Monday, June 30, 2014

Why Networking in HR Doesn’t Work Anymore (And What You Should Do Instead)

Guest Blog: Alan Collins

Let me make a confession. Networking is a pain.

And if you’re like me, you’re probably horrible at it.

So, I don’t do it anymore.

But that doesn’t stop me from reaching out to meet new people who can help me advance my career and interests in HR.

Hey, wait a second, you might say….isn’t that networking?

Not at all, and I’ll explain why in a moment. But first, a little story.

Dinner and networking

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with a former colleague, Ken (not his real name), who was frustrated about his career in HR.

He’s currently a senior director in Organization Development at a well-known national car rental company. He’s in the #2 role and reports to a vice-president who heads up the department.

After five frustrating years, he’s ready to move into a #1 role. And he’s prepared to jump ship to do it. He’s also thought about hanging his shingle out as an independent OD consultant. Confused over his options, he asked to meet me over dinner to talk things over.

Personally, I absolutely love having these kinds of conversations. I can brainstorm for days and love exploring career alternatives with HR folks and seeing if I can help them out.

The fact that he picked one of the best restaurants in town and covered the tab for the steaks and wine, didn’t hurt either.

Anyway…Ken’s current position is not in jeopardy, fortunately. He doesn’t need to find a new job tomorrow. He’s doing well. He’s cool with his pay package. And his clients love his work. But deep down, he’s pissed because he was passed over yet again for a VP-level promotion that was filled by someone less-qualified (his words, not mine).

One suggestion I offered was, if you’re hellbent on leaving the company, start getting yourself out there. Get out of the trenches. Start meeting people. Get involved in your local HR association. Reach out to your existing contacts. Set up coffees.


Before I could go on, Ken interrupted by blurting out: “I’ve tried all that crap. It doesn’t work. In fact, I’ve been networking like crazy for the last three months. I meet people. I give them my card. We hook up on LinkedIn. And I even follow up reminding them to contact me if they hear about any opportunities. Most people are nice and cordial, but they’re busy as hell. I get a few thank you emails and texts back. But none of this has produced any new opportunities for me.”

“Wait a minute,” I said, raising my hand like a traffic cop and bring him to a halt. “Ken, let me get this straight. Networking to you means meeting people, giving them your card, telling them that you’re in the job market, connecting with them on LinkedIn, then following up.”

“Sure, that’s it in a nutshell. And none of that has been effective,” he said sadly.

“Well, Ken,” I said, “Lots of people do what you’ve done. I used to do that a lot too. That is. until I discovered…

…The huge problem with networking.”

“The problem is people do it incorrectly and they come across as selfish jerks. That is, I meet someone new…I give them my card….…I connect with them on LinkedIn…I follow up with them to remind them that if they know of any opportunities, they can contact ME.”

“There’s only one issue with all that…

There’s a lot of “I” and “me” in those statements.

“What’s the benefit for the other person? Unless they have an immediate, unmet need for the services you provide–– which is a long shot — there’s little benefit they gain by connecting with you. And you’ve just become another person they’ve met who’s looking to get ahead.”

“To be blunt, you can’t approach networking with the kind of mindset. It just screams: ‘I gotta go meet some people who I might be able to get some job leads from’ or ‘Are there going to be a lot potential hiring managers at this event,’ etc.”

“That mindset is all wrong. And it’s absolutely arrogant and self-centered.”

“Ken, that’s why your networking attempts are failing and have been fruitless so far.”

I went on to offer some suggestions on a different approach. And, over the next hour, we had a great discussion. It was a learning experience for both of us. Here are the highlights of our talk.

1. Stop networking and start…helping!

Stop thinking of what you’re doing as “networking” and start thinking of them as opportunities to help people.

Be a giver, not a taker.

Change your mindset from a selfish one to an unselfish one.

Think about this way: If you can provide a benefit or helping hand to someone, they’re a lot more likely to remember YOU down the road when they actually need your services or can make a referral.

For example, who do you think will remember Ken first?

Person A, who got Ken’s card and heard him go on and on about all the terrific organization development skills and experience he has.

Or Person B, who shared information when Ken asked about their business. Who then disclosed their difficulty in finding the right consulting firm to help in managing their employee engagement survey process. And in return got a helpful article a few days later from Ken on selecting the right survey firms along with his offer to introduce them to some of his contacts who do that kind of work for Fortune 500 companies?

My money’s is on Person B.

People will send job leads to contacts that they know who’ve helped them out in the past. They don’t provide them to the guy who wants to meet for coffee, then gives them an uninterrupted 15-minute-long sales pitch. (Yes, that’s happened to me).

So stop aiming to get job leads and contacts.

Just aim to understand and help people.

2. Put this new mindset in practice.

Based on our discussion, Ken decided to swap out his OLD mindset for a NEW one.

Gone is his OLD mindset and approach that went something along the lines of: Gear up for “networking” — an opportunity to drum up some job leads or contacts. Approach, say, an SVP of HR at a SHRM event. Shake hands with her, swap cards and talk about himself a bit. Then, a day or two later, follow up with an email that comes across as, “Don’t forget about me — I’m a great OD person. Give me a job!”

His NEW mindset and approach will be more like this: Gear up for an opportunity to learn about other people’s interests and challenges — don’t even think of the word “networking.” Approach that SVP of HR — but this time, introduce himself, shake hands, then ask questions about her business and what they do. (It sort of goes without saying that you need to be genuinely interested, but I hope you are — there’s a lot of interesting stuff to learn out there.). Get their card and later reach out to her on LinkedIn.

Then, a couple of days later, followup with an email with something actually helpful to the HR SVP’s business or that directly addresses one of the issues she discussed. Perhaps that’s an article on executive development you stumbled upon; maybe it’s an ebook on cutting costs in HR; maybe it’s new HR strategies for volatile times. Ken will repeat this last step here and there, and importantly, he has ZERO expectations from her in return.

Here’s the bottom line…

Meet people and look for ways you can help them.

Understand their business, their pain points and their challenges — keep them in mind.

Then, when you come across a helpful article, ebook, contact, resume, referral or so forth, send it to them.

Don’t expect anything back in return. Be genuine.

Let the principle of reciprocity that underlies this approach act as a powerful catalyst for you. This principle says that anytime someone gives you something you weren’t expecting, it naturally inspires them to look to return the favor in some way…and support you because somehow they feel indebted and obligated to even the score. Putting this compelling principle to work for you as you meet people can be very effective.

But again, it’s critical that you expect nothing in return. Most people won’t spring forward to reciprocate immediately, if at all. However, the “good karma” you’ve generated will cause this favor to be returned to you down the road – maybe not from this person – but from places you might not expect. At least, that’s been my personal experience.

That’s the biggest reason why I don’t “Network” anymore. Yes, I’ll screw up and use that “N” word occasionally (old habits die hard). But today, mostly I simply try to meet and help people.

And for those thousands of people I’ll never meet, that’s why I write articles like this one.

If you genuinely do the same thing, opportunities will follow.

Count on it.

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Why Networking in HR Doesn’t Work Anymore (And What You Should Do Instead)

Facebook Mirrors Tech Industry"s Lack of Diversity

When it comes to the gender and ethnic diversity of its work force, Facebook‘s record is on par with the rest of Silicon Valley. It’s overwhelmingly male, white and Asian. And white men dominate the management ranks.

The social networking company, which has about 1.28 billion users globally and turned 10 years old this year, disclosed Wednesday that 31 percent of its 6,500 workers worldwide were women. The ratio is even more imbalanced among Facebook’s tech workforce, which is 85 percent male.

Breaking down demographics of Facebook employees.

Gender (worldwide)





Ethnicity (in U.S.)








Two+ races



Source: Company report

In its United States operations — where the bulk of Facebook’s employees work — about 57 percent of the workers are white, 34 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and 3 percent of another race or two or more races.

As with other Silicon Valley companies, Facebook’s management is more white and male than its workforce at large. Globally, 77 percent of senior level employees are men. And in the United States, 74 percent of the company’s managers are white, 19 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and 1 percent of another ethnicity or two or more races.

“As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Facebook’s global head of diversity, Maxine Williams, wrote in the blog post announcing the data. “Diversity is something that we’re treating as everyone’s responsibility at Facebook, and the challenge of finding qualified but underrepresented candidates is one that we’re addressing as part of a strategic effort across Facebook. Since our strategic diversity team launched last year, we’re already seeing improved new hire figures and lower attrition rates for underrepresented groups.”

Facebook’s disclosure follows similar reports recently released by other major Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn. Older Silicon Valley companies, such as Intel, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, have also released their employment diversity data.

Unlike many of its fellow tech companies, Facebook declined to release its EEO-1 report, which provides a more detailed breakdown of its American workforce and must be filed annually with the United States government. (None of the companies reported racial and ethnic breakdowns of their global workforces, in part because some countries prohibit the collection of such information.)

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., the civil rights leader and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, had urged Facebook and other tech companies, including Google and eBay, to release their EEO-1 reports in personal pleas this spring at their annual shareholder meetings.

Facebook initially declined to release any of its diversity data, saying that it wanted to discuss the findings with employees first.

But once Google released its data in May, it put pressure on other companies to follow, Rev. Jackson said in an interview on Wednesday.

He said that Facebook’s partial data disclosure was “a step in the right direction” and will contribute to a broader discussion in Silicon Valley about how to increase the diversity of its workforce. EBay has not yet released its data, nor have other prominent tech companies such as Twitter.

While tech companies say their diversity challenges are largely due to the lack of women and minorities getting science and engineering degrees, Rev. Jackson said the industry’s diversity data show that it has done a poor job of recruiting black and Latino workers even for nontechnical jobs such as lawyers and marketers.

“We expect to have follow-up meetings to deal with the deficiency,” Rev. Jackson said. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also plans to host discussions on the issue at its annual conference in Chicago next week.

via Facebook Mirrors Tech Industry’s Lack of Diversity –

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Facebook Mirrors Tech Industry"s Lack of Diversity

Six Key Tips To Unlocking What Ails CIOs

With wheels up and the neon lights of Las Vegas behind me, I reflected on two days spent with nearly 80 global CIOs at EMC EMC -0.08%’s fourth annual CIO Summit. Whether in our panel discussions, collaborative breakout sessions, or during the networking breaks, we tackled a variety of timely topics for CIOs.

Of course, it would be overly ambitious to say we collectively solved all that ails CIOs because we have just scratched the surface. However, faced with pressure to provide our businesses and users with agile, elastic and contemporary IT services, we only saw an opportunity to unlock more value. Here are some takeaways from the Summit conversation:

Be a catalyst for driving agility and value. By partnering closely with your business, you not only secure their buy in and better understand their needs, but you identify ways that IT can help monetize big data and analytics to accelerate growth.

Focus on your core competency, not the commodities. As a broker of services, you should provide your business with the speed and capabilities it needs while focusing on furthering innovation in your organization.

Be more contemporary. Listening and capturing your user expectations and sentiment is much more critical as you embrace and offer more mobile, social and digital services.

Get the most out of your environment. Manage your costs and increase the performance and utilization of your infrastructure en route to the software-defined enterprise with virtualization, automation and the hybrid cloud.

Don’t wait for the technology or it will pass you by. Continue to redefine how you do IT to stay ahead of the ever-changing technology landscape, as well as the security risks and governance guidelines you may face.

Challenge your people and processes. CIOs must continually streamline existing processes to improve service delivery and up-skill employees to tackle third platform initiatives, such as cloud, big data, mobile and social.

Clearly, this is easier said than done. However, being more value-driven and contemporary will help CIOs remain relevant and keep our seat at the table in a world of ever-increasing IT complexity and competition.

via Six Key Tips To Unlocking What Ails CIOs.

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Six Key Tips To Unlocking What Ails CIOs

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Big Data Will Change Recruitment Forever

People are the biggest asset and cost for most companies – so new ways of streamlining the process of hiring, retaining and firing are being developed every day.

Combining social media and big data is resulting in the creation of a wonderland of possibilities for HR – the arm of business dedicated to making sure a company has the right people in the right place at the right time.

If you’re responsible for picking out candidates for jobs, or managing internal reshuffles, you’re probably already aware of the recent explosion of ways to sort the wheat from the chaff – or at least, talk of it.

And if you’re one of the millions seeking employment, you should be more aware than ever of what you should, or shouldn’t, be sharing, to make yourself an enticing prospect.

However there is a vast difference in the effectiveness of big data analytics in HR between different companies. A study last year by Forbes found that while 60% of companies claim to be integrating it into their procedures, just 4% have reached the stage of putting predictive analytics to work for them.

This is where companies are able to take the freshly analyzed data and use it to make informed decisions about the future of its business.

In HR terms this could range from whether or not to hire an individual for a position, or whether an employee’s poor performance is likely, statistically, to continue, or improve.

The same Forbes study looked into the connection between performance, pay rises and staff retention, and found that middle-performing staff could be expected to remain loyal if paid as little as 91% of the average earnings for their age and profession, while high-flying staff will look elsewhere if offered under 120%.

Data like this enables companies to follow the business principle of putting the most resources into the procedures (or in the case of HR, the people) which produce the majority of the results.

However some might be justifiably concerned that in this case it appears big data is already being used as justification for increasing the salaries of top-earners within organisations, while minimising pay rises for the majority of staff.

Evidence suggests it works, though. Printer manufacturer Xerox achieved a 20% reduction in staff attrition when it hired an analytics firm to come up with a profile of its ideal call-centre employee – finding that they should be local, have reliable transport, be creative and not ask too many questions.

Everything from the time it takes for an employee to progress through a training scheme, to staff turnover under particular managers, can be catalogued and analyzed to increase productivity and ultimately drive down the huge overheads of unproductive or misplaced staff.

And as for job hunters, the advice now goes beyond the weary old “be careful what you share”. Today, it is equally important to be careful what you don’t share.

An impressive and well-connected social media account is something that is now expected, rather than desired, especially, but no longer exclusively of people looking for positions in marketing, communications and external relations.

For several years companies have been using Klout scores, which amalgamate information from across many social networks to build an image of your credibility.

Other services such as the recently launched Trustcloud are ostensibly designed for use in making peer-to-peer trust based decisions, such deciding whether to offer a peer loan – however companies can also make use of the data to gain an insight into an employee’s perceived trustworthiness.

Until recently this may all have been done fairly surreptitiously – managers quietly checking out public Facebook or Twitter feeds for signs of worrying personality traits or extreme views. But can we expect big data-based analysis of social media footprints to become a more formally documented procedure, going forward?

Most controversial, though, are devices such as Hitachi’s recently-announced Business Microscope.

Basically it’s a “smart badge”, equipped with GPS and monitoring equipment, able to track not just an employee’s movements around the office (and therefore time spent on coffee or toilet breaks) but who they are talking to – and even how enthusiastic they are sounding during the conversation.

via How Big Data Will Change Recruitment Forever | LinkedIn.

How Big Data Will Change Recruitment Forever

What are the 7 Big Lies That Interviewers Tell Job Candidates? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Everyone knows that it’s an extremely bad idea to lie during the job search procedure – on your CV/resume and especially in an interview.

However, interviewers aren’t put in the position of having to tell the truth all the time.

What are the biggest lies that interviews tell candidates? Find out below (courtesy of JobCluster)!


  • “We’ll call you and get back to you in some time”

  • “We will give you a salary considering your work experience”

  • “We are impressed but we still need to interview more people”

Read them all and the explanations below!



via What are the 7 Big Lies That Interviewers Tell Job Candidates? [INFOGRAPHIC].

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What are the 7 Big Lies That Interviewers Tell Job Candidates? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Happy People Get 2nd Interviews [INFOGRAPHIC]

The average person spends more time working than any other activity. Unfortunately, nearly 2 out of 3 workers surveyed in the US and Canada say they’re not happy at work.

The following infographic from our friends at Noomii explains WHY this is happening and what you can do to “turn that frown upside down” at work.


  • Happier people are more likely to get a 2nd interview

  • Cheerful people at age 18 attained more at work and had higher job satisfaction as measured 8 years later

  • Happy people miss fewer work days, they are also less likely to lose their jobs

  • Increase your positivity by writing down 3 good things that happened in your life every day


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Why Happy People Get 2nd Interviews [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Google Steps up Efforts for More Racial Diversity

Google has had more trouble diversifying its workforce than its computer scientists have had writing programs that respond to search requests in the blink of an eye or designing cars that can navigate traffic without a human behind the wheel.

That seemed to be the conclusion when the Silicon Valley giant this week issued a gender and ethnic breakdown of its workforce that showed that of its 26,600 U.S. employees, 61 percent are white, 30 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Thirty percent of its employees are women.

“Google is miles from where we want to be,” said Laszlo Bock, head of personnel at Google.

Why is one of the most innovative, dynamic sectors of the U.S. economy looking like the corporate world of the past, at least when it comes to blacks, Hispanics and women?

The biggest factor is a shortage of such students majoring in computer science or other technical fields in college, according to Bock.

“There is an absolute pipeline problem,” he said in an interview Wednesday with “PBS Newshour.”

One year, Google says, there were just two black people in the U.S. with newly minted doctorates in computer science on the job market. The company hired one of them, and Microsoft hired the other, according to Bock.

But the educational choices of some minorities don’t entirely account for the lack of diversity at technology companies.

For instance, Google sells $50 billion in advertising annually, a task that required more than 2,900 salespeople in the U.S. as of last August. Just 79 of them, or 3 percent, were black. A total of 127, or 4 percent, were Hispanic. More than 2,000, or about 70 percent, were white.

Google attributes this phenomenon to “unconscious biases” that have historically favored white people. “We like people who are like us, who watch the same shows, who like the same food, who have the same backgrounds,” Bock told PBS.

To address this issue, Google has put more than 20,000 employees through 90-minute training sessions during the past year to help them become more aware of their biases.

Google is also trying to do more recruiting at colleges with large minority enrollments. During the past year, Google has dispatched a specialist to work with historically black Howard University to draw up a curriculum that will give its graduates a better chance of competing for technology jobs against the likes of MIT. The program will be extended to five other colleges this fall.

Google is just one of many high-tech companies that are pledging to diversify their workforces this spring under pressure from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. But the same promises were made in the Silicon Valley 15 years ago, again under pressure from the civil rights leader. That effort included a conference, a new website, commitments from top firms, and a call to educate and employ 200,000 young people.

“I’m disappointed. For the most part they have not improved,” said Jackson on Thursday. “Look at their board of directors and their c-suites. There’s a culture of exclusion.”

Google’s efforts come amid a renewed bout of advocacy from Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which have been leading delegations to shareholder meetings this spring at such companies as Google, Facebook, eBay and Hewlett-Packard, decrying “old patterns that exclude people of color and women from opportunity and advancement.”

Jackson said that he hopes others will follow Google’s lead, and that this time he is redoubling his efforts here.

In 1999, when Jackson launched his first Silicon Valley initiative, 89 percent of Silicon Valley chairmen and CEOs were white, while the white-collar workforce was about 60 percent white and 31 percent Asian. Those figures have barely budged.

Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Advanced Micro Devices have published similar labor data breakdowns.

Four percent of the 57,000 U.S. employees at computer chip maker Intel Corp. are black, according to the company’s breakdown. About 8 percent of Intel’s U.S. workers are Hispanic and 26 percent are women.

“We are not satisfied with our diversity data, and we continuously strive to improve,” said Patricia McDonald, the company’s vice president of human resources. The company also says it has invested more than $1 billion worldwide during the last decade to improve education.

Intel also recently promoted a woman, Renee James, to president.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has won praise for hiring two different women, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, as CEO since 1999. Overall, one-third of HP’s U.S. staff are women, according to the company’s most recent statistics; 7 percent of HP’s U.S. workers are black and 6 percent are Hispanic.

Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, an organization focused on the local economy and quality of life, said one problem is that the sector moves swiftly.

“Silicon Valley moves at a pace that is unbelievable. It is a breakneck marketplace. So when you’re adding people, you don’t take time to cast a wider net,” he said.

Sharon Vosmek, CEO of nonprofit Astia, which connects women-led startups with financial backers, said: “This is not a Google issue; this is a societal issue.”

“Are there subtle biases? Yes, but they exist in society. Men get together and play golf, have a beer,” she said. “We’re up against societal norms, and we have to break those down by simply supporting networking between genders.”

via Google Steps up Efforts for More Racial Diversity – ABC News.

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Google Steps up Efforts for More Racial Diversity