Career Success in Social Media Mad World

Career Success Planning in Today’s Social-Media Driven Economy

Top-10 Checklist – Skills, Tech and Networking

By Thomas Cross & Daniel Pearson

Here are ten quick tips to help you in your career pursuits and some ideas, tips and thoughts to engage and protect you as well as maximize your efforts in this life-long journey.

1 – Qualifications, not resumes – skills needed like project management, technical skills, communications, and collaboration

Start with your skills.  If you have none then start building them.  Employers don’t want people; they want skilled people to do a job.  That is, when HR (human resources) starts looking for a person, they start not with the ideal candidate but with the ideal skills.  Of course, they want often a lot more than they will get as most people don’t have “expert level” skills in all the areas that match the job often in a place not convenient to where you live. Begin your job search with looking at lots of job postings to see what employers are looking for.  Look at the job skills listed.  For example, project manager is always a popular item.  This means that they want a person who often has a Project Management Professional (PMP), which is a special certification.  That means if you are interested in certain skills, then pursue certifications along with the other degree you are seeking.

2 – Get Connected – on Linkedin and DELETE Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. just in case you posted something really stupid.

There is no one social media platform for jobs.  However, Linkedin is the only one that focused around on job recruiting and business networking.  We have found that college students don’t get the purpose of Linkedin until they are ready to graduate.  Career planning today and in the future, will be increasingly focused on beginning the job preparation sooner, not later.  No one starts with hundreds or thousands of connections on Linkedin.  However, many recruiters, employer’s managers and hiring manager start by looking at your Linkedin profile.  Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are tools prospective companies may use to vet out those which may not be a fit in the company culture and other factors.   This simply means start networking now and be very mindful of your posts and pics.

3 – Communications – onsite and online – elevator – cold calls – blogging

In today’s complex internet world, communications begins with social media.  It is equally important to extend your communications skills in multiple directions and applications.  Companies want people who get along and fit into their corporate culture, not just your own culture.  You must learn to adapt to multiple work groups, inter-department collaboration, special task forces and at any moment, special assignments.  Communications is indeed the most important skill you must have.  That is, if you can’t communicate and you can’t help yourself how, can you communicate with anyone you interact with?

There are many great books on communications and still one of the best is How to Win Friends and Influence People.  One of the first best-selling self-help books ever published. Written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936.  Check out the Wikipedia summary which maybe enough.   There are so many simple techniques in this book; if you follow any of them you will increase your communications skills.  If you are thinking of your own business or working for a company, begin your own job search with a simple “elevator pitch.”  It is what you would say if you are riding in an elevator with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and they asked you what you do and you have less than 30 seconds to make a lasting impression.   This means that you should know what you are doing, what you want or what you have to say about yourself in 50 words or less.

Cold calling, considered by some to be less respectable is really a good way to test your communications skills.  For example use Linkedin to research colleagues/friends.  You can often find the HR person or even the hiring manager.  Pick up the phone and call them.  It is unlikely you will get through but you will have to have your “personal movie script” ready when you get the daunting task of leaving a voice mail message.  First, practice your script and then like in any movie, have multiple script “endings” as the written word is not the spoken word and you may need to be ready to be “on your feet” for last minute changes.  Also, listen to the voice mail prompts to make sure you understand how to “erase and re-record” should you want to try it again.  Before you press the send option, listen to your message to give you an idea of what you sound like and what communication style and tone you are projecting.

The last point is blogging.  While many consider it a social media tool, it is really a communication tool.  Whether the topic be skiing in whiteout conditions or using photography equipment to track your every move, each person has a particular passion, skill or sport.  Writing is personal, professional and educational.  You can demonstrate your knowledge, research abilities and personal communications style.  It also shows friends, family and prospective employers what kind of person you really are.  Rather than just sit there, show the world what you can really do and how good you can really be.  Remember, this might be your first and only impression you may have, so make it crisp, clear and confident.

4 – Manage your social media reputation – WIDD (When In Doubt Delete)

Reputation is for the rich and famous absolutely critical.  We have all seen great leaders fall from grace permanently because of an illicit affair, crime or off-hand remark they made during an off-the-record speech or recording session.  We put WIDD to suggest you be very careful of all your actions including blogging, Twittering, emails, etc.  In other words, if you are not sure what to say and when in doubt, simply delete it.  The internet is permanent ink and doubt that nothing you ever do or say will ever go away.  That means, just don’t say it.  It should go without saying; pictures and videos can have both personal and legal consequences.

5 – Privacy, disclosure and legal discovery – Realize everything you do is public

This one is not the same as reputation.  This is about files, documents, records whether in public or private that can be used on a social network at work.  For example, with Facebook (FB), you still own the content you post, but you have licensed it to Facebook to use, display, or to do whatever it wants with it. This license includes the right to sublicense your content.  That is, your content will be used by FB to generate income for them.  One advertiser is mining FB data available to it about users so they can sell more advertising. Facebook is free, so the default privacy settings are automatically set on the most public choice available so data will continue to flow in.  Facebook can and does use user content to build third-party advertising and what they call social advertising. Social ads are those Facebook sidebar pictures of you or your friend “liking” certain content.   There are steps you can take to limit or eliminate the level of sharing that occurs with your content, particularly if it is protected by trademark, copyright or patent law.  1) Stop using online networks which may not be possible but everyone has the responsibility of managing their content.  That may not be practical, here’s the real answer. 2) If you do not want to share it, do not post it. If you post it, you grant Facebook a license to use it. And, by the way, if you dispute the use of your content with Facebook, you have already agreed to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts in Santa Clara, California.  Said simply, you still own the content you post, but you have licensed it to Facebook to use, display, or to do whatever it wants with it. This license includes the right to sublicense your content. If you delete content, Facebook still owns a license to it if your content has been shared with another user and they have not deleted it. In other words, WIDD and DPAA (Don’t Post At All).

6 – Texting & Career Development

Texting is like the ultimate addiction.  People can’t stop and it continues to get worse.  You may wonder why this is on the list about searching for jobs.  Since we could not find it on any other tips about jobs and the reality is that texting is a part of any job, be aware of the civil and criminal consequences.  In legal terms, Mens Rea means “guilty mind” and is, along with proof of a criminal act itself, one of the two required elements in due process countries around the world.  A criminal prosecutor must prove certain acts were committed by a defendant. But along with those acts, the prosecutor must also prove the presence of a guilty mind – acting knowingly and intentionally – of the defendant as well.  We know texting while driving is dangerous, and because we collectively “know” it, the mens rea requirement of  criminal act can be satisfied.   A recent study released found that 60% of all people admitted to texting or emailing while driving in the past month.   While most states have passed specific legislation criminalizing the texting activity, it really is not necessary. Texting while driving is sufficiently established as knowingly and intentionally dangerous to constitute the “guilty mind” requirement for a Negligent Homicide Felony charge if a fatal accident occurs while texting. For any teen or for that matter anyone, the conviction of a felony can change a life forever.  The numbers of tragic stories are mounting daily. Convictions of teen drivers charged with all kinds of crime including negligent homicide and sentenced to jail can be found in nearly every state. Public safety educational campaigns are underway but having little effect on a teen’s overriding need to stay connected.   Texting is 23 times or more distracting than talking on a phone. In spite of this, most people do it anyway. The point is that if you can’t stop texting, you may end in jail or spend years and thousands of dollars on legal fees.  Then you have to explain your criminal record on your job application which may get you automatically eliminated.  The hard reality is that texting and driving is illegal and dangerous.   Stopping may save your life and your career.

7 – Gossip – Buzz – Spin – Hype – traveling faster than the speed of light

Email is a relatively new technology only 30+ years old.  Before that people used paper memos to communicate their ideas.  When the telephone was invented, executives commented “why would I use that I have messenger boys.”  Like the previous topic we all seem hell-bent to text incessantly and yet we still feel that communications is often lacking.  However, gossip requires little technology as newspapers printed gossip columns are read by millions daily.  Corporations publish their own newspapers often including promotions and other corporate spin.  Where is this going?  That a piece of gossip you can easily start in NYC can be in SFO before lunch and known by thousands of people in seconds.  Spin, buzz, hype or whatever you want to call it can ruin a career and that career could be yours.  Notwithstanding our need to have good communications skills, knowing when to keep it shut is equally important.  Think of gossip like a pane of glass, you can hit the glass with and a hammer and shatter it into a thousand pieces.  Have you ever tried to pick up all the pieces from broken glass?  Try it as you might to get all the pieces, it is likely that you are going to get cut by a sliver of broken glass.

8 – Virtual Office (VO) – Moving ideas, not people

Having written the first book on Telecommuting close to 30 years ago, people would often ask what it is like to work at home.  Easy answer is that the White House is a home office.  Practical examples are simply to move ideas, not people.  Flextime in telecommuting terms is called flexplace.  In work terms, take the amount of time you spend during the day really doing the work you need to do, subtract the time spent in meetings and other time wasters, then divide by the number of hours you spend commuting, you get a concentration-commuting ratio (see chart).

In other words, with transit commute times increasing and at work times decreasing, you may find that you can get the work you do at the office completed in the time you commute.  What does that mean in terms of career?  This means if you are able to work at home or anywhere else “virtually” and be flexible in terms of time and place.  For example, if you live in California and you have office colleagues who work on the east coast, this means you need to be up and ready three hours early just to match their schedule.  If you have colleagues and customers in Europe, you have to get up even earlier and if you have teams in India and Pan-Asia, then you need to be up even earlier or stay up later.  We have a humorous saying that “if you can’t get it done in 24 hours a day, you will have to work nights.”  The last point to remember VO is not for everyone, but you may be doing a lot of it.

9 – Technology

In a recent interview, the director of IT (information technology) commented that the department head was totally committed to IT but did not use email himself.  This may be a current day example of the “tech gap” however, there has been and always will be a gap between what you have and the company you work for has.  There is a current trend called BYOD-bring your own device where the employee brings their own device, tablets, smartphone and toys that they can use both in their personal and corporate alter-ego.  The role of the company is evolving for so many like VO and introduction of other tech that the concept of being employed is also now in question blurring the lines between personal and professional lives.  For many in manufacturing, military, transportation, hospitality and others, workplace technologies will always be driven by corporate IT and other tech departments.  This means that while you think your iDevice is the coolest tech, corporations are driven by providing “universal service” of tech in all places, all the time, reliably, securely, safety and cost-effectively.  This means you need to be very tech savvy in all levels of software, hardware, systems, and platforms.  In other words, get your “geek game” on as tech will drive all levels of any business and you don’t want to fall into the gap.

10 – Always looking for the next job – it may be your own job

For millennia, people did the same job their entire life and for some like those in religious positions, that job has not and likely not to change for another millennia.  However, if you are mortal, your career may not change but the jobs you do certainly will.  It is doubtful that you will work for the same company for more than five years.  Within those five years, you may likely have a new position every year as companies are constantly growing, contracting, reorganizing and otherwise evolving to an ever changing and complex marketplace.  The pace of tech is constantly increasing at an ever-increasing rate and you will need, as mentioned before, your tech skills.  However, technology can only increase the speed of communications, not the message or content.  For your own success inside a company, we have a saying; “strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change, and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”  Your job if you decide to work in the corporate world will be to help them change faster and easier.  If you decide you want to pursue your own business, then you will still have to do the same as you will need these skills as an agent of change to help your business grow.

We hope you found these tips and thoughts of benefit to you and look forward to any thoughts you may have.

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