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June 2009

Peter Weddle Owes A Lot Of People Apologies

Peter Weddle takes a swipe at recruiter trainers who dare to teach social media yesterday at his Workstrong column.  Actually it's more than a swipe - he calls it a recruiting SCAM.  Now I'm not sure what exactly would cause someone to post SCAM in capital letters, especially on a blog (which is social media), but Peter's intention is clear - he's calling social media trainers out as snake oil salesman.

I've never met Peter, and hold no grudge against him.  I do know he's a big name in the industry, and am the first to say that there are a lot of people in the social media world who jumped on the bandwagon.  Some have proven themselves, some haven't, but the methods for social media recruiting work, both for the candidate, and for the recruiter.  So what compelled Peter to say it's a SCAM?

I would like to note that he doesn't call anyone out by name.  He instead lumps everyone involved as part of the SCAM, which would include names like Shally Steckerl, Glenn Gutmacher, Kennedy Information, Hireability, ERE, Mark Berger, Jason Alba, Jim Stroud, Paul DeBettignies, Michael Marlatt, and me, the Social Media Headhunter.  In one small column, he calls us all frauds.  His proof is a series of surveys taken on the expectations of job-seekers, which he then confuses with the hunting approach of recruiters.  I'm not sure how training recruiters to use social media sites to find candidates translates to candidate expectations, but Peter doesn't bother to make that clear.

Now I posted a comment on his site, but it has yet to be approved.  We'll see what he says, but let me show you the most egregious passages of his column.

"There is a great SCAM being perpetrated in the recruiting profession today. Call it “social capabilities ahead of the market.”"

  "Successful recruiting depends upon our ability to tap the talent market efficiently, and social media sites can’t do that because most people use them in a different context. These sites are popular because they are viewed as helpful in finding a date and keeping up with friends, but not, at this point at least, in connecting with employers and recruiters. In other words, the social market has not yet become a talent market … and no amount of expert hyperbole will change that fact."

He's wrong about that. His second statement doesn't take into account LinkedIn, Plaxo, or even of the successful uses of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace by recruiters.  It ignores the possibility of setting expectations with candidates (which is what I train on).  Jobseekers are on these sites.  It's a great place to reach them.  It's no different than striking up a conversation with a person at a Starbucks, and then converting them into a candidate when you find out they are the right fit. They didn't go to Starbucks to get recruited, but they don't mind if you approach them correctly (They also don't have their resume posted to their chest at Starbucks, unlike on social networks). 

The basis of his statements are two non-scientific surveys - one by a entry-level and job intern site called AfterCollege, and the other from his own respondents.  The first problem is selection bias in these sample populations.  The populations on AfterCollege (no links provided) and at Weddle's site are a tiny subset of the job-seeking population who are looking for help in their job search.  How can people who haven't been successful finding a job be expected to think of social media as a way to solve that problem? They can't.  To make it worse, Weddle makes the mistake of thinking Millennials are social media experts in job seeking, which is impossible as they aren't experts in job-seeking.  The second is methodology, as questions in online surveys are suspect data points (people tend to pick the first answer).  How were the questions asked?  Was there a control group?  How does this group compare against others in surveys?  

I can cherry pick sample data as well.  Jeremiah Owyang, a researcher for Forrester, compiled a survey from his respondents on job-seeking strategies.  The number one result was increase social networking.  It's a bad sample, because it's a group of people heavily involved in social media, but it has more validity than Weddle's survey examples.  Heavy users of social media report that the best way to find a job is to use more social media.  This would suggest that if you put the time and effort into social media, it can help you find a job.  It doesn't say that with hard data points, but it's at least as valid as the survey Peter uses.  You don't find us claiming his Career portal is a scam.  If I did a survey of my readers, and only 1% of them said they planned to buy Peter's book, does that mean his book is worthless?  Of course not.  It could mean that the other 99% need to buy his book to be better prepared.

This lack of scientific data doesn't stop Weddle from twice calling all social media training a SCAM.  It's unconscionable, and we all deserve an apology.  That someone so widely read and so widely admired would descend to character assassination of people he doesn't know is a shame.  That he writes such a column when the very people he attacks are linkedon his website is even worse.  This column might have been hastily written, but it's no excuse.

The beauty of social media is if you're willing to apologize, you can, and you'll be forgiven.  He needs to apologize.  This could have been an decent discussion topic on the best uses of time, or most effective uses of time.  Instead, it's a hit job, from a leading industry voice.

Peter should remember that newspapers said the same things about blogs not too long ago.  Instead of calling us scammers, perhaps he ought to try to learn what we know that he hasn't yet grasped.     


Interactive Project Manager for Major Brand in St Louis

I have a year long contract position for an interactive project manager with agency and online marketing experience. This is a number two position to a director of ecommerce (one of the best around, and I'll vouch for that), who needs to be focused on the strategic and political work inside the company. She needs someone who can serve as her right hand, helping to integrate this company's online and traditional marketing.

Before you read any further, you're going to have to integrate SilverPop, and you're going to have to have a passing fancy with Omniture. Other duties include approving copy and creative, building internal slide decks, calendar and meeting organization, and research.

Here's what I really need. I need someone who can take direction and make things work. I need a fixer.  I need someone with a perfect attention to detail who understands their real job is to make the life of their boss easier.  You're the hands.  You'll have to know when you can sign off on something, and when you need to go to your boss for approval.  You'll have to walk the fine line between keeping her notified of progress, without wasting her time with useless email.  You'll have to build networks inside the company and with vendors so you can be smart, knowledgeable and useful.

It's a fantastic opportunity to take what you know and reach the next level. Your career path is to replace your boss one day.  You heard me right.  This job will transition permanent when headcount allows, but for now it's a contract position.  Don't be fooled. You're W-2 with benefits, and seriously, you're working with someone who gets online marketing.

You'll need:
Agency Experience (working for or working with)
Corporate experience (working for or working with)
Silverpop integration
Omniture familiarity
Web Analytics, SEO, PPC, Branding - you know, Digital experience
Event marketing

Strangely enough, you need absolutely no social media experience for this position.  It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help.  You won't be involved much in the social media piece for this company in the near future.

You can contact me at socialmediaheadhunter.com or the email address to the top right for a discreet confidential chat.  The Salary is 60K+, and this is a contract position.  If you send me a pdf resume, I probably won't read it. 

The World's Worst Job

The following is a true story.  It takes place between the hour of 9:30 and10:30 on May 6th.

Wife:  Can you pass me the salt?
Jim:  I'm sorry, you've used up your ration of salt until next payday.
Wife: I'm not a Roman Soldier, please pass me the salt.
Jim: (passing the salt), Do you know what must be the world's worst job?  Working in a salt mine.  You're sweaty, it's sticky, salt is in your eyes...
Mother-in-Law:  And think about if you cut yourself!
Jim: Boy, that would sting.  Ouch!
Wife: Still, there are advantages to working in a salt mine.
Jim:  Free salt?
Wife: That, and no Giant Slug attacks
Jim: That's true.  In a salt mine, you would be free of Giant Slug attacks.  That's what I love about you - you're a silver lining kind of gal.



The Importance Of Data Entry To A Happy Workforce

I learned staffing the hard way.  After a week of training, I was set in front of a computer with a stack of paper resumes and told to call through, entering information and looking for cablers at $8 an hour so we could charge $13-$15.  My first two months was spent calling people who just graduated with an MCSE and convincing them that a job cabling, while not glamorous, was a good start for the industry.

At the time, my background in cold-calling was very helpful.  I was used to making 125 calls a day, so 60 was a welcome relief, and I was offering people a job, not selling them a product over the phone.  As we entered names into the computer, the job got easier.  We had Personic's EZAccess, which functioned more like an Access database, and less like an ATS, but it was fast, easy, and I was able to track my progress easier than my old way of pencil and a notepad.

Over the years, I used a variety of systems at different employers - none matched the ease of Personic, and my personal call volume dropped each time I changed calls as I got further from pure calling.  At my final job, the system was so bad, I went back to the pencil and paper, using Outlook to track numbers each day - giving me the numbers I needed to add a hire a week from January 21, 2005, to October 15th 2005, when I left on a honeymoon cruise.

In the last half of that year, a new directive came down to add all of our activity to the new applicant tracking system.  The system was slow, had about 10 clicks for every action, and the only way I could get it done was to stay 2 hours after work and enter that data.  That experience didn't make me want to quit, but it did get me to thinking about better uses of my time, which three months later would culminate in me leaving to start my own company.

I bring this up because a similar story was told to me a couple of weeks ago, from a top producer at a different kind of firm.  Their new CRM was difficult to use, and while it didn't make the person want to quit, it did put a seed into their mind that a company that needed you to do busywork might not be the best place for your talents.

I wonder how many times this happens.  Executives purchase a piece of software, and institute training based on what they want entered, and not based on what their top producers need to make more money.  Is your CRM/ATS/DataEntry system built for you, or is it built for efficiency?  Today, I use Sendouts and SugarCRM, but really I use my iPhone, Outlook, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  I look at my paper trail, and wonder if I could ever adapt to another internal system, but then I look at my productivity, and it's the highest it's ever been.

Something to think about.