Linkedin endorsements and recommendations – pitfalls and best practices

If you have a Linked in profile - and you should - you’ll be familiar with the way the site prompts you to give endorsements to the people in your network. And on the face of it, the more endorsements you have the better. Right? Well not exactly.

Does the number of endorsements you have actually matter? Do they affect your ranking on a Linkedin search? Should you aim to get dozens of skills for which you are endorsed, or is it better to focus on your top ten skills and aim to get these endorsed? Do recruiters pay attention to the number of endorsements you have? Should you request people in your network to give you endorsements? What is the minimum number of endorsements you should aim to have? Where on your profile should you place your endorsements pictogram?

These are important questions I think for every professional and the answers are not as simple as you might think.

So I am pleased to share this insightful interview between Jorgen Sundberg of Link Humans and Stacy Donovan-Zapar – the most connected woman on Linkedin. In this interview, Stacy provides her answers to all the questions above and more and is essential viewing  if you want to understand how you can make sure your own strategy on Linkedin really delivers what you need. Just as importantly, it will help you focus on the things you should pay attention to and the things that will waste your time for not much return.

My thanks go to Jorgen and Stacy for providing some really great insights.

6 Recession-Beating Tips for HR Professionals

By  Nicole Le Maire

It is possible to identify three strands of argument in the literature as to the effects of the current recession in the Human Resources function. The first suggests that the recession will have a cataclysmic effect on the HR function or even on the viability of long prevalent employment models, with one study suggesting that numbers of professionals working in HR would be cut disproportionately compared to other support functions. Whilst ‘transactional’ HR processes, could increasingly be relocated to low-cost countries (Asia/Africa) and the worldwide crisis of the ongoing globalization of businesses would ‘decimate HR’.

The second (which is dominant among my network of HR Professionals) suggests that the recession is increasing the status and influence of HR which deepens the appeal and prevalence of HR practices. The third strand, often grounded in empirical reviews, is much more measured and circumspect regarding whether changes arising from the recession are fundamental or likely to be of lasting significance to HR teams. In this strand of observations, changes are often understood to be pragmatic, eclectic and incremental in nature.

There is already enough evidence out there suggesting that organisations are moving their administrative and low value adding HR services to more cost effective companies, even if these companies are located overseas.

An example is Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) UK which announced earlier this year that it plans to outsource the administration of the HBOS final salary pension scheme to Towers Watson. Employees working in the 'information line' team are immediately at risk of redundancy and hundreds more employees throughout the UK will have to go through a selection process for the remaining HR jobs. The workforce is reduced by around 15% and other changes were also announced which will lead to the loss of over 250 HR jobs. (I find it funny that there are a variety of HR vacancies being advertised, whilst these HR jobs advertised do not seem to have been changed? Recruitment in such times should be stopped, no?)

There also has been much debate as to whether recessions lead to transient, if otherwise significant changes, or caused profound and lasting disjuncture's in the ways firms manage Human Resources and relate to trade unions. A case can be made that recessions to date – and especially the deep and prolonged recession of the 1980s to early 1990s - has had more sustained impacts on employment relations through their influence on macro-level developments in institutions and arrangements, than on micro-level engagement between employers, employees and trade unions in firms and workplaces as today.

For the last couple of decades, businesses have also been trying to force the need for line managers to take on more HR responsibilities. However, in practice, whilst savvy HR databases have been put into place, only few companies have been able to boost real returns and cost savings. There is every reason to believe (I do), that over the next years this view of moving HR responsibilities to line managers will indeed take place, cutting HR business costs as planned. Once can expect that this will further reduce the reliance on dedicated HR staff to take on the people management duties of line managers.

The operational and strategic HR contributors, that do remain within the HR function and provide HR support consistent with the ‘high-commitment model’, will certainly start gaining more confidence and trust.

Commitment from HR teams is not perfect, in particular, when you ponder over business goals and strategic interests. It's extremely hard for a company to achieve maximum profits and efficiency if it takes to heart the loyalty and interests of its employees. This particularly issue may impact the needs of the organisation as it is likely to undermine internal HR issues due to such competitive or recessionary conditions. For example: an organisation has to consider its survival first and the HR functional image of caring for the needs and security of its employees, get's a hit after that organisation has to terminate employees! Which may or will likely lead to HR losing their great brand/employee image at some point.

For those searching in vain for transactional HR jobs, this is the one area where skills are transferable to other functions, across industries. For those looking for new operational and strategic jobs, there is always merit in looking at other similar opportunities. Some statistics suggest that HR professionals are less likely to consider being entrepreneurs. (check out www.humanresourcesglobal and you can see it is possible for a HR professional to go entrepreneur, even working on a new innovative HR venture in this economic crisis)

This can limit your options, so make sure there is a good reason why you would not explore a career in running your own business. Try it before you reject it because you will be surprised at how a lot of HR businesses do not require the kind of capital investment that some other businesses require. This also means that the returns can be high if you get it right.

Meanwhile, let’s remind ourselves of the advice HR normally give employees:

· Don't feel sorry for yourself. There's always something you can do.

· Don't rush into another job too soon. Use your time to think about what you really want and don't want.

· If you want to do something different, go for it. Don't be put off by re-training. It's an experience in itself.

· Give yourself a break if you need one. Ask for help and support - and allow yourself to feel sad.

· Ask yourself if you would benefit from a re-evaluation of your values and needs.

· Talk to your HR network as they hold the power over the job!

This guest post is written by Nicole Le Maire, Founder of Human Resources Global Ltd. a HR Consultancy targeting individuals and small organisations within the emerging market regions (South America, Africa and the Middle East). Nicole focuses on supporting clients in non-traditional HR ways and she can be contacted via

12 Tips to beat the recession and sell yourself to any company

By Neil Patrick

Today’s job market is brutal. I don’t need to tell you that I know.

But this terrible recession has created new opportunities if you know what they are and are equipped to exploit them. How can that be if so many companies are cutting back you may ask?

The answer is simple. In a recession, companies need two things more than anything else. And that is more revenue and less cost.  More revenue and/or less costs equals more profit. Simple.

You may be great at what you do, but unless your personal proposition can be presented in a way that is clear about how you will improve the profits of your future employer, you are going to have a hard time getting hired.  Unless you can do this, you risk being seen as a pure cost. And no-one wants more cost right now.

Ah, but I’m not a salesperson or a marketing person, you may say. So I don’t create revenue and profits in my job.  Well, it’s time to think differently. You need to think and act like a salesperson. Whatever function you carry out in a company, you DO affect profits. It may be through revenue, or costs, or both.

If you are in sales or marketing, what you do drives revenue. And more revenue equals more profit. If you are in another area, what you do affects cost.

So think hard about how what you do will increase the revenue or reduce the costs of your next employer. And think about how what you have done in the past can be used to provide the evidence that you know how to do this in the future. And write down the numbers you can use that prove this.

Once you’ve done this, these points must be included in your resume and your online profiles such as Linkedin. Does your resume and Linkedin profile go on and on with lots of prose about all the things you’ve done in the past,  or does it also show the numbers  that prove how what you do improves profit? Your resume and Linkedin profiles must demonstrate how what you’ve done improves profits.

But remember, your resume and online marketing won’t actually do the selling job for you. They are important for one thing only – getting doors open for you so that you have opportunities to get in front of decision makers and sell yourself. So you need to prepare your personal proposition to reflect not what you’ve done in the past, but what you can do for your employer in the future.

One last key point for anyone reading this that isn’t in sales or marketing. I guarantee that if adopt the approach I describe here, you’ll be ahead of just about every other candidate that’s going after the job, because chances are not one of them will have prepared their pitch like this.

These points and more are explained here in this punchy video by Grant Cordone.

The Pain of Unemployment

The pain of unemployment has become a malicious and inescapable part of our national culture. It is a silent presence in every conversation every day - even if you are employed. Jobseekers carry the bulk of the burden as they try to cope with the financial, psychological, and social impact to their daily lives. 

It was unimaginable!

Susan was laid off over a year ago. She couldn’t believe this was happening to her. She was 47 years old and she had done everything right. She had a four-year degree, 22 years of experience, increased responsibility, and great references. Surely it wouldn’t be that difficult to get a job—even in a “tough economy.” …or so she thought.

Social media had become her passion and the results section of her résumé would certainly confirm she was current and relevant. Her references would validate her market insight and business savvy. They would verify that she could increase sales on a slim budget and bring in company profit. She had everything going for her…or so she thought.

Months passed. Susan applied to select positions that were a good fit and many others that were “okay.” Her professional identity as a marketing professional was beginning to fade. She no longer felt relevant, and her self-confidence was slipping. 

After 18 months, she and her husband were struggling to make ends meet. Unemployment helped, but Kim, their high school Junior was looking into potential colleges and wanted to visit campuses. Jesse wanted to go to a special science camp in the summer. It would help with her college application—just three years away. They had had to dip into the college fund just to get by. Susan anguished over the thought that they were stealing their children’s future. It was tense in the house. It was her fault.

Beginning to feel desperate, she began applying for lower level positions, anything she could find. Many of the positions were written for new college grads – community managers in social media. There seemed very little at her level. She called her former contacts but they stopped returning her calls.

Susan began questioning herself. Maybe she wasn’t as good as she thought and her job search confirmed it. Perhaps she was irrelevant even before her 50th birthday. Perhaps she was laid off because she couldn’t really cut it. She had failed at her job or they wouldn’t have laid her off. She had a few interviews. The rejections were another slap in the face. Her job search, so far, had been a colossal failure as well.

Her extended family didn’t understand. They had no idea what she was going through and didn’t seem interested. Holidays had become painful and she didn’t want to see them. “Did you get a job yet? If you’d just work harder, you’d get a job. Your nephew just landed a good job! You know, you could get a job at Walmart—nothing wrong with that!” The thought of the upcoming annual family reunion was unbearable.

She went to the grocery store, and tried again to find ways to cut the bill. When she returned to the car, she sat and cried.

They had fallen short on their mortgage payments. The bank gave them three months, which were almost up. Would they have to turn their house over to the bank? Then what?

She had to get out of the house and began volunteering at a local non-profit, picking up deliveries and helping with the distribution of clothing. It helped her feel useful and restored a bit of her dignity. But it didn’t pay the bills.

She felt scared, lonely and worthless. She had failed her family. She had failed herself. 

Is pain invisible when we look the other way?

On the one hand, jobseeker pain might seem invisible; even to the jobseeker. But I think the truth may be that we are ignoring those who are under this intense pressure. We don’t want to know. Perhaps we feel responsible. Perhaps we simply don’t know what to do. 

This isn’t the jobseeker’s fault.

I say it over and over again, “Jobseekers are the worst treated people in the U.S. …as if this is all their fault.

A client of mine said, “It would be better if I had cancer. Then people would surround me with their support. But when you’re unemployed, you get ignored. It hurts.” 

Why are we in this economic mess?

This article from US Economy says it this way: 

“Irrational exuberance in the housing market led many people to buy houses they couldn’t afford, because everyone thought housing prices could only go up.” 

Let me paraphrase: People bought houses they couldn’t afford so if they lose their homes today, they really had it coming. Did I get that right?


There were other players on the field, and they played a BIG role. As I see it, the real estate industry pitched a home run to homebuyers with a slick sales line about the mortgages that were being offered. They convinced homebuyers to sign a mortgage so the real estate industry could make a ton of bucks. Does anyone else see it this way? 

What about the corporate sector? Employees today, many of whom do the work of three people, are exhausted as their company pushes them to do more with less.

Why is that? Because stockholders are pressuring those companies to deliver an increase. How do companies manage the pressure to bring in a profit? They lay off more people so it costs less to run the business. (Are you overworked at work?)

Do you see a common thread? If there’s something I’m missing? Please tell me!

The real reason for the economy:

We are in this situation for a variety of reasons, but every time I start tracking it down to the root cause, I come up with one underlying culprit: GREED.

Jobseekers and their families are carrying the bulk of the pain from this greed. Rarely was it their greed that put them in this situation.

We need to fight this. Washington can’t or won’t, but you and I can and should. We can adopt a healthy mindset about how much is enough. We can balance our personal and household budgets and bit by bit; pay down our personal debt. We can do more with less. We can make a difference and change the culture of more, more, and more.
If we don’t stop buying what we can’t afford, we will never raise up leaders who don’t spend more than we have. It’s up to us. We have to make the change. 

Call to action:

Do what they did in Boston. When the explosions took place people ran toward those who were hurt and wounded to support and help them. The economic recession, known as the “Great Recession” has left us a hurt and wounded country. Run to those who are hurt and wounded. Support and help them.

Want to help a jobseeker?

  • Be an encouragement.
  • Acknowledge that finding a job is extremely difficult at this time.
  • Remind them that this is not their fault and many of the elements are out of their control.
  • Listen – without judgment.
  • Don’t say, “I know what you’re going through.” —even if you are or have been a jobseeker.
  • Consider comments like:
    • “I can’t imagine how hard this is. I want to support you.”
    • “I’ve known you for __ years. You’re solid. I trust you to keep trying.”
    • “Sometimes I don’t know what to say. You’ll have to coach me on what helps and what doesn’t.”
  • Ask:
    • “How can I help?”
    • “What can I do to support you?”
  • Call regularly; let them know you’re thinking about them, and that you believe in them.
  • Offer to help with interviewing skills (They give you a list of questions.)
  • Instead of criticism, show concern.
  • Never abandon someone you know who is looking for a job.
Do you have other ideas? Please let me know, I’ll post the complete list.

Klout and Kred: Are they relevant to your career or jobhunt?

By Neil Patrick

Scott Levy wrote a great article last week on the Forbes website, which I tweeted recently called Klout Vs. Kred: Which, If Any, Is Better For Your Business?  I have quoted some of his points below and would like to thank him for raising this highly topical subject.

Given what this blog is about though, this post is focussed on individuals and specifically those looking to advance their careers or find a new or better job. Are these things meaningful? Do they matter? And what if anything should you do with them?

In case you are only vaguely aware of these things, let’s start with a basic overview of the two tools and the differences between them:


Klout was the first company to create an algorithm that would assign a number to people based on a mathematical measurement of their social influence.  It was a novel and interesting idea. People with high scores proclaimed what a great platform and measurement tool it was.  Those with poor scores didn’t care, shrugged it off or felt mistreated. Critically, there was no transparency as to how Klout had come up with these scores, however. 

Yet some HR folk with no real ability to understand or make their own determinations about social media prowess started to make hiring decisions based on these scores! As most people know, this score goes up and down daily and often without an understandable reason. In addition it’s always been easily manipulated - hire someone to spam your twitter handle and all of a sudden you’re a social media rocket scientist. If we accept the Klout algorithm as valid, then a 14 year old screaming about Justin Bieber every day is just as influential as an intelligent and insightful tech journalist with a solid following and engagement.


Kred started off in a similar fashion, focused on a score. Their approach was different though in that they attempted be completely transparent about what factors went into their score calculations.

By displaying a massive real time stream of the data they aggregate via their data engines, it’s like a visual buffet of everything you have ever tweeted, posted, or commented on in social media. It also helpfully shows your retweets and accolades in sorted into different topics.

Kred proclaims, ‘This is what we see you doing, this is how people are reacting to your content, and this is why and what we feel you’re influential about’. To its credit, this transparency makes the tool much more useful to us than Klout; transparency is everything today and to do things better we all need meaningful data, not a black box which simply produces a number for everyone that only its proprietors understand the workings of. As Scott has pointed out, Kred is so transparent that they have even published a Scoring Guide:

A Kred score (mine!) today
In addition to influence, Kred also measures what they call outreach. Think of it like this, influence is about how well received your content is (such as retweets for example), outreach is about how much you help others by sharing their content and replying to their messages. It’s perfectly possible to score very highly on one and very low on the other. The size of your network impacts both however.

The transparency of Kred is also its biggest problem. There’s too much information upfront. It’s cluttered & hard to sort through. It really does need to be restructured, and presented in an organised way versus a streamed and somewhat chaotic wall.  This way you could drill down and investigate your key social media moments and how certain pieces of content performed etc. Right now, the way it’s laid out is too difficult to sort through and understand.

As the situation stands, we have two increasingly widespread measurements, but their meaningfulness for hiring decisions is extremely questionable. Nevertheless the fact is that some recruiters, especially for marketing and media jobs ARE using them to assess candidates before or after interview.

So if you are in these fields, you need to manage your scores, whether you agree with their meaningfulness or not.

Does this mean the rest of us can relax and forget all about this stuff? Well yes and no. If you are job hunting or serious about developing your personal brand, then Kred in particular is actually rather helpful. Because of its transparency, it gives you real time feedback on the impact of your activities and their outcome. You can also benchmark yourself against those you aspire to match or outperform in your specialist field. And since there is so little real analytics available for social media, there aren’t really any better options out there.

So in conclusion, if your personal network and profile are important to your future career goals and success, then I believe these tools are useful despite the shortcomings I’ve talked about above. You might not like them, but the fact is some recruitment decisions (and probably more in future) are being influenced by these numbers. Don’t be afraid to use them to explore what someone does via social media, their interests, and even outreach. It’s a pretty neat way of stripping away the veneer and seeing what the people in your network are really all about. And if you are developing your personal brand successfully, it’ll give you some bragging rights too!

How to write a great cover letter

Whilst I have talked a great deal on this blog  about the ways in which the job hunting process has changed beyond recognition over the last few years, there is still need to write a great cover letter every time you send out your resume to a potential employer. So I am happy to share this video which explains how you can do this in a series of short soundbites.

This is a brief video, but do pay attention to all the points made – they may be short, but they contain valuable insights into how recruiters think and act when they receive a resume.

The most important point in my view is that you simply cannot use the same cover letter for every post you apply for. It is essential that you customise each letter to  show that you understand the specific needs that the organisation has…and how your own unique experience and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the role.

Remember too that your goal in writing a great cover letter is to ensure it is so engaging for the reader that they feel they must read your resume. Looked at another way, it is a sure bet that a clearly generic cover letter will guarantee that no-one even bothers to look at your resume once they have read the cover letter.

Writing a great cover letter is an art as much as a science and there is no such thing as an ideal which everyone can use. It  may (and should) be only about half a page long, but it is perhaps the most critical half page of writing you will ever do. So approach it with the care it deserves and invest the time each time you send it out to ensure it’s the truly compelling read it needs to be. And that means it should be as much about showing you understand the organisation as about why you are such a great match for their needs.

My thanks go to CareerBuilder for the film production.

Can you land a job with 140 characters?

By Doug Meigs, for CNN

The hottest way to present your resume currently involves just 140 characters and a lot of hype. Twitter resumes - or "twesumes" - have been touted as the best way for social media-savvy types to snag a dream job. But before you post your own abbreviated CV, it is worth considering its limitations and what tweeting your employment history really says about you.

"I cannot imagine someone explaining their breadth of experience in 140 characters," says Sai Pradhan, a headhunter and managing director for Trufflepig Search, based in Hong Kong. "I know people are calling it an elevator pitch these days, but my goodness, even that's a bit longer. At most it could be an introduction with a link to your CV."

The term twesume (a contraction of "Twitter" and "resume") began gaining traction in 2011 after it appeared in an article by Sean Weinberg on social media news site, Mashable. Weinberg co-founded the website RezScore, which allows users to upload their resumes and receive an algorithmic-based grading on it.

In subsequent years, the 140-character CV has been hailed by some as ushering in a brave new world of truncated, social media-reliant resumes.
It was reported last year that U.S. venture capital firm Union Square Ventures and a handful of American tech companies were to only accept links to jobseekers' "web presence" -- from blogs to Twitter accounts -- instead of traditional resumes.

Earlier this year, the chief marketing officer of U.S. technology company Enterasys, Vala Afshar, announced that he would only consider Twitter applications for a senior social media strategist position with a six-figure salary. All candidates were supposed to use the hashtag #socialCV and possess more than 1,000 Twitter followers.

Afshar says he heard from hundreds of applicants and selected 15 for in-person interviews.

"The main point of this process is that the selection committee, including me, never references their CV," he wrote to CNN in an email. "The process was purely a digital research and conversation-oriented recruitment process."

Although Pradhan is enthusiastic about the business potential for companies using social media, she isn't convinced that Twitter will replace the resume for job-seekers. For her an updated profile on LinkedIn is more useful.

However a tidy web presence is increasingly important. International advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather is currently hiring a director-level candidate for its social media team in Hong Kong.

Application instructions for a similar posting last year warned: "Take a look at your Twitter / Weibo profile and if you find the words: maven / guru / expert? No need to apply. We want people whose focus it is to build our clients' profiles, not their own."

The implication is that while social media has made it easier for direct access to companies advertising on Twitter or LinkedIn, it has also made it much easier for unqualified wannabes to jam up the job search.

For Pradhan, who recruits middle to senior level marketing and communications professionals, checking job candidates' social media is the final stage in the process. She mentions a recent Asia-wide search for a director of digital marketing as an example:

"We basically honed it down to five candidates. And at that point, we actually looked at their online presence. We knew them on paper. We had talked to them in person and interviewed them a few times. And then it was time to see that they've actually been doing what they say."

For businesses, Twitter is just part of the evolving cornucopia of platforms to share and engage with potential partners and customers. The same principles that apply to selling goods are also valid for job-seekers marketing their skills.

"Back in the day, the only way to generate authority in your field was to speak at conferences and write papers and things like that," says Pradhan. "Now you can write a blog. Now you can post relevant content to connect with an audience. You can create followers for yourself. It's a way to build credibility."

Whatever the next platform for self-promotion, she urged jobseekers not to abandon commonsense and real-world skills: "Nothing beats meeting someone in person, shaking their hand and saying, 'I really want to work with you.' That's what it comes down to. Among all these online experiences, the success comes in moving them offline.

How to make your interviewer want to hire you

By Neil Patrick

Over my career I've hired hundreds and hundreds of people. As a director of three fast growth businesses, it was an essential part of my job. Being able to get great people into these businesses was important for sure, but perhaps even more important was being able to keep the not so good ones out. Why? Because the wrong people would have a negative impact on everyone else.

But the people I turned down were always qualified on paper to do the job. The HR team would see to that. So I only got to see the people who already fitted the job requirements in terms of qualifications and experience.

So why did I turn them down? Quite often this was because I judged that they’d not fit into the team and this would create a whole pile of extra management work for me, because I’d have to handle the friction that this created.

Today I was thinking about what I could share from this experience which might be of value to readers of this blog. And how I’d separate the suitable from the unsuitable candidates during the interview process.

Do your homework

The biggest way an applicant could impress me was simple. It wasn’t their appearance, or their handshake or the confidence with which they delivered their answers. It was that they demonstrated two things – first that they knew lots about the business and our company. They had taken the time to understand the business and what it was about. In detail.

To me this showed that they were serious about wanting the job. A weak candidate was much more interested in telling me about how great they were their previous or current job, which wasn’t really necessary as they’d not have got an interview if that didn’t come up to scratch in that respect.

By contrast, if someone was able to demonstrate to me that they had done their homework, that was a good sign they were really keen to work for us.

Secondly, the best candidates asked great questions. They didn’t ask me about the pay package or the promotion prospects, they asked about the issues that mattered to me. The things that were causing me concern. What were my aspirations for the business and how could they help me achieve them? This is a great trick to pull off at an interview – it uses the simplest and most effective sales technique there is; understanding your customer and showing that you care about satisfying their needs above your own.

How they asked the questions was revealing too. A question like, ‘Do you think the company will be able to promote me quickly?’, gives me a whole different impression , to ‘How do you think I could contribute to the maximum of my ability in this job?’. See the difference? The two questions are broadly similar in purpose, but the first is self-centred, the second is focussed on what I want – the different way of phrasing the same question about prospects creates a completely different impression in my mind.

Asking questions is powerful...

Candidates that asked great questions were able to change the whole nature of the interview. It transformed from me interrogating them about themselves, to the two of us having a flowing discussion about the business.

At a stroke, the interviewee was also on firmer ground because, we were now talking to each other rather than me just firing questions at them and them answering them back. And in the process, the interviewee would soar in my estimation because I could see that they would care as much about the business as themselves. And this meant that I’d be less likely to have to spend time managing the fall out from an ego-centric employee who was upsetting everyone else.

The second point can only be an outcome of the first. If you haven’t done the homework, you cannot ask great questions, simply because you don’t know enough. But if you do your homework AND work out how to pitch good questions in a way that shows you care about the organisation more than yourself, you’re putting yourself in a really strong position.

I cannot tell you that every interviewer will think or act like I do. But I can tell you that every hour you invest in getting to understand the organisation you are being interviewed by will be a sound investment. And even if you are unsuccessful the first time you try this technique, keep at it and make it a habit. I can guarantee that it’s the best way possible to impress at your next interview and if that isn’t enough motivation, it’ll make the interview easier and less stressful too.

Try this new Linkedin feature to boost your personal network influence

I am pleased to report that Linkedin continues to expand its usefulness, with this latest enhancement, which if you use it with equal amounts of care and imagination, could powerfully boost your status on this key network.

The mentions feature was originally made popular by Twitter. It’s become one of the most widely used ways for striking up conversations online.

This month, LinkedIn has added mentions for its users in a bid to make it easier for them to start conversations. Dubbing it a new way for users to engage with their network, LinkedIn says that mentions make it easier for users to share knowledge with each other and ultimately become better at what they do. They now have the ability to mention their connections and companies in conversations on the network.

If you are a Twitter user, you’ll appreciate the value that mentions, retweets and favouriting have in terms of building the value of your online relationships. Now you can apply a similar approach to the development of your influence within Linkedin.

It is pretty straightforward to use mentions on LinkedIn. Simply type the name of a company or connection that you want to mention in your status or in a comment on the Homepage, select the relevant connection from the list that drops down and proceed to share. Those who have been mentioned in the update will receive a notification about the mention.

It is also possible to mention other LinkedIn members that are in conversation in the comments section of posts on the LinkedIn Homepage. Users will be able to respond in real-time when someone begins a conversation with them.

Currently LinkedIn has added the mentions function only  for English speaking members, promising that it will be rolled out to all users across the globe soon.

How to get your profile to page 1 of a Linkedin search by tomorrow!

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know that I consider Linkedin to be the most powerful tool at our disposal for enhancing your career prospects.

And I’m sure that you already have a live Linkedin profile. But I find time and time again that people who ask me for advice have sub optimal profiles.To fix this completely takes a good deal of time and effort over an extended period. And many people can just never find the time or persistence to do this.

But if we go back to our objectives for being on Linkedin, if we are job hunting, possibly the most desirable goal is for our profile to appear at the top of a Linkedin search whenever a recruiter or headhunter is looking to find a person with our type of experience and expertise.

Now of course, doing this alone won’t get us very far – it would be like ranking top on Google and having nothing behind your search result to provide the content that people are searching for. No use at all. But I’m assuming you already have a fairly complete Linkedin profile, you just want to get it seen by more people who are looking for professionals like you. And you will I am sure appreciate the benefits of a high search ranking on Linkedin without me having to spell out all the  benefits of this.

But how can we do this? After all, there are hundreds or probably thousands of other similar professionals on Linkedin who have all sorts of advantages over us in terms of experience, premium Linkedin accounts, larger numbers of connections, better SEO on their profile etc etc. As a result of this type of thinking, many resign themselves to accepting defeat without knowing how close they are to turning this situation around.

Like many things on Linkedin, if we know how to position ourselves on Linkedin correctly so that we are in tune with how Linkedin’s search algorithms function, it's perfectly possible to get to Page one of a Linkedin search.

If you’d like to see just how easily this can be done, this video explains a simple step by step approach which will deliver this outcome. It won’t take weeks of work, it doesn’t require expert SEO skills and you don’t even have to have a 100% complete profile. In fact you could have it all done by this time tomorrow…

The Terrifying Reality of Long -Term Unemployment in the US

Close your eyes and picture the scariest thing you can think of. Maybe it's a giant spider or a giant Stay Puft marshmallow man or something that's not even giant at all. Well, whatever it is, I guarantee it's not nearly as scary as the real scariest thing in the world. That's long-term unemployment.

There are two labor markets nowadays. There's the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer. The former is working pretty normally, and the latter is horribly dysfunctional. That was the conclusion of recent research I highlighted a few months ago by Rand Ghayad, a visiting scholar at the Boston Fed and a PhD candidate in economics at Northeastern University, and William Dickens, a professor of economics at Northeastern University, that looked at Beveridge curves for different ages, industries, and education levels to see who the recovery is leaving behind.

Okay, so what is a Beveridge curve? Well, it just shows the relationship between job openings and unemployment. There should be a pretty stable relationship between the two, assuming the labor market isn't broken. The more openings there are, the less unemployment there should be. If that isn't true, if the Beveridge curve "shifts up" as more openings don't translate into less unemployment, then it might be a sign of "structural" unemployment. That is, the unemployed just might not have the right skills. Now, what Ghayad and Dickens found is that the Beveridge curves look normal across all ages, industries, and education levels, as long as you haven't been out of work for more than six months. But the curves shift up for everybody if you've been unemployed longer than six months. In other words, it doesn't matter whether you're young or old, a blue-collar or white-collar worker, or a high school or college grad; all that matters is how long you've been out of work.

Help Wanted - If You've Been Out of Work for Less than Six Months

But just how bad is it for the long-term unemployed? Ghayad ran a follow-up field experiment to find out. In a new working paper, he sent out 4800 fictitious resumes to 600 job openings, with 3600 of them for fake unemployed people. Among those 3600, he varied how long they'd been out of work, how often they'd switched jobs, and whether they had any industry experience. Everything else was kept constant. The mocked-up resumes were all male, all had randomly-selected (and racially ambiguous) names, and all had similar education backgrounds. The question was which of them would get callbacks. 

It turns out long-term unemployment is much scarier than you could possibly imagine. 

The results are equal parts unsurprising and terrifying. Employers prefer applicants who haven't been out of work for very long, applicants who have industry experience, and applicants who haven't moved between jobs that much. But how long you've been out of work trumps those other factors. As you can see in the chart below from Ghayad's paper, people with relevant experience (red) who had been out of work for six months or longer got called back less than people without relevant experience (blue) who'd been out of work shorter. 

Look at that again. As long as you've been out of work for less than six months, you can get called back even if you don't have experience. But after you've been out of work for six months, it doesn't matter what experience you have. Quite literally. There's only a 2.12 percentage point difference in callback rates for the long-term unemployed with or without industry experience. That's compared to a 7.13 and 8.95 percentage point difference for the short-and-medium-term unemployed. This is what screening out the long-term unemployed looks like. In other words, the first thing employers look at is how long you've been out of work, and that's the only thing they look at if it's been six months or longer.

This penalty for long-term unemployment is unlike any other. As you can see in the chart below, job churn is another red flag for employers, but not nearly to the same extent. Applicants who'd gone through five to six jobs but had relevant experience were still more likely to get called back than those who'd gone through three to four jobs but didn't. And they had about as good a chance as those who'd only held one or two jobs but weren't experienced. In other words, there is no job-switching cliff like there is an unemployment cliff.

Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap. Once you've been out of work for six months, there's little you can do to find work. Employers put you at the back of the jobs line, regardless of how strong the rest of your resume is. After all, they usually don't even look at it. 

Let's be clear. Ghayad's field study shows employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed. All of the fake resumes he sent out were basically identical. But firms ignored the ones from people who'd been out of work for six months or longer -- even when they had better credentials. Employers look at how long you've been unemployed as a better proxy for skills than anything else on your resume. In other words, more jobs-training probably won't help the long-term unemployed all that much. Even a stronger economy will only help them years in the future, rather than many years in the future. 

It's time for the government to start hiring the long-term unemployed. Or, at the least, start giving employers tax incentives to hire the long-term unemployed. The worst possible outcome for all of us is if the long-term unemployed become unemployable. That would permanently reduce our productive capacity. 

We can do better, and we need to start doing so now. We can't afford long-term thinking in either the short or the long-term.

Employers and recruiters take note - these are the myths about mature workers

By Hani Kafoury 

Peter Spunt, an ex-senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry, has had his share of job search challenges with what human resources experts refer to as “ageism” - or age discrimination.

“At 62, I am happy to contribute to an organization’s success,” Spunt says. “Salary and a fancy title are not my primary concerns. I just want to make use of my hard-earned experience, successful track record and skill set. The fire is still in the belly.”

He is not alone. Many mature workers, defined as aged 45 or older by CEDEC (Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation), seek job-search training and coaching assistance through employment service providers such as OMETZ, La Passerelle and Executives Available. But they come across diehard myths still held by many employers.

Myth No. 1: Expect to pay more
This is by far the most pervasive. Larry Riley, director at job assistance program Executives Available, specializing in job-search strategies and support for professionals 40 years of age and over, says employers may be missing an important point.

“People don’t have the same financial needs later in life - the kids are gone, the mortgage is probably paid for,” he says. “Mature workers are at a different stage of their lives and may not necessarily be looking for high salaries.” Contract work or reduced work hours may be an option - and a win-win for both parties.

Myth No. 2: Expect trouble with younger employees
A 50-year-old may not see eye-to-eye with a much younger manager - but is it age? “While there may be the odd cross-generational challenge, I’ve found that age has little to do with getting along,” says Daniel Ascher, from executive recruitment firm Denell-Archer.

“If you think there is a good fit with the candidate you are considering, that he or she is bringing in the right experience, the right chemistry, and can be managed, then you’ve got yourself a good potential employee.”

Myth No. 3: Expect no overtime
Everything being equal, work ethic often characterizes mature workers. “For most mature workers, the occasional overtime is not an issue because their kids are grown up and they are very motivated to contribute all they can,” says Marianna Balakhnina, coordinator of labour market development at CEDEC. “Many employers say that mature workers have a high level of motivation and dedication.”

Myth No. 4: Expect a short stay
A major study from CEDEC shows that mature workers have lower turnover rates, are quite stable and stay longer within a position and within a company.

“Mature workers tend to be more selective. So once they’re in, they are going to be quite effective and loyal,” says Lois Liverman, executive director at OMETZ, an NPO offering a range of services to job seekers, employers and entrepreneurs.

Myth No. 5: Expect rigidity
Don’t presume or jump to conclusions. “The company should be offering an interview to someone based on experience and skills,” Liverman says. “You need to be able to have that fit. The perfect resumé is one that opens the door. Once they go through it, take the resumé and toss it — it means nothing.”
(As a coach, trainer and consultant in the people side of change, I have found that age rarely has anything to do with whether we embrace or resist change.)

Myth No. 6: Expect technology trouble
“It’s not about being tech savvy, it’s about what the position requires,” is a message often reiterated to hirers by Leslie Acs, executive director at La Passerelle, an employment and career transition centre. “One gentleman in our program has been in the garment business for over 30 years. His understanding of the entire process is incredibly profound. But not in a technical way - it’s like he ‘feels’ it. He gets frustrated because recruiters ask him typical questions, not ones that highlight his strengths.”

“But it’s changing,” Acs added. “The value of a mature worker is being appreciated more. Technology is teachable - wisdom and leadership are more difficult to teach.”

Myth No. 7: Expect less stamina and energy
The 2012 CEDEC report indicates that only a small minority of mature workers are challenged physically. Balakhnina is emphatic: “Mature workers are motivated by their eagerness to reach out first to employment service providers, to complete the programs, to do everything they can and not give up.”

When it comes to busting “ageism” myths, company size does not matter. Whether it is a large Crown corporation, such as the Business Development Bank of Canada, or a smaller organization such as Triton Pharma, a company’s culture and approach to diversity is key.

“BDC approaches recruitment from a perspective of diversity and inclusiveness,” says Ela Borenstein, Partner at Health Venture Fund at BDC Capital. “The last two years, we’ve been recognized as a top employer for employees over 40. Currently over 20 per cent of our workforce is over 50, with the average age being 41. It reflects how much emphasis we put on experience.

“I started with BDC in my 40s, and I have been acknowledged as bringing experience and deep expertise to the table.”

Sybil Dahan, president at Triton Pharma Inc., concurs. “We’re a sales force and marketing organization, and for us age is not an issue as long as there is a fit. Our Sales Manager is 67 going on 25!”

Dahan sums it up well. “In the hiring process, you do not want to put age as an obstacle, because what you are looking for is what is missing in your team. Do you have the right mix of gender, age, training, cultural? And from there you go and get it, to gain that competitive edge.”

Before creating Tranzition Consulting Services, Hani Kafoury spent almost 30 years in the corporate world in various senior leadership positions. He holds an M.A. in psychology, is trained in organizational transition management and leadership coaching, and is a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner. Kafoury works with organizations and individuals in effectively managing major change.

6 Tax Deductions Job-Hunters Can’t Afford to Overlook

by Lauren Treadwell

When you’re out of work, any help you can get with expenses is more than welcome. Sometimes these gifts come from unexpected sources, such as the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS provides tax deductions for job-hunting expenses that reduce your taxable income and decrease your tax bill. As an added bonus, you can claim them even if you didn’t land a job that tax year.

However, there are a few caveats:
  • Your job hunting expenses must add up to at least 2% of your total gross income to qualify as deductions.
  • You must be looking for work in the same field. Unfortunately, career changers aren’t able to benefit from the government’s generosity.
  • People looking for their first job are out of luck, too. You can only deduct job search expenses if you’ve already been employed, even if it was part-time.
  • The IRS doesn’t recognize job hunting expenses you incur after a “substantial break” between losing your job and starting your search. While the agency doesn’t provide a specific definition for “substantial break,” waiting months to start your search may be a mistake.
  • Most of these deductions allow you to write off the costs in full, but some do have limits. Check with a tax professional if you’re unsure.
The sum of these expenses is listed as a single itemized deduction on line 21 of Schedule A. You won’t have to send in any receipts or other documentation with your return, but make sure you have them just in case the IRS initiates an audit. Without comprehensive records, the IRS may disallow them and make you pay any additional tax you owe.

1. Employment Services

Using employment services can give you a boost in your job search, but the costs can get steep. Luckily, job seekers can deduct the fees associated with employment counseling, headhunters, or other job placement services. You can also deduct the costs of placing job-seeking ads in newspapers or on classified websites. Fees you pay for access or membership to job ad websites are similarly deductible.

2. Resume Preparation

Your resume is the first impression potential employers have of you, and sometimes you need to shell out a good bit of money to get it just right. You can deduct expenses you incur from professional resume preparation services, as well as books that provide resume-related advice and instruction. You can also write off printing and copying costs such as ink and paper, mailing when you send your resume to employers.

3. Communication

Local and long-distance phone calls you make via land line or cell phone to inquire about work or for job interview purposes are deductible. Keep in mind that unless you use the phone service solely for job-hunting purposes, you cannot deduct your entire phone bill. Only the portion of the charges that directly relate to your employment search are eligible. Request itemized bills so you can see exactly when you made the calls, how long they lasted, and how much they cost.

4. Networking and Professional Development

The fees you pay to attend job fairs, seminars, conferences, and other networking events while looking for work are also deductible. You can even write off fees for online networking sites and premium employment services such as those offered by LinkedIn. If you take any classes or training courses to build your skills and make yourself more marketable to employers, you can write off those expenses as well.

5. Travel

Travel expenses can be a little tricky, but if you don’t mind a little math, you should be able to write off a good portion of your costs. The IRS gives job hunters a $0.55 deduction per mile that covers both local and out-of-town driving to job interviews, networking events, and other job-related trips. You can also write off parking fees. If you use mass transportation or travel via air or rail, you can deduct the costs in full. Hotel or other lodging costs are deductible as well. And if you grab a bite to eat while you’re hitting the pavement, whether it’s a fast food breakfast in your car or a lunch interview at a fancy restaurant, you can write off 50%of each meal.

6. Childcare

While this last one isn’t actually a deduction, it’s still a huge help for many job seekers. The child and dependent care credit covers up to 35% of your day care or babysitting costs dollar-for-dollar, directly reducing the amount of tax you owe instead of reducing your taxable income. You can only claim expenses that you incurred while looking for a job and you must have the provider’s Social Security or Employer Identification number to qualify.

6 Things a Jobseeker NEEDS to DO on Google+

By George LaRocque 

The Value of Google+

There is a lot of debate over the value of Google’s social network, Google+. Thought-leaders and “early-adopters” in the HR Technology space rushed to evaluate it upon its release in mid-2011. They then panned it based on its lack of features in comparison to Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as its cumbersome integration of other Google Apps/Products. They were in good company. This seemed to be the consensus beyond our HR Technology bubble and was mirrored in mainstream tech media as well.

That was then…

That was in 2011. In 2013, the Google+ story is one of great potential and increasing momentum. Google has remained committed to Google+ and has continued to invest in both new features, and better integration to core Google Apps/Products.

If you’re a jobseeker – or anyone – who benefits from professional networking you should be on Google+. The key phrase is “professional networking”. In its current form, Google+ provides more of a platform for the professional networker, or highly technically savvy jobseeker.

The Users
In terms of user numbers, both total and active, Google+ is now the #2 Social Network, surpassing Twitter and closing in on Facebook, according to a recent Global Web Index Report. It is by far the fastest growing Social Network. At the time the GWI report was written, Google had more than 340 million users. Based on its trending growth rate, it is projected to currently be approaching 600 million users.

The Integrations!
Considering that Google+ integrates all of Google’s Apps/Products across their Android Mobile platform, their ubiquitous Gmail platform, and their flagship Search it’s poised to provide a depth of resources for the jobseeker now, and in the future. When you then consider that employers will increasingly look to leverage the Google+ platform to reach jobseekers and bolster their overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings, Google+ is a must for the networking-oriented jobseeker or professional networker.

6 Things You NEED to DO
So, what are the top 6 things you can do on Google+ to build your network and enhance your job search?

1. Create and Optimize Your Google+ Profile. If you do nothing else, have a complete and up to date profile on Google+ so that you can be found. Online profiles are quickly replacing the resume as the “currency” for the job search, and they are the currency for the online networker. As Google+ usage continues to grow rapidly you can be sure that employers will continue to use it as a source to find talent. Represent yourself using “keywords” and industry terms that will help you be found for the roles you are looking for.

2. Join Google+ Communities That Are Relevant and Interesting To You.
Google+ launched Communities in December. So, they are fairly new, yet already experiencing prolific growth. Communities are Google+’s take on groups or forums, where users share content specific to a topic. There are communities related to seemingly everything. You can search for communities related to jobs in your industry or discipline. Joining these will give you access to active job searches. You can also search for communities specific to your industry, skillset, or discipline – and contribute there in order to build your personal brand in the space. Joining these will also give you exposure to thought leaders, hiring companies, recruiters, etc. that will extend your network.

3. Extend Your Google+ Circles. Google+ allows you to create and organize other Google+ users into “Circles”. Circles allow you to follow those in the circles, and share information with them. You can add any Google+ user to a Circle. This allows you to create targeted Circles of employers you would like to network yourself into, or industry thought leaders, recruiters, etc. Whereas Communities give you information on broad topics and the opportunity to share information to large numbers of people, Circles gives you control over who you follow and what you share with them.

4. Share Interesting and Valuable Content. Once you’ve created your Circles and joined targeted Communities, share content that contributes to the conversation. Whether it’s links to articles that you find interesting, or your own thoughts on topics, the information you share may get you noticed by people with the opportunities you are interested in.

5. Ask Good Questions. When I was a recruiter preparing candidates for interviews, I would tell them that good questions went further than most statements in an interview. I think the same is true in any online forum. Content can get you noticed, but a good question gets people to engage with you, gets you added to their circles, and can demonstrate your expertise on any given issue/topic.

6. Stay With It. Google+ isn’t a job board. You aren’t submitting a resume and waiting for a response. This is why I believe it’s more suited for the networking-oriented jobseeker or the professional networker. Standing out in a social network like Google+ takes a commitment of time and dedication to your search/network. Don’t fake it. Be genuine and pursue topics and content that you’re passionate about – It will be easier for you to stay with it longer and really build up your personal brand.

George LaRocque is the leading Strategist & GoToMarket Consultant for HR-related technology and the Human Capital Management (HCM) Marketplace. George has personally launched market-leading HR Technology brands to profitability, funding, or both. The President of LAROCQUE, a GoToMarket consultancy & the publisher of #hrwins reports on Innovation in HR Technology, as well as operator & organizer of the InfluenceHR conference. Building on 19+ years of general management, marketing, sales, & sales management experience. George writes about technology for all of Human Resources at & is a regular contributor to the Blog

The One Hour Linkedin Makeover that will Turn you into an Opportunity Magnet

Knowing how to exploit Linkedin so it works for you and sucks business opportunities your way, is in my opinion the number one online quick win for anyone looking  to enhance their career prospects, whether they are in a job or job-hunting.

But it’s no quick task to do all the things you need to do to fully capitalise on this opportunity  (and that’s why I’m hard at work writing an e-book about this!) Ideally you should be investing a couple of hours every week to do this. Every week. Every month.  And that’s a big ask for many people with busy lives.

I find over and over again that people who come to me for help have misunderstood what they need to do to get the basics of their Linkedin presence optimised.  The good news is that this is not a big task. It’s something you can get sorted out with just an hour or so investment of quality time.

Compared to the effort they invest in work for their employers or sending out applications if they are job hunting, many people still fail to get this essential foundation right. And that’s just a completely wasted opportunity.

So here’s an interview with Linkedin profile consultant Christian Moritz on Channel 8 News where he sets out the basic steps to getting your Linkedin profile optimised. It’s just 5 minutes long – in it you’ll discover exactly what you need to do to create the foundation of your own magnetic forcefield online.

Even if you think you’ve got it covered already, I still recommend you watch this to check you really have got your basics right.