Friday, September 19, 2014

Pssst . . . We can see your real names on LinkedIn comments!

Blurred lines between social media and journalism
Articles regarding online bullying (of all age groups) are commonplace; stories about restaurant receipts posted to Twitter (showing tips and lack thereof, religious judgments, or kind benefactors gifting hundreds) seem to happen every week; and iCloudInstagram / Facebook / smart phone hacking stories share equal billing with declarations of military action and Ebola outbreaks. Underlying this daily saturation of similar stories is social media. Social media provides a never-ending supply of shocking, touching, and thought-provoking fodder. But as these stories spread, it also provides a venue to torment unwilling and unsuspecting victims instantaneously and anonymously. (Conversely, it also makes praising heroes that much easier.)
Simply, if the right person reads, retweets or shares a seemingly innocuous receipt, a regional story can spread like wildfire on traditional and online publications.
We have also seen the public shaming that happens when someone's anonymous tweet or private Facebook post loses that veil of privacy. Sooner or later, the Twitter identities are exposed, the IP addresses are tracked, and names are revealed.

LinkedIn is not anonymous

LinkedIn is meant to represent your true identity. By using the site, we agree that the information we provide is truthful and that we are not using a false identity. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ have similar terms, but there is no long-lasting ramification for creating user handles or pseudonyms. When LinkedIn is used by many as an online résumé, it would be hard to explain using a pseudonym.
In this context, I cannot believe some of the comments posted on LinkedIn. I will let them speak for themselves:
On a LinkedIn post about recruiting mistakes to avoid:
Stop bashing clients and candidates. Making fun of candidates is really not acceptable especially outside of your core group. I hear it all the time recruiters are employees too... somebody hired you and there is a company out there that didn't hire you either. You are not God for candidates to come begging at your feet.
On a LinkedIn post about the NFL and domestic violence
No Robert, what 'we' need is for young black kids (yes KIDS) to stop pumping out fatherless babies that go on to a life of crime or wefare[sic] or both. 3 of every 4 black babies is born out of wedlock. This is a huge burden to the rest of society on many different levels.
On a Linked post about the biggest mistakes seen by a recruiter
This article sucks. It's generic and not insightful at all. Thanks for letting us know we shouldn't have typos in our resumes.
Wow, LinkedIn is so boring lately. I cant believe i even read this article. Where is the new information? This is worse than 101, this stuff is implied!

So why are the comments so negative and unprofessional?

I don't have an answer to this question. Nor can I explain the rude, racist, and disrespectful sample commentary I've listed above. Perhaps we have become so inured by social media and our perceived online anonymity that we feel we can say whatever we want with no repercussions -- despite the constant stream of articles that prove otherwise. The most perplexing thing of all is how anyone can post such things knowing it will be advertised to their entire list of contacts AND every reader to the LinkedIn Pulse post.

We can see your real names on LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is not like most social media platforms. We connect our real names, our education, our professional history, and our contacts together to build a community. If you wouldn't put one these comments on your résumé, it doesn't belong on this site. This network can be used to find new teaming partners, new jobs, and to ask for advice. Be mindful of what prospective contacts or employers will see.
Additionally, many posters are representing an organization. Your supervisors, managers, and human resources teams are on LinkedIn. If you don't think they would approve of your comment, then don't post it.

What should you say?

The Pulse posts are an amazing library of life lessons earned by our community members. I've read posts I didn't like or that I felt needed more information. In those cases, I chose to keep my comments to myself or requested clarification. Use your comment to open a dialogue with your community. You could end up making a connection.
Simply put, we should conduct ourselves as professionals and like our comments can and will be there to represent us long after we've signed off.
Let me know what you think. I do welcome any and all comments.

Monday, August 4, 2014

LinkedIn Recommendations: Not just for job seekers! Part I

In my last post, I shared how My Career Grew with LinkedIn. In this next post, learn when to request recommendations from colleagues and employers to use on LinkedIn – and more.

Many of you have been in this position: you've made it past your first interview, and you've wowed your prospective employer (or hope you did). Then you get a phone call: you’re informed that they’ll be checking your employment history and references. After respectfully asking what the next steps are (and jumping up and down in excitement), you start calling your former employers and personal references to give them a heads up that someone from Amazing Company will call them.
This is the worst possible time to ask for a recommendation. For many, it will turn out fine, but if you haven’t interacted with your previous employers in a while, or that former coworker has moved on to another company, or perhaps your reference didn't know you as well as you think they did, you may be sabotaging your chances at securing that perfect new job at Amazing Company.

You’re also missing out on valuable opportunities to create a dynamic network of former and current employers and colleagues who respect your work and value your contributions to the team.

So when is the right time to ask for a Recommendation?

Recommendations should be requested long before you've decided to look for new positions. Below are some of the best times to ask for a recommendation.

Following Project Completion. A good recommendation and reference happens after direct interaction. In the A/E/C, marketing, and graphic design industries, I interact with multiple project managers, principals, and team members on a daily basis. It’s easy to finish a project and move on to the next one without capturing the value I contributed to the team. So whenever I finish a project and get complimented on my efforts, I take action depending on the source. When these compliments occur in a meeting or on the phone, I ask if they would tell my boss how I’m doing. When the praise is via email, I give the individual a call and ask if I can forward the message to my boss. Recommendations received following direct contact normally contain more information regarding your work ethic, how easy or enjoyable you are to work with, and detailed comments on your specific contributions to the team.

For you, a project may be an event you helped coordinate, an annual report you compiled, or perhaps the grand opening of a new storefront. Whatever the case may be, those are still the best opportunities to gain valuable insight into how your team members view your quality of work.

After Employee Reviews. Annual reviews are another ideal and often missed opportunity to secure recommendations for LinkedIn. Most annual/performance reviews have sections for direct narrative regarding your performance, contributions to the company, and improvements over the year. Whether your direct supervisor, a small group, or your company employs 360 reviews to evaluate your performance, you can garner one or more recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.

After a Promotion. When being promoted, you are likely to work with a new group of people and/or report to a new manager. This is the perfect opportunity to ask your former manager and former team members for a recommendation. They may be willing to expand on your abilities since they no longer manage you or you will no longer influence their career path.

After a Bonus. Much like an employee review and a promotion, a bonus is usually preceded by a justification for the bonus and praise for your work. This is the perfect opportunity to parlay your financial boon into a great recommendation.

When Leaving a Company. This is probably the most common time when people ask their colleagues for recommendations. While it is the most common, it is also the trickiest. There are a few cardinal rules you should follow when asking for a recommendation or reference when leaving a company:
  • Leave on good terms: Give your current employer notice that you are leaving (two weeks is the standard); make sure all your unfinished work has been delegated; offer to train your replacement; give instructions on tasks for which you were primarily responsible; and leave your contact information and offer to answer questions (within reason). Your former employer may have loved you, but if you left the company in a bad position or deleted all your files when you left, they may be disinclined to leave you a good recommendation – LinkedIn or otherwise.
  • Follow the rules: You should avoid putting your former colleagues or managers in a position where they are circumventing HR procedures for references.
  • Make it Timely: If you haven’t asked for a recommendation before, ask for a recommendation during your two-week notice or soon after you’ve left the company. If you wait too long, they may not be willing to give you a recommendation or may not remember enough about your work to be able to recommend you.
LinkedIn is the perfect place to store recommendations, but you should be asking for them frequently – whether they make it to LinkedIn or not. For my next post, I’ll share how I ask for a recommendation for LinkedIn after each of the scenarios listed above and the language I’ve used.

Originally posted on

Vanessa Hahn is the Marketing & Communications Manager for GHD's Innovation Program.

Monday, May 12, 2014

#BringBackOurGirls, Child Brides, and Reflection

On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram took credit for the kidnapping of over 200 school-age girls from the town of Chibok, Nigeria. Women who have escaped Boko Haram’s troops in the past claim that women are sold as wives for leaders, for resources, as servants, and to serve as sex slaves. Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls kidnapped from Chibok as child brides

Social Media

Since that day in April, I have been following the updates. Disappointingly, more girls have been kidnapped and an entire community was ransacked and people murdered by the same group. I have also watched the social media storm that these events have caused. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and the resurgence of #RealMenDontBuyGirls have been used by individuals and celebrities around the world to bring attention to the plight of these kidnapped girls. It’s inspiring and has kept this topic on the forefront of the global community – and rightfully so.

In no small part to the constant media attention given to Boko Haram’s actions, Nigeria, prone to an insular mindset in terms of governance, has finally relented and accepted the assistance of foreign military aid. Boko Haram is also showing signs of a willingness to negotiate. I cannot comment on their sincerity, but for the hundreds of mothers and fathers waiting for word about their daughters, some hope is better than none at all.

It was Mother’s Day in the United States on May 11th. I thought about those mothers this weekend and my own child bride story. April and May also marked the birthdays of the two human beings that happily lifted me to that exalted state of motherhood. I officially have two teenage sons – three when including my beloved oldest stepson. The same ages as most of the girls that were kidnapped.

I was a child bride

I can remember the road to this point in my life and in my parenthood, and I can remember each year feeling shock at the milestones that seem to pile up. Was it not just last year that they both reached the “double digits.” I can still remember the impact of the realization that my oldest son turned 10 in 2010, when he looked at me in shock and declared, “Oh my god, mom! You were born in the nineteen hundreds!” It was the first time I felt old.

On the 2nd of May, my eldest turned 14, and very soon, he will be starting high school. I will be the mother of a high school student. It was this milestone that was painful because it reminded me of everything I never got to experience.

I know other parents go through these same growing pains. I am not unique in this regard. They go through the hormones, lessons in hygiene, pimples, and the lectures about responsibility and encouraging their fledging adults to think about the future. What is singularly unique in my experience is that my sons are at the ages when my life completely changed. I started dating my ex husband when I was 13 years old, and I started living with him at 14 as his wife - and called by his last name in our church. Those who have been relayed this part of my biography are usually incredulous, disgusted, scandalized, empathetic, or some mixture of all those emotions.

Living in the United States, it was not legal to be his wife, so we kept it a secret. We had an apartment, and I continued to go to high school until I got pregnant. I wanted to do the things the other girls in school were doing, but I couldn't. I had to answer to a husband who was older than I was and be a wife.

I do not regret a thing that led to the creation of my sons. It’s not practical or healthy to make myself a victim. But I know that what happened to me was and is wrong. There are various religious, personal, and painful reasons why I became his wife, but I won’t go too deeply into those details. The bottom line is that I was not prepared to be a wife at 14 any more than my sons are prepared to be husbands or fathers. Those girls in Nigeria --and everywhere there are child brides and child trafficking-- are not prepared for the adult world of marriage, motherhood, and sex.

While my experience was not violent and I was not sold, there are girls all around the world that are pressured, sold, or forced into marriage (or prostitution) before they are old enough to make the decision for themselves. It has to stop. Children are not commodities. Boko Haram can be blamed for the acts of kidnapping, murder, and the destruction of hundreds of lives, but they could not sell these girls if there was not a market. According to, approximately 14 million girls are married before the age of 18 around the world. It should not happen.

I hope that shining a spotlight on that dark world will help these girls. If more are saved before they are sold into marriage or sexual slavery because of world intervention, then it will have been worth it. Even those that mock the social media efforts are keeping the cause alive.

Please visit for more information on the active efforts to stop child brides and what you can do to help. We can’t all go in with guns blazing to stop a kidnapping, but we can make our voices heard and support legislation to stop child bride marriages and penalize those who are currently in them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shine Bright like a Diamond

DECLARATION: I've been under a lot of pressure lately, but that will just make me stronger and better at what I do. I keep rising to the occasion -- even when I feel like I'm being spread to thin. So to paraphrase Rhianna, ♦♦ gonna shine bright like a diamond♦♦

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Autism: Forgiving Myself

EXPOSITION. Most of my friends and family know that Eleazar has autism. For those that don't, now you do. Eleazar has been in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special day classes since he turned 4 years old. When he was 4, he tested as a 2-year old in terms of his conversational abilities and was diagnosed with severe languages disorder. Fast forward to 2014, and he is in his final year of resource classes before getting transitioned to regular classes and might be in his last year of speech therapy. It has been quite the journey -- and there is still a lot more to do.

In that light, I'm not sure how the following news makes me feel. Researchers at the Autism Center of Excellence, Department of Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine have conclusively linked that children with autism have genetic abnormalities in their brains. There has been a nature/nurture debate for years on the causes of autism, and this firmly puts that nurture part to rest given the genetic abnormalities found deep in the brains of children with autism.
For years, I wondered if there had been something I did when Eleazar was a baby that "gave" him autism. I wondered if my preeclampsia/ eclampsia did it even though I had it with both sons. I wondered if I didn't play with him enough or sing to him enough .... or if I spent too much time working and not enough breastfeeding. And even though this has been debunked several times, I wondered whether his vaccinations gave him autism. But this study lays most of these internal torments to bed. Something happened when he was forming in my womb that I couldn't control and they cannot pinpoint.  I didn't drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs during his pregnancy, so I couldn't begin to guess either.

Eleazar has overcome a lot of his speech problems, but in so many ways, my son has the classic hallmarks of autism. I know that he has the ability to learn how to manage the other outward signs of what can be conclusively called a genetic disorder.

"For the latest study, Courchesne and colleagues got brain samples from 11 children with autism who died young, mostly from accidents such as drowning, when aged 2 to 15. They compared their samples to brain tissue of 11 kids without autism who also died suddenly. To their surprise, they found extremely similar changes in 10 out of the 11 children with autism. They found “patches” of abnormal development in the tissue taken from the brain regions important for social development, communication and language. The visual cortex was unaffected."

"This defect indicates that the crucial early developmental step of creating six distinct (brain) layers with specific types of brain cells - something that begins in prenatal life - had been disrupted," Eric Courchesne, coauthor and director of the center, said in a news release.

Read more here:

The Study: Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism

Reuters: Researchers find abnormality in brain layers of autistic children

NBC News: Brain Study Suggests Autism Starts Before Birth

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Musing on Perfection: L'Wren Scott

OBSERVATION. Every day I fight the need for perfection. When I was a child, there was this pervasive belief that if I was just smarter, thinner, friendlier, or smiled more that things would be better. There wasn't a real end goal. I just wanted to feel happier and loved -- but I always came up short and nothing was ever good enough.
Picture credit: GoRunway/Indigital

I'm in my 30s now. I still push myself hard and failures in any aspect of my life take a huge toll, but I feel loved and cherished by my husband, friends, and family.  I don't need to be perfect.

However, reading a few articles on the death of L'Wren Scott, fashion designer, Amazon, and self-professed perfectionist, I see the end result of someone who couldn't stop striving for that goal -- and I'm taking full note of it.

I will continue to make mistakes and fall short of my own expectations, but I have to recognize that I'm still very good at what I do, I'm always striving to be a better mother and wife, and that it's good enough. My time on this planet is finite. Recognizing this limitation has made me let go of (some) of the stress of being a perfectionist. Every time I leave my desk in a slight disarray, it is a victory.

I'm okay flawed and imperfect. I'm good enough.

Read more about the fascinating L'Wren Scott:




Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living Wages

DECLA-F'N-RATION: I get really tired of the notion that there is a fix it button for any type of social, political, or systemic problem. We have major social and economic upheavals happening in this country, and we need to give them time to work out the kinks and pass them uniformly across the country. History is replete with stories of major socio-economical changes ...and NONE of them happened overnight.
  • When slavery was abolished, it took several intermediate steps, segregation, Jim Crow laws, until we had some semblance of equal treatment in the eyes of the law (acknowledging that many would argue that there are still far too many injustices).
  • When the country was going through the Great Depression, took two New Deals and several ups and downs, and a World War to get us through. The government more than doubled their debt, increased tax rates to historical levels (that makes our 15-30+ rates look paltry), and we live in the shadows of the projects that the New Deal(s) built!
  • When FDR proposed the Security Security system in 1944, he said, "In considering the cost of such a program it must be clear to all of us that for many years to come we shall be engaged in the task of rehabilitating many hundreds of thousands of our American families."
I repeat them now:
  •  "The right of a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  •  "The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  •  "The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  •  "The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  •  "The right of every family to a decent home;
  •  "The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  •  "The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment;
  •  "The right to a good education.
  •  "All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being."
I see the Living Wage battles and minimum wage struggles, and I know that we will see a day when a minimum wage is regulated by living wage principles and not blanket directives. I see battles like the one in Utah over same-sex marriage, and I think, this will pass. It will take time, but soon every state will allow two adult people to marry the partner of their choice. I see the battles over the legalization of marijuana, and I think, it will take time, but as long as it is regulated and controlled like any other medication or intoxicant, it will get acceptance in every state. AND I see the Affordable Healthcare Act, and I know when they fix all the problems and all the issues with the website, we can eventually have a system where EVERY American has these rights and we been promised them for decades.
But these things take time and yet we are the instant-gratification generation. We want these changes to happen yesterday, and it's not reasonable or rational. We have to keep ourselves invested and WANT it to happen.