Basic community manager role

The role below floated across my desk on Friday, specifically targeted at students as it was advertised on the Swinburne University employment site for students.

A few interesting points.

Firstly there are more and more of these roles requesting skills within social media, and secondly they are targeted to university students. I suspect employers have decided that it is mainly Gen Y who know this “stuff” called social networking. Finally the role is not for a large multinational, or technology firm or even a digital media outlet. No it is for an automotive company!

IT/Web Guy – IT/Web Girl required.

Do you love working on websites and chatting with people on internet forums? Have you dabbled in eBay or used Google Adwords/Adsense for your own or company sites? Are you a blogger and YouTube user? If you answer yes to these questions, we want to hear from you.

JHP Vehicle Enhancements are an automotive company in Blackburn (VIC) and we need a Web person with general IT support skills. The bulk of your work will be web related. Maintaining our current web site (HTML/PHP), conversing on automotive forums, SEO, implementing a new ecommerce enabled website (using an open-source CMS). EBay, Web orders and electronic communication will be your responsibility.

Your role will also include basic IT Support, before addressing external technicians. Light administrative work such as invoicing will be required when the accounts lady is not in. A pleasant phone mannerism and good verbal comprehension and conversational skills to help field calls.

This opportunity is great for anyone with some identifiable experience. Whether that be personal or professional doesn’t matter to us, we just want you to provide real proof that you can do what you say you can.

So if you live and breathe the web, can do basic IT support and have a willingness to learn, we want to hear from you now.

October is Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month

Yesterday afternoon I received an email from Beyond Blue an Australian not-for-profit that works to help people with depression and anxiety announcing that October was Anxiety and Depression Awareness month. The email was calling for people and organisations to get involved in raising awareness of anxiety and depression and help reduce the associated stigma. Now this is a major issue, just look at the impacts in the workplace costing around $4.3 billion in lost productivity!

Given I have suffered from depression on and off for several years I figured it was time to get involved and help out. So I put out a call on Twitter last night for some interest from Australian Twitter users and got several replies and Direct Messages, here are just a few:

Alegrya @mspecht add me to the list too, I’d love to get a STUB happening to raise awareness about 11 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

jyesmith @mspecht i would love to help out with beyondblue. about 11 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

limburger @mspecht count me in…but no ideas as to what yet. about 12 hours ago from in reply to mspecht

stilgherrian @mspecht Count me in for doing SOMETHING for Anxiety & Depression Awareness Month. Rather important. about 13 hours ago from web in reply to mspecht

dnwallace @mspecht count me in about 13 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

jjprojects @mspecht Participating in Beyond Blue’s ADA month sounds like a great idea. about 13 hours ago

lozzz @mspecht I would. about 13 hours ago from web in reply to mspecht

Over the last year or so there have been several meme’s that have floated around Twitter, resulting in the changing of avatars to bring attention to a cause. In addition there is the concept of blog action day’s where a number of bloggers all blog about the same topic on the same day, BTW the next one is October 15 about poverty. So how about we look at combining the concepts?

It seems that October 10 is World Mental Health which gives us a focal point, so here are my ideas for October 10:

  • We change our avatars on Twitter to something blue, maybe look at creating a set for people to download so it is easy.
  • Write a blog post about depression or anxiety, a personal insight would make the best reading.
  • Look at organising some meet ups on the day, and wear something blue.

Next step is to get this organised.

Update: If you are interested in getting involved leave me a comment or drop me an email.

10 tips to build your network

It seems today you cannot go anywhere without hearing about social networks and their value to business.

This is all very good but what happens if you don’t have a large professional network? Below are 10 easy to implement tips on how to build up your professional network.

  1. Join the social networks online
    The first step for anyone today wanting to expand their network is to join LinkedIn. Further look to join more specialised services such as LinkMe, FaceBook, MySpace and industry specific services ad these will provide you with different connections.
  2. Attend industry gatherings
    All industries have key groups and organisations where people of similar background gather, many are free or require minimal investments other than your time.
  3. Get a personal business card
    When you build your network you want to make sure that it is transportable from employer to employer. By handing out a personal business card, not one from your current employer will assist with this process.
  4. Meet 5 new people
    Don’t always associated with the same people. Every time you go to a professional or social event make sure you meet at least 5 new people.
  5. You are a brand
    Brand yourself to your network in order to build it further, the more people know you to more people will want to know you.
  6. Globalise the network
    When you were growing up, perhaps you had a pen-pal in a different country, in a global marketplace you never know when knowing someone in Tanzania will come in handy.
  7. Become an information sponge
    Use a contact management tool to record e-mails, phone numbers, and everything else you can about the people you know.
  8. Take control of your virtual presence
    Make sure that when people look for you online, your image is both accurate and flattering.
  9. Join the virtual communities where your target market lives
    Once you have joined one group, ask the members where else they connect with like-minded people. Be sure to look for smaller groups within larger sites.
  10. Take a leadership role in your industry
    Write a blog to cover your domain, and perhaps create an online community around your unique interests

What are your best tips?

Change management approaches

As I mentioned over the last few weeks I have been through some training in PRINCE2 project management and change management, provided by a local vendor Project Laneways (a bit of plug they are highly recommended and say I sent you), the end result I am a PRINCE2 Practitioner and certified in the Principles of Change Management through the APMG.

As part of the change management course we covered several different approaches to managing change, predominantly based around the book Making Sense of Change Management. The approaches ranged from general ideas, to more detailed frameworks but none really provided a full change management methodology. Which is both good and bad. Good as it allows students to pick and choose the best method of managing change, but bad as there is no detailed process for managing change as with PRINCE2.

Some of the approaches we covered were:

  • Lewin; Three step model
  • Bullock and Batten; Planned change
  • Kotter; Eight steps
  • Cameron and Green; based on Kotter
  • Beckhard and Harris; Change formula
  • McKinsey; Seven S model
  • William Bridges; Managing the transition
  • Senge; Systemic model
  • Stacey and Shaw; Complex responsive processes

The best in my mind are really a combination of Lewin, Bridges, Kotter and McKinsey.

Need to learn about web 2.0, come to university

If you are in Australia, and interested in learning about Web 2.0 then you should get yourself to Sydney on September 23 and attend the Web 2.0 University being run as a extra session at Web Direction South. The Web 2.0 Executive Bootcamp session is being co-hosted by Jeff Kelly & Stephen Collins and is priced at an amazing AUD$450 conference attendees / AUD$550 standalone compared to the regular US$895.

What will you learn?

  • Exploration of the latest ideas, business models, trends, and techniques behind Web 2.0
  • Review of proven, actionable methods for creating new online products and service
  • Step-by-step strategies for using Web 2.0 techniques
  • Review of the 7 major patterns of Web 2.0 applications
  • The structure and business models of Web 2.0

All in all a great offering.

Change management and technology implementation

For many years I have felt that change management has been one of the most underrated and overlooked component during technology implementation. (For the IT folks out there I am NOT talking about change control I am taking about the people and organisation aspects.) I have been involved in change management from several perspectives and as part of my consulting now offer services are change management. Given this I felt I should probably get some formal training, over the last few days I have been completing the APMG’s course in Change Management.

As a bit of background there is significant research out there to back up the position that if you don’t have change management your technology project will more than likely fail. Some of the more recent studies are:

  • A 2002 McKinsey study found that ROI of projects was 143% when change management was used and only 35% when it was not.
  • “Projects with excellent change management programs met or exceeded objectives 88% of the time, while projects with poor change management met or exceeded objectives only 17% of the time,” stated Tim Creasey, Prosci’s Director of Research and Development and co-editor of the 2007 report “Best Practices in Change Management”
  • Kotter found that only 15% of organisations making transformation succeed.

Watch for more posts in the coming weeks on change management.

Good the bad and the ugly or is it a storm in a tea cup?

About 2 hours ago Twitter announced they were stopping their SMS notification service outside of the US, Canada, UK and India as it was costing them too much money. Now I completely understand a business needs to make money and the a free service cannot last forever but the way this change has been implemented is poor customer service. (See GetSatisfaction for a feeling on the change from their users.)

The announcement is effective immediately, not tomorrow, next week or next month, NOW! A bit like when they limited SMS notifications to 250/week with no notice. I guess we could say at least they told us this time.

Twitter had a perfect opportunity to provide premium services to customers willing to pay! For a company with no business model so far this might have been a good starting point for revenue generation.

I guess time will tell if the decision impact usage of the tool.

Is the IT Sector softening?

I have been interested over the last few weeks to see the varying discussions that Australia is or is not in a recession at the moment. While the jobless figures overall are not too bad at 4.3% for July 2008 (according to the ABS), there are reports of the RBA easing interest rates due to concerns on the health of the economy. The Seek Employment Index has a 27% drop in job ads in the last 12 months.

So it was with some amusement I saw the following three articles on the Australian IT site.

Firstly from 23rd July about increases in skilled migrants entering Australia to help with our “deeping skills crisis”.

The second has NAB offshoring about 2,600 jobs over the next few months as part of a $1 billion technology restructuring program.

Finally yesterday we have an article announcing more falls in the job vacancy rates, with a fall of over 17% in the last six months.

So I have to wonder what is going on? I think I know. Yes vacancies are falling, yes people are cutting jobs and yes there is a skills crisis. The issue seems to be that many of our corporate IT workers just don’t have the right skills for the new work required.


Recruiting or Branding failure?

I read a article (thanks Plugger) about how the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment need to recruit over 500 firefighters for the coming season. So I clicked on the link to read to full story and read a good story about their recruiting needs.

Mr Rash said the love of the bush and the opportunity to develop skills which people could take back to the community were key benefits for PFF recruits.

“PFFs gain valuable experience and development which they can use later, whether this be on farms, in helping their neighbours and community, or with the CFA,” he said.

Successful applicants must hold a current manual driver licence and pass a fitness and medical test to ensure they can cope with the physically demanding work.

“Successful applicants will be well trained and skilled to be able to work as part of a team, which is critical for working at fires,” Mr Rash said.

Most PFFs work from November and December until the end of March.

Close to the end of the article I got really excited:

DSE’s web-based, e-recruitment system, which helped to streamline the application process last year, will be used again this season.

Interested applicants can access information, find answers to the most commonly asked questions and submit their applications in one place by visiting

Access to the online recruitment system will be available when applications open this Saturday.

Applications close on Sunday 7 September.

So I went to to check it out, I was disappointed very quickly.

Some ideas on what should they have done:

  • Revise the year old employment page to prepare for the mass recruitment drive to engage with a potential candidate.
  • DSE knows who they are targeting, David Rash the Gippsland Assistant Manager detailed it in the article, so make sure the page appeals to the right audience and states up front the type of person they are looking for.
  • There was no respect for the candidate’s time. If someone bothers to check your page out at least provide them with the necessary information so they can make an informed decision on if they want to work for you. While applications have not opened they could of at least told visitors when they open, on Saturday 16th, in 4 days, what about providing an email reminder facility so I know when to come back.
  • The video a good touch, if it worked. But why not put it on YouTube, then just embed in the page. Now before you scoff this the CFA has their own YouTube Channel! This also doesn’t forcing users to go download QuickTime, and probably never come back.
  • The page provides very little information on what is expected of applicants, how often will them have to work, the article tells us November to March, so why doesn’t the web page?
  • Given they need 500 firefighters in 2 months this is also a great opportunity to engage other methods, such as social networks and social media, for attraction. This is suitable as they are looking for young fit people to participate during the Christmas period so targeting university students is a perfect approach. By the way the CFA already has a FaceBook group with lots of members.

A case of a poorly executed recruiting campaign.