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Blockchain: What Every Job Seeker and Professional Needs to Know

Social media discussions are alive with information about blockchain and the analysts and media that have been talking about it for a long time. The trend has given rise to a new breed of cryptocurrency millionaires that have created excitement and buzz for the technology. While most of us are aware of blockchain, few really understand what it is. If you’ve looked for a job recently, you may have come across it in a job description.

Whether you’re currently looking for a job, or just trying to stay current in your present position, knowing a little more about blockchain will help you enter into the conversation.

To get you up to speed, let’s start with a simple definition for this market reality that is taking the globe by storm. Here is one definition; Blockchain is a continuously growing block of records or units of information linked together via timestamps or other information indicators in a highly secure and trusted manner.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain can be seen as a transparent and secure transaction ledger where transactions are both recorded and confirmed. All participating parties in a distributed network can share access to this continuously growing database to address their needs for information. Users in the network can contribute to the database by adding new transactions (or blocks) to the ledger stream. And, more importantly, every transaction across the network is recorded and stored without the ability to alter it, whether intentionally or accidentally. This level of security creates a beautiful new reality for a decentralized trusted information source in a landscape of broken global trust.

While there are numerous reasons that this is game changing, here are a few of my favorites:

  • The entities do not need to know each other to create a secure valued exchange—only their relevance to the information content and purposes defined by the particular chain.
  • By distributing evidence and details of transactions and providing means of access through a highly decentralized process, the chain simply cannot “go down” and is thus, remarkably more secure, stable, and available than other solutions.
  • Blockchain eliminates the need for third party information processors and central authorities, driving more direct and efficient (cheaper) transactions.
  • Blockchain turns David and Goliath onto its proverbial head-allowing for the transfer of power from large, controlling entities to the many.
  • It allows for the cryptocurrency markets where currencies can be solely digital, creating a new model of currency ownership from tangible units to purely digital representation.

These blockchain characteristics and features are attracting innovators from across an expanding number of industries and business services and operations. Soon, most enterprises will see value and develop practical strategies for leveraging the power of the blockchain idea.

Blockchain is relevant to every person’s role

While we could spend hours extolling its impact, the bottom-line is blockchain is becoming important in every conversation due to its innovative nature. As the global population transacts in this new ecosystem with distributed user control, the normal course of business will be severely impacted in every industry.   

Why should you care as a job seeker or a professional? Let’s take a few real-world examples to demonstrate why it matters to you.

As a Marketing Manager– Blockchain can record ANY structured information, not just financial transactions. Think about the implications of the expedient and accurate recording of market data that shows what people own, their demographics, and their day-to-day transactions in real-time. If you knew you could have trusted and verifiable information at your fingertips, how would that change your day-to-day? 

As a Banking Executive– Blockchain has made it possible for parties to transact and satisfy their respective economic needs in a trusted way — without a middle-man. How will that knowledge change your offerings? Do you see new methods for assessing financial risk or identifying new product opportunities?

 As a Healthcare Leader– Think about the possibilities. Could you capitalize on blockchain by accessing fragmented healthcare information systems allowing for more comprehensive records and more holistic patient or healthcare analysis? Think about the impact of verified data sharing between multiple healthcare providers along with access to linear treatment records? Would that dramatically increase the accuracy of diagnosis?

We could take every single industry, business process, and job role (present and future) and spell out examples of how blockchain will likely impact each. So now that you are convinced that you should care, what should you do about it to get up to speed?

5 career tactics to optimize your job search and professional development plan as they relate to blockchain:

Tactic #1: Research the impact to your industry and your role

There is an abundance of information and resources available on blockchain. Top consulting firms like Bain, McKinsey, and Deloitte have published numerous whitepapers and articles about the impact on industry. The mainstream press including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and many others have also covered blockchain from many different perspectives. One of my favorite resources for tracking industry or job role information are the professional associations serving professionals in your same field of expertise. For example, if you are in marketing, take a look at the American Marketing Association resources. Similarly, if you are in the legal industry, you may want to take a look at the information on the International Association of Privacy Professionals. The bottom-line is you’ll need to do a little research and conduct your due diligence for your personal career endeavor.

Tactic #2 Find a subject matter expert to mentor you

We are big proponents of mentoring and have seen first-hand the incredible impact that mentors can make on an individual’s career trajectory. Finding a mentor who understands blockchain intimately (even if they aren’t in your industry), can lead to a much quicker understanding for you. Harnessing their wisdom will allow for an expedient application of strategy and operational implementation.

Tactic #3 Anticipate future skillset requirements

When you are conducting your due diligence, be mindful of thinking through how you can leverage your previous experience and specific expertise to be on the cutting-edge of your business. Think strategically about what you bring to the table for the inevitable business shifts, and know which new bodies of knowledge, skillsets and technology you will need. 

Tactic #4 Address your new skillsets in your branding

If you are job seeking, you have multiple branding documents that showcase what you uniquely bring to a company. Make sure you incorporate your new skillsets into each of those documents, along with any new learning or credentialing that has occurred. We also strongly recommend that you download five job descriptions from the target market, list the top 10 common areas of expertise that they are looking for and address all of them in your branding. Even if you aren’t job seeking, it’s always a good idea to keep your digital profiles and resume up to date – you never know when your dream job may find you.

Tactic #5 Verbal communications and interview prep

All of your verbal communications and interview stories should showcase your skillsets.  Not only should you incorporate your newly acquired skills and training, but also make sure that your interview stories and accomplishments directly address where your industry is going and how your experience in the past would help you make an immediate impact. Be prepared to share your new learnings at your next review session, or before if you have the opportunity to bring your new knowledge to bear as a solution to a current problem. 

When you are thoughtful about the potential impact of blockchain on customers, products and services, you be better prepared to sell yourself and to identify strategic opportunities to a potential hiring manager or your direct report. Showcase your thought leadership and demonstrate that you are one step ahead of your competition.

HINT: Never get complacent about staying at the forefront of skillsets of the future.

Blockchain is just one example of how industry and the market can change in an instant. Whether you are leading a team, or you’re an individual contributor who is a natural leader, continually learning is the key to success.  Be planned about spending several hours weekly reading relevant news about your industry, role and the global markets at large. Make it a point to attend at least one or two networking events on a monthly basis in order to broaden your viewpoint on happenings. 

Blockchain is here to stay for the near future. You don’t have to understand all of the inherent complexities and modalities to know that it is disrupting the way business happens today. You also don’t need to be an expert on blockchain to interpret what it means for you as a professional and leader, identifying the potential career liabilities and opportunities to stand out from your competition. This is one market reality among hundreds that are changing at a rapid speed. Managing your career and planning for future skillsets should be your constant market reality.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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