Employer Curiosity vs. Personal Privacy – Who Wins?

OK, folks, it's time for me to rant again. Sometimes a bubble rises to the top and just has to burst! I'd love your comments on this topic that I'm raising today.

In order to get a job, should you have to surrender your personal privacy? Where is the line drawn between what a potential employer wants to know and what you, the candidate, must tell them?

Certain rights are protected (supposedly) under current equal employment laws – such as those related to race, sex, marital status, and disability. However, we all know of the exceptions when those "rights" weren't respected. For example, the young woman wearing a wedding ring being drawn into a conversation about childcare. Or the man with a limp asked to explain the reasons why he left his last employer so long ago – due to a workman's compensation injury.

Most recently, unemployment status and personal credit checks have been exposed as common barriers to new employment. Help wanted postings have been seen blatantly stating, "Unemployed need not apply," while candidates lucky enough to get job offers must agree to credit checks before starting work. Of course, credit problems due to no job/no money situations have had adverse effects on credit reports that can lower the axe on job offers.

An article I read today ("Officer forced to reveal Facebook page") really takes the cake! As part of the jobFacebook_favicon_large_2_bigger application process, an individual was asked to provide his Facebook page along with login and password! Are you kidding me? Why not ask for all his emails, text messages, and birthday cards from grandma? What this tells me is that employers who do this are unwilling to assume any risk in hiring employees. They want ironclad guarantees that they have control over the actions of those who work for them. If this doesn't tell workers that there is no loyalty left from employers, I don't know what will. (In the interest of full disclosure, this employer did back down on its request.)

Sure, not all employers have gone this far, but actions like these fuel the feelings of workers who are ready to jump ship as soon as the economy shapes up. But why wait? If you are a skilled and talented worker with a solid career history, there are employers who want you now. I urge you to take charge of your own career and not wait on the economy; and especially, don't wait for any employer to make your decision for you.

Wishing you career success in 2011! (And continue your vigilance over digital dirt!)


2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter

One thing I always advise my career coaching clients:

"Don't assume a hiring authority will understand your company-speak. Use generic words to spell out your skills and experience. On your resume and in your job interview, demonstrate your job hisory with terms that are easily translated into how you can meet an employer's needs."

Even though I espouse "don't assume" in my professional career coaching advice, I sometimes catch myself doing just what I advise against. Let me explain.

Active on Twitter for two years, I tend to assume everyone else knows all about Twitter and its far-reaching capabilities. Wrong! Some career coaching clients have never heard of it, and many don't see its value in helping them with their careers. Last year "The Twitter Job Search Guide" by Susan Britton Whitcomb et al was published. It offers to help you "find a job and advance your career in just 15 minutes a day." If you don't have this book, get it! You won't be sorry! (A few of my tweets even made it into the final draft!)

My 2011 career coaching prediction:

***Twitter will become one of 2011's most-used job search tools – online or off.***

Not only can you find tweets that offer a wide-range of information on job search strategies from careersTwitter1gif  experts, it has many users who post quality job openings in a wide range of fields. Recruiters tweet, as do career coaches and consultants, job board owners, and job seekers themselves. The key to Twitter success for a career changer or job seeker entering this new online world is to quickly determine the best "experts" to follow. Then, create specialized lists for each group of experts that you can easily track. And when you start to post your own tweets (which I know you will want to do – it's contagious!), make sure you act as a true professional to keep all that digital dirt at bay.

I spent this morning reviewing my December 2010 tweets with the intention of sharing some predicted 2011 trends with you. But I've come to the conclusion that the real story here isn't the list of employment trends below, but the online technology that enables me to quickly produce this list! (Follow me on Twitter @KCCareerCoach.)

Here are 15+ of my tweeted career-related trends moving into 2011:Happy.new.year

1) 84% of working individuals plan to find a new job in 2011. http://bit.ly/gjKo8l
1a) Almost half of British workers are fed up in their jobs. http://bit.ly/ejIgwa

2) Companies may lose top talent as economy recovers. http://bit.ly/gMVsNi

3) 86% of Recruiters Use Social Media. http://bit.ly/9l2BhC

4) One third of U.S. workforce now composed of non-traditional contract workers. http://bit.ly/eMomtr

5) Baby boomers drive change to career services. http://bit.ly/h60bGf

6) Why U.S. companies are reluctant to start hiring. http://bit.ly/dXycOs

7) Survey results: Of workers laid off earlier in 2010 & found new jobs, 61% took pay cuts. http://bit.ly/e06Opt

8) Prediction & hot IT jobs: "In 2011 expect (digital resumes) to become standard for hiring short or long-term employees" http://bit.ly/hnxAB9

9) Companies hire detectives to check out employees playing "hooky." http://yhoo.it/gaSiPz

10) Digital Dirt continues to strike! "Happy about getting laid off? Don't tell Facebook" http://on.msnbc.com/f3X9lx

11) 72% Americans expect to work through retirement, 39% because they have to & 33% because they want to. http://bit.ly/ictjAS

12) Detailed 2011 professional trends report: "Robert Half Professional Employment Report" http://bit.ly/ff2PFh

13) Rising unemployment among less-educated U.S. men part of longer-term trend. http://bit.ly/fmBLW3

14) Fewer people insured by employers. http://on.today.com/dFoHFI

15) Employers Won't Hire The Jobless Because Of The "Desperate Vibe." http://huff.to/e7Fl8t

What you do with this employment and career information is up to you. Please just keep in mind that it is all based on generalities. You are a very unique individual. As such, you have the power to defy all odds when you work from a carefully constructed career plan. Just take the first step and make that plan!

Wishing you ultimate career success in 2011!


Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Things job seekers should keep an eye on in 2011 (trends/tools/hiring practices). You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Social Media Recruiting to Grow Further in 2011, @debrawheatman

Another Year, Another Job Search Begins, @GayleHoward

In 2011, Increase Your Prospects With Better Differentiation, @WalterAkana

4 Lessons Learned From Job Search in 2010, @Careersherpa

Your Career Action Plan for the New Year, @KatCareerGal

Trends Job Seekers Should Look For in 2011, @erinkennedycprw

Things Every Job Seeker Should be Thinking About in 2011, @expatcoachmegan

Let your presence be known or send out a red flag, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

How to find a job in 2011: Pay attention to emotional intelligence, @Keppie_Careers

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter, @KCCareerCoach

3 Traits for Facing Weather, Employment and Chronic Illness, @WorkWithIllness

Everything old is new again @DawnBugni

Career Trend 2011: Accountability + Possibility = Sustainability, @ValueIntoWords

Career Tools to Check Out in 2011, @barbarasafani

What Was in 2010, What To Expect in 2011, @chandlee

The Future of Job Search: 3 Predictions and 2 Wishes, @JobHuntOrg

2010 Workforce/Workplace Forecast

Seldom, if ever, do I print anyone else's material in my blog. However, the following article hit my email box this morning and I feel its value needs to be shared with all job seekers, employed workers and employers. Please share your comments on this blog.

Thank you, Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist, of the Herman Group (full attribution follows at the end of the article):

Each year at this time, The Herman Group issues its annual forecast. Once more, this year, we offer you our full forecast (longer than our usual alert) for the coming year:

1. Cutbacks and Re-Engineering will continue into 2010

Expect ongoing reductions in force as some employers continue to optimize their workforces and eliminate "redundancy". We caution these employers to be very careful, because we know that 54 percent of today's employees are ready to jump, as soon as the economy improves. They are currently "Corporate Cocooning".

2. Shortages of Certain Skill Sets will become More Acute

As the economy begins to recover, certain skill sets will be more critical and difficult to find. These high-demand workers will be more demanding about their work schedules, environment, etc. The wisest employers will embrace not only flex-time, but flex-place as well.

3. Employers will embrace Innovative Ideas to Reward their Valued Workers

This innovation will include non-financial ways and even non-reward (recognition only) ways to add value for their top talent; these innovative ideas will come from the employees themselves. Employers that do not mine the collective intelligence of their workers will find themselves unable to optimize profits.

4. Fear and Apprehension continue to reduce Productivity

A significant percentage of employees continue to worry about the future. These negative feelings will persist, unless addressed. Transparency, besides being one of those elements employees seek, will be imperative.

5. More Employers will invest in a Variety of Healthcare Cost-Cutting Strategies

Besides wellness programs to address expensive unproductive behaviors (like smoking and over-eating), more large employers will embrace ideas like onsite clinics and health coaches. For some candidates, the cost of not complying with the prospective companies' wellness programs will change their employee value propositions so drastically that they will choose to work elsewhere.

6. Focus on Engagement will replace the Focus on Retention

Recognizing that with engagement comes not only retention, but greater productivity and profitability, too, employers will change their focus. We will see Directors of Retention morph into Directors of Employee Engagement. The next step (coming much later than 2010) will be to recognize the importance of the total "Internal and External Customer Experience".

7. Increasing Attention to Succession Planning

Around the globe, we see an increasing attention to succession planning and management. However, the issue of succession preparation continues to take a backseat to succession planning. This big mistake will begin to be felt in 2010, when Baby Boomer retirements combine with the lack of trained people becomes a critical problem. Succession management continues to be critical to long-term success.

8. Employers that did not build Bench Strength will pay More to hire Experience

Organizations that did not take the opportunity presented by this business slowdown to send their people for more training, will have to pay more to hire trained, experienced people.

9. Some Employers will eliminate Reward Programs

Misunderstanding Dan Pink's new book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us", some employers will abolish their reward programs altogether. This ill-advised shift will cause significant, negative, unintended consequences.

10. Burned out Employees will begin Leaving Employers

Over 80 percent of today's employees feel overworked and under-appreciated. Too many organizations have survived and maintained some level of profitability by over-loading their long-term employees. Once we begin to see positive job growth in the second half of 2010, some employees will feel confident enough to leave their companies.

11. Employers will accommodate Older Workers like Never Before

The exodus of their long-term employees will challenge some employers to get the work done, without resorting to hiring expensive contract help or paying high fees to recruiters. Enlightened employers will mine the rolls of their retired workers and hire them back on a part-time, temporary, or seasonal basis. These seasoned professionals will be welcomed back, in spite of the fact that they will dictate their own terms.


From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or

http://www.hermangroup.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. © Copyright 1998-2009 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved.