Getting picked last is better than not getting picked at all.

An employee came in and asked us about why we picked her resume out of the bunch. After going back to school and changing careers, she was convinced that the long process was because there was something fishy going on in the background, and she wanted our take.

I remembered her application vividly. The resume had all the skills we were looking for, as well as internships and external activities that clearly supported what she was doing. And her cover letter was filled with enthusiasm, passion and sincere excitedness for the position. I could tell this was someone who not only wanted a job, but wanted a job with us – she had done her research and was even more interested after looking into us. And I was right – she’s been an awesome fit in the time she’s spent with us.

But it did make me think about the year and a half she spent NOT getting interviews. Was there foul play? Maybe. But without really knowing what was going on in the hiring managers’ minds, there’s no way of being sure of that conclusion, and no reason to assume the worst.

As a ballroom dancer, I used to assume the very same at my dance competitions – the judges weren’t picking me because there was something wrong with my dancing or because of politics, because they knew all the people they picked over me. Well, as it turns out, when I started to judge, I realized that sometimes you just can’t possibly notice everyone – you don’t have enough time or energy to see all of the great people out there. There are times when you, as the dancer do everything right, but you just don’t get seen, so you fall through the cracks, however good you may be.

In job hunting, it’s the same way. You may be an excellent fit and you may do everything perfectly, but sometimes, it’s not enough to get you noticed. There’s no guarantee that you’ll make it in front of the hiring manager’s eyes in time to get interviewed and subsequently hired.

So what does that mean for you? It means that you can’t leap to conclusions and lose the negative attitude. Keep applying and putting yourself out there. Eventually, you’ll get to the person who needs to see how truly awesome you are. You have to keep making those connections to better your chances of that happening.

You may not live your whole life in the spotlight, but when it comes down to it, you’ll find it. Don’t lose hope. We, as a company, are lucky that my employee was forced to wait as long as she did – we’re better off for having her. Your next employer will feel the same way about you.

DMV: Driving Me Crazy

I went to the DMV to convert my driver’s license to a DC one over the weekend. I arrived early, thinking I would be the only one who would be crazy enough to be somewhere inside at 9AM on a beautiful Saturday morning. In hindsight, that was incredibly stupid – of course there were a million other people there by the time I arrived.

Resigned to the frustration of having to wait in line, I pulled C349 from the person behind the counter. Looking up, the number C313 was flashing. I sat, thinking it would be fairly soon before I was called.

Needless to say, the next number picked was D047. And what followed was A243. Then A244. Then I181.

Not only was I stuck there, I was unable to leave for fear that I might miss it because I had no idea what the numbering system was. There was no semblance or order or continuity. Frankly, it was pure chaos – and I was unamused.

When you communicate things to your employees, your management team, your candidates or whomever, are you throwing random letters and numbers together and expecting the message to be clear? Or are you following a clear and logical sequence that everyone can understand?

Don’t be like the DMV. I want to know when my number is going to get called, not play a crazy game of bingo.

The 1-2-3 punch of social media, relationship building and recruiting

I talked last time about building relationships and how you can use them for applying for jobs and for recruiting techniques. You don’t really want to cold call a place unless you have no other means of getting in touch – if you have a personal connection, you’re way more likely to attract the attention of the employer or the candidate. It’s something that’s been tried and true – that strategy has been so effective that there’s reason to believe in its accuracy. 

But let’s add to that with this whole social media thing that’s come about and revolutionizing the way we communicate. Like DC Dietitian mentioned (thanks for your comments!), you can use these tools to accomplish the same goals in a very different fashion, whether that’s landing yourself an awesome job (and congrats on that Jen!) or finding a stellar candidate that you’d like to bring on.

First, from the perspective of the job seeker, there are a lot of new ways to connect with brands. Though you may not want them in your news feed all the time, Liking a corporate Facebook page does get you one step closer to the organization and puts you in a position to meet others. You can follow organizations on both Twitter and LinkedIn, the former giving you a quicker and more concise way to get their updates and chat with them (assuming they aren’t too big to respond to every single thing that comes their way and that they don’t just push out their own news) and the latter giving you insight into recent staff changes and potential information that may come up. And you can use Twitter and hashtags like #HireFriday or #JobAngels to further your goals. And that’s just the beginning.

As for the employer side, while the relationship building hasn’t changed, the way you communicate with potential recruits has significantly. On the larger scale, if you’re not regularly publishing content, your talent is going to miss you – you can’t expect to establish your brand with 1 Tweet a week or 1 Facebook page post per month. When you’re pushing two-way content out (i.e. not just stuff about you, because no one cares, thank you Chris Brogan), you’ll build an audience and engage with people who have an interest in building a community.

On a smaller scale, searching bios and posts on LinkedIn and Twitter give you access to the things you’re looking for – for example, I can search for “architect” and come up with thousands upon thousands who have used that term recently. You can participate in industry livetweets to meet people. I partake once in a month in #aiachat, a conversation for architecture industry folks put on by the American Institute of Architects, where we discuss things related to the practice. You can convey your brand and share insight about the way you do business, but more importantly, you get to know people more personally and share great ideas with them – it’s a win-win for everyone.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to leave some food for thought and not make this too long, but there’s so much more to be uncovered. What are your ideas about social media and recruiting, from either the jobseeker or employer perspective? What kinds of issues may come up with that? Any thoughts about the direction this is taking the application/recruiting process? Would love to hear from you!

The 1-2 punch of relationship building and recruiting

At our firm (and I imagine in organizations everywhere), we’ve been talking more and more about how to do our parts individually to contribute to the firm’s continued success – meaning business development. And as I sat through a marketing discussion, the theme was obvious – business development comes from making relationships. Very rarely do you blindly submit a proposal (as in, without any relationship with the potential client) and win the project. It just doesn’t happen that way. When you have a connection with the decision makers, you’re more likely to get the award. And the longer you’ve had that connection and the stronger that connection is, the likelihood increases.

I’ve got two lessons we can take from this, but because they hit at the point from two different perspectives, and in the interest of driving the point home, I’ll save the second one for a separate post.

Let’s look at this with an HR lens. As someone looking for a job, the more you know about the company and the better you know someone who works there, the greater your likelihood is of getting a job. If you can find a way to get in with a company and make that personal connection, your chances are infinitely better than someone who blindly applies. This isn’t rocket science – you’ve already heard this. But it’s the common sense stuff that too often gets lost.

But let’s not forget that this is a two-way street here. As an employer, if you’ve got a candidate you really like, the more you can personalize the relationship, the more likely it is that that potential hire will pick you when the chips are down. There are candidates that we have been talking with for months and even years in the hopes that we’ll have an opening and can entice them to come join us. It’s happened before with a hard to fill position. Many times, when stellar candidates are floating around in the market, they’re not just getting calls from one place – everyone wants them, and they know it. If you invest in that person in time and genuine interest, you have a greater chance of successfully convincing them to join your team. Take them to lunch, learn who they are, get them a chance to know you and you and your organization better. The best recruiters know this and have invested the time with the candidates they seek to place or hire. It’s just good sense.

And think about the potential when social media gets involved in the conversation! But that’s a preview for what’s to come…Any thoughts on how that would play in? I’d love to incorporate them in my next post!

Unplugged

Being obsessed with all things social media is fun. I don’t need to go into much detail – I’m writing this on a blog, after all. But one of the hardest things for a social media lover to do is to unplug and put some distance between technology and the rest of life.

Going on vacation to a place that you don’t necessarily have the Internet (travelling around in Guatemala in my case) makes it easier – it makes the decision for you. Yes, I did take a Blackberry so I was somewhat plugged into e-mail. I didn’t read most of them, but I checked in every now and then in case there was something I had to get to. I went onto Facebook and Twitter a few times to let people know I was still alive. I didn’t look at anything besides my @ replies – while I was trying to turn off, I didn’t want to be rude by ignoring people.

The thing of it is, as much emphasis we place on staying connected, it’s healthy to do a little detox and appreciate what’s going on in the real world away from the online community. Your network isn’t going to abandon you because you go away for a week or two or three – if you’re as obsessed as I am I, they knew you were going both 6 months and 6 seconds before you left, so they’re not surprised to see your absence. So take some time for yourself. Unplug and give yourself a break – you’ll appreciate it. Plus you’ll notice how refreshed and invigorated you are when you return. Sounds good, right?

How was everyone’s last two weeks? Did I miss anything while I was gone? Any fun gossip to share?

HR Carnival Jukebox

Well folks, I’m way behind on getting the word out about this one, but it’s better late than never. I volunteer to join a group of awesome HR Bloggers in spreading the knowledge within our community. While you’ve already read the entry that I contributed, if you’re interested in getting some more HR fun and hearing some new voices (though I’m sure you could never get bored of me), check out the latest edition of the Carnival of HR over on the Welcome to the Occupation blog.

It’s not just about HR – no no, it’s so much more than that. The author actually took the time to pair each entry with a killer song to categorize it. So you’ve got solid content and awesome music.

How could you not check it out?

Happy Anniversary!

In my state of obliviousness, I realized that I missed my one-year anniversary as a blogger.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. I owe a huge thanks to all of you that are out there reading. I imagine that the amount of people checking this out are between 0 and a million (and I think it’s safe to say it’s probably closer to the former), and it’sbeen nice to hear from some of you and engage with you about subjects I’ve written about, both online and off.

To commemorate the big day, I did a slight revamp of the page where you get to learn about me (and I’ve even included a picture, you lucky readers). I included a special section about claiming opinions as my own, something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while now since it’s a provision I helped to write in those social media guidelines (and hopefully this will appease one of my favorite critics). Better late than never, eh?

I’ll also celebrate by sharing with you one of the new songs by my favorite artist, Maroon 5. You can check out Misery here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g6g2mvItp4. It’s much happier than the title suggests, I promise.

Happy anniversary! To all of you out there, again, thank you for being there and for making this a great year. On to the next!