Category Archives: Social Media Platforms for Referrals

6 Reasons Why Public Sector Employees Need a Social Media Presence

LinkedIn All starPart of my involvement with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) annual conference is providing personal career consultations with conference attendees. Many attendees work in the public sector, and over the course of individual conversations with folks who signed up for personal consultations, I was surprised to learn that many of them have no active involvement with social media platforms. Many believed they had to fully immerse themselves on a variety of platforms, but were relieved to know that that’s not the case at all. Some have Facebook pages, and some have LinkedIn profiles, but in most instances, either their LinkedIn profiles are incomplete, or they simply have a presence and are not actively participating – or both.

So briefly, here are six reasons why public sector employees need an active social media presence (primarily for LinkedIn) for growing their careers:

  1. An active social media presence makes you more visible to decision makers and hiring managers. Social media has rendered organizational “gatekeepers” obsolete, because with an active social media presence on the right platforms, you can gain access to these people. Without an active social media presence, you are anonymous.
  2. Some studies show that between 33 and 67 percent of all positions filled come about through referrals. That’s justification enough for you to continue building your network of contacts on LinkedIn.
  3. Social media (more precisely, networking platforms) allows you to promote and leverage your expertise as a resource for others. Hiring managers are always looking for problem solvers, game changers, and solutions providers. And all hiring managers want experts on their team.
  4. Social media connections allow you to build a level of mutual familiarity. One of the first steps to gaining access to decision makers is to first establish a degree of mutual familiarity. Make your connections strategic for any potential mutual exchange of value.
  5. Familiarity with your network contacts over time leads to trust. When you consistently contribute value to conversations with others, “like” their comments, or “retweet” their Tweets, that familiarity can lead to mutual trust.
  6. Mutual trust with your network contacts can lead to direct access. Hiring managers, like the rest of us, want to work with people we are familiar with and who we trust. More often than not, those people advance to the head of the line for direct access.

What accelerates direct access to decision makers is having a polished professional brand that makes its way onto social media platforms through your website, blog, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, books, conference presentations, and so on. All of that goes in your LinkedIn profile. I cover building a professional brand in both of my books.

As i mentioned, there’s no need to be active on a wide variety of social media platforms – only a couple where decision makers are active will be sufficient. Besides this blog and my website, I am active on LinkedIn and Twitter. My business Facebook page automatically receives feeds from my blog posts and Twitter activity. I limit 98% of my posts to issues surrounding job and career strategies.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her entourage are met at the doors to the Emerald City by a gatekeeper. They are only allowed entry after it’s pointed out to him that she’s wearing the ruby slippers, that were once on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. The gatekeeper knows that the Wizard would value the ruby slippers because they represented one thing:

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ACCOMPLISHMENT!  What are your ruby slippers?

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information or use the Contact page on this blog.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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10 Reasons to Purge Your Professional Networks

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About once a year, I go through a purge of my professional networks. I do it more often with social media networks as “friends” drop off the radar, or some posts from friends/acquaintances are nothing but hyper-political rants (I plead guilty to the occasional rant myself), age-old video retreads, or just offensive content.

But professional networks represent (or should) a different collection of individuals who are trusted contacts where you can exchange ideas, job leads, and other opportunities. Not everyone you know or have known should get in to your networks (a policy I embrace). The quality of your network is tied directly to the quality of the professionals in it.

Here are 10 reasons to purge your professional network on a regular basis.

  1. The decision for who you select for your network (other trusted professionals) should be grounded in your overall network (LinkedIn, Twitter, others) and career strategy.
  2. Your definition of “trusted professional” may change over time as many in your network seek to help others first,  while some seem to always seek help from others first. I receive a number of requests on a daily basis from people I do not know to join my LinkedIn network. If they are members of a client organization which subscribes to my career strategy services, seminars, or consulting, I generally accept the request after reviewing their profile.
  3. Your first-degree connections usually are with people already in your offline network that you’ve known since “pre-network” days. They are the first layer of your multidimensional network.
  4. You can have too many first-degree connections, but you can’t have too many trusted first-degree connections. You aren’t trying to be the Ashton Kutcher of LinkedIn, because that’s not the purpose of professional networks. Trusted first-degree connections are those folks who can facilitate introductions and connections to others in their networks. Remove contacts who may not be able to assist here.
  5. Review your participation in network discussion groups; you want your participation in those groups to reflect your current career and professional interests. When those change, think about dropping those discussion groups that are no longer pertinent and joining others that now are.
  6. Review your endorsements and recommendations to determine if they reflect your current career position; if not, remove them. Purge (or reprioritize) any stale skills in the endorsements as well.
  7. Review any documents, photos, presentations you may have in your chosen professional network to ensure they still reflect your current career position; if not, delete or update them as necessary.
  8. Rethink keywords used in your profile that others may search on and ensure those keywords remain current and germane to your current or future career strategy.
  9. Be sure to purge dead links to blogs, YouTube videos, websites and ensure the active links provide helpful information for others. Be seen as a resource for others first, and others will gladly return the favor.
  10. When receiving requests to join your network, you have several options available: You can accept, reply to a request (to ask for more information from the requestor), ignore a request, or report the request as spam. Ask yourself: “Which response will enhance the quality of my existing network?”

For your professional network to function like a well-oiled “reciprocal opportunity machine,” it will require two important components: your finely tuned expertise (skills, knowledge, experience and accomplishments), and the quality of those unique trusted relationships in that network.

Recommended: The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success and Twitter Power 3.0

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Using Social Media Platforms for Employment Referrals

There’s a lot of buzz these days about the various social media platforms and their effectiveness a job search/job placement tools. Many will agree that LinkedIn is one of the best for obtaining endorsements and recommendations from people in your network who are familiar with your expertise. Google Plus is highly rated as well; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are efficient or effective for generating referrals that lead to a job, contract, or career change.

There are three ways by which you enter the hiring process: as an external candidate, as a referral candidate, or as an internal candidate. In my experience (and the research confirms this), internal candidates generally enjoy the biggest advantage, followed closely by referral candidates, and then external candidates a distant third. Somewhere between 33 and 67 percent of jobs found and filled are through personal referrals. Through personal referrals, much of the uncertainty in the hiring process is reduced or eliminated altogether from the equation, which leads to a higher probability of getting a job offer (and more quickly). It is also a low-cost recruitment tool. You simply must be strategic in designing and building your professional networks to increase the probably of being referred for an open position.

RECRUITMENT MARKETING EFFECTIVENESS

A 2012 comprehensive study (222,000 job postings, 9.3 million applications, 147,440 interviews, and 94,155 hires) from SilkRoad (www.silkroad.com) provides some interesting conclusions about the effectiveness of recruiting:

  • External (specific job search engines, job boards, print advertising, job fairs) and internal (referrals, inside hires, walk-ins, company career sites) sources result in about the same number of interviews, although internal sources produce almost twice the number of hires.
  • Company career sites are the greatest online recruitment source based on interviews and hires.
  • Referrals remain the strongest base for internal recruitment marketing, followed by inside hires and company career sites.
  • Job search engines are singularly far more effective than job boards at returning both interviews and hires.

In a landmark study on social networks (with real people, not Facebook “friends”) and hiring conducted by Stanford University in 1996[1], researchers concluded the following:

  • Social networks favorably influence the composition of the pool of job candidates
  • Applicants referred by current employees are more likely to be interviewed and offered jobs than external non-referral candidates
  • Network referrals are advantaged at both the interview and job offer stages compared to external non-referral applicants

The researchers also determined why referral candidates had such an advantage over non-referral candidates:

  • During labor shortages, using referrals is a quick and inexpensive method for generating a pool of applicants (fewer applicants for every open position)
  • The “benefit of the doubt” effect that creates a tendency for recruiters to give referral candidates the benefit of the doubt during screening, which encourages employees to continue to recommend referrals, thereby creating a process closed to non-referral candidates
  • Social network hiring tends to produce better job description-worker matches than other types of recruitment
SOCIAL NETWORK SITES AS AN EXCLUSIONARY RECRUITING TOOL

Technology and the rise of social network sites (SNS) has changed the face of employee recruiting. Research has revealed that corporate Facebook sites receive more hits than the corresponding company websites for job postings. While many companies are now integrating SNS with traditional recruitment practices (internal job postings, referrals from current employees), more are using job board sites (monster.com, indeed.com).

Employers also use SNS to screen candidates; in fact, use of SNS for such purposes increased to 37% in 2012 compared to 12% in 2006 according to a CareerBuilder survey.[2] In 2012, more hiring managers rejected candidates because of the variety of negative information discovered on SNS, with nearly 50% of survey respondents expressing concern about inappropriate photos or information about candidate drug and alcohol use, often conveyed in inappropriate photos.[3]

So, do employers use SNS in recruiting efforts? Yes; not necessarily to locate candidates, but to exclude candidates from further consideration because of the posting of questionable content or content that raises issues about a candidate’s character. Need I state the obvious that it is imperative that you scrub all social media content of questionable postings and images because if there’s a way to discover it, a hiring manager will find it and use it to eliminate you from consideration for a position. If it doesn’t present you in the most favorable professional light, remove it.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has had success using social media platforms to either hire employees or to obtain a job.


[1] Fernandez, Roberto et al (2006). “Getting a Job: Networks and Hiring in a Retail Bank.” Stanford University. pp. 1-47.

[2] Grasz, J. (2012). CareerBuilder Survey from http://www.careerbuilder.com (4/18/2012)

[3] Ibid., Grasz.


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