Foliotek Blog

Gasoline & Resumes


I love the smell of gasoline. Yeah, I know. Very weird.

Growing up, my father had a passion for old cars. This passion didn't mean Dad collected old car paintings, or little shiny models. Nope, not my dad. My dad would buy broken down, antique has-beens and then systematically take them apart and rebuild them bit-by-bit. I remember one red '55 Chevy I rode in while dad drove home. I could literally see the highway passing beneath my feet. The floor was missing thanks to rust. A real Flintstone moment. Yeah, Dad loved the “fixer-upper.”

This process of rebuilding cars took months and sometimes years. The one consistent resource dad used in his rebuilding repertoire was gasoline. No, not to start the car, but to clean the parts. And guess who he solicited to aid in the part-cleaning extravaganza? Yeah, me. So that gasoline smell is burned into my olfactory senses. Every time I hit the pump to fill up my car, it's a nostalgic trip down memory lane to an orange, cast-iron pot filled with grease, grit and gas.

Yes, I love the smell of gasoline. Just because I love it and enjoy the frequent flashbacks doesn't mean I want gasoline as the energy source of the world’s future. Nope, too much research shows there are better tools for that. I know that in order to get from gasoline to wind or solar or whatever the gasoline replacement ends up being, infrastructure needs to change.

Where am I going with this? Since listening to this podcast by Malcom Gladwell, I have been reflecting on the capitalization of a society. There are many factors that contribute to society's growth, but some factors seem simpler to improve. And yet, they aren’t changing. Why? Because like the transition to renewable energy, infrastructure needs to change. Where can we start? I have an idea.

Ditch the resume. Please HR industry, stop using resumes.

Recently I was reading research on employee turnover. While I found quite a few numbers attempting to summarize the impact of turnover, one thing stood out. It’s insanely expensive.

From the 30% of an employee’s salary cited by the US Department of Labor to the 250% an employee’s salary cited by, losing employees is negatively impacting our society’s ability to grow.

This wouldn’t be so bad if turnover rates were low, but that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, over the last five years, turnover rates have increased. In a recent survey of 25,000 organizations, over the past four years turnover rates have gone up almost 4%.

What’s going on? This doesn’t seem to make sense. Why aren’t employers better at the employee selection process? Why aren’t individuals better at choosing career paths that fit their strengths? Yes, this is a complicated issue, but there are solutions. Just like renewable energy is better than gasoline, there are better ways to match employers with potential employees.

And it starts by retiring the resume.

Think about it, how much time is wasted combing through word-smithed resumes filled with hyperbole that fails to tell the trajectory of a person's growth potential in one 8 ½ x 11-inch piece of paper. Not to mention that building a resume does very little for interview preparation. Everything about the resume screams “replace me, I’m old.” But here we are, stuck using gasoline because the industry seems unable to shift.

We need a different infrastructure. The resume is too limited.

What could the future be? Just like there are emerging solutions to replace gasoline, there are emerging solutions to replace the resume. Several companies like Handshake, Simplicity, and Ripplematch are using big data to marry a candidate’s technical skills with an employer’s job description. These systems show a great deal of promise. Other companies like Foliotek and Portfolium are taking the approach of giving candidates the ability to showcase projects or digital stories to potential employers, stories that demonstrate their social and professional capabilities beyond a bullet point on a resume.

All of the companies above still use the resume as a part of the process, but it is only one metric. The future of the candidate / employer matching process will involve both big data and digital stories. Obviously, the future hasn’t quite arrived, but these new options are a great place to start.

If you are a company that is only requiring a resume as your point of entry, I encourage you to look a little deeper at the available technologies. Maybe you can be the next Tesla, and just like they are pushing everyone out of gasoline, you can usher in an era of new methods for minimizing turnover and make a dramatic increase on the capitalization of our society.

My company has already made the switch and witnessed very positive results. The more companies that modify their requirements, the faster the infrastructure will change. And then, maybe someday, I’ll have nostalgic memories associated with the resume like I do with gasoline.

Probably not.

Ownership of Online Identity

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

We all know the nursery rhyme. Humpty, the egg, falls off the wall. Sadly, it's all over for him. Nobody figures out how to reassemble Humpty. And if you watched the Super Bowl this year, Turbotax even made a commercial about the guy.

What I find interesting about this little nursery rhyme is this: nowhere is “Humpty” identified as an egg. But, I would wager, you never questioned whether Humpty was or wasn’t an egg (unless you are one of those philosophical types that questions everything). You just assume, from the evidence provided by popular culture, that he was an egg. Spoiler alert! There is literally no evidence that suggests that Humpty was an egg. Whoa! Time to rethink the meaning of your life. Of course, if you dig deep, there are a variety of theories that lead to the conclusion that Humpty Dumpty was, indeed, an unborn chicken (but wait ... was it even a chicken's egg?). You’ll need to research those on your own.

The point I am trying to make is that we all too often take things at face value. I’ve seen hundreds of nursery rhyme books featuring the egg, Humpty, perched precariously on the wall. Therefore, I never questioned his species, genus, family, order, class, or phylum. Why should I, the evidence was right there. Obviously, Humpty’s origin is not going to change the direction of my life, so I have no reason to dig into the roots of this nursery rhyme. However, there are many times in life when we face making an important decision where knowing the history and facts could have significant repercussions. In those instances, you don’t want to judge a book by its cover.

You are probably aware of times when digging a bit deeper is important. For example, election years might cause you to dig a bit deeper. Figuring out where to further your education will probably push you to do a bit of research. And maybe a job search would drive you to dig deeper into various opportunities. However, I can assure you of a time when research is paramount. Interestingly, it isn't research done by you, its research done on you. YIKES!

This happens when hiring managers are considering whether or not to bring you in for an interview. They begin to search for what public (or private) evidence exists that supports the claims you made on your resume. Will they discover you’re an egg or something else entirely? In a recent survey, Career Builder found that 60% of employers will use Social Media to gather more information about job candidates. So what does this mean for you?

Career Builder found that 60% of employers will use Social Media to gather more information about job candidates.

If you are job searching, you need to make certain that you have curated your online brand. This means shutting off all publicly accessible components to the online social channels you frequent that aren't professional. It also means googling yourself to see what shows up. Because you're limiting access to these online brands, it would be wise to also provide the hiring manager a professional online brand to view. If they are going to creep on you anyway, why not give them a guided tour? There are many tools available to help you create an online brand. Of course, I’m going to recommend some Foliotek magic, but you can certainly give others a whirl. What’s most important is that you take ownership of your online content.

If you don’t define who you are, other people will define it for you.

Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt. Yeah, I said it. It's a hot topic. Everyone talks about it. Well, almost everybody. I'd wager that the people who are most impacted by that debt don't talk about it. At least not until it's too late. High school seniors get the magical money and head off to school. Only the magical money doesn't come from Mickey Mouse, it's Uncle Sam.

A few months back, I ran across this ridiculously amazing, and frightening, infographic from I've seen it pop up on a few blogs over the year and thought it would be good to share here as well.


I'm sharing because I think this image does an excellent job of conveying the problem in visuals. The more ways we can look at the issue, maybe we can find a solution. And since it isn't good to just talk about the problem without offering up a solution, I thought I'd throw out one possible way to attack the problem. It's using an existing system called ... wait for it ... "education."

Wouldn't it be great if every high school college prep senior had to take an eight week course focused on understanding and managing their anticipated college debt (mic drop).

Would it be effective? I have no idea. But I do know that this country can't sustain a debt crisis greater than its current national debt. Something's gotta change. Just check out the graphic for yourself.


What is Your Brand?

Whether we like it or not, every decision we make affects our brand. From the words we use, or the clothes we wear, to the content we publish in social media, all of it speaks to your personal identity. Your Brand.

So what is your brand? You can find out by asking this question:

"What is the word or phrase people think of when they think of you?"

That can be a pretty scary question to answer. But that, in essence, is your brand. Let’s look at a more comprehensive definition from Tim O’Brien.



PART 01 -

“Stimulates a meaningful emotional response in your target audience.”

This means that your actions, on and off the web, are going to affect other people. In many cases, people will decide what your brand is within 15 seconds of meeting you. Obviously 15 seconds is not enough time for them to draw a logical conclusion about what makes you tick without having any tangible evidence, but sadly, this is the case. People are going to have an emotional response to … "You." This meaningful, emotional response could be positive or negative; regardless, it will mean something to them and in turn have an effect on you.

The second part of this statement, "Target Audience," adds a layer of intentionality. Who is your target audience? Interestingly, your brand is going to impact both your "target audience" and your non-target audience. The difference is that your brand cares about, or is more focused on, a defined group of people. While everyone is going to make their own decision about what your brand is, your focus should be on the group of people whose opinions you care most about. How do you want to be perceived?

For example, if I wear a suit every day (HA), no matter the temperature, and you always see me in my suit, it conveys a certain message. That would be a part of my brand. Some might see me and think, "That's guys got swag" others might see me and think, "what a pompous jerk." My attire is a part of my brand, and it can conveys both a positive and negative message. You just need to be certain the message you are conveying is the right message for the right audience.

PART 02 -

“About the values and qualities for which you stand”

Clearly your brand is focused on soliciting an emotional response from a group of people. Now you need to decide what values and qualities you want your brand to state. My colleague has a post about How to Create a Personal Brand. It's a great post. If you have a few minutes, give it a read. However, whether you read it or not, remember this:

You have already built your brand.


That bit of truth is about as scary as answering the question that defines your brand. But there is good news, you can still shape your brand and refine it to be more intentional and focused on the values and qualities for which you stand. Just because you may have a brand that means “x” today doesn’t mean you can’t begin the process of refining that brand to be more intentional tomorrow.

So start to work out your plan and make the necessary changes for “stimulating the meaningful emotional responses” you have purposefully defined.

If you have some time, check out this Personal Brand video by Tim O'Brien. It will make you think more carefully about the emotional impact of your brand.

Related Posts:
How to Create a Personal Brand
Your Virtual Handshake
First Impressions

Show Your Work!

If I had a nickel for every time my primary and secondary grade level math teacher said "Geoff, you need to show your work," I'm pretty sure that today, I'd still be living off the interest from the money I'd accumulated from 12+ years of education. These days, it’s not me hearing those words from my teacher, it's my kids who are hearing it (BAHAHAHA … evil laughter). Funny thing is, now that I am "older and wiser" (said while smirking), I am 100% on the side of the teacher. I suppose that the "older" me has learned there are tremendous benefits to being able to demonstrate your knowledge.
alt For example, recently I was reading an article in Forbes about the top 10 skills employers most want. They were things like "ability to work in a team structure" (number 1)" and "ability to make decisions and solve problems" (also number 1 … guess it was a tie). If these are the types of "skills" employers want to see from job candidates, how do you demonstrate those on a resume? Sure, you can write "lead an engineering team to develop web-based product X" but that's like giving the answer to a complex math problem without telling your teacher how you got there.

Teacher (Old lady, sounds fragile): "Geoffrey, what's the value of x in this equation: 2x + 4 = 8"

Geoffrey (Young and arrogant): "x = 2, Mrs. Ward"

Teacher (not so fragile sounding anymore): "Show your work!"

Geoffrey (fear and frustration): "AHHHH"

However, truth be told, that is exactly what employers want from job candidates. When a human resources hiring agent sits behind their big, intimidating desk and asks questions like: "Tell me about a time when you were a member of a team." They don't want to hear you say: "I was on a capstone project team in college," they want to hear the story around your team experience. They want you to "show your work."

So why not get a leg up on the interview before you even step foot into a hiring manager’s office? Why not "show your work" before you even "show up"? Wouldn't this drastically change the hiring manager’s ability to ask questions during the interview as well as allow them to see the entire picture of your skill set?

Foliotek is all about providing people with a way to "show their work." The emphasis is on helping people tell their stories around their learning experiences in a way that is visually appealing and easy for a hiring manager to consume.

Check out some of our samples below (or my own) and build your own authentic online brand; you will certainly have a head start over the competition.