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November 2008
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January 2009

ERE Column On Recruiter Marketing

I've a column up today over at on why recruitment marketing is changing the way we approach the employment process.

Here's a little taste of what I'm trying to say.

These are uncertain times, but also exciting ones. Jobseekers, through social media, now have access to information on their would-be employers that is truly revolutionary. In addition to being connected through social networks to hiring managers and other employees, candidates can gather information on individual recruiters, staffing firms, referral programs, and even interview questions. They can do so while they are sitting in an interview room waiting for that manager to arrive. The imbalance of information has been a strength of companies, who can set wages, benefits, and generally control the employment process. Today’s job-seeker has access — and is learning the skill — necessary to balance that information. The result is smarter, better-prepared candidates with wider options as to where they work and what’s acceptable in the employment process (such as whether someone will put up with multiple interviews and long assessments).

This trend may not yet have affected your open requirements, but the strategies employed by the very top candidates are spreading to other high-quality candidates. I know this because I, and others like me are helping train them. Every time I write about a tool on a blog or a social network, candidates have every bit as much incentive to read as do recruiters. And from my website stats, those kinds of readers are growing in droves.

To read more, head on over to the site, and look for more columns on using social media to recruit in 2009.  Comments are also welcome. 

Make This Week Count

My annual holiday column comes a bit late, so I'll just post the ghosts of blogposts past on my recommendations for candidates and recruiters over the holiday.

This is a short week.  If you hate your job, you're probably loving that you get two and a half days of work, followed by another half day on Friday.  If you're freaked out by the economy, you're probably wishing you had more time, and wondering what January will be like.

I'm with you. I've been there.  In December 2004, my last year working for someone else, I faced an action plan at a new company.  The work I did from Thanksgiving to New Years jumpstarted my best earningyear ever.  I made a placement a week from the first week in January to the third week in August, and ended the year with over 70 hires and my first six figure year.

In December 2000, I was in Los Angeles in the midst of the dot-com bust. The work I did from Thanksgiving to Christmas gave me a string of hires from January to September that built my book as other recruiters and account managers were laid off.  It was my best year to date, until the September attacks cut short our recovery.

In contrast, in December 2001, I used my time unemployed to visit friends, hang out at bars, spend time with family, and stay up till three of four o'clock reading.  I had a small severance and California unemployment, and so I waited until the second week in January to get started on my job search.  It took me seven weeks to get hired as an account manager (which was still pretty good), but money was so tight by that point, I was living at home with my parents, driving a car with a cracked windshield, and 30 pounds overweight. 

It's not too late to start. 

Get your resume ready.  Plan out your call list.  Go to the library and build a list of companies you'd work for and with.  Start calling immediately.  The work you do (or don't do) right now will make the difference in the New Year.  Think of it this way. If you were in a race, and got to start 10 minutes before everyone else, wouldn't you take that shot if the prize was a job?  Well, it is a race, and the prize is a job.  Ready, Set, Go!

Interview With Bob Bishop, St Louis Marketing Recruiter

1.  You’re a marketing headhunter. What exactly does that mean?  Narrow it down for us.
It means that I’m an Executive Recruiter specializing in Marketing.  I’m using Marketing as an term encompassing other aspects of marketing like advertising, sales promotion, online marketing and corporate communications.  In my case, I’m a retained marketing recruiter which means that the client actually pays a percentage of our fee “upfront”, to engage our services.  I specialize in the marketing industry that I’ve been a part of for over 35 years.  I’m a marketing headhunter because I have expertise in that field, which is appreciated by both marketing candidates and clients in need of marketing executive search. 

As a headhunter, I identify, recruit and hire candidates in partnership with my clients.  My goal is to find the finest talent available, matching my clients’ needs . . . whether they are actively looking for a job, or very happy in their existing position.

2.  What are the top three positions you recruit for?

The top three positions are: 

VP of Marketing
Senior Interactive Strategist
Creative Director

3.  What is the single biggest mistake that candidates make when they interview with a client?

They don’t ask enough thoughtful questions in their first interview.  It’s imperative that a candidate find out everything they can about a company before they interview.  They should know what that company does and how they do it.  They should know what the corporate culture is and what the company values in employees.  They need to put themselves in the position of actually getting the job and then asking themselves,  “How can I best prove value (and succeed) to my employer?” What is something that’s been missing (from the department of company) in the past that I might provide?  What’s the most important thing for me to do when I start?  Is there an issue that my boss needs addressed as soon as I start?  What’s the one thing that the employer is missing in his department (that I might be able to provide)?  How can I contribute beyond my literal job description?

In my experience, the more thoughtful the questions are, the better.  There are other obvious and more literal questions that I would expect any candidate to ask about things like benefits, start times, direct reports, etc., but not necessarily in the first interview.  The purpose of that first meeting is simply to see if the candidate and employer have a mutual interest in a second meeting.  The idea is to make it obvious to the hiring authority that you’ve given serious thought to how you might best contribute to the Employer.

4. What are some good ways for candidates to get noticed by you?

Send a personalized cover letter.  If it’s apparent to me that someone has taken the time to go through my website ( or has followed my blog (“The Perfect Fit” at, I’m much more willing to spend some additional time with them.  Conversely, if someone sends me a cover letter that is obviously the same letter of introduction they send to everyone else, it tells me they don’t really care, or worse . . . they’re lazy.  It’s essential to stand out from the crowd at every opportunity.  Then, send a hand written thank you note after every meeting!

6.  What is different about recruiting in St Louis from other areas of the country? 

St. Louis is a “tiny town”.  Being a marketing recruiter in St. Louis, means being known by one’s reputation and successes.  There’s a genuineness about how people interact . . . usually.  I find that using a very open, honest, straightforward approach is appreciated and embraced.  The marketing community is rather small by comparison to some other markets.  Candidates and clients often seem to have the impression that they (already) know each other.  In my experience, more often than not that impression leads to conclusions that aren’t always true.  I frequently spend time dispelling rumors, straightening out misconceptions and talking about “realities”, to both my clients and my candidates.  I can do that because as a retained recruiter I have the ability to spend enough time with both clients and candidates to have sufficient information to know what’s true, and what’s not. 

7. Do you currently read Blogs or use any of the new Web 2.0 tools to recruit?

I’ve been very pleased with LinkedIn.  My LinkedIn profile has been a powerful tool in having premier candidates get in touch with me.  Additionally the LinkedIn database is an outstanding tool for research and identifying passive candidates.  When I contact a “passive candidate” through LinkedIn, my profile helps give me credibility.  I’ve also found my Plaxo profile, has been a useful tool.
Additionally my blog at, has been a wonderful tool in supporting my approach to retained marketing recruiting and retained advertising recruiting.  It helps establish industry knowledge and enhances the trust that both clients and candidates have in my Company and me.

Reading industry related blogs as background for my blog is an outstanding way of staying current with what’s going on in the world out there.  I’ve found that the whole blogging process is helping me stay more current on latest trends in recruiting, marketing and advertising.

I also have a Facebook page and I’m on Twitter.  I encourage any reader (happily employed or not), to invite me into their LinkedIn network and follow my blog.

8. List two trends affecting the St Louis marketing industry.   

The current economy is obviously having a tremendous impact.  The biggest issue related to the economy is no one knows what’s going to happen next, so it’s difficult to plan, or consider expansion and hiring additional staff.  The second thing most affecting the St. Louis marketing industry is InBev’s buyout of Anheuser-Busch.  Again, nobody really knows what the result of that acquisition will be.  Will they continue their marketing efforts at the same level with the same staff as before, or not?  There’s a pervasive “wait and see’ attitude.  What AB-InBev does has a ripple effect throughout the St. Louis marketing community.

9.   Does networking work for candidates?  Where should they hang out, if it does?

Networking continues to be the number one way for candidates to identify new opportunities.  There are several associations, that support the St. Louis marketing industry.  The Ad Club offers networking opportunities, and for younger professionals I enthusiastically recommend REBUS and their monthly visits to agencies.  Additionally, there’s the American Marketing Association, the Business Marketing Association and for those interested in online marketing, the Gateway Interactive Marketing Association (GIMA), is young and growing fast.  Go to the monthly meetings of those associations and meet colleagues.  Networking is a two way street.  Successful networkers understand that it’s important to contribute to everyone’s networking effort, not just your own.  You must be willing to give, to receive!

10. You’re a retained search recruiter -  explain, and tell clients how to reach you.

As a retained executive recruiter specializing in marketing and advertising, our client pays a fee “up front”, as a commitment to the search.  This advance payment enables the recruiter to spend the time necessary to get to know their clients’ business and needs thoroughly.  The retained recruiting relationship also allows the recruiter to spend the time to get to know the candidate in a more detailed way as well.  The result is a more intensive, far-reaching and detailed effort to identify, recruit and hire absolutely the best possible candidates for our clients.  I invite any interested clients to visit the Bishop Partners’ website and then give me a call directly.  We pride ourselves on being responsive to our client’s marketing and advertising recruiting needs.

St Louis CIO's Plan On Hiring in 2009

From a recruiter at Apex Systems that submitted an article On LinkedIn he read on MarketWatch reporting on a Robert Half survey (got all that?), it seems that St Louis CIO's are bullish, or at least not timid about hiring in the first quarter.

A net 11 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) in the St. Louis area expect to hire information technology (IT) professionals in the first quarter of 2009, according to the most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Thirteen percent of executives surveyed plan to add staff during the quarter and 2 percent anticipate reductions in personnel. The net 11 percent increase is down one point from the area's fourth-quarter 2008 forecast but three points above the national average.

It's not everyone, and it would be interesting to see if this were small business or large corporations doing the hiring, but it's good news for InBev employees in the tech sector.

For more on St Louis information technology hiring, be sure to check out the RCGA's Greater St Louis Works.

Paying To Interview? I Don't Think So

It wasn't that lot along that we first heard about the getting paid to interview business. Notchup, which got a blurb in this months Fast Company, on p.66, was one of those companies - they pay you to interview.  It's premised on the idea that the best passive candidates (how I hate that term) need an incentive to get interviewed.  Whatever your thoughts on the long-term success of the program, it sure beats something I just heard about - where a company demands a non-refundable application fee for a position.

Stop right there.  Let me tell you something.  Anyone requiring you to pay them for a job is someone you should run from.  They aren't typical employers, and while there might be a few legitimate people doing it, chances are you're getting scammed.  In fact, with the economy the way it is, there are several things you should look out for.

1) Paying a headhunter:  Headhunters/recruiters don't take money from candidates. That's it.  There's no economic way to do so, as most of the people we speak to aren't getting jobs.  That's why companies pay us 20-30% of your salary to find you.  If a company isn't willing to pay us to find you, then how can you trust them to hire you if you give the money to the headhunter directly?  It's a scam, folks. 

2) Beware career counselors who tell you they can help you find a job.  They can't.  Career counselors from your company's outplacement service and the state can be very helpful.  They teach you the basics of jobhunting and direct you to resrouces  Those who require payment for their services, well - don't expect to get much out of it.  You're better off buying a book or DVD and following the advice.  If you're the kind of person that needs career counseling because you can't do it on your own, then all the coaching in the world isn't going to help.

3) Headhunters don't work for you.  Marketing aside, we really don't.  It feels good to put people to work, but you don't pay our bills.  When I'm on a search, I'll talk to at least a 100 people.  1 gets the job.  If a headhunter is talking to you in depth, giving you career counseling, helping you out, passing on leads - they'll quickly be joining you in the unemployment line.

4) Sending out resumes is not good enough.  If you are unemployed, your full time job is looking for a job.  You should attend every networking function, every free class, read every magazine on your industry, practice interviewing daily, and be prepared for anything that comes your way.

I have never known any unemployed person to do this.  I see people playing golf, digging stumps out of their yard, sleeping late, taking vacations, and watching a lot of television.  Unless you're independently wealthy, it's going to come back and bite you in the ass.  Do you really want to dip into your savings and credit cards?  There are jobs, but they don't go to people mindlessly tracking the job boards and telling their family they had a good day because the job is perfect for them and you're sure you'll get a call.

5) Be careful taking advice from newspaper columnists.  I started my blogging career writing about the horrible advice in newspaper columns. These people don't interview regularly, and their advice is almost always terrible - terrible as in it's worse to read it than following your instincts.

6) Don't give up hope: Two things drive us to make changes in life.  Inspiration and Desperation.  If you're really excited about your career, or terrified about payhing the bills, both emotions can be channeled into an effective job search.  The one thing that can't be channeled is apathy.

I know it's tough right now.  And it's going to get tougher.  We're about to find out who the ants and graashoppers are.  Just keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, or if it offends you (like paying to interview), then it's something you shouldn't do.

Don't Discourage Job Candidates With Negative Talk

Recruiters are considered experts in hiring by most candidates.  Even the least successful of us have a load of knowledge on the employment processs that a lot of candidates will never have, and so when it comes to asking about the local job market, our opinion tends to carry a lot of weight.

Unfortunately, most candidates we talk to aren't hired. It's a function of the system.  If we had 100% contact to hire ratios we'd all retire after a month, or if we worked inside, would be let go because of full employment.

So what do we do?  Far too many recruiters talk down the economy or the hiring prospects as a defense against job-seekers who want to know why they weren't chosen by us or our client.  And that's the charitable explanation. We're also prone to making warnings about the recession to depress salaries, a tactic that would never fly internally, but third party firms find it creeping up whenever we get a good person on the phone who wants to know why we couldn't perform.

Look, I know it's tough to tell someone that they weren't selected, or that we chose to submit someone else.  The easy route is to blame malevolent forces outside of our control, and even if we do want to help, telling someone the truth about why we they weren't hired it liable to earn you an ungrateful earful, and no doubt some nasty words to friends and family.

I know full well that there are crazy people out there, and there are also a whole lot of unrealistic yahoos who think it's our job to map out their careers.  They expect us to be career counselors, even though they're not the ones paying us, and they're just as likely to try to go around us as work honestly with us.  So is a white lie really the best answer? 

Continue reading "Don't Discourage Job Candidates With Negative Talk" »

BarCampStl: Bar Camp St Louis December 13th

Todd Jordan and Ryan Keeter are setting up a St Louis barcamp at the City Museum downtown on December 13th to bring together the coolest folks in the 'Lou.

What is a BarCamp?  uh, it's an unconference.  Which is an unscripted meeting of people designed to get you thinking about what you most want to do instead of the more traditional conferences you go to with tracks, set pieces, and the occasional happy hour.

The best part is they tend to bring in very high-power creative types looking to connect with other creative types in a creative explosion of creativity, or something like that.

In all seriousness, St Louis has been working on a number of conferences mimicking the best around the country.  Interplay, the AUX, Idea Market, tweetups and a social media club all had varying degrees of success, but as more people get involved, that core grows.  Todd Jordan, Matt Homann, Marianne Richmond, and others will show.  Will you?

Join Twitter and contact Ryan Keeter, whose employer, Network Solutions  (formerly Monster Commerce), is a sponsor.  Or head here to the barcamp website to read more.

by the way, if you're on Twitter, are you following me?