Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Virtual Balls
August 31, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Rants

I was moody all last week. A colleague suggested that it’s due to me missing the joys of the experiences I had while I was in Nicaragua earlier this month. I would agree with that, but there’s more to it than just that….

Several years ago, my brother shared a phrase with me that has stuck in my mind, and I’ve used it several times to describe some rather crass behavior that I, and I am sure you, have observed online since this whole social media thing really started becoming popular:

On Thursday of last week, I asked a simple question via LinkedIn Answers, inquiring about the Facebook app use of college students. I initially only received 2 responses, one of which was incredibly patronizing from a guy I’ll call Bruce:

“Have you tried GOOGLE?… Are you aware that this is LINKEDIN, a professional website with a totally different target market than that of FB?”

Gee thanks there buddy. I appreciate the condescending tone.

  1. I am well aware of the platform in which I am presenting this question. It’s an online network, like Facebook. My assumption was that some of the folks who use LinkedIn just might also use Facebook. Anyone else agree with this theory?
  2. If Mr. Bruce had bothered to look at my profile, he’d have noticed that I’ve got a little experience doing research, so yeah I’ve heard of that thing called “Google”. One thing I’ve learned through my experience is that to get the best research, you have to use several different sources. And – sometimes the best information is gathered from end users, NOT the company pushing the product… i.e. the college students I was targeting with my question.

My guess is that if I had asked this question in person, Brucey here would not have used that kind of implied pompous tone in his response. But because he’s sitting there behind his computer screen, he feels comfortable puffing out his chest and responding with this air of arrogance that unfortunately seems to be a common occurrence these days. He’s got some virtual balls. Anyone else noticing this? People saying things online that they’d absolutely never say to someone’s face? What’s up with that?

My mother taught me a lesson when I was a little girl: Treat others as you’d want them to treat you. I think that’s in the Bible in some form somewhere, as well 🙂 If someone’s asking a question, try to play nice in the sandbox and don’t respond with a jerky, snarky response. Or don’t respond at all.

My thoughts on this topic are:

  • If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t send it in an email, post it in a forum, or text it to their phone.
  • Pick up the phone once in awhile to have a real conversation instead of texting.
  • Remember that just because you’re not in front of them doesn’t give you license to be a complete jerk.

Sidenote: if your LinkedIn profile is written in 3rd person, you might be a narcissist.

So for full disclosure, I did send a private response to ol’ Brucey (though posting it here I guess doesn’t really make it private anymore now does it!) thanking him for his advice. Don’t worry; if I ever have the pleasure of meeting him in person, I’d have no problem saying this to him:

“Thank you for that helpful advice and kind tone, Bruce. I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that those who are connected in some degree with me, a professional researcher, here on LinkedIn (an online network), would also be users of Facebook (also an online network) and might therefore be able to offer up a useful response. Silly me!”


Heading to Nicaragua Next Week
August 12, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media

Next week, I am going to be participating in a mission trip to Nicaragua from August 16th – 23rd. I am joining about 10 other individuals from the Cincinnati area, and together with a group of about 30 people from Atlanta we are flying to Managua, Nicaragua and continuing on to Chinandega, which is in the western part of the country.


Some of the things we’ll be doing will include:

  • Building homes, schools, health clinics, churches, and business cooperatives
  • Planting and cultivating crops
  • Drilling water wells and developing distribution systems
  • Educating with books, games, and activities in the schools and communities
  • Providing free surgical services, and providing training to Nicaraguan counterparts
  • Practicing family medicine and dentistry with the mobile clinic that visits several rural communities

The group we are partnering with is called Amigos For Christ. Amigos for Christ is an interdenominational service ministry that focuses on strengthening families in Nicaragua who are without resources by supporting community housing, medical, educational, clean water, small business cooperatives, and agricultural programs. This is similar to the mission of the trip I went on last year to South Africa, but with a much smaller group and much fewer resources. Plus, it’s going to be about 95 degrees with about 100% humidity there 🙂 We have been instructed to get the strongest insect repellent possible, and I have had to take anti-malaria pills prior to our departure to ensure good health.

I am going to try to send a few pictures back while I’m in Nicaragua via TwitPic, so keep an eye out for updates there. I’ve also been able to secure a partial international data plan for my iPhone through AT&T while I’m there in order to stay somewhat connected and share my experiences, and I’ll be sure to share more when I return.

So for those of you who pray, send a few up for us as we’re traveling and doing our projects. I look forward to recapping my trip when I return!

Instant ROI
August 7, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Recruiting

This ‘microwave mentality’ has gotten out of hand lately, if you ask me. Why all of a sudden do our benefits and rewards have to happen right here, right now, instantly?

AT&T is hiringI recently attended a networking event graciously put on by Jennifer McClure, otherwise known as @CincyRecruiter on Twitter. She organized a get-together for her gigantic 10,000 member strong LinkedCincinnati online group. Obviously, not all 10,000 members showed up – there was a modest showing of around 200 people. Lots of folks there were looking for employment, or a new opportunity, and displayed this prominently on their nametags, where we were asked to write something we needed. After encountering a few of these folks, I decided to add a little bit to my own nametag, shown here. I got some chuckles out of this, but I also had several folks ask me about some of the positions for which AT&T is hiring. We currently have some pretty cool opportunities with our eCommerce group for marketing and branding professionals in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle. Several of the individuals I met were marketing professionals, so I had some great conversations and would expect that several of them checked out our positions and applied online.

Will they be a fit? I don’t know. Will we hire them? Couldn’t say. Is this instant ROI? Probably not. But it’s still good for our exposure. Just because the reward or the benefit doesn’t happen right in the moment doesn’t mean it’s not there. You would not go to the gym and work out, expecting that at the end of your workout you’ll be buff (or trimmed down), would you? No way – it takes time to reap the reward. I did not go to this networking event expecting to be passing out job offers that night. My expectation was to meet some interesting people, have some conversations, be a good representative of my company, and to just generally have fun, as one of the attendees had written as her “one thing I need” on her nametag.

I’m not a marketing guru, but if I’m not mistaken, part of the purpose of marketing is to get people thinking about a company. Even if they don’t need or want whatever the company has to offer right then, the experience is imprinted in their brain, and they will be more likely to think about that company if and when a need arises. I don’t attend networking events, conferences, or other professional venues with much expectation outside of the idea that I will meet interesting people and that I will learn at least one new thing. If one of the interesting people I meet turns into a hire, that’s fantastic. If they turn into a referral source for me, that’s cool too. If not, no big deal – I know it’s not going to happen every time, and it doesn’t mean my experience was a flop. And who knows – sometime down the road, if I left a good enough impression on people, it might turn into something fruitful.

As my mother always used to tell me, “Good things come to those who wait.” We’ve just gotten so impatient lately that most of us can’t wait for the good stuff and expect it all now. Practice a little patience, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the long-term ROI of your efforts today. Happy networking!

What I Learned In College (Taking Responsibility For Yourself)
August 6, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Career Advice, Thoughts

Be prepared for my rant!

A lot of you have seen this – the case of the Monroe College student who is suing – yes SUING – the college because she hasn’t found a job yet. It’s August, and the girl graduated in April.

Come ON….

What has this world come to? Why are we suing educational institutions for not getting us a job? It’s not their responsibility to find us a job – college is supposed to prepare us for entry into what many refer to as the “real world”, which means we have to take off our diapers and do things for ourselves. I’ve NEVER heard of a college that promises employment – ESPECIALLY these days. They don’t even promise an education – know why? Because it is up to YOU to go to your classes and learn something. Professors in college are not going to hold your hand and baby you. At the beginning of the semester, they’ll give you a syllabus, tell you when your assignments are due, and you’ll be expected to put that to memory and be responsible for getting your stuff done. At least, that’s how I remember it…

My first two semesters in college were rough – and I started as a sophomore because I had so many credits coming out of high school! I think my cumulative GPA my first two semesters was something around 2.9. This is because I had to make some serious adjustments to 1) keeping track of when my assignments were due, and 2) making sure I had a good balance of school, work, and fun. Sometimes the fun was way out of balance, which is what happens to a lot of students in the first year. The difference is between those who learn to be responsible, and those who whine and complain that ‘teacher didn’t tell me when this or that was due’, and blame everyone else for their lack of ability to manage a calendar.

I had an academic scholarship to the University of Florida, but to keep it that meant I had to maintain a 3.0 GPA. As a result, following the end of my 2nd semester I was in danger of losing my scholarship. But instead of whining and complaining, I figured out what needed to be done in order for me to keep my scholarship. I buckled down, studied more, became diligent in managing my schedule, and by the time I graduated (in 3 1/2 years), I had a 3.53 cumulative GPA, which mean I graduated with honors. And by the way, I did this while working at least 30 hours a week at the Olive Garden my junior and senior years.

I graduated in December of 2000. Guess when I got my first “real job”: August of 2001. 8 months after graduating – imagine that! In the meantime, since I couldn’t afford to live on my own, I had to move back in with my mom, something I never wanted to do. So, to change my own situation (learning point there) I worked 2 jobs to save up enough money so I could move out. I worked during the day as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, and after that job was over, I went to wait tables 5 days a week. I did this for 8 months until I had enough to move out and enough for covering my living expenses for a couple of months until I could find another job. Which I did – paying $7/hour working in sales at a fitness club. I hated this job, even though it was utilizing my education (Exercise and Sports Sciences), so I ended up going back to waiting tables for….another 10 months. Only after that did I got my first job working in recruiting, and the rest is history. So if you really want to get down to it, it took me 18 months to find my career. And it wasn’t even related to what I had studied in college.

So when I hear stories like this, a girl who is suing her college because she hasn’t found a job it hasn’t found her a job in 3 months, it makes me want to go insane! 3 months??? Try 18, or longer in some cases! And I’d really be interested in how much time this young lady has invested in her own job search, or if she’s leaned back and expected other people to do all of the work for her.

Life is not fair. This may sound harsh, but once you learn that lesson, you’ll get along much better in life. Take the following items as words of advice from the voice of experience:

  • The days of going to school, getting a degree, and that guaranteeing you a good job are over. You must learn how to network in today’s world – it’s probably going to be the most important skill you can learn to be successful at any endeavor you pursue. I believe this is a skill that should be taught in a mandatory course in college – or better yet, something taught at the high school level.
  • People are not going to hold your hand your whole life. You have to take responsibility for yourself. The best place to learn this is in college, because you will be chewed up and spit out in the corporate world with this mindset.
  • People will be willing to help you, but only if you’re helping yourself in the meantime. Do not expect other people to do your heavy lifting for you.
  • You must learn to find balance in your life – party too hard in college, your education will suffer. Study too much, and you’ll make yourself crazy (and the others around you too). Well-balanced individuals often find great success because they know when it’s time to get down to business, but they also know how to kick back and relax.
  • Most importantly, make and maintain a good name for yourself. Think about this – what employer do you think is going to pursue this girl now, after they have seen this news splashed across the headlines? Whether she realizes it or not, she just made her situation that much worse because the perception is now that she has an entitlement complex. I don’t know if this assumption is the actual case, but that is the perception of most people who hear this story at this point.

Students, your reputation is one of the few things you can control in your life. Take extreme care in maintaining a good one. Suing your college for not finding you a job will severely hurt your reputation and your chances of being hired anywhere. Companies are looking for individuals who can handle the hiccups that occur in life in stride, not people who throw themselves on the ground and have a hissy fit when things aren’t always peaches and cream. Listen – bad things happen to everyone – what separates the successful people from the unsuccessful people is the ability to deal with life’s issues maturely, realizing that the tough times are learning opportunities, and what makes us stronger in the long run.

Best wishes to you as you are earning your education, and please let me know if I can help you in your job search (no guarantees, of course! 🙂 )

Holiday Inn Express Mentality In Social Media
August 5, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Thoughts

I think Holiday Inn Express started their “Stay Smart” campaign back in 1998. (please correct me if I’m wrong) The “I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express” commercials they’ve put out are cute and they make us chuckle to think that these people become immediate experts at their tasks because they spent one night in a certain hotel chain. This one’s got to be my favorite:

This is funny, until this kind of mentality crosses over into use of social media. Lots of folks think that attending a webinar automatically certifies them with “social media expert” status. Umm… not quite 🙂 It takes a little more than attending one webinar or one conference to “get it”. Don’t think that automatically qualifies you to start producing your own training material. You have to live it, experience it, interact with others in it, and most importantly, FAIL at it.

Consider doctors – they’re going to go through hundreds and hundreds of practice procedures in medical school and mess up (sometimes fatally) along the way. But this is the only way they’ll learn how NOT to do things right, and thus become good at their craft. Why should this be any different?

Don’t assume that by taking a webinar here and there that you all of a sudden know what you’re doing. It takes time and effort, trial and error, and learning from making mistakes to be truly excellent.

Recruiters Getting By-Passed By Companies Using Social Media
August 3, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Recruiting

cut out of the pictureI recently wrote an article for Ryan Leary‘s blog, CruiterTalk, with specific examples of people who found work through Twitter, which received an awful lot of attention. I will post the article here on my blog in the near future, but for now I wanted to address a little thing that I mentioned at the very end of my post:

“…the majority of the folks mentioned [in the article] who were monitoring, seeking, and reaching out to these qualified candidates via Twitter were in fact NOT RECRUITERS, but observant employees and either partners or owners in their companies. So… perhaps this is a rude wake-up call to recruiters: the more you resist and poo-poo using tools like Twitter to find, connect with, and develop relationships with people, the more beneficial it will be for the direct hiring authorities, since they’ve already seemed to embrace this method of search.”

I am not going to specifically call out Twitter here, but make mention of ALL social media. WAKE UP RECRUITING COMMUNITY…. while you’ve been sleeping, belly-aching about social media, and just blatantly ignoring its existence, companies themselves have discovered what valuable recruiting tools social media resources can be. And guess what – they’re going AROUND you – to get to the desired candidates. Don’t believe me? Check out all the companies that have Facebook Fan Pages dedicated specifically to filling their open positions. How about companies that have YouTubeVimeo, or CareerTV recruiting videos as well? Corporate recruiters, who are most likely monitoring these sites, are finding less and less need to use third-party agencies to assist. Still not convinced? Check out some of the other articles written on this very topic – here, here, here, and here (check out the list of companies with Twitter accounts dedicated to recruiting!) – and I know there are more.

Here are a couple of things that you, as a recruiter, can do to keep from being left completely in the dust as companies start using you less and less as they find more success for recruiting through social media:

  • Become an expert in your respective industries – be the go-to guy or gal online in your niche market. The catch here is to actually BE that person, not just SAY you are (BIG difference)
  • BUILD RELATIONSHIPS – gone are the days of turn-and-burn when it comes to candidates. Develop strong bonds with those you would place at your clients. I’m constantly amazed at the lack of relational skills that so many recruiters seem to have. And here’s a tip – the rules that apply to in-person relationship building ALSO APPLY to online relationship building. So spamming potential candidates with your ‘awesome’ jobs would be the equivalent of attending a party (that most like you weren’t invited to) and circulating the room only to hand out your card, then leaving. Don’t be that guy…
  • Give first. Give often. Ask for little in return – when you use social media to reach out to candidates, give them something of value  to them, and make it specific. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t make it ALWAYS about recruiting. Same goes when you reach out to prospective clients – don’t pidgeon-hole yourself into being that person who only knows recruiting. And please…. don’t take the fact that they handed you a business card as full permission to sign them up for your weekly e-newsletter.
  • Set up your own web presence, and don’t be cheesy about it. Be a real human being. Be professional of course, but remember that people make decisions based mostly on emotion. If they remember that you’re human, they might be more likely to work with you in some capacity.
  • Learn how you can be involved in social media from a recruitment capacity, and offer expertise to your clients. Be a value-add. Make sure you first know what you’re talking about though….and that’s a whole other post right there…

Look – social media remains a TOOL – not a strategy – to reach people. The strategy is in how you choose to leverage that tool. That being said, there are still TONS of people who will not be found on social networking sites. Yes, I realize this. All I’m saying is quit ignoring the elephant in the room – acknowledge its existence, and also take note of the fact that companies – YOUR CLIENTS – have acknowledged and embraced its existence and value in filling some of their recruiting needs.