It's All About Me... Who am I?

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I'm in my mid thirties, I love what I do and I love my family. This blog is essentially me morphing my life into Recruiting. Expect the odd long bow to be drawn. I'm a passionate career Recruiter with more than a decade's experience in the IT Recruitment world, I have things to say.. and with this I will

Monday, December 29, 2008

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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turn the lights out when your finished, 2008 is done

Well, that's it isn't it? Work for 2008 just about done. What a year it has been..... changes, growth, finding a voice and confidence in the world and learnt by the bucket load.

I've found this blogosphere and am really enjoying contributing and learning from peers and industry experts, not just from my chosen field, but for life in general, I am constantly amazed at the information available through this wonderful medium.

I've seen myself grow, personally and professionally, watched my family grow and experienced the joy that is watching my wife assist my children in their growth, I'd like to take some credit, but hey credit where it is due, she spends the majority of the time with them... I am the novelty act, for bath time, bed time, morning milk and weekends. You wont find a prouder man... to the point I used my ability to get home for bath time in a film festival I ran for my work.



We've enjoyed good health and lots of laughs, you have to be happy with that. In April my wife and I will achieve 10 years of marriage... who'da thought it... she's a brave woman, and I'm a lucky man.

Professionally, one of the highlights was watching my team develop and achieve some very challenging goals with some innovative solutions using technology to our advantage.

I attended my first Australasian Talent Conference and was amazed by how that affected me and my outlook on life, personally and professionally. To have conversations with Heather Hamilton, Dave Mendoza, Rob McIntosh, Shally Steckerl, Kevin Wheeler et al helped accelerate my development as a professional more than anything else in my almost 15 years experience to date.. if you see this guys.. thank you. It saddens me that with the economic climate outlook for 2009 may exclude me from the 2009 session.

I am about to start a break at home, and can't wait to wind down and enjoy the time with family and friends, especially those friends of mine who have returned from London for the Christmas season. They added to my shot glass collection.. gotta love them.

So to anyone reading this... Merry Christmas, have a happy and safe New Year. Don't be shy, please add comments it will be great to know people are actually reading things.

Goodbye 2008, thanks for coming, we had fun.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shameless Self promotion on the RBC site... Why I am a Smart Recruiter

This was written for the RBC, all for the chance for a free dinner... shameless? yes, do I care? not really, all in fun.

I've been thinking about this a bit, wanting to do a decent job at this, and not sound too big headed, which for those who know me will know it is tough for me to do, I have a great ego. I know there is no "i" in team, but there is a HUGE "ME" :)

1) I care, cliche? But what do I care about? My candidates? yes (within reason), my company? yes, its brand? yes, the viability of the EVP I'm selling? yes, the quality of the hires I (and my team) make? yes, my own Personal Brand? yes! care that we are getting the right results for me company? yes!

2) Constantly Learning. Forums like this and ERE are invalueable to me, inspiration has to come from somewhere, or even ripping off an idea all together :) I am not technically savvy, in any way shape or form, however from the gadgets, technology etc I learn about from different forums I have implemented a bit of these to my day to day life. I'm smart enough to know that I don't know everything.

3) I am box free. ie I don't like to think outside the box, I don't believe in the box in the first place. I believe in boundaries and process, but don't allow myself to be bound by them.

4) Positivity is a huge part of being a Smart Recruiter. You cannot take the knock backs personally (even if they are), you learn from them and move on. I believe in the saying your attitude is contagious, is yours worth catching"

5) I know when enough is enough. I can turn off, the mind keeps working but I can have it recording in the background, like TIVO. I stay grounded, and whilst I am a career Recruitment professional, I know when it's time for family, and they are number one. Even if I am addicted to RBC.

and 6) I can, and just have shamelessly self promoted.

Merry Christmas all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Being a General in the War for Talent during an Armistice

During the last few months I have been thinking, studying and reviewing the role of Internal Recruitment within my organisation. It has been a really interesting, revealing and introspective journey. Especially with focus sharpening in the areas of the business which are not what some people would consider as core.

Was I over complicating things? We have our systems, our processes, our metrics. We achieve the corporate goals, the company is making money..... don't look too hard huh?

So with the aim of simplication, how do I describe my role? My teams function in our organisation? Once upon a time I wrote that I wanted to be a General in the War for Talent... but what good is a General in a detente, or armistice? We are Ambassadors to the outside world for the organisation, we are the Custodians of the culture. Which is more important or significant? We drive and maintain the culture of the company. Is there anything more important than the culture of your organisation? What is the affect of hiring people who just don't culturally fit in, as opposed to those without maybe the specific technical abilities, but a cultural DNA matches? I know which one I'd prefer to have. I know which one my organisation would prefer to have.

When hiring for my team I have to ensure that people embody the culture, not people who can articulate it, people who can live it, breathe it, prove it, be it... in other words not just talk the talk... the WALK is essential. People, perspective employees can spot insincerity. Imagine having a company "sold" to you, with the virtues of fun, dynamic, innovative, enthusiastic people by a person, who won't look you in the eye, only read off a script, not engage you and cannot crack a smile to break the ice... hmmmm genuine culture or facade? or even worse think it is their job in an interview to grill or intimidate candidates?

If as an organisation, we can define our culture, live it and believe in it. If it has become a genuine competitive advantage to the organisation, what could be a more important role in the company? Those who are entrusted with the Custodianship of the culture, what could be more CORE business than that?

KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle, pays off once more... Thank you Mr Kiss :)

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 :)

video


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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tomorrow's leaders today a preview of the future


It's really hard not to write about this... so I won't even try. Warning for those about to read.. bias Dad alert

Today I had the day off work, it's that time of year, children's Christmas concerts, school break ups and the like. I got to do something very rare I think for a career dad.. I got to spend a whole day observing and helping out in my son's 2 Kindergarten sessions (yes we have him booked in 2 different schools for enough contact hours to keep him stimulated). What a blessing... I rarely get a glimpse of him in this world, his own world, his own social engagement, my viewing is normally in my own controlled world, where I have a say in the environment and can control it to a point. What an eye opener, to view my son as a human being, who interacts on his own, has his own social circles and is learning how to cultivate relationships. Humbling is a word that came to mind.

Tomorrow's leaders today, you can see the politics in play... "I'm not your friend today!", or "he's not your friend.. he's my friend.. go away!" you see the suck ups, the bully's, the leaders, the followers, the power struggle if there is multiple people wanting to be the leader or the social groups forming when those opposing leaders pick sides. An uncomplicated microcosm of the world I know.

Do we over complicate things when thinking about what we do and how we do it? I dislike office politics , but really, should I fight it, or just go with it? is it something that is just human nature? These kids pick up on it, with little help from the outside world, it seems innate. And beautiful.

Watching them grow up will be fun.. I've been told it goes very quickly and I need to enjoy it whilst it lasts. It is hard to avoid a little tinge of guilt as you fill in the leave form for the day of just fun at Kinder... but hey.. if you get the chance... TAKE IT, that smile you'll find.. priceless.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Web2.0: Did video really kill the radio star?

This has been really interesting for me... trying to manoeuvre my blog from Recruitingblogs.com to here. Only because I was looking for something a little more mainstream, I think it could be time for me to really start to get my voice tuned up.. I will continue to double post if you will as I cannot get enough of the RBC community. It has opened my mind introducing me to so many new tools and techniques, giving me more insight than most training courses I have ever attended.

Web2.0 as it is called now, man I love labels, has opened up a whole new world, connecting with people all over the world, sharing ideas, giving and receiving feedback from people I've never ever met, but are willing to help nonetheless.

I just read a blog from the fine people at Fistful of Talent around Social Media and how it will do us all out of a job. It was a great perspective, and gave me some room to think. Will Social media do me out of a job? It reminded me of a conversation I had recently an old boss of mine. He'd recently learned about this page called Linkedin.com and something else called Facebook.com, he took a weekend to explore these sites and was amazed at their power. "This will make you job so much easier he said, you will be able to cut out the agencies and job boards. All you will need is just a subscription and you'll be able to find anyone." Imagine my reaction to that.

In the most diplomatic way I explained that Social Media will and has enhanced our roles. Does it make it easier.. yes and no.. it adds another level to it... Recruitment is all about finding people, or should I say finding the right people, with the right skills at the right time. Will any of these tools do that for you? Not really. Will it give you great reach for people and access to names you may have had to struggle to find previously? Damn straight. Will it foster those relationships, or work those relationships to ensure that when you reach out, people will respond? Not likely.. people do that not tools or internet sites.

I may be old fashioned, however, whilst a sucker for this medium, I find it hard to believe that Social Networking could replace or improve face to face networking, or personal discussions over a coffee. I find it hard to fathom that relationships will be that strong, or that someone would try to help if there is no emotional buy in. Whilst this is doable via social Networking, it takes time, effort and real work to cultivate that.

Has email eliminated the phone call? Does a questionnaire get rid of the need for an interview? Has the Internet killed the newspapers? Did video really kill the radio star?

That said, my parent bought a Beta video player and were proud of it, defending their choice even after years of picking from the same 5 videos in the video shop. It apparently is widely known that Beta was the better product, however VHS was the biggest seller (Gen Y's please google the terms Beta and VHS :) ).

The moral....? nothing will ever replace hard work, quality does count, however you do need to move with the times, catch the occasional wave to ensure you stay relevant and be flexible you never know where you will end up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things I learned as a 16 year old which set me up for life!

Learnings that last a lifetime.I did work experience as a 16 year old Grad 10 student. I dutifully put on my best outfit, nice shirt, pressed pats, skinny leather tie (it was the fashion) and turned up at the local city council to spend time in their Accounts Department and to be honest... I was bored to death, no one would talk to me (unless I instigated conversation, which as a young boy in a world of grown ups, some of which were parents of my friends, wasn't easy), they gave me very little to do (unless you count stapling things, drinking coffee/tea, getting to know everyone and building cool toys out of paperclips work), I barely even got to use a calculator for goodness sakes.

I was really disillusioned about the "training" for many many years, until it was put into perspective by a colleague the other day. I was talking to one of our interns, recalling my tale of woe, talking about how I did not learn a single thing in this 2 weeks which had any bearing in my career going forward, and of course how proud I was of this person for the effort they had put in, what they had achieved and the great level of focus they had.

A colleague called me to task towards the end of this conversation. He asked me publicly what the main part of my job today was? I said Recruiting and the Managing of the other people who did so in my organisation. He then asked me what the main way i did that was? I said by talking to people of all walks of life... He then asked me how did I converse with these people, networking? on the phone? over coffee? I said yeah all 3 work for me.He then asked me to reflect on what I had just said to that intern and look again at myself and see if I did perhaps learn something?

Wow huh... introspection is a powerful thing.

I quickly realised that that time was not as much of a waste of time as I thought it had. I learned how to Network (as I had to to keep sane), I learned how to converse with people at all levels of an organisation, self motivation (as I kept going in doing the best I could), and drinking coffee! :)

There are learnings everywhere, my next job was that of a Moss Farmer, (yes it was one of those jobs where I had to get up at 4am, walk for 1 hour, get picked up drive for another hour to start work at 6am. I took it so I could continue to tell that story to my kids! :) ) It was hot and hardish work, as most of your day was spent in a hothouse, moving twigs etc from moss for export.

What did I learn there, which had benefitted me in life? Well..... they had a habit there of picking on the new guy, the young guy, but it was always something. I had a strong lesson in politics on that farm, I learnt the hard way, and to be honest I hated it, all to take home a grand total of $180 per week!

This may not seem like much, but they are some of the lessons which have formed the foundation of who I am today. I started my career in 1997, Recruiting in the IT industry, I rode the wave joyously to the dot com boom, felt invincible! When the bubble burst (as they all do by the way) I was caught out, I was uneducated about how to deal with the situation, I had a really tough time. (sound familiar?) I learned a lot about myself in these times, good and bad.

Unfortunately in life you cannot have one without the other, or else you wouldn't appreciate the good when it happened.

Is there a point to this spiel? Gee I hope so. Things are tough.. correct.... Can we learn and begin to prepare ourselves for the eventual upturn? Certainly. Be open to the experiences we will all endure in the next period of time, you can and will learn through them if your eyes are open and mind willing to. I understand it can be difficult for perspective when things happen which are deeply personal, like losing a job, however most things can be put into the basket labelled "Will look back on this in 5 years and either laugh, cry or at least armed with the knowledge of what I gained in that time!" I know.. must be a hell of a big basket. Well, I hope the knowledge gained is equally large. I think the knowledge gained through experience is called wisdom (don't quote me on that)... you cannot buy, sell or really trade that, you have to earn it yourself.

I got a redundancy in 2002, it felt terrible.. business wise.. it made sense, I knew, but hey this was happening to me right?! You know what happened..? Well I ended up in the job I am now and I couldn't be happier... it took time yes, it took pain... yes, but also introspection, helping me decide where to drive my career from that point on... Very handy !

Goodluck in following the path you are on now, take in all of the experiences, know they can be used as a positive as life goes on, even if you cannot see it now!

Jeramiah was a bullfrog..... Joy to the world


Jeramiah was a bullfrog... he was a good friend of mine, I never underword a single word he said but I helped him drink his wine.......Sing it.. I know you want to.... Joy to the world... all the boys and girls.. joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea.. joy to you and me! ba ba ba ba bababa

That'll do, I am in a good mood, thought I share the happy song with everyone. Wonder if it'll stay in your heads all day... you could do worse I suppose! (that's a different discussion)In times like these, where there is doom and gloom from everywhere, I, like lots of people am continuously looking for inspiration, to lift up my head and keep moving one foot in front of the other.

I thought of a saying "Attitude is contagious... is yours worth catching?" I try to live this, and remember it when those skies are grey and it feels like no-one is really paying attention to us. I try to make myself excited and bouncy by the time I hit the office, 1st coffee or not... everyone I talk to must have a positive experience, both about me and my company. It does kind of annoy my team at times, but someone and some area has to be responsible for positivity... another cliche.. "if it's meant to be it's up to me!".

Is this a bit too Pollyanna-ish for people? maybe, sickening to people.. at times I'm sure, however it is a very powerful tool.

When I am talking to candidates (or clients in the days of old) honestly, they really don't care if I'm having a bad day, had only 2 hours sleep the night before, don't care if my boss just gave me an impossible assignment, one of my team just lost a placement or anything... when I'm talking to them it has to be all about them and our relationship AND it needs to be a positive experience.

Talk with a smile, be passionate, or at least know why you are where you are. It'll make your day better, the candidates and the people around you.

I like to do what I can... I can't change the world, or really influence it that much (no matter what my ego tells me), however a spark can start a fire!