Is LinkedIn a Myth? A few tips and ?s

August 25, 2010

Have you or anyone you know gotten a new job through LinkedIn? I don’t know of anyone who has found a job that way, but I keep hearing over and over that LinkedIn is the place to be.  Examples and instructions abound on how to present the best you so that recruiters will find you:

Recruiters search daily to fill open jobs, so be sure to optimize your profile so you show up in their searches.

Searches are accomplished through keywords, so ensure you have the correct keywords in your profile.

Keyword searches specifically look at your status/title, summary and specialties.

Include descriptions and accomplishments with each of your previous jobs.

Target companies at which you’d like to work, and find connections who already work there.

Find connections at companies for which you have a job lead.

Go after multiple recommendations; this looks better.  Increase your number of contacts; this looks better. On the flip side, I’ve also read that neither of these things matter; it’s the profile that’s important.

Who knows? Do you? Are the recruiters looking here? Is LinkedIn the latest job hunting ground? Or is that a myth?


Plagiarism Police in an Online World

August 18, 2010

I’ve never been one for depriving individuals of the right to free speech and free expression, nor am I a huge fan of “big brother”, but I’m beginning to think we need some online plagiarism police.

“Plagiarize” – as defined by Webster’s

“to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own; use (another’s production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft; present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

Those of us online feel varying degrees of freedom in sharing our ideas, thoughts, words and pictures. Many times it seems as if those with the least to say feel the most free in sharing. But in a professional world, how much should we share online?

In his book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” , David Meerman Scott talks about posting his ideas on his blog, which can prompt intelligent discussions. However, his editors worry that he is “giving away” all his ideas. Scott counters this with a claim that the online discussions helped improve his books. I can see both sides to this, but I have to admit I’m with his editors. I wonder how many of his ideas have shown up under someone else’s name.

In school, if you changed every 3rd or 5th word or something like that, then you technically weren’t plagiarizing. That was the rule. So, what are the rules online? Just like with any other community, many of the rules are decided by the members of the community, but you always have unethical members. Since it’s so easy to link and point back to sources, I think it’s even more unethical (and stupid) not to attribute the original sources. Of course, all the online resources can also enable plagiarizing.

I was reading a blog by Angela Hausman on 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Do Social Networking . It’s a good blog; she has some interesting things to say. Unfortunately, another person liked the post too much. The author found her exact words posted on someone else’s blog as original content. Shame on that person. Angela is looking for ways to reduce intellectual property theft, and I agree it’s an important issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later. You can read her response to this “Rip Off” on her Rip Off Blog.

Tae Hyun Moon has been posting in some of the Linked In groups a new electronic resume format. It has some excellent ideas and has generated quite a bit of interest. Again, there’s a but… I’m not comfortable posting my resume online since a so-called friend decided to copy my summary, specialties and job descriptions almost word for word into her own resume. I’ve been a professional writer for a long time, and I was appalled that someone just entering the communications field would find nothing wrong with using my words on her resume. She said I should be flattered. I’m not.

On the flip side, Tae Hyun Moon noted that he is attempting to introduce a new format for resumes, and would like this spread far and wide. In this case, he wants people to copy his format, in the hopes it will create a new generation of electronic resumes. I hope this will be successful.

So what are the rules? And how do you police against online plagiarism? I don’t have the answers, but I bet someone online does.

8/18 note of interest: Mackinac Center says school consolidation study by MSU professor for Booth Newspapers may contain some plagiarized material

Junked Up Web Pages: Stop Screaming at Us, All I Want is a Cup of Coffee

August 3, 2010

Look here…and here…and here… and……..

I’ve built three web sites for companies myself, and I’ve written and directed the design of two web sites for other companies. So what is the deal with junked up splash pages everywhere else?

A web site is your 24-hour brochure. It is available for anyone to peruse at any time. It illustrates your company personality. You should be putting on your very best face.

My basic design principles have worked well through the years:

1) The most important element should “pop” out at the viewer. That can be either words or graphics.

2) Too many elements confuse the viewer. The eye won’t be able to settle on just one or two items.

3) Direct the viewer. The one (or two or three) main elements should lead the viewer to their next step.

When you design any type of collateral you need to keep your audience in mind. This used to be easier. You would target your publications and advertisements to one or two audiences. You had different ads in the media aimed at very different audiences. Now, on the internet, companies are putting that basic philosophy aside and attempting to catch the attention of EVERYONE with a single web page. As a result, there are messages for all audiences jumbled up together. This is ineffective in getting your message out. It also frustrates users who come to web sites for a particular piece of information but are bombarded by all kinds of messages and have to be very persistent in finding and retrieving the information for which they are looking.

The new web design philosophy seems to be “cram as much information as you can on your home page with the hope that you will catch the attention of everyone”. This makes me crazy.

I also don’t understand it. The culture today is that internet users looking for information expect immediate gratification; that is, they expect the information for which they are looking to be easily found once arriving on a web site. Instead, what they often find is an onslaught of images and content not of interest, through which they have to dig and search.

The Cyberdesignz blog appears to subscribe to the “simpler” theory. I worked with Mercury on a company web site, and they were very insistent about not having pages that scroll and scroll and scroll. Their web site is not junked up; it’s very user friendly and easy to navigate. You know exactly who they are and what services they offer.

Let’s talk about some of the elements that make up these junked up pages. Flash technology is very useful, but is it really necessary to combine it with streaming news and streaming headlines, multiple pictures and links, not to mention all the different fonts and colors. Just because we have this technology doesn’t mean we have to use it all – and use it all together. Sometimes I feel like I’ve arrived in a new city with restaurants and shops and people everywhere, all of whom are screaming at me to try out their business, when all I really want is a cup of coffee.

It’s not difficult to design your site so it reaches all your audiences without cramming information in everywhere. Use the broad drop down menus effectively; concentrate on your site navigation; design a landing page for each of your target audiences separately; focus your splash page headlines on the 3 or 4 most important items.

Of course, sites can take simplicity to the extreme as well. Keep in mind basic journalistic principles: who, what, when, where and why. The WHY is critical in the information age. Why are you the best? Why should we patronize your business? What are your core competencies?

Not everyone is junking up their web sites. There are some excellent ones out there with very easy to use navigation. Check out line 25 sites of the week. They have some interesting and unusual picks, some of which have excellent designs and illustrate their message well, without 50 headlines screaming at you.

Think about magazine racks. The mainstream publications usually have 4-6 taglines on the cover, while the tabloids have many more screaming headlines. Which do you believe have more credibility?

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