27 May, 2010

Why Doesn't Seth Godin Respect His Own Books Enough To Index Them?

I wish Seth Godin respected his own books enough to index them.

I bring this up because (1) I read Seth Godin’s books and generally like and recommend them and (2) “Linchpin Meetups” are popping up all over the country in celebration of both Linchpin (the book) and linchpins (the subjects of the book). In case you’re interested in hanging out with some linchpins, you can go to http://www.meetup.com/Linchpins-are-everywhere-raise-the-flag and sign up to attend a June 14 Linchpin Meetup in Charleston.

As I write this post, I am the only registrant of the Charleston event.

I first read Seth Godin when my friend, George Insko, kept raving about Godin’s Small Is The New Big. What I immediately noticed about Godin’s writing style is that he doesn’t put much time into organizing his thoughts and then arranging them into some kind of logical progression. Small Is The New Big contains some really good thoughts but it’s written like a random collection of thoughts. Each labeled section was very short – like one of those daily devotionals that contain religious readings you can read in a few seconds at the start of your day.

I recommended and quoted from Godin’s Tribes last summer.

But it really bothers me when a guy who has something to say – as Godin clearly does – thinks so little of his books that he doesn’t bother to index them.

Yes, I understand that indexing adds production costs but I am willing to pay more for a book that is properly indexed.

Conversely, sometimes I decide not to buy a book that doesn’t have an index.

While I was reading Godin’s Linchpin, I was also reading Daniel Pink’s Drive, which was well-documented, properly indexed and actually paralleled Godin’s Linchpin in several ways. In fact, it was obvious to me that Godin and Pink are familiar with each other’s work. I don’t think it’s accidental Linchpin and Drive both contain riffs about asymptotes or that they both have a lot to say about autotelic approaches to work and the difference between heuristic and algorithmic labor.

Readers who like to be inspired or want to tell The Man to take their current job and shove it will find inspiration in Godin’s Linchpin. Readers who demand more research and scholarship will prefer Pink’s Drive.

Job seekers will want to read why Godin says you shouldn’t have a résumé.

Higginbotham At Large no longer publishes anonymous or pseudonymous comments. If your ID sounds like a CB handle or a Twitter ID I will not publish your comment.

26 May, 2010

Why Jessi Hempel Called Linkedin "The Only Social Site That Really Matters"

For about 2 years now I’ve been describing Linkedin as “Facebook for grownups” and, in her April 12 Fortune magazine article, so did Jessi Hempel. But she didn’t stop there. Hempel went on to say that “If you don’t have a profile on Linkedin, you’re nowhere” and “ If you’re serious about managing your career, the only social site that really matters is Linkedin.”

As Jessi Hempel explains in her article and as I explained to folks at a March 23 symposium, the key to Linkedin’s career-promoting power is the way employers and headhunters can use it. Let’s say you’re about to open an office in, say, Southern Illinois, and you need to hire a branch manager with mining sales experience. In Linkedin you can put in a few geographical parameters and some key words and, voila, in moments you have a list of people in your network who live in Southern Illinois and have mining sales experience.

You can’t do that in Facebook.

Further, once you have actually hired that new branch manager, he or she can use Linkedin to identify and connect to all the appropriate prospects in Southern Illinois. Your new branch manager can use Linkedin to find and join local business groups, local mining industry groups or any other local groups where he or she might find the kind of people who can buy mining supplies.

You can’t do that in Facebook, either.

To use Linkedin to advance your career, you have to exercise a trait few people have, you have to do something they don’t teach you in college unless you majored in a mental health or sociological field: you have to exercise empathy. That is, you have to be able to imagine the needs of others. If you have the empathy to imagine how a recruiter, a headhunter or a hiring manager might use Linkedin to identify and find talent then you can use Linkedin to become the talent they seek.

When a headhunter needs to identify and find a person with a particular skill set in a specific city, he doesn’t go to MySpace or Facebook, he starts with Linkedin because Linkedin is wired for business and because Linkedin allows the user to find people by job title, by industry, by geography, etc.

Use Linkedin to make yourself easy to find and easy to contact. Put your phone number or your email address in one of the public parts of your Linkedin profile. Put it in your “headline” or in the “summary” section where people outside your immediate network can see it. As Jessi Hempel said in her Fortune article, “it’s no longer advantageous to refrain from broadcasting personal information.” She obviously wasn’t referring to Social Security number, your home address or the whereabouts of your kids. No, she simply means make it easy for employers to find you.

Join Linkedin groups. Join local groups, industry groups.

Make sure you have enabled messaging between group members. I'll never understand why some people join a group but disable their group messaging. What's the point of belonging to a group when group members can't contact you?

Invite people you like and respect to join your Linkedin network. Some of those people will get calls from headhunters asking “who do you know who might be a good candidate?”

Don't join the networks of people you know to be jerks or incompetents. As Scott Bedbury said in his book, It's A New Brand World, brands absorb the ambient smells of other brands near them. Don't let a stinker's brand stink up your brand.

There’s no need for me to repeat everything I said in my March 23 symposium appearance when I can simply link you to what Jessi Hempel said in her April 12 Fortune article. Read Ms. Hempel’s article at ::


02 May, 2010

Institutional Ageism

Business owners sometimes tell me they’d love to hire some experienced workers but that those older workers don’t seem to apply. I tell them “Oh, yes they do, but the 20-somethings on the front end of your hiring process screen out the older workers who apply so you never see them.”

I mentioned this to Joan Freeman, whose LinkedIn profile says she is “Director, Gray Matters Coalition, committed to ending age discrimination in the work place.” And she asked me for a copy of a column I wrote a few years ago for Living Well 50 Plus. I told Joan that I wrote this column before Living Well 50 Plus started publishing on the Internet and that my hard copies and digital disk copies are both packed away in a box somewhere. The column was titled “How The Hiring Process Is Front Loaded for Age Bias” and its main idea is that companies that want to hire older workers need to put a few older workers on the front end of their hiring processes because Twentysomethings are trying to stock their companies with other Twentysomethings – people they want to socialize with, people they want to date, people whose experience doesn’t threaten them. The first person a job applicant encounters is often the youngest member of the HR department and the last thing an entry level employee wants is to hire people who remind them of their parents and have the experience to be their boss.

To be fair, I understand how Twentysomethings feel. They have spent their lives in the shadow of the Boomers who, it seems, are everywhere and run everything and, seemingly, never plan to retire and let younger generations have a chance to lead. I get it.

Here’s a basic fact of human nature: Organizations tend to get more of what they already have. If your church is full of old white people it’s a magnet for more old white people. I recently had to endure a day with a guy in his 60s who told me he was the youngest member of his church. I know the church. They fired the last pastor who tried to retain their younger people. In less than 10 years this admittedly old congregation will be unable to pay a minister or afford maintenance on their building. Even if they went on an all-out campaign to attract younger people, they will still die because young people don’t want to go to a church where there’s nobody their age.

If Boomers were on the front lines of recruiting and hiring we’d hire fewer Twentysomethings and more of our peers.

Conservatives hire conservatives. Liberals hire liberals.

When white people tend to hire white people we have a name for it. We call it "institutional racism." Institutional racism isn't deliberate discrimination. It's a simple fact of human nature that even the most liberal, fair-minded among us tend to feel more comfortable with others of our own race so when we recruit and hire we tend to recruit others who look like us.

So when companies let young people make most of the first contacts with job applicants it shouldn't be surprising when those companies skew younger and younger over time.

Let's call that "Institutional Ageism".

Achieving diversity requires conscious, deliberate, strategic action.

That’s why if companies want to achieve workforce diversity they have to put a more diverse team of screeners on the front lines of the hiring process.

Employers sometimes tell me they can’t find job applicants who can pass a pre-employment drug screen. I tell them they should hire the people who have been passing random drug tests for decades – the Fiftysomethings who are being fired by the hundreds of thousands by Corporate America.

“I’d love to hire some experience” they say, “but those down-sized Fiftysomethings don’t apply to my company.”

“They apply but you never get a chance to hire them because they get screened out early in the hiring process by Twentysomething HR people” I say.

I tell older job seekers that after they apply or interview with a young screener they should start copying older decision makers on everything that happens after that. Make sure some older decision makers see your resume and know about your interest in working for their company or organization. Don't leave it to chance or fairness or good intentions.

Every outcome is the result of a system that was perfectly designed to produce that outcome. Show me your company's hiring process and I can predict your company's workforce. If you want to hire some experienced workers who have been passing random drug tests for decades and know how to work, put some older workers on the front lines of your hiring process.