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Employers Now Asking Job Applicants for Facebook Password

A recent article posted on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/143455776.html), reported that employers are now asking job applicants to share their Facebook password. Legislators and legal professionals are collectively opposed to this practice and are discouraging employers from asking  job applicants for their Facebook or other social media passwords. Not only do they argue it should be illegal, but they remain adamant that it an invasion of  privacy.

The question is, what would you do in an interview or job application process if you were asked for your Facebook or social media passwords? Here are a few tips we would suggest using if ever you find yourself in this situation.

1. Approach this request similarly to the way you would respond to an illegal interview question (i.e. nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion, physical or mental disabilities, health history, etc.). Here are a few options:

  • Provide the answer and move on (note: anything you disclose in an interview can be considered by the employer when assessing your candidacy/fit for the position).
  • Ignore the question and re-direct the conversation. (note: this might be a good opportunity to refer them to your LinkedIn profile site instead…if you are comfortable sharing it of course).
  • Ask about the relevance of the question as it pertains to the position for which you are interviewing. Inform them you are not comfortable answering the question if not relevant.
  • You can simply reply that you prefer not to answer the question.
  • If you feel the interviewer(s) are being blatantly discriminatory against you, you have the right to walk away.

2. One of the common misconceptions about interviewing is that the interviewee (the applicant) does not always realize that the interview process is a two-way street.  Remember, you are interviewing the employer as well. When interviewing the employer, your goal is to determine whether or not you see yourself fitting into their organizational culture and the potential for your future success. Thus, if an employer asks you for your password to any social media site, including Facebook, you have to ask yourself one question – am I comfortable working for an organization that asks for such information?

3. However, in some cases it may be necessary or common for an employer to ask for password information. For instance, when federal government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, or Department of Homeland Security conduct background checks on applicants, these investigations are extensive and result in them researching everything they can about who you were and who you are now. Believe it or not, they will even investigate as far back as when you were a child; thus, you can bet they will also  seek access to your online communications (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.). There still exists a debate whether or not this is appropriate or not. As depicted in the aforementioned article, several state agencies (mainly public service agencies such as police departments) are implementing the same type of background check and asking applicants for their passwords.

4. Finally, it is important to not do anything that you feel violates your own ethics or value system, even in a job interview. While we certainly understand the importance of finding employment, we do not encourage sacrificing your image, reputation, and/or  private information just to land a paycheck. Strong self-awareness, confidence and willingness to stand up for your own values are the foundation for successful career development.

9 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Hiring Managers

When a hiring manager views your LinkedIn profile, you have about 30 seconds to convince him or her that you’re what their company needs. Follow these nine tips to boost your profile’s appeal and ensure it isn’t one a hiring manager will pass over:

  • Build instant credibility with a professional-looking profile photo.
  • Make sure your profile headline clearly communicates what you’re all about (and not just your job title).
  • Provide even more detail about who you are with a professional summary that can be read aloud within 30 seconds.
  • Get your profile to show up on free searches by completing it.
  • Update your status at least once per week to seem more passionate.
  • Share the industry-related books you’re reading with the Reading List by Amazon application.
  • Join and participate in at least three industry-relevant groups.
  • Get to 150 connections in order to increase your chances of having first-degree connections in places you want to work.
  • Get ten or more recommendations to ensure you look like a top recommendation.

Other helpful tips:

  • Highlight your skills and competencies in your “Specialties” section. Include topic areas you have knowledge and/or experience in. Use the SKILLS AND EXPERTISE tool under the “More” toolbar on LinkedIn for additional skills and areas of expertise to add to your profile.
  • Usability – don’t be passive when using LinkedIn. Continuously reach out to your connections, build and expand your network, and maintain a presence on LinkedIn.
  • Create a blog site where you can promote your blog on your profile and share your perspectives and knowledge on topics to your network.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to edit your “public profile” link. Add this edited link to your resume.

How To Keep Your Social Media Prescence Career-Friendly

 SmartPulse — a weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues. Last week’s poll question: How do you keep your social media presence professional?
  • I keep separate accounts for personal and professional networking: 68.46%
  • I use filters, such as Circles on Google+, to make sure posts are seen by the right people: 9.13%
  • I do not use social networks for professional purposes — only personal matters: 8.71%
  • I only post things that are related to my job, no matter what network I’m on: 8.30%
  • I don’t use social networks at all: 5.39%

Last week, Tricia Smith interviewed Donna Farrugia, the executive director of The Creative Group, about how social media can be used to make connections in your career.  She cautioned that “it’s important to always be careful about what you post and with whom you’re sharing the information,” which is something that many of our readers seem to be aware of. More than 85% of readers who responded said they post only business-related content or use filters or separate accounts to make sure personal matters don’t become office gossip.

It seems that the vast majority of readers are leading double lives when it comes to social networking. Having one profile dedicated to professional life and another for their life outside the 9-to-5 was the chosen method of almost 70% of respondents. Chances are, this adds up to profiles on two different sites — one on a professional site and one on a social site. Farrugia pointed out that while “Facebook and LinkedIn are big networking sites … there are also sites tailored to specific industries,” so the idea of having profiles on two different sites may be worth the upkeep. This approach makes sense, since most professional sites focus only on your career and don’t offer all the bells and whistles such as public messaging, photo albums and  interactive games that can often lead to the kind of oversharing that gets professionals in trouble.

That’s not to suggest that social sites can’t have merit in the professional world. Roughly 8% of readers who responded have a play-it-safe strategy and only post things that are relevant to their job.  But keeping your profile professional doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Farrugia suggested that professionals post about their hobbies so colleagues can “get a sense of your personality.”

By Tricia Smith on August 31, 2011 | Smartblogs.com 

23 Things Great Brands Do In Social Media

No one wants to invest time in something only to be mediocre at it. We want to be great. But before you can be great you have to understand what being great looks like. What are you trying to achieve and what are you aiming for? What do people who are great at X look like? Because before you can be better than them, you at least have to be equal. And that takes some understanding on your part.

Do you want to be great at social media? Well, below are 23 things that great businesses do in social media. Maybe you can help me and add to my list in the comments.


Great social media brands…

  1. Bring sexy back to word of mouth marketing.
  2. Dedicate time to answering questions from customers, potential customers and people first learning about the brand.
  3. Constantly poll their community for opinions, feedback, and criticism.
  4. Make it a habit to highlight other brands that are doing cool things, even if they’re doing it outside of their particular industry.
  5. Start conversations that others are scared to have.
  6. Give their employees a unique voice and the permission to connect to others.
  7. Regularly save the day.
  8. Push back the curtain to give their audience a better understanding of how things work, why they work that way, and what the company believes.
  9. Bleed company culture.
  10. Use tools to monitor their social media activity and makes adjustments when things aren’t working.
  11. Don’t take social media too seriously, but are too smart to view it as a joke.
  12. Understand the importance donuts and share them regularly.
  13. Don’t forget to tie offline events into what they’re doing online so there’s cohesion between strategies.
  14. Track their brand name in social media and knows when to respond, how to respond and how to engage brand advocates.
  15. Give us “the why” to go along with their social media calls to action.
  16. Plan for social media as to not leave channels voiceless for long periods of time just because they’re busy.
  17. Never, ever automate human interaction.
  18. Understand social media doesn’t belong to just the marketing department, but the company as a whole.
  19. Enter the waters with a social media plan to help guide their interaction and make sure they’re getting something for their investment.
  20. Use their social media plan to avoid falling victim to Shiny Object Syndrome.
  21. Understand that social media is the medium, not the message.
  22. Pass on insights gleaned from social media throughout the entire organization so that the right people are hearing the right conversations.
  23. Have clear social media guidelines so that employees know how to engage on behalf of the brand and connect with customers.

5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Land a New Job

Are you wondering why everyone in the professional world is so agog over LinkedIn? If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn because you think it’s probably just a more boring version of Facebook, you’re missing out. This professional networking site has become a very powerful tool for job candidates who want to increase their visibility and showcase their best qualities.

1. Update Your Status ASAP

If people know you are job hunting, they are often happy to help you out. When you post to let your network know about your job search, put a positive spin on it. For example, “I’m starting on my job searchtoday. The years I spent at (name of previous company) have prepared me well to advance my career through this transition. I’m excited to see what’s available on the job market. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a (name your job title) with (name a couple of your top skills), let me know!”

2. Get Relevant Recommendations

Former managers, direct reports, coworkers, clients, and vendors can be great sources for recommendations on LinkedIn. When recruiters view your profile, they are very interested in what other people are saying about you. Don’t spam your network with requests for recommendations. Instead, ask about a dozen people who have worked closely with you to post feedback that is specific and focuses on both your character and your job skills. 

3. Find Out Who You Know

Use LinkedIn to get the inside scoop. Run a search on LinkedIn for a prospective employer’s company name cross referenced with the name of your high school, any colleges you’ve attended, and your past workplaces. That way, you can pull up anyone you know who is or has been involved with a prospective employer. You can pump them for information about the company’s culture and how they were successful in getting a job there. It’s even better if they know the recruiter or someone else in the hiring decision-making chain. Friends of friends may also be able to hook you up with an inside connection.

4. Use the Job Search Function to Boost Your SEO

Finding posted jobs is only one of the reasons to spend time browsing the job search area of LinkedIn. This is where you will find out what skills recruiters in your industry are looking for. These are the keywords you will need to add to your LinkedIn summary and your resume so recruiters who are looking for jobs that aren’t posted can easily find you. For those that don’t know, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”

5. Do Unto Others

Stay on the lookout for ways to assist people in your network in their job searches as well. The more you give, the more you get back on LinkedIn. For example, if you become active in a professional group geared toward your area of expertise on LinkedIn and start sharing your job search tips, you stay at the top of people’s minds when they become aware of a job that would be right for you. When you post helpful advice online, it also makes you look like a team player in the eyes of recruiters.

Social Media’s Impact on Hiring: 2011 SHRM Survey

In April 2011, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a  SHRM Staffing Research Survey: “Social Networking Websites and Staffing.” A sample of HR professionals were randomly selected from SHRM’s membership database, which included approximately 250,000 individual members at the time the poll was conducted. The sample was composed of members with the job function of recruiting/staffing. For this analysis, 541 responses were used, yielding a response rate of 18%. The margin of error for this poll was +/- 4%.  In hopes of creating a stronger comparison, the results of the survey were compared to a 2008 SHRM Research Survey: “Online Technologies and Their Impact on Recruitment Strategies.”

What Did They Define as Social Media?

SHRM defined social media as any type of virtual interpersonal communication or media that included social interaction; media that transforms people from content consumers to content producers. It also included various forms of user-generated content and the collection of websites and applications that enable persons to interact online; such as LinkedIn; Facebook; Twitter.

Key Findings

More than one-half (56%) of the organizations currently use social networking websites when recruiting potential job candidates. This is a significant increase since 2008, when a little over one-third (34%) of organizations were using these sites as a recruiting tool.

Among organizations that used social networking sites for recruiting, the most utilized social networking website in 2011 was LinkedIn (95%). This was followed by Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%).

The percentage of respondents who believe that social networking websites are efficient for recruiting nonmanagement, management and executive-level employees has increased significantly since 2008. One respondent mentioned, “Social networking websites allow an employer the opportunity to gather initial information about a job candidate before a single word has been exchanged.”

When asked  the top reasons they are using social networking websites for staffing, 84% of the organizations indicated they are using social networking websites to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization (69% in 2008). In addition, 67% of the organizations reported that they use social networking websites because it is less expensive than other methods of recruiting candidates, while 60% also reported that they use these sites to increase their organization brand and recognition.

For more on this data, visit the 2011 SHRM Research Survey.

Tricks to Maximize Your Time on Social Media

So, you’re all connected and set up with Twitter, but now what? You know that Twitter is a great way to expand your business and gain more clients, but how can you maximize your time on this social media website? To find out, continue reading this article. Throughout, I will talk about several different cool tricks to maximize your time on social media.

1. Tweetchat

One of the best cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is through Tweetchat.  Using Tweetchat is easy. First, log in using your Twitter ID and password. Then, choose a hashtag that you would like to follow. What is a hashtag? A hashtag is a specific topic. Once you select a hashtag, you will be connected to people who are talking about similar things related to that topic. By using Tweetchat you can easily maximize your time on Twitter, connecting with users who may be interested in your product or service.

2. Hootsuite

Another one of our cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is Hootsuite. Hootsuite, a Twitter toolbar, allows you to manage your entire Twitter account from one interface. Not only does it allow you to manage your Twitter account, but it also allows you to manage other social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. By using Hootsuite, you will easily be able to manage multiple accounts while at the same time identifying and multiplying your audience, distributing messages, launching marketing campaigns, monitoring keywords, and keeping track of your success.

3. Twitter lists

If you want to know cool tricks to maximize your time on social media, you will also want to consider using Twitter lists. A Twitter list allows you to organize your contacts into groups (or “lists”). If you click on a particular list, any Tweets from users in this list will be displayed. Twitter lists are easy to create and are very helpful in keeping your Tweets and contacts organized.

4. Goals

If you want to maximize your time on Twitter, you will need to create goals for yourself. Why are you on Twitter? What results are you looking for? Only after you answer these questions can you begin to use Twitter to your advantage. If, for example, you want to use Twitter to find new clients, you may consider using Tweetchat or  Twitter search. If, on the other hand, you already have a large following and would like to use Twitter to keep clients, you may use it to update them about sales and deals.

5. Targeted Following

One of the best things about Twitter is that you can follow anyone you want even if they choose not to follow you back. For businesses, this is a great advantage as it allows them to generate a targeted following. If, for example, you were running a Nike business, you could easy check Adidas Twitter page. By doing so, you can see who is following Adidas (and therefore who is interested in sports clothing) and add them to your follow list in hopes that they will begin to follow you as well, thereby gaining you potential business.

6. Search

The final of our cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is Twitter Search. You can use Twitter search to find people who may be interested in your product or service. You can also use it to find competitors, check out what competitors are doing, and use this information to better your own business.

Twitter is a great way to expand your client base, but if you are going to use it you need to know how to maximize your time. Use the above cool tricks to maximize your time on social media and watch your business boom!

Silvia Pencak