Social Media Part 2: The chronicles…

So as an extension of the last post (go read about it before you read this!) this is the story of the first bad comment on our business Facebook page. GASP I know right? For the  most part we don’t get bad comments on our personal page, I mean Facebook is a place for us to be friends with people who think like us right? ahahahah I kid I kid… moving on.

The Very First Time… So someone gets on our wall and posts some gibberish along the lines of complaining because we didn’t do our job-because we didn’t hire them. Blah-d Blah-d Blah-d. Please, kind sir, step into our office and begin telling us how to recruit. You clearly exhibited a high level of professionalism the first go around so after your Facebook rant we are sold! You are the person we are looking for! I, being responsible for our office operations and our Facebook page, F-R-E-A-K-E-D OUT! What do I do? Who do I ask what to do? This is uncharted territory for us? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. My first answer-do nothing. So, I did nothing. I ran through all kinds of scenarios in my head-including the thought that what if the VP saw it and decided that was it, we were shutting down the Facebook and good riddance! A bit later I had decided that I had crafted the perfect professional response and I was going to handle this like a pro! WRONG. One of our other temp employees had seen it and taken it upon hisself to comment back explaining that my staff and I were beyond excellent at our job and we probably didn’t hire this creep because he wasn’t qualified and clearly sucked at life. Oh. My. Gawsh! What do I do now? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. [let me explain further why they are useless-no one is there to hear me!] Alright, so let me put the kibosh on this-still going to handle it like a pro! WRONG! Now I have given them time to argue and for two more people to jump in, all defending us (which was nice, but irrelevant). With no more energy to run around in circles I decided to delete the whole thread and move on with my life.

What did I learn?

  • That some of our employees recognized our hard work and didn’t hesitate to stand up for that
  • You can never make everyone happy
  • Our reputation was on the line more than ever. Now it wasn’t about someone having a bad experience and telling their neighbor, it was about someone having a bad experience and telling OUR Facebook audience that consists of applicants, current employees, former employees, clients, potential clients, local businesses.
  • We had to take our customer service to the next level
  • We had to work harder
  • And I had to do some research

What do I know now?

  • Don’t hide from the bad comments. Use it as an opportunity to show your audience that you can take constructive criticism and that you care about issues.
  • Don’t delete them!
  • If it’s not a viable complaint, your audience will recognize that and will still take into consideration your response… and sometimes defend  you. [however let me be clear that I don’t support the idea of letting an argument happen on your business page, but that’s up to you!]
  • Don’t delete them!

I messed up the first time because I broke a primary rule, but cut me some slack, remember how I told you it was uncharted territory for us, it’s because it was! Now the second time I handled it like a pro and I’ll tell you all about that one tomorrow!

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AAAAAAAGH! Social Media!??!

There are a bazillion posts out there about the many reasons why businesses are/need to be using social media as a marketing platform… In our industry, marketing AND recruiting platform (a little redundant of me considering these two things go hand in hand). It seems though, many businesses fear the “social platform”. As a recruiter, manager and a person who strives to move our industry forward I think that it is important that we dissect our fears and move beyond them. No one ever changed the game by doing things the way “they’ve always been done.”

I recently traveled to our corporate office to give a quick overview of how my office has utilized social recruiting and to brainstorm with a few members on improving our website and other social avenues. The question that every single one of them asked me was in reference to negative comments/feedback. “Can they say something bad about us?” “Can we delete it?” so on and so forth… YES they can say something bad about us, but what are they going to say? YES we can delete it, but why would we? By the way, I have had the “social media fears” conversation with several other businesses as well so I’m inclined to believe that this is a fear for many businesses. Before I explain my response to these questions I do want to shout this out for everyone to hear loud and clear: NO ONE AND LET ME REPEAT, NO ONE, HAS MASTERED THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE BUSINESS WORLD. Right now we are playing games of trial and error and sharing our experiences with others and learning how to track ROI, etc., but none of us have it 100% right yet. If you think you do I’m eager for you to teach us, all of us!

Ok-everyone still with me? It is important that you do not delete the negative comments, but respond to them. I do have an exception to this rule and so far its my only exception; when someone uses bad language. I choose to stand firm in the allowance of deleting these comments because I don’t want to subject our audience to these words. Outside of deleting those comments, if we deleted negative comments we would just be telling the world we live in a fantasy land-one where we don’t believe we ever do anything wrong. I’ve learned that the audience we cater to is going to be far more forgiving if we acknowledge our mistakes and improve than if we pretend they do not exist. I use the negative comments and feedback to publicly address issues and to make my staff aware of our shortcomings. If someone has a bad experience with us I want to know about it. I know we cannot please everyone, but we can please the majority and we can make sure our mission is clear to everyone. By letting my staff know when someone publicly tells us they had a bad experience it holds them accountable and is a reminder to not let anyone slip through the cracks. People will talk about us, good and bad. And please believe they will talk about us and our company whether we have an online presence or not-at least if we have an online presence we have an opportunity to defend ourselves.

The second most common question I get “Doesn’t this make us too vulnerable to our competitors?” NO! We have to stop “hiding” from our competitors. We have to take the risk that we are good enough at our job that we will win out over our competitors. If we hide from them we could very well be hiding from potential consumers. In our line of work we have a lot of competition and I absolutely love that! I am naturally a very competitive person and I believe you cannot be the best until you compete with the best out there and win. “Publishing” our customer list is a scary thought and typically unheard of in our industry (in our area anyway), but my thoughts are this: I know who my competition services and they most likely know who I service… If I’m telling people who I service without reservation it is because I know we have established a relationship with that client that leads me to believe they aren’t going to leave us for the next company. What I am getting at is the ones my competitor should be interested in going after are the ones I won’t openly tell. I’m probably playing them close to the chest for a reason, eh? When we use social media for a marketing/recruiting platform it is putting all of our information out there, it is becoming transparent so not only is it a risk, but a motivating factor to bring your A game to the table every single day, because we can’t afford not to.

This is a topic that I could currently go on and on and on and on about, so I will! The rest of this week I will post some examples of how we handled some of the negative comments, being transparent to our competitors and how social media has grown our business for the better so stay tuned! I’m also eager to hear other examples from you- so please, do tell!

Bonding vs Building

As far as internally at our location we are a small group and we spend a large amount of time together. I’m all for some team building and lesson learning type activities for us to do, but today we kicked it easy and did some bonding. It was a lot of fun and to see the girls appreciate the value of learning more about each other was incredible. (As a young/inexperienced office manager little things like this mean a great deal to me, dont judge me. 🙂 …). Each person gave me two “trivia facts” about themselves that the others probably didn’t know about them. I made a list and had everyone write in their guess on each line and turn it back in. Almost ALL of them were wrong so everyone did a great job digging up little known facts about themselves. At lunch I read off each trivia fact and let the group share who their guess was and why and then the person it was about would confess and then tell the story related to their fact. We learned some hilarious things about each other today! From tattoos, karate chops, “dream” kid names, absolute won’ts and places they’ve traveled. We had so much fun and the timing was perfect.

Team building exercises don’t always have to be work related tasks-sometimes they can just be “bonding”.

Sweat pants? Hired!

Today I had an applicant come in for an interview in sweat pants that were at least two sizes too big, sandals, long johns t shirt and a cartoon character beanie on. She had to hold up her sweat pants when she walked back to my office to speak with me and didn’t bother taking that ridiculous hat off her head… I sat back just staring for a few seconds before I snapped back into the moment. What brought me back? Her talking about the positions that she wanted to be considered for- PROFESSIONAL positions. I had to cut her off and tell her that wasn’t an option and in fact I wouldn’t allow my recruiters to consider her for any position until she came back to the office dressed like she was taking her job search seriously. She immediately took her hat off her head and tugged at her hair to make it straight and sat up straight in her chair and exclaimed that she wouldn’t dress like that for work… Really? I don’t know that and I’m not willing to find out… I politely explained to her that she would be representing my staff and myself if we selected her for a position we had open and I wasn’t comfortable with her representing us in that manner. Now she said she was going to go home and change and come back, but here’s the deal; her first impression has already been made. Think about it.

What has happened that has allowed people to think that the job search shouldn’t be taken seriously?

But I did that 10 years ago? That counts right?

As a recruiter I have very specific standards for what I am looking for in a hire. I have been studying and perfecting the art of recruiting for the last 6 years of my life and have accepted and embraced the idea that it’s an area that will continue to teach me new lessons. I have this belief that the goal isn’t to keep doing it until you get it correct, but to keep on until you just absolutely cannot get it wrong. Truth be told I have mastered that for some of my clients, but not all of them. The hardest client I hire for is-well-myself.

I happen to be the youngest office manager for the company that I work for (did I mention that before?) and probably the most inexperienced. The reality is this: I am a product of this company. What I know and what I don’t know is a direct result of working for them. I have not been an office manager for another company and I started at an entry-level position here and continue to work my way up. I happen to have some very strong characteristics that result in me having to learn some things the hard way, often the VERY HARD way. The more hiring mistakes I make for myself, the more I learn. But isn’t the hiring process a two-way street? I interview you-you interview me[about me/about the company?]. What about those hiring mistakes that totally misrepresented themselves in the interview process or didn’t ask me the right questions.

When you are on the job hunt are you looking for a job or the job? If you are looking for the job then make sure you are asking the right questions for you as well. I constantly advise job seekers to do their research when seeking employment. Get online and find their mission and vision statement… seek out their client base… seek out their reputation… google them… google the owner… the hiring manager… the more you know the better! I don’t encourage job seekers to know more so they can fake it in an interview; I encourage them to research because to me it is very important that they make the right decision for them. I understand you need to support your family, but lets take the time to do this the right way. What about this position sparked your interest and made you want to apply? (If the answer is “I JUST NEED TO WORK” we aren’t heading in the right direction). Why do you think you’re a fit for this position? Is this a company you can see yourself working for in 5 years? If so why? If not, let’s move on! Why do you think you’d be good at this type of work? “Oh, this type of work really interests me and I think I could be a really good addition to your team!!”… hmm okay, but you didn’t really answer the question and what do you know about my team that makes you think you would be a good fit for my team?

My point is stop applying for positions that aren’t for you. First stop– skill set.. do you truly have the skill set they are asking for in the posting? At a job coaching meeting once I had someone ask “If I did that skill 10 years ago should I include it on my resume?” Well, lets figure this out together; Was 10 years ago the last time you performed that skill? Have you stayed current with the technological advancements involved in that skill? If I hired you for that skill and gave you a task to complete-could I walk away and leave you to do that skill without having to answer any questions for you? Second stop– (only if you pass the first one) do you have the same values this company has? If not, someone is going to end up unhappy.  Third stop– did you ask them the questions that truly matter to you? Maybe its something like “Are you guys family oriented?” … “How often do you have staff meetings and do you encourage all levels in the organization to come up with ideas?”… “Do you cross train? Do you hire for growth potential?”… “Do you value quality?”… “What is a typical day for other people in the position I am being considered for?”… These questions are going to vary based on what is important to you-but don’t be afraid to ask those questions. If you misrepresent your skill set or your values in an interview it will come out later and the organization will NOT be happy, I can assure you.

Can you patch things up if you did the complete opposite of what we just discussed? A good start to doing so would be to talk to your hiring manager and admit the mistake. It might be a good idea to start talking about parting ways. Maybe if you initiate the conversation it won’t leave the organization with such a bad taste in their mouth. Even if the job isn’t for you [for whatever reason] you still want to leave on the best possible terms, after all your future employer will probably do some type of employment verification and you wouldn’t want bad feedback given to them. Don’t get too scared though, [hiring manager] still has some skin in the game. If [hiring manager] would’ve done the right thing then the wrong person wouldn’t be in the job. So how does [hiring manager] keep this from happening again? The first answer is make sure you are learning from your mistakes. Write them down, track them, don’t make the same one twice. Make sure you ask all the right questions and do all the right reference checking and employment verification and don’t compromise your standards. Most importantly, wait for them to ask the right questions! Are they really interested in contributing to your team? How do they know that they are really interested in contributing to your team if they didn’t ask you anything about your team?

True Life: The Generation Gap in action…

You think you know, but you have no idea! We as HR constantly attend programs related to connecting the dots between the generations in the workforce, but behind closed doors what is it like an HR Dept that has employees from all generations?

  • 1st hand experience to the different generations-I work for baby boomers, I was raised (or raised them, I don’t know for sure) by Gen X parents, I’m Gen Y and my siblings are Gen Z (in some definitions they fall under Gen Z and in some definitions they squeak into Gen Y<– because I believe they are wildly different from me I’m going to call them Gen Z).
  • What are some characteristics we associate with each generation (from face value):

-Baby Boomers are hard workers. They believe in going to work, getting the job done and loyalty. They still approach problem solving with an “old-school” state of mind. Employment IS for life.

-Gen X are the beginning of the latchkey kid phenomena. They are well-educated and only loyal until they are unhappy. They will not stick around if they aren’t happy.

-Gen Y… We are rebellious (really we are just strongly opinionated and embrace the opportunity to voice it) We are lazy (really we just believe in working smarter not harder) We think we know it all (really we know we have the tools to know it all, we don’t have to remember it all- we have google for that).

-Gen Z spolied and misinformed.  Harsh I know, but my summary of Gen Z: They are sheltered from the realities of life. Everyone gets a “participation trophy”, tolerance means comprimising values (which I’m quite certain will eventually diminish the desire to have values) and parents can’t spank their children anymore. (Spare the rod, spoil the child?)Now don’t get me wrong each generation definitely has its positives, only time will tell for Gen Z, but I’m certain they will surface!

Obviously I defended Gen Y a bit more than the others because that’s what I’m classified as. These are blanket statements that are not true for each individual under each generation, but as a whole this is how the public summarizes them. I constantly encounter someone older than me that summarizes my generation as “lazy”. This happens because our approach to work usually has a way to cut out a couple of “unneccessary” steps. Because we don’t do things the way the baby boomers or generation x does them we are automatically labeled as lazy and know it all. Here’s some lessons learned: I’ve always been excited about the work I do since the day they hired me. During my “learning curve” I observed all that I could and took pages and pages and pages and pages and then some more pages of notes. I wrote down everything they taught me, everything I learned on my own, everything I learned from customers, applicants, employees, etc. As an “outsider” looking into the process it was easy for me to identify some steps that could easily be improved to save a ton of time and money. However, the majority of these suggestions/ideas were met with resistance. This baffled me! My thought process was all over the place trying to interpret resistance to easy changes and I couldn’t come up with a good answer. Then one day at a NASHRM luncheon the speaker was talking about the way the different generations interact and everything fell in place! The point that stuck with me (and quite frankly I don’t remember anything else from his presentation) was to show the older workforce that I wasn’t trying to take their job away from them, but trying to make it easier! So it wasn’t my ideas that were the problem it was the delivery of those ideas! I occasionally run into resistance with new ideas now, but usually if I remember to deliver the idea in its true purpose (to improve what we do and make our jobs a little easier) then I at least get my ideas heard and discussed. And its true that sometimes once those ideas reach discussion I realize that maybe that isn’t the best thing since sliced bread after all!

What else is different? The way we look for work. This is huge for us and what we do. It only makes sense for us to have someone on staff from each generation so that they can appeal to their generation in the advertising, recruiting and treatment of their generation. We know that all generations are in the workforce now and there are people from all of the generations LOOKING for work now; it would be insane for us to not acknowledge that and cater to that. While I may recruit through Facebook and LinkedIn my boss is more likely to recruit by other, more traditional ways.

The point is there are GOOD and BAD things that come from the generation gap in the HR department. It can help us solve problems and think in different perspectives  or it can cause us to be catty towards each other and counterproductive. The important thing is to perfect your delivery and keep in consideration that while we constantly (as the younger generation) pick at what the older generations do wrong (and probably vice-versa) we could focus on what they do right and build from there.

A day in the life…

My friends always love to hear stories from the world of temps. I always laugh when they want to hear stories because it’s just my day-to-day. Another one of my HR buddies has some pretty good stories too and we constantly try to top each other… I’ll admit her S.W.A.T. team story is pretty good. So here is a recent one…

Scenario: Group of people getting drug screened for an assignment that starts that same day. One guy informs my staff employee “I’m not sure I can pass…” to which she replies “then don’t take it.” He keeps saying something to her and I can’t quite hear it so I decide to get up and see what the fuss is about. This particular staff member has only worked for us for a few months and my first instinct is what I refer to as “Mamma bear mode”. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t trying to pressure her into doing something we don’t do or making her uncomfortable. I explain to him that the paperwork he signed for the drug screen clearly states that he should not take the drug screen if he is not sure he is going to pass. He looks at me like I have lost my ever-loving mind! He asks why I would think he couldn’t pass a drug screen and I told him because I just heard him say that! I walk away thinking that I’ve made myself very clear and he starts mumbling. I turn around and ask what he said and he starts yelling about how no one was talking to me and so on and so forth. I then explain to him that not only are we not interested in employing him because he has shared with us that he cannot pass a drug screen but his attitude isn’t one we are looking for in an employee and he should go ahead and leave. This is where things get interesting because he is clearly baffled that those are 2 qualities we don’t want in an employee. *Now here is an example of what some people consider “temp agencies” to be… He thought that he could behave however he wanted and we would still hire him; that we are there to HELP everyone. Trust me, we are not! We offer a service to our customers (the job sites) to hire qualified employees to fill their positions and obviously everyone will not fall under those guidelines! So the story ends this way: The guy is so pissed that he’s slamming stuff around our office. I tell him I will have someone escort him out if he doesn’t leave and he says “WHO GONNA ESCORT ME OUT” ummm the police! Which is what I told him and he expressed that he “doesn’t give an “f” about the police!” Well, he may not, but they wasted no time arresting him and making sure he was aware he wasn’t allowed on our property again…

Most of our stories are NOWHERE near this extreme. We hardly get an angry person in the office and in no way did I think anyone in the office was in danger. This guy was seriously trying to act like he was some big guy that was above the rules and apparently above the police, but he wasn’t fooling anyone.