Getting The Job (Part 1)

AppleMark

Until last year I held a wonderful distinction of being offered every position in which I’d ever received the opportunity to interview.  They say pride comes before a fall and so it was that my 21 year winning streak came to an unceremonious end that saw me in a room filled with people where the head of the organization actually fell asleep more than once during my interview.

Even now, the entire experience leaves me chuckling.  My energy and enthusiasm usually has the ability to at least engage my audience, but in that moment I was humbled by an elderly gentlemen who had simply had his fill of interviews. Yet, even before I walked into that room I had broken a number of my own “rules of engagement” for job competition.  Rules that I have since shared with a number of graduating students who were getting no where in their job search and in every case they have been able to land positions.

We are living in one of the most difficult times for graduate students. It’s particularly bad when the media has actually coined the term “Generation Jobless“.  That means the competition is FIERCE and unfortunately most post-secondary institutions are not spending time teaching their students on how to compete  which I personally think is a huge disservice.

With that in mind I thought I’d share my own rules from motivation to presentation that has provided me success through the years. If you’re a student (or even if you’re not) perhaps this will provide you some insight.

Rule #1 – Never (and I mean NEVER) apply for a position you are not absolutely enthusiastic about!
If you only take this one piece of advice this would be the most important thing.  The truth is that no matter how hard you try you cannot fake real enthusiasm.  I get it, life is tough, you just need a job – any job – and so you are willing to “settle”.  Here’s the thing, you are wasting the employers time and your time as well.  The employer will have a plethora of candidates and while you walk in with your fake enthusiasm there will be a candidate who truly believes this is their “dream” job.

Their hunger for that position means they are going to do their homework and they won’t be able to restrain their enthusiasm at wanting to work for that employer.  In other words – you’re a goner against that candidate.

This was the rule I broke when I went for that interview that I really didn’t want.  I rationalized my reasons for seeing  the interview through including my deep desire to not offend certain important people who asked me to apply for the position – but deep down I knew that the position would be the equivalent of watching paint dry on a wall.   When I thought about what it would feel like working at that role I actually groaned inwardly.

As you look at positions and read the descriptions, pay attention to how you feel when you think about doing that role. Even if the role is something totally different than what you saw yourself doing – if you feel that enthusiasm and excitement about chasing it you’re in the right direction.

Rule #2 – Don’t just do your homework on your employer – social stalk your potential new employer.
First of all, if you have ever showed up to an interview and actually asked the employer “what do you do?” then you’re beyond reach. (Note: Interviewing candidates over the years this has happened more than once. Every time it blows my mind.)  That aside, if you’ve felt pretty good that you’ve read your employers website and even some recent news – know this – it is NOT enough.  Every candidate serious about the position has done this.

This is a competition and you need to put on your detective hat and get to work.  You need to pull out a nugget that none of the other candidates have – and the best way to do that is to hit social media. Get on LinkedIn and read the profiles of all their employees, jump on Facebook and see what they post on their company page, head over Twitter and follow them to learn about what they think is important.

What you are trying to do is understand their culture and how you fit in and you need to do this PRIOR to preparing your cover letter and resume so that you know how to position yourself.

Music to an employer’s ears?

“One of the things I really think your company gets right is your interaction with customers on Facebook. I like how (funny, direct, professional) your responses are and it made me realize that I share the same approach to customer engagement as your company.”

From the employer’s viewpoint you just jumped ahead of the competition.  Not only have you jump started you’re own “employee orientation” but you cared enough to narrow in on the details of our work.  Impressive.  You just passed to the next round of interviews.

In Part 2 of this series I will take you through the following tips:

* Preparing your cover letter & resume.
* The rules of the interview. The 3 things to do (that you’re probably not) that will guarantee you progress in the competition.
* Understanding what the “post-interview” is and how to use it to your advantage.

Why I no longer follow companies on Twitter.

by Karolyn Hart

My how the times have changed.  Less than two short years ago I was espousing the virtues of creating corporate twitter accounts and even advising companies on how to get followers.  I’m not going to be humble on this one – I am REALLY good at figuring out that sweet spot for companies that will get twitter followers to not only follow them, but truly engage.  Every customer and client I’ve had was unique so there was always that customization, tweaking, and it worked.  It still does as I am doing it again with my current workplace.  The secret? It’s nothing you haven’t heard before: you need to be real, don’t spam your followers, provide something of value, make it engaging…. yadda, yadda, yadda.

So, for some of those companies I’ve helped… to hear that I just went through my own personal Twitter and STOPPED following all corporations, organizations, agencies, etc. Well, that makes me a hypocrite…or does it?

The change started for me when Twitter created “Lists”.  Here’s a secret tip: you don’t have to be following a corporation to get updates from them.  Actually, you can create a customized list called “InterestingCompanies”, add them to it and check in on your list whenever you wish.

So what’s the big deal? Why bother unfollowing companies?

Well, for me it’s a matter of principle.  Once upon a time Twitter was a place unscarred by bots, companies, spammers, and the like.  It was made up of real honest-to-goodness people. So for me, this is a way to try and get back some of that magic.

Now here’s an interesting phenomenon.  When I stopped following all those companies nothing happened. I mean NOTHING.  Which is a huge loss for each of these companies.  This was an opportunity to send me a quick shout out saying “Please don’t go” with an awesome link to the classic 1992 hit by KWS. That would have made me laugh and maybe (for a moment) made me reconsider. (For those of you who don’t know this there are a plethora of tools you can use to tell you when your followers leave and send them an automatic shout out.)

At the end of the day, the name of the game “engagement”. Truthfully, there are no hard feelings here because my Twitter engagements are now with individuals and already I am seeing the benefits. Companies using Twitter should take note – I’d much rather follow your actual employee that works for you than a corporate account.

That said, if you are a corporate company and you want to follow me, please feel free to @karolynhart 🙂

The Trouble with Tribbles and Klout

by Karolyn Hart

There is this fantastic scene in the class Star Trek with Captain Kirk mistakenly opens a hatch on the Enterprise and suddenly finds himself immersed in Tribbles. Troublesome fuzzy creatures they are and there appears to be no end to them. Oh heck, for the fun of it let’s ALL watch the scene. 

Classic!  If you are new to social media (or even if you are not) the creation of algorithm scoring tools popping up everywhere may make you feel a bit like poor old Captain Kirk.  Go on, I dare you, go and google “Measure social media success” and just see how many things come up. It’s the Tribble problem all over again.

A history lesson for you kids. 
Back in the  day there was thing called “Tweet Grader” when it arrived on scene I remember the Twitter world being all abuzz about this new tool.  Now, it’s basically used to look at how long someone has been on Twitter which is very useful in determining if the account is a bot or a real person,  but for the most part people mastered  the tool and along with that you rarely hear about it.  Case in point, my score is 100. (I still love you Tweet Grader, and not just because you think I’m perfect!)

K is for Kool!
Like most things in social media, there is always another new tool coming out to help measure your social media savviness.  After all, since 98% of people on social media are self-professing “social media experts” (I can’t help but roll my eyes here) then surely there must be a way to prove they have…oh what’s the word? Clout! But wait, let’s spell it with a “K” to make it kool!

I admit that I am only a recent Klout user.  In fact, it was just a couple of weeks ago at a networking event where someone paid me a social  media compliment stating, “Your Klout score must be like 100!” Crap. Now I have to know.  After all, I’m 100 on Tweet Grader.

Starting from Scratch
So I signed up, but my first run on this algorithm tool was miserable.  I scored a miserable 10.  Wait. What? How is that low of a score even possible?  One of the biggest challenges I have from my IT background when it comes to computers is that I know that I can fix everything, eventually.  After fiddling around for a few moments and not having the patience to go through all the settings, I did what anyone with QA testing experience does.  I deleted my account and started over.

This time it gave me a respectful 55 and I am now up to 58 , but it’s not entirely accurate.  My twitter (which is the basis of most of my work) is not properly connected so I am hoping when it does that I will pop-up to a higher number.

Kloutterific?
So what do I think of Klout? Well according to a Forbes article your Klout score is becoming incredibly important, and could even limit your chances of getting a job.  I will give Klout this, it’s far more sophisticated than most of the other tools that have ever come out.  For that, I give it the thumbs up.

BUT, and there is a but, I have a huge problem with anyone putting all their stock into one algorithm.  The fact is that Klout doesn’t score true influence.  It can’t possibly measure the fact that last week I posted a funny Facebook message about a real problem and had three phone calls made to me on it. Might I add they were from some very influential people who finding an excuse (any excuse) to have five minutes of their day with them is HUGE for me.

Here’s the other challenge, it only focuses in on the online world.  Does it REALLY show a person’s true influence? The answer is no.  If this were true then according to Klout (as of today August 20, 2012) Justin Bieber ranks higher than Bill Gates with a Klout score of 92 vs 90.  The Queen of England trails at 80, and the Pope only has an influence of 62.

No offense to the Biebs, but I am pretty sure that the Queen of England and the Pope hold far more influence in any realm.  That said, now that I know my Klout score I will keep on working the algorithm to improve my score and in the meantime, when people ask me what my Klout score is, I’m going to answer that I’m only 4 points away from matching the Pope.

Why Ashton Kutcher Ruined Twitter!

by Karolyn Hart

It was 2008 and the internet was abuzz with something called “Twitter”.  Wait, let me reiterate.  The internet “nerd world” was abuzz with Twitter.  For most of you, this thing called Twitter wasn’t really on your radar.  Here in Canada, Facebook had grown in popularity and I had joined in March of 2007.  Let me put that in perspective for all those who just turned 20 this year.  You were 15, you couldn’t even drive.  Still, by the time 2008 came around Facebook was still great, but those of us making a living in technology, or in my case at the time, technology and marketing were looking for something different.

In 2007, I had successfully convinced a financial company to take a risk and do a “social media campaign” on something called MySpace.  You have to understand – this was HUGE!  For you 20 year olds, a bit of a history lesson.  Back in 2006 and 2007 MySpace equalled molesters.  That’s why ,when you were 15, your parents were freaking out about you being on “social media”.  It sounds crazy, but that was the reality. So after convincing a very conservative financial board to let us do this, it was successful. (No surprise) Our small company got a nice small write up in The Globe & Mail on it for the customer and everyone was happy.

But to say that people got “social media” back then would be an understatement. (I still have executives in my life who don’t get it now, but I digress.)  Shortly after that we did a similar MySpace campaign for a government organization and were forced to shut it down after a MySpace user posted a picture of themselves with a gun tatoo. (Yes, that really happened.)

So it was in the midst of this environment that I was hungry to find the “next thing”.  The place that wouldn’t be so controversial.  That wasn’t just about connecting with people from highschool, college, or university (like Facebook) but something that could really be useful.

Enter Twitter.

Oh, glorious day that evening in November when I first signed up.  I spent 4 hours that night doing everything that people told me to do to make Twitter effective.  Oh wait, did I mention, the people who were directing me were my fellow “tweeters”?  There were thousands of us, and so many fellow technologists. I mean we are talking about network administrating, sql coding, back-office integrating, project managing, ITers.

During what I call the following year-long honeymoon I fell in love with Twitter.  I started a new job and was tasked with finding a way into top execs. My answer? Twitter.  When travelling to meet those top execs and needing a recommendation for a great local restaurant? Twitter. When wanting to know what the “latest buzz” on anything, but wanting it from people with a real pulse? Twitter.

Yes, it was amazing.  At this point, corporations just didn’t get “it” and you know what? None of us cared.  It was a true social network made up of the people who did.  Ya, we were a little on the geeky side and made fun of the jocks that thought a hashtag was some sort of drug paraphenalia. #lifewasgood

Enter Ashton.

2009-01-16 02:40:06 Memorize that date and time, because that was when my Twitterverse as I knew it died. Mr. Kutcher had arrived.

Now at the time, it was exciting.  The “cool kid” at school had just stopped into the chess club and announced we were all “all right”.  None of us could have imagined the lasting damage this would cause.

With all due respect, let’s talk about Ashton.  He’s a nerd’s worst nightmare.  He’s a model, turned actor, turned entrepreneur – and now he was turning tech.  Really?!?! Let’s just say it now, he may as well turn “superhero” and get it over with.

The thing is, the one thing we “nerds” owned was our space.  At this time our heros were Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates – who got our hearts pulsing because of their intellect not because of their looks.

So we welcomed Mr. Kutcher into our world, indeed, he was embraced.  Within months of his arrival 1,000,000 fans of his followed and along with that historic landmark moment – the entire attention of the advertising universe.

Crap.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but do this. Imagine twitter with no corporate twitter  accounts, no heavy amounts of x-rated spammers, and really no spam. Oh hindsight is 20/20, but really there was no turning back.  The times they keep a changin’ (that’s an old song for you 15 yr olds) and that train was leaving.

Interestingly, I went out to view Mr. Kutcher’s rankings while writing this article and they were way down.  Lady Gaga owns the top spot now and according to the news articles it appears @aplusk has fallen out of love with Twitter.  Wait. What? Ugh.

That’s the thing about cool kids.  They are always on to the next trend.  Don’t get me wrong, we tech-nerds are just as addicted.  Even now, I’m scouring the web to find the next social scene that is uninhibited by corporations.

But twitter and me? We’re here to stay for a least a while longer.  I have made some changes as of recent.  Deliberately doing something as brash as unfollowing every corporation I currently follow. (More on the rationale on this social experiment to come.)

Ya, Mr. Kutcher did change our world and while I didn’t love the changes it was a reminder that this is the way the world turns.  Besides, on behalf of Mr. Dorsey I am grateful for Ashton.  The one thing we all kept asking during that honeymoon phase was “How are the Twitter guys going to make real money.”

It ends up the answer came from a superhero. 🙂

Welcome to Cracked Glass!

Let’s talk straight.  46.2% of the labour force in Canada is made up of women, but we only hold 32% of managerial roles, 14% of senior management roles, and 6.7% of the highest corporate titles – CEO, CFO, or COO.  I’m lucky, I’m a VP and make up part of that 14%. Truthfully, in my career which has been predominantly male-dominated careers I never really cared about the lack of females around me.  I mean, I get IT…no really, working in Information Technology meant that often I was the only female in the room.  Personally, when I was younger, I felt like it was a feather in my cap.  Ya I ran with the guys, and they respected me because I knew my stuff.

However, age has a way of providing you with insight.  Now I realize that being the lone female in an industry is an alarming trend, and truthfully, I feel it places organizations at a disadvantage.  Consider the Automotive industry in which I found myself.  A few years ago, the numbers come out that everything has changed and the major decision makers in the purchase of a vehicle are now women, not men.  Yet, the majority of decision makers producing these products at the Automotive OEM’s are men.  It makes no sense.  Can you imagine if Revlon or Maybelline had no female executives weighing in?

Thus the creation of Cracked Glass, where I will be taking a hard close look at issues challenge women in today’s world. My goal? To enlighten myself on what I can be doing to help my fellow younger sisters so that they too can experience the thrill of cracking the glass!