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    New HR Technology Class Partnership

    My next HR Technology class is set to start in a few weeks, and I am really pleased and excited to announce a new vendor partnership, that will put leading-edge and exciting technology in the hands of my students.

    I will be working with Tomoye, a provided of software solutions that support employee, customer, and partner communities.

    Tomoye is a leader in the emerging market for these Enterprise Social Networking solutions, that organizations are increasingly adopting and deploying to strengthen employee ties, foster collaboration and innovation, and build a more powerful organization 'community'.

    Some of the features of Tomoye Ecco platform that I plan to utilize in class, are the employee profile, the questions and answers tools, blogs, document authoring and sharing, and hopefully even video.

    I have been eager for my classes to explore in a 'hands-on' way the real power and capability of corporate social networking, and this partnership with Tomoye will give the class an extremely valuable set of experiences.

    I will be posting a series of updates on the project, as the preparations for the class progress, as I am sure the topic of Enterprise Social Networking is so complex and rich that more detailed analysis is warranted.

    Thanks very much to the great folks at Tomoye for generously agreeing to support graduate HR education.  It is a great thing when industry and academia can partner for mutual benefits. And a special thanks to Maggie Patterson, PR Consultant extraordinaire, who facilitated the agreement, and is a great person to work with.



    Twitter, Ralph Nader, and the other 97%

    I plead guilty to the charge of contributing to the hype, buzz, hyperbole, or whatever term you care to use surrounding the astronomical growth of Twitter.

    I have spent way more hours than I care to calculate tweeting and reading tweets.

    I have written probably 10 or so blog posts about Twitter, (and for a little blog like this one that is quite a bit).

    Twitter has been a great resource for me, (and quite fun at times I admit).  But I feel the need to point out a couple of things about Twitter that I think are relevant and important.

    Yesterday the internet monitoring firm ComScore released a report on Twitter usage that indicated approximately 4 million folks in the United States accessed Twitter in February 2009, which was a 1,000 percent increase from a year ago.

    Wow, incredible. 

    Did you also know that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates non-farm US employment to be about 137 million?

    For the math challenged, that amounts to less than 3% of the people employed in the US visited Twitter in February.  (Actually the real percentage has to be lower, there is no way all of the 4 million Twitter visitors are all employed, but the precise percentages are not the important thing).

    You know how much 3% is?Photo - Mike Licht

    That's about how much of the popular vote that (kook) Ralph Nader received in the 2000 US Presidential Election.

    3% is an incredibly small percentage, but just about the perfect size for an effective echo chamber.

    For the HR professional and the HR Technologist, this is an essential statistic  that bears attention.  The vast majority of experienced, capable, and effective HR practitioners are not on Twitter, don't care how many followers you have, are not versed in the art of crafting Tweets to increase the likelihood of the 'retweet', and don't know who Scoble or Brogan or Kawasaki are.

    That does not make them less intelligent or valuable to the organization.

    Sure 4 million people are on Twitter.  But HUNDREDS of millions are not (at least yet).

    And they run HR departments, own small and medium size businesses, and makeup the VAST majority of the working population.

    Look, I said before that I think Twitter is an awesome and powerful platform, but it is not the end-all, be-all that is going to solve HR's pressing issues.  It is what it is.

    And right now it is about 3%.


    (Now hurry up Twitterfeed, and pick this up so it gets to Twitter so that someone will actually read this)



    'Company Name Jobs' - Search!

    You are in HR or a hiring manager for the XYZ Company. When was the last time you did a simple Google search for 'XYZ Jobs' or 'XYZ Careers'? Don't lie, I will bet you have not done a search like that for quite a while.  If you haven't for some time, go ahead right now and do the search, I'll wait here until you get back.

    Okay, good.  What did you find?  Hopefully for you, your corporate jobs site came back at the top, or at least in the first two or three results on the first page. If your site is nowhere to be found, or is buried in the list and not easily recognizable as your jobs site, you have already, perhaps quite unwittingly put up the first hurdle for your applicants. 

    Here is a simple example of two really large organizations, FedEx and UPS, and how they rank with 'Company Name Jobs' searches.

    First, take a look at what you find when searching for 'FedEx Jobs'

    The link most job seekers are after, is the fifth result down, does not have much descriptive information to clue in the job seeker that it indeed, is the main corporate jobs page. It also has a long and confusing URL that has FedEx's ATS vendor's name (HodesIQ) embedded in the string. Altogether not intuitive and not applicant friendly.

    Compare that result to the same search for one of FedEx's main competitors for business and for talent, UPS:

    The main corporate job site is the first result, a simple tag line that makes it totally clear what the applicant will find there, and there are sub-links to important parts of the site clearly laid out (Application Center, Job Search).  This is exactly the result you are looking for with a simple Google search on 'Company Jobs'.

    The interesting thing is after you find the main careers site for both of these companies, they are really very similar.  They both have the expected employee video testimonials, sections with 'Life at' content, reasonably simple search and application procedures.

    They are pretty decent, save for the fact that one of them, UPS, is much, much easier to find quickly in Google search, and the other FedEx is not easy to find at all.

     If you are like most, you spend quite a bit of time on your Corporate Jobs pages, making sure your instructions are clear, your links to benefits information and job listings are working, and maybe even making sure you have some nice employee testimonials and perhaps some cool video.  You may have even partnered with a slick new ATS vendor that has enabled 'social sharing' so visitors to your site can easily share a job listing with their Facebook friends, or LinkedIn contacts, or maybe even send a Tweet with the listing out to everyone's favorite social network, Twitter.

    But before you do all that, take a quick look at the simple Google search I described above.  You may be spending time, effort, and budget on sites and systems that many job seekers will have trouble finding.

    And if your results are more like FedEx and less like UPS, then do another Google search, for 'Search Engine Optimization', don't worry, you will get tons of hits on that - I promise.




    How to contact the Professor? - DM me on Twitter

    I have been thinking long and hard about the best and most effective way to integrate Twitter into my next HR Technology Class.  In the last three class sessions, I have variously discussed Twitter, demonstrated Twitter, and even had an HR expert panel web conference that was organized completely on Twitter.

    Yet, I still feel like many students are slow to embrace Twitter and to leverage the vast pool of resources and contacts that can be found there.  I am such a huge proponent of the potential of Twitter for networking, for research, and for connecting to some of the best HR practitioners that I feel the need to 'force' students into the Twitterverse.

    So in the spirit of the old-timer professor that props up sales for the ancient textbook he wrote years back by making it a 'required' reading, I am going to make Twitter a 'required' aspect of my next class.

    In addition to crafting an assignment or two involving making connections with HR experts on Twitter, I am going to enact a new policy.

    I am going to instruct the students if they need to contact me, that they have to send me a DM (direct message) on Twitter. That way I ensure two things, one, that they have actually created an account on Twitter, and two, they have figured out the basics of using the service (at least enough to send me a DM).

    So, from this day forward students, if you need to contact me, do what plenty of HR experts, consultants, bloggers, and friends have already done, send me a DM.

    Steve on Twitter - SteveBoese







    Defending Technology

    For one reason or another, I have noticed a bit of a backlash lately against technology, specifically some bashing on the over emphasis on social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn for job seekers and recruiters, and of course some re-hashing of the old standard, 'It's not about the technology', when discussing business problems and the relative importance technology should play in forming strategy and making decisions.

    Just this week the the Clue Wagon blog ran a post that stated 'Getting a job on Twitter is 'complete crap', and it was pretty well received with many comments in agreement with the main idea of the post, that the technology is always secondary to the 'human' element.  In these arguments the technology is always positioned in a subservient, almost unimportant role. This ignores the clear fact that certain technologies (like Twitter) enable 'human' connections in powerful and new ways, and on a scale previously possible for only the traditional 'mainstream' media or the mega-celebrity. And at least one commenter clearly stated that indeed, he did 'get' a job on Twitter.

    But I don't really care to write a post defending Twitter. 

    Mainly, I want to defend technology, or more accurately the understanding of technology particularly for the HR professional. In the corporate HR function, technology is deeply woven into the very fabric of the day-to-day processes.  Think about what might happen in your organization if the HRIS was down for a day or two.  If the time and attendance package suddenly seized up, and employees could not clock in their time. If the online portal that employees access to look at their paystubs, paid time off balances, or benefits information was dark.

    Those are admittedly obvious examples of the critical nature of HR Technology in the organization.

    But there are less obvious examples where the lack of understanding of available technology solutions causes many HR departments to continue with inefficient processes, collaborate with each other and the rest of the organization primarily via e-mail, and get stuck waiting for corporate IT to come to their assistance time and time again.  And we all know where most HR project requests get prioritized on the IT project list.

    In my classes and in discussions with HR professionals from both large and small organizations I get questioned all the time about basic technology and tools that certainly would be of benefit to many, many HR departments. Basic solutions, like Twitter, Yammer, Wikis, Rypple, and SurveyMonkey.  I am absolutely convinced that if more HR professionals had at least a passing understanding of these tools, many problems could be solved, processes improved, and overall make many HR jobs both more fun and more valuable to the organization. Countless times, when I have explained tools like these, I am met with comments like' Wow, I did not know about that.  I can use a tool like that to do XYZ process'. The awareness of the technology really does drive the solution, not the other way around.

    I try, from my small platform in class, and in this blog to share as much as I can about Technology to the HR community, but it really will take the next generation of HR professionals to take their understanding of technology along with them as they assume their place in HR leadership.

    Sometimes, it really is about the technology.