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    An Introduction to Twitter for the HR student


    My class hears me talk about Twitter every week.  'You need to be on Twitter', 'Guess who I met today on Twitter', 'I learned about this new software vendor from Twitter'.

    I am quite sure they have grasped some kind of notion that Twitter is relevant, interesting, maybe important, but they can't seem to grasp how it actually can be a valuable resource to the study and practice of HR. They also have likely concluded that I am a little obsessed with it.

    So how to frame the discussion of Twitter in terms that students (90% of whom will have never heard of Twitter before class).

    First things first - what the heck is Twitter anyway?

    From Wikipedia -

    Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

    Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

    OK, so you sign up for Twitter, post some status updates (140 characters or less), and decide which other Twitter user's updates you would like to see. Easy enough concept to grasp.  Everyone has sent text messages on their phones, (Twitter updates are more or less the same), and most students are on Facebook, so the idea of setting a 'status' that all your friends will see is also easily understood.

    So what happens to most students when they sign up?

    Well honestly, not a heck of a lot. They create an account, maybe post a quick update, possibly 'find' the person who convinced them to sign up and start following them, and then they wait for something interesting to start happening. And as you would expect, pretty much nothing interesting starts happening. The student fairly quickly loses interest, stops checking Twitter and posting updates, and concludes that the whole exercise was a waste of time.  Besides, everyone they are interested in connecting with are already their Facebook friends anyway.

    So what should the student do?

    Twitter, like every other social site, can be a really lonely place when you first arrive. You have no 'friends' no 'followers' and may not know exactly how to find anyone, much less the right people to 'follow'.  Unlike Facebook, the student's close and extended circle of friends and classmates are probably not on Twitter as yet, so making those initial connections can be a daunting proposition.

    The key or essential component of deriving value from Twitter almost completely relies on finding the 'right' people to start following.  Once the student starts to make these connections, and then proceeds to extend them by following some of their first connection's followers, the value proposition starts to become more apparent. In fact most folks on Twitter will 'reverse-follow' you out of politeness even if they don't know you.

    And in short order a student, (or anyone else for that matter), usually starts to contribute to the ongoing conversation, begins attracting followers or their own, and discovers even more interesting people to follow. Some say after about a month or 100 updates (Tweets), the student starts to 'get it'.  It becomes obvious the value of these conversations and connections, and many become firmly entrenched in the fabric of their Twitter community.

    A Starting Point

    So we have established the key to deriving value from Twitter is the forging of the initial set of connections to the 'right' people and organizations in your particular area of interest.  I am primarily concerned for my HR students and other HR practitioners.  Who should the HR student or practitioner consider 'following' once they join Twitter, (I know there are some other lists around on this topic, so I won't attempt to make an 'all-knowing' or 'all-encompassing' list, but rather a good starting point for the HR student).

    The Instructor

    Steve Boese - Me, if you are one of my students, you'd better follow me!

    The Bloggers

    Lisa Rosendahl - from the HR Manager blog

    The HR Maven - from the HR Maven blog

    lruettimann - from Punk Rock HR

    sharlyn_lauby - from HR Bartender

    hrwench - from the Hr Wench blog

    Hr_Minion - from the HR Minion blog

    jwilliamtincup - from the Human Capital Vendor space blog

    kris_dunn - from the HR Capitalist blog

    pdxmikek - from the Info Box blog

    penelopetrunk - from Brazen Careerist

    The Consultants

    jasonaverbook - Jason Averbook, CEO of Knowledge Infusion

    jcorsello - Jason Corsello, also from Knowledge Infusion and the Human Capitalist Blog

    joningham - Jon Ingham of the Strategic HCM blog

    The Vendors

    Success Factors - Performance Management solutions

    Salary.com - Compensation data and planning, recently expansding into Talent Management

    Smart Recruiters - Recruiting solutions for small and medium size businesses

    Human Capital Institute - great source of information and knowledge

    Workscape - suite of Talent Management solutions

    Sum Total Systems - learning management solutions

    Standout Jobs - Really cool and innovative approach to recruiting solutions

    Twitter Rockstars - these Twitterers have huge followings and post constantly

    jowyang - Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research

    chrisbrogan - Chris Brogan, Social Media Marketing thought leader

    ross- Ross Mayfield, Chairman and co-founder of Socialtext

    barackobama - I am pretty sure you know who he is

    ev - Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter

    For fun

    SantaClaus25 - keep up with the big man's preparation for the big day

    FakeMagnumPI - happenings with Magnum, Higgins and TC

    Steven Colbert - from Comedy Central

    NASA - goings on in space


    The above list of Twitterers is not meant to be exhaustive, complete, or even exactly what the HR student is looking for.  But it is a start.  Sign up for Twitter and start following some of the folks on this list and see what you think.  Give it a chance.  It's said that it takes a while to determine how you can best leverage Twitter for your own purposes.  I can say unequivocally that Twitter helps me every single day, and sometimes, I hope I actually help some of my Twitter friends.

    Please add any names of 'key' folks to follow to the comments, and happy Twittering!





    When you rely on technology...

    be sure the technology is reliable.

    Backstory - our hosted, ERP-based e-recruiting front-end and applicant tracking system has been rejecting all candidate document uploads for about four days now.

    That's right, no resumes, cover letters, recommendations, etc.  Worse still, the error message EVERY candidate sees is 'Your document could not be uploaded, it has a virus'. 

    Just great.  Not only are we turning away and turning off scores of candidates (although in this economy they may come back anyway), we are scaring the crap out of them that their own systems may be infected.

    When you rely so heavily on third-party, hosted or SaaS solutions, particularly for your public-facing applications, you better be confident in their reliability, the vendor or host's ability to respond quickly to a problem, and your own capability and actions plans to mitigate and deal with the fallout.

    Hold your vendor's to their obligations for uptime and issue resolution. When they fail, make sure they prove to you how they will ensure it won't happen again. If they can't prove to you they won't continue to let you down, then take your business somewhere else.

    How many good candidates are we losing right now?




    Technology and the University

    I recently came across this article titled 'Fluid Learning' - from the human network blog that makes some very interesting and provocative predictions about the future of higher education. This is a fairly long article, but definitely worth a read, I feel. Essentially, the author asserts with the increasing use and utility of social networking, crowdsourcing, and instantaneous collaboration and communication that the very concept of the University is under threat. In this new world, the University ceases to maintain the advantage in organization of resources and capacity, and rather like-minded students could and will band together in sort of a 'knowledge-seeker' marketplace to identify their needs and universities, or even individual instructors would bid to supply their services.

    I am not really sure of all that, but there are some specific recommendations in the article that I do happen to agree with. Namely, the importance of sharing and making available content from classes in as many forums as possible. Class lectures, materials, presentation slides, etc., not only should be made available on YouTube, SlideShare, iTunes etc, but you should also actively promote this, from the article 'You should trumpet their existence from the highest tower.'

    The argument is that the more widely something is shared, the more valuable it becomes. 'You extend your brand with every resource you share. You extend the knowledge of your institution throughout the Internet. Whatever you have – if it’s good enough – will bring people to your front door, first virtually, then physically' - Fluid Learning.

    I post any slides I use in class on SlideShare, once I figure out the best way, I want to get the class transcripts posted online somewhere (probably on some kind of 'open' wiki'), and I really want to get the classes recorded and have video posted one day. So I find myself in agreement with most of the author's assertions regarding openness. In fact just today, I corresponded with a recent HR graduate and directed her to my SlideShare space to learn a little bit more about my class, and told her about the class and the program via Twitter. She may or may not be interested in enrolling in our program, but it seems more likely to me that she would choose to enroll if 'real' content was more readily available on the internet.

    I think that schools and instructors would benefit greatly from more openness, more sharing, and more real connecting with both current and potential students in the new technology frontier.

    And to back up what I just said, here are the Week 1 and 2 presentation decks from my current class, enjoy!






    Hi Santa

    Hi Santa
    Originally uploaded by steveboese

    Time to make your HR Technology Christmas list?

    This year I am asking Santa for the following:

    1. More vendors willing to donate use of software for my HR Technology class, (thanks once more Halogen Software, SpectrumHR, and Standout Jobs).

    2. More students, faculty, colleagues on Twitter, and seeing the value of this platform - follow me - Sbjet

    3. Help to make this blog a better resource for students and others who care about HR and Technology.

    4. Some more converts in the internal organization to 'modern' tools and technologies to facilitate collaboration, sharing, and connecting.

    That is not too much to ask I think. 

    And really, I made this post to test the automatic feed of the Santa pic from Flickr over to the blog.  Absolutely awesome functionality.

    What is on your wish list for HR Technology?



    Corporate Recruiting Site Shootout

    This week in my HR Technology class we conducted the extremely subjective and un-scientific First Annual Corporate Recruiting Site shootout.

    The contestants were:

    Hyatt Hotels - Explore Hyatt

    ConAgra Foods - Careers

    Kraft - Jobs

    Neiman Marcus - Careers

    The class was split up into groups of three or four, and asked to find, then evaluate the company's job site on several criteria:

    1. Ease of use

    2. Ability to find information on company values and culture

    3. Presence of real employee testimonials

    4. Interactivity and 'connection'

    5. Overall experience

    Each group took about 20 minutes or so to find, then dive in to their assigned company to get a feel for the job site and make some observations.  Each group then presented their company's site to the class, highlighting the good and bad points they found.

    Some key observations:

    Three of the four sites presented the prospective candidate some difficulty in either finding open jobs, navigating various aspects of the site, or learning about the company culture.

    Two of the sites presented fairly serious errors, some 'Page not found' or some instability in the browser as a result of way too much Flash content trying to execute.

    One of the sites revealed a jarring distinction from a fairly well-done and slick 'corporate info' section, to a stark, ugly 'Applicant Tracking System' front page.  Honestly, if not for one tiny logo on the page, the 'job search' page could have been from any random company.

    Of the four corporate sites reviewed, ConAgra Foods was the clear winner.  The navigation was clean, the information was easily found, there was content in all the key areas, job families, employee testimonials, etc.  In addition, other aspects of the ConAgra site were informative and entertaining, likely inceasing the time spent by prospects with the site.

    The job seach process was simple and error free.

    Great job ConAgra Foods.

    Perhaps companies should do more 'real user' testing of their corporate job sites, I would imagine the folks from Hyatt, Neiman Marcus, and Kraft may be surprised to find out what real candidates may think.