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    A funny reminder of what normals think about many of us

    I am pretty sure my favorite, offbeat website is Dinosaur Comics. I know I have blogged at least a couple of times over the years with a take on something interesting that the genius behind Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North has posted.  And his idea, a comic series where the pictures, panels, and layouts are exactly the same every day, but with the topics and dialog between the two characters changing, is really unique and remarkable.

    Recently, Dinosaur Comics took on the topic of HR and Recruiting's favorite sourcing and people research tool, LinkedIn. Take a look at what two comic dinosaurs think about LinkedIn, and then I (natch) will have a couple of comments after the comic.

    Really funny, right? But to paraphrase the great Joe Pesci in Goodfellas - how is it funny? And should we really care beyond laughing? A couple of quick thoughts:

    1. 'Normals', i.e. people who don't live and die all day long on LinkedIn, are not all that concerned with their 'personal brand', and don't actually feel like their job is the most important thing about them likely make up the majority of your workforce.

    2. Most of these people, I think, are not at all comfortable with the notion that the divide or the separation between 'work' and 'not working' is diminishing (or even disappearing). Lots and lots of solid and even outstanding performers are not thinking about work after 5PM. And they are not spending their weekends sending LinkedIn connection requests. They are, once again, 'normal.'

    3. HR and Recruiting people love to tell everyone who will listen that 'They need to be on LinkedIn' and offer endless tips and tricks so that people can 'Get the most out of their LinkedIn profile'. They do this for primarily self-serving reasons - they want the full range of people that they someday might be interested in contacting about job opportunities to be easily findable and contactable, (facilitated by tossing a few $$ to LinkedIn). I wish some honest recruiter would just post an article that says 'If you ever want to be considered for a job at my company, here is what I expect to see on your LinkedIn profile.' But instead we get dozens and dozens of pieces about 'optimization' tips. So boring.

    I don't mean to take shots at LinkedIn, I am a long-time user and have gotten some value out of that over the years. But I also think it has become too easy (and lazy) to have one and only one source for universal professional information. And one that normal people don't really understand as well.


    #HRHappyHour Tonight - 'The LinkedIn Show'

    Tonight at 8:00PM EST  the HR Happy Hour Show is back live with Episode 151 - 'The LinkedIn Show.'

    You can catch the show live starting at 8PM on the listener call-in line 646-378-1086, on the show page here, or via the widget player embedded below.

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio


    Our guest tonight will be industry analyst and thought leader John Sumser from HRexaminer.com.

    Recently, HRexaminer ran a series of pieces about LinkedIn, the current state of professional networking, the impact and influence of LinkedIn for the talent management community, and finally some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about LinkedIn's future.

    What you WON'T learn on the LinkedIn show are things like, 'How to stuff your LinkedIn profile with the right keywords' or 'How to use LinkedIn to find electricians in Toledo.'

    What we will talk about, and we invite everyone listening tonight to join in and share your thoughts, is LinkedIn's place in the overall professional/personal networking space, how LinkedIn's platform and walled garden are impacting the industry, and what potential threats and alternatives exist to LinkedIn.

    As an HR, Talent, and Recruiting pro, I am sure you have an opinion about LinkedIn as well, and tonight on the show, and on the Twitter backchannel (hashtag #HRHappyHour), we invite you to share your thoughts. 

    It should be a fun and interesting show and I hope you can join us!


    The Last HR Pro not on LinkedIn

    Last week I had a chance to present to a great group of about 100 or so HR, Talent, and Recruiting professionals at a local SHRM event in Virginia. I like getting to these kinds of local HR gatherings - they provide a much better view into the real concerns and challenges in the HR trenches, and usually are bereft of the collection of often jaded and a little too smug and ironically detached, 'professional' conference attendees. Sure, I get it, you are sick of hearing the 71st talk on 'Why Social Media is Important for HR', but in case you have not realized it, actually attending the same presentation dozens of times at events all over the country make you the one who is a little weird and out of the mainstream, not the HR pro at a 300-person company that is trying to figure out how, if at all, having a Twitter account will help her get her job done.

    But back to the point - at the session where I was talking to the group about changes and trends in workforce technologies, naturally the use of the public, or consumer social networking sites was brought up, I think in the expected context of how they are being used for various aspects of the talent acquisition function. I asked the attendees to share some examples of how they are incorporating these networks in their organizations, and a few folks shared what they were doing to share job openings and company information on Facebook and source candidates on LinkedIn. Nothing unusual here, a few attendees, (maybe 10% of the group), had some 'active', (not just trolling for candidates), activity on social networks, but what was interesting to me was as the conversation continued, one audience member told the group she had never created a personal LinkedIn profile. I pressed her as to why she was not on LinkedIn, and she promptly replied, 'I just don't have time for it. I'm busy'. I jokingly suggested she was the last HR pro not on LinkedIn.

    The group continued to discuss both social networking and other kinds of new technologies that are impacting the workplace and the practice of HR, but I could not get out of my head that in late 2012, there was still one smart, engaged, (she took the time to attend a professional development and networking event), and experienced HR/Talent pro that had not found her way to LinkedIn, if nothing else to set up a shell profile on the site. I even came back to her a couple of times later in the session when the conversation shifted to mobile technology, and how the usage patterns in consumer tech are effecting enterprise tech, I think my comment was 'You are all on your iPhones, updating your Facebook and checking out who has viewed your LinkedIn page, well except for you, (giving a mock-disgusted look towards the one LinkedIn holdout).'

    The point of all this? 

    I guess a couple of things stood out after thinking about it a little longer.  One, there still exists a pretty significant knowledge and value perception gap between most of the front line, working HR professionals and those of us that think about and use new technologies every day.  There are really still very few 'real' HR pros out there that are as obsessed with this stuff, as it just does not move the needle for them on their day-to-day. Two, while participation and use of these social technologies might level the playing field to some extent between larger and better-financed organizations and smaller ones, that effect is limited. A couple of audience members from very large organizations shared what they are doing with social and branded talent communities, a level of commitment and effort that simply can't be approached by smaller companies.

    Last, and maybe the only fascinating part of this entire post, is that after taking some good-natured ribbing from me, (and even the presenter that followed me), the HR pro who had been the one LinkedIn holdout approached me at the end of the day to let me know that she would be, after all, setting up a LinkedIn profile when she got home.

    Good for her!

    And bad for you, the 'savvy' HR pro who is all over social media and social networking - that is one more competitor for talent that you have to worry about.

    Have a Great Week!


    Watching LinkedIn Connections on a Sunday Night

    Do you have any remaining doubt that the always on, 24/7, connected at all time via iPhone or iPad life has almost completely taken over your professional network?

    Well if you do, then I recommend taking a look at your LinkedIn feed this Sunday night. I am drafting up this post at just after 10PM ET on Sunday, July 15th, and just a few moments ago I took a scan of my LinkedIn network update feed.

    Quick observation - my LinkedIn feed is littered with 'Person A is now connected to Person B' updates. More than one or two, probably about two dozen or so connections being made after 10PM on a Sunday night in the middle of the summer.

    Sunday night, which used to be the time you were crashed out from a big weekend of fun and family, maybe catching something on TV before turning in, maybe, for the younger crowd, trying to wring the last bit of fun out of the weekend before the work week hits in full force on Monday. But now, at least in part due to smart phone apps and iPads, Sunday nights are now a time where we can simultaneously be with the family sitting on the sofa watching whatever it is that is popular on TV, (I have on an NBA Summer League game on, so forgive me for not knowing what normal people are digging right now), and making sure the care and feeding of our networks doesn't need to stop for whatever passes for our real lives.

    There's nothing really novel in this observation I admit, the always-on social network is old news at this point. 

    But what is changing, at least a little, at least by implication from what you'll see on your LinkedIn feed late on a Sunday night, is the subtle expectation that if you really want to get ahead, or at least stay even with the pack, (the pack that even if they are your 'friends' on Facebook all will be quite happy to see you fail), is that you too better be grinding away on Sunday night yourself. 

    Your mortal enemies are out there at 10:31PM, making connections with people you're dying to meet.

    They're out there sending little private messages thanking each other for the connection and arranging phone calls, or worse, meetings over coffee or a beer.

    They're beating you at 10:35 on Sunday night, and what's worse is all you really want to do is turn on Bravo, have an ice cream and shut down your mind for a while.

    The game hasn't really changed. It just never seems to take a break, and the score keeps flashing in front of you as the LinkedIn connection updates scroll by.


    Picture Yourself Here

    Have you seen any of these kinds of targeted job ads on LinkedIn recently?

    I am not sure exactly when these kinds of personalized ads started popping up on the professional networking site, but over the weekend while I was scoping out who had viewed my profile, connecting with like minded HR and Technology professionals and contributing to industry discussion and dialogue, I noticed the ad to the right. Like a moth to a flame, or a bargain-hunting performance car shopper to Ashley Schaeffer Imports, I couldn't help but notice my own mug staring back out at me from LinkedIn's right margin.

    Picture Yourself with this New Job, the tag line reads, (interesting use of BOLD and capitalization), and with the addition of my profile picture to the company name, logo and position title, the ad attempts to make me feel somehow connected or even invested in not just the job, but of me having the job.

    Which are entirely two different things. 

    And since LinkedIn is a modern, social, Web 2.0 deal, Apply Now and Share Job buttons come along for the ride. Confession - I did not think to click either one when I first encountered the ad, and now I can't seem to convince LinkedIn to show it to me again. But let's assume, for now, both buttons work as expected, for the purposes of this post, it doesn't really matter. 

    What does matter, at least what I find interesting about this kind of targeted and personalized job ad, is the way it attempts to use information about me, (in this case the information is primarily where I live, as M&T Bank is a Northeast regional bank, with lots of presence in Western New York), my actual image from the site, and some suggestive copy to make me think more about inhabiting this role, rather than just simply clicking a link to a sterile, impersonal ad (that I was not searching for in the first place).

    What the ad immediately made me think of are the recruiting tactics that are often employed by major college athletic programs and coaches in their pursuit of targeted top High School athletes. Often these athletes have lots of options in their choice of college and team/coach to play for, and to help make their case the competing colleges frequently employ custom videos of imagined highlight packages or simulated stadium scoreboard displays or PA announcements that include the recruit's likeness or name. These videos, announcement, and other strategies are designed to make the high schooler think not about being a star Quarterback generally, but being a star Quarterback at that school specifically.  

    Trish McFarlane had an excellent post earlier in the week about recruiting needing to be an individual process, and I think these kinds of personalized, targeted ads, (while admittedly still kind of crude), will eventually serve as an important first step in what becomes the custom, individual process that Trish describes.  It is not hard to imagine the LinkedIn ad getting way more intelligent about what roles you could realistically picture yourself in. Using insight from career paths from similar profiles, career history of members you are connected with, and macro analysis of jobs, industries, or locations that are 'hot', pretty soon I'll bet LinkedIn can map out a realistic and reachable career path for anyone.

    Interesting times for sure. Meanwhile, have a look at a bit of a takeoff on the college recruiting tactics, courtesy of ESPN, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).