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    The Answers are Different

    I have to spend the better part of this weekend preparing materials for the next session of my HR Technology course at Rochester Institute of Technology as part of the Master's program in Human Resource Development. Flickr - michael.heiss

    The course, one of very few in the country with a 100% focus on HR Technology, has been in existence for about three years, and each time I prepare and deliver the course I try to change and enhance the content, structure, and assignments to keep the course fresh and interesting, and to attempt to provide to the students an accurate and relevant overview of the current set of technologies and the latest thinking of how Human Resources professionals can better leverage technology in their organizations.

    Or I could roll out the same set of content as the last time and rely on the old Einstein line alluded to in the title of the post.  Short version - Professor Einstein gave the same exact final exam two terms in a row, a student asked him if that made sense, since savvy students would always connect with kids in the prior class to learn about the exam content.  Einstein responded with 'Yes the questions are the same, but now the answers are different.'

    Anyway, we cover the basics, Core HRMS, payroll, time and attendance stuff.  We then spend quite a bit of time on Talent Management tools, like performance management and succession planning.  Finally, we wrap the course with a look at new collaboration technologies and ways that technologies and social networks can be used to further organizational objectives. We do quite a bit of hands-on work and get to try and test several really cool technologies.

    And do you know what my past students have consistently wanted me to focus on in much greater detail?

    Helping them with their personal LinkedIn profiles.

    The second we start discussing LinkedIn in an organizational context, its power as a corporate recruiting tool, and the importance of groups, answers etc. in employer branding efforts, at least two thirds of the class will ask for advice and guidance on completing, (and in some cases creating), their personal LinkedIn profiles.  Many of the students are in an active job search, or will soon be in search mode once they complete the program, so this kind of personal and practical knowledge is way more important to them than me waxing philosphic on the benefits of SaaS deployment of HR Technology.

    So when that happens, I will carve out some time to spend on LinkedIn profiles, as well as some other places where students can consider for building up an online identity and reputation that can benefit them in their job searches.  I am certainly not an expert on this, but I give it a shot.

    The whole 'LinkedIn' discussion though takes me to a more interesting question though:

    As the instructor should I be talking about and stressing what is 'important' or what the students really need to know?

    Postscript - Since I know I will have to have the 'How to make a better LinkedIn profile' discussion again soon, if you have some tips or links to good resources, tutorials, etc. please let me know in the comments.





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    Reader Comments (7)

    Good info. As I require my intro HR students to create a LinkedIn profile, I, too, could always improve what I offer in terms of teaching. So, any tips are doubly appreciated.

    June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterakaBruno

    Sounds like a great course! I think another way to look at LinkedIn profiles is to view the bigger picture issue, which is crafting an online identity that reflects positively on you during the job search. And I don't mean shutting down your Facebook profile.

    Students should be aware that everything they do and say is recorded and searchable later - the older generation gets this, but the younger ones who learned to type before they could write do not. By blogging, participating in relevant forums, joining online communities, and making an effort to enter the space where they want a job, students set themselves up with a positive online identity.

    Best of luck preparing.

    June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Wali

    Ashley had a good point but I am sure that just as manyyounger people that do not get it, there are an equal if not greater amount of senior people that don't get the recorded information either.

    3 approaches I would offer:
    1) What you should & should not have on your profile as a new graduate
    2) How recruiters and professionals use this free service (and what they can do to benefit from that info)
    3) How to create and build relevant and future connections through the tool. While many people use it as a record keeper, an address book and even a source to find people who know about the jobs - they should understand that just using it transactionally may not be the best approach.
    I am no expert but that is my 2.5 cents. Hope it helps.
    Good luck

    June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin McCall

    @Matt - That is a good idea to make the LI profile a required element. I should probably do the same

    @Ashley - Thanks very much and I do appreciate you sharing that advice.

    @Ben - Thanks - that is all very solid advice for sure.

    June 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Some further thoughts on LinkedIn and all other presence in cyberspace:

    1) You really are judged by the company you keep, so be careful who you befriend, connect with, and hang around. Better to have only 99 quality connections than 499 questionable ones. Parents taught us not to take candy from strangers so why would we call them friend and share our whole life story with them?

    2) You are judged by your language skills, including but not limited to grammar, spelling, organization, sentence/paragraph structure, clarity, correctness, creativity, etc. So take a moment before you press ENTER to remember that everything you send into cyberspace will follow you around for the rest of your life.

    3) If you don't want it to show up in your confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court or a background check for a bank teller position, don't do it. Everything you do is being recorded, photographed, commented on and published in cyberspace, and everything there will follow you around for the rest of your life.

    4) Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, then get out there and create a great public record. Social technology, document searching, deep Web exploration, and many other technologies have unleashed enormous opportunities for collaboration and learning, but they have also made it near impossible to recover from an utterly stupid public persona.

    5) The water is fine, so come on in.

    Just sayin' Naomi

    June 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Bloom

    @Naomi - Thanks for sharing that advice - which I agree with 100%. Will definitely make sure it is shared with the new class.

    June 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterSteve

    "need to know" and "important" shouldn't they be one and the same, but moving on to the need to know stuff and activities for your students. Ask them to google themselves and see what comes up. It will probably be their facebook profile, high school and college awards. Now have them google your name (Steve Boese or perhaps another leader in the field like Kris Dunn). Ask them what the difference is and why. I did this with my boss recently to show him how easy it is to get your name out there by bloggin and commenting on relevant blogs. I asked his impression of you (Steve Boese). He said he thought you were a thought leader in the field due to your blog and comments on other blogs (This was prior to us knowing that you teach at RIT). It was a simple exercise and it drove the point home. It is easy for someone to google your name and make a first impression.

    June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJared Hooste

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