Will LinkedIn Go Too Far In Its Recruitment Package?

I remember when LinkedIn was a nice professional network, great for catching up on old colleagues and a source for professional introduction. The discussion areas were good, and the sharing of information, expertise and advice was fruitful.

Then, lets be honest, us recruiters took over.

We saw it as an opportunity to headhunt, without phoning and pretending to be 10 different names to 10 different people in the employer of our unwitting target talent. There were people, sharing their career history and attributes on a public forum, and available to connect.

LinkedIn ClassifiedWell, actually – despite merely fuelling the short-term career cycle, I happen to think this is good news – we are more aware of our options these days. Being headhunted (well) or identified for our skills and worth (well) are flattering to us, and we are better aware of our market position. We only have to say “No”, if we don’t want another job.
It’s when you have 10 a day, that are ill-conceived, that the ‘flattery’ becomes an irritation.

So, naturally LinkedIn have dived all over this with their embracing of the network as a career portal – no matter what they may publicly declare – their income potential is in recruitment & hiring – and along came recruiter memberships and in more recent times the expensive professional recruitment access, where we get to contact anyone and everyone and it would appear thar the words ‘privacy settings’ are no longer apparent.

And then there is job posting. It’s more accessible and relevant to the hirer, and most particularly, the direct employer. The cost of this isn’t too bad for a one-off, and hey – you get the reach of the whole network.

A no-brainer, right?

Yes, until it becomes too popular. Oh yeah, that thing. It SEEMS like a good thing, whereas actually… it just could be, a bad thing.

In our market research, for my specialism around social media talent – we make it our business to know the market as best as we can – we see social media roles advertised on LinkedIn.
Last week, one role had 605 applications, another had 450, two or three others had 250-350 applications. Most had around 70-100. For a specialist role type, in a developing skill field.

Now if I was some job boards, I would be boasting about these figures. Maybe LinkedIn do, too – I rarely stop around to listen. But actually, they are potentially bad news for LinkedIn. The demands for a targeted network of mutually relevant and known contacts that it strictly strives for us to maintain if we pay a limited amount – is nullified by the openness of job advertising there, if you throw them a chunk of money. All of a sudden, rather like the days of paper advertising en masse and generic job boards like reed.co.uk, it is becoming a haven for the frivolous application. There is no way that the specialist job with 600+ applications, has 600 people in the WORLD that can specifically do the job- but it was an attractive employer, and so the job seeking masses rush in.

It has been commented on a number of occasions by clients and friends within my industry, that the quality of the average LinkedIn application is poor. The ‘Apply With LinkedIn’ option, does nothing to help – as it fosters lazy and commitment-less approaches – and if its THAT easy to apply, often anyone will. What have they got to lose…?

It’s no surprise that there are so few recruitment agencies advertising via LinkedIn.

So we’re coming full circle – like back in the newspaper days when the value of the good recruitment professional was highlighted by the desperation to filter out the applying noise, and let a professional do the short listing and save hours of wasted HR/Hiring time, and more pertinently key time fulfilling the rejection communication cycle that all good companies must abide. 

Social Media IS a great tool for hiring the very best talent in a targeted and well researched manner. But it isn’t and never has been, simply an advertising portal. The minute we get sold that it is, we make steps to wreck the authenticity of the social network and miss the point of what term ‘social’ is all about. Sorry LinkedIn, you have forgotten this, and traded trusted professional networks into one of those ‘contacts-directories’. A list of names, for us to pick off – if we’ve paid out the right amount of money.

Look. I use LinkedIn a lot. I like the essence of LinkedIn a lot. I wouldn’t say all this if I didn’t. Remember people only criticise the brands they in some way care about and want to improve. LinkedIn wouldn’t care what I say – they’re swimming in our money and their site is improving well from a user-experience perspective off the back of the increased income. But it’s changed. It’s rarely social, and it’s rarely pleasant. It’s very functional, and it’s becoming increasingly automated. Some good in that and some bad.

But it should never have been a job board, in my opinion. Trust, is a big thing. Already we see less people willing to talk and share there – my stream of 2000+ contacts is filled largely with recruiters, consultants and sale people. Not often of insights, chatter and selfless advice/help. People don’t trust it as much, and if those application levels keep rising, they’ll stop advertising there too.

LinkedIn, I like you. But you’ve changed. Not necessarily for the better.

If You Want The Job Enough, You’ll Take a Sick-Day, Right?

I was on the train this morning, and in my nosiness (I blame those big Samsung phones), I saw a lady – fully suited – texting someone, presumably her boss. at 9am: “Ugh, sorry I can’t come in today. Totally feeling sick. Staying in bed” 

Well, she wasn’t – clearly. She was on the train, to London, and let’s be fair – probably going to an interview. As a recruiter, and an employer, I felt a bit sick. Somewhere, someone pushed her to do an interview in work-time. As recruiters operating in haste, on the whole, we are trained to almost relay the words “Well, if you want the job enough, you’ll take a sick-day, right?”. And if recruiters don’t say it – then often, the hiring client will – “If they’re not prepared to meet us on our terms, then they’re not really serious about the job?!”.

Beautiful woman looking out window. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.I’m not sure this is genuinely seen as a conundrum in the recruitment industry – but in truth, it does raise concerns. What is wrong with a job-seeker who is currently employed, wanting to show appreciation to their employer, and their contract, and only attend interviews outside of work?

From the hiring company’s perspective – if a candidate is prepared to take a sick day from their current employment so willingly; then what is to say they wouldn’t do the same for this company too – should they be hired? What does it say about that person’s attitude – or for that matter any employee’s attitude – if they are prepared to take a sick day at will. Frankly, it’s not the kind of employee I want.

Why isn’t the recruitment agency/recruiter advising this to their clients? Why are we not consulting that arranging meetings requires the full and untroubled attention of both parties and therefore it is best if the meeting is set at a time when all concerned had a clear mind, and weren’t supposed to be somewhere else?

So why are we asking potential employers to break the terms of their current employment, in an attempt to crowbar them into new employment? Why are we asking them to do to their current boss, what we wouldn’t want them to do to us?

Ethics and clarity in the recruitment process is just a practice, and this is an example of a part of that process that gets side-tracked. It really is no harm to wait a day or two longer, and ask the candidate to take legitimate time off in annual leave, do a lunch appointment, or to pop in early or stay late, to see the right candidate – isn’t it?

I welcome thoughts…

Are We Hiring Social Media Quantity or Quality?

It was probably most highlighted to me recently by my own hire of Holly Hunt to run CloudNine’s social content and conversation, that sometimes, traditional rules of hiring do not always ring true in social media communications.

I’ve recruited for 19 years. I’m a stickler for meeting specific cultural and capability needs in selection – so most clients would agree a rarely waste a CV submission, rather than deliver 10 randoms – unless agreed with the client. The aim is always to absolutely reach and surpass the expectations of a new hire, or a new job. The thrill factor applies. This means finding nailed on experience – often at my advised rule of hiring at 80% capability.

do-not-obstruct-raw-talentHowever, I hire social media talent, and there is a thing about social media expertise. It doesn’t always come in a perfect CV shaped box. It’s a relative new phenomenon in career choices, and as an evolving art; more than that, a fast-evolving art; it is less easy to judge the true talent. Often the client expectations alter wildly from assignment tot assignment.

I will often be heard saying the words, “Look at the quality of the experience, rather than the quantity of the experience” – something again my clients will vouch for.

So an example with a client last year highlighted an interesting thing. They were recruiting an Account Exec, and a Senior Account Manager. A graduate plus 6 months role at c£20k, and a 2-3 years experience role at c£30k. The second stage interviews required a presentation – a really good practice in hiring social media people – see how good their research and presentation skills are, and you soon have a good idea of their grasp of commercial social media.
The results of the presentations was astounding. Delivering the same piece, the AE level candidates with minimal experience knocked the socks off the apparent ‘professionals’. There seemed to be a better natural understanding of the brief, a respect for budget, and most evidently a demonstration of creative instinct. The client nearly hired one of the AEs as an AM. She didn’t, but the promotion came within 6 months.

Other recent client examples demonstrated the same – often with my advice to consider raw talent. When he was a client in the UK,  Jon Holloway introduced to me to the phrase  ‘Digital Natives’ when he captured the calibre of the  ‘right’ person for his company – and it meant sometimes experience was usurped by natural ability.

Holly I’m sure won’t mind me saying this, but she didn’t really have a career before her role with CloudNine. She’s a great lifestyle/fashion blogger, a graduate in Journalism, and a part-time social media consultant. In comparison to some of the solidly experience options I could have chosen – largely from digital agency land – her instinct for my brand, my objectives, my market, my consumers and what solutions to present – were incredible. Her natural creativity made her irresistible from a hiring point of view; whereas some of the creative oomph had been burned out of some of the experienced options. Sad, but indicative. Holly possesses confidence in her skills as a content creator, where reticence existed in others.

So, in an age when graduates find it tougher to get on the career ladder, are we considering a search for the ‘Digital Native’, in your recruiting targets. I see many of them, I’m a passionate supporter of them – and believe we should be facilitating this natural talent rather than dismissing it. It won’t always be the best option at interview, and not always the person you hire – but if you find the genuine talent – you save money and creative budget in the meantime.

Our instinct in selection is to look at a CV and reject the shorter experience examples. I don’t think its that simple with social media talent. Sometimes the quality in 6 months employment is so potent, and the 2-3 years experience can be quite shallow. Not always, of course – but we have to recognise the difference. Recruiting social media talent is not simple, given the dynamic nature of the evolution of the industry, and the variance in `grades` of social media execution standards.

In no other area in these 19 years have I seen a more natural avenue of opportunity for graduates or early career people. Often with their own websites, their cultural tendency to social media active, the understanding of social media etiquette, and their position as social consumers – combined with a smart, relevant degree maybe.

Taking the plunge to hire the raw talent is the challenge. It might just be the perfect option. It needs considering, not dismissing.

Dear All, Sorry. Apparently the CV is Dead.

Dear all,

Sorry. Apparently the CV is dead. SmartRecruiters told us so in their recent blog.

So what am I to do with all these digital professionals, with their twitter accounts, open Facebook profiles, Foursquare check ins, Instagram snaps, LinkedIn profiles and occasional blogs; who really bummed out when they merely sent me their CV?
I shall of course write back to them and tell that they very well may be at the cutting edge of content design, marketing and communications expertise; however sadly, their CV; no matter how beautifully presented, crafted and rich with incisive and individual content around their achievements, employment, links, examples of their work and suitability for this particular role; unfortunately, is dead. An online recruitment transaction portal provider said so.
No, no. I can hear you all, my clients – companies at the heart of innovation and expertise in content delivery and marketing – who asked me to provide a shortlist of great CVs just a couple of days ago. Sorry. You’re getting online profiles. I’ll just send you an email, with a few links for each candidate. The CV is dead, you see.
Apparently we shouldn’t mourn this. Time moves on, and apparently it’s all the rage to not ask for CVs. I mean look at the Heineken ad, the blogger tells us. Good point. I’ll ask my client – the growing digital agency with 7 staff, that we should abandon the CV and interview process immediately, and hire out Wembley. It’s the norm now.
Sorry about this, CVs are dead, and interviews are old hat.
Deal with it.
Yours regretfully,
P.S. They’re not.
P.P.S. I can send you a raft of brilliantly crafted CVs as a point of entry to online profiles and work examples, LinkedIn recommendations, AND they fit on your database, AND we can get a feel for the presentation, creative feel, content prioritization and spelling of the person.
P.P.P.S. …Cancel the funeral.

CloudNine Merges With Angela Mortimer Group

I am thrilled to announce that as of March 11th 2013, my recruitment business CloudNine will merge with the Angela Mortimer Group.

CloudNine-Media-TalentI have spent 3 years forming a respected reputation within the social media and digital communications talent network – as an integral participant within the fast growing niche industry – and as a recruiter who puts people-based outcome values ahead of the more widespread sales methodology amongst the recruitment industry. Having built a business model entirely based on social media and marketing communications, CloudNine is seen as an ‘acceptable face’ of recruitment within its progressive field. I’m proud of that, and that will remain the core of our ethics and method.

AM logoThe move to align with Angela Mortimer is one that allows CloudNine to benefit from working with the extensive client network of the Angela Mortimer group companies, and particularly with partnership with Marketing & Media recruitment specialists Pathfinders – who are thrilled to gain the benefit of our social recruiting knowledge and the extensive network. I will work closely with Wendy Duprey and Sue McLelland; joint Managing Directors of Pathfinders; to fulfil a recruitment presence across the integrated marketing and communications mix.

Why did I choose the Angela Mortimer Group? Well quite simple they are a super high-quality outfit with a 37 year history of delivering recruitment services to an unbelievably high level. The core standards of excellence are  a no-brainer to be connected with and as a former employee, I have seen first-hand the fantastic culture and collaborative structure.

CloudNine will retain its personality, style and methodology. On the face of it, there will be little difference in the operation of CloudNine, other than having a solid office base with AM Group in their West End London offices in Golden Square; plus the hiring of a Community Manager and a new Recruiter to be integral to CloudNine’s planned growth.

Beyond that, the plan is to take CloudNine into fast developing digital markets overseas – with Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Berlin and Dubai on the agenda.

It’s exciting times, and will allow us to be even better at what we do. We will be based from the offices in Soho, but will retain the mobility which has always been a cornerstone of our accessibility to jobseekers at their convenience.

I trust we will get to do better things for you, because of this new opportunity.

For any further information, to chat about it, or enquire about opportunities working with CloudNine – email me at steve@cloudninerec.co.uk – or join the conversation with me at @CloudNineRec on Twitter.