Bill Simmons was recently suspended by ESPN for comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whatever you think about Simmons, Goodell, or any of the players recently suspended by the NFL, here’s the thing to remember: Doing or saying something that hurts your employer’s reputation can lead to being terminated. The same is true of another type of speech: social media. Many people have taken to Facebook or Twitter to be critical of their employer or supervisor. In many states, such action is grounds for dismissal. Be careful before you do something that can put your income at risk.
One more word about Bill Simmons. I often find him funny and sometimes insightful. He is also a good businessman. If ESPN decides to get rid of him, he will have other opportunities. We should all follow his example. Have a Plan B for your career and build a reputation that will make other employers want to hire us.
Several companies have instituted policies related to the use of social media. I’ve met people in the insurance and financial service industries who are not allowed to have Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts. In some cases, the company is afraid that employees could give advice or make statements that would open the company to litigation. In other cases, disgruntled employee has post rants about their boss or company. Employees have been fired for making disparaging comments or violating policies. Be careful about what you post on line. Don’t let a moment of anger or the need to give advice cost you a job.
The media is often overly negative in talking about the job market. Sometimes I fall into the same trap. Yesterday I talked about jobs being lost to automation, which is a big problem. However, there is another side to the story. In just this week, I have worked with clients whose jobs were created by new technology. One person was a social media community manager. The other worked on Cloud technology and software that is not stored on our computers. While it is important to criticize problems caused by technology, we also need to recognize that some jobs will be created by advances in technical systems. One way to win the job game is to find a way to take advantage of those changes
A friend sent me an article from the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM). It discussed the case of an employee who was fired for what she wrote in a personal blog. A TV reporter mocked her managers and, worst still, viewers. The article notes that this was not the first time that the employee posted negative comments about her job and pay.
Some might say that this was a personal space, the employee’s blog. That claim might work if she had written her words in a journal that no one else sees or if she used a function similar to the one on Facebook that limits who can view an online post. A blog is public. It can be viewed by anyone, including employers.
If your thoughts about your job are disparaging or harmful to the company, it can – in most cases – end your employment. Use “social” media very carefully. We’ve all heard stories of people who lost opportunities because of photos or posts on Facebook. Companies are using social media to evaluate both prospective and current employees. Practice good career management: Think before you post.
Several of my clients work in marketing. Once upon a time, not that long ago, marketing jobs were easy to understand. A person worked for a company or an agency. Specialty forms of marketing were public relations, advertising, event marketing, or internal communications. Writers and graphic designers often worked on marketing teams as specialty players. (Think kickers and punters in football.) More recently, new terms have entered the field: branding, digital/mobile, and social media.
Anyone entering a career in marketing needs to think about what aspects of the field they want to focus on. While there are a few “generalist” jobs that ask for a Swiss army knife, most employers want a specific skill set. Some of my clients have moved from one area or specialty to another, but it’s often difficult. Employers recruit the employee who knows branding or social media. The challenge for senior managers and directors is to know how to manage special skills they do not know. This is one reason why it is important to work on teams and learn other skills through collaboration.
When someone says they are in marketing, probe a little. In most cases, you’ll see that they are specialists. And in an ever more complex world of communication, that is a good and necessary development.
The latest issue of Inc. magazine has an interesting feature on networking as a way to recruit new employees. Referrals only make up 7% of applicants, but they result in 40% of hires. Similarly 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn, but only 38% of job seekers who use social media to look for work are on that site.
These numbers indicate how the job world is changing. As I’ve said before, we need to practice both active and passive job search methods. The best active way to look for work is to network with a goal of referrals. The best passive way to look for work is LinkedIn. People are still getting job using job boards. However, that path grows more narrow all the time. Use all of the tools in your job search tool box if you want to speed up your search and have more opportunities.
P.S. Inc. has a great video on how to become a master networker.
I was buying a hot dog today when I saw a poster advertising a new job search tool. It promises an easy job search using social media. It also promotes itself through a contest that will let those who register have a chance win money. The only way to learn more about the site is to register, which I will not do (nor will I name the site). If any business wants customers to trust it, that business should tell us who it is and what it does without asking for registration. I’m also suspicious about gimmicks like lotteries that try to lure people to register.
Here’s my bottom line: The job search is never easy. In some ways, online technologies have given job seekers great new tools. It has also given some companies a way to offer services that do not help people looking for work. My recommendation is that you test every online tool before you waste too much time or provide information that could be used to put you in marketing databases.
I attended a great seminar on LinkedIn yesterday. Over the next few weeks, I hope to put what I learned into practice and share it with blog readers. LinkedIn is a great tool, and everyone who wants to move ahead in his or her career should be using it. That said, there is a right way to use the tool and a way that is less effective.
Job seekers should use LinkedIn as a tool for an active job search, a way to contact people you know and connect to others through them. In an active job search, you will be meeting people and talking to them on the phone. You will not be looking for email that will never come. LinkedIn also provides strategic information about companies, alumni networks, and professional groups that can give us both information about potential employers and ways to reach them. Should you still respond to job posts? Yes, that’s part of an active job search. Anytime you are contacting a potential employer or someone who can help you make a connection, you are being active in the job search.
In the past, I’ve condemned passive job search in which job seekers post their resume and wait for the phone to ring. Over the past 5 years, major job boards such as Monster and Careerbuilder have improved the search functions of their databases. Some of my clients have gotten jobs by posting resumes. LinkedIn ups the ante. More employers will search LinkedIn, and jobs seekers have more ability to sell themselves. Every job seekers should make an active job search the first priority. However, it is also important to practice smart passive job search techniques. A good job search will include both active and passive job search strategies.
Huffington Post offers a short, but insightful article by Steve Tobak of Inc. The premise is simple – 9 sentences that could kill your career, which grabs our attention. The real advice is to communicate professionally in an office environment. Don’t discuss topics that can lead to arguments. Don’t gossip. Don’t spread rumors or bad news that has nothing to do with your job. I especially like Tobak’s last point: Don’t put in writing.
Think before you speak, and remember that you’re at work. What you say has consequences, and it can be used against you. Saying the right thing is an important part of career management.
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