8 Ways Job Candidates E-Sabotage Themselves

The Internet has become such an important part of the job search process. It is the most powerful tool any job seeker has for identifying career opportunities—even at the executive level for which I recruit. Job search platforms have made it easy to seek out and apply for opportunities. However, like any powerful tool, it needs to be used wisely. Otherwise you could end up hurting your chances for roles or even damaging your reputation in the workplace.

Here are eight ways candidates sabotage themselves with their online presence:

Having negative comments or unflattering images on social media. Your social media presence is your image to the public. Manage it wisely. It should be common sense, but people often fail to realize how much damage they can do to their professional life with the information they share online. The golden rule to follow here: Do not share anything online that you would not share at work. You never know who will forward your information to someone else or where the information you post might end up.

Clicking the “Apply” button without reading the details about a job. When LinkedIn or a job board sends you an e-mail with a list of jobs you may be interested in, they generate those lists based on key words in your profile or resume. That doesn’t necessarily mean these jobs match your qualifications. Hitting “Apply” without reading more than the title could create a negative impression on the other end. Look at each role and determine if you are really qualified or close to being qualified. Make sure it is something you really want to pursue. Multiple applications to the wrong role could hurt you when a role opens that you really want.

Reading e-mails quickly and not following the instructions. Employers and recruiters put details in our job postings or e-mails that are important. Often, a candidate will skim the e-mail and send us a question about something that was in the information presented. Or candidates will not follow instructions carefully for an interview and end up in the wrong place or delayed, or worse. Lack of attention to detail makes you look careless. Many hiring managers will reject you outright for that.

Applying too often to one entity. This makes you look desperate or unfocused on your true ambitions. It says, “I will take any job.” That is not the message you want to convey to potential employers. If an organization has multiple jobs open, apply for the one that best suits your background and career goals. If someone on the other end thinks you are qualified for another role, they will reach out to you or share your information with others in their organization.

Sending a resume to any recruiter you can find on the Internet. Lately, my colleagues and I are seeing an uptick in this activity. We get e-mails with a resume attached and a request from the candidate for help in identifying a new role. My specialty (and my firm’s focus) is health care and higher education. It is rare that I have a client willing to look for candidates outside its industry, and often the candidate will have skill sets that are not even close to the types of roles I fill. Submitting to multiple recruiters is a waste of your time and mine, and it also makes you look careless. Look for recruiters who specialize in the types of roles you are seeking in your field.

Arguing via e-mail with a recruiter or employer. At my firm, we try to send a note back to candidates we are not moving forward with in a search. Sometimes a candidate will e-mail me back with a request for more information about why he or she is not being considered. This is a reasonable question, and I usually take the time to give some of the specific reasons he or she did not meet an employer’s requirements. On occasion, I get an angry e-mail back stating that the requirements are invalid or not necessary. Ultimately, the requirements are set by organizations in good faith and for good reasons. Arguing about them will not help, and argumentative behavior does not help your image. It also could prevent you from consideration for other roles.

Not submitting a resume and asking the employer or recruiter to look at your LinkedIn profile. As comprehensive as some LinkedIn profiles are today, they are still not a substitute for a resume. Asking someone to refer to your LinkedIn profile says you are not serious about applying for the job.

Being careless about a Skype/Facetime/video interview. Interviewing is an important step in the process. It is important that you present yourself in a professional way. Just because you are interviewing from your home doesn’t mean you should be casual about your appearance or the setting. Dress appropriately. Make sure there are no glaring lights in the eyes of your interviewer. There should not be other people or pets in the room. Go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Look at what will be in the background behind you. Sit at a desk or table in a regular chair—not in a recliner. Look into the camera when you speak to the interviewer. If you have never or infrequently used Skype or Facetime before, make sure you test the technology before your interview and make sure you are properly set up to receive a call. Keep the camera stationary and don’t move it around. You want the interviewer to see a polished professional without any distractions.

The Internet gives us great tools to explore career opportunities. Use it to your best advantage.


AUTHOR: Diane Nicholas is a consultant with WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. WK Advisors specializes in filling innovative mid-level and other critical executive positions in health care, education, and the not-for-profit sector. 



Adobe Creates a Recruitment Process That Sticks

Adobe Systems Inc. is one of those rare Silicon Valley tech companies that has managed to stay relevant for more than 30 years. Millions of computer users enjoy Adobe products like Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Reader, helping the company grow to 14,000 employees and roughly $5 billion in revenue.

And the company is still evolving. As of 2013, all new versions of Adobe software have transitioned to the Creative Cloud, the company’s cloud-based subscription model, which freed its software engineers to implement more aggressive upgrade cycles and release new versions of products as soon as they become available.

Since then, the company has been growing rapidly, hiring roughly 1,000 new employees every quarter, said Jeff Vijungco, vice president of global talent. This rapid fire hiring has kept Vijungco on his toes, first as a head of talent acquisition, and now as the person in charge of making sure all new hires have what they need to thrive. “When you hire 4,000 people a year, ensuring their onboarding tees them up for success isn’t easy,” he said.

‘Stickiness of Hire’

Vijungco joined Adobe in 2008 as a recruiter and fully admits that his talent development credentials were pretty slim when he was offered the talent leadership role in 2013. “I led talent acquisition, not talent development,” he said. “Putting me in this role was a stretch.”

Adobe leadership disagreed. For years, Vijungco had established himself as a thorn in hiring managers’ sides because he was never willing to just start recruiting every time a manager requested a new hire.

First, they had to sit down with him and explain why they wanted to hire someone from the outside, whether there was a clear need, and why they couldn’t coach someone on their own team to fill the gap. “A lot of times, we found that it was a performance or coaching issue; if we hired someone new we would just be adding to the problem,” he said. If they insisted, Vijungco then challenged them on their hiring criteria.

Vijungco’s talent acquisition strategy is what made him attractive for the development role. When he took the position, one of his first goals was to integrate talent acquisition with talent development to create a seamless onboarding experience that set employees on a career development path from day one. He started by changing the way recruiters engage with new hires.

Recruiters are sales-oriented, and measure their success by things like time-to-fill a role,  but once the job is filled they quickly move on to the next one, Vijungco said. That created a gap between hiring and onboarding. To close it, Vijungco added a new performance metric for recruiters around “stickiness of hire.”

To ensure new hires stick around, recruiters are expected to stay with them through the first several months of employment to create a more seamless transition from candidate to productive employee. Recruiters now work directly with the human resources and talent development teams, involving them in weekly meetings to discuss short lists of candidates for key roles, what each person brings to the table, and where they may need development or coaching to fill gaps. “It gives them more context for the person once they are hired,” said Trisha Colton, senior director of executive talent search.

As soon as a candidate is selected, their recruiter works with HR and their hiring manager to create a career development plan that includes short- and long-term performance goals, development needs and a meeting plan to connect them with people they need to know to succeed in their jobs. The recruiter also shares their perspective on what the new hire will need to succeed based on the weeks they spent recruiting them.

Recruiters continue to follow up with their new hires, touching base in the first few days and then every few weeks to be sure they have what they need to do their jobs. “Our goal is to set them up for success in their first 90 days,” Colton said. “That’s the time frame when most new hires are still making up their mind about whether this is the right fit.”

The decision to make development part of the recruiters job helped to reinforce the learning culture at Adobe, and it lets new hires know they will have opportunities to grow from the start, said Liz Quinn, director of global talent development. “By day two, we are talking about their career plans and how we are going to help them succeed,” she said.

Further, Colton said it doesn’t require a lot of extra time from recruiters. It’s more about involving managers and HR in conversations that were once only held by the recruiting team.

Learning in the Cloud

Along with integrating recruiters into the talent development process, Vijungco also revamped the company’s approach to learning. Following Adobe’s strategic move to the cloud, he pulled much of the company’s leadership development content out of classrooms and put it online. Facilitators were on the road 120 days a year, teaching the company’s signature Leading@Adobe course to 20-30 managers at a time — if they all showed up. “We were hitting about 5 percent of our population. That was a problem,” Vijungco said.

Instead of implementing a lot of self-paced learning, the team used Adobe Connect — the company’s mobile Web conferencing software — to create a series of virtual labs and online classroom courses that employees could take from their offices. The content and the trainers were the same, but the reach and impact was much greater.

At first, the facilitators thought teaching in a virtual environment wouldn’t be that different from teaching a course online. Not true, said Justin Mass, director of digital learning. Facilitators had to learn how to adjust lighting, queue videos and manage chat rooms all while they are on the air. It required a significant behavior change.

To ease them into the new learning environment, Mass created a digital facilitator boot camp to ramp up their skills. The development team also provided employees with access to a library of online training modules on a variety of topics from lynda.com and Harvard ManageMentor, and business book summaries from getAbstract.

Usage Data Soars

Once the digital content was in place, the learning and development team worked with the information technology department to develop a reporting tool to track content usage rates and create dashboards to highlight results. They report usage rates to leadership, identify trends in content usage that might suggest skill gaps, and help managers understand what learning their people are accessing and who their biggest users are. “Moving to digital forced us to develop a real data strategy,” Mass said.

That data tracking strategy enabled Mass’ team to compile statistics that demonstrate impressive uptake in the new virtual content. In 2015, more than 8,000 employees completed the digital Leading@Adobe course — up from just 500 managers in 2013. More than 2,800 new hires attended the digital new hire orientation via Adobe Connect. The company has seen “stickiness” of new hires rise to almost 100 percent, up nearly 10 points from five years ago, Vijungco said.

The development team is now working with IT to link content usage data with other HR data so they can further parse results by geography, title, manager and other demographics. “It is just one more way the talent development role at Adobe has shifted,” Quinn said. “Now we act more like consultants to the business.”

For companies interested in following in Adobe’s path, Quinn said to “deconstruct so you can reconstruct. The opportunity to learn and grow is a promise we make to all our employees.” Integrating recruiting with development and moving learning is helping the company fulfill that promise on a much grander scale.

AUTHOR:  Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago.


The Best Talent Strategies are Marketing Strategies

I have been discussing the converging roles of marketing and HR in the past few posts. I believe that organizations will eventually find themselves with a critical role that is a hybrid of the CMO and CHRO.

But for now, I want to take a deeper look at why HR should continue to take strong cues from marketing as it adapts the talent strategy and process to the current and future workforce.

Specifically, I’m discussing why a progressive recruiting strategy might start looking more like the strategy marketing pros apply to the customer purchase funnel.

For many organizations a highly desirable talent target and the “ideal consumer persona” that marketing departments are already obsessed with engaging is actually the same person. Marketers are in the business of mastering the emotional consumer buying process of brand awareness, consideration, preference, purchase, loyalty and advocacy.

Replace the word ‘purchase’ with ‘apply’ and you can see where this is going. Logic tells me that HR must begin to think more like a marketer and visualize engaging and recruiting talent much like a content marketer visualizes the stages of the purchase funnel. That means crafting the appropriate type of content to complement each stage.

Oh, and marketers need to serve up nearly every piece of content through a mobile experience. I’ll address some technology trends at the end of this article that support that. First, let’s dissect a typical marketing funnel and apply it to the world of recruiting:

Awareness: For marketing, brand awareness is table stakes. If the brand has no presence where potential customers are, the marketing strategy is already a fail. To that end, marketers are having growing success integrating brand messaging into social/mobile platforms.

For example, the fact that 21 of the top 25 brands are using the ‘new’ IAB Rising Stars Ad Units [1] shows us that cutting edge brands are increasing engagement and interaction by delivering ads that leverage native mobile behavior (swiping, clicking) and are optimized for mobile consumption.

In the recruiting world, there is stiff competition for real world experience and desirable skills.

Therefore, much like a marketer, your strategy must include creating brand awareness where talent is not necessarily ‘shopping’ – yes – I’m talking about passive candidates. This likely begins on a platform where the talent is already engaged.

Consideration: As a culture, we are now programmed to do our research before we make purchase decisions. We also value the influence of others in our decision making process. In fact, 70% of Millennials are more excited about a decision they have made when their friends agree.[2] Marketers have embraced the new reality that consumers trust word of mouth over a traditional marketing message crafted by the brand.

By acknowledging this and applying technology appropriately (think shareable consumer ratings), they are finding ways to infuse brand interaction points with authentic stories generated by their existing customers and fans. Great visual examples abound in the fashion industry: jewelry brand Stella & Dot leverages the visual story telling of their stylists by streaming Instagram posts right on the product shopping page (stylists are the freelance workforce of the brand). In this case, what’s true in consumerism holds true in recruiting – authenticity matters.

Therefore, much like a marketer, your strategy should include serving up user generated content – think employment brand stories. To see this concept playing out today look at Zappos. Zappos has turned the recruiting process upside down by eliminating job postings all together and turning recruitment into a full blown marketing experience born from authentic employee ‘reviews’.

Preference: Brand preference happens when the consumer is given something valuable – when the brand delivers on its promise. Maybe it’s a solution to a problem, maybe its inspiration or aspiration, maybe it’s just a different perspective on something – whatever the ‘value’ is – that is when the magic begins to happen and a brand rises above the noise.

Therefore, much like a marketer, once you have the disposable attention of a potential candidate, it’s critical that your interaction provides VALUE. In the case of millennial talent, maybe it’s an explanation of your tuition reimbursement program or a look at how the company gives back to the community.

In the case of a Gen X parent, perhaps it’s a flexible workweek and remote office capability – Whatever “it” is, it’s incumbent upon you to serve up the information at the appropriate touch-point. (Side note: this is an interesting article in Fast Co. about the difference between brand preference and brand relevance.)

Purchase: When a consumer finally takes action (the big purchase!) the real work kicks off and marketing’s job really heats up. Delivering on the product/promise begins, and sets the tone for the next stages in the marketing funnel – customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

Ecommerce marketers are haunted by the abandoned cart – it’s a constant reminder that something in the process failed and caused the consumer to move on.

Much like a marketer, HR needs to make sure that the purchase process (which we are replacing with “application process”) echoes the desired brand experience, values the candidates time, and is worthy of completion. Using technology to make the process mobile, easy and dare I say enjoyable is critical as HR builds out the recruitment strategy that delivers on the next part of the funnel…

Loyalty & Advocacy. I’m combining these last two because this piece is focused on recruitment strategy, and we could iterate these into full blown discussions about onboarding and employee referral programs (maybe I will – let me know if you’re interested.) Brand Loyalty & Advocacy are the Holy Grail of marketing. I’m not talking about loyalty programs either – I’m talking about true loyalty – why a consumer will pay more, patiently wait for, or go without something that is not their preferred brand.

Marketers strive for this, and the really smart ones find a way to capitalize on it and reward it appropriately. Much like marketers, HR needs to tap into the most loyal talent within the organization and transform that energy into advocacy (think NPS scores). The ability to capture that energy and put it at the top of the entire employment brand ‘funnel’ is the cycle that will continue to build on the overall success of the strategy.

While I’ve focused on the strategy that marketers apply to the funnel, I also want to make mention that marketers are viewing all of this through a mobile enabled lens. Their strategy accounts for the way consumers behave on mobile devices and it would behoove HR to do that as well.

Consider the impact these mobile trends might have on your strategy:

1) Mobile ad spend soars past digital ad spend by 2017[4]. Design content for mobile consumption.
2) 80% of time on mobile is WITHIN Apps. HR must engage via social platforms, a ‘mobile career site’ isn’t enough.
3) Hyper local overtakes national ad spend by 2017[6] When location is a factor, ex. retail hiring, seize the opportunity with location aware engagement.

Further indications that recruitment will continue to look like marketing can be found in continued growth of HR technology platforms built to empower organizations with tools that look a lot like those inherent in inbound marketing platforms: SmashFly, Jobvite, Jibe, SmartRecruiter, KarmaHire, Recruitics are just a few of the companies worth following.

[2] US Chamber of Commerce: Millennial Generation Research Review: http://www.uschamberfoundation.org/millennial-generation-research-review

About the Author:

Jason Averbook is CEO of the Marcus Buckingham Company and recognized as one of the top thought leaders in the space of HR and workforce technology. Jason contributes to Inc., Businessweek, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CIO Magazine, HR Executive Online, Talent Management Magazine, NPR, SHRM, IHRIM and other well-known publications. He also is author of the new book HR From Now To Next: Reimagining the Workplace of Tomorrow.

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