Category Archives: Social Media

3 Things Glassdoor Taught Me

About a year ago, I started to manage our corporate Glassdoor account. Seemed like the perfect responsibility for me to assume; I lead our Talent Acquisition department, I love to write, and my 17 years as a married man has accustomed me to baseless criticism.

I kid, I kid.

But yes, I took the wheel as the official Glassdoor voice for DentalOne Partners – responding to reviews (good and bad), adding photos and content, and basically trying to showcase the employer brand of my wonderful company. In a world of cyber-muscles, having the chore of responding to anonymous reviews can be daunting. It takes some discipline, but with some practice you find a way to respond to even the most toxic review after a while. That skill can help you in other areas as well…for instance:

Last week we receive a written warning from the city, citing us for an animal offense, i.e. – “your dog was reported as messing in your neighbor’s lawn.” So we had been accused by our city of harboring a criminal canine. There’s no fine attached or anything truly penal, but it quickly festered with me and my wife for a few reasons:

  • We’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years. We know the names of every family in our division. Someone felt it necessary to call the city rather than leave us a note, call us, knock on our door?
  • The complainant was anonymous. No name, no address, no time of the “offense,” no time of the actual report, just a yellow ticket on my door. So apparently all that it takes is a phone call and a neighbor receives a warning, no questions asked.
  • Finally, there’s this nugget. We have a puppy, her name is Sadie, and she’s never pooped on anyone’s lawn other than her own. Not only was the complaint anonymous, we had no opportunity to contest the charge. Presumed guilt without recourse. 

Sounds a lot like social media, yes? Doesn’t take much to leave anonymous flames on the internet, does it?

I should mention at this time that me and my wife are both predominantly Irish and have tempers akin to a tea kettle on a hot plate. Incriminating our baby girl brought out the windpipes in both of us, and we were ready for tactical and psychological warfare on the complainant. But then a little rational sense kicked in, and I revisited the lessons taught to me during my management of our Glassdoor profile.

  1. The “anonymous” option encourages participation from any and everyone who has an ax to grind. The truth is that in most cases of toxic feedback, you know exactly who the reviewer/complainant is based on the information they share. The disgruntled employee becomes the disgruntled ex-employee becomes the virtual flamethrower. Likewise, it wasn’t difficult for us to determine the idea of our disgruntled neighbor-turned-whistle-blower.
  2. The more ridiculous the complaint, the less credence it carries. When you read a review on Glassdoor written with the sole intent of scorching the Earth, how much validity can you really give it? Every company has its warts, I don’t care who you are, so constructive criticism is something we value – when I see a thoughtful response about areas for improvement, I take note and share the information. When I read a review full of venom, it’s very hard to give it any real credence.
  3. From the point of view of the “accused,” a rational response is your best option. Usually, one of the two extremes seems like the way to proceed – go “Irish”, as we originally contemplated, or completely disregard the gripe. But you need to take the stance of “feedback deserves feedback” by replying to all the reviews…even those reviews. As it happens, we have a neighborhood Facebook page – so we decided to respond to our neighborhood with a post “apologizing for any transgressions that Sadie may have perpetrated, and to please call or alert us personally should there be anything we can do to be better neighbors,” and we included a picture of the official warning from the City. Snarky? I guess it depends on the tone in which its read, but the responses were overwhelmingly supportive. Most included some reference to “I’m shocked someone would be so petty/spiteful/mean-spirited…” You get the idea – we took the high road and the audience was intelligent enough to realize the ridiculousness of the situation.

I have to tell you, it felt good. Stay out of the mud, be responsive, don’t take it personally…and don’t mess with my puppy dog.

On May 23, 2016 John Whitaker joined the DentalOne Partners team as Vice President, Talent Acquisition, based out of the Dallas Corporate Headquarters.  John is responsible for leading Talent Acquisition & Recruiting strategies and initiatives enterprise-wide.

Protection vs. Projection

It may be scary to think about it this way, but you, my friend, have a reputation.

You are continually building or validating that reputation, and you are being helped along in that endeavor by people all around you, often when you aren’t present to either confirm or contest the feedback.

I got this...
I got this…

Our personal information is out there everywhere. For the weak of heart, this means a reluctance to “participate” in a socially transparent world. That leaves two distinct categories for the rest of us:

  1. Protection-focused
  2. Projection-focused

Companies, for the most part, are not given the luxury of “choosing” to participate. If you have employees, you are participating, even if only by proxy. Whether it’s Facebook, CafePharma, or GlassDoor, there’s any number of avenues for the public to post information about your company & services. The assumption is that these public discussions will be of the negative variety, so the reaction of most companies is to “protect.” Tighten social media policies, carefully monitor and vet on-line discussions regarding the brand – generally living on the hope that negative feedback is held to a minimum.

That, my friends, is a poor man’s game.

It’s time for your organization to get off their respective heels, and choose to project their reputation instead. Granted, that can be a tough message to sell to an old-school mindset, so what’s a girl to do?

You can start by giving us an hour…Times are changing. Rather than view reputation sites as a threat, smart companies are learning how to use them to manage their employment brand, connect with candidates and make better hires. Instead of playing defense, companies are leading the discussion and encouraging the public to join in. If it sounds like marketing, that’s because it IS marketing. When you choose to be reactive, you tend to spin/explain/justify ~ similar to a boxer who is afraid to throw a punch for fear of exposing his jaw, you are instead brought down methodically with punches to the mid-section.

On July 30th at 2pm EST, Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett from FOT will continue their virtual bromance while discussing How Smart Talent Pros are Becoming Better Marketers – By Using Company Reputation Sites Like Glassdoor.”  

Employees talk. Future employees read. Why not start participating in the message? It’s less about control and more about brand projection – businesses are a consumer product, subject to the reviews and critiques of a highly interactive public that includes past, present, and future employees…and right now the businesses are playing catch-up.

Join us, your reputation may depend on it.

I See Dead People

Occasionally, I do weird things. Ask anybody.

One such thing is communicating with the dear departed. Let me explain.

It was just over a year ago that my Uncle Danny left this mortal coil. Imagine John Lennon with multiple advanced degrees, and you have a mental image. Brilliant, gentle, kind, pleasant, humble (basically the antithesis of the rest of my family, myself included), Danny was a wonderful man, and we miss him.

Which is why (here’s the weird part) I still endorse him on LinkedIn whenever I get the chance.

I may be alone in this, but I doubt it…despite the condition of our physical being, our virtual footprint remains long after. It’s not just Uncle Dan; I see a few friends and colleagues that pop up from time to time. Kinda creepy, and also kinda heart-warming.

So, I endorse him. And that’s a weird thing I won’t change.



I Endorse Endorsements

I read another article today bagging on LinkedIn “endorsements.” Hard not to see the logic in the argument, especially when you see various skills being endorsed by people with whom you are not close. As Ms. Siegel points out, the whole endorsing process feels very much like the “Like” feature on Facebook; and that’s a bad thing…..right?

Maybe, maybe not.

“Allow me to retort.”

Here’s another perspective, as I’ve also been watching the endorsement phenomena with a vested interest ~ my network is my professional lifeline, I certainly don’t want any artificial filler or “Facebook-ish” garbage polluting the greatness of LinkedIn. So, why in the heck would I “endorse” the endorsement feature? Here’s a few reasons:

  • It hasn’t become a “free-for-all” ~ I know a lot of people, including me, worried that the endorsement feature would be abused. People would click for shtick, not caring who they endorsed. Hasn’t happened. Look at your own endorsements – do you have hundreds and hundreds of skill validations? Betcha don’t. I have 900 connections, a lot of which are friends, but I don’t endorse unless it’s something I can vouch for – maybe we’re more ethical than we think we are?
  • Self-awareness ~ If, after a few months, you have zero endorsements for a skill you consider one of your top offerings, it may be time for a reality check. You’re allowed 50 slots for skills, this is your chance to start examining exactly what you are promoting. If you’re a professional speaker with no endorsements for “Facilitating Skills,” I’d be concerned.
  • It’s nice ~ That’s right, I said it, it’s “nice.” Be nice to someone who did a good job at something and endorse them. If you endorse someone you don’t know, you’re a doofus. Don’t abuse the privilege if you expect legitimate endorsements on the return.
  • My hunch ~ Ms. Siegel is making a prediction that the “endorsement” feature will be a memory by the end of the year. I’ll take that bet. I’m betting on a different scenario; would it surprise you if LinkedIn started highlighting or recommending people in “skill searches” based on endorsements? It wouldn’t surprise me a lick (sorry that’s the Texan in me).

I could be completely off-base with this, but I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the endorsed bathwater yet. Whaddya say Rene, you interested in a wager?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues and occasional lucid brilliance. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for more samplings of the Hardball message.


No Introduction Needed….LinkedIn Recognizes

I had to use the title, “No Introduction Needed…,” if only to re-capture the one funny bit Seth MacFarlane pulled off in last night’s Oscars performance.

You probably already know this, but recently I was notified by LinkedIn that my profile was one of the top 1% most-viewed profiles for the year 2012.

What’s that? You were also named one of the most viewed LinkedIn profiles in 2012? And your brother?

“who’s the big winner?”

What in the name of the “Who’s Who” scam is going on here?

In my small office, of the six people with LinkedIn profiles, THREE of us were notified that we were being recognized as “most viewed.” Three of us; In a total population of 200,000,000 LI subscribers. So, as much as I’d like to believe my little group of brilliant colleagues has cracked the top 1% of all Linked INites in terms of visibility, that would require a huge suspension in my belief in reality.

So what’s going on here? Are getting ribbons for entering the race? Is this the LinkedIn version of the Libyan Princess scam? Exactly where in the top 1% did I rank? Did I beat Tincup?

This much is certain…whatever the intent truly is/was, its a brilliant marketing campaign. You read an email that translates to “you are so awesome, people want to see you!”, and you get almost 20 million individual users unable to resist the urge to share the news – all of whom are at least comfortable enough with social media to have a LinkedIn profile to begin with. Some of them are compelled to further the cause by needlessly blogging about it…hmmm.

So, is the “distinction” of being in the Top 1% of LinkedIn profiles a real or imaginary accomplishment? I don’t know, but I’m sure as heck adding it to my LinkedIn profile.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement; also in the top 1% most likely to get busted eating Cinnamon Rolls after bedtime.



Do NOT Retweet This!

“I need to Tweet this.”

Are you a Twitter guru? If so, please disregard this particular post. No, this post is for the rest of us….Twitter neophytes, still finding our way in the morass of information that inundates our timeline on a daily basis. There’s a specific feature of the “tweet” business that must be discussed.

I speak, of course, of the mysterious “Retweet.”

In Tweetdom, the “RT” has become cache for people to fill up your timeline with other people’s interesting material. It’s considered a true win-win for all those involved, as interesting and/or important information is shared among followers of several individuals.

In theory, that makes sense.

In practice, it’s an annoying pain in the arse.

I submit to you the following four categories of abusive “RT’ers,” may God have mercy on their souls.

1. The Serial Retweeter ~ These are the folks that have found their niche in the information-sharing universe; they create or state nothing original, but they pound you with 100 “RT’s” a day (not by accident). It’s pure self-promotion. The more they RT, the more they keep their ugly avatar in your face, and the more important they seem to the rest of us minions.

2. Brother-in-Law Retweeter ~ Kin to the “Serial RT’er;” this individual is shamelessly RT’ing information from their assorted (formal or informal) network of buddies. You may have 12 people from the same consulting firm Retweeting a colleague’s lame blog post. The impression is that the post must be entertaining or informative, while the truth is more likely the post was never read before being RT’ed. It’s a lazy man’s method of Marketing.

3. Conversational Retweeter ~ These folks have confused Twitter with texting…it’s not enough for them to have a dialogue via text, they want to RT every brick in the building along the way.

4. Begging Retweeter ~ There seems to be a new movement to utilize Twitter as a chain-letter mechanism; “RT this for my cousin as she battles blah blah blah….” Thankfully I’m not famous enough to get hammered with these particular RT’s, but it’s pandemic.

A brief backstory ~ initially, the usefulness of Twitter escaped me, as it did so many others. Then, a magical thing happened; the Dallas Mavericks went on a miraculous run through the 2011 NBA playoffs, culminating in the only NBA Championship in their history. During the 22-game playoff run, there were several games that became seminal moments for Mavs fans, as the continued to rally back from seemingly insurmountable deficits to win games. It was surreal. It was then I realized that Twitter was perfectly suited for these moments; men who might normally yell at the TV can now type those snarky sentiments to a bunch of like-minded idiots. It’s a wonderful way to watch a sporting event, and you find some of the funniest, most insightful, most ridiculous comments during these “pucker” moments.

Unfortunately, since then Twitter has become something decidedly different; there seems to be a lack of original thought in most of the Tweets I see. Instead, there’s a multitude of Retweets linking to yet another Retweet of a 3rd person’s link to an article written by a 4th party.

I’m not against the RT, I’d be hypocritical if I said I was ~ but with great audience comes great responsibility; there’s a lot of smart, clever people out there, I’d sure like to hear more from them using their own voice.