May 20, 2013

Proof that the Web is Your Resume

Last December I wrote about the future of HR and talent acquisition and the fact that both employees and employers will become less effective, and less relevant in the market, if they ignore the power of social media to recruitment the very best talent. I also said that the paper resume is dead and that the web is your curriculum vitae (CV) and social networks are your mass references. I also described a very detailed view of the future of Human Resources and social recruiting in my book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, explaining the rationale behind the power of using social media to find the candidates with ‘the right’ experience, judgment and influence.

So in March, I decided to abandon the traditional recruitment process for a new position in our marketing department. This wasn’t just any position in marketing. I was looking to hire a six-figure salary, director level marketer responsible for digital and social marketing direction for our company. I did not accept any resumes and I only interacted with the candidates via Twitter.

Fast forward to May and our new director of digital and social marketing started this week. His name is Bilal Jaffery and he is an award winning social strategist with extensive digital and social marketing thought leadership – just Google his name and you will see. In fact, that was the whole point of this exercise; your digital footprint matters!

Below is the overview of our journey from Bilal’s point of view. I am super excited to learn from Bilal and I sincerely hope that you too can learn from his story.  Take it away Bilal:

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ~ Rumi

Bilal Jaffery – @BilalJaffery

I learned early on in my career that if you surround yourself with smart people, you learn and grow the most. Humility combined with authentic passion and smart work leads to great meaningful work. Work isn’t work when it’s truly your passion.

In today’s connected age, social media has enabled us to form deeper relationships with people, causes and organizations that we admire, care for and connect with. The transparency of the medium has also allowed us to look past the mere images and truly understand each other beyond the basics or transactional exchanges.

Our social graph that we constantly build upon in social media is a powerful tool to tell a deeper story about ourselves. It helps us formulate true understanding of each other’s abilities, connections and dreams.

It applies to the whole network and every participant within that network. From people to tribes to larger communities to businesses that house those communities.

I have been monitoring the rise of Enterasys in the social business arena for the past few years and have been superbly amazed by Vala Afshar and his leadership teams’ ability to steer their ship in the noisy waters of social.

So when Vala Afshar posted a #socialCV tweet about a role in digital and social strategy, I just had to tweet him back. Why you ask? It is rare to find a C-level executive on social media, and it’s even rarer to find a leader that is openly discussing ideas and things that truly matter to him or her. It allows others within the community ecosystem to understand what he or she is all about.

The secret sauce behind any successful social business program is culture. A firm that focuses first on being customer centric in all of their execution has an advantage over others. Social media is a people driven medium, for people by the people. As Marshall McLuhan once said, medium is the message.  Most marketers tend to forget this and this is becoming a very rare and sought after quality these days.

As someone who has spent more than a decade building and working with the web and social, I’ve come to appreciate this very specific characteristic in a very personal manner. Social business thrives on a positive collaborative and inclusive culture. Without it, it becomes a mere broadcasting channel.

The #SocialCV Process

How it began?

As an outsider, I was curious about the overall #SocialCV process. Many have talked about the high-level philosophy of #SocialHR, #SocialHRM and #SocialCV but not many have actually gone through with it.

It would be the first time in my life that I wouldn’t be limited to just 2 pieces of paper to define myself. I wanted the company to know all about me, my work, my passion and most importantly, my dreams.

Having an ability to showcase and validate a candidate’s work through a social graph (Twitter,, Facebook, Slideshare, Google+, forums, etc.), search engine footprint (special URL references to projects, linkbacks, publications, etc.), network connections is much more powerful than just 1-2 pages and 3 prepped references. The prospective employer now has an ability to fully evaluate a candidate and understand if they are a fit or not based on actual work, not just 2 pages of crafty wording.

On the other hand, the beauty of this process is that, unlike in a traditional HR recruitment process, a candidate is now, for once, also empowered to evaluate a prospective employer’s total social graph – from the company’s official presence to its employee networks to customer networks. It allows a candidate to understand if the organization is truly behind what they speak about, care for and are able to support. A win-win situation, even if things don’t work out, because you can’t ever bring passion and excellence into work if you or the organization aren’t fully committed to it.

Application process

So, I decided to participate and submit my intention to apply on Twitter with the #socialCV hashtag, highlighting one of my articles from SocialMediaToday on social strategy. Not only did I want to get some valuable feedback from a CMO of a growing networking organization, but I also wanted to highlight my thinking in this space, based on some of my experiences and challenges in developing and managing enterprise social and digital programs at various enterprises.

It wasn’t an attempt to persuade anyone to think differently but an attempt to connect, align and understand each other. Luckily, I was able to engage in a dialog that generated further interest from Vala Afshar. I was asked to provide reference URLs to anything I wanted to share, to help him and his team gain a better understanding of my work and capabilities.

Interview process

When I was asked to come in for an interview, I was instantly amazed and mesmerized by the culture. Enterasys had taken time to introduce various members of the team and showcased their product portfolio. As a networking geek (my wife can attest to this based on all sorts of networking equipment that I have at home), I was very intrigued by my first interaction with a senior engineering architect and his ability to passionately stand behind his product platform.

During the process, I was also impressed by senior leadership’s ability to bring people from very different backgrounds together on the same table. In my interactions, there were people present on the table that typically wouldn’t even be on speaking terms at other firms. Ha!

Lucky for me, they were also interested in what I had to bring to the table. Long story short, through this process, we were able to move beyond shallow scripted conversations from both sides and dive deeper into meaningful discussions. Like old friends catching up. That is the power of social media.

What’s next?

Together with the super smart team at Enterasys, I’ll be supporting them in building the next-gen digital program that focuses on moving beyond just marketing tactics and covers all aspects of the Enterasys business. The digital strategy will focus on web, social media, online advertising and other emergent digital mediums that define Enterasys and its customer’s ecosystem.

As with every journey, it is never conducted alone. It is far more fruitful when it’s a community effort; by the community, for the community.  I look forward to connecting with everyone to understand how we should define the social experiences of tomorrow.

Bilal Jaffery

In summary, I plan to use this process for all future marketing and services new hires into our business. I am delighted with the outcome and I am even more certain that the resume and traditional model of recruitment will change. – Vala Afshar

This blog was co-authored by Bilal Jaffery – director of digital and social marketing, Enterasys.

About The Contributor:
Vala AfsharChief Marketing Officer

Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) is the Chief Marketing Officer for Extreme Networks, responsible for global marketing. An award-winning inventor of social technologies and customer services operations, Afshar is a two-time Stevie Award winner stemming from his previous leadership of the company's Support organization, and is considered a pioneer in cloud computing, social collaboration, business intelligence and customer relationship management. Afshar is a recognized social media advocate, having been the keynote of several industry events including Salesforce’s Dreamforce, as well as Gartner and IDC conferences. His thought-leadership has been sought after by leading publications, and he regularly contributes bylines to Huffington Post, Inc., and InformationWeek, among others. To his credit, Vala was recently named by Leadtail as "the most retweeted B2B marketer." He is also the co-host of the weekly "CXO Talk" interview series, where he interviews C-level thought leaders from companies such as Accenture, SAP and Intel.

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