Posts Tagged ‘networking’


Throw away your résumé

Find a Job keyboardFile this under “W” for “wake-up call.”

This week, online clothing retailer Zappos gave job seekers a kick in the pants by announcing it now prefers social networking to résumé reading when it chooses hires.

That means instead of sifting through millions of digital missives to find qualified candidates, Zappos will opt for tools that allow it to talk directly with potential hires — social media among them — and hear their responses before even thinking of reading a résumé.

Why the change?

“The problem is, our recruiters are too damn busy,” wrote Zappos senior HR manager Mike Bailen in a post on ERE.net. “Too busy to build real relationships, too busy to WOW our candidates, and too busy to strategically seek out thought leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will advance our business and drive our culture forward.”

Zappos last year had about 31,000 job applicants, of which only 1.5 percent of them were hired. “That’s 30,000 times a recruiter had to click and scan through a résumé and cover letter, 30,000 times a rejection template had to be sent, and 30,000 missed opportunities on doing something more meaningful,” Bailen said. Meanwhile, good-fit candidates are trampled by the crowd and may think the company has wasted their time.

So, instead of sending résumés and cover letters as introductions, Zappos prefers prospects first join one of its social networks to get to know the company better, then pursue any further interest by becoming a Zappos Insider, where visitors can strike up conversations with Zappos’s employees and managers about corporate culture.

Zappos’s idea of hiring based on relationships instead of résumés is not new to the marketplace, but this particular approach has a whiff of innovation to it, so it’s wise to think other companies will consider similar approaches — at least in theory.

Sure, it’s time-consuming to sift résumés, and keyword sifting ignores personality and character. But shifting a chunk of the hiring burden to employees and trying to establish personal relationships with applicants at the outset eats up even more of the clock.

Furthermore, the process has a privacy issue; Zappos expects some Insider dialog to take place in public.

“My guess is that Zappos will have thousands of inquiries. Some of them will be from people who are very needy and want to keep checking in,” Peter Cappelli of the Wharton Center for Human Resources told E-Commerce Times. “If the recruiters don’t have time to do that, will the regular employees? How are they going to get their work done?”

To be clear, Zappos isn’t dispensing with résumés entirely. The company still will request a printable version of a prospect’s work history as a marker. Zappos also will employ talent-acquisition technology to sort through desired qualifications and aptitudes in those histories.

But by trying what seems an audacious approach, Zappos serves up a reminder that the way we look for jobs is changing just as fast as the job market itself, and that job hunters should plan to do more than just hand out résumés and cover letters.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Snapchat snafu serves as an important reminder

Snapchat logoToday, many Snapchat users are no doubt gnawing their nails over the clothing-sparse selfies and booze-infused party pics they shared on assumptions of privacy. They’re wondering whether insulting memes and embarrassing explanations will result.

They’re probably kicking themselves over believing Snapchat was different from other social sites, and kicking themselves again for ignoring the reality of digital secrecy — that there really is no such thing.

On Thursday, Snapchat, the mobile messaging service that distinguished itself by guaranteeing all of its clients’ sharing was time-limited and disposable, agreed to settle Federal Communications Commission charges that it could not deliver on that guarantee. The settlement comes despite insinuations and accusations that the guarantee lacked legitimacy from the start.

As punishment, Snapchat must restate its privacy goals and live up to them while under federal surveillance for the next 10 years. No monetary penalty was announced, but in our fast-moving digital world the surveillance period is tantamount to living with a parole officer for two lifetimes, and trying to sneak past the guard could invite a fatal smack in the wallet.

Snapchat apologized in brief on its blog, alleging that some of the FTC’s charges were addressed well before Thursday’s announcement and concluding its mea culpa by saying, “We are devoted to promoting user privacy and giving Snapchatters control over how and with whom they communicate. That’s something we’ve always taken seriously and always will.”

But promises are made to be broken, and a tech startup’s erstwhile intent lacks armor against those who merely feign concern for anyone’s social well-being. The Snapchat snafu thus serves as yet another piquant reminder that a person’s secrets are best protected by their owners and not by anyone who’s capable of putting a dollar value on indiscretion.

And so, the reminders go out again, to journalists and non-journalists alike:

  • Don’t trust your privacy to anything digital.
  • Don’t consider any kind of social networking to be a secret conversation. Your first clue? It has the word “social” is its name.
  • Don’t talk to people online in ways you wouldn’t talk to them in person.
  • Don’t share digital data unsecured or unencoded.
  • Don’t think Snapchat’s apology amounts to an epilogue on this story.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Six keys to professional tweeting

It’s amazing the things that we see people tweet about. Personal beliefs. Private conversations. Elicit behavior. Groundless criticism. Uneducated perspective.

Yes, I’m talking about journalists, too.

Sure, some genuine news seeps through to the Twitterverse — the brilliant coverage by Andy Carvin of last year’s “Arab Spring” foremost among the examples. (Remarkably, a year later, his work still sets the standard.) Otherwise, what remains on that social network largely amounts to boorishness and self-aggrandizement, impugning and assuming, snobbery and effrontery.

When I came up through the journalism ranks, any sort of spotlight-hogging was frowned upon as ethically dubious, if not forbidden by company policy. Today, a persistent and effusive social media presence is considered essential to one’s employment, if for no other reason than to continually trumpet a media “brand.”

This deep bow to branding waxes ominous, thanks largely to such popular social media measuring sticks as Klout assigning a manufactured importance to digital socialization — an importance weighted in favor of quantity instead of quality. If we agree to hold up these sticks as accurate, then news reporting via social media is bound not to be.

Why? Because there’s a certain assurance news consumers get from a journalist’s professional detachment, and we see that assurance petering out now as news providers strive to be heard above the loud partisan polemic drowning rational thought — a polemic they help stir up.

The solution, short of wiping social media off the map, is greater attentiveness toward distinguishing personal from professional content. Though there are claims that a personal touch demystifies media and as a result makes news more consumable, personalization also blurs the line separating judgment from fact. And when journalists apply it, they put their profession at risk of being marginalized by “citizen” journalists who insist they’re merely following the example.

So, then, make that example an admirable one:

Separate personal from professional tweets — If this means creating separate Twitter accounts, so be it. And try not to use the company logo or any derivative as a personal avatar.

Exercise care with criticism — Do you love “50 Shades of Grey”? Do you hate the movie remake of “Spider-Man”? That’s fine, but keep those opinions off all professional social media accounts, unless it has a discernible job relevance. Otherwise, inserting opinion only waters down what little objectivity a journalist can muster.

Keep company matters inside the company — There may be discord between management and staff, or personnel matters that prove irksome, but venting discontent via veiled insult on social media not only undermines others’ faith in you, it also could prove actionable in a court of law. In the same vein, honesty regarding one’s own reporting or editing errors may evoke pangs of guilt and frustration, but it  reinforces credibility and respectability as well.

Rein in the urge to be defensive — By its nature, journalism invites criticism, warranted or not. Certainly, some of that criticism can be mean-spirited and vindictive, instead of constructive. Avoid driving a conversation further down the same dark road. As humorist Mark Twain once said, “Never argue with stupid people; they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

Resist posting vacation and food photos — It’s always good to get away from it all when possible; it’s bad to drag readers and viewers along. That beach picture with Diamond Head in the background, while pretty, smacks of braggadocio, and may even suggest to others a laxity at work — especially if the picture puts you in one place while the calendar says you should be somewhere else. Food photos, on the other hand, pose a different problem, one rooted in esthetics. Put simply, food never looks as good in social media as it does in person.

Avoid posting sales pitches — Ensure personal brand integrity by not promoting other brands in tweets through sales pitches or links to special deals. Leave that up to the sales people who are supposed to market those products.

David Sheets is a content editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com, a candidate for Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dsheets@post-dispatch.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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