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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Social Snapshots: A Candidate’s Personal Brand


Personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. It’s a timeless concept. The two reasons why branding has always existed on a personal level is that we always have to sell ourselves in various situations, whether trying to convince our friend to see a movie or trying to impress a hiring manager at an interview – your personal brand is constantly being taken into consideration.
People judge us, especially on first impressions, and when we’re looking for work these days our first impressions can occur online with a simple Google search – before you even meet someone. In this day and age it has become common practice to Google something or in regards to candidates – someone. For some ‘googling’ people has now become second nature and just something frequently performed. But why is this?
Because as individuals we are active online and we produce content. Times have changed and with the explosion of social media networks, individuals have become content creators, networkers and spectators – a lot of people are guilty of this – and we end up spending hours online in networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus, creating and digesting content.
Did you know? If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. Social media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web. One out of eight couples married in the U.S. met via social media. Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of countries like Sweden, Israel and Switzerland. See more facts about the social media revolution in this video:

But what does this mean in to pre-employment community? Companies and recruiters have caught on and started using social media in order to learn more about prospective candidates – some will ‘google’ you or browse Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn attempting to dig up more information about who you are. This information was once difficult to obtain pre social media. So what are they looking for?
Fit and suitability. This really resonated with me recently when a friend shared that they were laid off because they were not a “cultural fit.” This person had all of the skills to get the job done and then some, but at the end of the day they did not fit within that company’s ecosystem or work culture. Knowing this person had invested the last six months with this company, and vice versa, I wondered why neither party went to greater lengths to better evaluate this relationship from the very beginning.
Proper hiring or placement is a challenge. Let’s face it, no one enjoys having to look for work and the employment process can be draining and cost all parties time and money. Better assessment upfront can help both job seekers and employers ensure a proper FIT and reduce time spent “in limbo.”
The future of the resume is a social snapshots to showcase a candidate’s personal brand – an expression of who the is their world of social networks. This leads to the question, what do your social networks say about you?
At CrewRevu, we feel there are five C’s to look for when viewing social network information: Community, Content, Context, Communication, and Consistency.
  1. Community. Your community reflects where you spend your time and can show your interests, hobbies and who you surround yourself with.
  2. Content. Content is king; it is the king of your character and shows potential employers what you’re about, what you are talking about, what you are saying and what you are doing within these networks.
  3. Context. Context tells a story about how you are living your life and can give an indication on how professional you are.
  4. Communication. This shows how you engage with audiences within your communities – how you talk with your friends, family and your peers online.
  5. Consistency. In direct relation to content, context and communication – what consistency do you exhibit across your social networks? This can reflect behavior, validate how you represent yourself or indicate your authenticity, and that you are who you say you are. In this day and age you cannot make stuff up!
Employers are looking for people to fit in with ‘their crowd’ or ‘their team’ – they’re assessing your cultural FIT. Social snapshots transform and streamline the hiring process, allowing for a better connection with employers and add value to all parties involved in the hiring process by increasing the ability to better assess an individual’s cultural and professional fit.
What does your social snapshot say about you?

don friedDon Fried is part of the development team who created and launched CrewRevu social snapshots for the hiring community. The essence of CrewRevu is to be socially seen, to stand out and to be recognized in the hiring process. Photo Credit fansided.
SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Holiday Hunting: Use the Holiday Slowdown to Your Advantage

There is a big misconception that companies stop hiring during the holidays. Definitely not true!  While the holidays do result in somewhat of a slowdown, employers are still interviewing and hiring – some trying to use budget allocations before year-end, others getting new hires in place for January 1 when new budget dollars kick in. Keeping your job search active will not only get you to the front of the line for these openings, but because other job seekers believe the “no-hire-in December” myth and are slacking off, you will have less competition.
Here are a few more reasons why this is an ideal time to be job hunting and strategies to implement.
1. Multitude of networking/volunteer opportunities
Holiday gatherings provide a relaxed, festive setting for networking. From local business and chamber of commerce events and trade association meetings to neighborhood gatherings, childrens’ school events, church functions, and family parties, the possibilities are endless. Look at your invitations and prioritize according to who could be in attendance – instead of attending the same events that you’ve been to over the past six months, try something different where there is potential to meet new people who could be sources of job leads.
Also, many nonprofits need additional help so get out there and volunteer. Not only will it boost your self-esteem, you never know who you might meet. Remember, givers always receive … give your time and the rewards will follow!
When attending any event/activity be prepared with a 30-second sound byte that articulates the ideal position for you, your best “feature” as a candidate, and end by telling the person how they can help (i.e., “who do they know” not “do you know of any jobs”). And finally, be upbeat and positive!  This is not the time to complain about how long you’ve been out of work or how grim Christmas morning will be for your kids. Your message needs to be you are excited by new possibilities and the opportunity to utilize your skills to benefit your next employer.
2. Take advantage of the holiday spirit
From networking to interviewing, everyone seems to be in a good mood around the holidays, plus the topic of the holidays is a great icebreaker. At an interview, chit-chat about the holiday crowds or the “busi-ness” of the season are natural topics that can ease you past those awkward first few moments. Same holds true at networking events, plus people seem more open and generous this time of year, so job leads and suggestions may flow more readily.
3. Connect or reconnect through holiday greetings
The holidays are a great excuse to reach out to former clients, vendors, co-workers, bosses, mentors, or college buddies. Send a card by snail mail or email and in addition to wishing them a good holiday or happy New Year, update them on your job search. You can also reconnect with recruiters or hiring managers that you interacted with earlier in the year to remind them you are still available.
If you don’t have a job offer by the end of December, by staying active you will be positioned ahead of the competition who will be first launching their search in January. The relationships you build while spreading holiday cheer can mean a new position in 2014!
Kathy Keshemberg is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and Certified Career Management Coach. Since 1983, she has created thousands of interview-winning resumes and related job-search materials for satisfied clients around the world. Need assistance with your career? We’re here to help!
Original article can be located here:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What is the True Role of Social Media in Recruitment?

While social media makes it easy to find a thousand, dare I say it, mediocre candidates in one day, locating the perfect match for your unique business needs is still a job best left to a professional, specialist recruitment agency.

Besides the size and quality of the applicant pool, what has changed in recent years is the way people advertise their skills and the way they network with potential employers and other industry professionals. Building a career and job hunting are now a lot more complex than sending the same resume to prospective employers via snail mail, or even via email. For example, LinkedIn, the social media channel developed specifically for professional networking, now has over 200 million members from all over the globe.
While LinkedIn is leading the way in professional communication and business development, other social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are not far behind. In fact, back in November of 2012 Facebook launched a new US based job board feature that gives recruiters the ability to connect to users who are looking for work in their local area. While Twitter is less conducive to professional networking since it restricts posts to a limiting 140 characters, it can still be tremendously useful for locating local talent. By advertising open positions to followers and searching the user database with keywords that are related to your business, Twitter can be the perfect tool for supplementing other social media channels.
In the practical sense, that means any recruiter can use a searchable database to pull hundreds of candidates with resumes and skills that seem ideal for any open position within your company. But, what reads perfectly on paper doesn’t always translate the same way when you meet and interview the candidate. The difference between recruiters who use social media to locate active candidates, and independent professional recruiters, is that the latter are trained to find passive candidates who not only have the background you are looking for, but who also have the most potential to grow within your company and fit in with your employee culture and team dynamic.
While it seems like a no-brainer in today’s economic climate, there is an inherent problem with relying on social media and the Internet in general to find your perfect candidates quickly. It’s simply not a sustainable strategy in terms of future growth as the pool of highly-skilled, professional and specialist candidates will inevitably shrink as domestic and international economies rebound further, jobless rates will fall meaning more vacant roles become available, making finding the best possible employee be a lot tougher than throwing a few keywords into a social media search engine.
To secure and retain the quality of your employee team in the future, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with a truly specialist recruitment business who is well networked across your sector. This recruitment partner will have the capability to utilise a variety of traditional recruitment methodologies, combined with all available social media channels to help you handpick the perfect candidates for your business in any economy.
Author: Paul Simms is an executive recruiter with 15 years of experience across the Australian and UK markets. He is the founder of Wright Executive, a specialist business within the Accounting and Professional Services sector.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How I Hire: The 5 People You Should Never Hire

HotelTonight, like many start-ups I talk to these days, is cursed/blessed with a wealth of riches in the form of resumes and job candidates. We’re fortunate enough to get a lot of interest in the roles we post, but the sheer number of responses we get means we need to be efficient about the way we approach the hiring process.

One way my team and I streamline the process is by going into it with a clear list of deal-breakers. Stay away from hiring:
The One Who Hasn’t Used Your Product
A few years back, when HotelTonight was just getting off the ground, I had an interview in San Mateo for one of our first Market Managers. One of my first questions was about what she thought of the app. Her response: To be honest, I haven’t had time to download it yet. She had time to trek down to the Peninsula for the interview, but didn't have a few seconds to download the app, do her research and demonstrate her interest in the product and company? I continued the interview, but in retrospect, I should have ended it right then and saved both of us time.
Getting the company name wrong, not downloading their app or checking out their website, not thoroughly researching what a company does – you’d think getting these things right would go without saying, but they come up more often than you’d expect, and demonstrate a lack of attention to detail, passion for the product and industry and, frankly, respect for the company and interviewer.
The One With the Typo
Speaking of attention to detail, typos are another non-starter. Our team has received many a resume expressing a candidate’s enthusiasm for a role at “HotelTonihgt” or emphasizing their “editorail skills” (really). First impressions matter, and it’s worth taking the time (and getting a second set of eyes to look over your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn page) to make a good one.
The One With the Out-of-Date LinkedIn Profile
In many industries, but in particular the tech world, having an out-of-date LinkedIn profile just doesn’t make sense. Sharing your resume via email is great, but having a clean, updated and professional public profile is essential. Having an updated LinkedIn profile says that you value personal brand management, understand current hiring trends and are upfront about your career history. Take the time to clean yours up, get recommendations from colleagues (and write them in return!) and make yourself look enticing to potential employers. You never know who might discover you that way.
The One Who’s Inappropriate on Twitter
Our sales, customer support and marketing teams often check out candidates’ social media presence when screening resumes. Not having a Twitter account can raise warning flags, especially for these roles where interacting with the public is part of the job. But posting inappropriate, unprofessional content on your public Twitter account is obviously an even bigger red flag. If your Twitter account is public, it’s part of how you represent yourself and your company. And if you’re going to include it on your resume, make sure you’re not rescheduling interviews due to “a really bad flu” while posting about the massive hangover you have from last night’s concert (yes, this happened).
The One Who Isn't Motivated to Do Great Things
If a candidate has no response to a question that should be easy for them to answer, it’s a good indicator that they don’t have that deep-seated motivation to do great things. Figure out what that question is for you. Why do you want this job? What would you do if you had $10 million? What kind of business would you start, if you could do anything? As for my question, I’ll leave that as a surprise for when you come interview at HT.
Of course, the list of positive qualities to look for in candidates far surpasses the dealbreakers. Enthusiasm, passion, energy, pragmatism, intelligence, thoughtfulness – these go a long way in convincing a potential employer that you’re right for the job. Sound like you? We’re hiring.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I Hire: 80+ Perspectives on the Ideal Candidate

For those seeking a job, the rigorous application and interview process can be harrowing. But spare some sympathy for the hiring managers. Sifting through resumes and coaxing out revealing insights in interviews is its own exhausting grind. And what’s at stake is a company’s most important asset: its talent.

More than 80 of LinkedIn’s Influencers -- thought leaders and experts across industries who write original content for LinkedIn -- had lots to say about this topic in “How I Hire,” a feature series that launches today. We also teamed up with the New York Times to pull together the best hiring advice out there, including Q&As with career experts.
Through these blog posts, we get a firsthand look at the hiring philosophies of industry giants like Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Sallie Krawcheck and dozens more.
The series confirms that building a great team is arguably the most important thing to get right when running a company or department, and also one of the toughest. The interview process can also be painful: We quizzed 43 Influencers on their hiring habits, and a full quarter of those we surveyed have gone so far as to fake some type of emergency to end a bad interview.
Most Influencers have achieved extraordinary success not only on the strength of their own skills, but their talent at evaluating and attracting the best people to fill open roles. As a result, the “How I Hire” series is a goldmine of hiring tips and tricks. Read closely and you might even learn the key to getting a job with an Influencer. Below are a few key takeaways:

Go with your gut -- or ignore it

A strong majority of the Influencers we surveyed say that instinct is more important than data for hiring decisions. But there’s a vocal minority that disagrees, arguing that following your gut can lead you astray.
  • Tom Bedecarre, chairman of AKQA, collects hundreds of data points on potential hires, saying his most successful hires were the ones he had the most information about.
  • On the other hand, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes takes just 10 seconds to make his decision. He looks for a glint in the eyes that signals passion, hunger and heart.
  • Expert recruiter Lou Adler tells a cautionary tale that illustrates the dangers of relying on intuition or first impressions to make hiring decisions.

Level the playing field

As attractive as trusting your instincts might seem, many managers instead rest their hiring decisions on diagnostics that compare different candidates according to the same criteria. Depending on the role, those criteria vary widely.

It’s not about getting the answer right

Good interviewers ask lots of smart questions. But again and again, we heard Influencers say that specific responses were less important than other factors like the quality of the conversation and the way candidates thought about questions. In other words, don’t fret if you don’t have the perfect response to an interview query. Your questioner might be testing you for something else entirely.
  • DJ Patil, VP of product at RelateIQ, asks two deceptively similar questions and makes a judgment not just on the answer, but the speed of the response and its tone.
  • Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup, conducts technical interviews with an in-depth programming and problem-solving exercise to closely mimic a workplace interaction. He has found that people with the "right" answer to the problem off the bat end up performing worse than those who are open to creative solutions.
  • Steve Stoute, co-founder of celebrity ad agency Translation, says he talks about things besides the position he’s filling, including what an applicant’s parents do for a living. He’s trying to get a feel for the candidate, not just the dates and locations on their resume.

Hire teams, not individuals

Many Influencers made the point, in different ways, that it’s as important, if not more, to hire a team that works well together than it is to hire a bunch of great individuals.
  • Sallie Krawcheck of 85 Broads and formerly the president of Merril Lynch, notes that you can't have a basketball team with all point guardsDiversity of roles and backgrounds has been proven to make teams better.
  • GE CMO Beth Comstock reminds us there are no “lone geniuses,” and it’s teams that do the real work. To create diverse teams she looks to fill roles including the well-balanced employee and the fish out of water.
  • James Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, auditions shortlisted employees by having them sit in with his team and seeing what kind of fit they are.
  • Jen Dulski, president and COO of, cites six must-haves when she’s bringing new people on board, including a diverse team.

Know what you’re looking for -- and name it

For many, the hiring process is built around identifying very specific traits. Influencers don’t just hire for broadly defined character traits like cooperation or persistence. Many have been building teams for so long that they’ve given names to the unique skill sets or combinations of traits that the perfect hire must posses.
  • Diego Rodriguez, partner at IDEO, looks for what he calls informed intuition,” a highly developed sense of what is awesome and what is not, what will work and what won’t.
  • Chopra Foundation Founder Deepak Chopra goes so far as to create a "soul profile,” a portrait of each candidate that includes questions about their life’s purpose and what they look for in a friend. Chopra argues that technical skills can be outsourced, but “what makes an organization or business successful are core values, qualities of character, vision, purpose, camaraderie, and joy. And these cannot be outsourced.”
  • Management guru and former GE CEO Jack Welch also looks for something singular in addition to qualities like energy and edge. He defines it as the “generosity gene,” a trait belonging to people who get joy out of seeing those around them do well.

Keep in mind what you don’t want

How do Influencers get so good at hiring? By learning from their mistakes. Nearly all of the Influencers we surveyed said at some point they’ve regretted a hiring decision they made. From that, many have taken lessons about how to screen out candidates who won’t work out.
  • Neil Weinberg, editor-in-chief of American Banker magazine, has a list of pet peevesthat get applicants struck from consideration, from spelling errors in a cover letter to unprofessional clothes or attitude. (Incidentally, wardrobe gripes aren’t as common than they once might have been: Only six out of 43 Influencers we surveyed say wearing a suit to an interview is an absolute must.)
  • Lesley Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine, resists the idea that hiring from a pool of younger candidates means bringing spoiled brats on board. She says you just have to know how to weed out the entitled millennials.
  • Bruce Kasanoff, CEO of Now Possible, sifts what he calls “givers” from “takers” and keeps "takers" -- people who are mostly self-interested -- away from customer-facing roles.
To peek into the minds of dozens more who have mastered staffing (and to learn from their mistakes), check out the full series here. For more strengths to look for and flubs to avoid when hiring, log on to LinkedIn at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Sept. 26, when I’ll be moderating alive chat on hiring with New York Times columnist Adam Bryant and human resources expert Josh Bersin. Finally, tell us in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #HowIHire: What do you think is the most important thing to think about when hiring?
Photo: Bill Strain/Flickr

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recruiters, Here’s why Job Seekers Dislike You

Well, it’s not really you, but more of your actions when it comes to the hiring process. I came across an article in the “Money Careers” section of entitled, “10 Things Job Seekers Hate about Recruiters,” and then I wondered, “Are they justified to feel this way?”
Check out the really only eight (not 10 like the title said) areas that cause job seekers to “hate” recruiters’ actions and approaches, and see if you’re guilty of doing any of these things. Also, be sure to note whether or not thinks job seekers are justified in their thinking/feeling and why:
1. Advertising jobs that don’t exist. Staffing agencies are notorious for posting boilerplate ads for jobs that don’t really exist to build a database of candidates who they might call on in the future. Agencies defend this by saying that they fill jobs that are similar to the ones advertised all the time – but many job seekers are frustrated when they arrive for an interview, only to discover that there’s no job to be had.
Justified? I would have to say yes. Job seekers spend hours upon hours applying for seemingly vacant positions. The process can become tedious and time consuming very quickly. Think of how frustrating it is for a candidate to spend time drafting or tailoring a cover letter and resume for a specific position; spending 45 minutes to an hour filling out an extensive application; calling and emailing to check the status of his/her application only to discover the job doesn’t really exist?
2. Calling candidates at work. You’d think that recruiters would understand why candidates might not want to tip off their employers that they’re job searching, but recruiters regularly call candidates at work without their permission – leaving candidates trying to disguise who they’re talking to and why.
Justified? No. If job seekers don’t want recruiters to call them at work, they shouldn’t give out their work number. Recruiters should be respectful and not call a job seeker at any number without his/her permission, but a surefire way to avoid this is only listing a number you’re comfortable with recruiters calling you at. Also, list a specific time of day you know you’ll be free, like your lunch hour, so even if you’re at work and the recruiter calls, you can answer.
3. Contacting candidates about jobs that they’re not remotely suited for. While good recruiters can read a résumé and get an initial sense of whether someone might be worth talking to about a particular job, less skilled recruiters sometimes take a more scattershot approach. As a result, they end up pushing graphic designers to interview for programming jobs, researchers to interview for sales jobs and other obvious mismatches.
Justified? Yes, because every candidate wants to be confident he/she is the best person for the job and will perform as such. It’s hard to be sure of this when interviewing for a role one has no work experience in whatsoever.
4. Misrepresenting jobs. Too many job seekers have been told that they’re interviewing for a position working on A, B and C, only to meet the hiring manager and discover that she’s really looking for someone to do D and E.
Justified? Yes, same as number 4. Yet, sometimes interviewing for a position other than intended can lead to better opportunities or a better fit.
5. Scheduling phone interviews and then not calling. You cleared time on your calendar, prepared for the interview, and maybe even found child care to ensure that you’d have a quiet time to talk, and then the recruiter doesn’t call at the scheduled time.
Justified? YES. I’ve had this happen to me before and it’s extremely frustrating and leaves a bad impression on the job seeker.
6. Calling for an unscheduled phone interview and expecting the candidate to drop everything to talk. It’s fine to call a candidate to see if they have a few minutes to discuss a position, but too often recruiters expect the person to drop whatever they’re doing and are put out when they can’t or won’t.
Justified? Again, I’ll say yes. Recruiters may think job seekers should be willing to do whatever it takes, and most are, but that’s no reason to be inconsiderate.
7. Changing candidates’ résumés without their permission. You should maintain control over your résumé at all times, but some recruiters will change key details on it without your permission, sometimes even rewriting it inaccurately. This, of course, can result in an awkward moment if you’re meeting with the hiring manager and she asks you about a project you never worked on or thinks you were at your last job longer than you were.
Justified? I’m in the middle. On one hand, a recruiter may help a candidate by correcting grammar, removing unnecessary contact info, etc. Yet, on the other hand, if you’re going to change a candidate’s resume drastically, notify him/her ahead of time.
8. Acting excited about a candidate but then dropping out of contact. The ranks of job seekers abound with people who are weary of hearing recruiters describe how perfect they’d be for an open role – only to then never hear from them again.
Justified? Yes, again, I’ve been here before and it is frustrating and wastes a candidate’s time. Recruiters need to follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Written by Shala Marks  |  August 27, 2013  for / Original article can be found here

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

10 Siri Tricks To Help You Be Your Most Productive Self

Apple's sassy assistant Siri can be the biggest productivity booster ever. Dial up your patience for a few days, and try these easy tips. Once you do, you may never go back to life without Siri.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 
There are literally thousands of commands you can issue to Siri, the “intelligent” voice-activated assistant built into Apple’s iOS. I say “intelligent” in quotes because for many people Siri is anything but. Siri can be, in fact, completely useless.
The first couple of times Siri stumbles on a command, or simply times out, you cuss it out and never launch it again. At least, that was my experience. That’s until I wondered whether the problem was actually me, and not Siri. I know this sounds like a bad breakup line, but I’ve been spending some time trying really, really hard to make it work. I’ve been tweaking settings, learning commands and patiently correcting Siri when there was a hiccup.
The results have been pretty good. It's not perfect, but it is a lot better. I found that keeping it simple is the best approach. Nothing too ambitious. Siri can find flights or book restaurants, but I tend to use her for everyday tasks—the productivity stuff, in other words.
And for a lot of it, Siri is simply the best. There is no easier way to set a reminder, add a meeting to your calendar, start calls or send messages. You speak, she does it. For example, after you park your car and feed the meter, try saying “Set a one hour timer.” It’s much, much easier than doing it manually.
A small commitment spent learning how to use Siri can pay off big dividends. Siri has lived up to its promise and truly made me more productive.
If you've dismissed Siri due to frustration, or never even gave it a shot, I have 10 simple tips to help get you started. Try them. Once you work out the kinks and get in the habit of using Siri, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it.

1. Make Siri A Habit

The biggest hurdle was forcing myself to use Siri. Every time she failed, I just gave up and did whatever it was I was going to do manually. However, by forcing myself to launch Siri every time I went to type something, I soon got into the habit.
Instead of opening the Messages app, I now say “text my wife,” and I’m usually done in a fraction of the time this used to take. Next time you start an email or search for a contact, force yourself to use Siri instead. It takes about a week to get into the habit, but it’s worth it.

2. Use Raise to Speak

Most people hold the Home button for two seconds to bring Siri to life, but there’s a better way to use Siri in public. Raise to Speak launches Siri when you lift your iPhone to your ear, and you are "not" making a phone call. Her voice comes out of the earpiece, not the speaker, and you look as though you are making a regular phone call when you speak to her.
If Raise to Speak is off, go to Settings > General > Siri and scroll to the bottom. There you’ll see the “Raise to Speak” button, which you can switch to "on."

3. Set Up Your Contacts

Make sure to tell Siri about all your most important relationships. You can do this manually in Contacts by selecting your own contact information and filling in the slots for “wife,” “daughter,” and so on. A quicker method is to tell Siri directly: "Joe Bob is my brother.” Just make sure the name is already in your contacts. Say “Yes” when Siri asks you to confirm. This is a great and natural way to contact people: “Call my boss” or “text my assistant I’ll be 20 minutes late.” You can even add custom labels like “accountant” or “lawyer.”

4.  Add Phonetic Spellings And Nicknames

Siri stumbled over my daughter’s name until I added a phonetic spelling to her Contact card. In Contacts, find the person with the troublesome name. Hit “Edit” and scroll down to the bottom. Hit the button that says "Add New Field” and select "Phonetic First Name" or "Phonetic Last Name," depending on which one Siri can’t recognize. Now when you ask Siri to say or recognize a name, she'll get it right. You can even do this for place names, like favorite restaurants or places with hard-to-recognize names. Palace of “Ver-Sigh,” for example.
Another useful trick is to add nicknames to contacts. Using a nickname to call someone or send a text is a great, natural way to do things. Again, find the contact, hit “Edit” and “Add New Field” and select “Nickname.”

5. Calendar

It takes some getting used to, but using Siri to manage your calendar can be a big productivity boost. Adding new events, for example, can be a lot easier with Siri than any other method, including typing on your computer. The main trick is to include as much information as possible in the command. A rookie mistake is to say, “Schedule a meeting for tomorrow,” to which Siri responds with a query about what time? Better to say "Schedule a meeting with Joe Bob tomorrow at 11a.m." If Joe Bob is in your contacts, he will even receive an email invitation.
Siri has quite a lot of smarts. If you make a mistake, you can easily fix things by saying "change the time" or simply “cancel.” If there is ambiguity, Siri will ask questions to clarify the time or location. She is aware of conflicts with events already on your calendar, and can respond intelligently if you say “Cancel the 5 p.m. appointment” or “Reschedule my meeting on Thursday.”
Siri is good for searching your calendar or changing specific events. She understands “What appointments have I got tomorrow?” as well as “Cancel my doctor’s appointment on Friday.” 

6. SMS

I use Siri a lot for sending texts, my preferred way to communicate these days. Again, the rookie mistake is to say simple, “Send a text.” If you don’t specify, Siri will prompt you for a name, phone number or email address. Better to say, “Tell Joe Bob I’ll be 20 minutes late,” or “Text my mother that we arrived safely.” The keywords are “Tell” and “Text,” which alerts Siri to send an SMS message. In the car, you can ask Siri to read arriving texts out loud, and then respond: “Reply that I will be there shortly,” all without taking your eyes off the road.

7. Email

Using Siri for email is a bit more involved than sending SMS texts, but again it’s useful for situations like driving. Siri understands “Check Email” and will respond with a list all of your latest messages. You can respond by saying “Reply to <Name> saying <Message>.” You can even email multiple recipients.
When using Siri to send an email, the important keywords to use are: “send”, “about” and “say.” This way you can rattle off the recipient, subject line and message body in one go: Send email to <name> about <subject> and say <message body>. So, to send an email addressed to “Joe Bob” with the subject of “Las Vegas” and the body message of “You up for a trip to the desert this weekend?” you would simply say: "Send email to Joe Bob about Las Vegas and say You up for a trip to the desert this weekend?"
Siri will confirm if the message is ready to go, and you simply respond “Yes” or tap the “Send” command on screen.
It can be quite a mouthful, but it is considerably faster than the laborious question and answer method of using Siri with a standard “Send email” command.

8. Location-Aware Reminders

To-do lists never work for me because I always forget to check them. Not so with a reminder that pops up at a particular location. It’s dead easy to tell Siri: “Remind me to get milk when I leave.” And when I step out of the door, the reminder pops up. There’s no need to tell Siri my location thanks to GPS.   
There are lots of situations you can use location-aware reminders: “Remind me to feed the fish when I get home,” or “Remind me to say happy birthday to my boss when I get to work.”
I find it useful for errands: “Get coffee at Martha Brothers” (my local coffee shop) or “Drop clothes at Locals Dry Cleaners.” Then when I pass the dry cleaners on the way home, a reminder pops up. Of course, you have to put the addresses of the coffee shop and dry cleaners into your contacts and turn on Location Services in Settings > Privacy Location Services.
To add addresses to your contact book, say “Find Walgreens,” then hit the red pin in the map and select the “Create New Contact” button to add it to your contacts.

9. Use The “Information” Button

When Siri is invoked, there’s a small “i” icon (for “Information”) in the bottom left corner of the screen. It’s very easy to overlook, but tap it and you’ll discover a big and useful library of tips for using Siri. They are arranged by App or task: Phone, Messages, Calendar, Restaurants, Movies, Notes and Settings. It’s well worth spending some quality time here, familiarizing yourself with features like finding the easiest way to get a trivia answer—simply by saying, “Google the war of 1812.” 

10. Fix Mistakes And Keep Going

Perseverance is one of the keys to getting Siri to work over the long haul. Apple claims that Siri gets better the more you use her. She does this by listening for your dialect or accent, and categorizing you against all the accents she understands. The more people use it, the more accents she understands and the better she is able to understand you, the individual. Or so Apple claims.
On a personal level, you can help her better understand commands by manually correcting mistakes. After issuing a command, check the speech box showing what you said. Siri frequently underlines in blue any words she misheard or can’t understand. Hit the underlined word and a dialogue pops up with some alternatives, which are often correct. I found that Siri often stumbles on the same commands and that training her to recognize correct words pays off. Of course, it’s inconvenient, but her transcription errors are far more infrequent after a little training.
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Article Written by:

Leander Kahney

Editor & Publisher, Cult of

Photos: Federated Media, Apple