Category Archives: communication

Dad lessons

“Do as I say not as I do!” – This was/is a favourite saying from my Dad.  Normally trotted out when we as kids, busted doing something, which we found amusing.  Talking with his mouthful and farting/burping in public being a few examples that you cannot go past.  (Those last two normally followed with the infamous “Where ever you may be, let your wind go free”)

———> MY Dad!

Now I’m an experienced Dad (well, I’ve been one now for 8.5 years and have now ramped my Dadness up to cover 3 (not so) little tykes, I’m finding myself morphing into my parents.  Sadly (I feel) it’s not just at home.  It’s creeping into my work life.  It’s quite confronting when you realise that you have people in your team, who are almost a generation younger than you!

I felt this yesterday.  I took an annual leave day to spend what turned out to be a stunning day with the family.  Being school holidays and all, it was the least I could do to at least seem like I was shouldering the load with my wife.  It was a great day, weather wise, couldn’t have asked for better, best Spring day for the season.  We jam packed it with activities which were fun for all of us.  We laughed when we heard about the traffic chaos almost shutting poor Melbourne town down, as I wasn’t needing to battle it.  We played, we worked in the garden, we got haircuts and we played some more!  It was gold!

But I was still drawn to the phone, the little mobile office in my pocket.  I only took one call, which we concluded in less than 2 minutes, but I was still compelled to check.  I’m not sure why.. I’m not a workaholic (sorry boss), sure I enjoy what I do and have a real passion for it, but reflecting back…. seriously? one day?  My mistress iPhone gets me in. (I get grumpy with my team do it) I can remember the days when you just travelled somewhere.  If you were out and someone wanted to catch you, you had to leave a message on a cassette tape on the answering machine (I think I’ve lost my Gen Y readers – check this for clarification) I couldn’t take calls, I couldn’t check status’ (that was done at the pub with the lads) and my message bank was a number of red slips of paper in my cubby hole at work when I returned to the office!  I’m wondering how my kids will actually be able to take a break from the office? They’ll be doing stuff we haven’t even thought of yet.

Is this a comment on me? society? a new working culture?  Does it make you good at your job or just bad at living?

Funnily, I accepted a meeting invitation which takes all of a microsecond to click “Yes” I’ll attend.  This acceptance was followed by a quick email, in capitals no less from one of MY team, saying “GET OFF THE EMAIL!”.  Humph… Double Humph!!!!  She was right mind you, and I would have done exactly the same thing, if the roles had been reversed.  But come on, “Do as I say not as I do!!” I can say that right? 😉

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#ATCSYD OMG… Australian Talent Conference is GO!

If you’re reading this and you haven’t been able to attend this weeks #atcsyd (the Australasian Talent Conference in Sydney this week) there’s a couple of things I’d like to say.  Well, firstly, “sucks to be you” :), secondly, I apologies for the large input on my twitter feed and thirdly, better start working on your boss for budget for next year!

I mean what a day! Here’s my (attempted) brief overview of this day…

Firstly, up early enough for the birds to tell me to sssshhh.  I tried to leave the house under the secret cover of darkness, only to be sprung by my youngest, who proceeded to howl the house down at the very idea that Dad may be going somewhere without her.  Silver lining? I got to say “good bye” to everyone, as they all woke up… #sneakyfail

Uneventful commute to airport, however my perfect plan for easing into this day with a quiet coffee pre flight was hampered by the far far far queues awaiting me at airport security #coffeefail It was barely 6am people… Come on!!!

Sadly I missed the drumming which kicked off the #atcsyd (which isn’t a bad thing I don’t thing) and then walked in for the second half of Dr John Sullivan’s talk on “Competing through Agility” (missing first half was a bad thing!) The big takeaway I got from this talk was that Speed rocks! (no not that speed) Spoke about rates of improvement, and the imperative to improve at a higher rate than the business. (OK I missed a fair chunk of this session) Bottom line… speed and innovation, check the Twitter stream #atcsyd for more 🙂 Taco’s as bribes for cv’s were mentioned though.

The next session was “Will you consider Video interviewing before your boss tells you to try it”.  Interesting session, for me personally as I have been wrestling with this for most of this year. Kevin Wheeler and Gerard Ward presented on this, however, it was mostly Gerard from Testgrid talking about his product.  My issue with this topic was that people were using the terms “screening” and “interviewing” as interchangeable.  That is a concern for me.  However, I’m not yet convince that my audience or clients are ready as yet. I don’t think it will be far away though.  Also, need to note that some of these products are not yet mobile compliant, which to me is ludicrous and devalues their product.

The next session was delivered on “Fast-tracking Career success Through the Power of mentors” by Jen Dalitz.  She made some really good points, took a few tangents (but who doesn’t love a Beagle analogy?).  Lots of men versus women and how they work, I’m not sure if she was alluding that one was better than the other, just that they were different.  Some great tips around mentoring though, looking internally and externally.  Putting the idea of having a “Personal Board of Directors” ie a Board of different people with different skills to help you work through the ins and outs of this professional world.  I loved that idea.

The next session was something I was looking forward to as Glen Cathey was presenting with Gabriel Garcia.  They were talking about “Searching Big Data Immigrated from the US to Australia”, sadly this was more of a product pitch, with some interesting ideals thrown in for good measure.  Semantic searching, however, and the technology around that, is very cool!  Enterprise, Search Driven Business Intelligence…. “Say it aint so!” very cool idea.  It made me realise my limitations around search and as @JaredWoods noted… “Get my geek on and start to drool over the technology” Best quote from this was from Glen “Data has no value if you cannot retrieve it” .  Obviously limitations around this idea is the fact that if you have a crap database then, it would be useless, however for your Infosys’, Ernst & Young’s IBM’s etc I can see how great this could be.  Also good to see CareerOne trying to innovate and evolve from a pure Job board.

Incase you didn’t know, some of the best lessons learned from these conferences occur at the breaks, when you get to catch up and meet with people, other professionals, who in some cases you only know online.  I love this.  And yes this happened here today…

Enough about that… Lunch was great, with a cheesecake to die for at the end… OMG YUMMMMM!!!! no not sharing….

OK sorry.. off topic… The sessions coming up next were a choice of 4.   I chose @Davidals session on “Rethinking Attraction and Recruitment: Blue Ocean Philosophies” and Anthony Storks “If you can’t Attach Your New Talent, You’ll never engage them”

2 genuinely quality session, even if it was sad to miss the other two.

David started his talk with using the “cirque du soleil” as a case study of something that took a concept, re-thought it, eliminated competition and thrived in a dying industry.  Just through innovation and uniqueness! GOLD! He spoke about Red Sea fishing and Blue sea fishing, red being the conventional, tried, true, boring and limited version, with Blue being the innovation, standing out from the pack, being willing to make a difference version.  Obviously there was a bias towards the Blue style (and not just because “state of Origin” was on today, and we’re n Sydney)… I can’t go word for word… slide for slide here because, well, he’s already done it.  And if he wants to attach and share here, well, he will!  But the outline for being able to make innovation, build a compelling business case, think about starting to look at what you want to achieve in four quadrants…  Create Raise Eliminate Reduce… think about those… see how you go! (Sorry I couldn’t think of a witty, amusing acronym for that)

For Anthony Stork, I need to apologise, no I don’t need to apologise for him, just that his energy, passion and knowledge of his topic around employee Attachment was so impressive that it didn’t give a lot of space for taking notes (plus the fact that my wifi connection crapped itself about now).  But firstly, a great speaker.  Some major points coming out of this session were around the cost of attrition, where the buck stops, how to measure.  He spoke of  the importance of Core attachment perceptions of Security, trust & value, acceptance, and belonging. and how without these core perceptions being managed we were essentially doomed to fail, or perish I think the word was.  Compelling stuff, especially when he put a dollar value around the idea… (his numbers) a New hire is a $100,000 investment in the first 3 month… Seems like something you really want to get right huh?

After a quick break we saw Tanyth Lloyd (@voguist) headline the “World Cafe” part of the conference next… What is that? I hear you ask.  Essentially it is a big hall, 15 different topics to discuss on 15 different tables, each with a facilitator.  You pick a table, discuss there for 20 minutes… stop… regroup… share with room…. pick another topic and repeat.  Always interesting topics… I’ll attach the topics somewhere here (thanks for pic Glen Cathey) .  But let’s just say, what happens on tables 15 and 10, will stay on tables 15 and 10!

All this conference, just provided us the vehicle to take us to the final session of the day with the one and only Greg Savage.  If you don’t know Greg, Ok not personally, but if you haven’t heard of him (what are you reading this for) Google him, I’m sure he won’t mind.  Then watch, listen and learn.

Greg got the dud time, the tough time of the day.. the final person/speaker sitting in between 300 delegates and free beverages.  I have to say, I’ve conversed with Greg for a number of years now, we’ve agreed and disagreed on things, but this is the first time I’ve met him and heard him speak live.  All I can say is that I thoroughly recommend it.  I’d almost go as far as to say that if you want your Recruiters to get inspired by their job, and bounce back to their desks to GET THINGS done, they need to see Greg.  Greg is an evangelist for what we do.  But today he gave us a case study on how his company took to the Social side of things.  How his company… “Went Social”  Greg freely shares this case study, so for me to write about it would not do it justice… Just ask him, he’s never short of a word! 🙂

He likes to operate in “the REAL world” and apparently Recruiters operate in this world, which I tell you confused some delegates.  He spoke about not having a “social Media strategy” but weaving “Social” into the very fabric of their company.  The stats he used were compelling, as was his 11 pronged strategy, and really did raise some questions in my own head, of some things I will explore more when back in the office.  One thing he said that I’ll share that’ll stick with me for a while… “A Status update can fill a role!” think about that! (and this my friends is what you want out of a conference!)

Then of course the drinks and canopies came out to conclude a great day.  Looking forward to tomorrow, glad I got this out of my head tonight, need to make room for tomorrow 🙂

Thanks to Trevor Vas, Horace Chai, Martin Warren, Kevin Wheeler and the team for putting this on again.. Bring on tomorrow. So looking forward to meeting more people tomorrow… and if you read this and want to say hi to me…. please do, I won’t be hard to find…

Out of Contact Recruiters. Seriously?

I must be having a dumb moment. I just don’t understand. Why is it that people do Recruitment Advertising and do not put their name or phone number or email address on it?





With the low odds of quality candidates actually reading your ad and wanting to reply, why would you not want to talk to them?  What you are essentially saying to potential applicants is “Please talk to my ATS, they’ll look after you until I deem you worthy enough of my time.” I mean come on?

What is the rationale behind this? Recruiters are too busy to talk to people? Is it different for in-house Recruiters and their Agency counter parts?  Having been on both sides I don’t see why? Sure you get some time wasters, some angry people at times and some people who you think this would be the first English conversation they’ve ever had.  But what does having these conversations actually cost you? 1-2 minutes?
When talking to job seekers I recommend contacting the company before putting in an application.  Think up some smart (not smart ass!) questions, build a rapport, get them to look out for your resume before you apply (and then ask if you can follow up!).  You cannot find out everything about a person from their resume, and you cannot tell everyone everything about yourself in a resume.

Just a tip from the battle hardened.  I made one of my larger placements at Peerlo, from a guy who’s resume would not have got him a second look in.  It was nowhere near the mark.  But this guy called me.  We spoke, he sent me his details (to see if he was serious or just kicking tyres), we spoke again.  And whilst his resume wasn’t a match, he had created such interest that we had to meet.  After meeting him, I knew he was right for my client.  I’d been doing business with that company for near on 10 years, his attitude, skill and demeanour would get him the job.  Bottom line: his first phone call, our first discussion was THE catalyst for him getting the job, and being one of the higher achieving people in that team.  His resume didn’t get him the job, he did.

Wouldn’t have happened if he’d just communicated with our ATS!

The times we live in…..

Interesting thing happened to me this week. I ran into an old colleague in a coffee shop (that’s not the interesting thing) but he said something to me which resonated a bit. He said “Nuroo…. man, I feel I know more about you now that I did when we worked together, with your blogs, your twittering and your facebook stuff.”

We laughed it off, however it got me thinking. “That’s pretty sad isn’t it?” Was I not open enough? Was our communication that poor? or is it just a comment on the brand new world2.0 now? Where information is more easily shared and found, and sometimes given to you even when you don’t want it.

Has the world for communication changed forever?

Part II – The Very Cranky Bear – A child’s tale re Consulting and/or Customer Service

Another of my favourite books I read my kids every night is “The Very Cranky Bear”, by Nick Bland, my son received this book from Santa this year and it quickly became the most requested book in the house.

The imagery is great, the story funny, simple and moving… and yet an amazing learning lesson for Consultants and/or Customer Service professionals.

Brief Synopsis:

“In the jingle jangle jungle, on a cold and windy day, four furry friends found somewhere warm to play”

OK this is where is gets hairy… forgive the pun… our four main heros include, Moose, with marvelous antlers, Lion, a golden mane, Zebra had fantastic stripes, and Sheep, now sheep was plain.

None of them had noticed, that sleeping in their sanctuary of a cave was a bear… a Very Cranky Bear to be precise (AKA THE CLIENT) … who chased them out of the cave into the cold, wet weather with a number of well placed, loud “ROARs!”

The four friends were pretty disappointed with this outcome, and decided that there had to be a reason for this bear to be so cranky, (apart from them interrupting his slumber of course) and that if they could make him happy, he’d simply let them share.

Zebra was the brains of this outfit… who couldn’t see the responsibility but could see the solution. Zebra loved his wonderful stripes, they always made him happy… therefore is this bear had stripes.. he’d be happy too.. Simple problem solved…? Moose interjects with the thought that Stripes are a bore…, his antlers always made him smile.. “let’s give that bear a pair”… Lion disagrees with confidence “no no no no no” says lion “antlers are a bore” ” a golden mane like mine, will cheer him up for sure”. Alrighty then… 3 of our 4 hero’s go collecting things to ensure that they will make Bear happy.

This leads to one of the funniest pictures I have seen in ages.. reminds me of the old saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee.

Needless to say, but the Bear, now sporting new stripes, mane and antlers is not impressed…. he gets angry again, and chases out helpful hero’s out of his cave. On his way back into the cave, he stops and Roars and the unsuspecting Sheep. “All I really want.. is a quiet place to SLEEP”

Armed with this information, Sheep, shaves of half his wool, makes a pillow for our Cranky Bear. This makes the Cranky Bear happy and he soon falls fast asleep, maybe dreaming of a plain but thoughtful sheep.

Here’s my link:

Sheep, was the only consultant… Sheep listened to the problem, accepted responsibility, acted, invested personally in the solution and won over the client… whereas the others tried to impose their own solution on the Client’s problem and were magnificently unsuccessful.

You need to listen to your client, find out where their pain is, what the problem really is and from there formulate your strategy from there. Ask the dumb questions, clarify, and get that tailored solution for your client.. that will get you remembered.. boost your unique value proposition, and will have turned that Cranky Bear client of yours into a client for life!

You have nothing to fear but the PHONE itself


Has the Internet killed phone skills?

Does social networking limit the need for actual contact?

In short… NO!

I have been sitting on this for a while, brief communication with Michael Specht and a recent article by Maren Hogan really did push a few buttons for me, and made me feel a little guilty.

Social Networking, those magical sites that everyone is talking about.. you know.. the Facebook.com’s, the Linkedin.com’s, the MySpaces, great for recruiting right? How can you not make a bucket load of money just by using those sites alone… (if you believe all the hype)… Passive candidates found on these sites are way better that those that end up in your inbox from ad response.. in fact why bother posting ads to these job boards? it’s all about the candidates found in these sites. Isn’t it? (please detect tongue in cheek here). If you spend enough money on the right tool, spend enough time trawling these sites, In-mailing, IMing, DMing people will fill all your vacancies! Woo hoo… what have we been doing all this time? How did this world turn pre social networking?

What has happened to the phone?
I think this little bit of technology, which has been around forever, well long enough to not be considered new, is still the KEY to successful recruiting. I recruited pre email, pre websites, pre job boards, and you know what? I was able to do my job and make money… truly! serious! I may sound it, but I’m actually not that old! not even 35 yet, and yes I have recruited without these tools.

I got on the phone! I face to face networked, spoke to anyone and everyone… had a bucket load of business cards and kept a database (not a CRM, an ATS or any other acronym).

I mentioned at the start I was feeling guilty about things.. what you may ask? I find myself at times being seduced by this new technology, (iphones, blackberries etc don’t help, bringing all your Internet, email etc with you everywhere you go) and ignoring the phone. Sending inmails on Linkedin, or just dropping emails to people… I sometimes placate myself with the idea that this is passive headhunting.. you know.. “if they aren’t interested then they just delete the email”, but basically it is lazy, and honestly doesn’t have the best results.

The best results have come from finding names, picking up the phone and finding a way to have a conversation with someone. It’s scary for people I know! When I was selling I had to really work myself up to it at the start.. lots of caffeine, hold my breathe and dial… (kind of sounds like when I was in high school, trying to ask a girl out)

However I went to a training course, from “sales guru” back in 1997, and whilst most of the session didn’t do much for me and I couldn’t find the interest to buy his audio tapes (remember them kids?) there was one bit that stuck in my mind about picking up the phone to strangers. What’s the worse they can say? “NO!” yeah and……….? If it takes you 4 phone calls to make a dollar, then every time someone says no, you smile think to yourself “Thanks for the 25 cents!”. Man that was powerful for me. This ideal, kept me on the phone. (in fact in my latest role, when I first started, I got questioned about the spike in the phone bill! That was great validation, especially when I could point at the record number of new hires.)

Now you may not have to do what I’ve heard of people doing in days gone by… I heard of people taping the phone received to their hand and wouldn’t let themselves be undone until X amount of calls were made, and no I don’t believe in boiler room style calling.

Confidence comes in the preparation (but don’t use doing lots and lots of research and excuse not to get on the phone. Yes that’s easy enough to do! Guilty your honour) You do need to do your research, qualify, whether it be for client or candidates, know what you want to say, or what message you need to get across. I don’t believe in scripts, as you have to engage in the conversation, however you need something to gain their interest nice and early, just like at the start of an advertisement. You need to have knowledge about the subject, and a compelling reason for them to talk to you. Once the conversation is started, all the fear will disappear.. trust me… 🙂 I twittered someone on this recently, my comment “just like getting into a cold pool. A deep breath and dive on in.. once done, it can’t be undone, gets easier from there. promise”

Just in case you are still scared of picking up that phone… in the dozen years or so, I can count on 1 hand the amount of times people have been truly rude to me.

It could be your differentiator, “WOW you’re a real person, not just an email address.”

Jerry Maguire changed my life


A sad statement I know. This movie turned up on late night television the other night and it reminded me of a situation I was in a bit over a year ago.

Now this isn’t a Show me the money take off, but I still love that scene and needed the photo, for my own amusement. I digress
I was sitting at home, after a hellish day in the office, an occurrence which was happening not as rarely as it once had, and found myself writing. Lucky for the blogosphere I hadn’t joined its ranks yet. I voiced all my opinions about the company, my role, the management, the different personalities etc.. put it all out there. I was writing an email to my CEO and MD at the time. Man it felt good, so cathartic, and I believed it made a hell of a lot of sense.. I was about to change my world. I was pumped, maybe it was the caffeine I’d had to ingest to get through it all, who cares? I was excited. Now in Jerry Maguire, he acts out, passionately, straight to the copy mart and goes a little crazy, luckily enough for me (as Jerry gets fired.. remember) I remembered a little advice I’d received as a young professional. Never send an email on emotion, anger or happiness, save it in drafts, read it in the morning, and if you still believe it, then all means, GO FOR IT.

All I can say is thank god. I re-read in the morning and WOW, what a lot of nonsensical, emotional, jingoistic, egotistical crap it was. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in the underlying message, and still do, but wow the message was lost in lots and lots of words. Here’s the kicker.. I still wanted to send the message, but not in that format, not to those guys.

I was lucky, I had someone I could talk to, someone who understood my company, my role and my feelings and the players I was talking about. I sent this person my email, and held my breathe for the response… was I talking from a part of my body polar opposite to my mouth or not.

Luckily enough this person agreed with the message and the sentiment, and was nice enough to let me know.. they also agreed with the fact that the format would not get the message across. Think about your audience, how do they think? what would grab their attention?

Great thought… now remember I was writing to my CEO and MD, not sure if this is true of all people of this rank, however, my audience had to have their attention grabbed in seconds, or less to keep them reading, it had to be succinct enough to let them know what I was thinking and the benefits it held, and it should not be emotional at all (as that would stop reading, or at least reading with an objective viewpoint ASAP). I re-wrote a few times, and could not find a way to change too much. I tend to sometimes get attached to my work, and find it hard to change.

At 3am, it hit me.. (unfortunately this happens a bit to me) I had to start thinking like a recruiter, writing my ads for a particular person. Very effective I found.

I wrote a catchy title to the email, which I new they would read. Something like “A great way to improve profits”. I wrote a short sweet intro. Then dot points I needed them to know, and of course what they would get out of it. Finally, there was a call to action! “We should do this, or with your support I would like to discuss more.”

End result.. an emailed response from my CEO, with a phone call 20 minutes afterwards, some changes immediately, (I feel) an increased standing in the company, and a few more initiatives which changed the way the company operated.

Now this may seem like bragging, and maybe you are right, however, I thought it was an example of a way to use passion and communications to C level executives and get away with it. It’s like your ads.. Grab attention, use the what’s in it for them theory and finish with a call to action.

It continues to work.. hope this helps someone.