Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Cool Tool Alert: Usernamecheck.com
September 29, 2008, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Cool Tool Alert, Networking/Social Media, Recruiting, Research

When I was checking my blog referrals this morning, I noticed a new site that I’d never heard of before, www.usernamecheck.com. I was intrigued, as any information verification tool could be potentially useful in my line of work, so I checked out the site to discover something that I think is pretty awesome.

According to the site creators, it “…is a quick and dirty solution to a question that I often lay awake at night worrying about. Do I have my username registered across every site that I should? What if the next internet humiliation meme just happens to share the username I’ve been using for years, and suddenly people are emailing me asking ‘hey, is this you ???’”

The site is pretty simple – using a stack of web app urls, the application pings the site using the username you want to check. If the username is not registered on one of the given sites, it is returned as ‘available’. But the real beauty of this is that if the username exists on a site, it lets you know in addition to providing a link to that user account page. Here’s an example of a search I did for my own username – researchgoddess…

As you can see, there are a lot of places where my username is not registered! (though I use my real name on some of these places and not researchgoddess) But click on the links where it is, and it takes you directly to my user account page.

Now – how can this be applied to recruiting research? Simple – you can use this to find information on a potential candidate by checking to see what locations have been registered with their user name, and then build a profile on them. Lost of people tend to use the same username to register on multiple social networks and other social media tools. For example: let’s say I’m trying to recruit a person with the usernamd of shannonnelson…

I find that shannonnelson is listed on Blogger, Brightkite, Digg, eBay, Identica, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plurk Twitter, and YouTube. In going through each of these sites, I can determine that Shannon is a 34 year old female Publicist and author of 7 blogs, living in Lake Ariel, PA. She is an avid Twitterer, and she has 4 boys and blogs predominately on the topics of beauty and fashion.

How did I find all of this out about her? By verifying her identity through each of the locations where she is listed. Some of the sites with username shannonnelson turned out not to be the person I was looking for, but other places provided additional links to more information (such as the correct LinkedIn and MySpace sites that were listed on Shannon’s Brightkite location). By investigating further into these links, I can then determine other usernames she may use and then run my search again to find more profiles on the places where Shannon may not have used shannonnelson.

And for those who are wondering or concerned, all of the information gathered about Shannon’s age, location, etc. was publicly listed by her. So, she knows this information is available about her.

So here are my personal thoughts on this cool site:

Pros:

  • One-stop username check, instead of having to do search on all the listed sites to find someone
  • Neat tool for building prospect profiles and seeing how much of an online/social media presence someone has
  • Great way to find ice-breaker information to start a warm conversation with a prospective candidate
Cons:
  • Not everyone uses the same username for all accounts (example: I use researchgoddess and amybethhale interchangeably)
  • For common names, you’ll have to verify the positive returns to make sure they’re the same people
  • It can be a little time consuming to go through each positive return to ensure its validity
My recommendation: try it out! If it works for you – fantastic. If it doesn’t, you’ve wasted minimal time on researching a new potential sourcing tool.
*update: curses! It seems I got scooped by Jim Stroud on this cool tool :) Oh well, check out his post as well for another review of the site!


First Thursday to Fundraise for South Africa
September 28, 2008, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

As you may know, I will be going to Mamelodi, South Africa this November on an aid trip to help build homes, plant gardens, and bring some love and much-needed assistance to the Mamelodi community. To date, I have raised an amazing $2080 through the kind and generous contributions of many of you. However, my deadline for raising a total of $3000 is coming up QUICKLY – I must have my funds turned in within the first couple of days of October. I have $920 left to raise by then and I am working hard to get the remainder collected.

Jim Stroud, author of The Recruiters Lounge, is teaming up with BlitzTime to conduct a series of online networking events each month to support worthy causes. The first event that Jim is collecting for will take place on October 2nd and happens to be for my trip to South Africa! Jim is very excited to be able to donate the proceeds from this event (as am I) and I would encourage each of you to check out his post on the event, complete with details on what BlitzTime is and how this event will happen. To join this event, all you will need is a telephone and an internet connection.  The cost of the event is $10.00 and all of the proceeds will be donated to the South Africa fudraising efforts.

If you want to make a contribution but don’t want to or cannot participate in this event, you’re welcome to make a donation as well. Simply click on this link and type ‘Hale’ into the search field that asks for the participant’s last name. Or you can mail a check; the address and directions are listed on the site as well.

Thanks for your continued support! I plan to blog my experiences here while I am in South Africa. Stay tuned!



Talent Poaching in PR
September 24, 2008, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Article Reviews, Public Relations, Recruiting, Thoughts

Yes, we all do it. We whisper in the ears of our competitors’ employees and say “Come join us…you know you want to!” And any company out there that says it doesn’t gaze with a lustful eye upon the top talent at its competitors is a liar, IMHO.

The Firm Voice came out with a great article today, Preventing People Poaching: Lateral Hiring Among Agencies—and How to Stop It. This article discusses the issue of talent poaching specifically within the PR community, citing some reasons as including “a ‘grass is greener’ mentality, high levels of burnout because it’s 24/7 and agencies thinking they can create an instant culture by taking people from other shops.”

The article lists some recommendations taken from some PR firms that are fighting this battle successfully to retain their employees:

  1. Analyze your retention rates.
  2. Hire the right people in the first place.
  3. Recognize that some poaching comes from the client side.
  4. Give your employees a clear career path.
  5. Evaluate your agency culture against common factors for high retention.
  6. Utilize protective legal measures.
  7. If all else fails, let them go.

As quoted by a couple of people in the article, there seems to be a feeling that there is a shortage of PR talent available today. However, one commenter states that there is not a shortage of talent, but rather a lack of experience. This comment came from an individual who has been trying to break into the industry but due to ‘lack of experience’ has been unsuccessful in obtaining an entry level position. Marcus Anderson, if you read this post please get in touch with me and we’ll see if we can help you :)

This brings up a good point – the Catch-22 of gaining industry experience. In an interview, some folks are told that they do not have enough experience. How is one supposed to gain experience in an industry if no opportunity is provided to earn said experience? Particularly in entry-level positions?

Another interesting point with the whole ‘talent shortage’ in the PR world is not that there is no talent available, it’s that we’re not looking beyond the “PR” talent pool and considering similar skillsets from other functions, such as marketing, advertising, journalism, even legal. The ‘talent pool’ has become incestuous as we continue to steal from each other. Why not look outward and consider a cross-industry hire? That might help to alleviate this talent poaching within our industry.

As a shameless plug of course for Waggener Edstrom, we are committed to the consideration of cross-industry hires within the agency, so if anyone out there in related industries has considered a career in PR, please get in touch with me.

Read the whole article here on The Firm Voice- it’s quite well-written and offers up a lot of good suggestions for employee retention.



Can Facebook Profiles Detect Narcissism?
September 23, 2008, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Article Reviews, Networking/Social Media, Recruiting, Research

One of my Waggener Edstrom colleagues forwarded me this article, a study conducted by the University of Georgia suggesting that online social networking sites such as Facebook might be useful tools for detecting whether someone is a narcissist.

“We found that people who are narcissistic use Facebook in a self-promoting way that can be identified by others,” said lead author Laura Buffardi, a doctoral student in psychology who co-authored the study with associate professor W. Keith Campbell….

‘The researchers found that the number of Facebook friends and wallposts that individuals have on their profile pages correlates with narcissism. Buffardi said this is consistent with how narcissists behave in the real-world, with numerous yet shallow relationships. Narcissists are also more likely to choose glamorous, self-promoting pictures for their main profile photos, she said, while others are more likely to use snapshots.’

While I can understand these findings, I have to wonder if any of the survey questions asked what the main purpose of using the social network was for the individual, because I believe this would make a big difference in the results. After reading the article, it seems to have been the assumption that all (or the majority) of the people surveyed are using the network as a personal connection tool and not for any other main purpose. There are folks who use Facebook and other social networks for business and they may have high numbers of contacts that might incorrectly classify them as narcissists, don’t you think?

Then of course, you have to look at super-connectors on networks like LinkedIn, such as Ron Bates, who is listed as having the most LinkedIn connections (over 43,000!). For folks who call themselves LIONS or who are part of groups like TopLinked.com, is their desire to acquire connections based on business or narcissism?

Admittedly, I have a ton of connections on all of my social networks, and my purpose for using them is both personal and professional. Does that make me a narcissist? Do YOU have a lot of connections? Please share your thoughts – I think this is an interesting topic and I’d love to see some discussion.



Twitter, In Other Words
September 22, 2008, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Public Relations, Recruiting, Research

The good, the bad, and the ugly opinions of Twitter. These are some great quotes from interesting articles on the topic of Twitter and some of the spin-off tools – I highly encourage clicking on the links and reading the full articles as well. Enjoy!

“Unintentional marketing is usually the best marketing…Your biggest advantage on twitter is to be YOURSELF.” – Rob Sellen, ‘The Silence Is Golden’

“What’s rude in life is rude on Twitter.” – Margaret Mason, The Morning News

“You could (also) regard the growing popularity of online awareness as a reaction to social isolation.” – Clive Thompson, ‘Brave New World of Digital Intimacy’, NYT

“…not only are we stopping ourselves from ever getting in flow, we’re stopping ourselves from ever getting really good at something.” – Kathy Sierra, ‘The Twitter Curve’ (a must-read article for those of us who just cannot break the addiction!)

“Twitter may not be mainstream, yet, but it’s well-known to the influencers and fellow practitioners with whom most PR people interact.” – Todd Defren, PR Squared

“Twitter has gone above and beyond my original expectations in terms of usefulness, allowing me to obtain and share information efficiently. But Twitter has also proven to be a tool that should be used with caution lest it become the opposite of useful: a time suck.” – Mark Glaser, MediaShift

“TweetStats can also be a great research and spy tool.” – Allen Stern, CenterNetworks

(in response to the question of how many recruitment hires have been made using Twitter) “…I would caution shallow thinking – and focus on the potential for building your own referral network over time, and the branding aspect more broadly.” – Jason Buss, The Talent Buzz

“If you’re going to step into the Social Media fishbowl, master Web 1.0 first.” – Eric Rochow, ‘Using Twitter as PR tool: how not to do it’

“We need something that looks at our posts, tweet streams, and links and outputs things like tag clouds (based on what we’re writing), blog rolls (based on what we’re reading or linking to), and potentially parses things like resources.” – Sam Lawrence, Go Big Always



Waggener Edstrom is hiring a Recruiter in Seattle
September 20, 2008, 1:40 am
Filed under: Recruiting

That’s right folks – we’re hiring a Recruiter or Sr. Recruiter in Seattle (local candidates only – sorry!)

Must haves:

  • 5+ yrs. exp. full-cycle recruiting
  • Strong client management skills 
  • Ability to deal with rapidly changing organizational issues 
  • Worked within a team environment 
  • Worked under client deadlines in a fast-faced environment 
  • Prior experience in recruiting for service organization/industries/positions is preferred. 
  • Passion for technology and innovation, and the role which PR plays in achieving client’s business goals is a must

Please email me if you’re interested! Waggener Edstrom has fantastic benefits and competitive compensation – this is a great opportunity!



Using Twitter To Connect With Potential Employers
September 18, 2008, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Public Relations, Recruiting

I love Twitter – big surprise right! I enjoy seeing who in the PR world is out using it, and following them so that I can learn from them and, potentially, approach them about opportunities with Waggener. (BTW, we’re hiring from AC to VP level, so get in touch with me if you’d like to talk about some of our openings!!)

The other day I was checking out one of the folks I follow and I noticed an @ to someone whose name sounded familiar to me, so I clicked on the name and discovered that I wasn’t following this person when I thought I was. However, this individual had apparently blocked me from following their tweets! What’s more, this person is a recent college graduate from a university known for public relations, and is currently looking for work. I was shocked, and kind of miffed that I, a recruiting professional at a potential employer for this person, had been blocked. The nerve!

(Understand here that I respect the right each person has to decide who to allow to follow their tweets, I’m just using this example to make a point)

A bit irritated, I tweeted: “recommendation to graduating college students: don’t block ppl from your twitter updates who work at companies that might hire you. Bad form”

Within 5 minutes, I received this response from an inquisitive young PR graduate named Hannah: “@researchgoddess Question about your last tweet. If employees from companies you are interested in add you, how should you approach them?”

I read this message and thought, What a great question! So – here is my opinion on how to approach someone who follows you on Twitter and works at a company that you’re interested in working at:

My personal thoughts on using twitter to find a job, as well as to find potential candidates, are: pay attention to what the person you’re trying to reach is talking about or interested in. If someone from a company you’re thinking about applying to starts following you, there’s usually a good reason. Either they were following someone you responded to and they liked what they read about you, or they did some research themselves and felt compelled to connect. It’s good to thank them for the follow (using a simple salutation such as ‘@[name] Tnx for the follow!’). And follow them back, so you can DM and ask some more specific questions of them, for example “Are you hiring, and is that the reason for the follow?” or “Is there anything that I can do for you? How can I help you out?” Also, do due diligence and find out who exactly they are and the role they have within their company. This will give you some material to begin an intelligent conversation with a potential new employer.

Most people these days don’t just blindly follow others on Twitter. It gets overwhelming to follow too many so most folks are becoming choosy about who they follow. Just as an example, I personally follow PR folks almost exclusively, with the exception of a few people in the recruiting industry. I also don’t always follow back people who follow me. I look at their information and do further research to see what they do and where their interests are.

In summary,
  • Thank them for following you (publicly)
  • Do a little research on who they are/what role they’re in at their company
  • Pay attention to what they’re currently talking about or what their interests are
  • Follow up in a DM and find out if they’re hiring or how you can help them out
So – if there’s someone from a company you’re interested in who starts following you, it’s most likely for a good reason. Find out what they have to offer and let them know what you have to offer! Wouldn’t it be cool to say that you got your job via Twitter J
 

(by the way, Hannah was the one who recommended I turn this scenario into a blog post. Thanks, Hannah! You’re a smart gal…)




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