How Not to Get Hired (Or, Get Fired Once Hired)

Over that last several months I have been working with clients helping them build out their marketing and communications departments.  I have done the needs assessment, workforce planning, along with job descriptions, application review and interview design.  Through the application review process I have to say that there is one shocking theme emerging – the inflation of one’s experience.  Needless to say, inflating your experience is either the best way to NOT get hired or, should you manage to fool the hiring manager, it is a sure fire way to get fired!

I work in a pretty small market.  I tend to know who is who when it comes to my industry.  If I don’t know someone, I can easily call someone and ask about the person.  So, it is really concerning to me when I see people inflate their resumes, including their LinkedIn profiles, with details that I know to be questionable.

Even if I didn’t work in a small market there are some telltale signs that raise eyebrows.  While it is entirely possible that you were waiting tables or someone’s receptionist one week, it would be more rare that that your next job would have you leading teams that approved the top dog’s speeches and/or press calendar.

I am not saying that you can’t work on a team that supports senior management, but I have to confess that professing that you were single-handedly responsible for the approval process for either a CEO or a senior politician such as a Senator, a Provincial Premier or even a leader of a country is a bit far fetched.  In the last two weeks I have read resumes that have made such claims.  In one case, the candidate had been a receptionist and his next job was working for a Premier of the Province “approving” his speeches and speaking points.  In another case, the candidate had managed a bar and the next job she was the CEO’s press secretary and responsible for approving all interview requests, messaging and speeches.  In both cases, I know the person who actually performed those roles.  As a result, I know the candidates were not performing the actual duties that they claimed to have done. I also know that people are not moved into such roles with no experience.  These roles require a fair amount of expertise and experience.

Inflating your experience is a dangerous practice and here’s why:Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 3.45.34 PM

  • On the front end, experienced hiring managers and/or HR Professionals will rule these candidates out.  That is expected, but it becomes more serious as we look at this further.
  • In small markets, your reputation and creditability will be impacted sooner than later.  People know each other and it doesn’t take long to lose your credibility.
  • Another scenario?  Suppose you try this in a market that isn’t so small and you get the job.  Things might be good for weeks or months, but eventually, it will become clear that you don’t have the experience claimed.  The results then are be bad for both parties.  Neither of these outcomes are preferable for either party.

Many organizations are taking steps to weed out false information in the event that it was not discovered in the screening and interview stage.  They use companies that investigate your education, work history and even credit history.  So, beware that more and more companies are doing this. If an employer finds out you misstated your experience, the end result is quite simple. You will be shown the door.

The cardinal rule is to tell the truth.  Eventually it comes out and it can be far worse and devastating to all parties concerned.

Want to learn more about issues and risks to your business, connect with us at

International Women’s Day – What Things Look Like From a 12-Year Old Girl

In honour of International Women’s today, which is tomorrow, what do young girls see when they interact in an adult world? What would a 12-year old girl see if she spent a week in an office environment?  What impressions would she be left with?  What questions would she ask?  Let’s imagine and explore through this fictitious summary.

Hi! My name is Tina. I am 12 years old. I recently spent a week in a local office as a part of my entrepreneur class.  The objective was to show us the importance of getting a good education so that when we finish school, we will get a good job.  It is not focused on girls, but all kids.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

When the week started I was nervous, but also excited.  I had never been in a big office like this before.  I imagined all the adults wearing suits, being very serious, but very professional.  I pictured  the women and men working together in meetings and big fancy boardrooms – you know, like you see on TV and in the movies.  When the week was over though, I had a different opinion.  It wasn’t like what I imagined at all.  Here is what I saw:

1. Meetings

At first I thought it was funny when I heard the term Hen Party.  I told my friends about it and we all laughed.

Over the week though, I realized that when two or more men got together it was a meeting.However, when two or more women gathered, it was a Hen Party. I stopped thinking it was funny though. I actually listened to the conversations. Men could be talking about hockey, or their night out and laughing. That was called a meeting.  The women could be talking about budget items and something called accruals, but it was a Hen Party.  Seems kinda unfair and disrespectful to these women.

2.  Being Serious

I got to sit in a lot of meetings during the week, which by the way is super boring.  I am not sure why adults think they are cool. Anyway, there is a lot of serious discussions in those meetings. At most times everyone can be pretty serious.  Sometimes though, there are jokes. A lot of them I didn’t get, but they all seemed to think they were funny.

The thing that stood out for me though, was after one meeting my assigned mentor was asked to stick around, so that meant I got to stay.  The man that asked her to say said: “you know Susan, I have noticed that you are very serious.  I would recommend that you not be so serious. People don’t like that you know.” She thanked him for his observations and we left.

After we were back to her office, I asked her about his comment. I thought that he must be her boss. He wasn’t. He was what she called, a peer. It was strange to me that he thought she was serious. She laughed and joked like the others in the room, which by the way were all men. I didn’t think she was any more serious than they were.

They were talking about a contract negotiation. Seemed like a serious thing to me. So, I was really confused about why her peer, which she explained to me was her equal, would make such a comment to her. Again, I was feeling like she was being called out for something that was unfair.

 3.  Good Business Man versus the B-word

In several meetings I saw men get angry, raise their voice or at least in two cases, pound their fists on the table.  It really got people’s attention and it seemed to bring people around to that person’s point of view. I really didn’t like it.

The women in the room didn’t do that. They sometimes had to raise their voices so that they could be heard, but they didn’t pound their fists. More than once I noticed that women in the room were cut off or one of their male peers (my new word 🙂 ) would talk over them.  The women would stick to the point, wanting a solution and they wanted an agreement on the solution before moving forward. This is what they called an interesting dynamic.

After being in the office for close to a week, it seemed like the adults became more comfortable with me there and would have open discussions, maybe like I wasn’t there.  But that is o.k.  That is when I really learned the most. For example, after these fist pounding meetings there were comments like:  “Jim (fist pounder) knows his stuff. I respect his leadership and his vision.” It was different though when I heard comments about women. There were some nice things, but at least half of the time, the comments were not so nice. For example, “Connie can be such a b-word. She gets on one thing and won’t let it go. I wonder why she is so cranky,” which would be followed by some laughing. These comments didn’t make me feel good. I don’t know how these women do it every day. Will it be like this when I finish school?

 4.  Being  Too Nice

This one seems really strange to me.  After another meeting my mentor for that day was called into her boss’ office.  Again, I got to go.  Her boss told her that she was too nice.  That she had to stop being so polite and just not be as nice.  This mentor too thanked her boss for his observations and we went back to her office.  I asked her about this and told her about the other comments I had heard about women being called the b-word.

I told her I was really confused. She was really nice actually and she smiled and said that as women, we need to be prepared that in one meeting you will be told that you are too nice and in the next you will be called the b-word. It is just a fact of life. When I asked her if the same thing applied to men, she smiled again and said let’s get ready for our next meeting.  She answered me without answering me.  I am not sure that this being a fact of life is something I am prepared for.

While it is true that  in the words of Virginia Slims “We have come a long way baby,” we still have a long way to go.  I would hope that by the time my 12 year old niece (who is not Tina) is finished University and working, that these views are not a fact of life.  My post last year in honour of International Women’s Day looked at women being persons under the law.  Let’s hope we move the equality issue faster and further than we have over the last 85 years.

Agree or disagree.  What are your thoughts on this issue?  

To Pay or Not Pay Industry Influencers – Part 2 with Jeff Bullas

In the first part of our interview with Jeff Bullas, we discussed seven key marketing trends you shouldn’t ignore. This time, Bullas provides us with his insights on influencer marketing, influencer relations programs, and the big questions…

HA MacLean Image

HA MacLean Image

To Pay or Not to Pay Industry Influencers?

MacLean: As an industry influencer, you are an independent and objective voice. People and brands want to associate with you. How do you feel about influencer programs that brands develop?

Bullas: “This is an interesting area. The world of online influence has moved the goal posts. Brands are learning how to deal with influencers and influencers are learning to work with brands.

Quite often, a global influencer can have a very large platform and network that is larger than the reach of a national magazine, and even a mass media outlet such as a newspaper. This means that an Influencer doesn’t need a brand to provide a platform or an audience. In the past, an expert or thought-leader needed access to an audience and that was provided through a speaking opportunity at a conference. The reality now is quite different. They often already have a large, global network that has been accelerated by the crowd-sourced marketing of social media.

So it comes down to a grey area of how to provide mutual benefit for both parties.

For the brand this could be the Influencer providing access to their focused networks. For the Influencer it could be access to decision-makers at a conference that result in consulting or [other] business opportunities.

Some bloggers are happy with a free trip and some baubles to attend an event for free. This all takes time and a blogger has to work out if spending the time outweighs the opportunity cost of not earning income while doing so. This is not an objective but a subjective decision.

Payment could also be an increase in credibility by attending and speaking at a blue ribbon event. It could also be financial compensation. There has to be a fair exchange of value and brands need to ensure they don’t take Influencers for granted based on old paradigms.”

MacLean: As an industry Influencer, how do you feel about brands that seek out Influencers with the intent of having them write blogs, create videos, and post positive comments for a fee? What role do they play in the Influencer Marketing ecosystem? What obligation does the influencer have to disclose that there are fees tied to the endorsement?

Bullas: “I don’t see it as being much different to having someone being sponsored, like Tiger Woods is by Nike. At the end of the day, it has to be a match that is congruent for both parties. Woods wouldn’t be sponsored if he thought that the Nike brand wasn’t a good product that he could stand behind. Some bloggers will declare for each article that they have been compensated, [while] others will provide a catch all phrase on their blog.”

MacLean: What elements do you consider important in measuring the success of an influencer program — both from the brand side as well as being an Influencer? What is important to you?

Bullas: “The brand will have its own goals for an influencer program whether that is creating more brand awareness, or an increase in leads or sales.

What is important for me in measuring success is that it is consistent with the values of both parties and helps both parties achieve their goals.”

MacLean: Based on your experience and strategic nature, what would be your #1 piece of advice for a brand wishing to establish its own influencer marketing program?

Bullas: “I think it would come down to a longer term strategic partnership that isn’t based upon ‘hit and run’ marketing. Continuous marketing is a much better approach on a ‘search and social’ web that doesn’t like silence. It takes time to build a sizeable social media network of influence.”

I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions around trends and influencer marketing. As brands we need to take the voice and opinions of our influencers into account when building our programs.

The advice and recommendations that Jeff provided in this interview provide a solid look at the value that Influencers can play in your continuous marketing strategy. And Jeff answered the question on everyone’s minds?  What role does paid Influencer Marketing play in our plans – there is definitely a role, as long as it is mutually beneficial and the influencers self-disclose!

For more information on Influencer Relations, feel free to connect with me @macleanheather.

A version of this blog previously appeared on the Marketing Cloud blog.

The Influencer Series – An Interview with Jeff Bullas, Part 1

7 Key Trends You Shouldn’t Ignore

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Influencer Marketing and Influencer Relations have played an important role in marketing and sales for organizations both small and large.  As brands develop and consumers become more demanding, we tap into the insights and thought-leadership of Influencers like Jeff Bullas to help us navigate this ever-evolving space.  In the first of a series of Influencer interviews, we talk to Jeff Bullas.

MacLean:  No stranger to the fast-past world of marketing, your blog is read in over 190 countries and you have been recognized by Forbes, Huffington Post and many others for your thought-leadership and influence.  You are a strategist at heart and it shows.    So, as an industry influencer, what are the top trends that you see emerge for marketers?

Bullas:  There are many trends that have been emerging in the last two years. Here are 7 key trends that you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Content marketing

The importance and role of content marketing and how it works across social media, search, multimedia and mobile is becoming a key focus for many brands.

Brands have been blinded by the shiny new toy of social media.  They think that this is all they should be doing beyond their day-to-day habitual marketing. The same thing they have been doing for decades.

Key Take-Away:  Content is the foundation of all digital marketing and is the reason people read, view or share.  Creating “Liquid” content is vital to create brand awareness and tap into crowd-sourced marketing.

2. Mobile Marketing

The rapid rise of smart phones and tablets has flatfooted many marketing managers and delivering marketing messages and content that is optimized for mobile platforms is becoming a “must”. Increasingly consumers are viewing content, receiving email and buying products from “small screens”.

Companies need to urgently redesign websites and blogs that are “responsive” – to respond to all device screen sizes for optimal viewing and usability – to ensure they are optimizing for mobile devices.

Key Take-Away:  Some websites are recording 30-40% of all viewing from mobile devices. That should not be ignored.

3. Integrated Digital Marketing

Companies with savvy marketers are realizing that digital marketing should not be one-offs that are islands of isolated tactics. Increasingly social media and content is impacting search results. Google created Google+ for a few reasons, including capturing social signals. Ensuring that your approach is allowing you to tie them all together to achieve maximum effectiveness is becoming key.

Key Take-Away:  This is optimized digital marketing.

4. Social at Scale Marketing

Brands are also realizing that “doing” social is complex and is like juggling many balls at once. We are seeing the rush to develop, buy up start-ups and implement Enterprise platforms that are assisting marketing professionals to market, manage and monitor multiple social networks and even other digital marketing (e.g. email).

Key Take-Away:  This is “social at scale” marketing. 

5. Continuous Marketing

Marketers need to realize that a strong trend is emerging called continuous marketing. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run “campaigns”. The reality is that being found online requires constant SEO activity and content creation, publishing and marketing.

Key Take-Away:  Google hates silence. To do this well requires implementing some marketing automation. 

6. Personalized Marketing

The “one size fits all” approach to marketing of mass messages on television and traditional media are becoming less effective due to media saturation. We are seeing the rise of personalized marketing on ecommerce sites, websites and email that tailor the advertising and user interface to the relevant interests of consumers.

Key Take-Away:  This trend is being driven by technology using “big data” to increase marketing effectiveness.  

 7. Visual Marketing

We first saw visual marketing creep into the landscape when YouTube entered mainstream consciousness a few years ago. Since then this creep has turned into a torrent of visual marketing with the emergence of Pinterest, Instagram and even Slideshare. In the last six months this has gone to a whole new level as Vine’s six second snack-size video and now Instagram’s new 15 second video app has marketers scrambling for creative inspiration to apply and leverage this new trend.

Key Take-Away:  Use and maximize visual marketing tools.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of my interview with Jeff Bullas, To Pay or Not Pay Industry Influencers.

A version of this post previously appeared on the Marketing Cloud blog.