It is “technology in HR week” for me. “HR Bloggers: Who are these people and why should I care?” was a panel session at the SHRM annual conference (Society of Human Resources Management, for those of you not in HR), which I attended via web streaming. It was a good session and really has me thinking about HR blogs, tweets, and how to add the most value as an HR professional via my blog. You can see the replay and additional commentary on Fistful of Talent.
I’m usually an early-adopter when it comes to technology, but this session made me realize that there’s a lot left to learn. Fortunately, I had just received an invitation to “Tweet Twaining”, so I decided to round out the blogging topic by setting aside my doubts about Twitter and seeing what the experts are saying.
Here are the key things I learned that I want to share with you –
The “HR Bloggers” panel was moderated by China Gorman, COO of SHRM, and included these experts on HR Blogging: Kris Dunn from HR Capitalist, Jessica Lee from Fistful of Talent, Laurie Ruettimann from Punk Rock HR, and Lance Haun from Your HR Guy. Key points I took from the session:
· Just do it - Kris Dunn from HR Capitalist talked about how he started by committing to write a post every single day for a year, and recognize that in doing that, he’d have some good posts and some not-so-great posts, and that’s ok. You’ll get better at it, they’re not all going to be perfect. Lance Haun emphasized that you have to engage at a level that works for you and your other responsibilities, so he posts less frequently. Both of them are right.
· Join the community – I think it was Jessica Lee over at Fistful of Talent, who advised that the best way to get started is to engage in the community. Start by lurking, then commenting, and become part of the social media scene that way. Or do a guest blog as another way to get your message out, without starting your own blog.
· Seek help from others – the panelists encouraged the audience to learn from others, as that’s how they started out.
· I realized that a lot of this advice applies to traditional networking too, so I’ll draw some parallels in a future post.
From the “Tweet Twaining”, a good introductory session on Twitter from Geoff Peterson:
· Pay attention to your profile – carefully select your username, post a professional picture and write your profile with purpose.
· Twitter has value in business – frankly, I suspected this, but wasn’t convinced until the training. 32 million current users, according to Geoff. I still think business use is in the early stages and evolving, albeit very quickly.
· There are a lot of tools out there which can help you use it effectively – too many to highlight here, better to go straight to the source and follow Geoff.
So, here we go… follow me on Twitter and join me on my learning curve! (Thanks to my colleague, Shaazia, for the tips in HP’s blogger forum on how to add the Twitter link, and to Mumu over at another tech company who suggested that I might consider adding Twitter to my approach.)
I welcome your advice and tips on how to make the most of social media in helping you discover HP. Leave me comments with your advice and become part of the conversation.
Through the global HP Innovations in Education initiative, HP is investing more than $20 million in schools and universities in 28 countries, according to a recent report.
In my post last week "So how cool is HP's workplace?", I mentioned that HP's philanthropy, especially investments in education is one of the cool things I like about HP as a workplace. This investment in schools is a great example of what I mean, you just get a sense of pride in your company when you see things like that. The article also talked about schools that are deploying HP mini notebook PCs to K-12 students, which are ergo-friendly, and HP's support in combining that with innovative professional development classes for teachers. Education of teachers and help in implementing and using the technology is one of the keys to success for technology in the classroom (see a related article here, "Ten Pillars of Successful Technology Implementation", highlighted in Education World.)
Other examples of HP's investment in education is through its people. Several years ago I learned about Junior Achievement through a meeting at HP, and started volunteering. Junior Achievement is a program where volunteers, often from the business community, teach students about business. It's great to be able to contribute volunteer hours, and to be supported by the company in that effort.
In my "Cool Things:" series, I'll continue to highlight examples of the different areas I've mentioned. Let me know via comments if you have any specific areas you want to know more about.
A reader asked, "So how cool is HP's workplace?"
I am glad you asked - so many companies get recognition for cool workplaces and I think this is one area where, I believe, the company could use a little more recognition.
Cool is in the eye of the beholder - so if you let me know what you mean by cool, I can elaborate. Here are several of the things I like about HP:
Working with people around the world
The experience I’ve gained, the ability to move around to different types of jobs – a person can have an incredibly varied career at one company
The scale of the projects I work on
The complexity of the projects I work on
The workplace – the energy of the people, the variety in work environments
The continuous push towards making improvements and getting ahead of the curve – how can you make things better, faster, more effective
The technology – the global webcasts, the online training, the ease (and sometimes the challenge) of getting things done collaboratively despite being on the other side of the world from some of my colleagues, technology that supports my getting work done no matter where I am
The leadership position of the company and the strategies that make me confident that leadership position will continue
The leaders I work for, the people I work with, the caliber of talent in the company
The role models – people with young families or older families and everything in between, people with outside interests, the number of women in leadership positions who have also raised families and been successful (and the ability to set that example for other women)
The focus on the outside world – the support of volunteering, the environment, and philanthropy with a heavy focus on education
The products and services, which I personally think are sometimes underestimated
I'll elaborate on some of these in future posts.
What makes a workplace cool to you?
Hiring at many companies has slowed with the economic environment, but companies do continue to hire critical positions. I had the opportunity to talk with a recruiter recently about an example about that, and get another perspective on social media and hiring.
Here’s my discussion with HP University Recruiter Toni Goggans. Toni has been with the combined Company over 20 years total and has worn several hats (HR Consultant, Staffing Manager, Program Manager, Service Delivery Manager), with a current role focused on recruiting recent university grads for sales positions in the U.S. One of Toni’s career highlights was having an opportunity to travel as part of a team to Guadalajara, Mexico and Istanbul, Turkey to train other HP recruiters.
Steph K: I was on the network site for former and current interns and I noticed that you have an upcoming recruiting event at the University of New Mexico for Sales Trainees and Technical Consultants. What can you tell us about that event?
Toni: This is a follow-up to a series of on campus recruiting events. We will have hiring managers present to interview students for positions for our Albuquerque/Rio Rancho Contact Centers. The event is to recruit for full-time positions and candidates have typically received their degree in May 2008 or after. Those interested in these positions can apply online at www.hp.com/go/jobs. We will be hiring 600 at the temporary Albuquerque site and will have over 1300 employees at full capacity when we move to the permanent Contact Center in Rio Rancho, NM in February 2010!
Steph K: Social media is an evolving area. You used the online intern social network to let people know about a specific recruiting event. Are you seeing a change in the ways people connect with companies, and do you see that changing the way companies attract talent now or in the future?
Toni: Definitely! The key change is that most of our recruiting is done online. Positions are posted online and interested candidates need to apply online. This way their applications can be viewed immediately by both the hiring managers and the recruiter. Recruiters also mine resume databases to proactively find candidates with the skills we need as well as post our positions on several major internet job boards. With the significant increase in student use of social networks, employers are beginning to explore ways to appropriately use these networks to interact with students.
Steph K: From what I’ve seen in the current economy, companies are still doing some hiring but it’s more targeted than in the past. What’s your best career advice for people who are graduating in this economy?
Toni: First, take the time to do some research on the company of interest. Next, spend time creating your resume. Make sure you tailor it to the actual job you are applying for. I’ve seen major errors like addressing the cover letter to the wrong company or applying for positions which clearly aren’t a skills match. Follow the company process for applying for positions, i.e. if resumes are requested online via the company’s job website, apply online. Also, make sure you complete all portions of the application process including answering any prescreening questions, attaching your resume, etc.
Steph K: Anything else you want to add or comment on?
Toni: Be willing to expand your vision of your ideal job to include additional potential career paths that are using your knowledge and talents in other ways.
Steph K: Thanks Toni for sharing your perspectives!
The world of social media is quickly developing and this offers a lot of potential for companies, employees and candidates to interact in new ways that are fast evolving. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are in the mainstream -- a recent article about Facebook pointed out that it reached 150 million users in January 2009.
The informal rules about how to effectively use those practices will be written over the course of time, as people use them effectively, and not so effectively. Following up on my last post about that topic, I had the opportunity to talk about this with one of the leaders in personal branding, Dan Schawbel, and we had a great conversation about personal branding, networking, and social media and how all of this converges. Dan captured our discussion, which is also posted on his website today.
When Personal Branding, Social Media and Human Resources Collide
· By: Dan Schawbel on March 2nd, 2009 at 5:23 am
Personal branding is all about positioning yourself as favorable to corporate recruiters, while HR’s job is to hire the top talent, position the company as the best place to work (employer branding), figure out benefits packages for employees and much more. Social media has changed the way applicants and recruiters communicate with each other and has started to dismantle corporate job boards by giving both parties direct access to each other through blogs, and social networks. For instance, Rick Mahn, a long-time columnist for Personal Branding Magazine, was just recruited through LinkedIn to be a social media strategist for Land O’Lakes. In order to figure out how personal branding, HR and social media collide, I had a great discussion with Steph K, who is an HR Director at HP. Much like what Polly Pearson does for EMC, Steph K gives an inside look at working for HP through her blog. Below is our recent discussion:
Me: You’re an HR blogger. Why do you think HR people should blog?
Steph K: I started to blog when I was managing a large staffing organization because I was finding it difficult to get information out to people quickly and easily. You see survey after survey on best places to work, perks that companies have, and cool websites, but we were running a pretty lean organization so even though we had a lot of that to offer, it was really challenging to get the word out. I figured by starting a blog, I could communicate easier and get the word out better.
Steph K: What’s your philosophy on networking – are you an advocate of more-is-better when it comes to links & friends, or is it better to be selective in your networking?
Me: Stephanie, this is a very controversial question and I’m glad you asked. Seth Godin believes that quality is more important than quality when building followings (i.e. Twitter followers, Facebook friends), while Guy Kawasaki thinks the opposite. I stand between both of them. The number of subscribers or followers you has is extremely important because of social proof and the random nature of this world. When a recruiter glances at your LinkedIn profile, and they see you only have 3 connections, there’s a problem.If you go to a blog with an RSS count of below 50, you might not subscribe based upon that low number, despite the good content. It’s human nature. When you have a lot of followers, there is a greater chance that someone will be able to help you out, even if you’ve never spoken them before. You have to have a “anything is possible” mindset in the social media world. Quality is also significant. The people I’m closest with will work to promote my book over those who don’t know me as well.“People will go out of their way for friends over acquaintances.”
Me: Do you think applicants respond favorable to companies in social media?
Steph K: From my experience, yes. I’ve gotten some really good questions that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to address. But I was not so sure about that at first — my biggest surprise in starting the blog was that very issue before I even did my first post. Here I was, looking for a way to get information out there without constraints, only to be told that people don’t have a high level of trust in corporate blogs!Then I thought about my own experience with feeling like any interaction with a company felt like a marketing pitch, and realized that if you’re going to do a useful blog, you need to avoid being the corporate equivalent of a ski resort’s ski report – “The snow is great today, come on out!” – OF COURSE they’re going to tell you the snow is great. But if I’m really going to be a useful source of information, instead of telling you that the snow is great, tell you the facts about the resort and the skiing conditions, and let you decide if that’s a good fit for you. Same thing applies to corporate blogs.“So, going back to your first question, HR people should blog if they’re able to give people useful insight, if they’re able to talk about the good and the bad, be authentic and be relevant.” Good HR people have a lot of experience to share. Most of us have a lot of friends and family members who have started a conversation with “I’ve got an HR question for you….” and we deal with those kinds of questions on a daily basis, and in many cases we’ve done it for years. The HR blog can be a great resource of information and advice, and a good way resource to add to anyone’s network.
Steph K: What’s your advice for people who want to build their personal brand and network, but not risk alienating their current employer? For example, should a happily employed person list “interested in career opportunities” on their LinkedIn profile? And do you think there are implications to doing that?
Me: Everything reverts back to your career strategy. Are you looking to climb the corporate ladder at your company or are you using it as a stepping stone to something else, such as a new business opportunity or role at a company you want to work at in the future. I think you need to be very careful with how you position yourself on the web because people will judge you instantly and there’s no rebuttal. Companies should support your personal development and if they don’t, then you might want to move somewhere else. You could lose your job if you’re making yourself out to look like a job hopper. At the end of the day, if you do your job better than anyone else, you probably won’t get laid off anyways.
Me:What are the top 3 things you’ve learned as an HR professional while blogging that you didn’t know before?
1. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in your own company and not pay enough attention to trends in the outside world. Blogging and reading blogs has helped me stay informed about the world and people outside my company, more than I expected. 2. A blog is not PR. Corporate blogs are not the company line or the company position, they’re just a place to write the blog around a common interest. Bloggers are asked to represent their own viewpoints, they are not a spokesperson for the company. At the same time, bloggers have a lot of responsibility. We need to be aware of things like privacy and be able to achieve the perfect balance of discretion and transparency. 3. I’ve been pretty amazed at the amount and quality of information that’s out in the blogosphere. In HR, recruiters seem to be the biggest group out there blogging and reading. This should be good news for job seekers because recruiters are always looking for candidates to match the positions they’re working on, even in tough times when they have fewer positions to fill. The world is in the midst of a changing recruitment model and companies as well as candidates are trying to figure out better ways to find each other. I think social media has a huge role to play in that. The other thing I found about the amount and quality of information is that the web is the great equalizer, so there’s this constant correction and improvement of information. I like blogs that allow people to post comments, because if someone gives flaky advice, there’s almost always someone there in the comments calling it out, or offering better advice than the post, or even calling out bad advice by other commenters. I love that when it’s done effectively – it leads to better information for everyone.
Steph K: Even before social media, networking was often touted as the best way to get a job and this can be tough for people who are early in their careers. Personal branding seems instrumental to that. What do you think is the best way to get a new job, and if you had to pick one piece of advice to give new grads, what would you tell them?
Me: I would recommend that they start as early as possible. If I knew then what I know now, I would never had to have applied to a company upon graduation. Instead of submitting your resume, invest in the development of content that you can use in your interviews or to attract new opportunities. Again, this depends on your goals. You need to be known for something and position yourself accordingly. Social networks have truly leveled the playing field, such that you can connect directly with hiring managers and recruiters, instead of submitting your resume to job boards. This is a significant change and if you care enough to use this route, you’ll see extraordinary results!