Jeremiah Owyang’s Roadmap for the Corporate Website

July 14, 2010

Jeremiah Owyang is definitely one of the most influential voices in the social media space–and he has questioned the relevance of traditional corporate websites in the new online landscape.  In this presentation he outlines the issues and projects a path toward integration of social media and corporate website.

Although his overview is mainly focused on consumer-facing aspects of the corporate site, and he doesn’t touch on Careers or employer branding, the presentation offers some very useful information and insights.  Worth watching!

Making your Corporate Website Relevant

And here’s the related post.

Interesting note:  This presentation has received more than 16,000 views on SlideShare and is embedded on more than 60 sites.

The June Wrap-up: Spotlight on BP

July 7, 2010

BP June 28 300x273 The June Wrap up:  Spotlight on BP

The standout story of June was British Petroleum’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  “Careers” Meets Crisis, posted at the beginning of June, noted that BP’s Careers page remained unchanged more than a month after the crisis began.  Not only was there no mention of the spill, the “Featured job category” highlight extolled opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico.

A month later, the featured job category is IT.  But nothing else on the page has been added or updated to address the ongoing Gulf crisis.  Similarly, nothing has been added or updated since the spill on BP’s  Environment and Society page—which seems like an even bigger disconnect.

However, a few changes have been made to the corporate site.

  • The Gulf Response tab, which was put in place soon after the crisis began, is now more tightly organized, focusing on technical and practical issues.  The level of detail on this page conveys much more effectively the seriousness of BP’s efforts.
  • Some of the content originally shown on the Gulf Response tab is now on the landing page—so users who navigate directly to the site by typing into their browsers (or clicking on a sponsored link) will see Gulf-related material immediately.  The page begins with a large photo feature that depicts people at work: cleaning sand, pointing at maps, rescuing birds, etc.
  • Also on the BP landing page: videos about the company’s good intentions and positive efforts, along with information links (both contact information and news stories).  Overall, the page has a slightly positive spin, but not a pronounced “PR” flavor.
  • On the Investors page, a headline feature leads readers to the “Chairman’s letter to shareholders.” That’s the only reference.

In reality, people looking for information on the Gulf spill don’t make a beeline for the BP site.  Traffic statistics show that the majority of searchers proceed to stories from the Huffington Post, the New York Times, or other news sources.  But people looking for a job at BP are very likely to go to the corporate site—and the impression created there will matter to some job-seekers.

BP has made some moves into social media in the meantime, with a decent Twitter performance, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook page.  However their YouTube effort drew criticism because comments were not allowed for the first few weeks, and on Facebook comments are only allowed from those who have “Liked” BP.  These policies don’t seem to improve impressions of the company . . . .

A hat-tip to Fran Melmed, whose comment on our original story included the idea that BP could feature positive comments and stories from Gulf Coast employees on their Careers page.  (Fran tuned in to the BP/Careers story early with a hard-hitting post on her blog.)

Cinderella’s Career

June 22, 2010

Cinderella 213x300 Cinderella’s Career

As everyone knows, Cinderella worked hard while the stepsisters just lounged around.  But her industry was not appreciated!  At best she was ignored, at worst ill-treated . . .

Sometimes it seems as if the corporate Careers site needs a fairy godparent.  In many cases Careers is the hardest working part of the company website, since it not only promotes the employer brand and woos prospective employees, but also provides job-search functionality, gathers online applications, and may even carry out testing and pre-screening.  Yet the Careers site often receives very little attention or appreciation within a company, and even less from the HR establishment at large.

So it’s nice that the annual competition includes a dedicated award for the “best” Corporate Careers Website, and also considers the Careers site in the Employer Branding and Best Function categories. Analysis of this year’s winners and finalists is in four parts—start here and follow the links on the right of the screen. But you’ll have to go back to Part 1 every time, as the links only appear on that page . . .

Also on, another excellent checklist from John Sullivan, this one on authenticity in recruitment messaging.  Many of his points relate to the Careers site, so the article is well worth a read.  But you’ll have to wait (or hunt) for the Part 2 that’s promised by the title “Part 1″!  At least I couldn’t find the second installment . . .

If you noticed a theme developing in those last two paragraphs, right again.  Although the website is home to a lot of good material, it’s not a great exemplar of online organization and user-friendliness.  Seems like another case in which a hard-working website doesn’t receive the attention it deserves!

Finally, there’s the question of what happens after Cinderella leaves the ball.  Suppose that every corporate Careers site on earth were magically transformed to perfection, today.  What next?

One hopes that Cindy herself lived happily ever after—but that will not, cannot, should not be the fate of any website.  Technology moves on, really fast.  For example:  Intuit, which created an extensive and expensive all-Flash Careers site last year, may already be regretting that it didn’t choose a more mobile-friendly development approach.  (And the site is also quite slow, at least on my desktop.)

HR guru Kevin Wheeler writes that our current model of corporate recruiting is doomed, as companies progressively outsource non-core functions. So what does that mean for the Cinderella website?  Stay tuned.

(That’s Cinderella rethinking her career plan in an 1865 version of the story by the Brothers Dalzell.)

Gen Z: New Kids in the World

June 14, 2010

Gen XYZ 300x202 Gen Z:  New Kids in the World

In the month of May, 2010, 13-year-old Jordan Romero became the youngest person to climb Mount Everest, and 16-year-old Jessica Watson completed her solo sail around the world.  Meanwhile the preternaturally gorgeous and phenomenally talented jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky—who was just 12 when she debuted at the 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival–has released her first major CD.  (Even if you’re not a jazz enthusiast, listen to her ballistic version of Take the “A” Train . . . and marvel.)

Right around age 12 seems to be the new normal for launching a superstar career.  The Today Show recently featured a segment with pre-teen movie critic Jackson Murphy (youngest nominee ever for a NY Emmy) and sixth-grader Grayson Crouch went straight from a school recital to a major recording contract, after posting his Lady Gaga cover on YouTube.

So what’s up with these kids?  And why should you care?

There have always been young phenoms (think Judy Garland or the Jackson Five)—and in any case, your company probably doesn’t need to hire any juvenile sailors or singers.  But these young people are different from the shooting stars of yesteryear, and they are setting a brand new standard for their generation.  That’s the generation, by the way, that will be knocking on corporate doors in just a few years.

Child stars of the past were almost all either “managed” into the limelight by their parents, or they were born into show biz families.  Most struggled with fame and many lost the fight, ultimately succumbing to drugs, criminal behavior, even suicide.  The list of those casualties would be very long.

But these new exemplars seem different: composed, self-directed, realistic, and multi-talented.  They are members of “Generation Z,” a born-after-1995 group also referred to as “Net Gen” because they have grown up with the everywhere Internet.  Their constant exposure to information and entertainment may have created a higher level of talent maturity—and of course the broad opportunities for personal exposure today make it easier for people in general (even oldsters like Susan Boyle) to find fame.  There’s a lot more to consider about Gen Z, though . . .

For some useful insights, check out Penelope Trunk’s post What Generation Z Will Be Like at Work.  In fact, browse around her Brazen Careerist blog, which offers young professionals frank advice “at the intersection of life and work.”  If you’re not in or that familiar with Gen Y, a few minutes in Penelope Trunk’s world will give you a sense of how (and how much) it differs from Gen X.

Then consider that Gen Z is likely to be even more different its predecessor, and you have some idea of what it may be like to recruit the graduates of 2015 and beyond.  Takeaway: Start thinking about the next wave of workers RIGHT NOW.  These kids aren’t losing any time–and neither should businesses that want to grab the best and brightest ahead of their competition.

Needless to say, this will require a corporate website located on the leading edge of design, content, and functionality.

Unintended Consequences: Rising Veteran Unemployment

June 8, 2010

Toyota Vets 300x140 Unintended Consequences:  Rising Veteran Unemployment

The unemployment rate among U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan has been increasing every year—all the way from 6.1% in 2007 to 14.7% in March, 2010.

Obviously, unemployment is higher overall in 2010.  But in March the composite national rate was about 10%, which means there’s a big difference between vets and most other groups.

A recent USA Today story cites three specific reasons for the high rate of veteran unemployment:

1.  Difficulty in translating military skills to civilian job requirements
2.  Employer worries that reservists will be redeployed
3.  Employer concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Reason 2 is just plain practical, from an employer viewpoint—and while very large companies can absorb the absence of employees during deployment, it’s a tougher call for small organizations.  But Reasons 1 and 3 are more complicated.

USA Today notes that vets often have skills that would be very valuable to business, but the skills don’t translate well into “job-application language that civilian employers can grasp.”  To expand transition opportunities for veterans, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has introduced legislation that would add apprenticeship programs to educational options under the G.I. Bill, improve resume training, and provide assistance to vets starting small business.

Those measures would certainly help, if passed.  But more business leadership on this topic could also be vital–and a great first step would be a close look at the recruitment process itself.  For one thing, consider the usual emphasis on finding “passive candidates” and “A-level talent.”  Could some of that effort go toward identifying high-value vets?  And for another, examine the amount of reliance on keyword-screening of resumes and applications.  That approach tends to favor applicants who have highly developed job-seeking skills, and may disadvantage men and women recently out of the service.

On the corporate website, check for any subtle factors that might discourage or disadvantage vets, then consider adding (or emphasizing) positive messages.  For one good example of veteran outreach, drop by the Toyota Careers page, where a prominent link leads to their Hire a Hero microsite.

For another example, check out Home Depot, which established its Military Partnership program in 2004.  HD offers a detailed view of its programs supporting employment for service families (including a special invitation to military spouses) and provides a simple, step-by-step guide to job application.  Then listen in on a discussion of how Sodexo uses social media to recruit from the military community.

A lot more ideas, plus a generous helping of inspiration, can be found at G.I.  And for a U.K. view, visit Veterans World.  Though it may be a bit of cliché, it’s worth repeating that people who have given service to their country deserve at least an even chance to enjoy the benefits they help to secure. Hopefully that’s a position all parties can agree on.

As for PSTD . . . look for a post soon on mental health and corporate recruitment.

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