Microspotting

microspottingHow many times have you seen the typical HR web site that profiles the employees of a large organization? I know you’ve ignored them. Just check out Microsoft Canada, Ford, Sun, and others. It’s not a bad idea, it is one of those features you need to have, even if it is just a checkbox on a requirements form that everyone knows will never get used. I came across Ariel Meadow Stalling’s Microspotting. It’s a really fun way to learn about the people that work for an organization, in this case my current employer, Microsoft.

Before I talk about using social media for recruiting, I learned a number of really interesting things:

  1. The guitarist for Harvey Danger works at Microsoft as a PM on Virtual Earth 3D
  2. A dude rides a Segway wearing a Golden Helmet, that beats a guy with an accordion but not a guy with a chicken
  3. A double-platinum Peruvian rockstar works on BizTalk

There are a lot of crazy, kooky people that work at Microsoft. They do some amazing things. And it’s great to see their opinions about working at MSFT outside of the bounds of a corporate HR site. Obviously there are risks, but isn’t just incentive to build a company, products and culture that people want to talk about. Rather than building a cult that is always on brand, it’s great to see people in their personal contexts.

The “duh” disclaimer

Opinions expressed in this profile are those of the employee interviewed, and do not necessarily reflect the views of their employer. Nor should these statements be interpreted as an official statement from the employees’ product team. In other words, Microspotting is just real people and their personal opinions.

RockingTheEmpire Wupteedoo! Microsoft has set up a blog. It looks like it’s running on WordPress, Flickr, and Dreamhost. Yeah, well so is mine. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is an interesting way to approach corporate profiles, find the people that are interesting and passionate and let them tell their own stories. In a Web 2.0 world, the technology exists to make it easy for people to connect and share. This can be blogs, podcasts, tweets, photos, Facebook profiles. You can find a lot out about a person. Employers often start with a search. It used to be a criminal record check, but it is now a Web search. As an employer you can find out that the potential employee might have a band, they may have written blog posts criticizing you or your competitors, or heaven forbid they did keg stands during university (proof that you don’t need a keg, a stand or to be in university to have drunken photos). Some employers look at this as a way to screen employees. To make sure they keep out the less than savoury characters. 

“Much of what we think of as innovation is the creative tension between differing viewpoints”

In reality, these tools are putting the control in the hands of the candidates. You can find out who works or has worked for a company – check out LinkedIn or Facebook or Vault. The inmates are running the asylum to quote Alan Cooper. It’s just as easy for potential employees to gather information and avoid corporate propaganda when choosing an employer. Hiring great people isn’t only about matching job requirements, let’s not fool ourselves there are requirements that need to be met, i.e., hard to make me practice medicine because I am not a licensed physician. It’s about building a relationship between employees and your company.

Eric Chester, author of Employing Generation Why and Getting Them to Give a Damn, says that “the only way to convince a worker, young or old, that loyalty is reciprocated is by demonstrating that value in your employment practices. If young people see older employees being casually discarded, they know that it will be just a matter of time before the same happens to them. If they see that longevity is rewarded, they’ll feel more inclined to invest themselves fully.” – Melanie Joy Douglas on Hiring and Hanging onto Generation Y

Tools like StandoutJobs and Microspotting make it easier for potential employees to learn about a company, their people, and the corporate culture. What are you doing to expose your corporate culture?

4 thoughts on “Microspotting”

  1. David, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. I have recently been complaining (<a href="http://www.consolationchamps.com/2008/04/24/why-cant-working-be-more-like-dating/) " target="_blank"><a href="http://www.consolationchamps.com/2008/04/24/why-c…</a>that" target="_blank">http://www.consolationchamps.com/2008/04/24/why-c…</a>that</a> the current model of interviewing for jobs gives potential employees no real idea what the company is like to work for. In the case of Microsoft, there may even be a public perception that is different than what it's really like. Sites like Microspotting give a human face to a corporation, which is one of the best functions that any form of social media can serve.

  2. David, this is exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. I have recently been complaining (http://www.consolationchamps.com/2008/04/24/why-cant-working-be-more-like-dating/) that the current model of interviewing for jobs gives potential employees no real idea what the company is like to work for. In the case of Microsoft, there may even be a public perception that is different than what it’s really like. Sites like Microspotting give a human face to a corporation, which is one of the best functions that any form of social media can serve.

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