#UCFBizChat: Uncovering Company Culture through Social Media

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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.

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Taking Social Media Recruitment to the Next Level

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For years we’ve been hearing about utilizing social media for recruitment. Over time, this developed beyond sites like LinkedIn and has now spilled over to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Open Source. But are you still missing out on available talent?

With more candidates finding ways to creatively share their personal brands, it might be wise to start tapping into other social media sites like Instagram and Vine. Not sure where to start? Check out a blog I wrote on SourceCon last month.

“Let’s Get Visual: Attracting and Sourcing Candidates Using Instagram and Vine.” Click here to read the original blog post on SourceCon.

The Need for Digital Vacations

I’ll admit it- I have a problem. I’ve become so accustomed to checking my email, social media, and text messages that I’ve been on autopilot. I’ve been recently catching myself mindlessly unlocking my phone every couple of minutes to check if I missed something. Did my phone beep to indicate a new alert had come through? No. It’s just become the norm in my life. More often than not, I have my head down, focusing on some form of computer screen or smart phone. My brain is constantly working, multitasking virtual discussions and networking. Suddenly, it’s July and I don’t even know what I’ve done in my physical life that was significant. And then I was struck by a term I heard on #Tchat last week – the “digital vacation.”

I was curious. Needless to say, between managing multiple social media profiles, staying consistent with my personal brand, blogging, researching, networking, and creating and implementing social media training for my company and clients- I’m starting to feel a little burnt out. I love this industry and all the things I’ve been able to come in contact with because of social media and digital options but if I see (or even write) one more buzzword, my brain might spontaneously combust. As I got involved in social media, I realized that this is a lifestyle. You need to be present and consistent, otherwise you’ll potentially never make an impact. Over a year of doing this non-stop, and I’m a bit spent.

Then I learned about the digital vacation. As I learned more about the details of this, I started to see more people in my social circles participating in it. How can someone just take a break from this? How can you unplug without putting yourself completely behind? Apparently, it’s not as hard as I initially thought. Here were some suggestions from the wonderful contributors in #Tchat:

  • Set expectations: Inform your networks that you will be taking a digital vacation and that you will be unavailable. This can prevent them from contacting you with something pressing that you can’t ignore.
  • Utilize your tools: there are so many great tools out there that allows you to schedule posts to go out on specific days at certain times. I utilize Hootsuite pretty often when it comes to this. Even if you aren’t physically present on your social media, scheduling posts to go out while you’re on vacation can allow you to maintain your consistency.
  • Create boundaries: find ways to ensure your phone and computer aren’t tempting. Turn off alerts that come to your phone for that week or set a boundary for how much time (or what set hours) you can use your devices.
  • Have a responsible person on your team: the world doesn’t stop turning just because you’re unavailable, and thanks to technology, this is even truer. If your social media and digital presence is especially important (i.e. you are a business, consultant, etc.), have at least one person monitoring that and contacting you ASAP if anything dire happens that requires your attention. Knowing you have this safeguard can make you feel more confident about taking this break.
  • Relax: Need I say more?

I didn’t realize how much my digital life had taken over my regular life until I caught myself clutching onto my phone like a lifeline, terrified that I’d miss something major. I realized that it’s ok to take that break, especially if I don’t want to make my love for this industry turn into something that feels like a suffocating obligation. I appreciate all the tips about taking a digital vacation and I’m going to be trying this very soon.

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Job Seeker: Maybe Your Online Personality is Killing Your Job Leads

The other day, a few of my peers and I were discussing our social media presence and how it’s evolved over the years. One of them had mentioned that they often Google themselves to see what the search results were pulling up. Of course, being that she was a consultant, I felt that this was necessary in order for her to gain client leads. However, as I thought about this topic a little more, I realized that this can also be true for job seekers.

I’ve been in a talent acquisition and HR role for a few years now and I’ve most definitely heard some stories in my day. One of the biggest things I’ve heard from other recruiters would involve their sourcing methods for candidates. Sometimes, when recruiters are in a crunch for candidates and can’t seem to get the contact information they need to reach out to them right away, they will do a Google search. This is an alternative method to find job seeker’s contact information. Sometimes it is an effective method and sometimes it’s just scary.

Some of the most interesting things I’ve heard in regard to this from other recruiters:

  • Blatant lies about work experience: Make sure your resume and your Linkedin profile match up because recruiters most definitely cross-reference. There have been times where candidates stated they had 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree, only for the recruiter to discover that this wasn’t the case.
  • Incriminating photos: it always baffles me when people (especially individuals who are 18 years old or older) find it ridiculously cool to post pictures of them with some sort of drug in their possession. It’s even more baffling if they have pictures posted of them using the substance.
  • Very bad posts on social media: discriminatory comments, racism, and the like are often found on social media. Whether the person is joking or not, the recruiter may never know. All they can do is take it at face value.
  • Police blotters: don’t mark off that you have no felonies or misdemeanors on your background check if there’s potentially an article about you getting arrested on the internet. With a lot of these publications becoming available online, it’s a lot easier to come across this information than if it was only in print.

It’s hard enough to land a job as a job seeker in this economy, it’s even worse if your online presence ruins chances before you can even get to do a phone interview. Do yourself a favor and Google yourself to see what kind of information is at recruiter’s disposal and do some damage control. This could help your chances.

More links:

Check out this Infographic about Social Resumes

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Humanize Your Brand

It’s important to humanize your brand, whether you are branding yourself, consumer-based things, your corporation, or your employer brand. In the past, we would market our brands via content that was pushed out to the audience. More often than not, this marketing strategy limited communication to a one-way scenario: from brand to audience. As technology and social media have become more predominate in the world, marketing and branding have taken on a life of their own, and it seems as if though some of the best brands out there are the ones that open up two-way opportunities.

Some companies and individuals have failed to realize that social media shouldn’t just be a way to push out information and content. Yes, it’s a great way to promote those things but it shouldn’t continually post enough to be considered “spam-worthy.” Your brand also needs to have some personal touches to it. It needs to have a personality. It needs to be social. It needs to listen. And most importantly: your brand needs to reflect the way you “live” and vice versa.

I think some of the best companies and people that humanize their brands well are the ones that actually take notice of what their audience is saying. They listen and they try to deliver what they’re audience is asking for. Additionally, they actually communicate back to these individuals. They respond to messages, posts, and tweets. They even go out of the way to be the first ones to engage in conversation with some individuals in the audience. This can take the brand from just being a “thing” to something that people become engaged with and feel connected to.

Humanizing your brand can help audiences identify with the brand. They could feel like they’re a part of how the brand is developing, which can make them invest more and show loyalty. Additionally, it can be an organic way of building brand influencers and ambassadors. Use your key audience or fan members to help build your brand. Show your appreciation and support and they’ll be sure to do the same.

Branding is no longer about pushing things at people and expecting them to care. It’s about being personable and connecting with others. It’s about showing good “customer service” and appreciation. It’s about breathing life into it and making the brand seem approachable. It’s about finding a way to build some form of a relationship. What are you doing to humanize your brand?

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join in the discussion on Twitter: #Tchat – Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

#Tchat Preview: Real Brands Humanize

#Tchat Recap: Face-To-Face with Brand Humanization

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Stop Being a Social Media News Feed

Recently, a friend and I were discussing some tactics to use for networking and job hunting on social media. She had informed me that she had reposted/retweeted other people’s posts and links but still was not having much luck trying to grab their attention. Although that method could potentially generate some networking and job leads, that is simply not enough. By only doing this, you are simply contributing to a news feed but no one really will know who you are or determine what you’re looking for. In order to build relationships, you need to be more interactive.

Many people have the intention to do this but don’t know where to start. Engaging in conversation with connections or strangers really isn’t as hard or terrifying as some might believe it to be. Here are some ways you can humanize your social media brand rather than act as a news feed:

  • Go beyond reposts/retweets and actually respond: nothing is wrong with reposting or retweeting someone’s update or link but you need to take the extra step and respond to their post. Even if it’s something as simple as a one-liner or follow up question, this can help start a conversation either with the poster or others viewing it.
  • Consider thought leadership: creating a well-constructed, thought provoking question is always a great way to promote thought leadership among your social media community. Research hot topics in the industry you’re interested in and post something on your networks to get people talking.
  • Discussions/Chats: Twitter chats and Linkedin discussions are always a great way to easily converse with other people, with no pressure! These discussion groups and chats usually focus on a specific topic (so be sure to join in on one relevant to what you’re targeting). It will allow you to gain contacts, discover resources, learn, and build relationships.
  • Simply reach out: you don’t always need to wait for an excuse to communicate with people- just simply reach out to them. Say hello to them, ask them about their background/work, or start with small talk. After all, these things work in person so they should also work virtually.

I’m so glad that I started utilizing these options. Since doing so, I’ve engaged in so many inspiring conversations. I was surprised to see how responsive people were and how open they were to talking. Many of my contacts have developed online and have moved on to phone or face to face relationships. I’ve gained so much from humanizing my social media feeds and have met some really smart and supportive people. They have helped me find work, build partnerships, learn, and expose me to new things. Try these things out and see how much you can gain.

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Humanizing Your Resume on Social Media

In the battle to find a decent job, I’ve heard many candidates say that they wish there was a way for them to stand out against other applicants. These candidates are working to grab recruiters’ attentions, communicate, and build relationships. They’re hoping to show that there is so much more that they can offer an employer beyond what their resume presents. And many of these candidates still have trouble finding the opportunities to do this. As I have learned, a great way for candidates to do this would be through social media.

Many recruiters are utilizing social media as a way to market their current needs, to search for prospective candidates, and to make it easier for candidates to find them. Social media can help candidates discover what companies are hiring and which recruiters are handling specific openings. Most importantly, social media makes it very easy to start two-way communication between recruiters and candidates.

Do you want to show that you’re up to date and knowledgeable about industry trends? Post something, start a discussion, participate, and be responsive. Try to find ways to connect with recruiters on this level and you can really add something extra to your resume.

Another popular trend that is occurring is scheduled virtual discussion groups. Recruiters and candidates can come together, discuss relevant topics, and network. Sometimes these groups will have previews of the topic. If so, make sure you prepare so you can add value to the discussion and really leave an impression.

Social media really adds transparency that can help candidates ensure that a company or position would be a right fit for what they’re looking for and vice-versa. I’ve personally had some great experiences using this, ranging from: landing a job; networking with amazing people that have helped me progress professionally; and also as a way to locate a great candidate pool for job openings that I’m working on. It’s made my life easier both as a candidate and as a recruiter. So, don’t rule it out.

If you have any questions on how you should utilize social media to your benefit, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin or Twitter.

Linkedin

Twitter: @AshLaurenPerez

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