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    Thursday
    May122011

    New Technology for Recruiting - on the HR Happy Hour tonight

    Tonight at 8:00PM ET on Episode 99 of the HR Happy Hour show, (can you believe Episode 100 is just one short week away?), we will be joined by Ty Abernethy of Zuzuhire, and Craig Fisher the genius behind TalentNet Live and a million other cool things in the recruiting and technology space.

    You can listen to the show from the show page here, using the listener call in number 646-378-1086, or using the widget player below:

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

     

    At the recent HRevolution event in Atlanta, Craig led one of the most popular sessions about 'Cool New Tools for Recruiting', and Ty has actually created and operates one of those tools at Zuzuhire. If you had not had a chance before now to check out Zuzuhire, give it a look - it provides an innovative and fun way to create online interviews and applicant screening processes that can incorporate video and audio response, text, and simple multiple choice questions.

    But beyond the 'cool factor' of these new tools, tonight we will also dig a little deeper as to how corporate recruiters and hiring managers can make better decisions around technology in the hiring process, and even how candidates can better prepare themselves and make the most effective presentations in this rapidly changing space.

    After all, cool is only cool if it helps us hire better, faster, and more efficiently.

    It should be a fun show and I hope you can join us live, and be sure to follow the backchannel on Twitter using the hashtag #HRHappyHour.

     

    Wednesday
    May112011

    Whoworks.at - See your LinkedIn Network as you browse

    Whether you are a job seeker researching organizations that you would like to work for, a recruiter seeking talent from competing firms in you industry or region, or a sales professional examining the websites of customers and prospects - one thing is for certain - it sure helps to know someone at the target company. Having an 'in' of some kind, some kind of plausible way to connect with an actual person inside, as opposed to filling out a generic 'contact us' web form, or submitting an anonymous resume into what can sometimes be the black hole of the ATS.

    No doubt being able to connect, most optimally by leveraging an existing and hopefully trusted network seems to offer one the best opportunity to get the job application noticed, to find a potential candidate to recruit, or to connect with a real decision maker in a sales process. But sorting out who you might know, or might be connected via other friends and colleagues, typically meant a scan through email contacts; a local CRM or ATS system; or, increasingly, a trip to LinkedIn to perform a quick Company search. Kind of tedious process, but necessary.

    This week a new Google Chrome browser extension called Whoworks.at launched, that makes the entire 'Who do I know that works here?' question much easier to answer. After you download and install the Whoworks.at extension, simply click the extension icon just to the right of the Chrome toolbar, and immediately you will be presented a pop-up window displaying all your LinkedIn contacts and extended network that connects you to whatever company whose site you are currently browsing.

    Here is a screen shot of my Whoworks.at information for Oracle Corporation:

    And here is the view of my LinkedIn network connections at the NBA, (sadly, my network there is not nearly as robust):

    I still can't believe LeBron has not accepted my LinkedIn invitation yet.

    From within the Whoworks.at pop-up, you can also browse LinkedIn data for recent hires and promotions at the target company, and click on any LinkedIn profile name to be taken directly to that person's LinkedIn profile page.

    Whoworks.at is a really neat and useful tool to add to Google Chrome and that makes the task of seeking and reaching out to connections at companies of interest that much easier. And it does get kind of addictive after a few minutes, there is a little bit of a curiosity factor that sets in as you browse around on the internet, sort of wondering if you know anyone at a given company.

    Check it out and let me know what you think, simply go to Whoworks.at and provide your email address and a beta invite link should show up in your inbox really quickly.

    Happy stalking!

    Tuesday
    May102011

    Brands, Red Gorillas, and Cold Rain

    The new website Brandtoys has introduced what they are claiming is the world's first visualization engine to assess and compare consumer sentiment and the online buzz of brands. The visualization takes the shape of a whimsical character whose physical attributes, (color, shape, size of ears, size of legs, and even surrounding climate), are determined by Brandtoys using source data from consumer surveys and from mining mentions of the brand on the social web.

    The idea being, for example, the more online chatter and buzz about a given brand, that brand's character will be portrayed with large ears; if the online sentiment surrounding a brand skews negative, (think BP), then it will be 'raining' on the brand's character.

    To get a better idea of how this visualization works, take a look at the character for BP, pretty much a globally maligned brand stemming from 2010's Gulf Oil Spill and BP's subsequent handling of the crisis:


     

    Sort of what you'd expect - BP is characterized as a petulant, angry figure with an aggressive stance, and in the end appears totally unsympathetic or approachable. Persistent (and deserved) negative sentiment about BP produces the rain clouds above our little friend's head.

    Big deal, you may think, who needs a funny character to know that most people don't think all that highly of BP at the moment. But where the Brandtoys approach to the presentation of consumer and online sentiment data is more compelling is in the comparison of competing or adjacent brands (and their derived characters). Then the differences seem to be a bit more subtle and interesting.

    Have a look at the comparison of three similar brands - Miller Lite, Budweiser, and Heineken:

     

    While the character manifestations of each character are broadly similar, there are a few noticeable and striking differences, the Miller Lite character has much larger ears, signifying a high level of chatter and conversation about the brand; the Budweiser character's eyes are shut, indicating relatively low scores for brand 'charisma'. For a branding or marketing professional, 'seeing' these difference portrayed in this manner is got to be far more resonant than scanning a column of figures on a spreadsheet.

    But beyond being a cool, quirky, and kind of fun site to play around on (I dare you to not spend 5 or 10 minutes creating your own characters), the Brandtoys team emphasizes that the characters are backed by solid and ample hard data and analysis. The larger point to me, and why I decided to write about this site today, is that it reinforces the potential that we have in presenting data in new and innovative ways, ways that can help tell a story, that can enlighten and engage an audience, and are simply a heck of a lot more interesting than another spreadsheet or Powerpoint presentation.

    We have lots and lots of data. You business leaders are likely overwhelmed with the endless barrage of messages they receive each day. 

    What can you do to make your message and the information you are trying to communicate stand out?

    Maybe presenting your analysis with the assistance of a goofy red gorilla is not such a bad idea after all.

     

    Monday
    May092011

    Mind Reading for Fun and Profit

    A recent post on the Venture Beat site, A Clockwork Orange? EmSense can monitor your emotional reactions to media, about new applications in marketing research of something called 'quantitative neurometrics', a process facilitated by a subject strapping on a slick brainwave-sensing device and allowing their reactions to various forms of media to be monitored and tracked.I predict you will be a '3' on your review...

    The basic premise of quantitative neurometrics is that by measuring more precisely and accurately subjects' emotional responses to advertising, creative concepts, packaging and the shopping experience content and campaigns can be better aligned with the target demographic's true emotional responses, and be more accurate than traditional means. The approach plays off the conventional wisdom that people often say they like something or are likely to do something, when in reality what they really like and actually do are quite different indeed.

    So naturally for marketers and designers of advertising campaigns, store layouts, product placement professionals, really anyone looking to sell something, (or at least incent a prospect to consider buying something), quantitative neurometrics seems to offer a level of detailed information that could be exploited for commercial benefit. This is of course putting aside the general creepiness factor of strapping a brainwave monitoring tool to a subject while flashing your latest ads for minivans, or detergent, or vacation property in Tennessee.

    As I read the piece in Venture Beat naturally I began to think of ways that brainwave monitoring could help organizations solve some of their more pressing challenges (again suspending disbelief long enough to imagine a workplace where employees would agree to submit to this kind of monitoring), and what kinds of long-standing workplace assumptions that quantiative neurometrics could help test.

    Off the top of my head here goes:

    Company Off-site teambuilding events

    You think: Fantastic opportunity to get the team together, to bond and grow as a creative, energized, and inspired collection of problem-solving dynamos as only 'trust-falls' can conjure. The team returns to the office the next day with a new sense of spirit and togetherness.

    They Think : If I don't attend, do I have to take PTO? Is there an open-bar? Don from Shipping really needs to put his shirt back on.

    The CEO's quarterly message to the troops

    You think : The team loves to hear about the news and strategy of the company right from the top. It is great that Joe the CEO is so accessible and open.

    They think : If I don't attend, do I have to take PTO? Is Joe wearing a monogrammed shirt? With cufflinks? I hope he doesn't announce another off-site teambuilding session.

    The Annual Performance Review

    You think : Our process for linking company goals down to individual employee objectives is perfect for achieving optimal aligment, shared vision, and progess towards strategic goals. It is a win-win.

    They think: I work in the mail room. I am not really sure what the heck I can do to improve our market share in Europe. Will there be any merit increases at all this year? Can you please tell Don from Shipping to put his shirt back on?

    Sure, mind-reading might have a better and more profitable future in the worlds of marketing and advertising, but who says the HR and Talent professionals can't get in on some of the fun?

    If you could really, truly, know what your staff was thinking, and have more insight to their honest emotional reactions to your environment, workplace technologies, communications, and so on, wouldn't you want to find out?

    Or maybe instead of investing in brainwave-reading technology we could work to create a workplace where we really could just ask people what they are feeling, and they really would be comfortable sharing.

    For the record - at the moment I am think almost exclusively on having a donut. But you did not need quantitative neurometrics to sort that out.

    Friday
    May062011

    Figuring Out Whom to Recruit First

    Admission - the title for this post is an almost complete lift from a recent piece on the MIT Technology Review blog titled 'Figuring Out Whom to Please First', an examination of the growing importance and integration into traditional customer service processes of so-called 'social influence' measures, specifically the Klout score.

    The MIT article postulates that in addition to the segmentation of customers based on level of spend or history of past purchasing behavior, that more companies are and should consider newer measures of relative customer importance and influence in their customer service strategies.  This consideration and awareness of social influence, (assuming for the moment you believe the Klout score does indeed, measure influence), is made more manageable and possible by the integration of the Klout measure into existing CRM systems and processes, as well as newer third-party tools (Hootsuite, CoTweet, etc), that are used by both customer service representatives as well as corporate PR and communications folks.

    From the MIT piece:

    Several providers of customer relationship management (CRM) software have incorporated Klout into their applications in the past year. If a customer calls up a company that is using such an application, the phone rep can get a quick readout of the person's score—assuming the rep has key pieces of information, such as the e-mail address that the customer uses on Twitter or Facebook. Citibank, McDonald's, Delta Airlines, and Coca-Cola are among the companies that can pull up a Klout score, according to Jesse Engle, the CEO and cofounder of CoTweet, which incorporates Klout into its CRM software and counts those four companies as customers.

    And with the incredible growth and use of the social networks, and the getting-too-many-to-count examples of major social media PR disasters stemming from poorly handled customer service situations, more companies are keenly aware of the potential harm that even one highly aggrieved and motivated customer can cause on the social web, a situation that is potentially even more risky when that customer in question can effectively connect to a wide audience of friends and followers. 

    So does or should this new and emerging ability to attempt to quantify 'influence' impact organizations in the recruiting and assessment processes? More Applicant Tracking Systems are delivered with pre-built and simple to deploy integrations with the social web for a variety of purposes, (sending referrals, looking for common friends, porting job listing to social outposts), so incorporating a candidate's Klout score would likely be a simple matter of inserting a small bit of Javascript. 

    Could we see a time where it made sense to include these kinds of scores in conjunction with more traditional screening processes, and not just for the kinds of roles that 'require' some kind of social chops, but really any rank and file job throughout the organization?

    If you buy in to the notion that employees from any part of the organization can be your best brand ambassadors, then wouldn't it make sense to think about influence scores and a given candidate's potential to help communicate, promote, and define your company brand? All things being equal, would companies be more interested in 'influential' candidates? Or is there a down side to online influence and popularity that could actually work against the candidate? 

    We know not all customers are 'equal'; anyone who has walked past all the premium status passengers in first-class on the way back to seat 29B gets this. All candidates are not equal either, but figuring out which ones get the upgrade to the front of the plane seems to be getting more complex all the time.

    Have a great weekend!