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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Truth in Advertising - Did They Really Do That?

Written by  Duane Bailey

A friend of mine was evaluating applicants for an open position the other day and asked me for my opinion. I went online and did some quick research, relying on the abundance of information his applicants had provided about themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. A handful of them literally walked on water, or so they claimed in their advertising. I began to wonder…did they really do that?

In an age where job applicants can easily create a digital persona that allows them to be anything they want to be, a dose of healthy skepticism and a little due diligence are required to distinguish the authentic from the disingenuous, the wheat from the chaff, and the grass from the weeds. Hiring managers who don’t do their homework are destined for disappointment, once they bring on a new hire and discover he or she is unable to live up to his or her online claims…and their expectations.

Let me offer a few tips for evaluating the truthfulness of online claims:

1. Words and language. Pay close attention to the words used to describe the applicant or his/her work experience. Be sure they are consistent with the applicant’s self-described experience and skills; e.g., evidence of collaboration would be expected from a professional claiming to work well in a team environment.

2. Awards and recognition. Google the award name. If the award is noteworthy, chances are someone may have issued a press release announcing the recipient of the award. Review the applicant’s professional affiliations and memberships. Many industry awards are given by professional associations to their members, or to non-members who would have been invited to join because of their achievement. Be sure you understand exactly who the honor was awarded to and why.

3. Recommendations. Check the dates and positions for which they were written. Ideally, recommendations should be accumulated over the life of a career, as they are earned, and not hastily compiled in a single moment or in response to a singular event (e.g., sudden job loss).

4. Actions. Check to see if the applicant’s actions (e.g., website, Tweets, blog posts and responses to comments, Facebook history, professional affiliations, community service, outside interests, etc.) support his or her claims.

5. Expert status. Know what makes someone an “expert” in a field or discipline. Review his or her LinkedIn profile for evidence that would support self-proclaimed “expert” status (e.g., work experience, recommendations, blog posts, SlideShare presentations, etc.). The frequency and type of actions by an applicant can also be a good indicator of his or her level of expertise in a given subject.

Some applicants really are too good to be true. Do your homework and you’ll avoid disappointment down the road. If not, caveat emptor.

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey is a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller® online conversation. He has helped organizations of all sizes drive growth in revenues and market share through the development and delivery of key business messages that resonate with target audiences. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BS in Marketing. He brings 28 years of experience in marketing communications and high technology sales.

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