Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

I’m Moving To Washington State
July 28, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media

Nope, this is not a joke! I’m moving to Bellingham, Washington this coming September… no job changes – still working with AT&T, just going to a new part of the country!

Back in March, I took a trip out to Washington to visit a few people, one of whom is my dear friend Suzy Tonini. Suzy and her husband Ron moved from Bend, OR to Bellingham last year and just couldn’t say enough good things about it, so I wanted to check out what all the buzz was about. Even though I was only there for one day, and it was pretty damp and overcast, I found it to be beautiful, cozy, and some place I wanted to check out again. When I left, I told Suzy that I wanted to come back out in the summertime and see if I still loved Bellingham as much. I visited Washington earlier this month to visit my significant other in Richland and also spent a week working from Suzy and Ron’s place (which by the way has the most gorgeous view of Bellingham Bay and some amazing sunsets!), and confirmed my love affair with the area. I set about looking at places to rent and settled on a cute place just north of Suzy with a gorgeous mountain lake view.

Mountain lake viewThose who know me know my love of the water (I grew up in Southwest FL 15 minutes from the beach), and living in landlocked Ohio for the last 7 years has given me the itch to get back to some water. As much as I love the friendships I have developed in Cincinnati, I feel it’s time for me to try a new place on for size.

I am going to seriously miss the social media community I’ve come to love here in the ‘Nati, but I am looking forward to embracing a new one in Bellingham. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a lot going on there right now with regards to social media, so it might be a fantastic opportunity to get something started. I welcome advice from anyone who has been on the ground floor of developing an interest in social media in your cities. I think Suzy and I will have a blast building this in Bellingham!

So, on to the important stuff! Below is a map of the travel route I am planning to take to get out there. It is a daunting trip, covering nearly 2,500 miles, but it looks like it’s taking me through some really beautiful places, including Montana, a state I’ve never seen. I know that many of you live along this route, and if I’ll be cruising through or near your town, let me know and we’ll see if we can meet up! I especially know there are lots of you in Minneapolis – I’d LOVE to get together with all of you on my way through. Let me know how we can make that work…

Research Goddess travel route

I am planning to move at the very end of August, or over Labor Day weekend (1st weekend in September) depending on what my current landlord will allow. Either way, it will be sometime between August 28th and September 3rd. I received confirmation from my landlord that I can stay in my current place until 9/4, so I will be leaving Cincinnati on Friday, September 4th and plan to arrive in Bellingham on Labor Day (September 7th).

For my friends in Ohio, I hope that I’ll get to see you at least one more time before I leave. I will miss this area for sure, but as I still have family here I’m sure I’ll be back to visit from time to time 🙂 And…I hope that some of you will come out to visit me in Bellingham! There is so much to do out there – skiing on Mt. Baker, mountain biking, clamming and crabbing in the summertime, and I have to say that the food is SO fresh and delicious! Plus, it’s located 1 1/2 hours north of Seattle and an hour south of Vancouver (location of the 2010 Winter Olympics!) so I will have easy access to some interesting cities. My door is always open, so please come visit.

I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life – there will be so many new experiences to be had for sure!


The Internet Is Not A Database
July 22, 2009, 9:01 am
Filed under: Research

This topic doesn’t really ever come up in these exact words, but it disguises itself in phrases like:

“This [insert search engine name] search isn’t working; I can’t find any resumes!”
“I typed in [keywords] but there’s nothing out there!”

I have heard this so many times throughout my career as an internet researcher. The thought behind this mindset is that everything on the internet was put there using the same structure, the same wording, the same format. But the thing that must be remembered is that the internet is NOT a database. One definition of database is “a systematically arranged collection of data, structured so that it can be automatically retrieved or manipulated.” Meaning: everything is neatly arranged, catalogued, tagged, coded, and filed away so that you can find it with a couple of quick search terms. Let me ask: how many of your actual databases/ATSes look like this? 🙂 That’s what I thought…. so don’t apply that same thinking to the internet as a whole.

When running searches online, if you’re not getting the results you’re looking for – chances are that it’s not the fault of the search engine. The search engine doesn’t think for itself; it simply follows the instructions that you give it to retrieve information based on what you’ve asked. If your search isn’t returning desired results – it’s probably your fault, and you need to re-evaluate your search query. Try wording something a little different; try thinking about how someone may have written a phrase instead of thinking about how you believe it should be worded and therefore searched.

If something’s not working right for you, own it. Don’t blame the search engine, or the internet, for your query. Try re-writing your search, thinking about the way the person you’re trying to find may have worded what you’re looking for, and you’ll probably get better results.

What Sourcing Is NOT Responsible For
July 15, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews, Recruiting, Research

Everyone who knows me knows I love analogies. I also love comparing job functions across different industries. While I worked in the PR world, I saw so many similarities between PR and recruiting that it really made me think about how we, as research, sourcing, and recruiting professionals, need to understand public relations better than many of us do. I recently read an article by Todd Defren on his blog, PR Squared, entitled “What PR Cannot Do For Clients“. After reading through his article, I thought “This is exactly the relationship between researchers/sourcers and recruiters, and even on to hiring managers!” An excerpt from Todd’s article:

“Public Relations is not Sales.  PR can absolutely help guide the prospect toward a purchase decision, in a measurable way.  PR can surround the prospect with thoughtful, candid, compelling conversations and content and references until they think, “Wow, okay, I’ve got to check these guys out.”…But when the prospect gets to the website or picks up the phone or shoots over an email: PR’s work is done.”

Let’s change just a couple of words, and apply this statement to the role of research and/or sourcing:

Internet Research / Sourcing is not Recruiting. Sourcers can absolutely help guide the prospect toward a job opportunity, in a measurable way.  Sourcers can initiate the relationship and provide the prospect with interesting and compelling high-level information about a job until they think, “Wow, okay, I’ve got to check these guys out.” But when the prospect gets to the website or picks up the phone [to interview with a recruiter] or shoots over an email: the sourcer’s work is done.”

The last sentence of the article strikes me: “PR can set you up for success.  It cannot make you a success.” This is no different from sourcing – a good sourcer will set you up with people to speak with and to present your opportunities to, but it’s up to you as the recruiter to intrigue them to the point where they would be willing to interview for and eventually accept your position. Once your sourcer has brought you what you’ve asked for in basic qualifications, their work is complete. Placing blame back on research for failure in a part of the recruiting process that is beyond the scope of research is simply unfair. That’s like blaming the butcher when the chef at the restaurant undercooks your steak. Sure, the butcher was involved by providing the meat to the restaurant, but it’s the chef’s ultimate responsibility to ensure that your order is correct, not the butcher.

I’ve never understood metrics that hold sourcing responsible throughout the entire hiring process, because of these facts. You cannot measure someone’s success in a process in which they are not involved. I appreciate Todd writing this brief, yet thought-provoking article and jogging my brain as to how this also holds true to my own job function. Please read his article in its entirety here: What PR Cannot Do For Clients.

Jason Falls on “Free Stuff” – How Long Will It Last?
July 8, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews

I think Jason Falls is a rockstar. He lives about 2 hours down the road from me in Louisville, KY, but we’ve only “met” once (I use the term loosely because we were both in attendance at a Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast meeting last year, but we didn’t get to have a conversation). His blog is always chock-full of great content, thoughtful ideas, and blunt honesty. About a week ago, Jason discussed a topic that I too have been thinking a lot  about lately – the idea that so many things today are “free”, or so we think, and how long that can possibly last. After all, businesses are in existence to make money for themselves, not to provide us with cool free stuff.

Jason’s inspiration for the post was a conversation with a friend who said, “I love my DVR. I haven’t watched a commercial in months.” When asked how long he expects to still be watching his favorite shows, the friend looked puzzled. Jason’s reply:

“The avoidance of those commercials means those shows will eventually be cancelled. You’re killing your own chances of being able to watch them by watching just them.”

Nothing is ever truly free. Henry A. Wallace, the US Vice President from 1941 – 1945, wrote an article originally published by The Atlantic Monthly in which he suggested a post-WWII worldwide economic regime offering ‘minimum standards of food, clothing and shelter’. While this sounds well and good, an observant journalist named Paul Mallon wrote a response to the article which was published in several US papers:

“Mr. Wallace neglects the fact that such a thing as a ‘free’ lunch never existed. Until man acquires the power of creation, someone will always have to pay for a free lunch.”

Think about the unconferences, podcamps, social media breakfasts, and other various gatherings we attend today where we’re not charged. Someone has to provide the meeting facilities, the equipment, and the ‘free lunch’. In exchange, we owe it to these people and companies to hear what they have to offer. But oftentimes, we brush it off as just another sales pitch. Continuing with this entitlement attitude will cause these fantastic free events to no longer be available to us, and then we’re going to have to *gasp* start paying for stuff.

Jason continues on to say in his post:

“What we’ve created is a marketplace that isn’t sustainable…While I’m not one to predict all the good ideas have been had, the disproportionate amount of money that is being poured into technology startups these days makes me shudder to think what the entrepreneurs will do when the investors come calling wanting their money back.”

Hey, I’m with you. I do love Hulu, and I’ll be the first to admit that I love getting a good deal and I’m all about the free stuff. But we need to pay our respects to the companies that provide us with the freebies.

I think back to one of my favorite books as a little girl, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. In the book, the little boy always takes from the tree, never giving anything in return, until finally the boy cuts down the tree in order to make a sailboat, and the tree has nothing left to give. Some say that this book is a story about selfless love, but in this sense we are the little boy who continually takes [freebies] and never gives anything in return [purchases]. Eventually, our giving trees [the companies and individuals which provide us with the ‘free’ stuff] will be merely treestumps, and we’ll be sitting beside those stumps wondering what happened.

Let’s not take too much advantage – support those businesses and people who support you with the freebies, or else they won’t be around for long. Please check out Jason’s entire post here, The Economy of Free Is Stupid.

Cool Tool Alert: Hashtag Chats
July 6, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Cool Tool Alert, Twitter

Admittedly this isn’t anything terribly new, but I would bet money that most of you have never participated in a hashtag chat before! So, what is a hashtag chat?

First off, let’s define a Hashtag: it’s putting the pound (#) sign in front of a word or a phrase in order to track conversation about that word or phrase on Twitter. So for example, some of the most popular hashtags at the writing of this post included #iranelection, #jobs, #journchat, and #bachelorette. This means that a lot of the conversation being had was about the election in Iran, people looking for jobs, folks discussing The Bachelorette, and people participating in the hashtag chat, #journchat. Which leads to the next definition…

A hashtag chat is an organized conversation via Twitter that is followed using a hashtag term. The chats are usually moderated, have either pre-set questions or chat leaders, and usually happen at a pre-determined day and time on a semi-regular basis. Since these conversations happen real time, and in the public Twitter stream, they can be participated in by pretty much anyone who’s interested.

Here is a list of some of the more popular and best organized hashtag chats, as provided on

  • #cmtychat – a weekly discussion about the business of online communities, Fridays from 12-1pm CT, hosted by @sonnygill and @bryanperson
  • #journchat – a weekly conversation on Twitter between journalists, bloggers and PR pros, taking place Monday nights from 7-10pm CT
  • #smchat – a discussion on the power of social media among active practitioners and strategists, taking place Wednesdays at 12pm CT
  • #blogchat – a chat on Sunday nights from 8-9pm CT that was started by @MackCollier to discuss blogs and best practices

There are plenty of other topics, ranging from SEO to K-12 education to healthcare communications and marketing practices, and even cars and the automotive industry. I recommend checking out the organizers who have registered with What The Hashtag here.

I’d also encourage those of you in the recruiting business to check out the #talentnet (or #TNL) hashtag chat run by Craig Fisher and Susan Kang Nam. It’s a hashtag chat specifically for recruiters that takes place the last Wednesday of each month at 9pm Eastern.

Some of you may be wondering why I’m listing this as a “Cool Tool” and the reason is simple: large audiences discussing the same topic. This is like you attending an industry trade event. If you work in a particular industry or function that has a hashtag chat already established, it’s a great opportunity for you to network with these professionals. It’s also a great place to learn about a particular topic you’ve been interested in finding out more about. I’ve also noticed that every time I participate in a hashtag chat – I mean REALLY participate by following the topics and adding value when applicable (there’s a tip) – I typically gain anywhere from 5-15 new followers. And usually the new followers work in some capacity related to the chat.

By the way – if you don’t see a hashtag chat listed in YOUR industry, don’t complain, throw your hands up in the air, and say it doesn’t work for you 🙂 Why don’t YOU start the chat – that’s the beauty of social media. You don’t have to wait around for someone to create content; you can take the initiative and do it yourself.

Could vs. Should
July 1, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Recruiting, Thoughts

An instantly classic movie, at least for my generation, came out in 1993 and wow’ed viewers everywhere with the awesome CGI. This movie was Jurassic Park. I had read the book before seeing the film, so I knew there were parts missing from it that would surely be made into a sequel or two. But there were still some wonderful moments of the movie that I remember to this day. One of those moments has become one of my all-time favorite lines to quote. This is when John Hammond, Dr. Malcolm, Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, and others were sitting around a table eating dinner. Dr. Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, says of John Hammond’s park and the idea of cloning dinosaur embryos mixed with frog DNA:

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should…”

I have used this quote in so many situations and it always makes people stop and think. And I’ll say it here too, in the case of using social media for business – just because you can use social media, does that mean you should? Just because there are tools available for you to promote a job, or a brand, or a product or service, is that reason, and right, for you to be doing so?

When teams jump head-first into social media because all the rest of the world looks at it with googly-eyes, they are only thinking about the COULD. By holding back, listening, observing, doing due diligence and making sure everyone involved is equipped for success, they are then thinking more about the SHOULD. So consider these things:

  • Anyone CAN start a blog. But should YOU?
  • Anyone CAN set up a Facebook Fan page. But should YOUR company?
  • Anyone CAN tweet on behalf of their business. But are you ready to give up that much official control?
  • Anyone CAN decide to implement mobile marketing. But is your audience going to be receptive to it?

The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Practice some patience, do your homework, and find out if it’s right for you, your team, and your company first before pressing forward. Otherwise you run the risk of ruining your reputation or your brand image. Look before you leap!