Posts in The Branding of Us
Friday Facts-Personal Branding

Like many regular working people, I’ve always wanted to have a good reputation at work and in my community and profession. But until I launched my own company, it didn’t really occur to me that I needed to think about what my personal brand is saying about me. In this age of social media and easy and constant flow of information, not thinking about my personal brand really isn’t an option anymore.

But this is me we’re talking about. I’m 0% interested in being perceived as something I’m not. Will my personal brand be something positive, or just a flawed, real thing, like I am? How do people deal with this juxtaposition between putting your best foot forward all the time, and being an actual genuine person?

First of all, what do I need to consider when building a personal brand? Here are some articles I read on

Three Simple Ways to Make your Personal Brand Stand Out : 1) a professional photo, 2) be discoverable and 3) unique business cards. I think I already had those things covered before I started thinking about personal branding. That can’t be all there is to it, right?

Okay, I’ll try this one-Five Steps to Build your Personal Brand. Five’s got to be better than three simple ways.

  • Understanding and being your authentic self; yes. That resonates (see above).
  • Speaking engagements-okay, that takes a little more work, but I get it. I’ve done lots of presenting and training as part of my work, so I just need to stretch a little to come up with a compelling talk that really provides value and that people might want to hear.
  • Write thought leadership articles and participate in interviews? I guess you could call this little blog “writing” but not sure it passes for “thought leadership.” And the only times I’ve been interviewed have been accidental-I was in the right place at the right time. Guess I’ve got some work to do here.
  • Build your online presence. Yup. I think I get that, but I definitely have a healthy respect for how much work is involved.
  • Remain a student of your industry. Got it. I am super interested in what’s going on in HR-I couldn’t hardly help but consume news, information and analysis about it.

And finally, Nine Reasons your Personal Brand isn’t Resonating. These mostly have to do with you being a bad listener, putting out crappy content, not putting it in the right places and not helping consumers of your content make a connection. Definitely good tips.

So, after I reading all of these articles and seeing, frankly, pretty vanilla advice that didn’t really surprise me, I got out of my HR head and let my mind wander to the first name that springs up when I think of personal branding with no BS. For me, it’s Gary Vaynerchuk. @GaryVee knows how to tell you the straight story with a minimum of words (some NSFW), and convey both the commitment and the opportunity involved in personal branding.

Gary has a style that appeals to me. He just puts it out there, doesn’t sugarcoat the work it takes to be successful, and gives you the tools to try it for yourself. There’s no biz buzzword garbage, just straight advice. I like it! Because I'm a marketing noob, I went for his Udemy class on building a personal brand, because I want it all in one place. But if you’re not ready to pull the trigger, just follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to get the advice he gives away all the time.

There are also great resources out there for specific branding challenges. One example is that Lida Citroen at Lida360 specializes in personal branding for transitioning veterans, although her advice works great for the rest of us too. If you want more hands-on help, Lida and her crew can definitely help you find success.

Feel free to tell me what you think of my personal brand. It’s a work in progress.

Visit Solve HR, Inc.

Photo credit: Anne Worner via / CC BY-SA

Your Applicant Tracking System Doesn't Work

I hate to break it to you, but that ATS you spent so much money on purchasing and time on implementing is a huge barrier to job seekers wanting to connect with your company and be considered for open jobs. As Liz Ryan of HumanWorkplace describes it, the ATS is a giant black hole into which hopeful job seekers pitch their carefully crafted bespoke resumes and hours of their data entry time, only to be rewarded with an auto-response email that tells them they will never hear from the company again if the faceless machine of the ATS doesn’t deem them a suitable applicant.

Here are some ways you are using your ATS to alienate job seekers and turn people off from your brand:

  1. Letting them hurl their qualifications into a virtual trash can, never to be seen again, without any personal response from you.
  2. Actively discouraging any personal contact information for an actual staff member from being made available to job seekers. They should be happy with the auto-message that says "we have so many wonderful applicants we couldn't possibly respond to all of them, including you." This "don't call us, we'll call you" message has become the standard, but that doesn't make it an effective way to recruit.
  3. Using “evergreen listings” (listings that remain open all the time for frequently filled positions) or leaving job postings open for an excessively long period, hoping that simple passage of time will magically bring you the perfect candidate (it won’t do that-it will just discourage job seekers from thinking you really have an opening or intend to fill it during this century, and give you 50,000 resumes to review).
  4. Thinking you’re letting someone down easy by just not responding. You aren’t-you’re just frustrating the job seeker and giving him a bad impression of your company. Hiding behind a faceless machine to make it seem like you are not really making a decision to reject someone is a weenie move. Just say, "no thanks, and we wish you the best." It's not that complicated.
  5. Psst...your ATS doesn't work. It crashes in the middle of the 45-minute unpaid data entry project you are making job seekers complete in order to streamline your hiring process. The best talent has one answer: "abandon ship!"
  6. Asking for every piece of information you could possibly need in order to consider and reject a job seeker. Check out your completion rates-the people with the most self-respect are the ones who fail to submit your application, not the ones who don't have enough gumption and a long enough attention span to make it to the end. If you want a candidate pool filled with people desperate enough to complete a long data entry project with all of their personal information, before they have any idea whether you are interested in hiring them, then you are getting the right people with this technique!

No one denies that the volume of applications received for open positions at a large employer cries out for some kind of assistance, whether electronic or human. Here are a few things employers could do to help the situation:

  1. Create and implement an actual sourcing strategy. Simply posting job openings on your company’s careers website and on Indeed or LinkedIn without any plan doesn’t count. It just ratchets up the number of potentially unsuitable applications you will need to wade through.
  2. Maintain a pipeline. Market the positions and your company, to the right-fit job seekers you need to hire, all the time, not just when all of a sudden your hiring manager needs to fill an open position “yesterday.”
  3. Don’t waste the candidates you’ve vetted but who weren’t a perfect fit for another role. Keep in touch with the candidate who was “second choice” for a role, but would be a perfect fit for your company. Keep an eye on positions that will open soon, and encourage her to apply.
  4. Post for appropriate time periods, in the right places, with effective marketing and sourcing (see above). Do you know that your entry-level engineering hires tend to be made in the spring, in advance of a busy summer project season? Then you can be sourcing through professional groups and targeted college programs in the fall. No relo offered? Find the pockets of people in the right geographic areas and network with them so when positions open up, all you need to do is put the word out and you will have the best quality candidates in the area applying. And continuously let potential hires with the qualifications you need and in the places you need them know who you are and what you have to offer.
  5. No evergreen postings, for heaven’s sake! At least take them down and re-post every month or so. They just sit out there like week-old bread getting moldy. Job seekers don't believe they're real and if they do apply and you're not hiring today, they feel cheated if they are qualified and are still rejected (without an explanation, of course).
  6. Just check out your ATS from the user side once in a while, to make sure it's actually working. And don't ask for job seekers to give you their mother's maiden name when they apply. If you actually think they could be a fit, maybe you could maybe ask for that later. Or not.
  7. Communicate with job seekers and candidates in a human way-they are customers of your company and referral sources for other, better fit job seekers. Practice courtesy, courtesy, courtesy. And friendliness. And warmth. All of these are in order, mostly because it's such a great opportunity to shine, since it’s not difficult to stand out from the crowd by treating job seekers with respect and scoring a win for your brand.

People like me who work in the HR Compliance space understand that the ATS can be a necessary evil, especially for its ability to document the hiring process and ensure that every job seeker is treated consistently. But if you can make your ATS work better for your organization, while keeping it from alienating the job seekers who just want to do great work for you, why wouldn’t you? Happy hiring!

Visit Solve HR, Inc.

Photo credit: Jeff Dray via / CC BY-SA

5 Ways People are Behaving Badly on Social Media for Business

social media 2 I don’t get annoyed when folks make faux pas on social media. I make mistakes all the time, and I think we all could do more to be patient with one another so we can all learn together. But if we’re honest, I think we can all come up with some really counter-productive behaviors on social media that don’t reflect well on our reputations and that are just plain ineffective.

Here are the top five in my mind:

  1. The backhanded reference to physical attractiveness on LinkedIn: You know those posts, where (usually) a woman posts an attractive photo and admonishes men to stop propositioning her on LinkedIn, or posts two profile photos and invites people to comment on which one they like better? This is effective for post-views, but your reputation will take a hit. It may be that these posts are harmless efforts to connect on a more personal level, or to push past the usual boundaries and break through the mountains of information people are posting every day, and provoke an emotional response. But for me, they feel manipulative and inappropriate, whether posted by a man or a woman.
  2. Sending a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn message requesting something the minute you connect with someone:  I ignore these. It doesn’t matter to me at all if people try to impose on me without any relationship capital being built first. I let my silence be my answer. But other people may be turned off enough to break contact, and that’s not what these awkward sellers want or need. I am super generous with my true contacts, so be sure you create some genuine connections with people before you go in for the “ask.”
  3. Asking to be friends with everyone you’ve ever heard of on Facebook: I don’t really use Facebook much-it’s kind of reserved for keeping up with adorable photos of friends’ kids and hiding political rants. I don’t even visit it more than once a week or so. If I see a friend request (which only contains a photo and a name) from someone I don’t recognize (and a very distant business acquaintance is likely to be in that category) I delete it. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t recognize you. I am amazed by the number of requests I get on Facebook from people I have never heard of and don’t have any interest in sharing my personal life with. So unless you see that someone has 1,500 friends and is really active, my opinion is that you should save the interaction for other platforms. You may disagree, but I think Snapchat and Instagram are better choices, because the channels are usually wide open for public consumption anyway.
  4. Tweeting or posting only about your own business: Remember the 80/20 rule: create content that is useful and appealing for your audience at least 80% of the time. Don’t give your followers a reason to mute or unfollow you on Twitter or hide your updates on LinkedIn. My time is really important to me, as I’m sure your followers’ and connections’ is too. Don’t waste it-you will only annoy the people you are trying to attract, and not only miss your goal of trying to market your brand, but create ill will instead. When you’ve built value and trust, you can update your interested audience and they will be glad to hear what you have to say.
  5. Sharing extremely controversial material. I’m a big fan of speaking your truth and being authentic online. But at the same time, if you are marketing yourself and your product to your audience, think about what your customers connect with, and try to avoid irking them with topics that are likely to divide people, like religion, politics and scandal. The caveat is that if you are in an industry or have a personal message that is relevant to one of these subject areas, you may find that in order to be authentic, you need to dive in. By all means, do so, but realize that you may drive some of your audience away.

If you watch these five pitfalls, you will be on the right track. Which bad behaviors that you’ve noticed did I miss?

Visit Solve HR, Inc.

Photo credit: Alan O'Rourke via / CC BY