action, by thinking ahead and by never being satisfied with anything less – because anything less would be waiting too long.

Now that is a heavy opening to a sales ad.  For a more toned-down version from a different company:

Whatever job you’re looking for, you can probably find it at ______. Our diverse partnerships across a variety of industries mean countless career opportunities for you. It’s your choice. It’s your future. And you can make it happen at ______.

That one is a bit lighter, but you see the trend.

Psychological Recession

I’m not one to head into a weekend with a downer of a post, but this article from is fascinating.  The author is explaining how the US economy is not in a recession.  The twists begin early with this stat:

After all, most of the CFOs questioned in a recent poll agree that the U.S. is in a recession; among the general public, 76% said the U.S. was in a recession six months ago, and other polling suggests most people believe things have grown worse since then.

I have seen this belief firsthand which always catches me off-guard.  I have even heard people talking of another depression.  I suppose it could be possible, but this strikes me as hyperbole.

But there is an answer:

A more profound reason that people believe we are in a recession can’t be found in the GDP tables at all. It’s in their minds, what psychologist and author Judith M. Bardwick calls the psychological recession – “an emotional state in which people feel extremely vulnerable and afraid for their futures.”

Read the entire thing – it may cheer you up.

Tattoo Youth

Ok, lame play on words for a title so my regrets to the Rolling Stones.  The tattoo topic is one that seems to be ever-present.  What should companies do about employees with tattoos?  The Herman Trend Alert (sorry, no link) provides the data as to why this topic is so common:

Thus, it is no wonder that over 32 percent of young people aged 25 to 29 and 25 percent of folks aged 30 to 39 have followed suit (Harris Interactive, 2008). A 2006 Pew Research survey found 36 percent of people ages 18 to 25 had tattoos, while a full 40 percent of those 26 to 40 sported them.

As members of the Millennial Generation will readily share, acquiring a tattoo or body piercing is their way of expressing their individuality and their availability to members of the opposite sex. Tattoo parlors from Brazil to Malaysia have seen an upward trend in business over the last ten years, as the Millennials have come of age and can afford these displays of uniqueness.

Ok, before I get labeled as some crotchety old Gen Xer, there is an important aspect to this story:

Moreover, there is another important consideration for employers. Findings from a research study conducted by University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center indicated a high positive correlation (>20 percent) between people with tattoos and those who test positive for the infection hepatitis C. In fact, according to Robert Haley, MD, “[Tattoos] may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis”.

I haven’t heard that one before but it is certainly a piece of information to include in the equation.

And no, I am not a fan of tattoos or piercing.  Now you can commence calling me crotchety.

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