The attached document (click the title text above!) is a copy of the newest form of pre-employment screening. The social media background check is an extensive review of a candidates online presence and activity. The point of the background check is to establish whether or not the candidate is involved in unethical or illegal activity, to pre-determine the candidate’s interest and motivation towards his chosen career and to decide how influencial the candidate is.
Why does any of this matter?
As of July 2011, the FTC has authorized companies to provide reports on an individual’s online actions by reviewing up to seven years worth of publicly available records. These records include everything from what you might say and post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to Craigslist ads and personal blog posts.
Focused on getting a job? What, no LinkedIn network? Ouch! And, relax, that’s pretty much the norm for people embarking on a job search. “Dig the well before you need it” is fantastic advice that very few people follow.
Let’s assume you’re in the “My LinkedIn network bulges with 25, count them, 25, contacts” group. If that’s the case, you probably want to grow your LinkedIn network, and you probably want to grow it fast.
Why? Because the people we know, and the people they know, help most job seekers find their next position.
We talked about how to grow a LinkedIn network ASAP on Twitter’s LinkedInChat a couple of weeks ago.
Lisa McAllister, a Boulder, Colorado medical device sales and marketing recruiter who tweets as @MyJobScope, recommended that you start by building a strong LinkedIn profile. That’s great counsel, and it’s beyond the scope of this post, so click here for more information on building your profile.
Profile done? Great. Now, let’s find you some more LinkedIn connections. How?
Emily Birchfield (@EmilyB_PHR), a Richmond, Virginia HR professional, suggested that you connect with your current professional contacts.
Katie Germain (@RockTheHunt), an Atlanta resume writer, suggested that you connect with colleagues from previous jobs.
Jeff Carroll (@JeffCarroll), a social media marketing professional from Bellevue, Washington, suggested connecting with former classmates.
I love these ideas. They represent the low hanging fruit of LinkedIn connections. Low hanging fruit? Yes, that’s the fruit you pick first when you’re hungry. Right?
What makes these potential connections low hanging fruit?
You should be able to easily find many of these people.
These people should be relevant to your job search. Jason Alba (@JasonAlba), a LinkedIn guru, stressed the importance of relevant connections. Why? Well, because people who do what you do, work in your industry, etc. might just know about opportunities relevant to your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
So, how do you find these people? For starters, go to LinkedIn’s automated connections page here. You will see that Linked in will help you add connections by scouring your email account, looking for people who have worked for your former employers, and looking for people with the same major who attended your college when you did.
Then, with your OK, LinkedIn will send them a message headed “Donna Svei wants to stay in touch on LinkedIn.” The body of the message will read, “Julie, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. – Donna Svei” Just like that, except LinkedIn will use your name, not mine, and your people’s names, not Julie, unless, of course, your people are named Julie.
Now, much digital energy has been expended over using LinkedIn’s standard invitations. If you don’t want to send someone the standard invitation, don’t click the box beside their name. Omit them entirely or send them a personalized message. That’s your decision.
How might you make that decision?
Consider how much time of your valuable time you want to put into this. Automated invitations are fast. That’s useful.
Automated invitations work pretty well. Taking inspiration from Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman), a UK recruiter, I tested my response rate on automated invitations. I sent out 40 of them 10 days ago. As of this morning, I’ve had 24 acceptances, a 60% acceptance rate.
Look at how many connections a person has. Do you really want to use your time writing a personal invite to someone who has two connections? Probably not. Maybe. Only you know if that is a good, or squanderous, use of your valuable time.
How long has it been since you’ve been in touch? My acceptance rate for people I’ve been out of touch with for over 10 years was 55%. My acceptance rate for people I’ve been in touch with within the last year was 72%.
How thick is your skin? You might get some unanticipated responses. I’ve shared a couple of those below.
Responses from one End of the Bell Curve
@TheAfter5Edge, a Philadelphia career blogger, noted a person who insists on having lunch before they’ll connect. Alrighty then. This person has either put on a few pounds or he has a very small network.
My favorite response from my Group of 40 was this: “I did get your LinkedIn invitation, but wanted to tell you that I am consciously keeping off all social networking sites as I do believe that they are the source of all evil in this world!” This from a friend I see almost every day! Confidentially, I was a little surprised to see that she’s even on LinkedIn. I sent the invitation anyway. Oh well.
I’m a fan of you using speed tools to build your network and of you using your judgment in using the speed tools. Ignoring the speed tools entirely will really slow you down. Slow down when it makes sense. Otherwise, have at it!
From Facebook to Twitter to blogs, many people share much of our lives online. But there can be a downside: over-sharing. The Internet has become the go-to resource to destroy someone’s life online, which in turn means their offline life gets turned upside down, too.
So how can you check, monitor and, if necessary, improve your online reputation?
Digital Lifestyle Expert Mario Armstrong shared his top tips on “The Early Show” to help you get in control of how you appear on the Internet.
Armstrong said it’s vital that people realize how important this really is going forward.
“My fear is a lot of people aren’t understanding this right now,” he said. “They don’t understand this is going to explode. Basically, your online expression is your first impression. You don’t get a chance anymore to say, ‘Hi, I’m Mario. Here’s what I’m about.’ The Web is it doing that for you.”
He continued, “You’re seeing people also put up information that may not be appropriate about you. You may be doing it yourself or others could be doing it. That could result in kids losing out on college scholarships. I know kids that have lost scholarship opportunities because they haven’t seen the information about them on the Web. Or people losing out on career promotions at their jobs. Or the other folks that are not understanding that this is a massive issue of people putting up what I call e-venge - taking revenge out on you on the Web because they can do so.”
“Early Show” co-anchor Chris Wragge noted there’s no one monitoring this. So how can you take control of your reputation?
You search your own name and start looking to see what’s out there, Armstrong said.
“Pay attention to what you’re doing in social media,” he added. “You have to be aware and vigilant about what you’re putting on Twitter and Facebook. Those are kind of the obvious things.”
But there are other sites that are cataloging your life. Armstrong said they gather information on everything about you, from your home value to your ethnicity and even where you live and your income.
He said these sites gather publicly accessible information and bring it together into a profile about you.
“It’s legal, it’s legit. It’s your utility bills. It’s your public records. Your private, personal property levels. All of the information in the varying data bases,” Armstrong said. “But they bring all of the information together into one screen. That’s why it’s so powerful. You’re talking about what private investigators used to take months, if not years to compile all of this information and you can do it in a matter of clicks.”
The sites enable people to track each other.
“If you’re going on a date, you don’t know much about the individual, you can use the site. My sister has done that,” Armstrong said. “You use the sites to see, you know, is he lying about where he is. Guys out there, be forewarned, the information is out there. I should say with some of the sites, we need to have a little bit of a warning, since it’s publicly accessible information from government databases and others, some may not be exact or precise and accurate.”
The dissemination of inaccurate information is now becoming an issue for many people.
Armstrong said it happens when people post information about you that you don’t know exists.
“They’re taking it out on the Web because they can hide (in) the veil of the Internet and they can be anonymous and post all types of information that can really damage your character and damage your opportunities,” he said.
To fight back, Armstrong recommends contacting the people-based search engines directly.
“If you scroll right down to the bottom, hit the privacy tab at the bottom, it will give you the steps to remove yourself from the sites, but the information is publicly accessible,” he explained. “If another site pops up, you have the same problem.”
If this becomes an issue for you, Armstrong said, you can take it a step further and hire someone to protect you online with a service, such as Reputation.com.
“(It’s a) phenomenal service that charges you $8 all the way up to $58 a month depending on the level of protection you need. They help you monitor the online snapshot, if you will. They can clean it up, they can help maintain it and make sure the content is coming from you, it’s your side of the story.”
If you’re looking to watch your reputation for free, Armstrong recommends these tips:
1. Set up Google alerts for your name. You’ll receive an e-mail any time your name appears on the web.
2. Build your brand. Buy your name as a website or buy it for your kids. Even if they’re not old enough to have an on-line presence yet, buy it so they’re secure and create a blog to customize your content.
3. Customize Facebook settings. Photos get you in trouble the most. You want to customize it so if you’re not tagged in photos, you don’t have to worry about inappropriate images showing up on your profile page.
4. Monitor search engine photos. You can type in your name to a search engine and click on images and can show you what images are associated with your name out on the internet. Make sure you’re uploading new paragraphs with your name in it. So Mario Armstrong’s wedding or Mario Armstrong’s graduation photo. That way the images that you want to appear, will.
Because companies and organizations are making more “just-in-time” hiring decisions, the summer hiring season looks brighter for new college graduates who are still looking for a job.
Instead of hiring for what they think they will need in the future, employers are hiring more for what they need right now, says Ladd Flock, Director of Career Services at Wake Forest University. That means two things for job-seekers: they need to keep in close touch with their college career centers this summer to be aware of new openings and they need to respond immediately when a job is posted.
More hiring is likely to take place outside the traditional fall and spring recruiting cycles, he adds. And, new college graduates need to be ready for opportunities that will come up in the summer months. Some employers, who made a few hires earlier in the year are coming back to campuses looking for additional job candidates as they get funding for additional positions.
Hiring is up 5.3 percent nationally for the Class of 2010, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and hiring is not over for the year. A steady flow of job listings keeps coming into Wake Forest’s Office of Career Services. “We’re still getting phone calls and emails from companies that have job postings right now,” Flock says.
Flock provides five tips for new college graduates job-hunting in the summer months:
1. Apply quickly. If your university provides an online service with updated job postings, check them every day. Many employers are giving job candidates only a few days to submit an application.
2. Update contact information with your university’s career services office. Make sure the career services staff can reach you with a job lead that matches up with your skills and interests.
3. Polish your resume and update details that may have changed since graduation.
4. Find out what services your university’s career office offers to graduates. Just because you have graduated does not mean they cannot help you.
5. Connect immediately with your university’s alumni clubs in the cities where you might like to work. Alumni are a wonderful resource for new graduates and often open doors to help a new graduate get an interview or a job.
Got Klout? In social media 2011 is turning out to be the Year of Klout.
The service that began in September, 2009 has rocketed to the front of the pack of tools that attempt to measure overall influence across social platforms.
So what is Klout? It takes social network data and measures the likelihood that each user’s connections will act upon anything that user shares on their networks and then calculates the influence of those connections and their ability to cause actions. In other words it tracks online influence and gives each user a ranking on a scale of 1 to 100.
Initially Klout measured its users’ Twitter and Facebook influence, but 2011 has seen some big changes:
Early 2011: Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome offer add-ons:This allows users of these two browsers to instantly see the Klout score of all the people in their Twitter stream.
May, 2011: Launched a new section on the Klout website highlighting Klout Perks. According to the company’s blog: “Klout Perks are exclusive offers or experiences, given as a result of your Klout. Perks allow brands to connect with influencers in their area of expertise.”
Jun 1: Introduced +K: This is a way, as Klout explains on its blog, to augment the data captured by Klout. The tool lets Klout users vouch for their peers’ influence in topics Klout has associated with each user.
June 14: Added Linkedin data to the influence score because with 100 million users of the professional network Klout said it believed adding Linkedin would make for a more accurate overall score.
July 12: Announced its data is in high demand: Klout says that it served more than two billion API calls in the month of June – or four times the demand of three months prior. This means large numbers of services are now seeing value in pulling Klout data.
July 14: Announces that Foursquare is now integrated into Klout scoring. According to a Mashable interview with Klout CEO Joe Fernandez adding Foursquare “is the start of an aggressive process from Klout to add more data sources and granularity to the Klout scores.”
And possibly in the near future?
Google+ integration: According to a July 20 post on Klout’s official blog the company has “already started work on ways to assess your influence on Google+”
More on Klout: • For an example of how Klout stirs passionate debate over the whole topic of measuring social media influence check out Mark Schaefer’sThe making of a social media slut blog post (especially the comments area).
Chivalry is dead. Maybe that’s not so great. At least the old rules of etiquette were clear-cut and made life easy. For example, in yesteryear when dining, men did the inviting, held doors, chairs and coats for women, tasted the wine, paid the bills and gave the tips. Women in turn were supposed to be pleasant companions. Clearly things have changed since then. Here are 10 proposals for new rules:
Women and men should be treated as equals. Still, a plurality of diners says that men are treated better than women. The explanation given is that men are more likely to pay the bill and tip. How dated can you be? She probably earns more than you.
2. PAYING FOR IT
Whoever initiates a dinner date pays. Long ago, women were handed menus with no prices on them. Nowadays, whoever did the inviting should be expected to pay for the meal, unless you’ve worked out another arrangement in advance.
3. ORDERING FOOD
Forget gender – people should order when ready. Sorry, Emily Post, but gone are the days when women were expected to go first. Since menus can be long and complex, regardless of your sex it’s a courtesy to order first and buy your tablemates a bit more time to decide.
4. HANDHELD VICES
Do not talk, text, tweet, e-mail or surf the web at table. It’s rude, say 63% of diners. A whopping 73% advise turning off ringers. If you have urgent business to deal with, step away from the table briefly to handle matters.
5. KIDS, KIDS, KIDS
It’s fine to bring children to dinner in most restaurants. But don’t do it at places where they’d elevate the decibel level or that are meant to be romantic. Zagat surveyors split over the age at which children should be allowed: 38% say from birth while the same percent argues five years or older. Tellingly, 61% believe restaurants should be able to ban children.
6. DRESSING DOWN OR UP
Dress casually. This is known as the “Los Angelization of dining.” Hardly any restaurants require ties and jackets anymore. Even the tiny minority that do won’t object if you put your jacket over the back of the chair. About the only rule left is “don’t be a slob.” Alternatively, you may want to “dress up” to impress your companion.
7. SERIOUS RESERVATIONS
Honor your restaurant reservations or cancel them on time. People should treat dining reservations as the important commitments they are. Holding an empty table for a no-show does real damage to a restaurant. If you make reservations and fail to cancel in advance, you’ll deservedly become persona non grata at the restaurant.
8. OK, NOW GET OUT
Don’t overstay your welcome at a busy restaurant. To clarify: Take your time and enjoy your food, wine, conversation and after-dinner treats. Nobody should ever feel rushed. But interestingly, 60% of Zagat surveyors nationally support restaurants setting time limits on tables during peak hours. Remember, next time you may be the one waiting in line.
9. LONG LIVE CHIVALRY
Men go through doors first, and then hold them open for women. We know, we know. This is the one rule of chivalry that will never die, even if it’s been updated (men used to allow women to go first). Bottom line: two people can’t go through a door at the same time. So to the women out there who find this notion antiquated, please, humor these poor men. Let them get the door – they’ll let you get the bill or walk on the outside once out on the street.
10. REMEMBER YOU’RE THE CUSTOMER.
And the customer is always right. Too often customers feel they are being judged by the wait staff. That’s exactly wrong. Short of berating the waiter, you should expect to receive hospitable, efficient service and good food at any restaurant. If that doesn’t happen, take your money elsewhere and tell the next 10 people that you meet.