Recruiting Outside the Box: Indiana Dual Career Network

Recruiting has become something of a dance. It’s no longer as simple as placing an ad and waiting for candidates to knock on your door. Recruiters must be creative and utilize a multitude of tools to source talent.

The standard avenues for recruitment still exist – word of mouth, employee referrals and job boards. There is one piece, however, that has been a challenge for individuals recruiting for highly specialized fields: What happens to the spouses of the candidates being courted?

Recently, I was invited by a colleague at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) to participate in a group called the Indiana Dual Career Network (IDCN). Laura Farkas, interim president of IDCN, summarizes the goal of the group:

The IDCN is a network of professionals throughout the state who are involved with talent recruitment, with the added focus of paying attention to Dual Career issues, which is another way of saying “Trailing Spouse” challenges. In other words, as Indiana companies and institutions of Higher Ed are trying to recruit talent to their organizations, a pool of talented spouses and partners develops alongside them, who will be wanting to envision compelling work for themselves. Instead of a problem, we want to engage with each other and share information, resources, and networking contacts to make sure we all see “Trailing Spouses” as opportunities.

IDCN started a little under four years ago specifically for the academic world. Department heads at a number of Indiana universities were having difficulty attracting talent and realized that often the reason a candidate rejected a position was the lack of job opportunity for the trailing partner.

Farkas shared a recent IDCN success story: A candidate for a job at Purdue University had received six offers, but chose Purdue because of the additional job search assistance available to their partner.

This is creative networking at its best. Communicating through ListServ, the group can spread the word within the academic world and to surrounding business partners and work to secure employment for those partners of job prospects.

IDCN’s goal is not only filling positions, but also attracting and keeping talent in Indiana. I definitely will continue to reach out to this group for upcoming open positions.

Making the Proper Contact

37193874The challenge with business-to-business sales is that the purchasing decision rarely resides solely with your contact. Instead, multiple influencers and departments are often involved.

Recently released survey data from LinkedIn provides some insight as to the departments that wield the most influence.

Based on a survey of more than 6,000 buyers and marketers at mid-sized to enterprise-level companies in seven countries, LinkedIn concludes that, generally speaking, the top departments involved in the typical buying decision are: information technology (32%), finance (31%) and business development (26%).

Of course, these results differ greatly by industry. View a chart online summarizing the top three departments per industry sector.

One of the key (and perhaps obvious) takeaways is that the department most involved in purchasing decisions often reflects the industry. In other words, the IT department is most commonly an influencer in the technology industry, while marketing wields the most clout in the marketing and advertising industry, and finance in the commercial banking industry.

Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

In strong economic times, most college graduates quickly enter the workforce, utilize their skills to move up within their organizations and advance to leadership positions — either at their original company or elsewhere. (I hope that is the case with a daughter soon to finish her college career at DePauw).

In today's reality, that isn't always the way it works. In a worst-case scenario, one might need the following assistance through an article titled: "The Recent Grad's Guide to Surviving Layoffs." After taking care of some necessary financial matters, there is very sound advice (condensed below) on turning a layoff into "an opportunity rather than a catastrophe." The full article is available here.

And there is always the Indiana Chamber's Indiana INTERNnet program to guide you through the world of internships.

Obtain Additional Education

  •  Certification Program: If finances and your personal circumstances permit, you may take this opportunity to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in your industry. Additional certifications will build on the experience you already have and make you a more competitive candidate for a new position.
  •  Graduate School: Some master’s programs require students to have worked in the industry before returning to school; viewed positively, this could be a golden opportunity. Full-time graduate students may defer student loan obligations and may also be eligible for more financial aid. Attending an online school may also be an attractive option.
  • Federal Job Training Programs: The federal government has resources in place for unemployed individuals to acquire additional training. Funds that assist dislocated workers are available through CareerOneStop, a service provided by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

 Stay Active in Your Industry

  •  Use Your Former Employer as a Resource: While it may seem counterintuitive, staying in contact with your former employer can unearth opportunities to network that you may not have expected. Ask if outplacement services are offered, and follow up if so.
  •  Tap Into Your Network: Reach out to friends and colleagues and explain your situation in simple terms; there is no social stigma to being laid off and no need to be embarrassed. Using social media tools can help you reach people you otherwise would never have met.
  •  Be an Industry Insider: If cost is not prohibitive, attend industry events like conferences, trade shows or seminars. You will continue to build your contact list, keep your face in front of people who have the potential to hire you, and learn new skills at the same time.
  •  Continue to Read, Research, and Learn: As you search for new employment, keep up on industry news by subscribing to trade publications or attending association meetings.

 Create Opportunities to Gain Work Experience

  •  Part-Time Work: Consider part-time work, possibly from the company that laid you off in the first place. The concept of Survivor Demotions often doesn’t occur to employers; if you’re about to lose your salaried position, ask if you can take a demotion to a lower-level job in the company or perform your old job on a part-time basis.
  •  Work Share: In some states, companies that are downsizing are willing to implement work-sharing programs. Rather than eliminating jobs in the workforce, these companies reduce the hours and benefits of a group of workers. These workers are still eligible for partial unemployment insurance, and therefore don’t experience a loss in income until unemployment resources end.
  •  Contract Positions: Temporary or contract positions also provide experience and help you meet new people in influential positions.
  •  Volunteer: Using your unique skills in a volunteer position can increase your networking opportunities while you perform a good deed. Unpaid internships may also lead to new business contacts or a full-time position.



‘Tis the Season for Networking, Making the Most of Your Holiday Party

A recent non-scientific survey found that nearly 70% of organizations are expected to hold some type of holiday event in the coming weeks. More than half (55%) are doing some on a workday or near the end of the day. Most (60%) limit the festivities to employees only and less than a third (30%) are staying on-site.

No matter the type, size or location, these events are often meaningful to employees. They can also be beneficial for the individuals who play the game correctly. A few tips from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas:

  • Arrive early:  This might be your best opportunity to talk with senior executives while things are still relatively quiet.
  • Work the room:  It is easy to simply socialize with the members of your department, with whom you work with day in and day out. However, you gain if you use this occasion to meet people in other departments. You never know who can help your career.
  • Do not over indulge:  Free alcohol can quickly lead to excessive drinking. Stay in control. You do not want to do anything embarrassing to you or your employer. Even if your alcohol-induced actions do not get you fired, they could hurt your chances for advancement.
  • Be friendly, but not too friendly:  The company party is not the place to try out your latest pick-up lines. The risk of such behavior being seen as sexual harassment is high.
  • Avoid talking business:  This is not the time to approach your boss with a new business idea. Save that for Monday morning. Instead, find out about his or her interests outside of the office. Find a connection on a personal level. That connection will help you on Monday when you bring up the new idea and it could help when it comes time for salary reviews.
  • Attend other companies’ parties:  If a friend invites you to his or her company party, you should go.  It is an opportunity to expand your professional network, which  is critical in this era of downsizing and job switching.

Membership Offers Statewide Visibility

With nearly 5,000 members and 26,000 customers, the Chamber’s web page generates a significant amount of traffic. Not the backed-up Interstate-405, watching O.J. Simpson roll by in a white Ford Bronco, pull your hair out, Los Angeles kind of traffic, but about 600 unique visitor hits a day to our home page traffic. Members are encouraged to post their press releases and to submit a Member Spotlight to our site. Both may be done at no charge by being our beloved member.
Press release announcements regarding company milestones, new products or services, prominent new hires or community involvement, may be submitted here.
Additionally, the Member Spotlight gives you two weeks on our site to tell your company’s story and to promote your products and services.
Not a member? Contact Tom James at [email protected] or (317) 264-7539 to learn more about membership benefits.

Have You Heard of Facebook’s New Competition? You May Soon

Diaspora, an upstart social networking site, had a goal of raising $10,000 online to help get the fledgling network going. You see, its founders — four programmers from New York University’s Courant Institute — were amongst those revolting against what many perceive to be unethical privacy violations by Facebook. (Read here). 

So raising $10,000 from strangers for an unproven product sounds a tad ambitious, you say? But what if we told you they have now raised nearly $140,000 and counting. Surprising? Oh yes. And is Diaspora ready to topple the social networking giant? Doubt it, but time will tell. But they are giving Facebook something to think about as far as its policies toward its users are concerned. But there’s a valuable lesson here: Your business is never bigger than your customers, so please treat them well and when enacting new policies, put yourself in their position.

An excerpt about Diaspora:

What is the project about?

We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive. With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms. We think we can replace today’s centralized social web with a more secure and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub.

Why are we building it?

This February, Eben Moglen, Columbia law professor and author of the latest GPL, gave a talk on Internet privacy. As more and more of our lives and identities become digitized, Moglen explains, the convenience of putting all of our information in the hands of companies on “the cloud” is training us to casually sacrifice our privacy and fragment our online identities.

But why is centralization so much more convenient, even in an age where relatively powerful computers are ubiquitous? Why is there no good alternative to centralized services that, as Moglen pointed out, comes with "spying for free?” Why do we keep our personal data in a thousand places? We have the technology, someone just needs to take the time to figure out how we can communicate smoothly and intuitively, without the hidden costs of “the cloud”. As good programmers, when we noticed that the application we need doesn’t exist, we set out to fill the hole in our digital lives.

Hat tip to @mitchmaxson of MediaSauce, an Indiana Chamber member.

The Holidays are Here — So Start Networking!

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with reciting famous lines from "A Christmas Story" at holiday parties. Or declaring that you’ve just tasted the world’s best Eggnog. But, don’t forget to add a little business talk to the mix by networking.

A national business consultant offers several tips for putting a networking twist on your holiday celebrations. Here are a few:

  • Have a plan of action before you go. Find out who will be attending the event. Do some research online or on social networking sites like LinkedIn to learn about attendees. Pick five people with whom you definitely want to speak while you are there, and don’t avoid the big names. 
  • Let them do the talking (you ask the questions!)
  • Be prepared to pitch yourself in 15 seconds. Think about what’s unique about what you have done. Be sure that whomever you speak with will still remember you at the end of the night.
  • The party may end, but your connection shouldn’t. Cement your connections by creating a database that allows you to keep track of all the connections you’ve made. Include interesting or remarkable things people said or that you learned so you can refer back to them in later conversations. And be sure to use social media to keep in touch.

Networking Helps Net That New Job

I guess I better keep working hard and keep the job I’ve got. Because while I’m very comfortable sitting down with business and political leaders for interviews when I’m asking the questions, I’m not a big fan of social events or that one-on-one process of making contacts.

New survey results, however, put networking at the top of the effectiveness list for job seekers. In somewhat of a surprise, HR pros ranked social/professional networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) second on the list of top tools. Least effective among the respondents were job fairs and newspaper help wanted ads.

While the Internet has the potential to be very useful for job seekers, John Challenger of the Challenger, Gray & Christmas firm said that it has become the primary tool for many, when it should be considered secondary to the traditional technique of networking and meeting prospective employers in person.

“It is important to remember that the job search is a multifaceted process.  Those who rely on just one tool, even if it is networking, will take longer to find a position.  The problem with the ease and accessibility of the Internet is that many job seekers make it their primary job search tool. 

“Overuse of the Internet also threatens to prolong the hiring process on the employer’s end, as well, by inundating employers with irrelevant resumes.  Some human resource executives complain that for every qualified candidate that comes in from the Internet, there are 10 to 20 who do not even come close to being a good fit,” said Challenger.

“The more irrelevant resumes that hiring managers have to wade through in order to select the handful to bring in for interviews, the longer it takes to fill the position.  One result of this has been the increased use of digital screening software that scans incoming resumes for keywords.  Resumes without the right words are filtered out of the process.  This will make it even more difficult for job seekers to get their resume in front of the hiring executive," said Challenger.

“Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal, including networking, the Internet, newspapers, job fairs and even cold-calling employers,” he concluded.

Getting LinkedIn: 39 Million Users and Counting

The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) recently featured advice from human resource professionals about how job seekers and those looking to network should use LinkedIn. Seems as though many are finding it useful, albeit with different opinions on how to use it:

LinkedIn users know that they can significantly expand their reach by joining groups, which has triggered debate among users and the site over the potential for so-called serial invitations.

LinkedIn users, of course, know that the site takes issue with inviting people you don’t know and "trust."

"Let’s say you’re connected to someone that you met once at a conference and don’t ever really intend doing business with them," said Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokeswoman. "Your network update feed, which shows who’s connecting to who in your network, what questions your connections are asking, etc., will include this person’s updates now too. If you’re connected to 20 or 100 connections like that, then that’s even more useless update feeds that you’ll receive."

By contrast, she said, "if the 100 people you’re connected to are old co-workers, former employees, potential clients, etc., then that feed is a gold mine.  . . . If an old co-worker switches jobs and lands at a company that you’d love to work with, well then now you know that you have an inside edge at that potential client/partner."

Others don’t necessarily see it that way.

"I think the idea is to not be sending random notes to people," said Elena Radeva, a UT-Arlington employment supervisor and M.B.A. graduate, who is working on her Ph.D. and researching how companies use social-networking sites to choose employees.

Radeva said she doesn’t see anything wrong using LinkedIn to reach out to casual professional acquaintances. She and other experts recommend personalizing invitations to remind acquaintances of the link.

O’Malley said he sees no value to vast personal LinkedIn networks that contain large numbers of connections the user doesn’t know.

"There are people who have thousands of connections, and to me, that’s a waste of time," says O’Malley, who has 1,200 first-level connections and estimates that he would know 800 of them if he ran into them on the street. "The rest have been to my classes, read my blog, been to my seminars."

If you’re on LinkedIn, I encourage you to join the Indiana Chamber group(s) and get involved in — or initiate — discussions on issues important to you. We have a general Indiana Chamber group for public policy and business topics, and a Human Resources group that will feature discussions on relevant HR topics and products.

Networking 101: Best Ways to Avoid Awkwardness When You Can’t Remember a Name

Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project blog, recently addressed the troublesome topic of what to do when you can’t remember someone’s name. These tips may help you in the world of business networking. Here’s a tidbit, and I’ve added my own additional commentary and/or suggestions in bold after each entry:

So I’ve developed some strategies for coping with the fact that I’m not able to pull up a person’s name right away. Of course, you can always just say politely, "I’m sorry, I don’t recall your name," but if you’d rather try to disguise your forgetfulness a bit, give these a try:

1. The “I know your name, but I’m blocked” dodge:
“I keep wanting to call you "David," but I know that’s not right.”
("Stan? Mark? Jack? Samanthaaaaaaa, riiiiiiight…")

2. The “Of course I know you — in fact, I want all your information” dodge:
“Hey, I’d love to get your card.”
("It’s not like I’ll put it in the spokes of my bike when I get home. I mean, come on, what kind of grown man would do that?")

3. The “The tip of my tongue” dodge:
“I know I know your name, but I’m blanking right now.”
("Don’t tell me, because I’m really good at this. Is it Irving? Because you look like an Irving.")

4. The “You’re brilliant!” dodge:
“Wow, you have a terrific memory. I can’t believe you remember my name from that meeting six months ago. I can’t remember the names of people I met yesterday! So of course I have to ask you your name.”
(You can also take a page from the movie "Memento" and add, "You see, I have this condition…" The sympathy factor is high on this one — doubt you’ll be seriously challenged on it.) 

5. The “Sure, I remember you” dodge:
“Remind me – what’s your last name?” If you ask a person for his last name, he’s likely to repeat both names. “Doe, John Doe.”
("Thomas, Thomas Thomas.")

6. The “One-sided introduction” dodge:
“Hey,” you say to the person whose name you can’t remember, “let me introduce you to Pat Smith.” You introduce the two and say the name of the person whose name you remember. Almost always, the nameless person will volunteer his or her name.
(I’ve tried this. Didn’t work for me. The other person didn’t say his name and they both just ended up staring at me. I think I just put my head down and walked to the bar.)

Also, remember that others might have trouble remembering your name. When you’re saying hello to someone, err on the side of re-introducing yourself. “Hi, John, it’s Gretchen Rubin.” Say your name slowly and clearly. And don’t get offended if someone doesn’t remember your name!
("Oh, you don’t remember me? How about now?" Then do some sort of crazy dance — preferably one that ends with you pointing at the person.)