Category Archives: recession

Wanted: Inspiration… DEAD or ALIVE


Well, here we go again… doing my nightly blog reading, and it seems it is the same stuff, different day. Hold on… did I just see a Groundhog?

Articles on Gen Y, v Gen X v Baby Boomers. Gen Y’s “you just don’t understand us!” Baby Boomers “and we really don’t care!” Gen X’s where is the money in this debate?
Articles on Thought leadership, who is one? how do you become one? and just because you say you are one…. are you really?
Articles on the next big technical advance (AKA twitter me this Batman! Does Twitter work for you)
Articles on the Recession. Are we close to the end? Of life as we know it or the Recession… depends on what you read.

Or variations of the above…

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Honestly, I’m getting a little jaded. I must be, I’m getting into conversations about the validity of a cover letter in a job search (again).

John Sumsers TOP 100 INFLUENCERS in the HR/Recruiting world may spark some interest, some great reading and some high level debate (or some low brow name calling, Jerry Spring style, which we all love). Hopefully John will have a good mix of the generations and where they sit in the HR/Rec value chain. Having been an avid reader of John’s over the years, I’d expect nothing less in what will prove to be a huge excise for John. (But will make him a great resource for those people Recruiting in the HR/Rec niche!)

Maybe it’s me. My life seems to have hit 4th gear, with holiday finished, commitments with the children and work commitments firing up across the country. Don’t get me wrong I am so appreciative for this and I value every minute. It’s just that I enjoy this part of my life, the late night blog reading, the learning about Recruitment and the frivolity between the participants. I seem to be missing that. It has left the building Elvis style.

Maybe it’s the missing chat area from one of my favourite sites. Maybe I’m a little more tired at the moment and don’t get around as much anymore, so only see those certain discussion/blog topics.

I’m obviously not a thought leader, as I cannot at this time of night come up with something fresh or alternative to what I’ve said, although a new kids book article could be on its way soon.. be warned.

I am happy, comfortable and challenged in my life and work.

So herein is the challenge blogoverse, give me something new! Get me thinking, inspire me… please.

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Would you hire this guy?

Just saw this video on Youtube. It shows a young man trying “something different” to get a job.

My question is… what does it really say about his personal brand?

Would you hire him? You have to say though, as a Marketing person, he sure created a buzz!

Pie Night Clarity

Wow… what a night.

A night of mayhem, madness, excitement, order and anarchy, and let’s not forget, pride and fun and smiles.

That was my night tonight. I attended my son’s first football club meeting, in the form of a jumper presentation and pie night (A great Aussie tradition). It was Zach’s first involvement in a footy club, and his excitement all week in the lead up, seemed justified with his facial expressions as he took the whole thing in. The highlight for him (and his apparently very proud Dad) obviously being presented with his first “real” football playing jumper, and a great kit bag full of stuff from the AFL and its sponsors nab. (I’m not endorsing nab, however the amount of money they must pour into this astounds me. If every junior club and every junior player got the same stuff, well, let’s just say WOW!)

Another thing struck me, being in attendance tonight. How many people, freely give up their time for others. This is a volunteer/honorary organisation, run by people who just believe in it, and who want to contribute. Amazing!

I have always been pretty protective with my time. I find it hard to give more to anyone, as I save what I don’t use for work for my immediate family. My parents were always there for me, I saw my Dad every night, he was always home for dinner, Mum was there every afternoon after school, and Dad attended every single sporting event I had as a kid (which I think was every weekend, summer and winter). I want to provide the same for my kids. But there are some amazing people out there, who, I think can do all this and more.

I have been learning about so many people giving of late, it is just great for the soul, and has me questioning myself and feeling a little guilty.

From those who have given for those horrific bushfires in Victoria recently, to people in my own recruiting circles, who have been putting their own special talents to assist those who are suffering in this recession. People like the Susan Kang Nam, (the PinkOlive woman) who heads up a Career Club called SaltyLegs (really have to find out the origin of that name), to the RecruiterGuy Chris Hoyt, who apart from being the Talent Acquisition Guru at AT&T is actively involved in raising funds, well at the moment the Big Brother, Big Sister programmes with “bowling for kids” and more recently the people from JobCamp (#JobCamp), Luke Havey Palmer from Buzzle, and Stephen Collins, AKA @Trib Honestly, what a great concept. Putting together Employers, Unemployed and Specialist Recriuters who really can do something about making jobs for people in a room for 2 days to see if they can make a difference. These are all inspirational people, who’ve had inspirational ideas, and more important is the fact that they ACTED on them.

Well what can I say, whilst not in their league, it did make me put my hand up, much to the surprise to those who know me. For what? may you ask…. Just remember, you heard it here first I am going to be a brand new Auskick coach for the 5-6 year olds at our local club. Maybe I was inspired, or maybe they just put something in the pies?

Sunshine from the rain

I was getting depressed earlier this week. Things were getting tough at work, the recession was knocking on the door, I had a proper look at my taxes coming due, I was tired and I read a few disturbing articles.

One, I must say I was pretty late on. It was an article from November which reported on the fact that an employee in Sydney for global giant EDS attempted suicide after finding out he was being made redundant. See more of article here. This if nothing else made the stark reality of our current times hit home for me.

Then as if on cue an article appeared in our local news paper about one of Australia’s leading banks, spending half a million dollars on an Executive getaway, just before laying off 500 people. (More here). I must say, this made me question a few things too…. Maybe it was well deserved? If nothing else it smacks of an arrogance in an unsure market, and something that has to put a poor taste in the mouths of those who were let go, and perhaps the public in general. In truth, I read and re-read a few times to ensure I got it.

Then this morning happened. Nothing unusual really, woke up late… train on time (things looking up), got a free up sized coffee (things looking really up!) then as I cross the road to my office I see something pro-active and positive happening.

I see the good people of sixfigures.com.au camped outside a major ANZ bank building (and I must note a Telstra building, 2 of the major employers in Australia, who have announced lay offs recently) offering pamphlets and career advice for people who want it. They took the mountain to Mohammed. Awesome stuff guys. A great idea, not sure what the results will be or even what you wanted to get out of it, but it inspired me, and took a bit of the gloom and doom of the preceding days away to see companies out there doing something. Congratulations! Read more about this here and here. It’s kind of funny… an online job board, burgeoning on Recruitment 2.0, here in downtown Melbourne going old school, hitting the bricks and making a big impression. And put some sunshine in my day

So much to do…. so little time

Hands up all those who feel this…. go on… I know you want to, or have wanted to in the past.

I have a problem…. which I am a little embarrassed to write about. For goodness sake I am a grown man, I should be able to work this stuff out.

My TO DO List has stretched amazingly, I swear when I left it the other day it was fine, quite happy swimming along, not a care in the world. Now, sitting here very late Friday night, I find I have a presentation to prepare for Wednesday, 5 performance reviews to write, A case study to prepare, a blog or 2 to write, further reviews and an idea I need to develop to present to our CEO next week. And here i am thinking I am a Recruitment Manager, where can I fit actual Recruitment into the day.

The scariest thing… there are things that should be on the TO DO list, which are yet to make it…..

“Really? POOR BABY! BIG DEAL! GET OVER IT”

Shouts my mirror as I was having a good hard look at myself. Lots of people are currently without work, my CEO so loving told me today that the Market Analysts asked him why he still had a Recruitment Team? So, you’re a little busy? embrace it, own it, achieve it and move on!

PART V: Happy Feet; the success of standing out!


I was reading this enjoyable penguin tale (yes I have the kids book and the DVD) and it reminded me of a tough economy and how to succeed.

Let me break it down for you….

Our Hero Mumble is the embodiment of what (I think) it takes to succeed in the current world.

Our little hero was a little “different”. He was born into a world struggling with a poor economy… there was not enough fish to go around, the area was fished out, and Mumble stood out in his community for all the “wrong” reasons. In a world of singers, he was a dancer! He was shunned for his beliefs (“it just ain’t penguin”), for his passion, and shouldered the blame everyone placed upon him for his beliefs’ bringing this famine amongst them.

Mumble took this rejection on board, he tried to assimilate, yet struggled to find his core niche. So he set off on a journey of self discovery (OK he was made redundant… .sorry, banished, he was banished, definitely banished), with the goal of solving the problem.

On this journey he continued to learn. He was attacked by strange beasts (angry CEO’s taking a pay cut?) found a community that embraced him (for me that would be community 2.0.. ie RBC, Twitter and more recently Recruitment 2.0 Asia Pacific).
This community enabled him to find an idol, (Lovelace) someone who knew all the solutions, and would share that information for the sum of a pebble. (how many websites promise to make you a millionaire for a simple fee?) (Please note, not for one second am I suggesting these sites are the breeding grounds for false idols, lots of “marketing Web 2.0 guru’s”, but not false idols)

After being embraced by this community, our hero felt he had to go out on his own, he needed to rely only on himself to solve this problem. (look at the new businesses which started up in the last 3 years)

He found even more challenges in this, he was lost, lonely and eventually out of hope. He was found and “saved” in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately he was repatriated in a mind numbing, soul draining environment, vanilla environment. He lost himself here, just going through the motions and surviving, day in day out (Look at all those businesses which have been sold or bought during the last year!)

(I think we are currently at this point in the market)

Eventually, Mumble our hero, found himself again. His individualism started bubbling to the top in an irresistible manner, until it flowed uncontrollably from every part of his body. Yes he was dancing again! He was publicly displaying his unique value proposition, AND PEOPLE WERE TAKING NOTICE! People were “buying it”. Momentum was building.

The world was taking notice. The world was buying. The world did something! The world gave him what he needed. They took him home, colluded with each other to stop the fishing in the area (thus ending the famine) and our hero, became everyone’s! His individuality, his unique selling point, his value proposition had made him a success. He stood out in a sea of same, our hero STOOD OUT and became successful.

P.S, there may have been a love story running parallel to this, but seemingly unimportant to my tale, so I left it out

"Greed is Good"

A catch cry of the 80’s! A time of opulence, bad style and probably even worse music. It was the predecessor of the last recession, a time most famously known in Australia as “the recession we had to have”. We may look back and snicker and scorn, but what will the next generation say about us? I think my hair and suit will stand the test of time, but who knows 🙂

Did “Greed is Good” make a comeback? Like the fashion? If not, what will people in the future see as the straw which broke this economy’s back. Is it the “I want, therefore I get it” attitude of consumerism? or is it leaders asleep at the wheel? Does the global corporate players burden the blame for this, or our leaders, for missing the indicators? Or will we await the movies to tell us what we were/are? Will we find the answer on LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook or Twitter?

Thinking back 18 months ago… There was a cockiness about the world again, a swagger in business leaders step, share prices were skyrocketing, the next generation was assured. Was to world too confident and self impressed? I saw it in the tech wreck of the early 2000’s. Man IT in pre 2000 was great, BMW’s all round (well not for me unfortunately, I was just getting into it), long boozy lunches, claim them on expenses or not? And that was just the recruiters. IT was THE place to be. If you could spell IT you’d be a millionaire, or so it seemed. Then… BOOM, the old bubble burst as it will, Share options not worth the paper they were written on, IT people out of work, uni students bailing from IT courses, and the IT Recruiter community re-group, get rid of dead wood and wannabe’s and start again.

The last few years have been littered with stories of a “War for Talent”, heaps of attention given to attracting staff to your company, a prevailing feeling of good was in most places, the world seemed short staffed. If you had a bad day, had a disagreement with your boss, got a poor review or someone else you saw as inferior got more money… that was fine… there will be another job, that will pay more, and respect you more… just around the corner, or on the next job board you looked at. tick tick tick.. BOOM, what was that? Ouch.. that was 2009 biting you in the butt.

I wrote in my last blog post about my fear for Gen Y’s…. I wrote

Whilst you cannot discount Gen Y’s, you cannot build an organisation around just that demographic. You will need experience to get through the current climate, you need battle scars, people who have survived downturns in the past, and you need mentors for those entering the workforce. I think now is going to be more important than ever. We are going to have people entering the workforce, already confused as to their part in this world.

Gen Y’s have gone through university with a certain feeling of entitlement, there was a skills shortage remember, the war for talent was well and truly underway. Their career was already mapped out, one company as a stepping stone to the other, 20% increase min each new company, companies falling over themselves to hire them. Now, the world of 2009. Graduate programs getting scrapped, wages getting frozen, job losses everywhere… how did we get this surplus of people? (Recruiters must have been doing one hell of a job!) Their picture of self must have been challenged greatly.

It is not the time for employers to get too excited and get even with the talent market, no matter how tempting it is. We still need to nurture the talent of tomorrow, we still have to keep the stars of today and respect the greats of yesterday. Maybe this new world post 2009 will get rid of these tags, and will work together as survivors of 2009… until the next generation comes along that is.

What we do now is how we will be remembered I think. Take your time, consider everything and act accordingly. The most important word is ACT! Be bold, have conviction, and DELIVER. I know I want to make a difference. I want my kids to look at me as a representative of my generation, and say, “Wow, look at his cool hair, and amazing fashion sense. Boy I glad he did what he did in 2009, 2010, 2011 etc!” (Although realistically 2 of those three won’t happen.) I hope the right one does!

Part IV: "Guess how much I love you?" – Gen Y v Gen X and Baby boomers.

I can’t help it… I was going to write another blog tonight, but was given this book from my kids to read tonight and couldn’t resist.

“Guess how much I love you” is a charming little tale of a little Nutbrown hare and his older, bigger, wiser friend Big Nutbrown Hare. It does sound a little sucky really, and the language is simple and easy, the kind that is easy to read to my kids, and fun to hear them recite. Hit “play” above and you’ll see what I mean.

However, my take on this tail..oops I mean tale is based around the generation gap between Gen Y, and Gen X/Baby Boomers. It may be a long bow.. but a lesson to be learned anyway. No offense meant to those Gen Yers reading it.

Little Nutbrown Hare (our poster boy for Gen Y), needs to communicate with Big Nutbrown Hare’s (Gen Xer) and needs his undivided attention. He needs it so much he grabs his ears… .ouch! Why? He has a question, which will both try to suck up as well as try to prove he is smarter that his more experienced counterpart.

Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, spends most of the book trying to out shine his older, larger counterpart. Trying to out jump and out think his more experienced mentor.

“I love you as high as I can jump” said Little Nutbrown Hare
“But I love you as high as I can jump” said Big Nutbrown Hare, almost hitting his ears on the tree branch.

How did I get the generation battle out of this?

I deal a lot with Gen Ys, and whilst I think the whole, “they are so much different to the rest of the workforce and thus need to be managed differently” mantra is a little over cooked, there definitely are truths.

You need to be prepared to both hear and listen to them. They are surrounded with information, so much more than most of us were when we started our careers, and they aren’t afraid the share it. You cannot fear it, shun it or ignore it. It is there. You have to follow Big Nutbrown Hare’s attitude. Listen to them, and if they are not right, or their idea is not so new or ground breaking, tell them. Bluntly, yet nicely, encourage allow them to keep thinking.

One of the proudest things I have been involved with over the last year was our Industry Based Learning Student. He arrived at our company wanting to run the world, requesting responsibility, people reporting to him etc… When he gave his presentation at the end of his tenure, he outlined that one of his biggest takeaways from this was the fact that he now knows, what he doesn’t know. (and I believe an increased level of respect that others already working may know a thing or two). There was a lot of work done in the middle.

Whilst you cannot discount Gen Y’s, you cannot build an organisation around just that demographic. You will need experience to get through the current climate, you need battle scars, people who have survived downturns in the past, and you need mentors for those entering the workforce. I think now is going to be more important than ever. We are going to have people entering the workforce, already confused as to their part in this world.

Gen Y’s have gone through university with a certain feeling of entitlement, there was a skills shortage remember, the war for talent was well and truly underway. Their career was already mapped out, one company as a stepping stone to the other, 20% increase min each new company, companies falling over themselves to hire them. Now, the world of 2009. Graduate programs getting scrapped, wages getting frozen, job losses everywhere… how did we get this surplus of people? (Recruiters must have been doing one hell of a job!) Their picture of self must have been challenged greatly.

It is not the time for employers to get too excited and get even with the talent market, no matter how tempting it is. We still need to nurture the talent of tomorrow, we still have to keep the stars of today and respect the greats of yesterday. Maybe this new world post 2009 will get rid of these tags, and will work together as survivors of 2009… until the next generation comes along that is.

Now, when I was a boy……….

Welcome to the Weekend….. Importance of Promise v Delivery

There is a connection between new employee and Recruiter, whether you are Agency or internal, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference (akin to the bird who forms a connection with the first thing it sees out of the egg, the Recruiter is THE goto person in the initial stages of employment in most cases as there is a relationship).

This works well if everything in the employment stakes goes swimmingly.. however, if say, there is a redundancy (or more than one) to someone you were able to convince to leave a job, and take yours, 6 months to a year after they start. I know this could be in bad taste with the amount of redundancies happening at the moment, however this scenario will have to have a negative effect to your personal brand. Is this a fair assessment? and if it is how can you curb it, especially if you work in a niche area?

Another scenario… you have a requirement, you qualify, qualify, qualify, you get THE right candidate… the candidate goes through an exhaustive process…. and you find out at the 11th hour… no more budget. (I have seen this scenario a lot over my career, but I am convinced there could be more of it now)

You advertise on a job board, you get your 100 responses.. only to find out that the role has been pulled.

Each one of these scenarios will affect the perception of YOU from the candidate, and perhaps with the employer as well. As the driver of the process, the buck will stop with you…

Personal Brands will become more and more important as Social Media really takes hold. People will (and already can) find you on countless mediums online, blogs, online communities, twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace etc etc etc… people will say good and bad things about you and your company.. if you are constantly going through any of the above 3 examples it may have a negative affect on your Brand.

This is where common sense needs to come in… the simple fact is that as the Recruiter you have to Manage expectations on all sides. If you do this openly, honestly and in a timely manner things should be fine… Hey I get guilty of not getting back to some people when I say I will, but life gets busy right?

Honestly… not good enough, I should know better…. and here’s why…

Once upon a time….. in a land not that very far away……I was a young Consultant in my first ever gig, I joined a team of 5 looking after one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) IT Contracts in the country.. they had just won a huge deal to outsource all the IT development with the largest Telco in Australia. This was going to be the land of milk and honey.. everyone will blow budgets away, it was a coup for my company to get on the panel.. we had over 200 open reqs a any one time across Contract and Permanent roles, life was flat out, life was fun… success will bring that. However, one day I get into the office to find out that all 4 of my other team members (incl leaders etc) had resigned.. leaving me holding the baby as it were. (insert first ever stress freakout here)

I knew the account, I knew the people… but it was just me… 23 years old running the largest account the company had… This surprisingly raised a number of eye brows with the client. the words “We are your largest account… why do you have some kid running it? Aren’t we important enough to warrant someone of experience and standing” We were part of a competitive panel of 7 agencies, all getting the same work.. we were ranked in the lower half….

This is where I learnt something… of those hundreds of requirements the client didn’t expect us to fill every single one.. however the expected us to report to them what they wanted reported and the wanted constant feedback. They needed feedback, good or bad, for the closing date of every requisition. I made a decision there and then… I was going to focus on delivering on our expectations, even if it meant that I would call the procurement or HR people and say I had no one for that role, and it looks unlikely that there would be. I was amazed at the kudos that bought me, within 6 months we became the number one supplier. All because i believe, that we listened to what they wanted, we delivered on personal undertakings and built strong one on one relationships and worked those relationships to expand our knowledge and inside client knowledge.

My point? Deliver on what you say you will, (don’t under promise – over deliver) you will gain respect from clients and candidate alike…. and that is what we are after in this industry. This business we are in, whilst challenging, is not Rocket science.

The dangers of under delivery are shown below 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

This was going to be a short little rant.. I seem to have been caught up in it… thanks for reading!