05Nov

Natural Talents

Natural Talents

GC2Are Managers Working too hard to put a Square Peg in a Round Hole?
By Jolene Risch

My sons and I recently took a trip to Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. During our adventure, we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Now, I’ve seen lush forests and majestic mountains, witnessed brilliant colors and dazzling stars, but the unique beauty and distinct colors of the natural rock formations residing inside these parks was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. As I took in the extraordinary views, I wondered: What if an architect chiseled away at the glorious mountains until he had a brand new office building or housing development?

It would seem unnatural, right?

Then, I applied the same metaphor to talent acquisition and retention: Are managers trying to chisel away at the natural talents and traits of employees with the hope of getting greater productivity? Or, are they appreciating, utilizing, and supporting each employee’s unique talents for the good of the company?

All for One and One for All

Obviously it makes good business sense (and good people sense) to capitalize on each employee’s unique talents and strengths, yet it’s common for managers to do the opposite. In the quest to improve performance, managers tend to call out employee weaknesses, and then develop a plan to help overcome them. With this approach, managers end up with teams of people striving to be the same—and with mediocre results. By focusing on each person’s unique natural strengths, the results can be stellar.

Trillium Teams, a firm that specializes in team building, leadership, and coaching, offers this advice in a blog on its website: “The best managers do not try to change the style of others; they are aware that their people differ in how they approach problems and challenges, how they deal with others, how they handle change and pace in their work environment, and how they work with procedures set by the organization. The best managers recognize, capture and utilize the unique style each person brings to the team.”

As the firm explains in the same article, there are various tools managers can use to discover and support individual talents, such as assessments, workshops, and discussions.

And, don’t forget the impact of simply listening to employees to learn about their talents. Kimpton Hotels is one such company that incorporates the passions and strengths of individual employees for the greater good of the organization—and its customers.

Capitalizing on Strengths

There are tangible benefits to the company when managers bring out the best in employees. The article, “Managing Employees – Capitalize On Your Employees Talents,” outlines three major ones—retaining employees, creating a more productive work environment, and increasing job satisfaction. You might be interested to know that, according to the article, for more than 80 percent of those who leave a company, money isn’t the main factor. Not being fulfilled is.

According to data from global research firm Gallup, engagement improves dramatically when employees are encouraged to use their strengths. Here’s a direct and powerful quote from Gallup’s findings: “Gallup has found that building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses.”

Gallup reports that by helping employees identify and use what they’re good at—and creating an environment in which they can showcase their talents effectively—there’s a good chance you’ll see an impact on the bottom line.

By playing to the strengths of employees, organizations can improve the company culture, enhance the company brand, and save on costs that transcend hiring. Now that’s a thing of beauty.

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Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.

 

27Oct

Incredible Generosity Makes a Significant Difference in North Texas

Incredible Generosity Makes a Significant
Difference in North Texas

GenerositySeptember was a banner month for philanthropy, with North Texas continuing to be a standard bearer in volunteerism and fundraising. The 14th annual Freedom Day was Dallas’ largest 9/11 commemorative service event, with almost 1,000 volunteers serving more than 5,000 hours to support veterans organizations Equest Hooves For Heroes; Carry The Load; Honor, Courage, Commitment; The Mission Continues; Team Rubicon; Veterans in Business; and IAVA. Additional service partners included River Ranch Educational Charities and the City of Dallas Trinity Watershed Management. When founded on September 11, 2002, Freedom Day set out to turn a day of tragedy into a day of triumph. It’s now the single largest “Plug ‘n’ Play” for the employees of 100 Entrepreneurs For North Texas member companies each year, and if you watch this year’s highlights video, you can begin to understand why EFNT employees actually look forward to 9/11 because of the joy they experience from volunteering.

Freedom Day alone would have been considered a success by any measure, but September also included the single largest community-wide giving day in the galaxy – North Texas Giving Day. Donors again outdid themselves raising more than $33 Million in 18 hours for more than 2,100 nonprofit organizations.

For dozens of small- to mid-sized companies in Entrepreneurs For North Texas, North Texas Giving Day also makes employee giving and employee matching easy. Employees feel empowered to contribute to the North Texas charities of their choice, and employers who have established donor advised funds with the Communities Foundation of Texas can easily incentivize employee giving by using their fund to provide matching bonus funds. Companies using donor-advised funds to fulfill their charitable donations also enjoy the ability to designate their gifts in advance of Giving Day, helping the organizations they support maximize their opportunities to receive bonus funds, and avoiding credit card fees so the full amount donated goes to the nonprofit’s mission. Through employee contributions and donor-advised funds combined, the member companies of Entrepreneurs For North Texas gave a total of $270,264.84 this year…no small feat!

Whether through employee volunteerism or contributions, these are just two more ways Entrepreneurs For North Texas makes it easy to do good, building camaraderie among colleagues, deepening relationships in our North Texas community, and inspiring loyalty among employees. We couldn’t do it without the thousands of innovative givers who make up our Entrepreneurs For North Texas family; join us!

04Sep

Giving Back to the Community Is Well Received among Job Candidates

Giving Back to the Community Is Well Received among Job Candidates

By Catherine Cuellar, Director of EFNT and Jolene Risch 

Risch Results
Community Involvement
9.3.15

If employee retention is an employer’s goal, then engagement must be part of the business mission. When companies embark on talent acquisition efforts, they often overlook the value of publicizing their organization’s role within the community it serves. We know that companies involved in the community and advocating philanthropic pursuits are viewed as socially responsible and caring. Potential employees, particularly millennials, perceive that these organizations look beyond their own boardrooms to focus on the greater good. For many socially-minded people, this makes a difference in deciding where they want to work—and where they want to stay for the long term.

Use What You Know for Good

Philanthropy, good corporate citizenship, and corporate social responsibility have become important components of corporate strategy. Organizations can use what they know (the core competencies) for a larger cause, which is why corporate social initiatives provide a greater benefit to the firm’s reputation (and brand) than traditional corporate philanthropy. Many organizations choose to support community programs that are “near and dear” to stakeholders’ hearts, and by doing so, there is greater buy in, support, and passion for their charitable work.

Even small organizations like Risch Results have the opportunity to support the community. For example, our firm is active in Entrepreneurs For North Texas (EFNT), which serves the North Texas business community by leveraging its network of early stage, small and mid-size businesses, investors, and professional service providers to give back through social programs. EFNT is a way for firms of all sizes to align with other like-minded companies to accomplish initiatives that help to make the world a better place. Through organizations like EFNT, everyone in any industry can make a difference.

How to Show Your Organization Cares

Did you know that companies prioritizing community involvement have happier employees and more loyal customers? It’s important for companies to create a variety of corporate social initiatives in order to give everyone in the organization a chance to participate. When looking for new talent, remember to tell job candidates about the organization’s socially-minded activities. Include the company’s values and examples of community involvement in the job description so candidates learn early on about the corporate culture—and know what’s expected of them as well.

Fostering employee engagement and retention is key to driving a business forward. By focusing on community involvement and creating opportunities for employees to contribute, your company can foster loyalty, job sustainability, and personal satisfaction.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447. Entrepreneurs For North Texas (EFNT) assists our Member Companies in harnessing the power of their corporate assets through philanthropy and community programs in order to serve social needs while meeting corporate objectives. EFNT provides the due diligence in identifying the most strategic alliances with nonprofit organizations for its Member Companies so that maximum impact on both the company and the community can be achieved. Additionally, EFNT hosts networking events that celebrate corporate philanthropy, tap into the wisdom of accomplished business leaders and provide an exclusive environment for a community of like-minded good corporate citizens. Learn more at EFNT.org.

14May

Tough Love in the Workplace

Tough Love in the Workplace

Risch Results
Blog 5: Tough Love in the Workplace
V3, 5.14.15

Tough Love in the WorkplacePeople around the nation applauded when a Baltimore mother was caught on video publically slapping her son, who she caught rioting and hurling rocks at police officers during the city-wide unrest last month.

The act sent not only a parental message of zero tolerance, but it also inspired me to think about the importance of tough love. While condoning violence by becoming violent is counter-productive (although it would appear that the Baltimore mother needed to act aggressively to get her son’s attention), it is this very notion that being strong, strict, and forceful could actually be a productive way to manage employees.

No, I’m not saying managers should slap their subordinates. I’m not equating the Baltimore mom’s literal actions to supervisory rights. But what I am saying is that delivering the truth to employees—the tough and ugly—can often be a smart strategy for engagement, loyalty, growth, and retention.

As a professional recruiter, I know that employees want the truth. I also know that managers want to tell them the truth, but they often don’t have the necessary skills for delivering that truth in an honest, professional manner. There is value in the tough love strategy… you just need to know how to approach it. A tough love strategy can be a way to fix an employee problem today, and foster company loyalty so that he or she will want to stay.

Manager Mindset

There has long been a debate as to whether or not a soft approach is better than a hard approach when managing and motivating employees. Surely you can recall a time in your own career when you worked with a no-nonsense manager. Looking back, did his or her approach make you a better, more versatile professional? Most professionals I know will say yes.

“The Fine Art of Tough Love,” an article published a couple years ago in Harvard Business Review discusses the idea that executives can learn a thing or two from old-school strict school teachers. The article’s author says today’s employees want tough love so they can strive for higher standards and better performance. With tough love, the end justifies the means.

While no strategy is ever absolute, I know there are times when an employee needs to be “shocked” out of bad performance through honest, straightforward feedback. For this strategy to work, the time must be right, the situation and environment must be safe, and the employee must be treated fairly. There are effective and ineffective ways to approach an employee’s performance. In an e-book from Pace Staffing called, “Tough Love, the good manager’s guide for delivering bad news in a performance review,” the writers suggest that before the review begins, managers must make sure they have all of the available information to present an objective picture of the situation, and come prepared with proper documentation. The review should be a private meeting between the manager and employee, and let the employee speak first about his or her performance, they recommend. Keep the tone of the conversation professional and fact based—and start off with a positive accomplishment or success.

As you conduct the review, the manager should be sure to be specific about what needs to be remedied, criticizing the behavior, not the person.. Present the evidence and then pose solutions. Finally, set goals and measurements for success so you can help the employee strive for improvement, and then gauge the progress. (For a detailed step-by-step account of how to handle the review process, download Pace Staffing’s e-book here.)

Tough love can work, and it does for companies of all sizes and industries. Several years ago, Netflix got a lot of press for its stance on workplace tough love. As this article explains, Netflix has a zero tolerance policy for poor performance and rewards its employees with great pay. This honest, straightforward, no beating-around-the-bush approach may not be right for every employee, but it is right for some.

So look at tough love as another tool for employee motivation and retention. There’s never a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to employees, but tough love can be the answer to getting the results your business needs and keeping the employees you value.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.   ###

28Apr

Effective Onboarding Boosts Employee Retention

Effective Onboarding Boosts Employee Retention

By Jolene Risch and Adrienne Bommarito

Employee RetentionWhen you walk into a networking event and see someone you know, there’s a sense of comfort and familiarity. That feeling is the same one new employees covet, even from day one on the job. Ensuring new employees feel like they’re part of the organization and valued as a team member goes a long way toward sustainable employment. So how do you do it?

Executive recruiters know that hiring the right person for the job is obviously a priority, but equally necessary is helping companies increase employee retention. The more cohesive a business team is, the more advantaged the company can be for success. As this Forbes article by Meghan M. Biro points out, two keys to successful onboarding are to make it personal for the new hires and reinforce the employer’s brand. Biro writes, “You’re building a company, yes, but you’re also building a team of employer advocates.” By engaging employees from the very beginning, companies are building a solid foundation for sustainable employment.

To that end, here are three ways HR professionals can help ensure the onboarding process sets the right tone and vision for the company, and engages new hires in the process.

No. 1: Training Day

Training classes are at tried-and-true way companies onboard new employees. Structure the classes so that they take both a micro and macro approach by focusing on the technical learnings of the person’s job and responsibilities, while also providing information about the company’s mission, vision, values, and culture. The mix will help the new employee understand the specifics of his or her role, as well as the organizational big picture.

To create employee knowledge and cohesion on a training day, create an activity where the employee can personalize his or her specific role within the company, while also pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. A way to do this is through personality tests, and then share the results to demonstrate how the new employee thinks, as compared to their colleagues and boss. This helps create an understanding between colleagues, so when disagreements arise, they’re more knowledgeable about how each person works best.

No.2: The Buddy System

Team building is most effective when the new employees work with veteran employees. We find a great way to facilitate these partnership is through the buddy system. When a new employee is paired with a veteran employee, the new hire has direct communication with a company expert and gets information and answers immediately. The personal response helps the new employee assimilate quicker, and also fosters a sense of belonging.

To build on the buddy system, we recommend a charity-driven activity. For example, have employees pair up to build a bike. (The items will have been purchased and laid out before hand). After the activity, the bikes will be donated to a local children’s organization. This type of event is a win-win because employees get the chance to work together for a common goal, and organizations win because they’re always searching for volunteers. Other ideas include hosting a canned food drive, clothing drive, or cleaning a housing unit.

No. 3 Equal Representation

We recommend including direct managers and leadership in team-building activities. Leadership can play a smaller role in the training, such as introducing the company and explaining its values and success factors. When the leadership is involved, it sends a message to the new hires that they are appreciated and valued.

For example, if a company is hosting a year-end retreat, then plan an activity to enhance team cohesion, like a scavenger hunt. Clues can be questions pertaining to the company history, values, mission statement, etc. Teams will work together to guess the clue, which will lead them to the next clue… and so on until the game is completed.

Professional recruiters know that continuous team building provides a link to employee retention. To help with this effort, many organizations engage a planning company, such as The Event Lounge.

Employees who feel included, valued, and appreciated from the beginning are poised to be engaged immediately—and stay engaged for the long term. Motivated employees will advocate on behalf of the organization because they’re enthusiastic about their job, feel appreciated and valued, and understand the important part they play in the business’ overall success.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.   ###

Adrienne Bommarito is the National Account Manager for The Event Lounge, an event firm specializing in corporate meeting management, full service production, and design/décor. Learn more at The Event Lounge.

11Mar

The Jagged Resume

The Jagged Resume

resumeBy Jolene Risch, founder and principal, Risch Results

Recruitment firms have the challenge of matching talent with organizational need, which typically begins by searching for the diamond in a pile of candidates. The process can be long and arduous, and it always begins with reading resumes, which fall into one of three categories:

  1. Talent that Shouts: These are the resumes that scream “yes!” They look great in terms of stated career projection, longevity at the company, education, and skills.
  2. Thank you, but NO. Needs no explanation.
  3. Intriguing/Maybe: These are the resumes we put in the “maybe” pile because they are not a clear yes or no, but there is something intriguing. Professional recruiters see some things they like, but also notice clear flaws. Writer George Anders calls this the “jagged resume.”

In my career as a professional recruiter, I have learned that sometimes the person behind the resume has more applicable skill and talent than meets the eye. In other words, they MAY fall into the Intriguing/Maybe category. This is why I ask my clients questions about the candidates they’re seeking that go beyond previous company tenure. There are times when education and work history don’t seem like a fit, but they are.

In fact, I know this first hand.

When I was in graduate school at Columbia University, I’d been through a number of interviews. Most companies I met with wanted to fill east coast positions, but I wanted a Dallas-based job, preferably with a consulting company. I set my sights on Anderson Consulting, which was local. I interviewed, but they turned me down. That Friday I flew home from school to visit with the Dallas office of E&Y. On paper, most recruiters and hiring managers saw only my literal credentials and experience: Sociology and education major. Taught in inner city Washington DC. Served in the Peace Corps for almost three years. Graduate school at Columbia.

Anderson saw the flaws. Ernst & Young saw something else! I eventually had the great fortune to work for E&Y for six years in the People Effectiveness Group.

Anders discusses the jagged resume in his book, The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out.  When you have a jagged resume, you may have credentials and experience that are impressive, but the executive search firm or recruiter doesn’t always see the connection—they see a mismatch.

To find that diamond in the pile of maybes, organizations need to tighten up their must-have criteria. Anderson didn’t want someone who left the “track.”  E&Y saw leadership in the projects I did in the Peace Corps. They saw how that experience led me to study Organizational Behavior at Columbia.  They saw someone who would take risks. When a company indicates interest in such qualities with an executive search firm or professional recruiter, a whole new world of possible candidates can open up.

In his book, Anderson writes, “The process of getting to know the candidates is defined far more by questions involving ‘why’ and ‘how’ and less about ‘what’ or ‘when.’ The payoff: the mysteries of motivation, fit, and potential become much clearer.”

That was me, and as a professional recruiter, I’ve seen candidates of jagged resumes shine in their newly minted position. In the book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins says that great talent selection in the best companies doesn’t just follow a formula.

He’s talking about the jagged resume. Executive recruiters are wise to look beyond the standard qualifications to consider leadership skills and other characteristics that align with the hiring company’s culture and personnel needs. After all, when we think about talent and talent acquisition in terms of jaggedness, we may find candidates that move from maybe to yes.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.  

02Feb

Use LinkedIn to Find Your Next Great Hire

Use LinkedIn to Find Your Next Great Hire

linkedin

Use LinkedIn to Find Your Next Great Hire
By Jolene Risch, founder and principal, Risch Results

For recruitment agencies, LinkedIn is one of the most direct ways to connect talent with job opportunities. As of November 2014, LinkedIn reported a massive membership of over 323 million people according to this source. And while the industries most frequently represented on LinkedIn are IT services, healthcare, construction, education management, and accounting (according to this source), business professionals across all sectors recognize the need to be visible on LinkedIn. In fact, I recommend that business leaders leverage LinkedIn for contacts and networking, and use the platform to look for strong talent. And I also remind leaders to regularly check their inbox and respond to any qualified job seekers who may have sent a personal message. Often, there’s talent in unassuming places.

Executive search firms mine the valuable data found on LinkedIn to discover talent. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned for maximizing the benefit of LinkedIn, as one of Dallas top professional recruiters.

  • Every week, I find passive job candidates in Dallas (those who aren’t actively looking for a new position) by searching LinkedIn using specific keywords. This is why headlines with specific keywords are vital.
  • When I find matches, I approach the possible candidates by commenting on their resumes or experience.
  • I then invite them to learn about a job opportunity. In most cases, people respond—even if they aren’t actively looking. After all, curiosity is inherent, and ambitious professionals are keen on knowing what possible career-advancing situations are out there.
  • If they aren’t interested, I ask them if they know of professionals who might be looking.

LinkedIn gives me a way to source and track talent by virtually introducing me to potential candidates in a way traditional communication can’t match. Social media is another complementary channel for recruiting, and understanding how to maneuver the possibilities is both art and science. As LinkedIn’s membership grows, businesses evolve—and so do the opportunities for finding strong talent for your organization.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.   

 

12Jan

Recruiting ROI

Recruiting ROI

5 ways a recruiter helps to boost your business

By Jolene Risch, founder and principal, Risch Results

ROI RecruitingThere are professionals working within your business, and there are professionals working to build your business. Such is the call of duty for recruiters. Recruiting firms are key to assisting businesses identify spot-on talent who will fulfill an immediate personnel need, and also help to evolve and ultimately grow the enterprise. Here are five ways you benefit from working with a recruiting firm.

  1. Access Granted

Recruiters have access to tools that enable a streamlined and effective pursuit of qualified candidates. These tools not only cast a wide net to reach potential employees, but recruiters can also find candidates who aren’t actively looking for a career move, but may very well be a productive fit within the organization.

The ROI: Recruiters uncover talent opportunities you may not have known existed.

  1. Get Hours, Days Back

The labor market is brimming with job seekers. With so many individuals in the applicant pool, companies are in the advantaged position to be more discriminating today than they were in the past. However, more choice demands more time, focus, and effort. Recruiters help identify the best of the best so that you don’t have too.

The ROI: Your productivity quotient has risen because you can focus on the business.

  1. Cost Savings

By some professional accounts, it can cost 150 percent of the position’s salary to replace a manager. Executive-level positions can cost up to two times the annual salary. Recruiters help to lower the costs associated with turnover by finding candidates who fit. Employee retention saves money, enhances employee engagement, and mitigates lost productivity and lapses in customer service. (Read more about the benefits of reducing employee turnover with outsourced recruiting here.)

The ROI: Less spend on replacing talent means more revenue for the business.

  1. Social Media Expertise

Social media channels such as LinkedIn can function as a job posting board and a candidate screening platform. However, most businesses can only access the people they have connected with. So unless there’s a very big effort to build the network, the potential talent pool will be small. Recruiters have honed the process to source and vet candidates through a wide variety of social media channels to uncover a wider range of candidates.

The ROI: Recruiters have more depth and breadth to access candidates via social media than most companies.

  1. Company Ambassador

Recruiters function as ambassadors for your company. They look for the best and brightest while touting the benefits and opportunities your company presents.

The ROI: In the ever-growing global marketplace, recruiters are a productive advocate.

Working with a recruitment firm takes the guesswork out of talent acquisition and gives companies an efficient path to business growth. From understanding your business needs to vetting candidates, the ROI of working with a recruitment firm can have enormous value.

Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top recruiting firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.

03Sep

How to give praise

How to give praise

high_fiveEmployee motivation is easy to understand in theory, but it is much harder in practice. Many times bosses and managers become inundated in the day-to-day tasks and can lose sight of long-term, employee development, particularly employee motivation. This oversight, however, can cause severe structural dilemmas in the long-term. I have identified two main factors to focus on for employee motivation: inclusion and praise.

Inclusion: Inclusion in decision-making is crucial in basic motivation as it dignifies an employee. Obviously, there are different levels of inclusion and it is a manager’s job to identify the acceptable level of inclusion of an employee.

Take a high school as an example. The janitor will not be included in any academic and financial planning, but he could be included in the determination of the cleaning routine schedule and the procurement of cleaning supplies. A new history teaching fellow will not be included in curriculum planning, but should have input in the day-to-day lessons plans for the classes he helps with. When he becomes a full-time, history teacher, he is then included in broader history curriculum planning; many years later, as the head of the History Department, he is included in discipline-wide curriculum planning.

Obviously, it is much easier to determine someone’s inclusion when higher up the ladder, but it is crucial for a manager to identify areas of inclusion for new or less skilled employees. Proper inclusion does not only improve efficiency – an employee can provide specific knowledge regarding his tasks – but,  more importantly, allows the employee to feel pride and inclusion in the larger aims of the organization or firm.

Praise: Praise, on the other hand, constitutes the harder aspect of employee motivation; you can’t delegate praise like we just did with decision-making. Instead, praise is a behavior that a manager must deftly employ without coming across too structured. Furthermore, praise must be on an individualistic level. For instance, a monthly lunch to praise and thank 50 employees is a nice perk, but does not actually praise any of the individuals. While managers will most often receive the credit for a finished product or idea, the manager has a responsible to individually praise the employees that helped in this creation. Not acknowledging an employee’s role in a process will discourage initiative. Why would an employee bother thinking out of the box if he doesn’t get any credit from his immediate superior?

Bottling up effective employee motivation into two steps oversimplifies the complexity of employee motivation. Let this post, then, serve as a start and as a reminder that employee motivation is of the utmost important and must be consciously and adeptly planned for.

03Nov

Clean Cut: Job Seekers Must Keep a Professional Social Media Presence

Clean Cut: Job Seekers Must Keep a Professional Social Media Presence

When organizations retain our firm to find top talent, we look for a candidate who has the best experience, skills, and potential for cultural fit. Cultural fit is key because organizations want to make sure their employees will thrive in the company’s culture. As such, one of the best ways to learn more about a candidate is by looking at his or her online presence.

While social media is one of our most beneficial forms of communication, there’s a time and place for everything. You never know who’s viewing your digital presence, but you can be sure someone is. If you’re a job candidate, recruiters and hiring managers will do their due diligence, and if we see anything sketchy on social media, we won’t be able to refer you to our clients in good faith. This is why I recommend you conduct this social media test before you post or comment online: would you show it to your employer, recruiter, or organization you want to interview with? If the answer is no, then stop.

Red Flags

As an executive recruiter, some of the red flags I see are photos with alcohol, inappropriate or racist language, postings that have a negative tone, and rude comments. Your social media presence is like an online resume, so bad spelling and grammar also raise a red flag. Another thing that can turn away a recruiter: posting too often. Documenting your every move doesn’t translate as professional.

Clean Up Tips

Cleaning up your social media presence is vital for job candidates, and it doesn’t take long. As this quick video explains, you can get started by conducting a  Google search on yourself and your social profiles. Go through many pages to see what’s out there and take time to delete. The expert in the video also recommends making your non-professional social profiles private. (You don’t necessarily have keep everything private. For some jobs, such as marketing positions, a social media presence is important.)  If you have a personal blog, it will show up in a search too, so revise anything that could be questionable or unprofessional.

When you’re reviewing your digital footprint, revise unsuitable language, eliminate curse words, and fix spelling/grammar mistakes. Take inventory of your photos and omit the ones that could be unfitting. Be sure to review and revise anything you’re tagged in, anything you’ve commented on, and any comments others have made about your posts. Also, look at the pages you’ve liked, as well as the people or causes you follow, and revise anything that could be misconstrued. This site can help you clean up your social media presence.

Most importantly, from this point forward, be mindful of what you put out into cyberspace. Resist the urge to engage in political or social debate. A little restraint can go a long way in your future, particularly when it comes to landing that incredible job. Remember, organizations hire people, and you are more than just your skills and experience. Even when you’re not at work, you’re representing your place of employment. This is 2016 and social media is a part of everyday life, and every day recruitment. Be smart and prudent—and put your best digital foot(print) forward.

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