Thursday, July 28, 2011

Retweet or Retire?

 I recently listened as a sales executive described the difficulty that she is having in filling an open sales position. Her company is in a period of transition as they replace a simple and declining set of products with more complex products requiring technical understanding. She had interviewed a number of personable candidates with industry experience, but when she discussed the changes happening in her industry, they were lost with a “deer in the headlights” look.

Are experienced sales and management professionals and making themselves unemployable by refusing to embrace current business and communication methods? In today’s world, all but the most basic products are software driven and impacted by network and web connections in some manner.  A sales lead is more likely to come from a text message, Tweet, LinkedIn connection, Facebook chat or an email than through a telephone call.

Many younger workers are digital natives who embrace new technologies without fear or hesitation because they have used similar tools their entire life.  Many other people have jumped in with enthusiasm to learn and master a connected lifestyle. But what happens to those who don’t bother to keep their skills up to date.

During the 1990s, a website became a litmus test for the viability of a “real company.”  A company that didn’t have a nice website of their own was considered suspect, too small to be of any real importance.  We may be on the verge of a similar test for individuals.  Is a person who doesn’t have a complete LinkedIn profile too out of touch to employ? Is hiring someone in the 21st century without strong social network skills analogous to hiring someone in the 20th century who couldn’t use a telephone.

It’s usually not difficult to stay up to date on the latest technologies in your own industry. And the most popular social networking sites are free.  It really boils down to making a decision and a commitment.

In what areas are you falling behind the times?  What is your plan for catching up?