Category Archives: LinkedIn

toxic talk and anger

Toxic Talk, LinkedIn and the Anger Iceberg

Toxic talk is prevalent but has now reached LinkedIn

For some years Academics have becoming increasingly concerned about the potential fallout from “uncivil discourse.”  So called “toxic talk” can end up polarizing opinion “when individuals rather than issues are attacked” (Stryker, Conway, & Danielson, 2014). The concerns over incivility extend to the online information environment, where “nasty comments can harm healthy constructive dialogue.

Posting on social media is a potential minefield and can lead to inches of toxic talk. We are all aware of the rise in incivility in these areas, but I am still astonished at the aggression and vitriol which even the most mundane comment can produce. I have seen it on Facebook and Twitter but I had never encountered it on LinkedIn.

Last week I had very minor exposure myself to toxic talk, where it seemed I had the temerity to call out a male coded infographic on a post on LinkedIn which was used to illustrate a modern day workplace. All the icons were male. Male coded workplaces are one of the key reasons women leave organisations. It was evident that I touched some hot buttons and the level of push back was interesting and surprising.

My input was considered “brutal.” Really.

” If you choose to see more in it because of some inferiority complex, and haven’t got help for your own insecurities, that’s all on you.”

“Stop making problems.”

I could go on. I was tempted to engage and expand on my comment, but remembered the time honoured phrase don’t feed the trolls.” I didn’t feel further input would add value and would only engage me in a flame war. The conversation stopped. The influencer who posted the original topic and was in a Bystander role in this instance, did not moderate his stream. Why should he? It was heady click bait fodder.

I have seen some people include in their post requests for people to be polite and constructive, with the intention of eliminating any toxic talk. This shouldn’t really be necessary. But the fact that it is required is a sign of the times. Even factoring in the potential for miscommunication posed by email and posting on social media present, these extreme responses seem exaggerated.

Maybe I’m being a wimp but I had also not expected this on the professional platform LinkedIn.

Anger Iceberg

Compared to the experiences of others, I am fully aware that this small pushback is inconsequential. Women in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and those who stood up after the Parkland shooting have experienced horrendous trolling and toxic talk. Some of this is from leaders who should know better. Dianne Abbott a UK MP received almost half of all abusive tweets (both racist and sexist) sent to female MPs before the 2017 election including death and rape threats. She said the ‘volume’ of abuse she received was ‘debilitating, corrosive and so upsetting’

In today’s world anger seems to be the go-to surface emotion.

Sofie-Ann Bracke, Belgium based mediation expert, shared this Anger Iceberg infographic from the Gottman Institute which resonated.To lash out at someone online (they are probably unlikely to do so in person) we have to take a close look at motivation behind their reactions and responses. Sometimes all negative emotions which are expressed as anger are actually rooted in something else.

Emotional Intelligence

The ease at which toxic talk becomes a common pattern of communication also taps into levels of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize the concept, says there are five key elements to it:

  • Self-awareness.

When we are self-aware, we have an understanding of how we feel and why and know well that, our emotions and your actions impact those around us.

My takeaway from my own experience now, is to anticipate a negative reaction. Rather than make a statement of fact, (“This is a very male-coded infographic“) I will probably try and elaborate with tried and tested intervention techniques. “Help me understand why a male coded infographic was used to illustrate the workplace which is 50% female.” Perhaps that would have made a difference. I will let you know.

  • Self-regulation.

People with emotional intelligence are able to self-regulate effectively rarely verbally attack others, make irrational or emotional decisions, stereotype others or compromise their value. Self-regulation is all about staying in control and not blaming other.

It’s easy to tap in an emotional response and hit send.

  • Motivation

This is about looking for an upside in every situation or challenge, no matter discouraging is a sign of strong emotional intelligence.

  • Empathy

Empathy is critical to successfully building relationships. Individuals with empathy are able to see another persons point of view and put themselves in their shoes without necessarily agreeing. They are able to give constructive feedback and challenge unfairness.

  • Social skills.

Those with social skills are great communicators.  They are good at managing change and resolve conflict effectively and diplomatically. They lead by example.

To communicate effectively, we must all acquire a solid understanding of how our emotions and actions affect the people around them. We also need to identify what triggers our emotions and why we respond in a certain way.

In the meantime it’s important that we all do what we can in our own area of influence to reduce the levels of toxic talk and other communication in our streams. LinkedIn could also offer a wider range of reporting options as UAE connection Dawn Metcalfe found when she received a picture of a penis in her LinkedIn messages.

Who else has experienced toxic talk on LinkedIn? Am I being a wimp and just accept this is part of the LinkedIn experience?

I am running a workshop in Brussels on May 29th on “How to deal with Sexism and Harassment in the Workplace” Please join me. Details HERE 



Why I’ve LinkedOff

Will being LinkedOff make a difference?

I have just cancelled my premium membership to LinkedIn. You could say I’ve LinkedOff with LinkedIn.

Reduced professionalism

Social media is awash with blogs and posts about the decline of the traditional channels. To cut to the chase, one over arching comment is this. With all the automation, the social has gone out of social. There is one notable exception. LinkedIn is now too social and not professional enough.

LinkedIn has been one of my anchor platforms for many years. As a head hunter it’s part of the candidate identification process. As a career coach, I recommend and coach clients on how to leverage it to advance their job search and manage their careers.  As a business person it was an ideal platform for tapping into great contributions and insights from sector leaders.

I now feel as though I subscribed to the Times or Wall Street Journal and am getting the Sun or National Enquirer. Or worse.

In some cases we are seeing a stream of soft porn images. The image below is a screen shot from my LinkedIn stream today.LinkedOff2

I really only joined Facebook initially to make sure my kids were still alive. But I am seeing a higher level of engagement there. I know there are others who have LinkedOff too.

We’re a growing number and LinkedIn need to pay attention.

Barriers to entry

I thought this was great in the early days. Open and democratic in line with the zeitgeist. Now the proliferation of fake profiles and dubious agendas is on the rise, with seemingly no penalties. As a Premium Member I expected all outliers to be taken care of by basic controls at the profile setting up stage. There is no place for a woman’s nipples and bum on LinkedIn, or some stud muffin looking for a date. So I will block and report and not connect with anyone who looks doubtful. This means the first letter of your name should be capitalized. That is a dead giveaway. If you refer to yourself as Caspar in your summary but William in your name, there is something not right. But Caspar/William had 500 connections when I sent his profile for review today.

What I know about coding couldn’t even be covered on the back of a SIM card – but if dating sites can approve profiles and photos, why can’t LinkedIn? Surely this is just some software check? #justsaying

Business model

LinkedIn is a business and they need to make money. I get that. They need to find ways to generate activity and content so people will buy and use their product. I get that too. They have also spawned a whole industry sector around it.  But my patience is being sorely tested. It is no longer my go-to platform for top level content. Why? Because either there is less top level content, or that content is hard to find.

LinkedIn off with LinkedIn

LinkedIn off with LinkedIn

Generic and bland automated content and spam, gratuitous self-promotion, dubious photos or quizzes are the norm. LinkedIn is morphing into an unregulated platform for people to share whatever they want. There is nothing wrong with that per se, if you are interested in that sort of thing. I just want to be able to filter it out, as you can on other platforms.

The extension of the self-publishing facility, LinkedIn Pulse has become a license to publish … well…anything. Thousands do so with no control over quality or content. Members are posting adverts for jobs and services, plus links to other articles with no content at all. Sorting through updates now takes up too much time. The good content gets lost in all the nonsense I see in my stream. Babies, cars, even women in bikinis, and men liking photos of a woman in transparent black mesh pant suit.

Sure it’s ART

There are a huge number of changes and tweaks, presented as improved features. This quote from Henry Havelock Ellis comes to mind: What we call progress is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.

Freedom of choice

I am not suggesting that people shouldn’t publish what they want. I just don’t want to see it. Just as you can with other platforms. Barbara Safani made a case  that variety of exchange makes up the composition, of any workplace. That is true, but I wouldn’t hang out with women in black mesh pant suits or bikinis around a water cooler and I want that option restored on LinkedIn.

I want what I signed up for – professional content.

I want to filter out the stuff I don’t want to see and only focus on the content I’m interested in. You can do this with Twitter on Tweetdeck or Hoot Suite and Facebook.

For Premium membership  – I expect a premium service. I wasn’t getting it.

If you would like to campaign for tighter control from LinkedIn please share using hashtag #LinkedOff and flag and report all instances of inappropriate content!

Unlisted LinkedIn Groups risk creating online cliques

LinkedIn Groups changes disadvantage job seekers

LinkedIn Groups was one of the first ways LinkedIn attempted to connect its membership, offering like-minded professionals an opportunity to have open and transparent conversations.  It was a great place for job seekers, especially career changers, to get a feel for the career paths and backgrounds of people already in their target company, or information on a job or career to which they aspired. I have tapped into this facility regularly over the years.

Importantly, Job seekers could join any group and enter a conversation with people perhaps they previously might have had difficulties reaching. It was a democratic and open system, very different to the real world, where networking can be very elitist and “clique-ish.”  No big fees were involved and the chances to interact with a key sector player were much more achievable.

Now with recent changes I can’t help but wonder if LinkedIn is risking creating online cliques, with hidden listings and member, invitation-only groups.

transparent-linkedinDeterioration of quality

LinkedIn claim to have responded to changes requested by users and other general feedback. The major shift is that all Groups are being made private. Only Group members will be able to view conversations (re-styled discussions) , and only members can contribute. The ability to be searchable via search engines will also disappear, facilitating private discussions between  group members.

As the owner of the 3Plus LinkedIn group, some years ago I asked members if they wanted to remain private or go “open”. The vote was to become an open group in the interests of inclusion. Afterwards I could see this was not necessarily a good idea. We were flooded primarily with self promotion, which impacted the quality of the conversation and created a lot of admin triage work, reviewing it all.  So there is one person at least who is glad to see this backward move as necessary to going forward. I’m not against this element of the changes.

LinkedIn’s help center says. “Members-only groups have created significantly more participation and conversations than others (up to five times more), indicating that members feel more confident contributing in these types of groups.”

Hidden network

The next issue is whether a group is a Standard or Unlisted Group, the two available classifications. 

. The main difference between the two is control and visibility. Unlisted Groups are well….not listed. They don’t appear in the LinkedIn directory of Groups, Group badges cannot be displayed on members’ profiles, and only owners and managers can invite and approve new members.

They are therefore hidden and not a great benefit to job seekers, especially career changers, who usually look for groups as part of their research and strategic networking.

 It also makes it difficult for job seekers who very often won’t know what undisclosed groups are out there. The concept of a hidden network, now has an additional component.

Standard Groups 

In Standard Groups however, members can invite first-degree LinkedIn connections to join and can also approve requests to join from their first level connections. These will be more readily accessible to job seekers.

The other changes have facilitated:

  • Improved Content:  LinkedIn has improved its filters to strip out spam and other low-quality content. The Promotions tab has disappeared, which currently moves such posts to  moderation.  Job posting will be automatically shifted from the main conversation feed to a Jobs tab. The knock on from this is we are seeing more low quality content via updates. Bring back LinkedIn signal!
  • Moderation: To speed up conversation flow comments and conversation posting will be automatic for members. Group managers and moderators will be able to remove dubious content and place problem members under moderation. This is added work for moderators as the self promoters continue unabated, in my group at least
  • Photos And @Mentions In Conversations: People starting a new conversation will be able to upload an image. Members will be able to @mention other members in conversation postings or when commenting, which signals to the connection they have been “tagged.” à la Twitter or Facebook
  •  Subgroups eliminated:  any sub groups will become independent groups.

Obviously only a few weeks into this change it’s hard to say how it’s all going to work out. What are your experiences?

Are we also undoing the social aspect of social networking?


Enough! Fake LinkedIn profiles damage the network

And are a total pain!

I would consider myself to be a strategic online networker. I do connect with people I don’t know if their credentials look sound. Although many LinkedIn members have devised detailed ways to quiz people on their reason for connecting, I don’t have time to decide if the owner has a fake LinkedIn profile. I have preferred to give those connect requests the benefit of the doubt.

Until recently.


In the last two days alone, I have reported three. I have 82 invitations in my inbox unanswered, because on first viewing they seemed dubious. I haven’t got round to doing a forensic analysis of potential network requests, before clearing them out.

Integrity of the network

LinkedIn is my anchor business and social media network. I have a premium account and it is invaluable for every aspect of my professional work.  So I don’t want to be conned by some data mining software, using a stock photo, trawling for email addresses or access to my network. Nor do I want to be contacted by financial services sharks, or loan and pension creeps, or anyone confusing LinkedIn with

If I find I have comments added to my LinkedIn Pulse posts from half-naked Indian mystics, giving their phone numbers and another from someone who claimed to be the illegitimate son of a brothel keeper in Thailand (language more graphic, and I don’t want get brothel keeping spam, but you get my drift) then you have to ask how do these profiles even get set up and allowed to continue?

And before someone gets on my case about sexist comments, I blocked and reported a woman only today, because she wanted to send me private photos and a “special message.” She claimed to be the Marketing  Director of a well-known brand of wine!

Data protection

I need LinkedIn to protect all members, but especially paying ones, who are part of their business model for revenue generation. I would like to be sure that when I look at a profile, send an InMail, or advertise to a LinkedIn demographic, that the profiles are all genuine.  It’s hard to know how many fake LinkedIn profiles there actually are. Facebook claim to have 83 million fake profiles, so with 330m members, even if it’s less than 1%,  that is a high number to have lurking in our LinkedIn networks.

New levels of sophistication

But what I am also observing is superior levels of sophistication in fake LinkedIn profile creation, when it is genuinely hard to tell. I was recently sent a connection request from the CEO of a Dubai based bank, a city I visit, so it didn’t seem out-of-place. I checked the profile and although sparse, with one typo, I decided it was fine. Within moments I had an offer to have access the fortunes of a long-lost, but very dead relative! The only family member I have in Dubai is my daughter, who is clearly alive.

A few Saturdays ago, there was a flurry of activity from known network contacts as a mutual “connection” had gone on the LinkedIn equivalent of a drunk dialling rampage, sending his female contacts inappropriate messages.  I wasn’t sure why, but I had suddenly become the “go-to” authority on dodgy profiles in my circle. He has now been blocked and reported. Was he genuine?  Maybe he was and got LinkedIn mixed up with a dating site on a lonely Saturday night. The reality is I don’t know. He was connected to a high number of my own contacts, so I assumed when I connected, he was bona fide.

Can we really spot a fake LinkedIn profile easily?

Some say they can and others do reverse searches of time-consuming, forensic complexity.  A very high percentage of LinkedIn profiles are poorly filled out or incomplete anyway.  So for me, it’s actually getting harder to tell. After a quick analysis of the 82 requests lingering in my inbox, I could still observe no real consistent patterns. I recently thought I had been spammed by the CFO of a financial services organisation and cautioned the person that her contact was not in line with LinkedIn guidelines. She apologised profusely. She was a new user and hadn’t understood the etiquette.

What I would like to see from LinkedIn, is some help via a benchmark of minimum levels of profile completion before approval is given and a higher level of control. Many other sites don’t allow you to continue without complete data. If Ryan Air can do it anyone can!  Semi-naked photos and brothel keepers should never make the initial cut. I recently saw a suggestion that the voluntary provision of ID  could secure a verified account. Could that work? I suspect that will just make the level of fakery rise to new heights.

In the meantime I will just have to trust my instincts, which are being challenged. When in doubt I block and report.

Any ideas to solve this annoying problem?




LinkedIn is not Facebook. Brand blurring on social media

LinkedIn is not Facebook… right?  But when I look at the two platforms what I see is a blur of blue, off white and similar functionality.

As a head hunter LinkedIn has become part of my daily routine. I use it in every operational and many strategic elements of my businesses. I value the content of trusted contacts and “influencers” and use it as a tool for staying in touch with people as well as issues and trends in my field. Even when the Pulse function opened up and became not so much a pulse, but a palpitation of unregulated content,  I was able to triage key information.

I am not alone

I thought it was just me – but seemingly not. I saw just a very fleeting comment pass through my feed, that suggested that exact same message from someone else. I did try to track that person down, for it but couldn’t find him or her.  Neither of us, it would seem, want to look at photos of  people’s lunches and images with sometimes pithy quotes (sometimes not so pithy), on a professional platform.

The new LinkedIn layout and interface for me has morphed into a Facebook look-alike and left me as a consumer, brand confused. The white noise of unregulated content increases incrementally on a weekly basis, which is becoming a source of irritation by a similar increment.

So as these two platforms take each other on, in both a professional and personal context,  the world’s biggest social networking platforms seem to be leaving the the consumer dazed and confused, with an acute lack of product differentiation.

Facebook at work

Facebook is orchestrating a foray into the world of professional networking and workplace connecting, with the proposed launch of the Facebook at Work currently only available to people who have an account through their employer. LinkedIn has responded by upping the ante, to offer similar features to Facebook on its own platform.

LinkedIn has the had the lion’s share of the professional networking market and established itself as the primary global data base to connect employers and recruiters with job seekers. The new interface seems designed to encourage an even higher level of user-generated content with the possibility to add posts, updates and photos.

There are now also short cuts to “staying in touch” with network connections with “like” buttons very much in Facebook style. We can also take advantage of lists of statistics to generate user activity alerts of how our profile positioning has gone up and down.

LinkedIn, in the early days, was a platform to post your C.V. and create a professional presence usually associated with people who were on the market for a job. But now it seems to be targeting those who aren’t job seekers. The aim of the new look, in theory, is apparently  to encourage more interaction and conversations by people in employment, which in turn will generate traffic and therefore revenue for LinkedIn.

Brand differentiation

For one person at least (me!) it’s having the reverse effect. I find it mildly annoying to have to tune out much of the white and mindless noise that has followed this development. In my network out of 14 updates posted in one hour on a Sunday, three were images: one a piece of jewellery, the others were photos with the “wise” words of so-called philosophers and thinkers which we can see anywhere else especially on Facebook and Twitter. On Monday morning, an increase in traffic saw four out of 18 update were images, with an identical breakdown. I have even had car adverts, a posting for a cleaner/housekeeper and baby pictures. If I see one more quote about Uber, AirBnb and TaskRabbit not producing anything, I will get on my desk and scream!

I am now seeing LinkedIn Pulse articles displaying just a hyperlink to a web site post,  reminiscent of Twitter functionality and culture.

Interestingly, all three platforms have similar shades of blue as their brand colour, which only adds to the brand blurring.

Is it just me?  Anyone else feel the same?




Why your recruitment process will need CPR in 2015

At the start of a new year I am always asked what job search and recruitment methodologies will change or dominate in the year ahead.  This is what I expect to happen in 2015 to any recruitment process.

Hiring Managers, recruiters and job seekers will all need C.P.R.

By that I mean all elements of any recruitment process will need to be more Concise, Precise and Relevant, than they have ever been before.

Our use of digital technology is not going to diminish and the volume of distractions we encounter on a daily or even hourly basis, is only going to increase. Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine shows that attention spans are dropping at an alarming rate. Human beings have a lower concentration span than that of a goldfish. We come in at 8 seconds, compared to 9 seconds.  We only read 28% of any web page which has an average of 539 words.The implication of this trend on all sides of the recruitment process is significant.

For the job seeker  

All elements of a personal brand will have to be geared towards grabbing an employer’s attention in a diminishing window of opportunity. This will start with a deep understanding of a value to market proposition, showcased in professional photos, professional headlines, online profiles and CVs. Candidates will need to be able to show immediately where and how they add value and meet the organisations’ requirements, with specific examples. I don’t buy into the philosophy that important soft skills can’t be measured or made visible and illustrated. Of course they can.

Those that haven’t hoisted this on board and reject any part of it, either out of laziness, arrogance or ignorance will get left behind. If their story is still meandering, chronological and task focused, with no indication of self insight, there is a high risk of employers losing interest, tuning out and moving on quickly to the next candidate. This applies equally to verbal and written delivery. All elements will need to be succinct, accurate and relate to the application in hand. (CPR) To avoid job seeker white noise syndrome, candidates will need to perfect the art of pitchcraft. This will mean that every CV and pitch, whether at an interview or networking event, will have to be adjusted for each situation.

Otherwise employers will move on.

For the Recruiter

With a high number of job seekers on the market, or passive candidates potentially open to career moves, all recruitment and executive search consultants will have to tighten up the recruitment process. This means having a good understanding of the client’s business and being able to identify and develop top candidates within tight timeframes, or risk losing the best.  Those that aren’t digitally savvy and fluent in social media, (which in itself is fast and succinct) and lack a strong networking C factor,are destined to struggle. Recruiters who know the best channels for reaching those candidates speedily and easily will be ahead of the game.

But above all, recruiters who do not treat candidates with integrity will deservedly lose out. Candidates and hiring managers will simply go elsewhere.

For the Hiring Manager

Research suggests that 36% of employers plan to increase their head counts in 2015, up by 12% on 2014.  If there won’t be a full on war for talent, there will certainly be skirmishes, as top candidates have their pick of opportunities. Now is the time to make sure that all parts of the internal hiring process function perfectly, as employer brands based on candidate experience, will come under scrutiny. Starting with precise job descriptions and an accurate assessment of the required skill set. No your receptionist does not need an MBA.

Protracted hiring processes damage employer brands and is flawed from both sides, especially if it involves multiple interviews. The chances of a poor hiring decision can increase with each additional person and step involved in the process, as responsibility for the final decision becomes diffused. Interviewing is quite often done in panic mode, with little thought given to structuring the process strategically for optimal efficiency. Spreading the hiring responsibility also provides protection against failure. No single person will be accountable if the hire does not work out.

So which ever side of the hiring process they fall on, all players will have to breathe life and resuscitate their game plans to be effective in 2015 to be more concise, precise and relevant.

 learn CPR

LinkedIn: leave those kids alone!


In an attempt to attract younger users to a new university section of the website, LinkedIn has reduced its minimum age limit for members from 18 years to as low as 13 years of age in some geographies. Coming into effect from September 12th, the age limits will vary according to statutory requirements  in different countries:  14 years old: United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea, 16 years old: Netherlands, 18 years old: China.

13 years old: All other countries

A number of measures have been taken to “safeguard the experience of LinkedIn members under the age of 18″ with additional precautions for privacy. Their profiles will not appear in search engines and neither will their ages be published in the public domain.  Profiles will be displayed   “first name, last name initial, and general region”.

This has produced a flurry of debate in the blogsphere and amongst the Twittererati.

Is this a good thing?  The jury is out.


There are many who think having an influx of 13-18 year olds will dilute the professional content of the site. Concern that high-flying execs will be bombarded by a veritable flood of text speak about  dates, discos and school projects is anticipated.  Just a short conversation with my 16-year-old neighbour made that possibility seem remote.  The signature simultaneous rolling of eyes and raising of eyebrows, to the unspoken “whatever” pretty much said it all.

It has been some years since my kids were 13, but chances are that Mum and Dad saying  “go and complete your really fun LinkedIn profile after you’ve done your homework ”  will be met with equal derision.

Will we see a deluge of disruptive teen activity on LinkedIn in the next months?  I suspect not. I have to plead with MBA candidates to set up a professional profile and they are generally more than twice their age,  let alone Year 7 or 8th and 9th graders.  Kids are hardwired to rebel against anything parents think are cool or necessary. That is the whole point of being a teenager.  This is their time to hang out,  have acne and find their own way.  My nephew is 13. Do I think a priority in his life should be his online professional presence or crafting a succinct value proposition?

No I don’t.  Not unless it relates to the U14 cricket team. His response to whether he would like a LinkedIn profile was ” What’s LinkedIn?  Is this about jobs and stuff?”


I suspect that much of this will be centred around the parents.

One dad told me “My son (13) can have a professional profile when he knows what to do with it and how to handle the process appropriately.  At the moment he doesn’t understand the implications of online activity or the  potential repercussions of any mistakes.  He’s simply too young.”

Another spin-off of this development will be that its taps into the essence of that ever-growing demographic:  the pushy,  helicopter parent. I have no doubt that whole hosts of  “yummy mummies” and “driving dad’s”  will be creating adult style profiles for their coddled offsprings in an effort to create a perfect CV.  Will the next dinner party conversation be centred around the number of hits their kids have had on their junior LinkedIn profiles in the last seven days? I’ll put money on it! These are the kids who will be offered a rotation of internships with the friends of their super connected parents by the age of 18 to build up impeccable credentials. That is on top of their funded trips to dig wells in Africa and build homes for underprivileged families in Eastern Europe.

The aim of the new ‘University Pages’ feature  is to give prospective students access to information about colleges, plus the ability to connect with other students and alumni.  That is all fine.  I am all for a more strategic approach to careers and definitely think university is the time for this to kick in.

But for me 13 is far too young.  How many thirteen year olds go to university anyway? The last two years of high school allows plenty of time to start being a career-focused grown up.

Let them be teenagers

Protecting kids from inappropriate internet activity is fine and dandy but most are on Facebook anyway,  so I’m not sure what difference this will make.   Teenage years should be spent worrying about kissing with braces, debates about who to take to the prom and thinking your lab partner is a nerd. With a bit of luck there might be a passing interest in grades and homework.

Their mission at this point in their lives is to be embarrassed by their parents. Not attempting to be their clones.  This is how it absolutely should be. Just as crawling before walking is a vital developmental function, this is a rite of passage and a necessary part of the maturing process to independence.

This is before we even start to explore the impact of the gap created between teens who don’t have professionally savvy parents, who will get left even further behind.

What do you think?

[polldaddy poll=7388077]

7 downsides of DIY recruitment via LinkedIn

DIY recruitment is short sighted and lazy

Two people apparently join LinkedIn every second  of every day.

This platform and others like it have changed forever the way organisations identify and recruit talent. Some aspects are improvements. Others are not.

These platforms should potentially reduce the need for external recruiters and change the way they are managed by corporations.  Historically the key claim to the added value of third-party specialists was their networks and in-house data bases.  These were built up over the lengthy careers of each consultant and protected ferociously.  Much of this information is now obviously in the public domain, creating a level playing field for all.

In certain de-regulated geographies anyone with a LinkedIn account and a lap top can set up shop and call themselves a recruitment specialist, whether internally within an organisation or as an independent third-party. But it has also produced a slipshod DIY approach to hiring talent, carried out by those involved in the process who mistakenly believe it’s an opportunity to recruit on the cheap.

I was approached myself by a London-based in-house recruiter only last week!  Yes really! Me! Sadly, my credentials are as distant from the required profile as Brussels is from Beijing.  However, my name had appeared in a LinkedIn search. I was what I call  a “low hanging fruit” candidate. Visible and easy pickings.

This I believe will ultimately back fire. And here’s why.

7  reasons why DIY recruitment can fail: 

  • So anxious are organisations to reduce the length of the recruitment process that in-house recruiters  are taking on the searches themselves and are targeting the “low hanging fruit” candidates. Minimal or no skill is required and they can be identified by the most rudimentary search.  These are the candidates who are on the market,  rather than a thorough search of the talent that is in the market. And therein lies a huge difference. Researchers usually  junior,  end up calling the wrong people. This only serves to extend , rather than reduce the timeframe,  generating even further costs, estimated at between 3-5  times the annual salary of the open position.transparent-linkedin
  • Hiring managers can be so focused on reducing the cost of the process of filling each individual open position, that they fail to link the expense of the recruitment assignment to the bottom line of their own businesses. Very often the  “butts on seats” approach,   affectionately  known as the “Homer Simpson hire” also  has extensive hidden costs. An unsuccessful or inadequate hiring decision can lose companies thousands in the opportunity cost of an under performing new hire or one who leaves early.
  • With the growth of LinkedIn an increasing number of us ( 21%) have 500+ connections.  Identifying the most on-target candidates will becoming more complex.
  • Highly sought after profiles will become beleaguered by numerous contacts from recruiters targeting “low hanging fruit.” They will either stop using LinkedIn altogether or refuse to engage.
  • It’s not enough to identify the candidate, but to bring  him or her to the to the hiring table.  This requires professional soft skills in what Greg Savage calls “candidate seduction.”  I would love to put that in my profile but have concerns about the type of  impression “Dorothy Dalton: Candidate Seductress” might create!
  • Changing careers  is rarely an emotional snap decision although I  have seen that happen. It is usually a protracted process involving partners, families and other factors. A relationship with a trusted partner with a strong reputation who acts as a sounding board will be important in that process.
  • The fear of getting hiring decisions wrong shunts recruiters into “copy-paste”  placement  mode,  playing safe and ignoring valuable transferable skills leading to  more  “low hanging fruit” candidates who are easily sourced.

Does the proliferation  of online profiles mean that the future of the industry is under threat? I don’t think so. But it is certainly a game changer and any one in the sector would be unwise to ignore that fact.

If it weeds out the unskilled, incompetent DIY-ers that would be welcome collateral damage.

Debunking 4 online professional profiles myths

confused womanMuch is written about professional profiles by many “experts” that frightens the life out of the average job seeker, or even passive candidate who simply want to have a strong online presence. The list of dos and don’ts is never-ending, with the net result that many are totally confused.

I’m actually confused.

There are many so-called pearls of wisdom written about what people in the executive search or recruitment business are looking for, which completely mystify me.

But hold on…..I AM in the executive search  business. Am I making decisions on these so-called “deal breaker” criteria?

Truthfully? Not really.

The reality is that many pundits are no longer (or have never been) involved in executive search and recruitment and are out of touch with the process or are not even currently working in a corporate environment.They are merely expressing a personal opinion, not issuing irreversible imperatives.

Are you confused about online profiles? Check out the individual coaching programmes

Let’s go through some of the main ones that cause consternation!

  • The LinkedIn summary –  everyone is in agreement that this piece is where the punch should be packed. It is a searchable field so should have a good smattering of keywords but not stuffed (over done in layman’s terms) Most recruiters don’t really care if it’s written in first or third person because they don’t have time. It’s not up for the Pulitzer Prize in literature.  Personally, I would avoid referencing myself by name and generally favour dropping pronouns altogether. But that is a personal opinion.
  • Text rather than bullet points is de rigueur  – recruiters and search specialists take about 8 seconds to read the top half of a profile – so it doesn’t really matter to most of us as long as it is easy to digest. The object of a summary is to entice the reader to scroll down and make contact.  If you are a bullet point type of person it makes no sense to present yourself as a writer of prose.  If you are a indeed a wordsmith, an editor or targeting a sector where writing skills will be important – this is a good place to showcase them. But by no means mandatory.

No. Not in anything I have been involved in. Ever.

  • Your CV and LinkedIn summary should not be the same – who says? I have never  sat in a candidate review meeting and heard anyone say  “You know, I think we should cut X. His/her  CV profile and LinkedIn summary are identical”  It just doesn’t happen. If you meet the skill set required by the job profile you will likely be contacted, unless there are other mitigating factors (typos, your biz pic looks as if it belongs on a police report  and so on.)
  • Put different content in both  – once again not sure why this gem is doing the rounds. A LinkedIn profile gives possibilities to highlight different areas of expertise and skills in greater detail because there is no space limit. It also offers opportunities to highlight recommendations, endorsements,  make a slide share and so on.  So it will, de facto, be different. But a CV should still include all the key points contained in an online profile, but in a more concise format perhaps using more complex  vocabulary and syntax to showcase writing skills. I recently raised a poll  in some recruitment groups on LinkedIn and most participants said they are now reading a LinkedIn profile before they read a CV.

What anyone involved in the search and recruitment business needs  in terms of content is what my back in the day high school Economics teacher Mr. Malcolm Thomas used to call C.P.R.: concise, precise and relevant. If you can write that with a Welsh accent you will be fine!

And this is where the real skill lies.

LinkedIn endorsements – why I’ve done an about turn

DD LI EndorsementsWhen LinkedIn rolled out their skill endorsement programme my immediate reaction was not positive. My inner voice said “Tacky, superficial, transactional. Tapping into the worst aspects of social media interaction and white noise, akin to Facebook “likes” and Twitter Follow Fridays.  There was no way to quantify the scope or quality of any endorsement and it all seemed like a silly popularity contest.   They are no substitute for a detailed and thought out Recommendation from a colleague or superior,  who actually knows the work of the person involved and can genuinely reference that particular quality.

Downward trend?

It’s hard to know why LinkedIn followed this trend. I can only assume that advertising revenue is correlated to member engagement and page views.   This is one way of generating inter-connectivity via the alerts which appear on your LinkedIn dashboard, in your updates and as an email.

The other is that apparently as many as 60% of profiles on LinkedIn are incomplete,  making it difficult for recruiters to tap into profiles via keyword searches. By allocating keywords to each other,  we very obligingly save the individual work and provide the LinkedIn algorithms with the necessary keyworded skills on his or her behalf.  So this seems to be a way of improving results for recruiters, thus making LinkedIn more attractive and by extension enhancing their revenue stream.


The danger is that we can endorse skills provided conveniently in the pop up window which may not be skills that the person actually has. I am regularly endorsed for very peripheral skills and even activities in which I don’t specialise. I can only assume that someone has clicked the yellow endorse button, which covers all skills,  rather than deleting the spurious skill which I don’t have.

LinkedIn endorsements

However, despite this, I do confess to being something of a convert. I have not done a complete 360°, but certainly a bit of an about turn. Definitely  a 180°!

Here’s why.

  • Although not as strong as  a recommendation, a LinkedIn endorsement is a way for a person to acknowledge a small courtesy or service.  I have received endorsements from individuals whose path I have crossed years ago, perhaps in some minor way.  It’s a way of saying thank you and showing appreciation.
  • It can be a form of networking and staying in touch. It’s a quick and easy way to let someone know you have been on their radar with a bonus of public recognition,  rather than just an email. It’s a way of leaving a digital footprint in your network while eliminating  the nuisance factor.
  • It can be a way of acknowledging skills the individuals  themselves don’t recognise  or perhaps they don’t even understand they have. It is really useful for introverts to have that done for them, or those starting out on the online profile path. I’ve just endorsed the deserving members of my MBA  Career Management workshop for leadership, team playing and engagement. All important factors in contributing to the success of my sessions.
  • We can manage our endorsements  – we  have full control over which skills are endorsed and which endorsers are visible on our profiles. If  specific skills are targeted or even if the preference is to have endorsements hidden, this is our choice. We can leave key influencers in our networks visible.
  • Endorsements provide feedback.
  • Endorsements provide an opportunity to strengthen relationships,  not by automatic reciprocation but via the initiation of dialogue.
  • We don’t have to approve endorsements from people we don’t know.
  • We don’t have to reciprocate if the endorsement is not genuine.

LinkedIn logoSo  it seems provided that we all behave sensibly, genuinely and with integrity there is no reason why the endorsement system can’t provide some added value.

How do you use LinkedIn endorsements to enhance your online presence?