Quick one on email addresses

This one’s for candidates…

Have you ever considered the email address you use can give us recruiters and clients an insight into your personality?

It’s worth looking at the email address that you use to apply for jobs – if it’s one that you set up when you were 13 and thought it was cool to be called x_x_cheekymisslaura_x_x@….com then you might want to set up a new one…

If only to save our and your embarrassment when you get a new job and we have to give your details to your new employer!

I appreciate that if you’re not job hunting with gusto and yet are signed up to every job alert list possible you might not want to use your main account, but seeing that sexyminx23 wants to work as a Social Media Analyst doesn’t really work. Worth a thought!

PS – no, my email address has never been, and never will be, x_x_cheekymisslaura_x_x@….com.

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Recruiters… do you really think we’re all that bad?

Last week there was a massive industry event that I would have really liked to go to. But unfortunately, as happens a lot, we recruiters were blacklisted from attending.

It really made me think about how we are perceived in the industry.

I wouldn’t have gone to the event to network. I wouldn’t have flung my business card at anyone who got in my way, nor cornered people who gave off the scent of looking for a new role. I’d have danced like a lunatic, drunk enough to be merry, and danced a bit more like an even bigger lunatic. That’s it. But because I’m a heathen, unnecessary recruiter, I didn’t get the chance to go and mingle with people of the same age and social tendencies as me.

I provide a service, and a damn good one at that. I respect the companies and candidates that I work with. Of course at times I have to sell a bit, but that doesn’t mean I walk round forcing my business on anyone and everyone. Surely that’s how most people in agencies – be they recruitment, creative, digital or otherwise – work? You do your job, you do it well, and you do what it takes, without being a slimy salesperson.

I was pretty hurt and disappointed that we evil recruiters were NFI’d, particularly because we recruit for the agency that was holding the event (FYI – if we recruit for you, we’re even less likely to try and sell to your staff. Just sayin’).

So here goes. When you need a new job, and don’t have/have extinguished all connections in the industry, who do you turn to? Us.

When you are recruiting for staff, and have run out of referrals from current employees and connections, who do you turn to? Us.

When you need advice about industry standards, job descriptions or salaries, who do you turn to? Us. (Well, probably.)

We’re also a big part of the digital economy, as much as anyone else. We spend time, money and energy learning about the space and being as immersed in it as possible in order to really get what you all need and how the space is developing. It’s only by doing this that we can get you the staff/jobs that you need and can facilitate great careers and businesses.

We are here to help, to provide a service, to do OUR jobs in order to make YOUR jobs easier. And I love it. But I don’t love that being a recruiter makes me dirty, not fun, not part of the party and unable to have fun without people thinking I’m doing it with ulterior motives.

Honestly, folks, can you cut us come slack?! Involve us, make us feel like you want us around, and you never know what joy you might get from it…

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A week of highs and lows

What a week last week was. It all started out so normally, Monday, back in the office, let’s get some people some jobs, woooo.

And then a tweet came out of nowhere that shattered the bliss:

Andy Oakes

@andyoakesAndy Oakes
So after 6 years at nma I’m off. See you guys. Its been an absolute blast.

Um – what? Andy Oakes leaving NMA? Andy Oakes can’t leave NMA, he IS NMA. In the office we all though it was a prank by the man himself, typical Oakesy, always playing tricks – but as the day went on the truth came through – Centaur Media had shut down the print version of NMA and were going online only. Fair enough, you might say, it’s a magazine about new meeeja, why the hell did they have a print version anyway? All I can say is what a load of tosh, what ridiculous timing, and what a real, true shame.

I read NMA every week. I read every page, looked at the photos, read the articles, the letters… cover to cover (even the crap adverts at the back got a look in sometimes). I look at NMA online, ooh, once a month, and that’s only when someone sends me a link direct to the page where there is a badly laid out article surrounded by far too many adverts and links to this person’s column and this other person’s thoughts on something else. What I am trying to say, and sorry NMA for being blunt about it, is that the NMA website needs a SERIOUS overhaul if it’s going to get the subscribers and readership it hopes to attain by taking away the print version.

Some people, me included, like tangible reading. I don’t like Kindles (or other ebook readers) and I don’t really like reading things online – I go to the shop to buy newspapers and magazines, I don’t pay to access content online. I work in an industry that is reliant and focused on computers and the internet, and it was nice once a week to have a magazine thrown on my desk so I could sit back and catch up with the industry news and anything else interesting that was going on away from my computer.

Timing wise – what are you doing?! The NMA Awards were last Thursday. NMA had just launched ‘Digital Professional’, a new supplement about recruitment and working in digital. I appreciate these things can still continue online but hells bells, could you not have thought about these things in advance, Centaur?

Ok, so that was Monday. Crap news, everyone a bit shocked, let’s get on with Tuesday. Oh no… wait:

Vikki Chowney

@vikkichowneyVikki Chowney
After a roller coaster of a day, it’s with regret that I’m announcing the closure of @rep_online:bit.ly/jbfKmm

Another slam from Centaur – Reputation Online is also to exist no more. So the part of NMA that deals with one of the newest and most talked about areas of digital (apart from the new ad sphere with RTB and all that stuff), digital PR and social media (oh – I am now 100% confident in the difference if anyone cares) is also going. The same part that had a launch party THAT NIGHT for its award ceremony. Timing, Centaur?! It’s not your strongest point. Props to Hill & Knowlton and Communicate Magazine for holding a Rep Online tribute party at the H&K offices on Tuesday night – would have been nice had a few more people turned up but it was a very very nice thought and I’m impressed.

To be honest I’m just really shocked by the way this was handled and by Centaur’s apparent indifference to digital and social – the guys and girls at NMA were equally shocked, they had just sorted out the budgets and plans etc for the coming year, and then boom, all gone. I wish them ALL all the best and I’m sure they’ll all get new jobs in no time – a great bunch of people and if you bump into one of them, buy them a drink or seven.

Wednesday and Thursday saw a couple of things – the Rocket Fuel UK launch party and the Online Marketing Show at the Marketing Week Live event.

The Rocket Fuel launch party was hands down the best launch party I have been to, so well done to them. There were a lot of people there, there was a free bar (bonus – always a winner), a DJ playing AWESOME music accompanied by a guy on the bongos and a girl on a sax, a vodka ice luge… it was astounding! Everyone was very friendly (free bar?!) and dancing. Just brilliant. The guys and girls at Rocket Fuel are great as well, and I think they’ve got a good thing going, so all the best of luck to them.

And the Online Marketing Show was a success from what I can tell, lots of interesting people there and some great talks – including some from people at NMA and Rep Online, interesting…. and we gave away another iPad on our stand (an iPad 2 dontcha know) to Nigel Muir from DBD Media – well done Nige! 9/10 indeed. Here is the video of Phil (our marketing manager) and me picking the winner. It is not a hostage video 🙂

Such a strange week. Collapse of one of (what I perceive to be) the backbones of the industry, a company launch party, and a top exhibition/conference. Up and down, up and down…

What is next week going to bring?!

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Digital PR vs social media… wut?

Until about 72 hours ago I thought that digital PR and social media were one and the same. I’m still not 100% sure that they’re not.

I know that they overlap, I know that they both use social networking/online channels to promote companies, and, well, yeah.

But actually I’ve been thinking more and more about this, and if I don’t really know the full difference between the two, then how on earth are brands meant to know? Do we hire a PR agency that does digital? Do we hire a media agency that has a social media arm? Do we hire a social media agency?

The Oxford Dictionary definition of PR is

“the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.”

So in theory, digital PR is the above, but online. But I don’t think it stops there – otherwise it goes against everything that social marketing stands for. You can’t just post something about a company online and not monitor the responses, otherwise you’re opening yourself up to a whole world of crisis.

Digital PR is a launch board for companies online; it’s a way of promoting new ventures, products or services – ultimately a branding exercise. It’s showing off what a company can do and how they can do it. The problem is that then this needs to link in with social media.

Social media – being a ‘social’ means of communication for B2B or B2C – kind of fits into the same strain, but takes it a step further. Social implies a two-way conversation, an interaction, a discussion – not just an online promotion of a brand or product.

However – a big part of any digital PR role (at the junior-mid end of the scale) is the community management, blogger outreach and online moderation – which is exactly what a big part of any social media role (at the junior-mid end of the scale) is doing. Digital PR doesn’t stop at PR – it links in to social media.

I’m coming round to the way of thinking that the difference between social media and digital PR is that social media can also be a direct response activity as well as a branding activity… but I’m still not convinced they’re not just two sides of the same coin. Any ideas?

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The not-very-social social media networking social. Phew.

(Firstly, if you write ‘social’ that many times in a sentence it starts to look wrong, and you start to question yourself as to whether you’re using the right word. Just sayin’.)

On Thursday this week I went to a social media debate at the London Film Museum. I say debate in the loosest sense of the word as it turned out that both sides actually agreed with each other, so a fairly redundant argument, but hey ho.

The motion that was put forward was thus: This house believes that Social Media does not exist in the eyes of your customers.

This was put forward by Neil Kleiner, Head of Social Media for Havas Group (ummm… Neil…. want a job?). On his team were Nadine Sharara, Head of Ecommerce at Thomas Pink, and John Bovill, Group IT Director at Aurora Fashions. The opposing team was made up of Claire Martin, Head of Content for the Press Association, Sam Lumb, Ecommerce Director at Boux Avenue and David Walmsley, Director of Ecommerce at Dixons.

The debate was fairly standard – one side saying social media isn’t a ‘true’ channel for ecommerce, and the other side saying it was. Although actually they both agreed that it was. So no point arguing. I’m not going to go through the whole thing but just raise a few points that I wanted to shout out, but wasn’t able to. This leads me nicely to my first point.

1. We were all there because we were interested in social media and its effect on online sales for a company. I was interested in getting some opinions from the people who are truly entrenched in the industry, but also in hearing the opinions of some of my peers – we are the consumers they are talking about, after all. It was pretty disappointing that we weren’t allowed to join in, or offer opinions when desired. It just turned into about 50 people sitting silently watching six people have a non-argument. Some interaction would have been better – social media is all about interaction… conversation is king… now shut up and let us debate this topic in front of you.

2. ARRRGGGHHHH SOCIAL MEDIA GURUS?! David Walmsley actually pointed to his social media practitioner and said ‘well my social media guru is here with us today…’ and he wasn’t even being ironic. Argh. You’re not a guru. No one’s a ruddy social media guru. Guru is a religious thing, it’s a spiritual leader or teacher, not someone who knows how best to write content for Facebook. And social media hasn’t even been marketing as a proper channel for that long (however, see point 7); how are you a bloomin’ guru?! Eeee it makes my blood boil. (Calm; nice thoughts, fluffy bunnies, clouds…).

3. There was a point made about Twitter in particular; Mr Boux Avenue said that it was definitely and wholly appropriate to use it as a sales channel, and that if a consumer/follower didn’t like being sold to, they could just unfollow them. Really? You’d rather lose your brand exposure and someone keeping you front of mind than go for the softly softly approach? Surely it’d be better to play the game than lose followers? I follow @betfairpoker on Twitter; I think he mentions poker maybe once every two months, but guess what? When I wanted to put a little flutter on the gee-gees for the Grand National, where did I set up an account? He doesn’t sell to me (his most recent tweet: “I wish I’d switched off the webcam before I did those star jumps”) but it gives great brand exposure. Which ultimately led to a sale. Worth it?

4. Actually, a point from me on a business’s place on social networking sites. My favourite analogy of how these things need to work was told to me by Roger Jones (previously of Digitalis). He said that joining networking sites and groups (particularly on LinkedIn I think) is like going to your new local pub. You wouldn’t just walk in there and start trying to sell your wares to people (such as if you’ve just moved so you’ve got some furniture you want to sell, or you are a mobile hairdresser and you want some more business). You’d chat to the locals, get to know them, understand who they are and what they do. You’d become friends and share stories. You’d talk to the landlord, introduce yourself and where you’ve come from. And then, as you got to know them better, you’d be able to pick up on signs, sales triggers, so you could target them in an non-aggressive and helpful way if they needed anything. Same goes for social media; use it wisely and it’ll be your friend, otherwise you’ll find that the locals and the landlord don’t take to you too kindly.

5. At some point in the discussion, Mr Boux Avenue said that the social network users will soon catch up with how social networks work, and then sales will boost from the channel. I think he’s got this the wrong way round – social media sites were not first introduced as a sales pitch; they were for consumers (sorry, not even consumers – this was before we were seen as consumers – we can probably just use the word ‘people’) to interact with each other, to share what was going on in their life and chat about stuff online.  It was only when companies realised they could make some dosh out of it that they started to try and use the channel in that way. So, sorry, Mr Boux Avenue, you’re wrong. It’s the companies, the salesmen, that need to catch up/change to fit with the users, not the other way round. Work out why these sites exist and fit in with them, rather than  trying to monopolise them for quick sales.

6. And following on from that, I though Neil Kleiner made a great point – as soon as a transaction takes place, it’s no longer a friend relationship, it’s a business relationship. As soon as you sell to someone through social media, and a transaction takes place, it’s no longer social media. It’s a sales tool. So if that’s the case, how can we say that brands are using social media? They’re not; they’re using a website to make transactions. It’s not social media, it’s ecommerce or… shudder… f-commerce. It just so happens to be on a website primarily used for social networking.

7. Social media is nothing new, nothing incredible. It’s been around forever. Remember that the definition of media is just the main means of mass communication. Claire Martin likened a brand not being involved in social media to having a people talk about you in a room where you’re not present. Well, that happens all the time, doesn’t it? Social media sites just make it global and accessible to everyone with a computer. If I stand in a room with six friends and we start talking about a product, and five of them hate it and one loved it, I’d not then go online just to check what the rest of the world thinks; I trust and value my friends’ opinions over Mr AN Other from the thissocialnetwork.co.uk forum. Social media happens offline all the time. Brands can be clever and use it to their advantage, but don’t think that just because you’re ‘listening’ online you’re covering all your bases.

So there we go – the only other thing that I agreed with was that if a company makes a mistake they should ‘fess up and ‘fess up fast. But I’ve said that before. I will become a broken record if I go on about it again.

It was an interesting debate, don’t get me wrong, but I think a lot could have been added it if had been opened to the floor as well, although then the debate may well have gone on until midnight.

I feel like I need to round this post off somehow, so here’s a nice relevant quote from Dr. Ivan Misner. “Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. Don’t engage in ‘premature solicitation’. You’ll be a better networker if you remember that.”

See you anon, Laura

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Luck is for rabbits… and recruiters

A couple of months ago I received a fairly narky email from a prospective candidate. The issue was, it seems, that the candidate had received an automated response from an application to a job advert. The automated response stated, fairly kindly, that I receive a LOT of applications to roles I post, and that if the application was successful I would be in touch – but that if they didn’t hear anything not to be downhearted and to keep an eye on the Propel website to see if anything else takes their fancy.

Unfortunately the candidate didn’t take to this too kindly, and before I even had chance to check out this person’s CV I received an email stating that ‘we either had business to discuss or we didn’t’ and to refrain from sending patronising responses. I replied, nicely, explaining that it was an automated response, and that actually on this occasion the CV wasn’t quite right, but wishing them best of luck for the future. To which I got a reply. Subject: Luck is for rabbits… and recruiters. Content: short scathing email about how ‘high-end’ the candidate was and how they didn’t actually need my help at all. I replied – this is the final email – saying that I was sorry they felt that way, and that we have Propel Executive who may be able to help if they were looking for senior positions. I received no response.

Anyway, my point in telling you this is that my job involves much more, SO much more than luck, and if I receive an email like this it doesn’t *really* endear the candidate to me. I’m not threatening – I wouldn’t dream of it – but it’s also the candidate’s responsibility to make sure that I can do the best job for them.

So, following that, here are a few things that mean a relationship between a candidate and recruiter can blossom with mutual respect.

1. If you want a job, make yourself available
I don’t mean skip work, suspend your social life, answer your phone at your desk – I just mean that there needs to be a bit of flexibility from both sides when it comes to responding to emails, taking calls and attending interviews. Unfortunately, the clients we deal with are generally very busy (often senior people at the clients who have a lot going on), so when they give us time slots for interviews, they are generally the only options. If you are serious about finding a new job you need to give a little; make sure that leave work on time, arrange interviews for first thing in the morning (yes, it’s early, but go to bed earlier!), take a half day holiday. If you can’t give this much, the clients think that you aren’t serious. Harsh, but true. If you want to find a new job, you have to SHOW that you want the new job.

2. Respond to me…
If I email you with a new job vacancy, with interview times, with questions from a client – reply! We have lots of candidates on our books, and our clients don’t wait forever to get the candidates in. If they request to see three people, and two of them get back with availability immediately and the other takes three days, they will see the ones who get back first asap. You could miss out on jobs by taking your time. All it takes is a quick text or two line email with availability or stating your (dis)interest in a role. In return I promise that as soon as I hear from a client I will be in touch, and I will give feedback as soon as possible – whether positive or negative – after an interview.

3. Keep me updated
Although it’s every recruiter’s dream to have candidates on an exclusive basis, we’re not silly – we know this doesn’t always happen, especially if you have a very specific skill set. All we ask is that if you have other interviews, or get offered, or even accept another job, tell us. It means we won’t keep bombarding you with ‘exciting opportunities’, and it also means we can keep our clients informed with your situation. Although we never pressure anyone into offering a job or accepting, if you have two jobs you’re interested in then we can manage the client’s expectations, meaning they will make decisions quicker and with more thought. 

4. If you accept a job, stop interviewing
It’s a fairly simple one, but so often ignored. If you accept a job offer, that means you are taking that job. (Should be) End of. If you’re not sure, or you have other interviews that are more exciting for you then revisit point number 3. Don’t accept a job just to have a back up. Don’t accept a job to try and up another offer. Don’t accept a job just to get a pay rise in your current position. You’ll burn so many bridges that eventually no recruiter will work with you, and no client will even think about interviewing you. Only accept a job if you are 100% sure you want it – it will save so many people’s time, relationships and reputation.

5. I’m not just in this for the commission
As with all the above points, I can only speak from my point of view – yes, I work for Propel, and I expect they share some of my sentiments but I can only tell you what I do and how I do it. On that note – I’m not just in this for commission. If I call you in between you accepting a job and starting, it’s because I want to know that the client is still getting what I’ve promised them (NB at this point I haven’t received any commission. My company has not received any money. I can’t be doing this to save my commission). If I call you after you have started, it’s because I’m eager to know how you’re getting on. I invest one hell of a lot of time into each and every candidate and each and every client – I want to make sure that my hard work is paying off, not just through commission, but through people’s happiness. My top moment of recruitment is not my pay packet, it’s when I tell a candidate that I’ve spent a lot of time with and put forward for interviews that they’ve been offered the job they’ve been hankering after since I met them. It’s the thrill in their voice and the near disbelief that this dream company, offering this dream job, could have picked them. That is why I do recruitment. So please, if I call you and ask how you are or how you’re getting on, don’t say ‘It’s ok Laura, your commission is safe!’ – because that is the last thing on my mind.

Phew. Bit of an epic blog post. Hope that all makes sense – basically what it comes down to is that we are all very busy people with high workloads – all it takes is some thought and, most of the time, a quick email to make this relationship work easily and quickly, without letting anyone down. We’re here for you, to help you, so the easier we can make it work, the happier everyone will be.

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A replacement for ‘Lovestruck’…?

I seem to be a permanently single girl. That’s right, shed some tears for me. I put it down to not being confident enough to approach people when I’m out with friends (or having no inclination to,  as I’m having too much fun).

Imagine my delight, therefore, when upon arriving in London nearly five years ago, I discovered a wonderful free daily newspaper that had an, in my eyes, ingenious column called ‘Lovestruck’ in which people in London could write a description of someone they’d seen on the tube/bus/in a bar/walking down the street/picking up dog poo in the hope that they’d get in touch through the medium of print.

Fast forward 4 (?) years – the paper closes, Lovestruck is gone, lost, those hundreds of people searching for the one – that guy who sat opposite me on the central line at 23.23 at TCR wearing a blue jumper, the girl I saw in that bar, you know, that one, and she was blonde and stuff – losing hope forever.

Leap forward another year and print? What do you mean print still exists? It’s all about digital, baby… and as if by magic, ta dah! Up jumps Tubecrush.net. An idea in its infancy, of course, but MY GOD think of the possibilities.

The theory is simple. You like the look of someone on the tube, you take a photo (umm, make sure the camera function is on silent) and then upload the photo of the object of your desire. Simples.

So here he is, this hot guy, reading a free paper while a girl takes a photo. Or a guy takes a photo. Whatever. Isn’t this stalking?

Luckily there is a function on the site for people who realise their photo is up there and think ‘holy crap get it OFF’, but ultimately, the possibilities with this are endless. They’re already monetising the site (with adverts for mysinglefriend.com and the like) so good for them, but actually this is TOTALLY about the readership and the community. It could actually work – someone posts a photo of a fitty, one of fitty’s friends sees it, links it to Facebook or tweets about it or whatevs, and shaboooom a date is formed and a relationship is created. I may be taking this a bit quick, but seriously this has massive potential.

Like I said, print is dead – the fact that all this can happen with one photo uploaded (from a smart phone direct to the site), one username created, and one link out to a social networking site means that the whole process is faster. You can tag it, share it… I just think that this shows the fun side of social media – the side that is not yet used for crappy sales pitches or agencies that think they know how to represent a brand.

This is all about the consumer, and goddamn it next time I see someone I don’t want to talk to, I’ll be uploading a photo before they can say cheese.

Visit http://www.tubecrush.net for the latest uploads, to see if there’s someone you know, or if there’s a photo of you up there!

Posted in Dating, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments