The Humanity of Networking


By Mark A. Leon

In the spring of 2015, I was asked to represent my company as a speaker in San Francisco for Hirepalooza.  It was an honor to be asked to represent my company’s brand and image, but who would say no to speaking at a conference call Hirepalooza?

The few days I spent there speaking, listening and most importantly engaging, reminded me of the essence of recruitment.  From the resumes stored in file cabinets to Chrome Extensions allowing you to track down any human being, one element has remained over the years, the human relationship.

I went out there thinking everyone wanted to work for a start-up, work 100 hours a week for three to five years and then drive off into the sunset with their Tesla and big bag of money.  It turns out my stereotype was shattered.  What I did find were many intelligent young students and professionals that are struggling with the same concerns we all have about careers and the future.

During the conclusion of day one, I was sitting with two academic students during the post seminar networking event and I asked them both, “What Makes You Great”.  They both laughed and shrugged their heads.  Neither had an answer.  I continued saying that we are all filled with greatness.  It is a pool of passion, courage, risk and determination.  It is the combination of those energy sources that takes your from mediocrity to greatness.  Once you find your own personal inner greatness, you can’t ever not succeed in life.

I continued for several more conversations with these students even after I returned to the East Coast providing some level of counseling and advice.

This past Friday, I spoke with David, a UC Berkeley junior I also engaged with during this event.   This most recent conversation was a result of an email he sent me earlier expressing how discouraged he was with networking and the lack of connection.  Before I even said hello, I told David he was far too young to be this cynical and that life will get more and more challenging with the shift toward digital connections and away from human relationships.

This led into an hour and twenty minute candid discussion of which the entire time I was reminded of what an important connection I had made.

David is at least twenty years my junior, but I can learn as much from him about life than anyone else in my inner circle.  He is wise beyond his years and sees the world from a new digital perspective.  He was raised on the mobile phone, apps, computers and gaming.  I think Wiffle Ball, tag and running bases are foreign terms to him.


He sees the present from an immediacy perspective.  I see it from a watch the sunset and lay under the stars ideology.  He sees responsiveness as immediate based on sound bite approaches.  I see calculated responses based on research and understanding.

Still, we talked and talked and talked.  At the end of the conversation, he had to go pack for a trip to Oregon where he and some friends were going to be in the great outdoors without wifi for a few days.  It was a fitting reminder of what a life can be when you connect to all the elements.

I live in a world with 8000 LinkedIN connections, 2800 Facebook Friends, 12,000 Twitter Followers, 16,900 Instagram Followers, 2700 Pinterest Followers and 5 close friends.  I’m sure that sounds familiar to many.

I still believe in a common truth that human connection will always be the key to personal happiness.  I believed that when I chased my brother around the block on my bike when I was 10 years old and I believe that today.

David is that living breathing evidence of a connection I made in 2015 that remains strong today.   He sought me out for advice on careers and I learned a little about life.

At the end of the day, a tiny piece of electronics will make our lives easier, but human emotion will make it fulfilled.



Are Recruiters Missing the Train of Change


You don’t have to be in the Talent Acquisition space to know the canvas of recruitment is evolving faster than most other professions.   The tools and resources available to network, identify talent, grow networks and manage referrals are tremendously effective and readily available.  If you have had your business savvy hat on while enjoying a latte watching the stock market ticker, you will see that LinkedIn has been leading the way among the social media stocks. Their future looks bright and the numbers and enhancements to the platform support that.

As talent acquisition professionals, are we getting on the train to transition or waiting at the station for the slower traditional horse drawn train to come later on?

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a post recession recruiter, you don’t have to do much research to see that the workforce has changed:

  • There is a shift from an employees market to an employers market
  • Pay for performance is taking on a more critical role and traditional merit increases are flat lining
  • Less opportunities are available
  • More specific and defined skill sets are required for professional opportunities
  • Virtual employment is becoming a more cost effective option
  • Technological savvy skills are not longer just a “nice to have”
  • Targeted research and marketing campaigns are not just identifying the talent, but providing a complete profile of the individual to match them against the culture of the organization.
  • Strong candidates are being aggressively sought out while the less qualified are trying the “throw it and see what sticks approach”
  • Some see the employment numbers as grim; while others see great opportunity
  • Recruiters are no longer “processing” candidates; they are understanding the role, team, the culture and the challenges and matching them against the best talent to meet the needs of the role.

So, why would I say that recruiters are missing the train of change?

There are a number of wonderful tools for strategic sourcing, networking, developing and harnessing talent networks, managing candidate flow and marketing/outreach.  We are anointed with more tools than ever before and yet we are wasting all this great opportunity.


What are we doing wrong?

  • We are not developing and leveraging our personal brand.  How many LinkedIn profiles are either bland and boring or look like they were developed by a greasy haired used car salesman?
  • Too many recruiters are on the “big” social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) yet ignoring the little gems.  Do you have an profile? (  If not, you need to.
  • We are still afraid of the risk.  If a platform is new or not yet established as an accepted tool, we will not take the chance and determine its value.  We wait for Mashable or several large companies to test the waters first.  I jumped on the scalability of Bullhorn Reach from day one because it had a great development team, management team and partnerships with the large social platforms.  That turned out to be a invaluable resource for myself, my team and the industry.
  • Recruiters do not effectively measure or understand the process behind analytics.  Metrics are the key to any successful campaign.  Understanding the numbers, tracking trends and developing effective strategy implementation based on projected outcome is essential in our space.
  • Are we leveraging the networks to the fullest extent?  I am not sure we are.  How many skill specific circles do you have on your Google+ account?  How many regional or skill groups do you belong to on Facebook?  Are you a member of 50 groups in LinkedIn and do you rotate membership to diversify your reach?  Are you using sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon or Slideshare to brand your roles and company image?
  • We are not communicating in the social space.  We feed jobs out like a Pez dispenser, but how many are talking to the candidates.  I see talent acquisition folks are talking to each other on Twitter and sending sound bites from conferences, but shouldn’t we be talking and engaging with the candidates?

I am not proposing that traditional cold calling, networking and relationship building will vanish in the near future.  I certainly hope it never does.  I am witnessing a resistance or lack of understanding of the capability and value the social space brings to recruitment.  If social space wasn’t so critical to our roles, the phrase “Social Recruiting” would not have been coined.


We are only tapping the iceberg of potential.  I didn’t even reference the future of mobile technology in recruiting yet and for purposes of focus on this piece I will not, but if we don’t all board the train soon, we are going to be missing out on a great ride.

Should we be looking to Groucho to understand the future of networking relationships?


Potential life outside the Milky Way
Cyber crimes


We have thrust ourselves into the next industrial revolution. The only difference between the 1880’s and now is that the end product is 1/1,000,000th the size. With more content, knowledge and information being shared every second, how do we absorb it. More importantly, when do we have time to interpret and respond to that content before the next piece is fed on our plates? We no longer have to share content in real time; we can schedule when real time will be.

The pressure is building. Which will explode first, the robotic brain or the human brain?

I am done with the dramatic portion of this commentary.

Where can I possibly be going with this?

I believe we are transgressing back to a simpler time when connections were about two people working together for the common goal. That goal can be a job, a collaboration or a project. Needless to say, relationships are becoming more and more critical in the employment community as technology is fighting harder and harder to build on innovation and gain market share.

This is an interesting conflict to wrestle with.


Let us look at the state of career IT solutions:

  • Programs are developed in IT solutions that monitor activity levels.  As individual move closer to a change (loss of job, move, etc.) they tend to become more active including updating profiles and resumes.
  • We are no longer identified by the wealth of experience we bring to the table but by a series of skill tags.
  • We are not people but a brand.  Some a simple brand while others saturate the market with their image.
  • Business cards are not exchanged, meetings are not had; We are officially engaged with a Facebook friend request, a LinkedIn request or a Google+ circle initiation.
  • The summation of our growth and development is summed up with visual or verbal sound bites and our performance is rated by the number of +1 or likes we receive.
  • Big brother is watching.  The difference between Big Brother of old vs. new; He doesn’t have to try very hard to find dirt on you.
  • Jobs are posted everywhere but no one is hiring?  How bizarre.
  • If it involves physical effort, there is an app for it so sit back and relax.

Where exactly does Groucho Marx come into the picture?  As you can see from his famous mirror scene, the impostor was trying to convince Groucho’s character that he was looking at himself in the mirror.  By mirroring his moves, he was creating a relationship.  One of deceit but still a relationship.  Throughout his career Groucho would  befriend woman, professors, government leaders and con men offering them the world and then dancing the night away in the end.  Sometimes it takes an old film to remind what is still the most important thing in our lives; the relationship.

Connecting with others, not by common tags or mutual friends but by the respect and passion their have for their career choices is critical for you to continue to grow.  We live in an employers market and most likely will for the rest our lives and perhaps our children’s.  Opportunities are limited and skill requirements more specialized.  Now is the absolute time to find those that share your passion; your energy and you desire to continue to grow.

Network with them.  Not through a network but human interaction.

Without that element, we are lost in a cyber melting pot.  Once you fall into the deep abyss, there is no turning back.

Listen Up Ladies – Let Sarah Ivens Tell You How to Make Your Interview Memorable

How To Make Your Interview Memorable

Provided by: Sarah Ivens, author of A Modern Girl’s Guide to Networking, published by Piatkus

Interesting interviews
You’re selling yourself and trying to improve your future – so what makes you think you can turn up in a dirty shirt with a hangover. You must be interesting, alert, clean, smart, entertaining, honest and humble.

In fact, let’s make it simple. These are the things you must not do:
Do not arrive late. Look up where you’ve got to get to and leave with 30 minutes to spare for traffic, emergency toilet trips, and so on.
Don’t dress like a tramp. You make the greatest impact in the first 17 seconds of the interview, and in that time all the interviewer really has time to take in is your personal hygiene, your wardrobe choices and your handshake. Keep colours subdued, patterns simple and do be conservative – gold lame mini-dresses are never good, least of all in an interview.
Even if your mind has gone blank and you’re feeling like an extra from Shaun of the Dead, remember not to zombify totally. Smile, make eye contact and sit up straight.
Research! Why are you better than the many other qualified, charming modern girls who have applied for this job? Read up, learn the facts and prepare a few sensible, relevant questions for the end of the interview.
Don’t smoke, drink, chew or blow gum bubbles during an interview. ‘Nuff said.
Yes, the interviewer wants a full answer – but not War and Peace. Don’t go rambling on and on and on. Keep your answers clear and focused. Also, on the subject of chit-chat, do not interrupt the interviewer or talk over the top of them. Make sure you listen properly to everything they say.
If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Keep it shut rather than backstabbing and bitching your current company, colleagues or boss. Moaning and nastiness will send out the wrong vibes and you’re better than that.
When the person asks what your weaknesses are, use only the ones that can be turned around into a lesson learned or a positive. Think carefully about your qualities, skills and accomplishments to sell them without over-selling them. No one likes a show off.
Fit your interview banter to the job and the company you’re applying for. Practise the interview in front of a mirror or with a friend. Explain how your career history and education would benefit the company.
When your time is up don’t just go on about your salary expectations and what kind of package you desire; you should leave the interview with a firm goodbye speech stating why you want the job and why you’d be brilliant at it. And, again, a good, firm handshake.
Holly, 29
‘In my job as a recruitment consultant, I see it all. But the most impressive interviewees are those who have real passion and spark. They’ve done their research but they’re not boring you with it or asking you lots of questions. They want the job – they tell you as much. Their answers are short and to the point, and they look me in the eye when they’re telling me. My pet hate is fidgeters – I don’t trust applicants who can’t sit still. If you get nervous, sit on your hands or hold a copy of your CV to stop the wriggling.’

How to be impressive on the phone
Whether you’re doing a phone interview, a conference call or cold-calling a company you’d love to work for, a good telephone manner is essential. Try the following:
Smile – you can hear it in your voice
Keep a pen, paper and calculator to hand in case you need them
Don’t smoke, chew or slurp – those sounds travel
If you stand up your voice sounds stronger and more authoritative
Pace the call, don’t rush and let the other person speak
Avoid ‘er’, ‘um’, ‘huh’, and the rest they’ll make you sound dumb