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Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘social media

Be a Twitter Genius: Lessons from John McCain

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Senator John McCain

AP Photo/Matt York

Although he came up short on votes in 2008, Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain isn’t lacking in “Digital IQ” points. As reported by Politico, a joint study of politicians’ “online competence” by George Washington University and NYU ranked McCain as a “Twitter Genius,” scoring significantly higher than fellow senators at utilizing the social tool. This may surprise some, given criticism of the septuagenarian from some quarters as being “out of touch;” yet, as he faces a tough reelection bid, McCain is relying on social networking to preserve his career. In doing so, this “genius” offers a model for professional advancement in 140 characters or less.

Establish yourself quickly. Following his 2008 defeat to Barack Obama (and candidate Obama’s superior command of social networking), McCain wasted little time adopting the format himself. Since 2009, he has tweeted frequently, drawing more than 1.7 million followers. Of course, those weren’t as hard to muster for someone who was already a prominent public figure, but the beauty of Twitter is that anyone can generate a sizeable following if they have something interesting to say. To get noticed, don’t be shy—alert friends and coworkers to your account’s existence, follow them, and branch out to their followers. As you build a network, maintain a steady stream of relevant content that invites discussion, spreads ideas, and shares your skills and accomplishments. Just describing your lunch probably won’t cut it.

Tweet outside the box. Anyone can tweet a few thoughts; it takes a genius to explore the potential of the format. John McCain exemplified this when he and George Stephanopoulos conducted an interview entirely via Twitter—the imposed character limit stripped down the political dialogue, allowing direct questions to be met with unadorned answers transmitted live to the world. With today’s workforce using social applications for job hunting and self-promotion, standing out from the crowd comes down to uniquely interacting with the community. For instance, try reaching out to fellow professionals about their careers and accomplishments, or asking for details of their company’s recruitment process—the discourse can be invaluable, both for the knowledge shared and the initiative displayed.

Attract powerful followers. The axiom “it’s who you know” is as true in politics as it is in business. But for an elected official, the goal is staying relevant. So when John McCain began exchanging tweets with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” it was an unexpected twist that won him regard for connecting with a younger generation. For the rest of us, however, being followed by Kanye West might not grant a desired status boost. Instead, aim for the attention of leaders—buddying up with top brass or being retweeted by the likes of Richard Branson or Michael Dell will earn you notice as someone with eye-catching ideas.

It remains uncertain whether the displayed mastery of next-generation campaigning by Senator McCain (and, to be fair, his staff) will pay off in this election cycle. But regardless of one’s own political beliefs, the elder statesman’s resourceful embrace of technology is admirable and inspiring. As workers of all stripes wrestle with new challenges presented by an uncertain economy, it’s imperative to remain open to new venues for networking and seeking opportunity. Senator McCain, once thought to be down for the count, is an example of someone even late in their career finding a way to stay relevant in the information age.

Will Work For Tweets: The Great Los Angeles Job Contest

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Despite what the “Trending Topics” sidebar might tell you, the biggest news surrounding Twitter in the past week wasn’t Justin Bieber or Chelsea Clinton. Rather, users were all atwitter about a contest launched by @mikemckayecd—that being Mike McKay, the Los Angeles-based executive creative director for advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi. McKay’s challenge was simple: “I have a writer position worth $70k. Funniest twitter response gets it.”

Thus the gauntlet was thrown down. As if the job market wasn’t already competitive enough, hundreds of “Tweeps” converged on the hashtag #saatchila to vie for a single opening. Among the popular entries submitted to McKay, some personal favorites include:

• “Is this contest nearly over? I have to start training for the astronaut job I won on Facebook.” (@iscoff)

• “nigerian ad agency seek writers, send $$$” (@faketv)

• “Does $70k cover the cost of a boob job in LA? I’d be moving with my girlfriend and I’m worried about her self-esteem.” (@um_giz)

• “I hope this job isn’t for Scion. They’re like the Twitter version of a car. 140 inches or less.” (@brendyn)

• “I’am probabbly the moost qaulified four thes righter jobe.” (@MstrMn, and yes, sic)

The winner was one Jonathan Pelleg, a.k.a. @Peglegington. Pelleg, according to his Twitter bio, is an Austin, Texas resident and native of Los Angeles who was “breaking into advertising while listening to music and enjoying life” when the Saatchi contest came along. So his selection, as it turns out, is both a dream come true and a homecoming wrapped up in one. And the submission that brought about the young man’s triumph?

“You have to be concise on Twitter. Like a circumcision, everything extra gets cut off whether you like it or not.”

In an interview with The Atlantic, McKay was almost blasé about conceiving the contest out of the blue. “It’s really hard to find good writers. I don’t know why,” he stated. “It’s even harder to find people to write dialogue. It’s even harder to find funny writers.” Of course, the sudden and unprecedented way he launched his offer didn’t win him any points with Saatchi’s human resources department: “Immediately I get HR coming up and saying, ‘What did you just do?'”

The Atlantic notes this isn’t the first time a candidate has been awarded a high-paying job via tweet; last year, marketing firm BFG Communications picked a social media coordinator with its own Twitter contest. Still, this doesn’t exactly promise to be a new trend in hiring—the odds are slightly better for 3-D video resumes becoming standard for job applications. But it does signify the incorporation by leaps and bounds of social networking for employment and professional advancement. Without being plugged in to the online activities of employers, industry leaders and even your fellow job seekers, you could easily miss out on the unique information and opportunities that will provide an upper hand in beginning or enhancing your career.

And, as if to drive that point home, Mike McKay has followed his announcement of a winner with a suggestion of things to come: “@Peglegington might need an art director partner. Hmmmm.” Any aspiring advertising professionals would do well to keep watching that space.


— Alex Tuttle, Vault.com

Written by A.A. Somebody

July 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Texting at Work: What’s Acceptable?

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Texting on Blackberry

AP Photo/Matt Sayles

There’s little doubt that new technologies and communications tools are changing the way we live and work. And, like any form of progress, the changes we’re seeing have both good and bad sides—often depending on where you sit within any given organization.

One such example is with communication barriers. It’s now easier than ever before to make contact with people who matter within companies. That can be great news for job seekers as they attempt to directly influence the people with the power to hire them. It’s arguably more of a headache, however, for those tasked with recruitment—especially if they’re finding individuals bypassing them within organizations and making their own hires and recommendations.

Things are also changing on a day to day basis, with younger generations of workers increasingly expecting to have access to tools such as Facebook and Twitter at work. Indeed, a generation that has grown up interacting with one another digitally—even when they’re sitting in the same room—may well end up reshaping the concept of workplace communication completely. Consider the following results from a survey conducted by free texting app textPlus, which suggest that future generations of workers could end up handling even the most sensitive and delicate workplace issues via text message. According to the survey:

When it comes to college kids and recent grads (18-24 years old):

  • 11% think it’s appropriate to ask for a raise via text
  • 32% say it’s ok to “call in sick” to work via text (22% have actually done it)
  • 11% think it’s alright to quit a job via text

Of course, there’s a strong chance that those opinions will change once younger workers become more firmly established in the workforce, and come to accept some of the realities of the workplace. But the perceived acceptability of more informal modes of communication seems to embed itself more with each successive generation. Consider the results for the next age group down in the same survey:

  • 18% of 13-17 year olds think it’s appropriate to ask for a raise via text
  • 51% think it’s ok to “call in sick” to work via text
  • 20% think it’s alright to quit a job via text

Now, again, the majority of 13 to 17 year olds are unlikely to have held the kind of jobs where texting your boss to let them know you won’t be coming back will pose problems for landing another one. But the striking thing about the results is the incremental shift in perception of acceptability from one generation to the next.

The jury is still out on whether the opinions of these future workers will change as they make the transition to actual workers. Until then, however, let us know what you think: will future generations reshape what’s acceptable to communicate by text or email in the workplace? Where will it end? And what are the good and bad aspects of the changes suggested by the survey results above? Let us know in the comments field below, or via some of those new-fangled communication tools, like Facebook and Twitter.


Events Lineup: Vault Reports from Internet Week, New York

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This week promises to be high on event coverage as well as new products (Apple announced their new iPhone) and collaborations (Vault will host featured blog posts from the 2010 Class of Climate Corps, EDF’s sustainability-focused internship program). Below is a quick lineup of all the event coverage you can look forward to.

Today: Conference Board’s webcast on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Future of Integrated Reporting

The panel includes Mike Wallace, the director of the sustainability reporting framework with GRI; Intel’s Director of CSR Strategy and Communications, Suzanne Fallender; Doug Kangos, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers National Professional Services unit; and Rina Levy, a ESG analyst with Bloomberg. The topic: the future of integrated reporting, and how much data is too much? Coming up: Is integrated reporting, i.e., meshing the traditional annual report, which focuses on financial metrics, with the other annual report that discusses CSR initiatives, the future?

Tuesday and Wednesday: World Innovation Forum

Already underway, the forum will host top thinkers and strategists from the corporate world as well as academia. Some of them include Harvard Business School professor and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Michael Porter; Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; Seventh Generation cofounder and CSR advocate, Jeffrey Hollender [See his exclusive interview with Vault: “Take the ‘S’ out of CSR”]; and Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com Joel Makower. Vault’s News and Commentary team will be at the Bloggers’ Hub to bring you live coverage from the forums. Also, stay tuned for their tweets @VaultCareers or follow the hastag #wif10.

Thursday: The PepsiCo and ThinkSocial #Promise Conference

Pepsi's Sustainability Challenge

Part of the lineup for Internet Week in New York, this is a unique conference that promises to pair an unpopular pair: sustainability and social media. Featuring marketing executives from PepsiCo, Timberland, GE, Nokia and MTV, and moderators from Fast Company, TED and GOOD, the full day event will cover a wide variety of topics including Pepsi’s Dream Machine, “Promise” presentations by companies like GE, Timberland and Pepsi, all of which will discuss their observations and lessons of pursuing socially responsible commitments using social media.

To round off the mash of corporate perspective, media outlets, individuals who cover CSR, social media and public interest organizations will weigh in. Vault’s CSR Editor Aman Singh will be at the conference to bring you live coverage In Good Company, as well as on Twitter @VaultCSR.

Friday: Hot and Bothered Breakfast: Why It’s Time to Change The Gender Ratio in New Media & Tech

To regular readers of this space, this will sound familiar. In Good Company recently discussed a NPR report that blamed the lack of women experts on their lack of aggressiveness and narcissistic personality. This panel will discuss “why women are present and accounted for across the new media and tech space— just not at the top, or on panels, or at conferences, or in magazine articles…or, crucially, in VC money.” Culminating Internet Week in New York City, the panel promises to be controversial, if not revelatory. We will be at the panel to bring you live coverage In Good Company, besides tweeting @VaultCSR.

How Effective is Social Media In The Job Search?

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Before reading, I encourage everyone to take Vault’s Social Media Survey and let us know their own thoughts about using social networking tools in their job search.

The job search process has evolved a lot over the last few years. Back in the day, I would simply walk from store to store and ask if there were any jobs available.  The store clerk would have me fill out a form and I wouldn’t hear back from them.  As I graduated college, I started proactively sending out my resume to various companies with the hopes of turning my degree into a full-time career.  When I wanted a new job, I started submitting my resume online through various job boards and company websites.  Today, many are preaching about the values of social media in the job search, but are sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter really going to get you your next job?

When I was unemployed last year, the first thing I did was apply for jobs on LinkedIn.  My experience with LinkedIn was positive.  I posted my work experience and started soliciting recommendations from former colleagues who knew what kind of worker I was.  I felt that this was actually a better way to search for a job, as it provided potential employers with instant references, and it appeared that on LinkedIn, the more recommendations you had, the better your chances of being reviewed.  I even received an email to begin discussions about a potential job.  The conversation went nowhere, but I was satisfied with this tool.

I never thought Twitter could land me a job.  In fact, when I was bored between job searches, I would use Twitter with the thought that I just wanted to accrue as many followers as Ashton Kutcher.  Yes, this was my dream, and for some reason, I failed miserably.  But now that I am working again, I see a lot of potential in Twitter.  The fact that companies can instantly tweet jobs out to the public before they even go up on the site is exciting.  I would encourage anyone who is unemployed to monitor a Twitter feed dealing with employment and take advantage of the instant possibilities.

Facebook is not for the job search.  This is just my opinion, but I find it hard to believe that in the midst of people playing Farmville and sending out fake beer or hugs, they are conducting extensive searches and locating promising job leads.  I believe Facebook is just to let off steam, vent about life, and post 30 pictures of yourself that look exactly the same, albeit with different clothing.  However, in a weird way, it actually led to my most successful social media-based job search. While I was looking for work last year, I received an interview for a job as a press aide where the previous incumbent had resigned due to a backlash over inappropriate comments she had posted on her Facebook profile. On top of that, I applied as soon as I found out she had resigned, not even waiting for the position to be posted on a job board. That’s the kind of speed of action normally associated with social networks, and it certainly didn’t hurt my case.

Now, there are more social networks popping up that proclaim to help people find work.  But are they truly effective? Vault wants to know your thoughts and is conducting a survey about social media. It shouldn’t take much more than five minutes to complete, and as an incentive there are five year-long Gold memberships up for grabs.  Share your social media job hunt stories with us.

Job Search Skills: Getting Control of Your Social Media Presence

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How do you view social media as a part of the job search? Is it a positive tool for helping you track down positions and reach the people and decision-makers who really matter? Or is it a minefield to be negotiated—a realm where you have so many accounts and profiles that they’re a nightmare to keep track of, and a source of constant worry about how you’re representing yourself to potential employers?

Whatever your take on it, the folks at Wired have put together a simple-to-follow wiki that can help you get control and squeeze more value (and a lot of worry) out of your online presence. In a nutshell: it’s a guide to building a social profile through which you can link to each and every piece of the social media realm in which you already participate.

The major advantage to doing so is summed up perfectly in this excerpt from the wiki: “The deeper and more fully fleshed-out your presence is on a trusted service […] the easier it is for your friends to find you, and the harder it is for anyone to impersonate you.”

Bear in mind: it’s not only your friends that will want to find you online. Every time you apply for a job, there’s a strong chance that someone with the power to affect a hiring decision will be seeking you out in cyberspace—a chance that increases exponentially the closer you come to actually being offered a job. Bearing that in mind, perhaps it’s worth taking the time to organize and tailor exactly what those people can discover about you. Even if that doesn’t involve the sort of public profile Wired is advocating, it should definitely include an examination of your privacy settings on Facebook (especially when it comes to photos—it’s so easy to end up tagged in a picture you didn’t even know was online) and a scan (and potential removal) of any tweets or status updates that may compromise your image as the consummate professional.

Written by Phil Stott

April 26, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Why Social Media is Essential for Tech (and other) Careers

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When it comes to the practice of social media, much has been written about the career benefits of maintaining a public persona via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media technologies. Maintaining a public blog can be extremely beneficial in differentiating yourself from other job seekers. This is especially true in the high-tech industry.

Involvement with internal social media at large corporations can also be a critical driver for career growth in high-tech. In particular, global innovation in high-tech can be accelerated when internal social tools are commonplace and available. Here are some important tips to remember:

The Common, Corporate Backbone

Hopefully your corporation has a common social media backbone. In my corporation (EMC) we are using a tool from Jive Software known as Clearspace. This tool is a soapbox for every employee that wishes to publicly post a discussion, a blog, or a document. I’ve explained the importance of a corporate social media backbone in a previous post.

Spend some time every day on this type of site. Learn the interests of your co-workers, and find out what technology topics are hot within your corporation at large. It is OK to “lurk” initially (view without interacting), but make it your long-term goal to begin communicating with others.

Before you begin this interaction, fill out a full and complete profile of your interests and work experience. Make yourself and your expertise “findable” within the corporate backbone. If you are an expert in information security, list all the buzzwords that you are familiar with. If you write software, write down each and every language that you know. By creating your own “resume” within a social media backbone, you have taken the first step to increase your influence.

Expertise: Push It and Pull It

In order to increase your opportunities for innovative dialog with your peers, target your internal activity towards social media interactions that facilitate “innovation by adjacency”. This technique (described here) combines your expertise with adjacent technologists in order to solve a customer problem. These two spheres (expert and adjacent) collide when you “push” your expertise while “pulling” from others. This can be accomplished via the following approach:

  • Push: publish your own blogs, articles, and discussions about what you know best. For example, when I started blogging within my own corporation I wrote a blog post for every year that I’ve been working in the industry (over twenty years). These articles, when combined with my profile, put me on the map as someone that is available for collaboration.
  • Pull: As you develop the daily discipline of perusing your corporate backbone, begin following fellow employees who share a level of expertise that resonates with yours. Subscribe to their discussions and comment on them. Take note whether or not they belong to a “technical community” and begin following that community as well.

These suggestions may seem simple, but the daily discipline of practicing intentional social media inside of your corporation will open new doors for you. Why is this?

Many of the employees at large corporations have still not recognized the full value of social media. They focus intently on the task in front of them and are blissfully unaware of the collaborative, global opportunities that are a mouse click away. They also may still be operating under the assumption that social media is a frivolous, unproductive activity. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

My personal experience practicing these behaviors has resulted in spontaneous brainstorming, global friendships, new customer knowledge, and increased exposure to local university research.

Not everybody has the ability (or the time) to collaborate publicly via standard social media tools. If you work in a large corporation, however, you should find the time to collaborate internally.

-Posted by Steve Todd, EMC Distinguished Engineer. Read more of Steve’s posts on careers in the tech field on his Innovate with Influence blog on Vault.

http://stevetodd.typepad.com

Twitter: @SteveTodd

EMC Intrapreneur

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