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Why Are You Going To Social Media Conferences?

Social media has taken the recruiting world by storm.  From a few tentative panels in the early days, to 70% of the content to full conferences just talking about social, the employment industry is embracing the use of social networks to find, attract, and retain employees.  

Training is a big growth industry, as is the growth in internal positions focusing on social media, but what does that mean for you, the recruiter or branch manager tasked with improving your social skill set, but not sure where to turn?  What conference should you go to, and what webinars should you join to learn what you need? 

The good news is that you're not alone, not just as recruiters, but in all industries.  Social is touching everything, and everyone is asking where they should hang out.  Where should they go?  Who should they pay?

Let's not start there.  Let's start instead with the real question - what do you want?  Do you want direction, or training?  Do you want tips and tricks, or do you want strategy?  Do you want to meet other people at the same level, or do you want to follow people further down the path then you?  Answering those questions helps you identify what you want from a conference.  Having those questions, ensures that no matter what conference you attend, you'll walk away smarter. 

Every conference I've followed, tracked, reported on, or spoken at has been beneficial to me.  Some have great content, some great connections, and some are just good for publicity.  And at each, there are people I could get that value from.  And yet, very few times, have I learned that much from the conference.   And neither have you. Look, you're only remembering a small portion of the conference if you're not writing it down.  And even then, you're not acting on most of it.  What you're doing is getting up the courage to start practicing on your own.  You're looking for assurances from other people that you're not wasting your time, and that something good waits for you at the social media tunnel. 

That's why conferences are getting more fun each year.  There are more people, with more successes, and the message is soldifying into actionable results.  How is that not exciting?  

So what's the advice here?  Stop worrying about where you're going, and do spend a lot of time planning how to get the most out of where you're going, whether it's a small meetup or one of the national conferences.  Here's four things to do. 

1) Make a list of people from your area going, and make sure you find a way to meet them. 

2) Look for the conference hashtags, and follow those people on Twitter. 

3) Every person who gives you a business card, send a LinkedIn invite the day they give it to you. 

4) Get people to take photos of you at the conference, and make sure they are tagged on Facebook.  These pictures will help you get publicity as someone interested in learning.  Hey folks, that's valuable.  It means you're a social person that is interesting, a very valuable personal career tool. 

Salary Negotiation Secrets: Unshaven Edition

Social media salaries are no longer in flux, as there are more people with the title nowadays, but the basics of negotiation are the same. 

Know what you want

Ask for what you want

Don't play dumb

Here's the videoblog.


Yes I need a haircut and a shave. Yes, the lighting is terrible.  If you don't like it, you get double your money back. 

If you do like it, make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel. 

Advanced LinkedIn Training: August 25th Webinar For Executive Search

New changes to LinkedIn rules and expectations have altered the way we need to talk to candidates on the business social business platform out there.

What you need is a full strategy for using LinkedIn as a hub, not just as a database.  We're providing that August 25th with the Advanced LinkedIn Recruiting Webinar for Executive Search.  Yes, it's a long title, but we want to be specific. 


Here's the link to the advanced webinar.  The registration fee is $100, and you will receive a video download link after the presentation.  

Why is it Advanced? 

This time, we're not talking about how to understand LinkedIn or how to improve a profile. We're talking about the changes, and then walking through a series of my personal recruiting experiences, learning how to integrate not only LinkedIn, but your entire social network to source and recruit candidates. 

How can unmarked Twitter accounts improve your LinkedIn Sourcing? 

How can Slideshare be used to get candidates to respond faster? 

What secrets in profiles of your current employees can be used to identify new employees?

The secrets behind LinkedIn Groups, from a community manager expert

How mobile and location based services can alter your recruiting strategy. 

Why LinkedIn should be the second site that you go to, not the first. 

What I'm talking about can't be taught by social media experts, and it is not known by recruiting experts.  Come learn from the Social Media Headhunter how Social CRM will change the way you look at recruiting. 

Let me reiterate.  This is not a basic program, and it is not just a webinar on how to use LinkedIn.  Half of the material talks about how to use other sites in combination with LinkedIn to be effective.  This is about finding and closing candidates in the post-IPO market.   


Retained Search Is About Hiring. Contingent Search Is About Power.

I came late to the retained search game, starting only a few years ago as a reaction to the social media hiring market. 

After getting burned on a series of contingent searches that took months of time, only to end up with nothing, I switched over to a retained agreement and didn't look back. 

In hindsight, it's the only model for a small firm. 

A retained contract is a staffing solution where a company pays a headhunter a deposit upfront for their services. The deposit is then credited against the eventual placement.  In essence, the company is giving exclusivity to one recruiter whose job it is to find ideal candidates and close them. 

A contingent contract is a staffing solution where a company pays a headhunter only after an offer has been made and accepted, and the candidate actually starts at the position (and in many cases, that fee is not paid until the end of a guarantee period, even when the contract says otherwise).

Any search taking place without any contract in place is what is known as damned foolish, and usually only happens once in a recruiter's career. 

I like the retained search because it levels the playing field, is the most honest and fair, and allows the recruiter to serve the interests of client and candidate and internal recruiter equally.  What does that mean?


A retained seach levels the playing field by requiring everyone to put skin in the game. 

    The company pays up front.  The headhunter must deliver, as they've taken partial payment.  The internal recruiter can focus on following the process, and the candidate trusts everyone involved.  If it costs the company nothing up front, they have the option of not taking the job search seriously.  They can hold out for the perfect candidate.  They can decide to wait on hiring.  They can play games with salary.  A contigent search is a game of what if that many different people inside a company can affect.  A retained search has money going out the door, which means everyone has a stake in failure. This tends to concentrate focus. 

A retained search requires balanced service levels. 

There is a misconception from candidates that recruiters work for them.  It's not true because recruiters are paid by the company, and thus work for the company.  Under a retained search, the recruiter truly works for the company, and not against competing interests. 

Rather than explaning, I'll give some examples. 

1) The internal recruiter is still looking for a placement. 

    Internal recruiters are seldom rewarded for making awesome placements, but they are certainly penalized for having to use outside firms.  In many HR cultures, using an outside firm is an admission of failure.  An internal recruiter that needs to use outside help always has an incentive to hire their own candidate.  The argument made internally is that a third party firm should be providing a better candidate if they want to get paid. That's true, but how do you judge two candidates side by side when the choice of one candidate affects the interviewer more than the other?

What this means is that the outside firm has to deliver a clear winner.  Anyone in hiring knows this isn't how decisions are made.  This means the best candidate doesn't always win. 

2) The candidate wants more money

    In a contingent search, a candidate can ask for more money with relative certainty of having negotiating power.  They know the search was difficult for the company.  They know the recruiter doesn't want to put all that time in only to lose at the last second. The company, in addition to lost time, fears not finding another candidate.  This is a structural flaw in the contingent model.  

In retained search, the recruiter has the resources to keep a pipeline open until a placement is made.  Even when the search is looking almost complete, the retained recruiter continues making calls.  We have to have the power to cut a candidate off for playing games (and a good retained recruiter has already covered salary negotiation prior to submission).  This limits last minute power-plays, common in high-demand areas. 

3) The manager isn't sure what they want

   When it comes to new technology, and new skills, searches on the cutting edge are very dangerous for contingent recruiters.  Managers who are not involved in a heavy vetting process quite simply don't know who they want to hire.  They're skittish, because they're trusting someone else to know more than they did, often to their detriment.  Ideally, every manager wants the perfect employee at half of their market value, smart enough to do the job, but too dumb to know they can make more.  Contingent search gives managers that option, allowing then to pick and sift for the perfect candidate at the less than perfect cost. This is manifesty unfair to the recruiter, but it makes perfect sense to the manager, whose job is to minimize risk.

4) The recruiter is the only game in town.

Managers in dire need.  Managers in small companies.  Managers who just lost a key employee. All of these situations give power to the recruiter, whose day-in, day-out job is surveying the job market.  Managers lack the information recruiters possess, and the more immediate the need, the less power they have.  When you need someone now, you'll grasp at straws.  In a contingent situation, the manager is often left taking what they can get, both in terms of the staffing salesperson and the candidates they offer.  

In the videoblog Importance of Salespeople in Staffing, I discussed how salespeople are really information brokers greasing the wheels of the employment market. Our job is to identify what companies need to hire, so that we can service those accounts.  As companies only pay us when we're successful, they are dependent on what salespeople call them.  As many managers find out, the salesperson is only as good as their recruiter network, which is to say that just because someone is good at getting you on the phone, doesn't mean they deliver what you need.

Like men who only date women who make the first move, managers often end up the victims of those salespeople who do call. 

Retained Search is only a small part of the market. Companies quite frankly prefer the contingent route because they fear getting taken advantage of, and they overestimate their ability to manage the damage of choosing a recruiter. You can't measure the cost of lost time as well as you can a failed search.  And recruiters do themselves no favors, failing to sell their services at a premium and many afraid to ask for payment up front.

This isn't to suggest contingent recruiters aren't as good.  In fact, there's often more money in contingent recruiting precisely because more companies are willing to give you a chance.  If you're a recruiter, you have to ask yourself, do you want the chance to work for free? 

Scheduling A Coffee Isn't Helping You Get A Job

If you haven't done it, you've been a victim of it.  A well-meaning acquaintance calls and says they're looking for work, and thought to maybe sit down and have a coffee.

As a recruiter, I get this a lot, at least until I started making it clear how much I detested the practice.

The major problem with get a coffee, grab a lunch is the object of your affection doesn't need you to buy them a coffee or a lunch, and if they take it, they're taking advantage of someone who may need that money (someone looking for a job).  Worse yet, a coffee is a major inconvenience in time, adding in travel time and mental focus, that at best, yields a good feeling for helping someone out with feel good advice.

Except, they don't want advice.  They want a job. If you told them you don't want to meet with them, but you'll take their resume to a hiring manager in need, they'd be a lot happier.  The coffee is just a way to make it feel good, kinda like taking a Craigslist hooker out to a nice meal before heading to a hotel room.  You may fool yourself into thinking it's a date, but that's just social niceties.

And those are the ones you can empathize with.  The worst are the ones who are just looking to appear busy.  I say the worst because I've been that guy. I scheduled a meeting with a guy, to grab a coffee, way back in 2002.  He was a small business owner, and I was a staffing salesperson.  After an hour of me talking about ideas, he stops me, looks right in my eyes, and asks me what he was doing there.

I was wasting his time.  I was using him as a sounding board without any benefit to him.  He politely waited, and then called me out on it.

Since then, I've tried to never do that to someone else, but I've had it done to me dozens of times.  I can't complain, but I do instruct.  And that instruction usually is to get to the point, and to do a lot of prep work if you're going to ask someone to meet you. 

When you're looking for work, you need to be respectful of the time you're asking of those who are employed, not because they're more important, but because you want something from them.  What you really want, is them to break out of their comfort zone, and actively work with you to get you work.  You want to impress them, help them, and persuade them that it's worth their time to do more than mouth platitudes or forward a resume.

Showing up at a coffee isn't enough.  Offering to "help" them or "network" with them isn't enough.  And God help you if you haven't prepared for resume, practiced your elevator speech, or don't bother to show up early.  

Try this.

1) Don't Ask For A Meeting Without Telling Them Why.  Tell them you're looking for work, you recognize it's always a drag to have to meet someone like this, but you've got a series of questions that you hope will make the time interesting, and worth their while.  Set the time in a way that is convenient to them.  Stop talking.  Listen to them.  Don't cut them off.  You're asking for them to help you.  Don't make that painful.

2) Make the meeting about them.  Ask them how they got their current job, what they think of their industry.  Ask them about promotion, hiring, the market, and what their biggest problems are.  You do these things to learn, to get better at learning, and to take the knowledge you're given and apply it to interviews.  This information makes you useful to the person you're meeting (giving them introspection), and it makes you interesting in your next interview. 

3) Keep it short.  Tell them 30 minutes, and at 20 minutes, remind them the 30 minutes is almost up, and you want to be respectful of their time.

4) Be prepared.  At some point, they're going to ask you what they can do for you.  Be as specific as possible, down to giving then names and companies you'd like them to make introductions for you.  They can say yes or no, but if you ask them, you take away the vagueness, and show how committed you are.  You're proving to them that if they do recommend you, you'll make them look good.  Have your resume ready, but don't force it on them.  Have a meeting agenda listing what you'd like to accomplish.  That is what being prepared looks like, and it gives confidence to those wanting to help you.

Don't ask them to help you.  Tell them what you'd like them to do to help you, and make sure they understand "no" and "I don't know" are acceptable answers.  Your golden moment is to get them to pick up a phone and call someone to refer you.  Not an email.  Not a vague promise.  A specific call to tell someone to interview you. 

That's how you make a coffee worth their while.