Survey Says: Employers Feeling a Talent Shortage

The 2011 Talent Shortage Survey (1) results have been released, and news is mixed for job seekers. By being forced to reduce their workforce and find ways to “do more with less” during the recent recession, businesses have found that they can do great things if they have the right talent in place. What is interesting is that while companies are not planning to increase their staff back to the pre-recession levels, they are looking for the “right” people, and apparently having a difficult time finding them. So… the good news is that companies are hiring, the bad news is that it’s a very competitive job market and employers are looking for the right combination of specific skill sets and excellent soft skills or business experience.

A few more interesting findings from the survey:

• U.S. companies reported a dramatic increase in how difficult it is for them to find the people they are looking for-from 14% to 52%, a 38 percentage point increase.

• Why are employers having such a difficult time filling positions when there are clearly a lot of people looking for work? One in four of the employers surveyed stated environmental/market factors, they just can’t find anyone available in their area. Another 22% said applicants lack the technical competencies needed, and 15% of companies stated lack of business knowledge or formal qualifications as the main reason candidates did not qualify.

• Hoping to get trained by the company? Don’t count on it-three-quarters of employers globally cited candidates’ lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the reason they could not fill positions, but only one in five is concentrating on training and development to fill that gap.

Whether you are aggressively seeking a new position or just putting your feelers out there because you’ve heard that companies are starting to hire again, this information can provide a lot of insight into how to approach your search. Some tips to consider:

• Think about location. A lot of people don’t want to or can’t relocate, but if it’s an option for you, look outside your region. While your skill set may not be in demand in your particular area, perhaps it’s a fit with an employer in another city or region.

• Assess your technical competencies and compare them to the current standards for your field. Are your “hard” skills up-to-date with today’s standards? Is there anything you need to brush up on or new skills you need to learn to be competitive? The market is tough and employers want the perfect person, so make yourself as perfect as you can. Build up your skills through education, volunteer work or even taking a lower-level job than you really want to get particular on-the-job experience.

• Take a hard look at your “soft” skills. Having the right interpersonal and communication skills, values and mindset can be as important to a potential employer as your “hard” skills. Do some personality assessments, work with a career coach or have an honest discussion with a friend. Often a very skilled or talented person ultimately doesn’t get the job because of a poor fit in this area.

• Make sure employers can find you. Connect with recruiters, visit company career pages, stay active on LinkedIn and industry-specific social media sites, and make sure your any resumes you have posted online are current and well put-together.

Employers are seeking the right people to add to their team, so you need to do everything you can to be that right person for them.

1 Source: 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, study conducted by Manpower Group: http://manpowergroup.com/research/research.cfm

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

©2011 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

The Story of Social Media Marketing and Why You Should Be Doing It

Today, a new ‘parallel’ world has surfaced right in-front of us. Knowingly or unknowingly, we all are a part of it – the internet. The internet has provided the lonely with company, and the socialite with a new set of even more friends!

The result? A parallel society in which we all bask, share and enjoy!

What started out as a simple communication channel, fast transformed itself into a space that is now known as the internet. Interestingly, the internet was not the same as this when it was conceived; the basic idea of ‘sharing’ has been kept intact but the forms and the resources have morphed and outnumbered the number of users even!

Some analysts put the number of pages at more than the number of people in the world! Quite naturally when you have such a resource at hand, you need to think in terms of business and that is where the importance of social media marketing comes into play.

Plan your Business Growth

It was not very long ago when the internet was new to many, and people would use it to send mails. It was only the ‘soft’ power companies which would then advertise on sites and e-mail programs for upgrades and stuff – and that too in very small numbers. With the introduction of Google, the scenario completely changed and a similar model was adopted by many to cash-in on and from Google’s success story.

Soon after, launching a business meant market surveys, promotional activities and aggressive marketing. Companies were trying to rope in the number of internet users for their brand promotion; still there was not enough ‘aggression’ in aggressive promotion.

Then came the new kids on the block – Social Media.

It changed the whole concept of socializing and communicating. Chartbuster social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut amongst others created a rat race wherein every company, individual and person was trying to earn a few bucks off the internet.

That was the beginning of Social Media Marketing – it is in use since then. Though critics might prefer to call its growth stage to be in the ‘nascent’ zone, growth figures and turnovers suggest otherwise. True, newer technologies and better algorithms keep appearing every now and then, but it is the growth that is booming even more and shows no signs of stopping or even pausing for a moment.

Big corporate houses realized the potential of social media marketing, zeroed in and converged their efforts and brains to optimise this and make use of it. After all, internet is where the most activity is – today.

From news to socializing, social media has taken new proportions with this marketing model for it. Free advertising and brand exposure has lead individuals and organizations to tap into this in a better manner and exploit this fully.

If you want to run your business successfully, you need to realise that a simple ‘real-world’ marketing strategy won’t do.

An online presence on one or all of the social media networks today, is as important as proper infusion of finance into the business.

Violence Against Women in Mass Media

Images of women in mass media have been under scrutiny in recent
decades. At one end of the continuum is print advertisement, brief, often
single-paged combinations of text and imagery to sell a product. At the
other end is pornography, sexually explicit imagery created to arouse in
print, television, film, and the Internet. Where does power fit in between
these? Women in both these forms of mass media are repeatedly
depicted in submissive, silenced, and even victimized roles.
Advertising
is a much more benign means of conveying power over women than
pornography. However, the average American is exposed too much
more gendered advertising than pornography in any given day.
In both,
women are not often autonomous beings but passive and objectified.

The power of imagery is well known. As visual imagery is nonverbal, its
messages are often multilayered and contradictory (Kang 1997). As a
socializing agent, the visual imagery provided by the media can have a
powerful impact on our attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors, since it
can contribute meanings and associations entirely apart and of much
greater significance (ibid). Advertisements are everywhere, from
television, in print, on billboards, and so on. Yet decoding each one we
see is near impossible due to the number of ads we encounter every
day.

Feminists have been concerned with the media’s representation of
women for some time, particularly the use of their bodies. Many images
that depict women in sexual positions or just displaying a portion of the
female body may aid in objectifying it. The woman is often the object of a
male’s gaze, and thus assuming heterosexuality (Duggan and Hunter
51). Moreover, she is an object for the viewer’s imagination. This is one
of the ways that power differences are created. There is a clear
distinction in this equation between who has control and who is
receiving it.

Turning someone into an object not only dehumanizes, but it can lead to
justifying violence (communicating gender). It is much easier on most
people’s conscience to hit a punching bag than a person. Images of
women as objects and as the recipients of aggressive behavior do
cause a desensitization of violence (Barker 38). Despite this, very little
violent crime is a deliberate replica of one in the media, not a particular
image. Much of crimes against women mirror many of the messages that
are sent in the media. Oftentimes, these images in advertisements are
glamorizing the gender power relations discussed earlier.

Figure 1 is an advertisement from Sisley retrieved from [http://www.about-]
face.org. Sisley’s advertisements are marketed toward young white,
middle to upper class females reading fashion magazines. The first
thing the viewer notices is the model’s face, bearing a fearful and
frustrated expression. It is well lit in the foreground turning around, with
barely a glimpse of the man behind her. Her hair is in her face as if she
had quickly turned around to see him. The position of her body is clearly
submissive, her hands held behind her back as she lies on the couch.
Her elbow is obstructing the view of the man’s face, thus giving the view
the impression that the man’s intentions are unknown- we cannot see
the expression on his face. While it is not clear what exactly is
happening in this scene, a sense of uneasiness arises.

A power
struggle is used here to sell a name, a name that sells clothing, which is
barely visible here. This hierarchy may help facilitate the perception of
women as targets for violence and aggression. This advertisement
reinforces the stereotype that women can be used as objects not just for
their bodies, but also for their willingness to use those bodies in
demeaning and sometimes humiliating imagery. The look on her face,
the position of her body, and the faceless perpetrator in this
advertisement almost encapsulates the entire notion of the
powerlessness of women as objects.

Katz writes, “the reduction of women to body parts for men’s
consumption can significantly damage a woman’s self-respect” (qt in
Muarianne et al 250). He goes on further than men are not born to
objectify women, but it is a learned behavior, primarily from images of
passive women. Perhaps this lack of self-respect exacerbates the
acceptance of such material. There is no more rampant use of
aggressive imagery than in the pornography industry. Barron et al
examined sexual violence in print media, videos, and the Internet, and
found that the Internet contained a significant portion of graphic and
antagonistic imagery. However, as the violence became more intense,
fewer scenes contained it (259).

Much of the heterosexual pornography in circulation draws on the
conventions of the woman as the object of the male gaze (Duggan 54).
Duggan and Hunter’s book, Sex Wars, critically examines pornography
from both sides of the argument that addresses the nature of the
medium. It must be noted that my interest here lies in violent
pornography and its effects exclusively. The images of women in this
form of mass media are a more intense mutation of the print
advertisements discussed above. “Sexually explicit” often becomes
identified and equated with “violent”. Critically examining pornography
must be done with as much analysis as that of socially acceptable forms
of imagery. Those that contain nudity, nonviolent and non-degrading
material are another discussion.

Although most of pornography is directed towards men, it cannot be
assumed that this is due to greater intrinsic male interest in sex. More
than likely, it is due to the industry’s extreme slant towards the traditional
male perspective. The Internet is the most often used way of accessing
porn, with 12% of all its websites devoted to it
(www.porndestroyswomen.org/). The effect of this form of the media is
ambiguous. Donnerstein found in one study in the “Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology” that erotic materials facilitate
aggression while he found in another study that it inhibits it (qt in Bryant
et al 289). The resolution of this issue apparently concerns the nature of
the material. Sexual violence and unpleasant themes typically facilitate
aggression, whereas, nonviolent, more loving and pleasant “soft-core”
explicit materials may hinder it (ibid). Thus, the topic of censorship is a
hotly debated one with limited research on its effects.

Themes of female subordination, bondage, sado-masochism, and rape
became increasingly prevalent in porn since the 1980’s (Sapolsky). The
rape myth scenario has become rampant. It typically presents the female
in distress but later shows her being aroused. Sapolsky also quotes
research showing that men, who are exposed to pornography
containing rape in which a female victim eventually expresses positive
reactions to the rape, are more likely to accept rape myths (e.g., women
secretly desire to be raped), be sexually aroused to rape, self-report the
possibility of committing rape, see the victim as responsible, and show
less sensitivity to rape (ibid).

Although sado- masochism, bondage, and
rape fantasies are valid and typically innocuous means of sexual
arousal in practice, in print, video, and the Internet, it dehumanizes the
submissive member of the sexual act.

This type of violent pornography is a clear example of power issues in
mass media. Rape is a crime of control and domination. Sexualizing it
with the intent of arousal sometimes encourage the viewer to accept this
type of violence as acceptable. Women in this kind of pornographic
material are dehumanized on a much deeper level than those in
advertisements. As the author of http://www.porndestroyswomen.org aptly
writes, “You cannot simultaneously objectify and dignify women”.
Does imagery of objectified women in mass media directly cause
violence toward women? The answer is an overall no.

Rape and
violence existed long before the media. The First Amendment is the
most often cited reason to not censor such media. Much of the research
of violent imagery in the media shows only a small link between actual
violence and the media. Visual literacy is ultimately what will change the
notions of women as passive objects.