Half a decade into the second millennium, and change is continuing at a breathtaking pace. It used to be that a couple of years or more elapsed between major trends, giving us a bit longer to digest their impact and learn how to cope. But over the past few years we have been exposed to so many new ideas, applications, and technologies that no one is really sure what is going to last and what is going to pass away. Fortunately, 2006 will be a year of consolidation and evolution, and will provide us with a brief respite from this whirlwind of change. Given a few skills and some effort, you will be able to sort through the confusion and begin to plan a coherent strategy for blending the new with the old.
An in-depth, specific look at my predictions for 2006 will appear soon in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, also published by ERE.
Resolution #1: Learn to learn fast.
The people who first adopt new technologies or use new applications are always the fastest learners. Know what they do? They just dive right in and begin to use the new technology even without full knowledge of what it can do or how it was designed to do it. They make lots of mistakes, and often struggle to figure out specifics, but finally get it working. I have a friend who is not only a fast learner but also now runs at least three blogs. He didn’t know what a blog was a year ago. When he first saw a blog, he said, “Wow, that’s what I want.” He got onto Blogger, opened an account, and jumped right in. Within a week, he had a blog up, although it was far from perfect. Now he runs three sophisticated blogs. The first skill you need is to learn how to learn. Learning is not a formal event. You don’t have to go to school to learn. In fact, more than 80 percent of everything you know you learned outside of school in some informal way. Learning is something we do all the time — informally and formally, often without even realizing it. Whenever we ask questions, try out a new application, or try to do something new, we are learning. Most of the new trends and applications we are exposed to require us to figure them out, assess them, and even start to use them with no formal training at all. Developing confidence to experiment, asking questions, and getting on forums and chat rooms to see what others are doing are important aspects of becoming a better learner. You should make a resolution to stop being intimidated or afraid of new applications or technologies. Don’t wait for a formal class, but vow to jump in and learn as much as you can as fast as you can. This will give you the edge you may need to survive and thrive in the fast-changing world of recruiting.
Resolution #2: Absolutely, completely, and with no more excuses embrace the Internet.
If you are not already an avid Internet user, a fan of Google search, a blogger, a user-group aficionado, or an online networker, becoming each of these should be your resolution for 2006. The Internet has become the primary communication and networking medium of our time. Even commerce is moving to the Internet at a speed few would have predicted. This Christmas season saw Internet sales increase by 30 percent over last year. Brick-and-mortar retailers have all rapidly built e-commerce sites and are embracing the web as never before. Recruiting has also moved almost entirely to the Internet. No one under 30 looks in the newspaper (or even buys one) anymore. Everyone has taken at least one look through a job board to see what positions were available. And everyone goes to a corporate website to see what positions are open. Candidates are aware that the Internet is the place to go to find jobs, apply for jobs, learn about companies, and even to communicate with recruiters. Email is replacing the telephone as the preferred way to discuss a possible position with a recruiter. This year, develop your own skills for using the Internet so that you can communicate better with potential and current candidates, build networks, and spread the word about what you and your organization are looking for. At Microsoft, Heather Hamilton has combined her writing, humor, and computer skills to create a blog that has gathered worldwide renown. Her blog draws hundreds of potential candidates to her and to Microsoft. You also need to get a LinkedIn account and start building a personal network. By leveraging this network, you can find candidates and get referrals to candidates that you would not have found in any other way. Also explore such sites as Jobster or H3 to learn more about networking specifically for recruiting.
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Resolution #3: Brand yourself.
Understanding how important it is to have a personal reputation and brand is perhaps the most complex, difficult, and yet most rewarding skill you can develop. The more clearly you know what you stand for and who you are, the better you can develop messages and find ways to communicate with candidates. All recruiting is selling, and the best salespeople are those who have a “personality” that stands out and differentiates them from everyone else. Your personal brand lets everyone know how you are different from others.
As mentioned above, Heather Hamilton at Microsoft has developed a brand as a humorous, smart blogger. Candidates know who she is and expect to be treated in a certain way because of her reputation and brand. Tom Peters, a well-known management consultant and speaker, has written extensively about developing a personal brand. I suggest that you buy his book about the fifty ways to transform yourself from an “employee” into a brand or go to his website and look over his PowerPoint presentations and other materials on the “Brand Called You.” This is the perfect year to focus on yourself, and to hone and improve your skills so that you can compete more effectively in the great race for talent.