#UCFBizChat: Uncovering Company Culture through Social Media

culturecrush-665x400

A former colleague of mine recently reached out to ask if I would host a Twitter chat for her students at University of Central Florida (UCF). As a career center advisor, she was excited about the prospect of her business students getting exposure to seasoned recruiting professionals and the opportunity for them to get sound advice when it comes to careers after college. Of course, I was honored to contribute to the conversation, especially since the topic focused on investigating the company culture of prospective employers via social media.

Not so long ago I was in their shoes, aggressively looking for work at an employer I could feel excited about and one that seemed to match my personality and values. During my search, I discovered how informative social media was when trying to uncover that culture fit. Even after I finally landed a job, I often tell those who come to me for career advice about how important this research could be in terms of finding an employer that’s right for them. And for both students and experienced professionals, this should be a major part of the job seeking process. Digging deep with multiple resources allows a candidate to get a better sense of what the company is all about and may limit any surprises if they end up landing a job with the company.

As I’ve gotten more involved with things like employer branding, I’ve seen the hard work employers put in to try and provide valuable insight into their organization and jobs. They’ve really incorporated a ton of information about their culture, perks, videos, “a day in the life” campaigns and images of events or daily happenings. Although employers go through great lengths to provide a detailed and positive image for their companies to attract talent, I also know there are external factors that play a big part in the full employer brand, including news resources and employees themselves. Job seekers should incorporate this information too to ensure a more realistic and well-rounded view of the organization.

So, some simple research tips I suggest are as follows:

  • Career sites: Career sites are always a great starting point and may provide more information than just a job board. This is a place where employers can include updated information about the organization, specific roles and locations. Be sure to click around and review things like their videos, blogs, benefits details, corporate social responsibility and so on. Also, see if there are any external links to review, such as their social media sites.
  • Social media: Try to find career-focused social media sites for the company or their main social media sites if they don’t have it segregated. Review their postings, see how they interact with people and even investigate some hashtags they are using. This could help you discover current employees that are also using the hashtag to promote life at the company. It could provide you some more candid insight than what the employer shares on its own. Usually Twitter and Instagram are great for researching these things.
  • Google search: Performing general Google searches or setting Google Alerts can allow you to stay current with what’s going on at the company. Press releases, blogs, new jobs and news about the company keeps you updated with both good and bad. It could also help you get a feel for the direction the company is going in before you decide to apply to jobs. After all, you wouldn’t want to accept a job offer for a company that has been experiencing major lay-offs or is being acquired by a company that has a completely different culture. This can help protect your decisions.
  • Social networking: As I mentioned earlier, social media allows you to discover hashtags and current employees. If you’re really interested in a company, social media could be an easy way for you to connect with employees and get some real feedback about what it’s like to work there. If possible, I would also suggest trying to find an employee that either works in the location you’re looking at and/or an employee who might work in the same role or department. This can give you a direct look into the working conditions and culture of that particular office or role. Just because a company is tooting its horn for having an awesome company culture doesn’t always mean this trickles down to each location, department or role. It’s best to hear it straight from someone who knows.

School might be getting out, but doing your homework during your job search can save you a lot of headaches! Make sure to research on multiple platforms to ensure you’re getting the full story.

For those interested in this discussion, be sure to join #UCFBizChat on Friday, October 24th at 11:30am EDT.

Photo Source

Advertisements

Employee Value Proposition: Building a Stronger Employer Brand from the Inside Out

Image Reuters

While I was in talent acquisition and HR roles, I was often involved in strategy development for candidate attraction and retention. I would help my team come up with creative ways to attract talent, which could be especially tricky depending on the type of candidates we were aiming for. Once I started in HR and recruitment marketing, I realized that these were also hot topics when it came to developing copy for employer branding initiatives. Regardless of the role I was in, I knew the importance of brand marketing, effective recruiter communications and reputation damage control. Although these are all exceptional ways to help a company become an employer of choice, I believed that companies missed a step in the process. Sure, employer branding is great but you can’t truly make it strong if you have nothing behind it. To be an employer of choice, you must start from the inside and develop your employee value proposition (EVP).

Having an employer brand isn’t going to be nearly as effective if your employee value proposition isn’t robust. Companies need to focus on developing this first before they can brand themselves in good conscious. If your previous or current employees were to give a testimonial, what do you think they would say? What about the candidates that already interviewed with your organization? With technology making it easier for people to find news and reviews about your company or social media allowing candidates to communicate with employees, companies need to realize that they can’t just “fake it until you make it.” People will see right through it.

To build or revamp your current EVP, consider the following:

  • Surveys: Give the people what they want! Getting candid feedback from your employees can help you understand what retains them, what things they value over others and what they’d like to see for future offerings. Also, get additional feedback from candidates. Learn more about what attracted them to your company to begin with and why or why not they decided to move forward with the interview process. Accumulating distinct details about attraction and retention can aid in the development of new offerings and nix the ones that make no impact.
  • Competitors: Look at direct competitors within your industry to see what you’re up against. If a candidate is interviewing at multiple organizations, having this competitor intelligence can make it easier to seal the deal and help make your organization present itself as a stronger choice.
  • Voluntary Turnover/Exit interviews: If an employee is leaving your company voluntarily, it’s in your best interest to find out why. Any information you gather from their exit interviews can be invaluable when it comes to knowing where your company is falling short. For example, did the employee leave because of the long commute? Incorporate telecommunication opportunities. Did they leave because lack of growth potential? Work with HR about career succession. Every exit interview can be an opportunity for improvement.
  • Forecasting and continuous revamping: The world is fast changing, which means the landscape of employment, candidates and offerings will change quickly too. Employers need to focus on correcting or revamping their EVP for the here and now and they also need to stay on the forefront of what employees or candidates could want in the future. Staying ahead of the curve can limit any risk and make your talent acquisition strategy proactive. Revamping the EVP can keep it fresh and engaging.
  • And, of course, branding: Once you get all the details of the EVP squared away, you then have a really strong backing to help with your employer branding initiatives. Your brand can speak to things you’ve already implemented and employees can give their testimonials to confirm that your company practices what it preaches. Showcasing your future initiatives and how you value employee and candidate opinions can make those researching your company more engaged and excited to see what’s to come.

Your brand has to start from the inside. Before you can catch up with the trend of building a brand, social media recruitment, video branding and candidate experience, you have to make your employee value proposition into something worth talking about.

Photo Source

Is your Company “Perky”?

Last night, I was introduced to the #tchat on Twitter. It was the first Twitter chat that I’ve been involved in, so it was pretty interesting to see how ideas and feedback could be effectively expressed with only 140 characters. I was really impressed by all the great responses the members gave during the chat session that it actually helped spark the idea for today’s post, which is about company perks.

The basis of the chat was about companies with “extreme perks.” Now, I’m used to the usual perks of health care, Employee Assistance Programs, and paid time off. But in order to really get an idea of an “extreme perk”, I had to dig a bit deeper. I researched the 100 best companies to work for in 2012 and narrowed my investigation down to the top companies for the best unusual perks. Below are three companies from that list and the extreme/unusual perk that they offer:

1. Google (obviously)- If you’re a dabbler, you’ll enjoy their perks of: free gourmet food; an outdoor sports complex; “nap” pods; a bowling alley; celebrity visitors; and free android devices.
2. NetApp– If you’re “working on your fitness”, you’ll be sure to enjoy their perks of: basketball courts; massage rooms; exercise classes; outdoor sand volleyball; and the hub for different sporting tournaments.
3. Zappos.com– If you’re preparing for a “superhero” lifestyle, their version of “Employee of the Month” program is a perk for you: employee is named “Hero” of the month; a parade in their honor; noise makers and the “I Need a Hero” song played for them; a covered parking spot (Nevada is hot!); a Zappos gift card; and of course, no hero can go without a cape.

Perks can be a great thing for your company if used properly. They can attract talent or potentially help talent choose your company over a competitor. They can make the workplace more enjoyable to be at, thus reducing absenteeism. They can be used to recognize employees’ efforts, making them feel appreciated. It can help reduce stress in employees’ personal lives if they work long hours (i.e. on-site dry cleaning, cafeterias, on-site baby care). And it can be a tool to motivate employees to reach company goals.

Although these are some great ideas, they are only possible if you are a giant in the business world. If your business is not quite on that level yet, there are plenty of other options you can choose that will be better suited for your company. Some suggestions from #tchat’s members were:

• Doughnut or bagel day on Fridays.
• Gift cards given to an employee that went “above the call of duty.”
• Tickets to local sporting events.
• Giving a few hours of “free” PTO to the employee of the month.
• Randomly allowing “casual days” throughout the month.
• Creating a company team for your local sport and social club.
• Company events such as a picnic, in which employees can bring family and loved ones.
• Public “Fuzzies” (saying thanks to a teammate during a meeting).
• Or simply just saying thank you to your employees and giving specific reasons why you appreciate their work.

No matter how extreme or simple your company perks are, they can make all the difference to your employees. You may find it wise to ask your employees what they would want for a perk and try to incorporate it in your plan. Test a few out and see the positive difference it can make.

Links:
Google Perks
Zappo’s Heroes
NetApp’s Sports Hub