Job hunting for both new graduates and experienced professionals is evolving rapidly. Online job postings drawing hundreds of applicants increasingly seem a futile exercise for both employers and job seekers. At the same time, social networks are becoming ever more essential to building your professional online profile. We explore the evolving nature of the job search.


  • Howard Ross Author, "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance" (Rowman & Littlefield); also Principal, Cook Ross
  • Joel Renner Manager, Digital Strategy and Career Systems; F. David Fowler Career Center, George Washington University School of Business

Job Hunting Tips From Joel Renner

Job Tips


  • 13:06:40

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Some say, you don't exist if you aren't online and when it comes to job hunting, that is increasingly true. Social networks, and not just professional ones like LinkedIn are increasingly essential to standing out from the crowd. And while you probably know better than to post embarrassing pictures from a drunken party, your social media profile may still need some tweaking, if you want it to help in the job search.

  • 13:07:20

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIBy the way, that advice applies to job hopefuls of any age. And what about the tactic, many of us still use, sending off batches of resumes and cover letters to every interesting job posting. That approach is increasingly a shot in the dark, given the hundreds or even thousands of applicants to every position. Joining us to discuss this is Howard Ross, Diversity Consultant. He's a principal with Cook Ross. He's the author of "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance." Howard, always a pleasure.

  • 13:07:54

    MR. HOWARD ROSSHi, Kojo, it's good to see you.

  • 13:07:56

    NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Joel Renner, he is manager of Digital Strategy and Career Systems with the F. David Fowler Career Center at George Washington University School of Business. Joel Renner, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:08:09

    MR. JOEL RENNERThanks for having me.

  • 13:08:09

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments, have you been on a job hunt recently? Have you used social media in a job search and if so, how? 800-433-8850 is the number at which we take your comments or questions. You can send email to, shoot, or shoot us a Tweet @kojoshow. Joel, how has job hunting changed, even in the past few years?

  • 13:08:34

    RENNERWell, the essentials haven't really changed that much. So many people have talked about the hidden job market. And technology and social media has allowed the hidden job network to, job market to expand. And so, you still need to make those connections. But because of the job boards, you've had a large number of people that have put a lot of time into, and resources into resumes and cover letters. And they're competing with a bunch of other people who have done the same thing.

  • 13:09:04

    RENNERAnd so, you have to think about getting back to the network and networking, like you initially did. And so that's kind of, kind of the changes, is that we have to get away from just throwing ourselves into that resume black hole and get back to connecting with people. Whether you're using an in-person informational interview or if you're connecting online.

  • 13:09:26

    NNAMDIHoward, how would you say times have changed in terms of how employers go about recruiting and job seekers to find a match?

  • 13:09:35

    ROSSWell, I think, it's, I mean, as Joel's saying, I think you were dealing with a multi-discipline marketplace. But sometimes, for many people, it occurs almost like parallel worlds that they travel in. There are some people who are very big in one space of the social media domain and another might be in another space, not even be aware of that. And then you've got people who are more traditional who are looking for more face to face interaction. And, of course, it also sets up all kinds of perceptions and judgments that people have.

  • 13:09:59

    ROSSSo for example, if somebody comes to apply for a job and, at this point in this day and age, they don't have a LinkedIn site, for example, then somebody might say, well what are they trying to hide, as opposed to that they just don't live in that space like other people do. And so, you know, like anything else, it's the new normal, as we call it. You know, the new normal is to have presence in one domain or another. And we have to be really careful to not get stuck in one place but rather to maintain a holistic sense.

  • 13:10:25

    ROSSBut that's increasingly challenging as you have more and more and more and more, you know, these multiple worlds out there to live in. I mean, it always amazes me how many people -- I was teasing one of the folks who works on my team, over the weekend, 'cause I posted something on Facebook, which I do every now and again. And I realized, every single time I post on Facebook, he responds instantly. I said to him, are you always on Facebook? I mean, what -- you know, but, you know, some people are...

  • 13:10:48

    NNAMDIThere's always that -- well, let's talk about social media then, Joel. Social media increasingly important for someone who's job hunting?

  • 13:10:54

    RENNERYes, yes. It's a big part of any job search. And, and I think that the key here is that you want to be out there, talking about who you are from a personal perspective and what kind of problems you can solve and what kind of, of things can you bring. What value do you bring to, to an organization? And in doing that, through all these channels, it makes it easier for a recruiter to see if you're a good fit for their company.

  • 13:11:21

    NNAMDIYou got to be able to tell your story. You say, the key with an online presence, both for employers and prospective employees, is to tell their story. What do you mean by that?

  • 13:11:31

    RENNERWell, you know, we've seen it increasingly with recruiters of late. And there's a bunch of different examples but, you know, recruiters and companies are creating little micro-sites or, you know, in Zappos, you know, in Zappos, Zappos just created an insider site which is like their own little social media platform. But also, within LinkedIn and some of the groups that companies have.

  • 13:11:52

    RENNERThey're telling their story, they're getting out there. When they have a new hirer come on, when they have an intern come on, they, they show what they're up to and what they're about. And that gives an insight into, you know, is someone, that's maybe perspective, a fit for this company. And in the same token, with the internet and social media, the job hunter is able to do a lot of research and, and find out what, you know, are they a good fit for this company, based on, not just new hirers but also, you know, the stories that are being told by that company.

  • 13:12:23

    NNAMDIHoward, what are your thoughts on telling your story, whether as an individual or as a company?

  • 13:12:29

    ROSSWell, I mean, look, I mean, anytime you're trying to get a job, you, to some degree, you're gonna be telling your story to people, you're trying to make a compelling sense that you either have the experience or the potential, one or the other, to be good for that job. And, and whether that's in a straight media form or, you know, can -- helping people know how to conduct interviews effectively and to, and to presence themselves in interviews, how, knowing how to write your resume or knowing how to show up in social media, that's always the case.

  • 13:12:54

    ROSSNow, there's some real benefits in terms of, in terms of the online flow of this, at this point. In that, you can get tremendously more people into the system, that somebody who is looking for a job can get themselves out to tremendously more people. You know, apply for more jobs. You can go onto, you know, to, you know, LinkedIn or or any of these places and you can find access to many, many jobs. And that's a real plus in terms of the, the breath of people you can get.

  • 13:13:21

    ROSSOf course, the other side of it is, that flood of people sometimes means that in order for people to process hundreds of different resumes, I mean, we -- even as a small company, we've put out job postings and had hundreds of resumes and response to that. And, and in order to look at these hundreds of resumes, you have to make some pretty simple shortcut kinds of decisions about who is a good fit, to use Joel's word. And, and that, that could be really problematic, in terms of peoples biases kicking in and the kinds of things that we use as sorting mechanisms. So we, very quickly, sort out certain things because we create qualifications.

  • 13:13:53

    ROSSAnd all qualifications are really, are biases that we've all agreed to and written down. I mean, that's all a qualification is, really. So, so for example, we had a resume out, we got several hundred, I mean, a job posting. Got several hundred reactions. We decided one qualification was the person is a college, you know, has a college education.

  • 13:14:10

    ROSSNow, it's completely appropriate but it meant Steve Jobs or Bill Gates wouldn't of gotten access to that job. So, so there is, there is a danger that we can miss, this sort of creative eccentric people more, in these kinds of situations. People who have the potential or because of life's circumstances, haven't been allowed to show it. But they get sorted out, much more quickly through this kind of a mechanism.

  • 13:14:30

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, it's a conversation about job hunting in the internet age. Howard Ross, who joins us regularly, is with us. He's a diversity consultant, principal with the firm Cook Ross and the author of "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance." He joins us in studio with Joel Renner, who is manager of Digital Strategy and Career Systems at the F. David Fowler Career Center at the George Washington University School of Business.

  • 13:14:58

    NNAMDIWe're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Have you used social media in a job search? And if so, how? What does your social media profile say about you to a prospective employer? 800-433-8850. We got an email from Bob who says, "Given the structured process, for finding and applying for federal jobs, through usajobs, any advice on how a candidate can best use social media to get a government job?" Joel.

  • 13:15:28

    RENNERWell, you know, it comes back to internal referrals are a great way to get into almost any company. And yes, there's a very structured way to apply to a position. But to hear about some of those positions, you need to be networking with those folks that you're connected to, that are in or have been in the U.S. government. The process itself will always stay the same and, you know, they do that for their, for their internal HR reasons. But it's making sure that you make those connections to those people that you are connected to, to learn about the ins and outs and how you can get to the head of that, head of that order.

  • 13:16:04

    NNAMDIGonna get back to the issue of fit that Howard mentioned earlier. Companies are really looking for someone who is the right fit, not just someone with a specific list of skills. Can you explain what that process looks like from the company's perspective?

  • 13:16:19

    RENNERWell, oftentimes a company, they're looking at candidates to see, what are they passionate about? And I, I hate using that word, passionate, but you know, sometimes you, you sort of have to. And they're looking for people that are really, really interested in and want to be a part of, you know, a company, use an example, Phillips 66, just broke off and they sort of split. And the company is Phillip 66-Conoco and then Phillips 66. And, so Phillips 66 sort of split off and created a micro-site for their careers. And they talked about what they're doing in the energy industry.

  • 13:16:55

    RENNERAnd, and sort of worked really hard on what the, what story were they gonna tell and what do they want people to be a part of in their company. And so, they tell those stories through interns, through people that have been at the company for a long time. The key, I think, is that they showed, there was an openness. And social media allows for an openness in that process.

  • 13:17:16

    NNAMDIHoward, this idea of a company culture and finding someone who's the right person to fit into that culture does make sense but it's pretty subjective and a long way from comparing two resumes side by side. What are the dangers of companies seeking people like us to fill...

  • 13:17:34

    ROSSWell, yeah. It could be really problematic. You know, look, if you think about it from the standpoint of, you know, complexity theory, for example. You would say that, that complexity theory teaches us that you got two extremes, you've got, on one hand, chaos, which is, you know, anything goes. And, and so some, you know, if you just hire anybody to come into your company and they're coming from all different directions, you've got that. But on the other extreme, you have rigidity.

  • 13:17:55

    ROSSAnd, and this is the problem with this notion of fit. And particularly, as I said before, as we're, as we're filtering people at earlier and earlier stages, what you miss are the people who might push the envelope a little bit, to bring - now, most people I know in business say, we won't have a lot of different kinds of people here. And I don't just mean in terms of appearance and identity, I just mean, you know, thought diversity and, and people who come from -- and, yet, you know, the way the filtration systems are set up, sometimes, all of that gets eliminated before people get in the door.

  • 13:18:21

    ROSSAnd, and true -- the value of true complexity comes when we can stay in that integrative spot where we, we have a certain bandwidth that's wider than normal but not so wide that the system breaks. And we know that, that this shows up in subtle ways and, of course, the unconscious aspects of it are, are there even when the conscious one -- even when we think we're consciously on top of it.

  • 13:18:40

    ROSSSo, you know, just as an example, we know that there are numerous studies, one very famously (unintelligible) at MIT and Mary Amber (word?) at University of Chicago sent out resumes to companies that said that they were looking for affirmative hiring practices. They wanted to bring in a broader range of racial diversity. The, the resumes were identical, word for word, except for the names. Some of the names were traditionally white names like Gregory and Emily, some of them were traditionally African-American names like Keshia and Jamal.

  • 13:19:06

    ROSSFifty percent more of the white names were called back. And that same study was, was repeated in, in Singapore with Chinese based Suri-names and in Sweden with Swedish based surnames. And so, and so, you know, here people think, on one hand, that they're doing one thing but they respond differently, unconsciously. And so what we're trying to do with some of our clients, is to get them to remove some identifiers, especially in the online initial process.

  • 13:19:31

    ROSSFor example, do we even have to know the name of a candidate at first? Or, or some other factors that are extraneous. Or is it better for us, finding that out later after we've gone through an initial filtration system where subtleties like that, when looking at hundreds of resumes don't get thrown out. And there's one other aspect, Kojo...

  • 13:19:46

    NNAMDIGo ahead.

  • 13:19:46

    ROSS...if I could continue for a moment.

  • 13:19:48


  • 13:19:48

    ROSSAnd that is that often we're looking at fit as the person is now versus who they can become. So I can give you a very specific real-life example of this. We were doing some work with one of our clients in the financial industry, a client that really prizes itself on having a culture that's very collaborative in which, you know, people beating their chests is not considered an asset but rather a deficit. And they -- this -- I was working with a group of their leaders and this guy tells me this story.

  • 13:20:14

    ROSSHe's a V.P. He came in from one of the big Wall Street firms that have the exact opposite kind of culture. And he came in because this Wall Street firm, you know, was struggling. He jumped over to this new company. He was given a big assignment. And what does he do? He comes in needing to prove himself. He goes to the method that he'd been there for 12 years, this other company, this is how they operate, you do this, you do this. They all complained to the boss. He almost got his tail end, you know, on the street in the first week.

  • 13:20:39

    ROSSBut he said to me, he said, but you know, the more I got comfortable with this kind of way of operating, the more I like it. And now two years later I'm more happy than I've ever been and I'm thriving. But for 12 years I had been trained in that other way. And that's what we have to be careful about. You know, people have often been trained by where they've been to be the way they are. And we can easily eliminate the things that show us their potential to be successful here as opposed to what they've proven.

  • 13:21:03

    NNAMDIHere is Amanda in Falls Church, Va. Amanda, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:21:08

    AMANDAOne of your previous guests -- I can't remember if it was Howard or Joel, I'm sorry -- mentioned that he posted something on Facebook and then one of his employees, someone on his team immediately replied to that.

  • 13:21:20

    NNAMDIThat’s was Howard, yeah.

  • 13:21:22

    AMANDAHoward, and then you responded kind of like you were surprised, like, are you on Facebook all the time? And I think we really have to be careful with that because anybody who's listening to this and recognizes my voice knows I'm on Facebook all the time. But I'm also engaged. I mean, I don't have to be on it starting at it all the time but if I see something my boss had posted and I have something that I can add to that or say to it, you better bet I'm going to reply to it.

  • 13:21:47

    AMANDAAnd I shouldn't feel kind of like -- kind of embarrassed that I'm on Facebook all the time. If my boss is showing me something on Facebook that he wants me to see and I think we have to be careful about that and not be...

  • 13:21:57

    NNAMDISo let me be clear here, Amanda. If you're on Facebook having a conversation with me and you get a...

  • 13:22:02

    AMANDAI shouldn't be looking at my phone, no.

  • 13:22:04 get a ping from your boss at the same time. Are you saying you're going to stop the conversation with me in order to respond to your boss?

  • 13:22:08

    AMANDANo, no. No. But what I'm saying is, I don't have to go and sit down and get on my computer and get on Facebook. The next time I look at my phone when I end my wonderful conversation with you, Kojo, and I want to go tweet about it or Facebook about it and say, I can't believe I just talked to Kojo, you know, I'm going to say -- and at the same time I see a post by my boss, I'm going to probably respond to that too. Because, guess what, I would probably talk to my boss too, right, if I saw them in person. You know what I mean?

  • 13:22:37

    NNAMDIGot you.

  • 13:22:37

    AMANDASo I think we do have to be -- like, it's funny to make fun of other people who are on Facebook all the time. But if your boss puts something on Facebook, he shouldn't act surprised when you respond to it. I guess that's...

  • 13:22:46

    NNAMDIHoward knows that now.

  • 13:22:47

    ROSSRight. Yeah, and I just want to be clear, Amanda. I wasn't criticizing him for it. I was just -- I just thought it was amusing. And his response, by the way, was for you absolutely, he said. So very much like you were saying, Amanda.

  • 13:22:59

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation on job hunting in the internet age. But you can still call us at 800-433-8850. What, if anything, about applying for jobs has changed since you previously looked for work, 800-433-8850? Or send email to or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:25:11

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about job hunting in the internet age with Joel Renner, manager of Digital Strategy and Career Systems with the F. David Fowler career center at the George Washington University School of Business. And Howard Ross, diversity consultant and principal with Cook Ross, author of "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance. Joel, you mentioned Zappos. Zappos recently eliminated the online job posting altogether. Can you talk about that?

  • 13:25:40

    RENNERYeah, well, it really comes down to they want to create a culture of internal referrals. And so what they're doing is they're opening up the Zappos Insiders to their staff and to anyone that wants to be a part of the Zappos company. And in doing that and creating conversations around Zappos, around their brand, around what it's like to work there and the benefits and all those things, those people that are a part of this will be able to see, okay, is this a good fit for me?

  • 13:26:10

    RENNERAnd then also, outsiders will be able to then peruse and figure out -- or insiders, excuse me, and recruiters will be able to peruse these people's profiles and take a look. And when jobs come open they have a ready availability of candidates that sort of have already been mini vetted by not just the recruiters but their staff as well. So...

  • 13:26:30

    NNAMDIYou talk a little bit about the hidden job market and what that means for jobseekers.

  • 13:26:35

    RENNERYeah, so the hidden job market is that, you know, you hear about somebody that got a job that, you know, no one ever heard about. And, you know, there's many examples but it's one of those things where, you know, if Howard hadn't posted that job and just called me up and said, hey, do you have somebody who's a good fit for this and he calls up 30 of his closest people in his network, okay. And that used to be the old way.

  • 13:26:57

    RENNERWell, the new way is because of social media everyone's network is better and it's faster. And so it's maybe a friend of a friend. So instead of Howard calling up, he puts out a little buzz, right, in a small group. And that small group then just spreads that word. And so it's maybe a friend of mine that gets that job with Howard. And so the job may or may not have been posted or it's posted officially but it's really that internal referral process and that networking.

  • 13:27:24

    RENNERAnd so for a long time that's what recruiters liked. They liked being about people and relationships. And then social media and job boards kind of took a little bit of that away, even though it was still valuable. And so the hidden job market's exactly that. It's those jobs that, yes, they're posted but it's really an internal referral process.

  • 13:27:40

    NNAMDIWhich brings us back to word of mouth, which apparently is still quite important when you're looking for jobs. Is that correct?

  • 13:27:47

    RENNERYes, very much so.

  • 13:27:49

    NNAMDIWord of mouth, Howard, still...

  • 13:27:49

    ROSSWell, yeah, I mean, absolutely. And, in fact, we might even say more important to some degree because, you know, if you multiply by dimensions of ten, the number of people who could apply because you're putting it out, then somebody's word carries even more weight then it's just -- you know, then when it's just a handful of people. And I think, you know, like I said before, anything that we can do that can help us with the filtration system that could break through this massive quantities of people that we're dealing with, can be helpful. So word of mouth can be really valuable.

  • 13:28:17

    NNAMDIOn to Jennifer in Silver Spring, Md. Jennifer, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:28:22

    JENNIFERGood afternoon, Kojo. Your program is very, you know, important and informative. And I've called on your program before. It's just that I want to ask your guests about the statement about not the right fit. My daughter has a degree in science from a major university, and basically had worked in her position for over 15 years. So when she lost her position she went on a couple of interviews. One responded and she basically was working through a company called Kforce because in her profession, they have professional hiring companies.

  • 13:29:00

    JENNIFERAnd one of them responded by saying they were looking for the right fit. She didn't understand how to take that because she's a woman of color and basically the person that interviewed her was a European person. And she was trying to figure out what did they mean by right fit. Because she had more experience to be a director, which she was just applying for the research position, of which she said that they're not hiring high school students who are Caucasian without any experience. So I'm trying to understand what does the right fit mean? It's a double-edge sword when you say that because my personal take of it is racism at its highest level.

  • 13:29:38


  • 13:29:38

    ROSSWell, and Jennifer, sometimes it can be. More often it's more subtle than that but it's still race but it's at a much more subtle and uncomfortable level, or race or for that matter gender or any other personality distinction that's definable as we might say an identity, introversion and extraversion, for example. Just to give an example, one of the things that comes up a lot of times I hear with people, they talk about executive presence. This person doesn't have executive presence.

  • 13:30:05

    ROSSWell, you know, it's not that somebody says, I'm not going to hire this woman or this more introverted person or somebody who comes from a particular culture, like say many people who come from Asian cultures have a different way of presenting themselves. I'm talking archetypically of course, not about every single person, but archetypically. They don't look like the model that, as you said -- as you were saying might be created by European American men who are in leadership in the company. And this is the way we see it happen.

  • 13:30:32

    ROSSI recently had to show up with one of the law firms that I work with and they said, you know, this female attorney doesn't have executive presence. I said, can you tell me exactly what that is? This is somebody who was effective. She was a big rainmaker. She was successful in court but, you know, she just doesn't have executive presence. And I think that that's where I think we have to be really careful with this conversation about fit because the fact that somebody doesn't look like, sound like or act like us might in fact be a plus for us to have that person.

  • 13:30:59

    ROSSAnd this is -- you know, Susan Cain wrote this book this year about -- "Quiet," it's called, about introversion, for example. It's not so much about race or gender specifically but it can show up -- both can show up in that regard. And so one of the things we're trying to encourage folks to do is to take a look, are there structures and systems you could put in place that can mitigate some of this?

  • 13:31:18

    ROSSFor example, we're finding that if you -- when you're doing interviews with people, if you give the people who are coming in the questions that you're going to ask them before the interview, it creates a much greater sense of balance between introverts and extroverts, between people who come from other cultures who might not have been native-born English speakers. In the interview process you'll still get a sense of what they have to offer. But by doing that you're leveling the playing field a little bit. So it's a combination of attitude and also different systems and structures.

  • 13:31:46

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Joel, should we assume that your -- our perspective employers will be checking us out online?

  • 13:31:54

    RENNERYes, yes. The latest survey's something like 94 or 95 percent of people are using social media or social recruiting. And so, you know, I was advising an MBA student the other day and he was talking about applying to a position. And he was, you know, looking at that company online. And then he looked at, oh who's viewed me on LinkedIn? And the CEO of that company had viewed him and he goes, crap, I hadn't done everything that I needed to do on my LinkedIn profile to make sure that I look the way I needed to look.

  • 13:32:22

    RENNERAnd, you know, it’s one of those lessons that you want to take care of all those basics. You want to be portraying the right thing. But I would like to speak just real briefly...

  • 13:32:30


  • 13:32:31

    RENNER...on the fit side of things from a recruiter and an employer perspective. Sometimes that comes down to the mission and goals of the company. And so you need to have that understanding. You need to have done the research to understand how you fit into the goals of the mission of that company.

  • 13:32:45

    RENNERSo it can definitely go the way that Howard was talking about. But I think oftentimes the best way to answer that question tends to come down to doing that research of the company and showing how you can add value and what you bring that's unique to that company's culture, mission and goals.

  • 13:33:00

    NNAMDIAnd when we talk about social networks, it's my understanding -- and this makes me feel really old -- but you say that younger people aren't using Facebook as much.

  • 13:33:09

    RENNERWell, I mean, I think that everyone is on Facebook and it has a very, very large presence. But kids are always onto the next newest, biggest thing. And so, you know, I talk to students about Facebook and using it as a networking tool, using the graph search. You can search a friend of a friend who works at say Google or a friend of a friend who works at NPR. And it will show you in your network, you know, who is there. So you can use it similar to how you use LinkedIn.

  • 13:33:37

    RENNERBut, you know, everyone's onto the newest thing, Instagram or Snapshot or whatever they want to be on. So you don't want to always try and play catch up with the young kids, if you know what I mean.

  • 13:33:47

    NNAMDIYeah, that's a losing battle. Here is Kevin in Annandale, Va. Kevin, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:33:54

    KEVINOh hey, Kojo. Great topic again today. I just wanted to share something. I just got a job after more than a year out of work. I can't say I dedicated myself to looking that hard during that whole period because I had a nice severance package from my previous job. But as a preseasoned executive, meaning old, a couple things. One is, age discrimination is out there and it's rampant. And I'd like to ask your guys there if they have any feel for that.

  • 13:34:28

    KEVINThe second thing is, LinkedIn was invaluable. It really was a great tool to use. And once I really got aggressive about looking for a new position, I ended up with four very, very active opportunities, one of which I've since accepted. But three came from LinkedIn just as blind as could be. And one came from a friend at a pretty large corporation who passed my name around. So I got one from a referral type.

  • 13:35:01

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. I have heard what Kevin has talked about, I am sure, more than five times in the past week about age discrimination. Because a lot of my friends who are older are -- a few of my friends who are older are out of work and looking for work. Talk a little bit about that, Howard.

  • 13:35:18

    ROSSI mean, statistics show it's true, you know, particularly in the last five years since the economy tanked back in 2008, 2009, that there were an awful lot of people who were laid off and that it's more difficult for people to come, you know, for a number of reasons. One is that there is the piece that Kevin was talking about, which is access to some of the new forms of getting out there. If you've been in a job for 15, 20 years and you haven't been somebody who's lived on social media or LinkedIn, it's -- like I said earlier, it's a whole other world with new rules and protocols. And, you know, how do you operate and all of that? And so you're at a real disadvantage if that's not the norm in the way you operate.

  • 13:35:54

    ROSSSecondly, employers are in a situation where, you know, if I'm looking for somebody to bring into an environment, I'm going to look for people who are more savvy about some of the new technologies because most companies are moving towards using those technologies more themselves. And so the relationship between who's on those technologies, which is related to age to some degree, can be a deciding factor for certain people. Or, like I said, a filtering factor rather than a deciding factor. It doesn't even get to the decision point. It gets filtered out long before that.

  • 13:36:25

    ROSSAnd then the third aspect is, I've got more choices now. And so who am I going to choose? Am I going to choose somebody who's young and upcoming or somebody who's older with less work life in front of them than behind them? And all of these things can be factors for people when they get to be our age.

  • 13:36:40

    NNAMDIJoel Renner, we know the obvious rules around social media and things like Facebook, no incriminating photos. But say we're using photos -- Facebook to share photos with family or articles with friends? Should we be concerned about the impression recruiters are getting? Because we got an email from Roger in Ashburn, Va. who said, "Although illegal, age discrimination and hiring is rampant for those of us on the wrong side of 50. Should we remove photos from our LinkedIn profiles?"

  • 13:37:10

    RENNERWell, from LinkedIn I think that you really want to make sure that those photos show as much as possible with regards to your work product. But speaking to Facebook and, like, Facebook photos, I think the big key here is to take a look at your privacy settings. And I know this is impossible to keep up with because Facebook changes them every other month.

  • 13:37:26

    NNAMDI...ten minutes, yes.

  • 13:37:27

    RENNERBut you really do need to have an understanding of who can see what. And, you know, Facebook was built to share. You know, that's their whole idea behind it. So I wouldn't say stop sharing but I would say know who can see what and make sure that it shows you in the light you want it to show you in.

  • 13:37:45

    NNAMDIHoward, you might not have embarrassing pictures, but how about cleaning up your social media profile? What kinds of things should one consider taking down?

  • 13:37:54

    ROSSWell, you know, I think it depends a lot on what you're trying to accomplish with your social media profile. For some people, you know, this is of course like talking about generational diversity in terms of how much people expose. You know, the whole issue of privacy is very different generationally. And I think that this is where a lot of times the, you know, age can show up in this dynamic. You know, what appears normal for a young -- my youngest son is 20 years old. What appears normal for him in terms of putting things out there in the public, for me it's, you know, I'll sometimes say to him, are you sure you want everybody out there seeing that, you know?

  • 13:38:24

    ROSSAnd it's not like he's done anything outrageous or anything like that but it's just, you know, we know that people are going to be looking -- or job, you know, potential employers are going to be looking out there. And how might they interpret something that seems innocent from your perspective? And I think that that's something we have to keep in mind.

  • 13:38:39

    NNAMDIHow about -- I was going to ask about that. How about something you post and the possibility that it might be taken the wrong way. You're posting a sarcastic article that you might find funny or something of a political nature. And your potential employer might see it completely different.

  • 13:38:54

    ROSSWell, it's not even a possibility. It's a probability. It's probably that people will interpret it differently than you intended because we know that that's the case. As soon as we put something in writing and -- the (word?) school said that something like 50 to 60 percent of emails are misinterpreted in one way or another. So any time that we're moving away from interpersonal interaction, we know that for every level that that's a less personal interaction. You have a greater possibility and probability of it being interpreted the way the reader wants to interpret it or the way the reader's mind interprets it rather than the way your intention was that it be interpreted when it be put out there.

  • 13:39:26

    ROSSAnd so I think that, you know, there's a difference between people who feel completely secure and are just using Facebook as a way to share with their friends or LinkedIn is a way to stay connected with some business associates versus people who are really consciously putting a public brand out there.

  • 13:39:40

    NNAMDIYou don't want your potential employer to actually believe that onion article, do you?

  • 13:39:45

    RENNERYou know, I think recruiters have become more savvy as well. So you can't just completely say that they're going to see the onion article title and just stop right there. But at the same time, you do have to have an understanding of who you are on your brand. Now, if you're known as a sarcastic, funny, snarky type, and all of your friends know that, and then your brand on LinkedIn is as a very smart, articulate and maybe very upfront or forward-thinking person, those two things can sort of add up to the same thing.

  • 13:40:17

    RENNERAnd so it's about making sure that there's some genuine and authenticity to who you are as a person and who you are as a professional. And everyone knows there's a ton of holdover between those two. So you want to show a little bit of that.

  • 13:40:30

    NNAMDIOn to Bill in Frederick, Md. Bill, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:40:36

    BILLHi, Kojo. Great show. I've been in an interesting situation. I've been laid off for almost a year now, trying to find role in sales engineering, associate architecting role in the federal market space. And I keep running into some of the same comments, some of the same things your previously -- previous guests have been stating about, I'm on the wrong end of 50. And I get phone screens, I get conversations. I've had a few -- handful of face-to-facers. And they go absolutely nowhere.

  • 13:41:12

    BILLAnd I don't -- I'm stymied. I don't know what to do. I'm burning my retirement money down to keep my house and my family in order. Because I do work in the federal government, I can't walk away from my house.

  • 13:41:25

    NNAMDIAnd have you been doing a lot of this applying online?

  • 13:41:28

    BILLYeah, I've -- believe me, I am in LinkedIn to the nines. I know LinkedIn in my sleep. I even paid for the premium job-hunter piece of LinkedIn, and I'm...

  • 13:41:38

    NNAMDIHow many of -- how many of these applications have resulted for you in face-to-face interviews?

  • 13:41:43

    BILLProbably about 5 percent.

  • 13:41:46

    NNAMDIOoh, that seems like a pretty low percentage, does it not, Joel?

  • 13:41:50

    RENNERYeah, that's a little low. I would say, if you want to take a look at something that might give you some concrete steps to go through, Steve Dalton, who works at the School of Business at Duke, has a great book called "The 2-Hour Job Search." I mean, I think he's got a new version out. But it gives you sort of a concrete way to create target lists, rate them based on, you know, what that company brings, what kind of connections you have, and sort of just lays out a process that may be a little more helpful than, you know, being really active on everything.

  • 13:42:22

    RENNERThe other thing I would say is, applying to jobs online isn't the actual best way to get that -- that better than 5 percent. It really is finding people that can help you with that next step. And I think that that's sometimes what is lost in the online or social media is, a lot of people think, oh, well that's, you know, that's just -- it's online.

  • 13:42:47

    RENNERBut you need to make that connection, whether it's online or otherwise. So that when you get that face-to-face or that in-person, you already had an informational interview or a phone informational interview with a friend that works at that company. And so you can, you know, namedrop the friend or you can talk about those types of things.

  • 13:43:03

    NNAMDIAnd, Bill, you don't have to run around looking for a pen, because we have Joel's tips for job hunting at our website, And they include the title of the book that he just mentioned, "The 2-Hour Job Search." So you can find it at our website, Howard, you wanted to say?

  • 13:43:17

    ROSSYeah, I was going to say, Bill, before you hang up, the other thing to be careful about is that often, you know, quality -- I mean, excuse me, quantity -- you know, all these massive quantities of things we could put out, could get in the way of quality and depth. And if you, you know, think of the way people used to search for jobs -- you know, you'd have a handful of potential jobs. And you'd look around for who are the contacts you have for this job. And who do you know who knows somebody? And how can you learn about that job? And what are the things you communicate to that particular company?

  • 13:43:42

    ROSSAnd now, when we're applying to two and three hundred, you know, sometimes jobs, whatever, however many are out there, we sort of lose the sense of being able to mine those and develop them. And so that rather than developing with depth, we're just keeping everything on the surface. And so, you know, what I often say to people is, you know, get the handful through some of the filtration systems that Joel's talking about -- get those handful or the more targeted list and then really work deeper in those, rather than just scatter-shot.

  • 13:44:07

    NNAMDIBecause, Joel, you say that firing off a bunch of resumes to a whole lot of online job postings is increasingly a shot in the dark.

  • 13:44:15

    RENNEROh, very, very much so. And that's where it's using social media, using the Internet to connect, to research and to find connections that you might not have known. You know, definitely for students it's not forgetting that the parents of their friends are people that have been in the industry for a long time and those are connections that they forget and miss. Friends and family often don't know exactly what someone does in their job. And, you know, that extends to, you know, people that are older.

  • 13:44:43

    RENNERYou know, sometimes younger people don't even know what that person does. And so it's making sure that your friends and family and that close network has an understanding of what you do -- your brand, what you bring and who you are. And when they do that, then when an opportunity comes across that exec's desk that is, you know, tangentially to your family in one way or another, they think of you. And so it really does come down to that personal connection.

  • 13:45:06

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. We'll try to get to your calls. If the lines are busy, send us an email to Do you think online job postings are a waste of time? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:47:10

    NNAMDIWelcome back. Our conversation is about job hunting in the Internet age, with Howard Ross, diversity consultant and principal with Cook Ross. He's also author of the book, "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance." Also in studio with us is Joel Renner, manager of Digital Strategy and Career Systems with the F. David Fowler Career Center at the George Washington University School of Business.

  • 13:47:35

    NNAMDIWe got an email from Michelle in Rockville who says, "I'm really lucky. After three years of searching, while employed, I just got offered a deanship. What is on my Facebook page? Mostly me trapeze flying. I ended my job talk with, just so you know I like a good challenge, and had a picture of me flying. Then I said, you may wonder what flying trapeze has to do with being a dean. But I'm here to tell you, if you work hard, anything is possible. By the way, I'm about to turn 65." Which is an interesting story.

  • 13:48:05

    NNAMDIWe got a tweet from Mo, who asked, "Other than Google, what tools are used by employers to research potential recruits. Joel?

  • 13:48:12

    RENNERWell, I mean, I would say something like 75 percent of recruiters are using the LinkedIn Penned. And they sometimes are skipping Google as their first step. And they're giving, you know, applicants the benefit of the doubt and saying, you know what? I'm going to go out and check out their professional presence online before I go and look for the no. I'm going to look for the yes.

  • 13:48:30

    RENNERAnd so, you know, making sure that your LinkedIn shows up -- that you've customized your URL, which is really simple to do. But instead of having a bunch of numbers, it can be like, my name, Joel Renner. And instead of that, you know, instead of having a bunch of numbers and something that's not personalized -- so making sure that you've done those little things is a big key.

  • 13:48:52

    NNAMDIHere's Sara, in Germantown, Md. Sara, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:48:57

    SARAHi. My question's actually related to the previous question. My name, I wouldn't think it's that common, but when I Google myself, a bunch of like Twitter pages and Tumbler pages come up that aren't mine. It looks like they're written by teenagers. And I'm in my mid-20s, so it's not that unreasonable that maybe a potential employer would think that I wrote those. But I was just wondering, what can I do to make sure that -- or at least clarify what essence on line is mine and what is the teenagers', as -- with my same name.

  • 13:49:31


  • 13:49:32

    RENNERWell, there's a couple things you can do. When you apply to something or when you're talking with employers, you can highlight those things that are you. If you have a webpage, if you have a LinkedIn profile with a specific URL. There's also ways to try and make sure that certain things pop up a little bit higher in Google. They've taken some of those controls out. But the real key I think is to sort of explain during the process, here's the ways you can take a look at me and sort of talk those through.

  • 13:50:01

    RENNERAlso identifying, maybe, one of the search terms that shows up really high or one of the things that you don't want to, and then mention it. It's not a big deal to say, you know what? You may, when you search me, see this. And that's not mine. Here's a bunch of things that I've done. It's a great way to sort of showcase some of the things that you have done, while helping, you know, mitigate some of the negative results that they might see from Google.

  • 13:50:23

    NNAMDISara, thank you very much for your call. Good luck to you. A lot of people want to join this conversation. Here's Angela in Upper Marlboro, Md. Angela, your turn.

  • 13:50:32

    ANGELAGood afternoon, gentlemen. I have a question regarding behavior and wellness. Just wondering, how do you think people fare who have antisocial behavior. And I mean not only just one-on-one -- you know, people who don't seem to hang out with coworkers and stuff afterwards. But even those people who are not able to even get online to be in a LinkedIn or a Twitter or a Facebook and find it even more difficult. They can't even deal with human beings, let alone get on social media to potentially look for jobs. I'm trying to figure out, in terms of trends, like are those people finding it harder to find employment?

  • 13:51:11

    ANGELAAnd in terms of wellness and discrimination, in terms of fitness, I'm wondering are employers or recruiters looking at people who -- or not looking at people who aren't as fit? I mean there is 50 and then theirs like a hip...

  • 13:51:23

    NNAMDIYou mean physically fit?

  • 13:51:25

    ANGELA...hip 50. And some people look like -- they could look like they're 45 or in their mid-30s, but they can be 50. And so I'm just trying to figure out, especially given ObamaCare and employers now -- employers having to, you know, invest their monies into their employees' health care. I'm wondering, is that the new discrimination as well -- being antisocial along with being not fit or other things? If you could speak to that, please.

  • 13:51:49

    NNAMDIWell, being antisocial first, Howard.

  • 13:51:51

    ROSSWell, I mean I think that, you know, being antisocial is a challenge. You know, we're working in...

  • 13:51:56

    NNAMDIThat's not one of the things you want to project when you're looking for a job.

  • 13:51:58

    ROSSWell, exactly. I mean there are certain, you know, like there are certain jobs -- people have certain jobs that they get the job. They're operating out of their house. They're basically by themselves all the time.

  • 13:52:05

    NNAMDIA writer, yes.

  • 13:52:06

    ROSSAnd, you know, there are -- any technical jobs, lots of jobs like that. So in those kinds of jobs, most people are not worried too much about personality. In the kinds of jobs where being antisocial would be an issue, it usually is because there's some interactive quality to the job, whether it's an employee-to-employee interaction or employee-to-customer interaction or something like that. And then people's emotional intelligence and their ability to interact socially becomes more of a factor.

  • 13:52:30

    ROSSAnd, in fact, I think, you know, for anybody who has a business and wants teams to collaborate well and work together well, that's a reasonable thing to ask -- that you, not only your technical skill, but how do you engage? The other question, though, that Angela's talking about is a really interesting one, because there's some fascinating research about the kinds of biases people do have around perceptions of health based on appearance.

  • 13:52:51

    ROSSAnd, you know, for example there's a professor named Mikki Hebl down at Rice University, who's done some really extraordinary stuff about, particularly weight, and how weight occurs for people. And she's found that not only, I mean we've known for a long time that weight is a discriminator for people. You know, for example, there are at least four universities that have found studies that show that even doctors discriminated against patients that are overweight. And then last year the Bloomberg School, Hopkins, found that patients actually discriminated against doctors who were overweight. They tend to listen to their advice less.

  • 13:53:19

    ROSSBut what Hebl did was she took it to another level. She actually conducted a study in which she had research -- the interviewers were the people who she was studying. And then she had people who worked on her team who were pretending to be the people they were interviewing. She had the interviewers go out into the waiting room to find the people they were interviewing. If the person was sitting next to somebody who was overweight, they actually got lower ratings on their interviews. So it wasn't just themselves, but even the approximation, you know -- the proximity, rather, of them next to somebody else.

  • 13:53:48

    ROSSAnd so -- and these are very -- sometimes they're obvious, but sometimes they're very subtle in terms of the impact that they have on people. We don't even realize how we're making discernment based on that. And of course this is a problem when we know that visible weight does not necessarily coordinate -- correlate with health.

  • 13:54:03

    NNAMDIJoel, care to comment?

  • 13:54:04

    RENNERA little bit on the antisocial thing. I think that LinkedIn has a lot of privacy settings that allow you to sort of show what you want to show. And everyone has had colleagues and friends and they've worked with people. And you can connect with -- specifically with them on LinkedIn. There's also a lot of different groups around -- introverts and extroverts on LinkedIn. And so it's a great place to sometimes learn some things that worked for others.

  • 13:54:26

    RENNERAnd, yes, it's going to be hard and tough. But, you know, a lot of things in life are hard and tough. And I don't think that you just -- you just stop right there. I think you have to continue through and find ways that you have your personality traits and make them work for you in the workplace.

  • 13:54:41

    NNAMDIHere's Susan in Falls Church, Va. Susan, your turn.

  • 13:54:46

    SUSANGood afternoon. Earlier you all were talking about applying to posted jobs on the Internet and how it was kind of a shot in the dark.

  • 13:54:55


  • 13:54:55

    SUSANIn my experience, that posting my -- I'm in IT -- that posting my resume on Dice or (word?) jobs or something like that, has been much more effective than applying to posted jobs online. I could send out, you know, two, three hours worth of resumes a day. And yet someone will find me -- my resume posted, and that's when I get the call.

  • 13:55:19

    NNAMDIBut you don't get the calls when you apply online?

  • 13:55:22

    SUSANI won't say never. But like the guy was saying, 5 percent or whatever. I would say, you know, it's something like that. Yeah.

  • 13:55:30

    NNAMDIPosting your resume online. Joel?

  • 13:55:32

    RENNERWell, I think that that's kind of what LinkedIn has tried to do with theirs. And they're trying to put a little bit more personality behind it. But what you're talking about is finding your niche group of folks or industry and posting online. And so you have a really targeted group of recruiters looking at you. And I think that that's key in anyone's job search, is okay, what is the industry, what are the companies that you're trying to target, what is the function you're performing? And you put your stuff out there and you're going to have a little more discerning group that can understand what's going on in your resume.

  • 13:56:03

    RENNERAnd so, therefore, if you have great qualifications, you are going to come to the top of the heap.

  • 13:56:07

    ROSSYeah, I think, Kojo, the other thing is -- and it's not so much in response to this question -- but the other, before we're finished, I think it's important to say that we've talked mostly about one side of the equation of job hunting, and that is the person who's applying for jobs. But I think it's also important for us to recognize that as companies who are looking for employees, the way we presence ourselves in social media particularly, has a lot to say with who's attracted to us.

  • 13:56:27

    ROSSAnd I think that that's -- we can give a sense of what kind of mission we have, the kinds of things Joel was talking about -- the brand for the company, what's important to the company, what kinds of things we're up to in the world, how we participate in the community, what kinds of people could be successful with us. And that can also be an important attractor to people, the kinds of people who we want.

  • 13:56:47

    NNAMDIGot an email from Jason in Prince Frederick, Md., who writes, "Craigslist is a viable job source. I am swamped in my work, but my ears perked up about a topic concerning technology and job hunting. After my good friend found a great temp job through Craigslist, I too went hunting and found the salary job -- salaried job I am at now." Joel, care to comment? Craigslist?

  • 13:57:08

    RENNERYeah. So Craigslist is actually how the temp agency that hired my assistant worked. And she found it through Craigslist. So it's definitely a place to be. It's a little tougher, because oftentimes it's a third-party recruiter. And so you don't always speak directly to the company. But in this day and age, it's about spending the time that you need to on the various pieces or parts of what you emphasize in your job search.

  • 13:57:33

    RENNERSo if you take, say, Steve Dalton's "2-Hour Job Search," and you do all of those pieces. And then you have some time left over and you want to look around for positions that are highly ranked or rated for you, based on the keywords that you're pulling out or based on your value proposition. Those are the types of things that are definitely out there to use. You might as well do it.

  • 13:57:53

    NNAMDIAnd we have no time left over in this conversation. Joel Renner is manager of Digital Strategy and Career Systems with the F. David Fowler Career Center of the George Washington University School of Business. Joel, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:04

    RENNERThank you.

  • 13:58:05

    NNAMDIHoward Ross is a diversity consultant. He's a principal with Cook Ross and the author of "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance." Howard, good to see you.

  • 13:58:17

    ROSSThanks so much, Kojo.

  • 13:58:18

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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