Hir­ing only the best

Lo­cal tools add to suite of op­tions for HR pro­fes­sion­als, but some say on­line mar­ket­ing misses the point

Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Web 2.0 And Hr - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH HOW­ELL

In the re­ces­sion-heavy month of March 2009, so the story goes, a bright young thing scored an in­tern­ship at Cisco Sys­tems Inc. in the U.S. “Cisco just of­fered me a job!” tweeted the user, known as @the­con­nor. “Now I have to weigh the util­ity of a fatty pay­check against the daily com­mute to San Jose and hat­ing the work.”

It was only mo­ments later when the hir­ing man­ager from Cisco found the tweet.

“I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work,” wrote @tim­myl­e­vad. “We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

There is no trace of the con­ver­sa­tion now ex­cept in news re­ports and a blog post, one that re­flected upon the power of so­cial me­dia.

“I as­sumed it would be im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent to them that I was be­ing sar­cas­tic and make it ob­vi­ous what my de­ci­sion had been,” wrote the spurned tweeter.

“I didn’t re­al­ize that not hav­ing pro­tected my up­dates on Twit­ter would quickly come back to haunt me.”

CA­REER CRASH­ERS

Em­ploy­ers are turn­ing more to the In­ter­net than ever to screen job candidates, a process made all the more dif­fi­cult since more peo­ple are looking for work due to the eco­nomic down­turn.

Po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers check Face­book and LinkedIn, and Twit­ter to a lesser ex­tent, to weed out candidates for drink­ing and drugs, bad-mouthing their cur­rent em­ployer or dis­play­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour on­line. A Har­ris In­ter­ac­tive Sur­vey of 2,667 HR pro­fes­sion­als re­leased in Au­gust showed nearly half of the sur­vey mem­bers used some sort of so­cial net­work­ing site to fig­ure out if the em­ployee they had their eye on was right for the job.

“It’s very com­mon for stu­dents to have a Frosh Week photo, and that’s not how your em­ployer wants to think of you,” said Car­rie Sul­li­van, a con­sul­tant who works for the Ottawa branch of HR firm Knights­bridge.

“I would never di­rect an em­ployer to my Face­book page.”

The key is to use the same tools – cam­eras and a so­cial net­work – to cre­ate a mes­sage that em­ploy­ers want to see, fun­nelling them to­wards a site that dis­plays a more pro­fes­sional side.

VIR­TUAL PER­SONAL STORE­FRONTS

A pair of Ottawa pro­grams hope to do just that, by help­ing stu­dents put their best foot for­ward without fall­ing into the same trap that our tweet­ing friend ear­lier dis­cov­ered.

Why­Hire.me – the brain­child of two Al­go­nquin Col­lege pro­fes­sors – is a web­site that gives stu­dents a cen­tral hub, kind of like a LinkedIn on steroids, to pro­mote them­selves and their work. On a sin­gle page are tabbed doc­u­ments show­ing a stu­dent’s re­sume, Twit­ter feed, blog, videos and other items about them­selves.

Af­ter a year in a trial run, the pro­gram is now a core part of a third-year busi­ness course at Car­leton Uni­ver­sity, taught by Leighann Neil­son.

“Em­ploy­ers are al­ready Googling peo­ple and check­ing Face­book ac­counts be­fore call­ing peo­ple for an in-

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