Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Do You Love What You Do?
April 29, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews, Career Advice, Recruiting

“By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can’t blame kids for thinking ‘I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world.’”

This wonderful post by Paul Graham takes a very insightful look into why we pursue certain careers and why we avoid others. Loving what you do is not something that many people have the luxury of saying, or doing. I’ve always believed that a true test of career love is if you’d do it for free. Graham says,

“To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that’s pretty cool.”

Graham goes on to say that many people tend to select professions not based on what they love deep down inside, but based on a direction in which their parents steer them, or worse yet, based on the prestige of a particular career. He says,

“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”

Loving what you do comes from keep yourself disciplined. Do well at whatever it is that you’re doing, even if you’re not ‘in love’ with it yet. Always be a producer, and understand that knowing what you like to work on doesn’t always mean that you’ll get to work on it. Know proper timing for working on pet projects and working on things that are required. You’ll respect yourself, and your peers will respect you. The love will come eventually.

 Graham described two routes that will lead to loving what you do:

  1. The organic route, which is essentially gaining experience and gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in your job on the elements you enjoy vs. those things you don’t, and
  2. The two-job route, which is working a ‘day job’ to pay the bills and pursuing your love in your spare time.

He says more people tend to work the organic route, because the two-job route requires a deliberate choice. However, my personal feeling is that with the state of the job market today, we will see an uptick in the number of people working a job that simply pays the bills in the daylight hours while pursuing a hobby, or another degree, in the evenings or in their spare time, with the ultimate goal of doing something they love.

A tip to college students: you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life! From Graham:

“A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell ‘Don’t do it!’ (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way—including, unfortunately, not liking it. Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.”

Want to love what you do? Explore many options before making a definite decision. Don’t lock yourself into one niche before you’ve tested out a couple of others. In my own experience, I discovered within the last three months of college that I HATED what I had been pursuing. Thankfully I was able to find a career path shortly after graduating that I’ve fallen in love with.

Finally, don’t let money be the center of your decision-making. Taking care of your financial needs should certainly be a deciding factor for sure, but would you sell your soul for a price tag? “Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.” My advice – work hard at what you love to make yourself worthy of a higher salary. Pay your dues. You’ll appreciate what you earn more when you’ve had to work hard for it.

The takeaway here is this: take some time to figure out what you love. Don’t rush it! Sometimes it may show up nice and subtle, but it might just smack you in the face too. Be open to whatever it is – the old saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Be sure to read Paul Graham’s complete article, “How To Do What You Love”.



Cool Tool Alert: TweetChat
April 27, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Cool Tool Alert, Twitter

This will be a very brief Cool Tool Alert, but a really awesome one. We’re all interested in finding better ways to pare down all the information we receive on a daily basis, and TweetChat allows you to stay focused on one hashtag at a time. In their own words:

“TweetChat helps put your blinders on to the Twitter-sphere while you monitor and chat about one topic.”

There are several super cool things about TweetChat:

  1. You can only focus on one hashtag at a time. So for anyone who is a notorious multi-tasker like me, this really helps you to stay focused on one thing.
  2. Auto-refresh. Twitter Search lets you track hashtags too, but you have to keep clicking refresh to keep up with new messages. TweetChat automatically refreshes for you, plus you can adjust the frequency of refreshing – from 5 seconds all the way up to 1 minute.
  3. You can feature or block certain users who are using your hashtag. So, if you want to highlight either a topic moderator or someone who is offering particularly helpful advice you can do so. As well, if someone is abusing the hashtag, you can block them from showing up on your room feed.
  4. When you tweet a message while monitoring a room, it automatically adds your hashtag at the end of your message. So no need to try to remember which one you’re monitoring. Plus, it also gives you the number of characters you have left after accounting for the hashtag. For example – I will be using the hashtag “#VegasRG” for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas in June for the Fordyce Forum, so I can monitor that hashtag, as seen here (notice the 131 in the upper right-hand corner):

picture-91

By the way, TweetChat looks great on mobile devices as well.

What makes this better than, say, TweetDeck? Well, the refresh rate is much faster, plus you won’t be distracted by the chirping noise and all the other columns you may have already set up. I still use TweetDeck for daily monitoring, but TweetChat has proven to be a great resource for focused following.

I highly recommend using it for following weekly online discussions such as #journchat and #blogchat as well as for following a networking event or a conference, such as #w2e or #CincySMB. I personally will be using TweetChat to tweet from and monitor #VegasRG during my presentation at the Fordyce Forum coming up in June.



Building Networks vs. Building Relationships
April 24, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media

I’m in a line of work where it is essential to build networks. Without networks, I would not have resources from which to source potential future employees. Today, more than ever, it is important to network and make connections with others – if for no other reason than to prepare for your career rug to possibly be pulled out from under you.

There are tons of people giving advice on how to network, when to network, where to network, etc. But who is giving advice on what to do with your network? Once you bring someone into your network, what do you do with them?

Some would say to use your network to promote your business or your service. Some say to ask them for assistance with your job search, or ask them to help spread the word about something you’re doing.

What is the common ground for each of these items? They are all for YOUR benefit. Not necessarily the benefit of your new connection. I know it’s cliché, but there’s an old saying that goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So, here’s what I think you should do with your new networked connections: GIVE FIRST. Which leads me to my point – there is a difference between building your network and building relationships.

When I was laid off at the end of February, an individual reached out to me for the first time (or at least for the first time in awhile; either way, I know we’d never spoken before). We knew of each other but had never had a conversation. Thinking this person had a lead for me, I was happy to chat, but when we connected, I discovered that the conversation was more about this individual asking me to help promote a new networking group. While I’m happy to assist with requests like this, I couldn’t help but feel that this person’s timing and context of the original connection request weren’t quite appropriate. There was a network connection, but no relationship.

Building your network is important – I agree with this 100%. Many of my colleagues provide great advice and personal examples on how to quickly grow a network. However, there is so much more to getting value out of your network, and this requires the development of relationships within your network.

Benjamin Franklin has a great quote – one of my favorites – which states: “Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.” Franklin’s observation could and should be applied to building relationships within your network: you should be willing to network with anyone (civil to all), actually connect with some (sociable to many), but develop relationships WITHIN that network (familiar with few).

It would be practically impossible to develop relationships with everyone in your network, if you’re building a massive one. My personal feeling is that the worst thing you could do is attempt to do so. By doing this, you will come across as being canned and shallow. For example: boilerplate invites on LinkedIn, or catch-all notes to your network informing of a career change or other major event. We’re all becoming more web-savvy, and we can smell an impersonal mass email from a mile away.

On my LinkedIn profile, I have at the bottom under Contact Settings a short paragraph that says,

“While I never want to discourage anyone from contacting me, I would GREATLY appreciate a personal message if you wish to connect; not one of the generic ‘recommended’ messages that LinkedIn provides. It tells me that you took the time not only to read my profile, but also that you feel a profound reason for our connection and not just a need to put another name on your networking list. Please personalize your request to me; I will be more inclined to connect with someone who has taken the time to do this! Thanks and happy networking!”

It amazes me how many connection requests I get from people who obviously never made it to the bottom of my profile to see this. That’s not building relationships.

So, how do you go beyond building your network to building lasting, and valuable, relationships? Here are four suggestions:

  • Personalize your correspondence. It takes more time, but it lets your connection know you specifically thought of them. If you have to, use an email program that will help you do this if you have large amounts of correspondence going out. Make sure you address people as they have requested (i.e. nickname, initials, etc.) and for Heaven’s sake, spell their name right. Having an uncommon first name myself, I get this all the time. It’s Amybeth, with a small “b”, and all one word, not Amy Beth.
  • Don’t automatically subscribe them to your newsletter. Goodness – when I make a new connection and all of a sudden I start receiving tons of newsletters from that person, I feel like I was just another number. Go with an opt-in as opposed to an opt-out approach. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a bad reputation. I provide a link to my blog, my RSS, and a way to email-subscribe to my blog in my email signature. That way, people have the option to check out what I’m doing if they want to, and they can choose to ignore it if they don’t.
  • Take your connection offline. The best way to build a relationship – professional or otherwise – is in person. Not through email, IM, text, or even phone. When possible, arrange to meet with new connections – host a networking meetup, grab a cup of coffee, attend a tweetup, etc.
  • Give before asking. This is tough, especially if you’ve started networking as a result of being laid off. But trust me – this will pay off in the end. Ask your new connections what you can do for them first. Chances are they will reciprocate after being asked.

A great example of personalized networking and relationship building is Jennifer McClure, a local HR blogger known as CincyRecruiter. In a conversation I had with her over dinner at iHOP one night (there’s a clue), she told me that she personally responds to everyone who emails her. While I realize that many of you don’t have the bandwidth to do this, know also that she really doesn’t either 🙂 But she still does it because she knows how valuable it is to build personal relationships within her network. I highly recommend connecting with her for more info on building relationships.

Zig Ziglar’s motto is: “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Just remember: your network is made up of human beings. Human beings want to feel special, and by building relationships with them, you can accomplish this and glean more value from your network at the same time. Otherwise, you’ve just got a random collection of nodes.



Referring Is NOT Sourcing
April 21, 2009, 7:30 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Research, Thoughts

Be prepared…this is a bit of a rant! 🙂 (the chick in the picture isn’t me, BTW)

I’ve been in the role of internet research for coming up on 7 years now. Over the years, people in my role have been called many things, including:

  • Jr. Recruiter
  • Sourcer
  • Researcher
  • Admin/Research

There’s never going to be a 100% agreement on what we do, because the function we each serve in our respective companies is different.

There is a new and growing sentiment in many of my online communities now that basically compares the practice of referring people to the art and skill of sourcing. I personally don’t take lightly to something that I hear being said more and more:

“Anyone can be a sourcer!”

Um – no. This is simply not true. This, in my mind, is like saying that anyone can be an automobile if they sit in the garage long enough. It’s never going to happen.

For you recruiters out there, equate this to what many have said over the years, that anyone can be a recruiter – they just need a Rolodex and a telephone. If I were a recruiter, I’d personally take offense to that, because sure you can be a recruiter with those tools, but can you be a GOOD one with ONLY those tools? No – you must have people skills, sales skills, business development skills, and there certainly is an art to becoming a GOOD recruiter.

I’ll say the same thing about sourcing! Sure, referrals are a PART of what I deal with every day. But that in and of itself does not a sourcer make. I get irritated when my function is trivialized and reduced to the latest and greatest automation tool. Regardless of how much of any step in the talent attraction process you’ve got automated, it is STILL a people-centric process. It is still a relationship business. And it will ALWAYS involve people. The moment you remove people from the process is when you stop being consultative and start being transactional.

My colleague David Mullen wrote a post a couple months ago that inspired me to take a look at what makes a good sourcer. I’ve also written several pieces on what makes a researcher a good one: check them out here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Oh and make sure to check out this post which talks about all the sources from which I, as and internet researcher, pull. Networks are included, but there are plenty of other places that referrers wouldn’t consider.

So, why is referring NOT sourcing? Because I say it’s not. Just kidding 🙂 But seriously, they’re different. If you tried to replace the role of Sourcing with a role you called Referral Strategist, eventually the referral network for that individual would dry up. It’s basic law of diminishing returns. Guess what that role is going to end up having to do? SOURCE to find more people for the referral network.

Referrals are great ways to help your friends and colleagues get a foot in the door. I love when people refer their friends to me – it tells me I’ve done a good job at building that relationship. But when I source, I put personal relationships to the side. I’m looking for the best fit for the job, regardless of relationship. Sourcing takes work that goes well beyond referring those within your network.

Please stop trivializing the role your researcher/sourcer plays within your company. In order to be successful, sourcing takes more than knowing how to plug a Boolean string into a search engine or tapping one’s existing network. Realize that you can automate until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, you still need a human being to be there for quality control. And please recognize that sourcing is not just a SKILL that can be taught, but an ART which must be mastered.



Shiny Happy People
April 20, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Tweetups

Ever wonder what the Jelly Cincinnati Tweetup is all about? Check out this video… and come check out our new Facebook group!



Next Jelly Cincy Tweetup – Wednesday, May 13th
April 16, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Tweetups

jelly-cincinnati

The next date we’ll be co-working is Wednesday, May 13th. Check out the Jelly Cincinnati Wiki page – we’ll post updates there as well as having event registration available through Eventbrite.

Join other Cincinnati area telecommuters for a day of working in a collaborative environment. We’ll meet at Crossroads Community Church – the church graciously offers free wifi and coffee during the week for the local community. The idea here is to have folks who work in many different job functions working together in an open environment. The expectation is that creative juices will flow and new friendships will be forged. Hope to see you there!

Register to attend the Jelly Cincinnati Tweetup here.

When: Wednesday, May 13th
Where: Crossroads Community Church
3500 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45209



UGA Guest Lecture: How To Write A Good Resume
April 14, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Career Advice, Networking/Social Media, Public Relations, Recruiting

Last month I was invited to do a guest lecture for Dr. Kaye Sweetser‘s PR Writing class at the University of Georgia. Dr. Sweetser, better known on Twitter as @kaye, and I became acquainted because of our common interests in PR and the Florida Gators. (we are both alums!) She asked me if I’d be interested in doing a virtual guest lecture on writing a good resume, utilizing Skype, and I jumped at the opportunity. The students were engaging and they spent some time following the presentation asking great questions about online presence, resume writing, and PR in general. Here are some of the highlights that Dr. Sweetser pulled together.