Brain Learning


Human beings have amazing brains. We are able to think, create, and produce at an astounding rate thanks to the thousands of cell-based activities that take place in our grey matter. Most importantly our brains allow us to learn, and to keep learning, well into mature adulthood.

In his article, Inside the Learning Brain, Nick Dam provides a framework for effective corporate learning based on the theories of cognitive neuroscience – brain learning.

Click here to read the article.

In order for corporate learning to take place, Dam confirms that adult learners must have an environment that allows for focused attention, high engagement, and single-tasking. At the same time, the environment that supports adult brains for effective learning is shifting rapidly through the ever-increasing intervention of external technology, especially social media.

The impact of this type of environment and its effect on learning is explored in the following clip: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.

Both the article and the video clip support a common premise that we need to embed information into memory in order for learning to take place. This is called memory consolidation, which allows us to build knowledge; built knowledge allows for new learning to take place. This type of learning happens when our brains are allowed to be peaceful and focused. As we see in the video clip, memory consolidation and learning is becoming more challenging as our technology-driven brains crave the external stimulus of constant interruptions.

From a training and development perspective, the challenge for the Human Resources practitioner is to create the conditions and the space that enable effective learning to happen.

We need to work hard to figure out how to do this — but first, one more cute kitten video.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How much time per day do you give yourself for quiet contemplation, with no external distractions?
  2. Thinking of your own learning patterns. How much information have you retained from yesterday’s Internet searches?
  3. Are your work or study patterns focused on single-tasking or multi-tasking? Which pattern is easier? Why?

Who is Checking Whom?

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.


This idiom is often used to explain how equitable treatment can be applied in a given situation. Sometimes, these old phrases help to remind us of common human behaviours or expectations in the midst of increasing social and technological change.

At this point in the evolution of how social media is used, it should be no surprise to anybody that individual online profiles are subject to public scrutiny. This is particularly true in the recruitment function of Human Resources. Most employers who are actively engaged in the process of recruitment will spend some time reviewing candidate online profiles looking for multiple elements that may or may not determine an individual’s potential suitability and organizational fit.

The number of employers involved in social media searches continues to increase, as noted in a recently published survey. In addition, the survey indicates that employers are more likely to eliminate a potential candidate if they (the employer) are unable to find an online profile at all.

Click here to read about the social media survey results.

While the rates and the percentages of recruiters checking on candidate profiles through social media channels is on the rise, so too are the rates of individual job-seekers who are checking on those who are checking on them.

Click here to read how job seekers prepare for interviews including social media searches.

Job-seeking candidates have the same access to social media platforms as employers. Most candidates know that part of the preparation for a job interview includes online research through a corporate or organizational website or other online resources. As professional recruiters, we do expect a motivated candidate to come to the screening and selection process having done their homework, which would include research on the company profile and other business elements.

What we as recruiters may not fully appreciate is that job-seekers are increasingly going beyond the corporate profile, and are following through on our individual social media profiles. A job-seeker might gain significant insight as to whether or not a company would represent a good fit for them by paying attention to a potential employer’s comments and posts on social media.

It seems that a little bit of social media digging will indeed go a long way for the recruiting goose as well as the job-seeking gander.


Discussion Questions:

How would you update your current employer’s social media profile in order to attract a diversity of candidates?

As an HR professional, what would a prospective candidate see and read about you through your online profile as a private individual?

What sites do you expect candidates to research before coming in for an interview?

As a candidate, how much time to you spend researching potential employers, including checking out their individual profiles online?


Social Media Savvy

Trying to pretend that employers do not use social media sites to ‘check out’ potential candidates is a bit like trying to push the squeezed out toothpaste back into the tube – It is pretty much impossible at this point in time!

Tube of Toothpaste
Source: Leah-Anne Thompson/Shutterstock

We live in a social media construct that is continuing to develop.  It is definitely time that we become more diligent in shaping how HR Professionals should be using social media effectively for purposes of employment and applicant screening.

Lyndsay Wasser, co-chair of the privacy group at McMillan LLP, provides a well-balanced approach to the benefits and risks of using social media in this context.

Click Here to View the Clip

Ms. Wasser certainly identifies the risks related to using social media searches, if they are not done properly.  If we are snooping around on social media sites, without explicit candidate knowledge or consent, this could be extremely problematic from a privacy and/or possible discrimination perspective.  More practically, if we do not have consent to access information gained through social media, we cannot use it anyway.  So, why bother snooping?

If we are going to be using social media for employment screening, let’s use honesty, professional judgement, and be transparent about it.  As Ms. Wasser points out, there are definite benefits to be gained through employer driven social media searches, such as assessing potential candidates for insight into their good judgement, professionalism, and whether or not there is any misrepresentation on the part of the candidate that might be revealed through their social media profiles.

It seems only fair that this type of assessment should apply to conscientious employers as well.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As an HR professional, how will you inform potential candidates that their social media profiles may be used for purposes of assessment during the applicant screening process?
  2. What types of social media sites do you think are inappropriate for an employer to access?
  3. Do you think there is a benefit for including social media scans for purposes of employment screening for all candidates? Why or why not?
  4. What types of social media sites do you use to assess potential employers in your own career or job search?