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8 Tips on How to Position Keywords on Resumes and Where to Find Them

Debra Ann Matthews

By DebraAnn Matthews

A keyword is a term that indicates that your skills, talents and experiences can help add value, meet goals and enhance productivity for a corporation who are seeking to hire staff.

Tip #1. Search through job postings and descriptions and look near the top of the post to note relevant important duties of the job. See simplyhired dot com and indeed dot com for job postings.

Keywords can also be defined as phrases that are used by recruiters to search databases for resumes that match position requirements.

Tips #2. The keyword site Juju (job dash search dash engine dot com) has a complete list of titles that you can use to search for keywords. Try adding these keywords to the bottom of your resume. Another great source is wordle dot net for more creative list of relevant keywords.

Susan Whitcomb has indicated that some researchers have indicated that companies look for an average of 3 to 6 keywords on resumes.

Tip #3. Reading professional association newsletters, online bios and attending conferences are the best ways to capture relevant keywords, niche specialties and the latest information on technology essential for job seekers and career changers. Showcase your professional knowledge of the latest techniques for accomplishing goals on your resume, LinkedIn and bio.

To increase your candidacy for your targeted job search to yield results among thousands of other applicants,

Tip #4. Use multiple variations of keywords throughout the resume as ATS systems are looking for several instances of competencies..

Don’t’ falsify your skills sets. That is dishonest and not a good practice for motivated job-seekers and career changers.

Tip #5. Position keywords near the top of the 1st page (within the first 20 to 24 lines) or in the first job descriptor on your resume or LinkedIn profile. If these can be seen on the computer screen without scrolling, hiring professionals will be able to take note quickly.

Tip #6. Add accomplishments next to your targeted keyword for more value.Businesswoman Reading Paperwork

Tip #7. Don’t forget to include geography as a keyword. Many companies would appreciate saving on relocation costs for their ideal candidate.

Tip #8. When submitting resumes via email, add targeted keywords in the file, properties, and summaries sections to re-inforce your skills.

Remember most job applicants will have their cover letter, resume, bio taken through an applicant tracking system that has assess skills levels based on keywords. Next a human eye will look over your targeted skills resume. Keep your job-winning resume among the top of the pile with researched, niche skills and relevant phrases for your ideal company to invite you to engage in a discussion.

To learn more about job-winning resumes and relevant keywords, see or connect on FB at

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Get Hired Through Skype Interviews

By Amber Grove

Ever since Skype was introduced into the market, more and more innovative ways have been introduced to utilize them. Marketers have been using Skype ads for their products for a while now, and now Skype has replaced phone interviewing altogether in most parts of the world. Skype interviews have many advantages. You need not travel to your employer’s organization, will have a reference to look through when asked about your previous employments and generally be more relaxed in the interview. However, there are several factors that must be considered as you sit through a Skype video call interview. Professionalism cannot be given up just because you have a video conference interview, as your every action is being scrutinized. Presentation plays a big part in the process of hiring individuals, thus you must give off as professional of an image as you can. Here are a few things to go through before you sit Businesswoman Wearing Headset at Computerfor a Skype interview:

Since you’re the first thing that will be noticed in a Skype interview, you must make sure you’re dressed for the part. Remain professional in the colors you wear, do not look scruffy and make sure you conduct yourself with the same stern professionalism that you would in a physical interview. Next, your background must be professional and calm, with no distractions or people going around behind you. Don’t take a video call interview in your bedroom, for example. Sit in a quiet, calm corner where there are no distractions like paintings, big decorations or any of your peers or family members in the background. Pets must be kept in check, you don’t want squawking or mewing or barking to be overheard by your employer. Another factor to be sure of is to keep the doors and windows closed, so no outside noise disrupts your interview. If you have a study room or even a library, have your interview conducted there.

Make sure there’s plenty of lighting in the room, as you want to keep eye contact with your employer and that may not be possible in a darkened room. As mentioned before, you must keep the windows closed but make sure you are seated near one where direct sunlight filters through the glass. This is because any overhead lighting will darken your face and give off an unprofessional look, but sunlight causes a natural effect.

Be dressed for the part, don’t give the interview in your pajamas for instance, or be wearing any accessories that would look out of place in a physical interview. One thing to make sure is to look at the camera lens, since you want the interviewee to think you have direct eye contact with them. Since this is as close as you can get to direct eye contact on a Skype interview, it is better to keep this in check.

Lastly, practice the interview with a friend or family member so you can test out your surroundings, outfit and lighting. If you really want the job, you must make sure you look the part since you cannot show off your eagerness without being physically present.

Lizzy Logan LLC is an IT Recruiting Firm specializing in placing only job seekers who are Software and Web Developers. We represent a limited number of Software and Web Developers at a time to ensure they receive the quality of service one would expect when working with a professional. Visit us at for more career resources and article, and to search our current job opportunities.

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How to Not Get Hired – 5 Ways Job-Seekers Take Themselves Out of the Hunt

I help businesses hire the right people to help their company grow.  My recruiting goals are to find the right person quickly, and make sure candidates are who they portray themselves to be.

Need help getting hired?The news reports on unemployment imply a vast pool of talented people awaiting the right opportunity; perfect for many jobs, if only they were provided with a chance.

I have found a different reality, one in which candidates take themselves out of contention.

While online job searches aren’t the easiest way to find a job, thousands of jobs are filled this way.  To improve your odds, here are five top ways not to get hired.

1. High volume applying.  Yes, technology can make things efficient, and it may seem reasonable to set a goal for number of jobs applied for (almost any goal is good).  But most people do not have a great system for making those applications seem customized.  I have read many cover letters that are obviously generically written to describe the person, leaving out why they are a fit for my job.

Poor Impression: Since most jobs require attention to detail, a generic cover letter that omits posting-specific relevant points paints a picture of a corner-cutter who takes the easy way out and is not focused.

Take the time to customize each application to address the specific job requirements you see posted.

2. Generic/Missing email copy.  When I screen resumes, I long to read an engaging and well-worded email.  So many applicants attach a resume and cover letter to a blank email.  In my inbox, they are totally generic.

Poor Impression: This person might be inwardly focused, not customer focused.

A well-worded email, on the other hand, shows the candidate put some thought into why they are qualified, and serves as another cover letter and opportunity to make a memorable point.

3. Not checking job boards regularly.  The best candidates seem to respond within the first 48 hours of a posting.  Either they have excellent timing, or they have a process of checking for opportunities.

Good Impressions: Problem-solver, disciplined, organized

4. Failure to send a thank you.  A thank you note, call, or email shows confidence and a desire for the position.  I treasure the beautifully written emails that tactfully ask for the position.  It shows poise under pressure.

Impression: Not a standout, average.

Taking a moment to send an email thanking someone for the opportunity will set you apart from 99% of your job-seeking competition.

5. Expecting the process to follow your timeline.  In a large corporation, the hiring process can take 6 weeks or more.  In a small business, it can take 1 week.  Candidates expecting a multi-step and lengthy process sometimes mistrust an opportunity (that they applied for) that wants to see them tomorrow.  I know this sounds crazy, but it happens all the time.  It goes the other way, too.  People who REALLY need a paycheck can kill their chances by being overly aggressive in following up.

Impression: Self-centered viewpoint may not do well in new situations.

Don’t be that person who has the skills, but shares them in an offhand way.  Put yourself in the shoes of the reader, and take the extra step to make yourself memorable- you will stand out from the crowd.

Patricia Guerzo

President of GBSC and Chief Strategist is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

Advisor, mentor and friend.

“Of course I love a challenge, but the best part of my job is watching clients celebrate their new success.”

Contact Me

10 Ways to Add QR Codes to Your Company’s Marketing Mix

by  TashaCunningham

Have you ever heard of a QR code or Microsoft Tag? If those terms sound likes a foreign language to you, you\’re not alone. While major brands like Kraft Foods, Procter and Gamble and Macy\’s have embraced them in their marketing campaigns recently, the average small business owner doesn\’t have a clue about using QR codes to drive customers to their products and services.

Although they\’ve have been around since the early 90s, QR codes didn\’t catch on in the United States until recently. QR or Quick Response codes are 2-dimensional bar codes, similar to ones you would find on a price tag at the clothing store. Using a scanner or reader available on your smartphone, your potential customers can scan the code and see where it takes them. Major brands use QR codes to take customers to discounts, freebies and special promotions.  A Microsoft Tag works just like a QR code, but can only be scanned with a Microsoft Tag Reader.

‘QR codes have helped us introduce our company to an entirely new customer base,’ said Amy Bergeron, director of marketing at the Kursch Group, a commercial real estate company in Victorville, California. ‘We\’ve put QR codes in storefronts of properties we are marketing. Now when potential buyers scan the QR codes with their smart phones, it takes them to a website that is set to showcase a particular location. They can see pictures of the property, get details such as square footage and price and contact a realtor all without having to make a phone call or search the Internet.’


Guerzo Business Solutions QR Code

While QR codes and Microsoft Tags can be used to educate potential customers about a product or service, they can also be used to reward them for their interest in your brand. Major corporations like Best Buy, Starbucks and Nike are using QR codes to cultivate new customers and thank existing ones who have been loyal to the respective brand.

‘We\’re seeing marketers using QR codes to create buzz and get consumers excited about their brands,’ said Matthias Galica, creator of ShareSquare, a founder and CEO of ShareSquare, a platform that allows anyone to create, share and market QR codes. ‘QR codes have been around for a long time and are in use around the world, but in the U.S., they\’ve taken off because now there is an installation base. As long as you have a smart phone, you can install a QR code reader. That has caused an explosion in the popularity of QR codes.’

So how can you use QR codes and Microsoft Tags in your business? Here are 10 ideas to get you started and remember, when potential customers go to the trouble of scanning your QR codes or tags, it is imperative that you give them something they can use.

1. GIVE THEM A DISCOUNT. When customers scan your code, reward them with a coupon for a 20discount off their next purchase.

2. GIVE THEM A DAILY DEAL. Encourage customers to scan the same QR code every day for a week to get a daily deal good for discounts, freebies and other rewards. This will create constant buzz about your product or service and keep your customers coming back.

3. GIVE THEM A FREEBIE. When customers scan your QR code, give them something free like a product sample or a 2-for-1 deal.

4. REWARD THEM FOR TAKING ACTION. Use QR codes to build your Facebook fan page or e-mail newsletter list. When customers scan your QR code, take them to a website where they can sign up for your e-mail newsletter or like your Facebook page. Once they complete the call to action, send them an e-mail with a discount, freebie or special promotion.

5. GIVE THEM A FREE DOWNLOAD. If you use e-books to market your business, use QR codes to distribute them. When customers scan the code, give them a free e-book download and the opportunity to sign-up to receive future special promotions from your company.

6. GIVE THEM FREE TICKETS. If you use event marketing to promote your business, use QR codes to hand out free tickets. When the code is scanned, make sure it leads to a website where potential customers can download their free tickets.

7. GIVE THEM EXCLUSIVE ACCESS. QR codes can be used to give potential and existing customers exclusive VIP access to events, sales and special promotions. When the code is scanned ensure that it leads to a website, video, text message or phone number that will allow customers to enjoy their exclusive access.

8. GIVE THEM A HEADS UP. If you want to pique a customer\’s interest in a specific product or service that you\’re planning to offer on sale, use QR codes and tags to tell them about it in advance. Place a QR code on your printed marketing materials that leads to a website where customers can get details about the sale and even pre-order.

9. GIVE THEM AN INVITATION. Use QR codes or tags in your event marketing to invite potential customers to events. If you\’re having a launch party for a new product, create a QR code that leads to the event invite and a way for customers to RSVP.

10. GIVE THEM SOME HELP. Use QR codes or tags to give customers more information about your product or service. Put a QR code or Microsoft Tag on your website, printed marketing materials or promotion items that leads to an FAQ web page where customers can get answers to their questions via e-mail or live chat.

Additional Tips:

  • Educate your customers about QR codes and how they can use them to get access to discounts, special offers and other promotions that will save them money on your product or service.
  • Show your customers where they can download QR code readers for iPhone, Android and Blackberry to unlock your company\’s QR codes.
  • Place links to popular code readers on your marketing materials to make it easy for customers to unlock your QR codes.
  • Use one of these five free tools to generate QR codes for your business




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About the Author

Tasha Cunningham is a newspaper columnist and technology expert who has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and numerous other media outlets.

Laptops? So ‘00s!

  by Patricia Guerzo 

You just got your head around social media, and now something new has popped up on the marketing radar screen.  What is this new thing?  It’s a phone!

Smartphones are everywhere in the news, with stories about new tasks a phone can do, beyond making calls.  Smartphones are becoming the new PC.  It is predicted that October 2012 will be the tipping point where smartphones equal “function phones.” (Asymco 8/10/11 article, “155 Million Mobile Phone Users Don’t Use Smartphones”)

This change in technology has created an opportunity for businesses to tweak their marketing strategy and stand out to consumers.  While the whole area of smartphone marketing is new, I would like to share a “primer” to get you started.

First, get ready to be seen.  Unless your website is new, it may not be formatted for mobile viewing.  A smartphone will see just 10-15% of the page at any time.  Your web resource can easily format your site for smartphone viewing.

While this may seem insignificant, fast forward to next October, when more than half of all phone users may give a brand “halo” to companies that aim to be visually appealing on their phone.  Like the absence of a social media presence today, by next year any company whose site does not display properly on a smartphone could be viewed as behind the times.

Next, get a QR code, and link it to your Facebook Page.  Use this little picture on your print materials to link to a reader to your page using the smartphone that is probably within their reach.  QR stands for quick response, the time it can take from a visual cue to a connection to a URL.

A word of caution – it takes about 45 seconds to scan the code, and open the URL.  So don’t expect drivers to scan it while moving.  In some states, QR reading is the same as texting while driving – illegal for safety reasons.  Place it instead in locations where people are waiting – restaurant table, waiting room.

Once your URL has been loaded into someone’s phone, they can access it in their history.  Your site becomes one of several dozen in their handheld device’s history, separating you from the three trillion other websites.

Now, make it portable.  Apply your QR code to a tabletop vinyl display and put it up whenever your company has an event.  Leave it up in your lobby or window at other times.

Because these codes are so new, many advertisers surround their QR codes with text that tells the reader what that code will access – “Watch this video.”  This helps introduce the technology by providing benefits, so consider this simple technique to increase the activity on your code.

I love these tactics, because they are cost-effective (QR codes are free) and piggyback on the smartphone popularity that will last for the foreseeable future.  QR Codes may breathe new life into print and postcards, too.  Take an hour or two to work ON your business and get into the phones of your new customers!

Top 10 SEO Facebook Strategies

by batteriescompany

facebook-logoFacebook is more and more becoming a ‘second home page’ for organizations on the web and has recently developed a number of innovative options for Pages to get increased traffic through the tried and true techniques of search engine optimization. Making use of important web optimization tactics on your Facebook Page can help you to progressively acquire more Facebook devotees. Search engine optimization reveals your Facebook Page to Facebook\’s total user base. In fact, Facebook has taken big steps to improve its own web optimization in recent weeks and months, increasing its own worth and creating opportunities for Page managers to benefit immediately.

Listed below are TEN SEO techniques and tactics every Facebook Page user will need to understand:

1. Decide on the Best Title for Your Facebook Page – and Don\’t Ever Change It

Choosing the right identity on your Facebook Page is crucial. For instance, if your name appears too spammy, people will probably be less likely to talk about it with their associates on their own page and more likely to conceal your updates from their Facebook feed. Secondly, don\’t give into the temptation to choose a completely common page title. Facebook\’s intention for Pages is that they legitimately characterize businesses and brand names, as well as stars. Recently, Facebook has been disabling updates for common Pages.

The bottom line: Work with your corporation\’s true title as the name of the page and when you choose your Page\’s name, don\’t alter it. Facebook makes use of your Page name in the title of the Page, Fujitsu lifebook t4210 battery and considering that Google dings webpages when their particular titles change, changing your Facebook Page\’s name can cost you SEO points.

2. Select the Very Best URL for Your Facebook Page

Facebook recently provided the flexibility to choose a title for your Facebook Page, just about the most important SEO option on Facebook to date. Facebook wants Pages to legitimately stand for the identities of businesses. Brand names with commonly used titles have had their rights suspended previously.

The soundest solution would be to decide on a username which authentically presents your online business or company. As soon as you select a Facebook username/URL for your Page, it cannot be altered. So, look for a username you are going to be at ease, and satisfied, with for the future. If you have a company that specializes in replica watches, make the URL something to do with replica watches.

3. Use the ‘About’ box to Place Key Phrase-Thick Content at the Top of the Page

One critical SEO approach that needs to be utilized in your Facebook Page whenever achievable is inserting key phrase-thick content as close to the top of the Page as it can be. Since Facebook restricts exactly where Page managers can place substantial sections of textual content on the Wall of Facebook Pages, the ‘About’ box basically is the best location in the CSS structure of the page to incorporate custom content. You will find there\’s 250 character restriction, so choose your words, Toshiba PA3534U-1BAS Battery and phrases sensibly.

4. Use the ‘Info’ Tab to Add Extra Critical Key Phrases, Content, and High Precedence Backlinks on Your Page

Facebook creates an ‘Info’ tab for each Facebook Page which has fields made up of important illustrative data about the Page. It\’s imperative that you complete all these fields, for the reason that they provide the option to add keyword phrases, content, and hyperlinks that may improve the content material rating within your Facebook Page for many kinds of Google queries. The specific fields existing could differ based on the type you choose for your Page whenever you create it, so pick out the class which most effectively meets your business needs.

5. Develop ‘Static FBML’ Boxes and Tabs to Place Lengthy Content Material Plus More Static Backlinks on Your Page

While chances to place substantial blocks of textual content on the default tab of the Facebook Page tend to be quite restricted, Facebook enables Page managers to set-up supplemental boxes or tabs which could carry any type of subject matter, including text, images, and hyperlinks. Adding content boxes or tabs to your Page could be a terrific way to supercharge the score of your Page.

6. Publish Direct Backlinks Aimed at Your Website Inside Your Page\’s Stream

Status updates offer a highly effective solution to place direct backlinks at the top of your respective Page. Since Google boosts ranking for webpages which link to relevant internet sites – and penalizes pages which link to irrelevant web pages or that add a great number of inbound links too suddenly – posting hyperlinks in status updates can be quite an effective and reliable approach to better rank your Facebook Page.

You can find 2 methods to submit hyperlinks:

a. Including the URL within the text of the status update itself.

b. Using the ‘attach link’ function.

7. Add Pictures with Captions, Activities with Descriptions, and a Conversation Discussion Board

This almost goes without saying, yet it\’s crucial that you regularly spread useful subject matter on the Facebook Page, along with always making use of all offered illustrative fields on every single kind of content shared. When posting images apply lengthy, Bosch 2607335037 Power Tools Battery and key phrase-thick explanations. Use the resources Facebook provides for your entire gain.

8. Create Inbound Links to Your Facebook Page from the Internet by Posting Backlinks to Your Page on All Your Websites

Just as a good number of inbound links from high-authority web pages can help improve PageRank for regular internet websites, acquiring inbound links for your Facebook Page may improve its PR as well. You can accomplish this with text backlinks, but Facebook has also developed a badge which it encourages Page managers to utilize.

9. Get Intra-Facebook Inbound Links by Simply Acquiring More Facebook Supporters

The more fans you get, the more backlinks you will have to your own Page inside of Facebook. For Pages with thousands of supporters, the volume of backlinks mounts up.

10. Reinforce Intra-Facebook Linking by Getting Followers to Review and Like Content in Your Stream

Whenever supporters comment or like content in your Facebook Page\’s stream, Facebook links their name back to their own Facebook profile page. Subsequently, once the profile stubs of those supporters who\’ve put up feedback and likes on your own Page are listed, Google will discover more reciprocal links between your Page and your Page\’s followers, which it will see to be a much better relationship. This results in a cycle of enhanced link weight from the listed profile page stubs to your Page.

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About the Author – Australia leading battery company for Toshiba laptop batteries, HP laptop batteries, Fujitsu laptop batteries, Olympus camera batteries, Canon camcorder batteries, Makita power tools batteries, Dewalt power tools batteries.

Hiring Employees – With an Attitude!

By Dr. Ben A. Carlsen

With the employment market tightening and jobs scarce, employers seek employees with the “right” attitude. Identifying these candidates can be a little “tricky,” as the selection process is almost invariably not designed to measure these attributes.

Before discussing the hiring matter, we need to examine the underlying reasons for the hiring need in the first place, along with a framework for dealing with them.


Employers hate employee turnover. If the turnover rate is high the company will notice a negative impact on the “bottom line.”   The costs of recruitment, selection, hiring and training new employees are high.  And, depending on the complexity of the job, lower productivity, while new employees gain necessary experience, is another costly factor. Experienced employees lost to the competition are an even greater threat.  These employees may know business philosophies, practices, techniques, trade secrets, and strategies which could strengthen your competition. Considering all of these negatives, savvy management does its best to retain their valued staff.


Experienced, qualified and productive employees are an asset, but keeping them can be challenging. Loyalty to employers hasn’t been the norm for many years. Of course companies can do a number of things to keep the good ones.

Many years ago a researcher named Frederick Herzberg (The Motivation to Work, 1959) developed a theory that divided job satisfaction into two major components: Motivational factors and Hygiene factors; with the motivational factors such as interesting work, challenge, recognition, and variety being, by far, the more powerful. On the other hand, the job features we all expect, such as pay and benefits or working conditions are nowhere near as important, except to serve as potential causes for dissatisfaction.    These findings may be counter-intuitive, but as we all know, we will spend hours doing the things we like to do, with people we like to do them with. Conversely, unchallenging tasks, or work performed in a non-supportive, or uninteresting environment, will typically not evoke our best efforts

So making your workplace a challenging, exciting, and supportive place will greatly help in reducing or limiting avoidable turnover. As an important added benefit the customers will have a better relationship with a motivated, helpful, satisfied workforce.

Now that we’ve examined the background, let’s look at hiring new employees. While it’s obvious that it is best to retain employees, turnover will occur, and businesses may grow. This being the case, a superior recruitment plan is essential, as it will help accomplish several things:  hire the “best,” have a good fit between employee and job, lessen the need for discipline or discharge, reduce turnover, and provide a competitive edge.


Employers tell us that the most important characteristic to look for in a new employee is the “right” attitude. What is the right attitude and how do we hire people with it?   The right attitude, according to most employers, consists of several qualities:

–  Positivity (doesn’t focus on negatives)

– Open-mindedness

–  Flexibility

–  Superior interpersonal skills / a liking of people

–  Desire to learn

–  Willingness to work, (and work hard)

–  Dependability – Desire to accept challenges

–  Team player

With these characteristics the employee should exhibit a “good attitude” toward his employer, fellow employees and your customers.


Considering  the above attributes, be serious about your hiring process, as you know the headaches resulting from poor decisions.   Here are some suggestions:

–Identify the essential characteristics required for success on the job.

–Incorporate behavioral and attitudinal qualities into your selection criteria.

–Include these requirements in your job bulletins, advertising, employment agency  requisitions, etc.

–Carefully examine employment, educational and personal history (to the extent permitted by the law).

–Conduct a background check on candidates.

–At the interview, observe the candidate’s behavior, general attitude and demeanor, body language, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, etc. (You may want to try an interview panel to guard against subjectivity and “blind spots”).

–Consider using role-playing, situational questions (e.g., “What would you do if?), and performance simulations.

–Make sure the candidate is someone you will be comfortable around, as you may spend more time with him/her than with your spouse.

–Look for a “smile.”

Copyright ©, 2008, Dr. Ben A. Carlsen, MBA. All Rights Reserved Worldwide for all Media. You may reprint this article in your ezine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, leave my name and bio box intact, and you follow all of the EzineArticles Terms of Service for Publishers.

Ben A. Carlsen, Ed.D, MBA, is an experienced CEO and manager. Dr. Carlsen has over 30 years experience in management, consulting, and teaching. Currently the Head of the Business Department at Everest Institute, Hialeah, FL., he was Chairman of the Los Angeles County Productivity Managers Network and President of the Association for Systems Management (So. Calif. Chapter). Additional information can be obtained at

Is That Legal? Facebook, Background Checks & Drug Tests

By Kim Ann Zimmermann, ITTechNewsDaily Contributor

“Bill” was the go-to guy at work who got along well with his colleagues and earned a promotion. But when his co-workers Googled him, they found out he had been convicted of domestic violence, and no one wanted to work with him.

“Jane” was a mild-mannered office worker by day, but when her co-workers friended her on Facebook, they found she was a party girl. When they shared what they found with management she was denied a raise.

These kinds of revelations — and worse — are all too common in the wake of the development of social media. Figuring out what information is public and, therefore, allowed to be used in hiring and employment decisions is not as simple as it may seem.

Legal vs. available

“It is not necessarily illegal for employers and co-workers to discover this type of information online or through other means, but employers can’t use protected information such as age, race, gender, disabilities and sexual orientation when making hiring decisions or employment decisions once the person is working at the company,” said Roy L. Cohen, New York-based career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide” (FT Press, 2010).

While many of those protections are a result of civil rights laws from the 1960s, today’s employers don’t need to go very far to find out a lot of things about their employees and job candidates that would have remained unknown before the digital age.

“The law trails the technology here and employers can easily find out things that they couldn’t easily find out before, and people often walk into an interview with a potential employer and the person they’re interviewing with already knows what they look like from their picture on Facebook, along with their age, race and marital status,” said Mark Neuberger, of counsel in the Miami office of Foley & Lardner LLP. “Employers can find out a lot of information that may or may not be relevant to making a good personnel decision.”

Here are some of the common methods employers use to research the background of employees and potential employees and a legal reality check as well.

Social media: Legal

As long as employers are not using information they discovered about protected subjects such as a person’s age, race or marital status, it is perfectly legal to check out someone’s social media pages. In fact, job candidates and employees being considered for promotions should expect employers to take their social media activities into consideration.

“While the law in this area is evolving and continues to evolve, it may be unrealistic to expect meaningful privacy regardless of the privacy settings placed on a social media page,” said Lawrence D. Bernfeld, a partner in the New York law firm Graubard Miller. “An executive recruiter, for example, may be a friend of a friend. Also, even someone who is a direct friend has the ability to capture a screen image and forward it to others.”

Representing both companies and executives, Bernfeld said that employers may view a person’s social media profile to verify information on résumés and to assess communication skills, among other proper uses. If employers discover Web-based information that the law protects against discriminatory use, they must not use such information in the decision-making process.

Employers and prospective employees are making use of social media sites before an in-person meeting. “More and more employees are using social media as a screening method,” said Jason Maxwell, president of MassPay, a human resources and payroll services company based in Beverly, Mass.

He said the one thing employers cannot do is create a false identity to lure someone into sharing information.

“But I’ve seen instances where someone called in sick and posted pictures of themselves at a Red Sox game,” and since the pictures were not obtained using a false Facebook page or other deceptive method, they were fair game for the employer to look at and use in making personnel decisions.

Melissa Giovagnoli Wilson, founder and CEO of Networlding, a Chicago-based consulting firm, said employers should establish rules of conduct for social media usage. “It should include information such as what would be cause for dismissal, such as sharing sensitive company information or using profanity.”

Contacting previous employers: Legal

“In many cases, you’re not going to get more than name, rank and serial number, but it is perfectly legal to check references,” Neuberger said. “Most employers are not going to share much more than that based on the advice of their lawyers.”

Background checks: Legal, with restrictions

In today’s economy, there are a lot of people with bad credit and superior job skills. While background checks, including credit checks, are legal, it is important to get the consent of job candidates and employees.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Fair Credit Reporting Act come into play when you’re talking about credit checks, as the EEOC in particular is making the argument that using credit reports as a condition of employment can be discriminatory toward minorities,” Neuberger said.

Neuberger said the use of some information discovered during a background check can be tricky.

“Again, the EEOC is concerned about the adverse impact on minorities,” Neuberger said. While criminal background is not off limits, he said some states are placing limitations on the use of this information. “Employers generally look at the recentness of the conviction and the age of the individual at the time,” he said. “A marijuana conviction 20 years ago is generally viewed differently than being convicted of embezzlement a year ago when you’re looking for work in the financial field.”

Drug/alcohol testing: Legal, with restrictions

While many companies have policies against drug and alcohol use on the job and require employees to submit to periodic testing, it is important that potential and existing employees be aware of the policies. “There should be procedures in place, employees should be made aware of those procedures and those procedures should be strictly and consistently followed,” Neuberger said.

Employment Matchmaking

by Patricia Guerzo 

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, and add a new person to your team.  This is an area where how you go about it – process – makes a big difference in finding and retaining the right person.

In a small business, recruiting is one activity that happens so infrequently that it’s unlikely the owner will be good at it.  Plus, the multitude of steps required to find, screen, interview, and orient them can be overwhelming.

If you choose to do it yourself, here are some steps that will save time, weed out poor fits, and increase the likelihood that your chosen candidate will be a long-term contributor to your business.

Know what you want.  This is obvious, right?  Not really.  Most times, an owner will think of every trait they want, creating a superhuman expectation that cannot be fulfilled.  Write down what you want, and see if you know anyone with all those skills.  Separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.

Create an ad to match those must-have needs.  You will get the highest number of qualified applicants if you “bait your hook” with the right bait.  Your bait is the words in the ad.

If the person will be expected to take orders or support others, you may not want someone who responds to “self-motivated” or “self-starter.”  Try using “team player” and “diplomatic” instead.

If you need a business development “hunter,” skip the references to a team environment.  Your ideal candidate will identify with “highly driven,” “excellent opportunity,” and “growing company looking for new markets.”

Match the recruiting process with the job.  Do you want someone to make cold calls?  Then have them respond by calling you.  If you want someone to follow instructions, create a process that requires them to follow instructions.  This is a sure-fire way to weed out people who don’t have the personality for the job, even before they interview.

Prepare interview questions in advance.  The stakes are too high to rely on a resume’ or to use a gut feel to make a decision.  People can hire professional resume’ writers, and unfortunately, desperate people might be less than truthful.

Questions should produce a SOAR response:  Situation, Obstacles, Actions, Results.  Keep this acronym in mind during the interview, and prompt the candidate for missing pieces.

Have an orientation plan.  After you find the right person, make them successful.  Too often, owners believe that “the right person” will know what to do.  Give your new employee the best chance to succeed, by painting a picture of what they need to learn and do within their probationary period.

If you have other employees, make sure they know how to support the new hire.  Set the expectation that they will help them succeed, and find unique ways each person can contribute.  Is there a role for a mentor, resource for questions, or even a schedule to take the new person to lunch?  These things can keep internal dynamics on track.

Remember, increased staff is necessary to grow.  By focusing on the hiring process, you will find and then create your winning team.

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

Power – It’s a Good Thing

by Patricia Guerzo 

Think about the last time you were frustrated.  The problem was probably something outside of your control.  Being hit with a life challenge in one part of your life can sometimes make you feel powerless, and that feeling can linger.  If you could just flip a mental “switch” and get your mojo back!

While I have not found a switch per se, I have learned, observed, and practiced some techniques that can push away those frustrated, powerless feelings.

It’s helpful to look at the sources of power we can have.  The most obvious are reward power, and coercive power – the power of a bully.  While effective in the short-term, they are rarely appropriate for everyday situations.

Positional power is awarded to the boss.  Even if someone is not a powerful person, their title gives them power.  There’s not much one can do to tap into this source right away.  Fortunately, there are others.

Referent power is the power to attract others and build loyalty.  People with charisma, good looks, and interpersonal skills have a lot of this power.  They are powerful because people want to be around them.  Employees with referent power can stall company changes, or help them succeed.  Management needs to identify people on their team with this power source, and make sure they manage them.

Similarly, expert power comes from what you know.  People are drawn to your valuable expertise.  Experts are needed beyond their organizational chain of command, and may have a public presence.

Unlike positional power, referent and expert power are available for anyone to own.  You can become smarter, get into better shape, and learn how to be motivating for others.  Most of the ways to increase your power are free.  Books, blogs, and newsletters everywhere can tell you how to be a better listener, lose 5 pounds, or where to find your industry’s latest white paper.

So the next time you feel frustrated because things aren’t going your way, challenge yourself to increase your personal power.  Take a walk, read an article, call a friend to listen; they all will help.

Better yet, make a list of things you always wanted to learn, appearance-enhancing steps you might want to try, and ways you can improve your interpersonal skills.  Then when life delivers a challenge, you can select a way to regain some power and control.

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

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