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Hesitation Generation

Hesitation Generation

Hesitation Generation. So as I travel around the ‘net, I also take note of what is happening in my own backyard. What I have seen is an odd and somewhat disturbing trend.

I am the Project Manager for Able2know and in some ways it’s got its finger on the pulse. But, a caveat, the pulse is rather limited. This is a mere fraction of the web and therefore, by extension, an even tinier fraction of the world. Yet this is the world I know, and so I will report on it.

Relationships

A2K is a generalized Q & A website where people can post all manner of questions. The availability and quality of the answers varies greatly. Keep in mind: no one is paid to answer questions on Able2know.

Hence inquiries about voltage are generally answered with an admonition to hire a licensed electrician. Requests for medical advice are answered vaguely, and nearly always involve telling the poster to follow up with their personal physician. Inquiries about the law receive a nearly identical treatment, save for the advice to contact an attorney.

And then there’s relationships.

You don’t need a degree in psychology to be able to dispense advice. Anyone who appears to be clinically depressed is told to seek treatment. Anyone who appears to be abused is advised to leave, and to contact their local authorities.

But it’s the people in the middle who I’m talking about.

Communications

What does it mean when someone stares at you? What is a good idea for a first date? How do I ask someone out? How do I get someone to ask me out? And the saddest – how do I get over a heartache?

And it’s amazing to me (and it really should not be anymore) how many people are paralyzed at the thought of actually speaking to the object of their desire. They wait and think they are seeing signals, and then they ask what those supposed signals mean. It’s like reviewing the Zapruder film, frame by agonizing frame.

My advice is usually – ask.

  • How do you feel about me?
  • Do you want to go out for coffee?
  • Are you seeing anyone right now?
  • What would you like to do together?

So many of them thank me and promise they will ask (I have heard back from some, and  they tend to report either success or relief that they finally know).

But why the heck couldn’t these people have figured that out from the get-go?!?!?!

Back to Ike

It can be a little bit like the 1950s, where girls preen and sit by the telephone, waiting for Prince Charming  to deign to call – and heaven forfend he should take more than 20 minutes to get on the stick and call! And guys hem and haw about the most letter-perfect thing to say, when the reality is that the perfect thing to say is something, as that beats the pants off saying and doing absolutely nothing. The same is true in non-cis relationships, of course.

Hesitation Generation
Ubuntu Kitty Smart Phone Preview (Photo credit: j_baer)

I’m not so sure who that dynamic favors, except for the phone companies. Because minute numbers go sky high, and Facebook’s advertisers benefit as people check each other’s statuses and relationship statuses obsessively. And  then they get to serve yet more ads.

It seems as if everyone wants to fast-forward through the movie, and cut the suspense. Instead, all they seem to want is the sunset and the fateful kiss. Dorothy clicks her heels together before she ever leaves Kansas. And nobody seems to miss the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch and the Tin Man and the rest of the middle part. All that matters is the destination, and never the journey.

Risks

Something is missing here, and what’s missing is the taking of chances. I get that these are generally rather young people. The vast, vast majority of them are between the ages of 13 and 28. That 15-year span is the worst – it’s a combination of raging hormones and self-absorption. But nowadays that’s spiked with a seemingly inbred inability to take a chance. Plus it’s all fueled by the artificial immediacy of far too much social media.

Hesitation Generation
Risk (Photo credit: The Fayj)

Instead of risk-taking, everyone seems to want the risks scrubbed out of their lives. They want the endgame handed to them on a silver platter yet refuse to do even a smidgen of the legwork required in order to get there.

Sample Size

A second caveat – this is, to be sure, a small group of people. Furthermore, they are self-selecting. Very confident folk are far less likely to request advice in any endeavor. Plus there is the age issue, as I have already mentioned.

People in their forties ask relationship questions, too, but those tend to be different. They are less about an initiation of connections and more about either reentering the dating pool or the dynamic of being a parent (or dating one) while in the game.

Upshot, Kinda, for the Hesitation Generation

So, where does that leave the Hesitation Generation and the rest of us?

An inability to take risks does not bode well. It clouds decisions on everything from trying a new brand of fabric softener to consenting to an experimental drug trial. It colors employment and investment choices, and keeps people out of new business ventures and away from new books, films and music.

The upside, naturally, is that it may be preventing sexually risky behaviors. That’s a good thing, of course.

However, risks are often good, and a life without them is rather dull indeed. It can be mindless consumerism as people give themselves the same personal rewards over and over again.

The trick, as in all things, is to find a balance.

And now, a bonus.

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Hesitation GenerationOne last thing – here, for free, for Hesitation Generation, is my standard heartache cure. Your mileage, of course, will vary.

  • Expect to feel lousy for a while, and understand that that is a natural reaction. Congratulate yourself – you were affected enough to really feel something.
  • Relationships often keep us from doing other things, such as seeing other friends. So spend some time with your friends.
  • Explore things to do on your own. Some are inward, such as making art or even baking cookies. Others are more outward, like taking a class.

More You Can Do

  • Fill up your time. Being busy gives you few opportunities to wallow in misery. Your boss is likely not without sympathy, but you still need to write the reports, etc. or do whatever it is that you do. Treat your leisure time a little bit more like a job, in the sense that you should make some commitments and stick by them. If your leisure time is to paddle a canoe, then paddle the damned canoe. Don’t back out of that.
  • Do something physical. Exercise can not only fill up your time, it can also help with depression.
  • Do something for someone less fortunate than you. Read to a blind person. Serve at a soup kitchen. Visit people in a nursing home. Volunteer at a group home. These actions don’t just help the community, they can also help you gain some sorely needed perspective.
  • Don’t jump into a new relationship right away. Being single does not have to automatically mean being lonely. This is a time to cultivate your inner resources.
  • If you think you need it – and in particular, if you are experiencing suicidal ideation – please seek out the care of a professional. There is no shame whatsoever in getting the help that you need. If you need medical help to mend a broken heart, it should be no different from seeking medical help to mend a broken arm.

Enjoy the Bee Gees, Hesitation Generation.

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Employer Access to Employee Passwords

A Look at Employer Access to Employee Passwords

Employee passwords have become a new battleground. Because this issue has begun to crop up, and it will only continue to do so.

So does your employer have a right to your social media passwords?

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So before you reflexively say no, hold the phone. Because the truth is, unless the is expressly forbids it, companies can. They can take advantage of a less than stellar economy and less than powerful employees.

As a result, they can demand access into social media accounts and employee passwords. Hence a variety of bills have been introduced around the United States in an effort to address this matter.

Massachusetts

First of all, here in the Bay State, legislation is pending. This includes H.B 448, which relates to student data privacy. It also includes, which relates to social media consumer privacy protection. And it includes S.B 1055, which relates to social media privacy protection.

Arkansas and Employee Passwords

Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. § 11-2-124; Code Ark. R. 010.14.1-500 says:

“Employers may not ask or require employees or applicants to disclose their user names or passwords to a personal online account; change the privacy settlings on their accounts…”

California and Employee Passwords

Much like Arkansas, employers can’t get into employees’ social media accounts. But an exception exists for investigations into misconduct, per Cal. Lab. Code § 980.

Colorado

Colorado’s law is Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 8-2-127, which says:

“Employers can be fined up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation.”

Connecticut

In Connecticut, the law is Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 31-40x, which says:

“Employers can be fined up to $500 for the first violation and between $500 and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. Employees can be awarded relief, including job reinstatement, payment of back wages, reestablishment of employee benefits, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

Delaware

And in Delaware, the law is Del. Code Ann. tit. 19, § 709A. It’s pretty similar to the law in Arkansas.

Illinois

So in Illinois, the law is 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 55/10; Ill. Admin. Code tit. 56, §§ 360.110, 360.120.

“If an employer violates the law, an employees and applicants may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.”

Louisiana

In addition, La. Stat. Ann. §§ 51:1951 to 51:1953, 51:1955 says:

“Employers may not request or require employees or applicants to disclose user names and passwords or other login information for their personal accounts.”

But in Louisiana, it’s okay for employers to push for a look into employee personal online accounts in one instance. This is if there are allegations of misconduct. So stop downloading porn at work!

And this is according to Nolo.

Maine

So in Maine, the law is Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, §§ 615 to 619.

“An employer that violates the law is subject to a fine from the Department of Labor of at least $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second violation, and $500 for subsequent violations.”

Maryland

So in Maryland, the law is Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-712. The provisions are pretty close to those in Arkansas.

Michigan

And then in Michigan, the law is Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 37.271 to 37.278.

“Employers that violate the law can be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000. Employees and applicants may also file a civil claim and recover up to $1,000 in damages plus attorney fees’ and court costs.”

Montana

And then in Montana, the law is Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-307.

“An employee or applicant may bring an action against an employer in small claims court for violations. If successful, an employee or applicant can receive $500 or actual damages up to $7,000, as well as legal costs.”

Nebraska

Then in Nebraska, the law is Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 48-3501 to 48-3511. This is another law like the one in Arkansas.

Nevada

But in Nevada, the law is Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 613.135. This one is very short but it specifically includes blogs.

New Hampshire

Furthermore, N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 275:73 to 275:75 says:

“Employers may not require employees or applicants to change the privacy settings on their email or social media accounts or add anyone to their email or social media contact lists.”

But just like in Louisiana, Granite Staters will have to provide a look-see if there are any misconduct accusations flying around.

New Jersey

Then in New Jersey, the law is N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 34:6B-5 to 34:6B-10. So it says:

“Employers that violate the law are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $2,500 for each subsequent violation from the New Jersey Labor Commissioner.”

New Mexico

So in New Mexico, the law is N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-34. This one specifically extends to friend lists.

Oklahoma on Employee Passwords

In addition, when it comes to employee passwords, Oklahoma’s House Bill 2372 says,

“Relates to labor; prohibits employer from requesting or requiring access to social media account of certain employees; prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory personnel action for failure to provide access to social media account; authorizes civil actions for violations; provides for recovery of attorney fees and court costs; defines terms; provides for codification; provides an effective date.”

So this is according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oregon

Then in Oregon, the law is Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659A.330. This is another law like the one in Arkansas.

Rhode Island

Furthermore, per R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 28-56-1 to 28-56-6:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit for violations. The court can award declaratory relief, damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and injunctive relief against the employer.”

So this is beyond the standard where an employer can’t just take a peek whenever they feel like it.

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
English: Great seal of the state of Rhode Island Français : Sceau du Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tennessee on Employee Passwords

And per Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 50-1-1001 to 50-1-1004:

“Employers may not ask or require employees or applicants to disclose passwords to personal online accounts.”

Utah

So in Utah, the law is Utah Code Ann. §§ 34-48-101 to 34-48-301. So it says:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit against the employer for violations, with a maximum award of $500.”

Virginia and Employee Passwords

So in Virginia, the law is Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-28.7:5. It’s not too far off from Arkansas, but an employer can get employee passwords under the guise of an investigation.

Washington (State) on Employee Passwords

So in Washington State, the law is Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 49.44.200 and 49.44.205. So it says:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit against the employer for violations and obtain injunctive relief, actual damages, a penalty of $500, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

West Virginia

So in West Virginia, the law is W. Va. Code Ann. § 21-5H-1, another Arkansas clone, more or less.

Wisconsin on Employee Passwords

And then in Wisconsin, per Wis. Stat. Ann. § 995.55:

“Employees and applicants may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for violations and receive appropriate relief.”

Other States on Employee Passwords

In addition, Maryland became apparently the first state to consider the matter, per the Boston Globe, in 2012. Furthermore, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several bills have been proposed around the country.

However, aside from the ones listed above, only the following states seem to have these laws. Then according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the following states have pending laws (as of 2019): Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York. And then in 2018, these states considered the matter: Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and New York.

So these bills come up repeatedly.

Finally, the country still has a long way to go in terms of guaranteeing employees privacy in social media accounts. Hence we all need to look out more. In addition, it might end up a good idea to just out and out refuse when asked for passwords.

Facebooker, beware.

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How Social Media Can Ruin Your Life

How Social Media Can Ruin Your Life

Social Media can really do it to you.

Oh. My. God.

You did WHAT???!?!?!?

Quick, lemme tweet it!

social media
foursquare (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

No, I’ll take a picture and upload it to Instagram.

And I can’t forget to blog it!

This kind of gaffe deserves a Facebook post, too!

Really?

So you know what’s it like. You post a selfie taken at the ballgame. Except you told your boss that you were home sick, with the flu. You were supposed to be with your significant other. But, oops, you checked into Foursquare. With your friend. You know, the one with benefits. Or maybe you rant against your kid’s soccer coach on Twitter. And he calls you out on it. Hence in May of 2014, The Boston Globe presented a half a dozen ways that social media can ruin your life.

social media
English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the article presents some boneheaded moves, including a poor choice of a Halloween costume (because evidently the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing are a laugh riot to someone out there), a Candy Crush addiction, and some poorly thought out tweets.

You Did What?

I’m sure that the following will, eventually, be the kinds of behaviors that could be added to a successor article (Note: some of these are real, some are speculative. I won’t name names. So you decide whether any of these have really happened, or are still in the ‘maybe’ column):

  1. How about claiming a permanent injury for your lawsuit and then checking in from a dance contest
  2. What about a court-ordered Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting blown off for a trip to the track – and a selfie with the dogs or horses running their hearts out in the background.
  3. Or dissing your ex, big time, on Facebook or Twitter, and your child growing up to read your sunshiny status updates.
  4. And then maybe a job interview, as you tout your fine record of academic achievement, with old Instagram photos of you showing off your barely passing C-average transcript.
  5. Finally, politicians caught with underage drinking photos, sexting, pictures of their junk, and a panoply of other nuggets of oversharing.

I love social media but man oh man, people! Have a little self-control and some common sense.

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Analytics Opinion Social Media

Jell-O on the Wall: Social Media Perfection is Fleeting

Jell-O on the Wall: Social Media Perfection is Fleeting

Social Media Perfection? Every few months or so, a new study comes out which provides what are purportedly the perfect times to post on various platforms.

Jell-O on the Wall: Social Media Perfection is Fleeting
The Damsel of the Sanct Grael, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti: medieval romance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or it might outline the perfect number of words or characters or images. All of this relentless pursuit of social media perfection is, of course, is for the Holy Grail of social media, the conversion.

I don’t argue with the idea. Certainly everyone wants to minimize time spent and maximize conversions which, presumably, lead to profit or fame or some other personal or corporate milestone or achievement.

What amuses me, though, is that sometimes the advice is a bit conflicting.

Social Media Today posts a lot of articles like this, and here’s an example.

Articles

So back in May of 2014, four great and interesting (certainly helpful) articles appeared on that site. Let’s look at how they stack up.

Ideal Lengths

The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research – this rather helpful article indicates, for example, that the ideal blog post is 1,600 words long. This figure puts it into more or less direct opposition to Yoast’s Social Media Plugin for WordPress, which, if all other conditions are ideal, starts to mark blog posts are having good SEO at 300 or more words in length. Now, the Social Media Today article is more about engagement, so I understand that this isn’t exactly apples to apples. But regardless of how ‘ideal’ in length a post is, it’s still got to be found. Fortunately, these aren’t mutually exclusive conditions.

In addition, that article lists perfect tweet length as 71 – 100 characters.

Twitter

The Perfect Tweet  – speaking of perfect tweets, this article, posted four days after the first one listed above, spells out that tweets with images are ideal. Again, it’s not a true contradiction, but it is a bit of an inconsistency, particularly as this article didn’t talk about tweet length at all.

Yet isn’t ideal length a part of tweeterrific perfection? It seems like it should be.

Quick Management

How to Manager Your Social Media in 34 Minutes (or Less) a Day –  this article does a good job in outlining the basics. And it adds a bit of a reminder to try to engage the audience, provide good content, etc. However, they don’t include time blogging. And perhaps they shouldn’t. Because if you prepare a 1,600-word blog post (or even a Yoast-approved 300 word wonder), you won’t write it in less than 34 minutes. At least, you won’t be doing so if you want to (a) include images, tags, and other extras and formatting touches and (b) credit your sources properly. Furthermore, you don’t want to even inadvertently commit plagiarism.

The idea of using HootSuite, Buffer, and/or Facebook’s own post scheduler is, of course, a smart one.

Marketing Campaigns

9 Fresh and Effective Ideas for Your Social Media and Content Marketing Campaigns  – this article provides some quick tips on how to change things up. And this includes an idea about engaging in a debate with competitors, and another about collaborating on content with customers.

I wish I knew how to do that in 34 minutes or less.

Be that as it may, we are all pressed for time these days, and it’s only going to get worse. Undoubtedly, a new study will come out soon enough with new standards and ideals and concepts that are touted as social media perfection. Will they be? Maybe, but probably not forever.

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Career changing Opinion Twitter

The Power of Social Media (Neurotic Writers’ Edition)

Welcome to The Power of Social Media (Neurotic Writers’ Edition)

Chicken Scratch

Neurotic Writers. I know aspiring writers.

You probably do, too. There are lots of people with a Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Neurotic Writersmanuscript out there … somewhere. Perhaps it’s just in a hard drive. Or maybe it’s been uploaded to a fiction site. Or perhaps it has gotten a little exposure by having a chapter or a tantalizing fragment tossed onto a forums site. It might take the form of a blog (Gee, I wonder if I’m doing that …?). There are some that are typed (Remember that?). Others are only in long hand. And still others are locked away in brain form only.

Attention Monsters, All

Neurotic Writers
Social Media Iceberg (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

Whatever form it has taken, there is one thing I have learned about aspiring writers (And this includes fan fiction writers, by the way. Don’t dis ’em; they care about what they do, too!). This may also be true of established writers as well. I’m not even so sure where “established” starts happening. If it starts when you’ve gotten a check for writing, then count me in the established camp. If not, well, then it might be that I am still waiting for my established writer card. But I digress. What have I learned about aspiring writers?

It’s that we are all attention monsters.

We all crave attention. But it’s more than just “Look at me! Look at me!” Instead, it’s more like, “Please oh please oh please read my stuff and leave detailed feedback so I know you really read it and don’t forget to tell me how kick-bun awesome I am!

Er, yeah.

Now, pretty much everyone on the planet adores hugs and positive attention and love and happiness. For aspiring writers, though, it’s poured onto a page. The soul is naked, for all to poke at (Erm, that wasn’t meant to evoke an NC-17 image. Shame on you for thinking so. And now that’s all you can think of, am I right?). It is scary and it is daunting. And it is exhilarating when you get even a scrap of positive feedback.

Enter Social Media

For aspiring writers with a backbone and a somewhat thicker skin, social media can be a way to get some of that craved feedback.

How?

The first and probably most obvious method is to have a Twitter stream dedicated to your writing. I doubt that most people want to read about writer’s block, so you need to have something going on. Perhaps you could write about inspirations, or earlier works, or how things fit together in your universe.

Hence I am also talking about a blog. You can blog about writing. The creative process can be fascinating for people who are into it. Maybe you’d like to review your own work, and comment on what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown as an author. Put both of these together, and you’ve got a pretty dynamic combination. You write, you blog about it and then you tweet about your blog posts and your writing.

Plus writing begets writing. Even blog writing (which is a rather different animal from book-writing) can help keep writer’s block at bay. It helps to exercise these muscles fairly regularly.

Another Option?

Post on social sites. Hence for fan fiction, there is Fanfiction.net. And for purely original stories, they have a sister site, Fiction Press. Or try Wattpad. In addition, plenty of more specialized fiction and fan fiction sites exist. Google is your friend!

Be aware of scams; they do exist. Furthermore, putting your work out there does not guarantee that you retain full rights to it. And this is despite the laws in your own country. In addition, understand there’s a lot of plagiarism and downright theft out there. So remain as cautious as with any other information you put online.

Understand, too, that if you neurotic writers are going to submit to a traditional publisher, they often don’t want you to have posted your story elsewhere beforehand. Because this has to do with the full rights to your product. Hence you might want to put out your smaller or less important works, and save your really big one, if you are ever planning to submit to a traditional publishing house.

Competitions

Yet another option is competitions. Here’s one, at America’s Next Author. Because the inspiration from this blog post came from learning that a friend had a story in this competition. The competition ran as a pure social media experiment. Hence, while good storytelling and story-crafting matter, so does publicity. Like with any other social media site, “likes”, comments and popularity all play a role. For my friend, and for others trying to make it, putting the link onto Facebook or Twitter is essential to getting the word out. Even this blog post is helpful (FYI, and just for the record, this post is my own idea and she did not request or suggest it).

The Reader End of Things

The community of aspiring writers is, truly, a community. And that means give and take. What kind of give and take? The kind that goes along with reviews and comments. Because for those who are trying to write for a living, commenting and reviewing should be a part of that. Readily and cheerfully provide constructive criticism, if desired.

Aspiring neurotic writers write for exposure. And often they get exposure from fellow aspirants. What better way to forge a sense of community than to read one another’s works, and comment thereon?

The Upshot of It All

For those of us neurotic writers who put it out there every day, who bare ourselves and our souls with prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction, fan or wholly original, short story or multi-novel series, we all have a major issue in common – we want recognition. We don’t even necessarily want to be famous, but we want to be the one at the fireside who spins a yarn as others sit, enraptured. And with social media, we hope, there just might be some people listening.

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Career changing Community Management Opinion

Community Management – Handling Yourself as a Good Netizen

Handling Yourself as a Good Netizen

Are you a good netizen?

I have been managing Able2know for over fourteen years.

It is a generalized Q & A website and the members are all volunteers. I have learned a few things about handling yourself online during this time.

Chill Out

  1. There are few emergencies online. Take your time. I have found, if I am in a hot hurry to respond, itching to answer, it usually means I am getting obsessive.
  2. When it’s really nutty, step away from the keyboard. I suppose this is a corollary to the first one. Furthermore, I pull back when it gets too crazy-making, or try to figure out what else may be bothering me, e. g. I haven’t worked out yet, something at home is annoying me, etc. Being online, and being annoyed, does not equal that something online caused the annoyance.

Be Clear

  1. All we have are words (emoticons do nearly nothing).
    Handling Yourself as a Good Netizen
    what are words for? (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

    I like to make my words count, and actually mean exactly, 100%, what I write, but not everyone hits that degree of precision in their communications. I’ve learned to cut about a 10% degree of slack.

  2. Not everyone gets you. You might be hysterically funny in person, but bomb online, Netizen. Or you might feel you’re a gifted writer, but you write to the wrong audience. You may be hip for your crowd, but hopelessly out of it in another. This is not, really, a personal thing. You can either waste your time trying to get everyone to love you or you can recognize that you didn’t convert one person and move on from there. Choose the latter; it’ll save your sanity every time.

Keep Chilling Out

  1. Be Zen. E. g. I’ve found the old, “oh, you go first” kind of thing smooths the way a lot. I am not saying to not have your say and let everyone else win all the time. It’s just, ya kinda pick the hill you wanna die on, e. g. what’s really important. Stick to those guns. The others, not so much. E. g. getting into a shouting match and kicked off a site due to your hatred of the Designated Hitter Rule – even on a sports or baseball site – falls in the category of you’re probably overreacting and being really, really silly. I doubt that that is a hill most people would try want to die on. But defending your beliefs, fighting prejudice, etc.? Those are probably better hills.
  2. And the corollary to #5: controversial topics are controversial for a reason. They get under people’s skin and make them squirm. Be nice; don’t do that all the time. So try to engage people in other ways, Netizen. There are plenty of people on Able2know who argue a lot about politics. I am not a fan of arguing politics. But we also get together and play Fantasy Baseball (talk about your Designated Hitter Rule). Or we swap recipes, or pet stories, or the like. But then, when a forum member gets sick or becomes bereaved, people who just argued till they were blue in the face turn around. And they virtually hug and offer tributes, prayers (or positive, healing thoughts) and words of comfort. And this user multidimensionality warms the heart. Over the years, people have gotten better at it. If someone’s really bothering you, it’s possible that, in other contexts, you’d get along. You might want to see if you can find some common ground, and other contexts.

Sing Along with Elsa and Let. It. Go.

  1. Know when to stop, or even let others have the last word. When I am really angry, I usually just withdraw. However, this isn’t a surrender. Instead, I’m tired and life’s too short. You do not become a smaller, or less worthwhile person, and you haven’t lost (whatever that really means, particularly on the Internet, fer chrissakes) if you walk away and wash your hands of things. Netizen, you are entitled to call it quits on an argument or discussion.

Finally, I hope you learn from my insanity and my mistakes. Life’s too short to let it get to you too much!

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Career changing LinkedIn Opinion Social Media Work

The Top 10 Pet Peeves About Job Seeking

The Top 10 Pet Peeves About Job Seeking

Pet Peeves? I got ’em.

Pet Peeves
Frustration

Adventures in Career Changing means, well, a lot of job applications. Beyond networking, education and research, there are just sometimes some forms to fill out. I have filled out – I have no idea how many. And they come as a bit of their own special Dantean circle.

#10 – Keeping the Company’s Identity a Secret

I get that there are legitimate reasons for keeping quiet about company identities. They might not want to tip off competitors that there’s an opening. Or maybe they don’t want the person currently in the job to know that they are being replaced. I recognize this. I get it. But it’s also a bit of serious unevenness. You know who I am. And you get to look up all sorts of stuff on me. Yet I don’t get to do anything even remotely like that where you’re concerned. Where’s the fairness in that?

#9 – Multiple Job Postings, While at the Same Time Penalizing Job Seekers for Multiple Submissions

This goes along with the previous one. When you don’t tell me who you are, and you post the same job on, say, Monster and Dice, how, exactly, am I supposed to prevent a possible double submission? What happens when you also distribute this opening to a half a dozen recruiters? Yep – I end up with multiple submissions. And guess who gets blamed for that? Hint – it’s not the prospective employer.

#8 – You Make Me Fill Out a Form Even As I Give You My Resume

I know that you have laid off your entire clerical staff, and you likely did so in 2003 or earlier. I am also well aware that you are looking to get my resume into a pigeonhole pattern so that it can be readily compared to others that are in the same pigeonhole pattern. Because taking 25 seconds to scan my resume with your eyes is just too much time.

Okay, perhaps that wasn’t very nice, but every career counselor I have ever known has said to spend hours and hours and make it a mondo-perfect document. But the reality is that resumes are barely glanced at. Hence, rather than creating exciting visual presentations (unless you’re in the arts), the focus is on keywords. And I’m fine with larding my resume up with keywords (unfortunately, BTW, this also means adding misspelled keywords).

I also get how badly you want uniformity. But – surprise! There’s software that will do this! So, instead of making me jump through this particular hoop, could you invest in a system such as that? The beauty of your software doing that, rather than me doing it manually, is that you can also do some filtering. Buy yourself a good system, and you’ll get a lot more done.

#7 – S…l…o…w Sites

I know, I know. The server is down. No one’s been able to fix it since Employee X left three months ago. Whatevs. But in the meantime, I am supposed to be putting my best foot forward (and all the time, I might add. I’ve had employment counselors who’ve essentially told me to look sharp every time I leave the house, as I never know if I’ll be seeing a potential employer. Evidently this includes grocery shopping and running 5K races. Silliness). But you aren’t. You want me to apply and not get frustrated while doing so? Then fix your site.

#6 – Ignoring the Fact that I Will Not Relocate

If it’s available, I always (always!) check the box that says that I will not relocate. And I will not. There is no coaxing me. There are no perks to sending me to Minneapolis (or wherever). I ain’t goin’. And it is all over all of my applications, profiles, etc. This is one of my really annoying pet peeves.

Yet I am still called by recruiters who tell me about some awesome, kick-bun opportunity and everything sounds wonderful and then, oh by the way, where is it? And it’s in Plano, Texas. I live in Boston. That’s a helluva commute, don’t you think? This is so basic, it should be like a standard production of Romeo & Juliet. Shouldn’t the only people who audition for the role of Juliet (in a traditional production) be, I dunno, female?

I recognize that your job is to get a person into an opening at some company. And I further understand some people who will change their minds with enough incentives. I also know that there are folks who rent apartments briefly. But really – at the very least – be up front, immediately – with the location, and stop wasting both of our times.

#5 – Vagueness

Oh, man. You can’t be bothered to say anything about the position? Then how the hell can you honestly expect to get the right people in? I know that, a lot of the time, HR is the one writing the job description. But, truly (and this goes quadruple for large organizations), the job description should be a part of the company’s overall records. And so when HR (or whoever) writes up the job description, they should pull the basic framework of it from their records. And said records should be updated, perhaps every year, with things like new software versions and anything else that’s fairly major that might have changed.

Case in point. I used to work in data analysis. And this should have a basic description, which should include the system(s) being used, the version(s) of software and the general day-to-day activities. So is the opening more report creating, or report running? Will I train people in how to read it? Will I perform analysis in order to help senior management interpret it? Or am I supposed to just churn out whatever the system spits out? Of course, the upside to all of this is, I get to have ready-made questions in the event of an interview.

#4 – Requiring Salary Expectations Way Too Early in the Process

I have seen, on several occasions, vague job descriptions requiring some form of salary expectation mentioned up front. So I get that you want to weed people out early, and waste less time. I get that, and I do appreciate it. However, this is so early, it’s not funny. Plus, if I don’t know who you are, I have few ways of figuring out whether my # is anywhere near jibing with yours. And I change my expectations, depending upon what, exactly, you want me to do. The application stage is a lousy time to ask about money – on both ends.

#3 – Requiring Me to Waste Time Updating Preexisting Information Manually

A rather large employer in my area (Boston) uses a resume management system with both a resume piece and a manual piece. I filled out the manual piece in – no lie – 2008. It remains that way, even as I provide an updated resume. What to do? Do I erase the entire shebang, and just send in the resume? Or do I update? Something else? It provides a distorted picture of where I’ve been. Make up your mind – resume or manual entry. Or, better yet, just take my resume. I suppose this is the corollary to #8.

#2 – No LinkedIn Functionality

While I suppose this is not strictly necessary, it’s awfully nice to have. And, in particular, if you’re advertising the job itself on LinkedIn, why can’t I just apply by connecting you to my profile there?

#1 – Security to Beat Fort Knox

Of course, I want to maintain my own security. I certainly don’t want anyone else to be able to mess with my profile. But why, oh why, do you need me to change my password every other month, to some wacky combo of letters, numbers, special characters and, I dunno, cuneiform?

I swear, the security on some of these apps ends up more complicated and Byzantine than I have for my bank account!

Huh, maybe I should just change banks. Harvey’s Money-o-Rama might no longer cut it.

Two Dishonorable Mentions

A – Seemingly Endless Questions

And the pet peeves continue! Because apparently, you do not trust me enough to self-select out of the running because I don’t know Software version infinity plus one or whatever. But, really, folks! Save something for the interview! Because I guarantee you, you will not get every single thing answered beforehand.

B – Interviewing Too Many People

Screen on the phone. Then screen with your resume software. Screen with your keyword searches. And then screen with your well-written job description. Screen with your HR people calling. Screen with your published salary range. Finally, screen with a little social media investigating. And then your interview process can be for 1 – 5 people who can do the job. And decide amongst them based upon the intangibles.

Yet I have been in interview situations where there were a good twenty people up for one position! Sheesh! You are wasting everybody’s time. And, frankly, behavior like this makes me wonder about you as a company, and about you as a manager. Do you always hem and haw like this? Do you know naught of efficiency?

Don’t worry, I’ve got good things to say about the job search process. And I’ll post them. But for right now, these are the real stinkers. Got any pet peeves you’d like to share?

Categories
Community Management Opinion Work

Collaboration

Collaboration

Do you like collaboration? C’mon, all the cool kids are doin’ it.

Well … maybe.

We Mean Well

We all start off life (or, at least, us American type folk – your mileage may vary) learning to collaborate. First of all, we learn how to share. And we are broken into little groups. Furthermore, we pass our science classes because of, in part, how well we work with lab partners. In addition, we might try out for a class play or community theater, and become a part of an acting troupe. Or we play on sports teams or join a fraternity or a sorority. We join churches and volunteer groups.

So why is it so difficult for so many people to collaborate at work?

To be sure, I think a lot of us try. We dutifully send out some sort of an enormous email to the people on our team. And we attend meetings, and we might even take notes at them. In addition, we put our two cents into various documents. We may even attend various team-building exercises and emerge from them confident that our collaborative hurdles have been overcome and from now on, it’s cooperation all the way.

Lone Rangers

However, lots of us, aside from what is almost forced togetherness at work, end up as Lone Rangers. And we don’t even have faithful sidekicks.

I think that some of it may have to do with work itself. The process of education is competitive. And the process of interviewing is competitive. The process of advancing a career is also competitive. No wonder it’s tough to get together and set all that aside.

I think that email fosters the siloed feeling of being alone out there, just you against the onslaught of various missives. When was the last time any of us truly enjoyed the process of grabbing emails, opening them and answering them?

I mean at work, people.

Email feels like nagging. And it feels incessant. It is a baby bird. Baby robins Collaboration And while I love little baby critters as much as the next person, I have to say, these little guys can get annoying awfully quickly.

So … what to do? How to deal with the baby birds or, maybe, deal with fewer of them?

Collaborative Software, Forums, Wikis and Spreading the Wealth

Email is so last week!

Kinda.

The thing of it is, email is a perfectly fantastic medium for a lot of things. And Word, for example, is a perfectly fantastic word processing program. But just like Word is not the best tool for making spreadsheets, email is often not the best tool for collaboration.

Instead, you need to work with software that truly fosters communication and collaboration. You need to draw upon the wisdom of crowds.

Forums

Oh my God, you want me to do what?

I want you to talk to a bunch of people. In a forum.

But they’ll be mean to me. They won’t answer my question. They’ll steer me in the wrong direction. 

Not necessarily. Consider (insert shameless plug here) Able2Know. Yes, it’s true. There are people who will be less than wonderful to you. There are people who will misdirect you. And there are people who will be friendly but, essentially, cannot answer your question, and so their presence on your question thread is a waste of your time.

However –

There are also people who will take time out of their day to Google for you. In addition, there some people have actual knowledge, and will help you out with things like Latin translations, geology inquiries and philosophical arguments. And there are others, because it is a large and (mostly) friendly forum, who don’t know the answer but will steer you to the people who do.

Wikis, Databases and One-Stop Shopping

There are plenty of other places online with common, pooled information. Memory Alpha, for example, is a large wiki about canon Star Trek in its various forms. SparkPeople, while it has dedicated health, fitness and nutrition experts, also has a huge section filled with the weight loss and maintenance wisdom of people like you and me. And IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) is the product of all sorts of people working together, including actors and actresses, agents and fans, to get the most comprehensive information on film and television, all together into one neat, easy-to-use package.

What do these three rather diverse sites have in common? They all have people who have a passion for the subject matter, who are willing to do a few things –

  1. Research and make sure that their information is as accurate as possible
  2. Spend time getting the information onto the site and
  3. Work with IT in order to assure that the site remains fast and easy to use.

Oh and, except for IMDB Pro, they all have another thing in common.

Amazingly, they are all free to use.

Collaboration: Bringing it All Back Home

So what’s in it for you, to use a forum or a wiki at your place of business?

  • Get out of the email rut and make it easier to actually find what you’re working on. 1,000 emails in your inbox are not possible for you to read, digest and work on. You may as well delete them. Because you are not reading them.
  • Make it easier for everyone to see, at a glance and at the same time, what you’re working on. The mass email to fifteen people will inevitably begin to splinter, as someone changes a status from the To: field to the CC: field, or leaves someone off the distribution list entirely, or hits Reply instead of Reply All. Using a forum or a wiki eliminates that as a possibility and fosters collaboration better.
  • Urgency can more granularly be communicated. I use Yahoo mail at home, and I like it, but there are only a few possible modes. Read/unread, star/no star. Well, what about urgently starred? As in, it’s not only important, but I need to do it yesterday. Alas, the only way I can get this across in my own mailbox is to use an “Urgent” folder. But that doesn’t tell anyone else, at a glance, that a particular item is red-hot. Life is not binary, not really. Why should your communications be that way?

More Benefits of Collaboration

Oh, and one more thing. Collaborating on one thing can often lead to collaboration on other things. The people on Able2Know who get together to help solve problems that someone might have in introducing a new puppy to a household also do things together like play Fantasy Baseball. They rally around when someone is ill, congratulate users when they marry or become parents or grandparents and even meet on occasion. In short, they reach through the pixels and become friends.

How ’bout that, eh?

Collaboration rocks!

Categories
Opinion Social Media Work

Social Media background check being used for jury selection

Social Media background check being used for jury selection

Social Media background check? What? So in 2010, the ABA Journal reported that lawyers admitted to using the Internet to ferret out information about potential jurors.

Social Media background check

And essentially what happens: in some instances, while reading off the names of the members of a jury pool, a lawyer or paralegal Googles them. Sometimes the names are released the night before (at least, in Los Angeles County they can be), but it can also happen where lawyers only learn who would potentially sit on a jury on the day of selection.

State By State Differences

While state courts allow lawyers to bring laptops into courtrooms, Googling the jury panel isn’t what they have in mind, says Paula Hannaford-Agor, who directs the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts.

However, preventing counsel from checking potential jurors’ backgrounds online might pose a Constitutional question and may very well violate the First Amendment. Though the law remains fluid in this area, with no decisions or tests yet.

Personal Thoughts

With all of the above said, I don’t know where I fall on the spectrum. Preventing Googling doesn’t just seem like a First Amendment issue – it also seems to exist as more of a common sense one. Because with the invention of the telephone, when a lawyer suddenly could learn more about jurors (and far more quickly than sending letters or asking a messenger to run somewhere or another), was that ever questioned? And did it bother the jurors? Or did they perhaps not know about it? Or, maybe even if they did know, were they still so dazzled and flattered by the use of the brand-new technology? Did it make them not care, or see any implications?

Privacy?

And then we have the other end of things. Do I really want to be Googled if I’m in a jury pool? Welllll, lawyers look for every other possible advantage and nugget of information, so what would lead me to believe that they wouldn’t look there as well? If I exist as a somewhat sophisticated potential juror (and I’ve practiced law fer cryin’ out loud), I know that, in particular in an expensive or high stakes (read: death row) case, both sides will look for every possible angle. They scrutinize my bumper stickers. And my dress. My hair. Whether I’m wearing nail polish. My voter registration records. My work product, if available. Because they look at anything and everything.

Plus, as an avid Facebook and Twitter (and LinkedIn, and SparkPeople) user, I well understand the openness of my online life. And, for me, particularly after losing a boatload of weight, I feel it’s important to be open about a lot of things. Perhaps I overshare. No, wait, I definitely overshare. I know my life is open and there are all sorts of cracks in the armor.

Yet at the same time I, like many other people, feel there’s still a place to put on the brakes. Somewhere in there, there are vestiges of privacy. However, are they still available to me if I end up in a jury pool?

However, I’m not in a jury pool under my own volition. Hence I believe that, even as I share yet another “before” photo or mention that I’m turning a particular age or whatever, that I can throw up a wall.

Can’t I? Even a little bit?

Your Thoughts?

I’m curious as to what others think. Is this a squishy, I-want-to-be-left-alone area, or should we all just get over it? Is it the crest of a slippery slope? Would it would erode privacy even more? Or did I get all hot and bothered over nothing?

Gentle reader, what do you think?

Categories
Opinion Personal Social Media

Sharing Less

Sharing Less

Sharing Less can help you out in dozens of ways. Because there is something to be said for mystery.

Sharing Less
Buchaechum, one of the Korean traditional dances for Royal court of Joseon Dynasty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a fan dancer’s artfully concealing fans, if you will. For a dark corner where the camera does not go, and where we do not allow others to see. Perhaps not even our lovers, our mothers, our children and, most assuredly, not our government.

Origins

This post is a riff on Learning Not to Share, an article by Rich Barlow in my alumni magazine, Bostonia.

Wait a second, oops! I just told you where I went to college. Better cover that up, and sweep it out of the way.

Oh no, wait! I just told you it was undergrad. Good thing I didn’t tell you one of my professors studied under Wittgenstein.

D’oh! I probably just gave away that I majored in Philosophy! Wait, I’ll come in again.

We Keep on Sharing

It is like this, over and over and over again online. We share. And we share again. And then we overshare. While the above few tidbits probably don’t tell you too much about me, there is plenty of additional information out there. There are plenty of minefields. So I might accidentally drop something whereby someone could steal a password, stalk me, take my identity, burgle my house while I’m away, etc.

Digital Nosiness

Stephen Baker, the author of The Numerati, talks about what essentially amounts to digital nosiness – too much information out there, and we’re all inviting it in. And we do so in the name of greater security, or peace of mind. We want to make sure our teenagers are driving safely so we agree to put a black box in the car.

And we want to know that our elderly parents are all right (but we are not committed enough to move them home with us, or move to their homes or cities, even briefly), so we install sensors in their beds to make sure they get out of them every day. So then, as privacy erodes, we accept more and more of these intrusions until they are no longer seen as intrusive. And a privacy (and shame!) tradition that harkens back to biblical times is canned in favor of The Age of TMI.

Stop Volunteering Information

Is it possible to shut the barn door, when the horse has hightailed it for the next county? Sadly, probably not. But this oversharing is nothing new. I well recall, when I was practicing law (uh oh, another identifier!), prepping witnesses for depositions. E. g. if the opposing counsel asks, “Were you driving?”, the answer is yes, no or I don’t remember. It is not, yes, and the car is blue. If the lawyer wants to know the color of the car, she’ll ask. Don’t volunteer anything.

Yet, inevitably, people would do just that – they would volunteer all sorts of stuff. The vast majority of it was completely harmless. However, every now and then, it opened up different things, and drew others into question. Or it got the whole thing onto some wacky tangent and it then became hard to throw a lasso over the proceedings and get them back to the matter at hand.

And a deposition, once, which was going to take maybe 45 minutes took the better part of a week as a witness and opposing counsel kept feeding one another more digressions – even after I repeatedly told the witness to just stick with getting the actual questions answered and nothing more. This tactic, by the way, did not, ultimately, harm my client or help the opponent. All it did was make the matter stretch out that much longer. And, I am sure, it nicely increased my opponent’s bill (I was salaried – a deposition could take three years and I would not be paid any extra. Dang, there I go again, oversharing!).

Wiping Away Shame

Some sharing, particularly in the face of things that have been taboo for too long, seems to be, to me, to be a very good thing. Take, for example, the physical demands and changes that go along with weight loss. In the interests of full disclosure, this is a subject rather near and dear to my heart. So I put it out there – the fact that stretch marks don’t really go away and what post-weight loss plastic surgery is really like and how sometimes, no matter how much you want to convince yourself otherwise, the oatmeal just does not taste one bit like fried chicken.

I think that this kind of oversharing can have a true benefit. Give hope, or at least some amusement and information. And trample away shame until it’s gone.

But there is plenty more out there where that came from, and it is often all too much, and it can be damaging. Give away too much and you are the naked fan dancer, all out of fans.

How to Strike a Balance

So my suggestion is: tread lightly, and as wisely as you can, and ask yourself: will this information do more harm than good? Will it hurt me or my family? So even if the answer to both questions is no, my advice is: consider it and weigh it anyway. And decide, one way or the other. Do this based upon reasoned understanding and not on expediency, or going along to get along, or trying to be cooler than everyone else in school. Above all, do not sleepwalk and step backward into these kinds of giveaways. If you are going to toss aside that last fan, at least look your audience in the eye when you do so.