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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Motivation - We ain't dead yet

It's not dead yet! Don't be de-motivated just because of the time of year.

What's your motivation? What gets you up in the morning? Why do you do what you do?
Are you self motivated? And if you are how do you do that? Can you motivate others consistently?

This time of year is an interesting study into the psyche of the world as I know it. Things are supposed to slow down, it's the way of the world. People are being merry, thankful and looking forward to a few days off in a row with family and friends.

"Nothing happens in December or January" Seriously, if I hear that excuse or poor synopsis of the market one more time I may need to poke myself in the eye with a fork. OK people are on leave, but business still happens everyday, whether we want to take part in it or not.

Honestly, I've had some of my biggest months in January.

So, how do we motivate ourselves, our teams, or even our clients to keep the world turning? How do you get up don the suit and get to the office, when all your friends are at the beach, or down the pub with each other?

I've seen the carrot and I've seen the stick style of motivators, and whilst both have been effective (when applied at the right time) it is hard to find one consistent method. I'm talking personally and for the teams around me.

Motivational skills are essential in our business, self motivation (be warned if you say this in an interview with me, I'll ask you to prove it!) and the ability to motivate others. Included in this list of others are, clients, candidates, hiring managers, colleagues, partners, teams, bosses, etc. You need to find a way to get everyone going in the same direction. (OK cliche alert! but yes it's true) As a mentor of mine once said - make your skills "situational". Deal with each experience as it comes and rely (TRUST) on past experience (and your brain) to get you through.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fruit Loop inspiration

There's something said for tradition. I'm sitting here late Christmas day 2009 pondering the day that was, and honestly, it was pretty special. My kids, my wife, my parents and my sister really rocked for me. Seeing the day through my kids eye's is just amazing, the wonder, the joy and the excitement, just give me goose bumps, even now thinking back on it. Photo's will come... promise.

All this wonder aside, there were a few moments which caused me to pause and think.

Fruit Loops! That's right... Fruit Loops got me thinking.

When I was a boy (yes, anther of those) we didn't have the fancy smancy breakfast cereals at our house, apart from one day a year. Christmas day ensured that those fruit flavoured circles of sugar came out of the cupboard to make sure us kids had enough sugar in our systems to handle the full day. This has become the stuff of family legend. My sister and I still copycat this ritual with our own families (FYI, my kids and wife don't like them... more for me!) Even if we are out for breakfast with a great buffet, I will find a way to have my fix.

Tomorrow is another day of tradition for me. I will attend the boxing day test with my Dad and some friends, something I have been doing for the better part of 15 years. It's a cricket match for the uninitiated.

There's something to be said for tradition. That feeling of entitlement, the warm feeling met expectations, the memory sensory triggering feelings from childhood etc. I love it. It is all good! if it wasn't, well it wouldn't become a tradition, would it?

Funnily enough you can ring this through for Recruitment. Things have been done in a similar fashion for a long long time. It's comfortable, predictable and successful. You need to fall back on this when all else fails, try traditional things like actually talking to people, getting on the phone, getting the brief right, meeting the candidate, finding out the strengths and weakness' and presenting accordingly. You can use all the fancy smancy tools you like to enhance the experience and to increase the talent pools, but not don't forget the basics, the traditional stuff.

I hope you all have had a great Christmas and a sensational 2010.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Miller, the son and the Donkey

When I started blogging, I took inspiration from stories my children had me read them of a night. It fell away a bit when they discovered Dr Seuss, as I struggled with connecting "Green Eggs and ham" and the "cat in the hat" to what I do.

That said, I was swayed by a fable that turned up on the TV the other day. I hadn't heard it before, this was one of old Aesop's fables called "The Miller, the Son and the Donkey" and it goes a little something like this.....

"I shall have to sell that donkey of ours," said a miller to his son. "I can not afford to keep him through the winter. I will take him to town this very morning to see if I can find a buyer. You may go with me." In a little while the miller, his son, and the donkey were on their way to town.

They had not gone far when they met some girls going to a party. They were talking and laughing as they went along. One of them said, "Look at that man and boy driving a donkey. One of them surely might ride."

The miller heard what they said, and quickly made his son mount the donkey, while he walked along at its side.

After a while they came to a group of old men who were talking very earnestly. "There," said one, "I was just saying that boys and girls have no respect for the aged. You see it is true in this case. See that boy riding while his old father has to walk."

"Get down, my son," said his father, "and I will ride." So they went on.

They next met some women coming from town. "Why!" they cried, "your poor little boy is nearly tired out. How can you ride and make him walk?" So the miller made his son ride on the donkey behind him.

They were now in town. A man coming down the street called to the miller, "Why do you make your donkey carry such a load? You can carry him better than he can carry you."

At this the miller and his son got off the donkey. They tied the donkey's legs together, turned him over on his back; and began to carry him.

A crowd soon gathered to see the strange sight. As they were crossing a bridge the donkey became frightened at the hooting of the crowd. He broke loose, fell into the river, and was drowned.

The miller was angry and ashamed. He said, "There! I have tried to please everybody and have only made a fool of myself. After this I shall do as I think best and let people say what they will."

Well Derrrrr.

But it is amazing in this business of ours (Recruitment) there are so many formula's, tools, techniques and methodologies for one to try. I know I'm guilty of trying and adjusting things at other people's suggesting. You never know what is going to work. To Tweet or not to Tweet? That is the question!

You need to try things, granted, you need to research and listen to the world and its suggestions, however, you need to find your own way, what works for you, and then work it through and bring yourself to owning it. Believe in yourself and your experience and what you know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fifteen Seconds of fame

OK I took 20 :)

My initial views on the morning session at the SocRecruitAU event in Melbourne. This was a great day. Recommend events run by these guys in Australia. They are promising a huge 2010 with some "surprise" international guests.. "Tru"ly

Been in meetings like this? "I don't know!... 3rd Base!"

I can't help it. Ever since Kellie O'Shaughnessy Tweeted this the other day, I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

Firstly Abbott and Costello, just happen to be one of my all time favourite comedy duos, their style of visual comedy, great timing and well thought out routines never get old. Secondly the fact that Australia could have had potentially these 2 names running out fair nation never failed to amuse.

Now watching this routine again, and again, it all seems very familiar to me. Not just because I know the skit, but it gave me flash backs to Management Meetings I have been to over the years. Unfortunately I seem to have played both parts from time to time. They guy with half the information, albeit in a confused manner, and the guy with all the answers who assumes everyone else is on the same page.

It says something about communication styles, but why over analyse such a classic piece. Sit back listen and laugh.... on me :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blogging: Boom or Bust for your career?

Is blogging a help or a hindrance in your career?

If you listen to some commentators, having a large online footprint will be THE only way you'll be found in the future. Job boards will die, and all Recruiters will be all over Social Media tools writing Boolean strings, mining LinkedIn, Facebook, reading blogs (etc) and just finding you when they need you.

So therefore, you need to have a Facebook account a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter presence and be furiously writing blogs..... Therein lies a question though..

What happens when what you write is not what a perspective employer is looking for? If you're writing a blog, then the chances are at one time a perspective employer may read whatever ill thought out, past midnight dribble, which has entered your head, traveled down your arms, through your fingertips onto a keyboard, into the computer and posted online.

Do you need to think about the fact that, this post could make or break your career? The next big break could come from a reader of your next blog or even comment on a blog. (even scarier, what if people judged you by the quality of your Tweets or Re-Tweets)

That tends to put a little more pressure on you, when staring at your keyboard, it's 12.12 am, and you are mid rant as well. GULP!

Do we as Recruiters weigh all information evenly? I'm wondering myself, and I don't really have an answer.

I really enjoy Social Media, I enjoy the community, I love the communication but am I doing a positive or negative thing for my career? Blogs are by nature a genuine expression of one's self and thoughts, authenticated by this "real" feel. I know lots of HR people who prefer a more formal style of writing and get worried when reading articles in real work vocabulary and pace. These posts are a reflection of the real me, if people like it then OK, if not then I guess we wouldn't have a good match anyways. Time will tell I suppose.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fish where they are son!

I'm sitting at home now digesting the conference I just attended Inspecht and ATC's Recruitment Revolution, and while I will blog about this amazing day later on when I have fully disseminated all the information and translate my notes and scribbles, there is something bubbling to the top I just need to write about now.

This conference was all about Social Media Recruiting. A great topic and I could have spoken, listened and learned for much longer than the one day I got, I am a sucker for this stuff.

The final "debate" however became the straw which broke this camels back as far as blogging or not.

It was all about the relevance of job boards with social media gaining so much of a foothold in all our minds. We were lucky enough to have to strong/passionate speakers in the area. Stephen Collins from Acid Media and Jake Andrews from (I"ll let you figure out who was arguing which point) Call it a "naughties" version of "video kills the radio star". An argument as old as Social media I believe, why? because there is no firm answer, just view points.

However, my thought, isn't overly intertwined with this. Let me put my cynic hat on. AND let me preface this by I am a HUGE Social Media fan/junkie call it what you will and I believe in the concept and business benefits. But.....

Is it for everybody?

There was a "flyer" inside the great little compendium they gave delegates which had the slogan "The hook may have changed but you still need the right bait" (with a picture of a laptop on a jetty) Pretty cool I thought. Whilst reading that, my Dad's voice appeared in my head (yes, it's been happening a lot of late, not sure what that means). I heard his voice telling me "you can have all the best equipment son, but you still won't catch anything if the fish aren't there. You have to know your spots, read the tide, read the signs, and signals and be prepared to move if you got all that wrong!" Let's face it, some days they just weren't there.

So, will Social Media spell the end of job boards.. NO! Did job boards spell the end of newspapers, no, did video actually kill the radio star (well not the DJ's and shock jocks)

Not everyone is findable online. Not even all Gen Y's (insert gasp here). I'm lucky, my talent pool is in IT world, so I have an expectation that my candidates would have some kind of online footprint to track down.

But what if I was looking for Forklift drivers? Landscape gardeners? Mechanics? Builders? Taxi drivers (OK bad example) etc.. Would I be confident I could locate talent in these areas online, utilising all the social media secrets I've just learned. No, not at all. I'd think I would have to go where they are (and Stephen got to this point). You have to move to where the fish are! He spoke about going to the local footy clubs, finding out where their wives hang out, using unions etc. Getting your message to where you audience can read it.

You can have the best Social media Recruitment strategy, have a great Facebook fan page, a twitter site and capability, LinkedIn presence, or even Myspace page (etc etc etc), the best value proposition, the best landing site.... but, if your fish aren't there, what's the point?

Keep the Social media concepts in your head though. Find your audience (where ever they hang out), listen to your audience, engage your audience, and add value to your audience. You don't need to rely on technology for that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Those days that are sent to try us... Suck it UP!

You ever had one of THOSE days? I know you have.

One of those days where nothing worked, where everything you tried failed, your ideas were crap (or so it was explained to you), your star candidate declined or worse, disappeared, and because of a decision you made an urgent meeting has been planned tomorrow which includes every C level executive in your company.

Oh they are bad.... you leave the office with that knot in your tummy, you relive the decision or action ALL night, wondering what could I have done better? What did I so wrong? What are they thinking? IT wasn't that bad was it?

Dad always said, it's not how many times you get knocked down... it's how many times you get up that counts

You lie down in bed, and it's like an instant replay in your head... I did OK didn't I? That wasn't me was it, surely that other guy did that? Then the little red demon on the shoulder outweighs the white angel. "IT WAS YOU! YOU STUFFED UP! WHAT DO THEY WANT TO SAY IN THIS MEETING? IT CAN'T BE GOOD

Surely tomorrow is a sick day in the making? That feeling in the tummy must be the onset of gastro doesn't it?

I've had a couple of days like this in my career, the worst one happened when I was away on a conference, away from my support structures etc. In fact I think I even called home and had a serious conversation about quitting. My wife, however if pretty wise herself (if anyone tells her I said this I will deny... I promise I will). Told me to take a deep breath, OK take a few. Sleep on it. Stewing won't help.

I really wasn't in the mood to hear it, she didn't know how I felt or what I'd been through that day. Pish tosh I thought! That's right. I said PISH TOSH!

Here's the kicker... She was right... ahhhhhhh (again if you tell her I'll deny it)

Surprisingly I got some sleep, dragged my sorry bum out of bed and decided on a course of action. Forthright and to the point.. I was taking control. I owned the mistake, and I started to take ownership of the solution. THIS was a powerful feeling.

I then realised (with a little more help of those around me) that the people I was worried about facing, were actually there with the same goal in mind, to help the company succeed. They were looking for solutions not excuses and were present to help. (after the obligatory "What happened?" "Why?" "Are you serious?" "Why would you do that?" "Oh crap!")

Luckily all these questions (raised voices, red faces and ruffled hair aside) How are we going to fix it? Did you pick the important word there? "WE" I had buy in. They were there to help.

This was years ago, and I'm glad to report, we kicked some real butt recovering from this stuff up. I don't recommend the stuff ups, seriously they aren't something I'd want to do again. But my advice... if it counts for anything Stand Up, own it! take your licks (you probably deserved them), suck it up and work on the solution. Getting that solution will make you stronger. Listen to people and TAKE ACTION and fix it.

One of the coolest video's and concepts I've seen

Thanks to Paul Jacobs for sharing this gem. I have blatantly ripped him off for this post. I liked it that much, the flair, the innovation... imagine the possibilities... I want a try!

Cisco On-Stage Holographic TelePresence Experience from Musion Systems on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Do You WOO!

Is Recruiting still Recruiting? Or are we just intermediaries, forging introductions between an individual and a company?

Hard core Recruiting to me is actively finding/locating, courting and convincing talent that our client or company is the place for them. You see it a lot is sporting fields. High level executives etc. It can't happen all the time I get that. But with all the talk of Talent Pooling at the moment. How do we look after our candidates?

How do you woo them? And when does the wooing stop?

I heard a story about Jerry Albright recently which inspired me. Jerry is one of my favourite Recruiting personalities and fonts of information. He gets it and keeps things real and has a great product (OK exit product placement). Legend has it he drove 6 hours to meet a candidate. He cared, he sensed he needed to do that for a long term relationship. Some people thought this was nuts! But seriously... isn't that what Recruiting is? The woo!

I recently hired a guy who I met for the first time over 15 months ago. A gun candidate, who my company needed to have, and in my opinion he needed us. But at the time... there wasn't the opportunity to formalise the relationship. I kept in touch, periodically, I set the expectation and then delivered to it. Then an opportunity turned up... BAM! Phone call, coffee, handshake, starting! DEAL! Oh I loved it. I'm sure all Recruiters will have stories like this.

You have to work the talent pool. Adding people to your database doesn't count. Your talent needs to know who you are, and what you'll do for them and vice versa... IT IS A TWO WAY RELATIONSHIP.

Then comes the tricky bit... Following through once to woo is won! You've sold an idea, a concept about your company, can you deliver on what you said. And then.... like any relationship you have to work it. You can't hire and then leave alone.

Retention is a huge issue with most companies, the woo must continue... remind people why they joined, help re-enforce their decision was right, and live up to the EVP you evangelised. Don't stop! If you do, you get comfortable, you concentrate on the new hires, new talent to woo. Guess what will happen? Other will come a wooing....

Let's face it... it is easier to keep than to find. Keep wooing

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mr Cellophane

Internal Recruiters are the Mr (or Ms or Miss or Mrs) Cellophane's of the corporate world, the poor cousin of the HR team. Like the old adage internal recruiters should be seen and not heard. (I disagree by the way, I've just seen this ideal a bit)

Your part of the company, but not really. You don't build or sell the widgets, you don't set policy, you don't deliver the business solutions to clients. You don't actually make money for the company, you find the people that do. Smart companies understand, but are there lots of smart companies out there?

I'm all about adding value, and i'm all about being heard, I hate being dismissed or ignored.
Do you make yourself heard? Or do you just wait for things to happen? Have you been too nervous about your job security to stir the pot and instigate change? Or are you just happy how things are going? Or do you just bitch and moan and write songs about how bad things are for you?

You are one to the key externally facing people of the company.. STAND UP!

Dialog from video, is this you?

I'm the father, papa, dad dad. Did you hear me? no you did'nt hear me. That's the story of my life, nobody notice I'm around, nobody Not even my parents noticed me. One day I went to school, and when I came home, they moved!


If someone stood up in a crowd
And raised his voice up way out loud
And waved his arm
And shook his leg
You'd notice him

If someone in the movie show
Yelled "fired in the second row,
This whole place is a powder keg!"
You'd notice him

And even without clucking like a hen
Everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should
Invisible, inconsequential me!

Mister cellophane
Should have been my name
Mister cellophane

'cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there!

I tell ya
Mister cellophane
Should have been my name
Mister cellophane

'cause you can look right through me
walk right by me
And never know I'm there. . .

Suppose you was a little cat
Residin' in a person's flat
Who fed you fish and scratched your

You'd notice him

Suppose you was a woman wed
And sleepin' in a double bed beside one man for seven years
You'd notice him

A human being's made of more that air
With all that bulk , you're bound to see
him there

Unless that human bein' next to you
Is unimpressive, undistinguished
You know who. . .

Should have been my name
Mister cellophane
'cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there

etc etc etc

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Knock with your elbows!

Believe it or not we are coming up to Christmas... well the Shopping malls and TV ads are telling me that. With that, the parties are starting, the liver is getting prepared both professionally and personally. I have friends off to Indonesia this coming weekend, so I have now had my first official Christmas do...

With the advent of the Christmas spirit, I was reminded of a saying my Dad always used to say if people were coming over for a function or a party. "Sure come on over. Just make sure you knock with your elbows!"

I love the saying.... do you understand where my Dad was coming from? You had to knock with your elbows because your hands were full. Full of what? Up to you, but you were adding value to the party!

Hmmm Recruitment, business, life advice or just social etiquette? Answer= (E) - All of the above.

Ask yourself this question before entering a meeting, making a call, offering a job, asking for a raise, or even applying for a job. Am I knocking with my elbows?
Am I bringing something to the party in this situation? If not what are you there? Why are you doing that?

You need to know why you are making that call to a client, why they will want to buy from you. You need to know why that candidate wants to accept your job. You need to know why your company needs you around. Take the time to learn the value you are adding. Learn your own Unique Value Proposition, and be prepared to share it.

It's poor manners to turn up to a party with nothing. Knock with your elbows! And ensure YOU ARE BRINGING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Celebrity Spotting

Interesting week here in Melbourne town this week. A mid November heatwave, the likes of which have not been seen before I wouldn't think. Seriously in the pool this week, unheard of! Not complaining mind you.

Britney Spears arrived in Australia, to lipsinc her way through a National tour. Great strategy arriving, with decoy Britneys, body guards and a gratuitous amount of press coverage. Both good and bad.

Tiger Woods hits our fair shores, causing golfing havoc and traffic bedlam. Rarely have we seen such a sustained media circus for one visiting our shores.

It has done amazing things to the profile of the sport, it really is testament to the man as to how he can stay so composed with all that focus (although I've heard reports, he's getting a fair temper on the course.)

I mean how would it be, to go to a place where everyone knows you, and wants to get to know you better, or even just an autograph. Your reputation has proceeded you, people are clamouring to get some of your attention. Does it just happen in Sport or celebrity?

Who would you clamour to meet, see, hear in your career stream? Do we want to admit there are people out there who are JUST THAT GOOD. Or is it just acceptable to fawn over those in the big media spotlight?

Would love to hear your thoughts....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sleep when I'm Dead!

Driving in my car today, in what turned out to be a drive down nostalgia lane. I'd hit THAT radio station, you know the one which somehow talked to me... it kept playing song after song, which just reminded me of my younger carefree days. This song came on, merging my current reality with my willful past... Magic.

Here I was signing out loud, probably scaring my son for life, and then I started hearing the lyrics, and my mind started tying them in with tweets and emails about sleeping or the lack thereof. There was my aha moment... I related and I understood.

Let's see if I can break this down for you... so far I've written lots of words and said not much (look out politics or consulting here I come!)

Those of you who are avid social networks will understand this, but maybe it may help explain me to those who are yet to even embrace Twitter.

The only way to get something out of something is to put something into it. Social Networking is no different. It is no magic bullet, or answer to the meaning of life, but it is a font of knowledge, which really does need to be mined.

Here's the kicker, it takes time. Now I get paid to Recruit and to Manage a Recruiting team, and whilst I can learn about all these things online in a variety of social networking forums, my day to day responsibility is to find and attract talent to my company.

My hours at work are dedicated to that.

To immerse yourself in these forums/arenas whatever the term you have for it, you have to give up some of your own time, and be willing to work across timezones. I heard Dave Mendoza say once the it's not who you know, it's who knows you!" So the question is raised.. How do you get yourself known? You need to engage in you target markets, whether that be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any number of Ning sites. But you seriously need to put in some hours to get that happening, or have a team of elves working around the clock for you.... (it's coming up to their busy season, don't call them until mid January at the earliest for help requests)

To seriously engage, you have to be there, to comment, to debate and to really connect where the action is. My network is littered with people who live this ideal. I'll name but a few.

Jason Davis (AKA Slouch); the king of social networking/recruiting as far as I"m concerned and video blog specialist. He is ALWAYS online, it's rare to log into without him being logged in. If there is anyone MORE passionate about Recruiting than JD, I'm yet to meet them.

Maren Hogan; She is all over Twitter and RBC like a rash... a nice one by the way! She has a great way of viewing hte world, adding unique insights whilst juggling her family.

Maureen Sharib; telephone sourcer to the stars! You need a name? She'll find it, Maureen always seems to be where I am online, adding comments, asking questions, fuelling debate, AND sharing the skills and tricks that she uses with the rest of us mere mortals

The Recruiting Animal; Is there a more engaged Recruiter? This guy had a radio show before it became en vogue! He is a twitter addict, which when matched with his obvious Starbucks habit, makes him a must person to connect to. He willingly shares his knowledge, without selling services etc... maybe he just likes the celebrity, whatever it is I'm thankful for it.

and last but not least Bill Boorman, this guy is all OVER the Recruiting web. He most likely survives on 3-5 hours sleep a night, and for those other 20 odd hours, you'll find him on Twitter, or a variety of other sites. His passion is Recruiting and it shows and he willingly shares it with whoever asks. His reputation seems to be building daily. There are rumours the man is actually a robot... a claim he strongly denies. Dedicated maybe... a robot.. no.

There are so many more I could list here, but I wont you know who you are.

These people all give so much to the community, and yet I am yet to spend a cent on any of them (sorry guys). Their own personal brand is strong, and have quickly become people I admire and respect.

They always seem to be there, adding value and contributing, I have to stay up late to keep up with it all. And why do I do it? why am I responding to tweets, emails and questions in all hours of the morning? As Bon Jovi says, "I'll sleep when I'm dead"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unveiled DWS' not so secret, Secret Millionaire - Danny Wallis talks to me

Last night on Australia's Channel 9's Secret Millionaire, my boss Danny Wallis took centre stage as the undercover multi Millionaire do-gooder. Watching this increased my pride in what we are about as a company, as we are most definitely led by the top. Danny does keep a lot of his charitable work hidden from view, under the cover of his hard lined business exterior. But for those who have known him for a while you'll know his other side. We had an event a few years ago we called "DWS donate a day" whereby every dollar we earned as a company for that day we donated to one of 3 different charities. Note, this was a number of years ago, but we were able to donate $150,000 for that single days work! Let me say it again as I find it pretty impressive $150,000.

For Danny to put himself in the public eye like this is a bit out of character, but I am glad he did. At his return from 10 days without contact with the office, his laptop or mobile phone (Which I think almost killed him) I caught up with him and he allowed me to write down his thoughts. Please read below.

"After spending 10 days in Wollongong, NSW as part of Channel 9’s new reality series The Secret Millionaire, it’s fair to say, it has had a huge impact on me.
I had never previously been to Wollongong and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect as what I had heard about it wasn’t really all that complimentary. What I found though was a community full of life and spirit and people doing some amazing work.

As a “volunteer” I spent 10 days dealing with those less fortunate and those very much in need. After spending time with them you realise they aren't freaks, they're real people with real emotions who've found themselves in a position they can't control. The scary thing is it could happen to anyone. Luckily though, there are some incredible people out there who do their very best to help and support others within their community.

I spent quite a deal of time at “Darcy House”, a drop in centre for the most disadvantaged and isolated people of the Illawarra. The work they do there is simply inspiring. They provide food, shelter, advocacy, advice and social support and in many cases Darcy House is the final option for many of these people. Each person had their own unique story to tell and they were all unanimous in agreeing that without Darcy House their circumstances would be much, much worse. Darcy House operates on a very modest budget and I knew they would benefit in some way from the donations I was going to make.

I also spent a lot of time with Jim Clabour at the Wollongong Police Citizens Boys Club and the Illawarra amputee association. Jim is a giant of a man with a heart of gold. He lost his leg, from the knee down, in an industrial accident over 20 years ago and since then has devoted his life to helping others. He spends the majority of his time teaching local youth how to box and the importance of discipline. Imagine that, a one legged boxing trainer. The gym was very old and run down but Jim never once complained. He simply made do with what he had and ensured the kids were always made as welcome and as comfortable as possible. Believe it or not, Jim drives a bus part time to help make ends meet. Never been on a bus trip with a one legged driver before so that was definitely a first for me. As a bus driver, Jim makes a great boxing coach. All jokes aside, Jim’s positive attitude and commitment to the youth of region made me pretty certain he too would feature in some way in my final decision of who would benefit from my donations.

Without a doubt the most touching and emotional part of my Secret Millionaire journey was my meetings with the O’Brien family. David and Rebecca O’Brien’s children, Jayden 5 and Billy 3 suffer from the rare skin condition epidermolysis bullosa. The condition causes the skin to blister at the slightest irritation has been a huge emotional and financial drain on the O’Brien’s. The boys will never be able to do what most kids take for granted and watching them struggle through their pain broke my heart. They have blisters all over their bodies and the slightest touch or bump breaks the skin. Regular hospital trips are a part of their lives and Jayden suffers from the condition internally too which means he has to be fed through a tube. Both Jayden and Billy never once complained about anything. They realised they were different to other kids and that’s just how it was. The resilience of children is incredible. There was no doubt I was going to help the O’Briens.

When it came to making my final decision about who would benefit from my donations and by how much there were a lot of things running through my mind.
At the end of my journey on Secret Millionaire, I donated $100,000.
$50,000 went the O’Briens. $30,000 to Jim Clabour and $20,000 to Darcy House.
A lot of the time, many of us just don’t realise how truly lucky and blessed we are. We take so many things for granted and don’t realise there are so many people throughout Australia who are really struggling and doing it tough. This is a great country, however we can make it greater still by taking a leaf out of the book of the people I met and giving back to our communities and helping out those less fortunate. You don’t have to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to make a difference. You can make a difference by simply helping out in any capacity you can.

There are some great, committed people and organisations out there and it was my privilege and pleasure to be able to assist, in my own small way, the fantastic work these incredible people do. The circumstances I experienced in Wollongong will stay with me forever and I’m just so glad I was able to help. We all can help. We all should help"

After watching the episode last night, after some nerves (I'm not sure what Danny must have been feeling) when sitting down to watch it, I have to say I am really impressed. And I’m not just saying that because he signs my pay cheques. I really enjoy this show, it highlights some things we just take for granted, and I think it also shows that there are some really caring people out there. Thanks to Channel 9 for putting this show on and thanks to Danny and all the other secret millionaires who agreed to be part of it, giving up their own time and money to help those in the community who need it. Whilst I won’t admit to tears when watching these shows, for some reason there is always some moisture in the eye cavity.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


OK, so I lied... There I said it.

More of a lie of omission. I was reading over my blog, which has gone way longer that I actually expected it to, I mean who'd have thought that I'd still be doing this 18 months on. Anyway, I wrote an entry in February titled, "Why I blog" I wrote all the things I was feeling at the time, but re-reading it, I missed something out. Why I started it?

This will sound bad, but the honest answer is money. I had this great idea that if I wrote a blog, whacked some Google Adsense on the side of it, and I'd be sitting back having a full time job just counting the cash that would just roll in. Funnily enough... It didn't work. Checking my balance, after over 18 months and almost 90 posts now... I'm up to a grand total of AUD$5.67. Maybe I could build a personal brand which will launch my career internationally? Not really.

So what is in it for me then? Surely there has to be something? I'm not a coach, who by their very presence in Social Media is advertising their products and services (even if they say they aren't), I'm not a social media guru, but I've learned about a lot of new stuff I've had to try, I'm not part of an agency, which would use this as company branding to show the strength of their Recruiters and themselves. Somewhere where it could be possible to show a genuine return on the investment put into it. That said it is only time...

I figured it out, bottom line reason. Because it's only fair. A simple answer really, but the god honest truth (with the fact that I enjoy it, blogging and learning more about Recruitment has become my hobby too. Sad isn't it)

What do I mean? I really feel like I'm part of a community here and by here I mean in the social media realm. Communities like, and the Australia/NZ site hosted by Paul Jacobs Recruitment 2.0 Asia Pacific. These places have become my professional life blood. People from all over the world contributing and learning from one another. Sure there are a constant few names that pop up in conversations, or writing blogs or contributing to conversations, forums etc. I'm now pretty comfortable saying I have friends all over the world now, that I have never met. I'd like to one day, but I feel like I know them.

These people are spending their time writing articles, contributing to conversations, that I am reading. FOR FREE! I honestly believe it is the least I can do to put a little back. If it adds value to anyone, then that's a bonus, but it's what happens in a community. Give and take you know.

There are some amazing people out there giving their time and expertise for free, all because they believe in the industry, are passionate about what they do and genuinely feel the need to basically help out. Check out those sites I mentioned before to see what I mean. If you're a Recruiter and you're not on these sites, then you are doing yourself and you company a disservice. Just like in Sales, you learn more by listening than talking, (you know the old 2 ears 1 mouth, use in that ratio) but to get the most out of things, you still have to contribute, open your mouth, get your hands on your keyboard and get into it.

Don't get me wrong, if I can find a way to seriously monetize my blog, then I'm all over it (I feel nervous that I will get lots more spam tweets now), until then, my day job still pays the bills and until child number 3 arrives, my blog, my twitter, my social media outlets is what keeps me up happily up at night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Action Stations everyone!

Action Stations..

Again... it's all happening again.

This is my personal blog, just a disclaimer...... I do spend a bit of time here talking about Recruitment and the like, but I think my family get a fair mention.... well that is growing.

My wife announced on her Facebook page today that we are expecting child number 3. That means (her announcement) that it is open slather for me to say something dan. It has been tough to contain. I've been bursting to say something, but have waited the obligatory weeks, so watch out world... here we come.

When I was a little boy, my parents would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, "Recruiter" didn't come out of my mouth... maybe "wecwuiter" may have... doubt it. Family legend tells me the "I want to be a Daddy" came out of my mouth pretty often.

I am blessed to be able to achieve that dream 3 times over. I can remember being freaked out when Talia our second child was born, (oh, I just found a blog I did for this, well well well) for different reasons to the fear, anxiety and excitement when Zach's (number one child) arrival was imminent. I wondered how there was enough room in my heart for more love. Sounds silly, but I seriously did...

It is going to be an amazing, albeit crowded, journey for our family now. With Zac 5, Talia 2 and our new one coming, I can't wait to see how it all goes.

I forsee stress, tears, frustration, mess. Ok that's just my normal life. But the joy I've received from watching my kids develop, watching my wife nurture, guide and raise them, make me feel blessed and absolutely pumped at what will come.

So if tired, weary posts start appearing here, and they start looking worse than my normal, tired weary posts.. forgive me, but the times they are a changing......

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

I love that saying.....

Is wanting it all a bit much? I want the work life balance. The real thing, not a 60/40 split. Something always gives. Option a) You spend too much time in the office to deliver stuff and the family suffers, Option b) you leave early to look after family stuff and eyebrows in the office are raised. Especially the higher up to food chain you travel.

I've been lucky, in my career of late I've been in a company which, not only talks the talk, it walks the walk in this way. We don't expect any more than 40 hours a week, we keep travel to a minimum, as we seriously respect our people's time.

This last week I've been interviewing some pretty senior people for our business, and find our conversations heading down the work/life balance path at times. Especially with more mature people who have been around for a while. I hear the stories about their global successes, their travel, the wins the losses etc (and a lot of times their divorces). Each one seems to have sacrificed the home front for amazing gains in the business world.

Is this ideal of Work/Life balance a myth? Is it impossible? Is there a certain level within an organisation where the ideal becomes null and void, with a "we pay you $x, we own you now" mentality.


I'd like to think I have a handle on priorities in life. And you know what... I want, ney I'm having both. Why? Because I can. Why not!

Hours don't maketh the employee, quality does. Same goes for parenting.

As mentioned in a previous post, my wife and I are expecting child number 3 come April. All kinds of challenges are running through my mind, one child starting school, one starting kinder, one, well just basically starting. It's hard yakka, which most likely my wife will bear the brunt of initially. Work will be there, this too is full on, if it's to be done properly and it needs and deserves to be done properly. It pays the bills, it's fun and it gives me a sense of who I am too.

I'm hoping with child number 3, I'll be more self aware than I was with the first two. I know what is expected of me from both camps and I know what worked and what didn't previously... and I'm ready for it. I have more tools and resources available to me now, and I'll be prepared.

I will still hit my personal goals and career goals... why? quite simply... to channel my Dad.. "BECAUSE I SAID SO! THAT'S WHY!" (don't make me come over there)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You can be Heroes

It's a great job when it all comes together isn't it?

The last 12 months haven't been the best in industry, many people struggling to stay afloat, keep themselves relevant and employed across all markets. But TODAY, I got my groove back...

It didn't start well today. The bat signal was being loud and clear from a distressed constituent (AKA A grumpy/distressed call from the business). A hiring emergency was happening... "holy recruitment issues Batman" I thought. I was informed that we needed people... 2 people, to complete our process successfully and hired to start on Monday (it's Thursday today) or the world as we know it would cease to exist. (Maybe not that extreme, but from the tone of the call it wasn't too far away)

No-one else in the business was free..... THIS WAS A JOB FOR.....

wait for it...


It was time to shine... My AWESOME team clicked into gear. Challenge? Ha! I repeat HA! I laugh in the face of a challenge.. to quote an amazing bit of American cinematography.. (you pick if I'm being sarcastic or not!) "Bring it ON!" It was amazing to watch. A sleeping giant awakening, ahh the buzz, I'm smiling at the remembered vision.

ACTIVITY! ACTIVITY! ACTIVITY! I swear smoke was coming up from the phones, creativity oozing from the pores.... At the end of the day, the team was able to look at each other... They'd found the unfindable, solved that business problem, influenced the immovable force to change course, pulled the rabbit out of the hat and solved that business issue. Oh I love it.. the sweet sweet taste of victory.

This is what we do. This is why we do it. Recruitment makes a difference, and I love the days where what I know to be true is seriously quantifiable and visible to all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Australian Recruiting show on its way... Monday

Those who read this, yes that's you Mum and Dad, will know I am a Recruiting tragic. I read blogs everyday, I'll listen to replays of The Recruiting Animal Show, I'll call in to Bill Boorman's show and listen to his US version, I'll listen to Maureen Sharib and Geoff Webb's Talk Sourcing show. I Ustream'd ERE's convention in the US, and get involved in as much as I possibly can.

Fortunately or unfortunately most of these things are done after hours for me, as most of these things are not targeted at Australian audiences, apart from the one Recruiting Animal show, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. They put it on for us, ie worked around our time, so I wouldn't have to wake up at 3am to dial in!

The good news is Bill Boorman is turning his focus on Australia. Bill Boorman is quickly becoming a global legend in this space. Bill is an extremely experienced Recruiter, turned Recruiting Trainer/Commentator. Trust me, what he says needs to be listened to and respected.

Bill is launching his Australian Show THIS MONDAY!

Why? He is either sick of Aussies calling into his show and confusing the POMS with our accents (we don't mention anything sporty), or he's heard that there are a large number of English Recruiters out here, and think they may need to hear a little more from home, or of course he's looking for a tax deductible trip down under. Whatever the reason at 3pm Monday AEDST Bill is launching his Australian show.....

Such shows should be mandatory listening for your Australian Recruiting Professional, well, if you have time in between billing that is. Participation is the key. Great for your brand too.

Check out Bill's site on Blogtalk Radio (you can find links on my blog too!) and get involved. His first show will be titled "Road to Recovery". Be there or be square... love that... I will be.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

$#IT Happens

I write a lot from the Recruiter point of view, but I had one of those weeks, which changed my mindset for a while.

I've had to make a number of calls to unsuccessful candidates. As a job to do... that sucks.. but you know what?.. I'm sure it doesn't suck as much as taking the call.

Going for a job is a brave thing to do. You're putting yourself out there to be judged by others. Baring your soul, putting your future in someone else's hands to decide on. Like those people who will put themselves out there for reality TV.

Put yourself in the jobseeker shoes if you will... You know how it goes, you get excited about a role, you invest in it, you research it, you go to the interview, like the people you meet, you think you perform well, and you leave the meeting absolutely PUMPED! Dreams change, your ego rises and you start mentally preparing your exit strategy.

You then get the call, from the Recruiter. You were unsuccessful.... what the? How did that happen? OK, ask for feedback, you're tough.. you can take it.

What? nothing specific, just someone better? Seriously? That had that little tiny skill that you thought you could learn in a heart beat and out pointed you on that?

I have to tell you, oh job seeker... this HAPPENS ALL THE TIME! Sometimes it is really hard to quantify why one person was chosen over another, other than that other poor reason, "culture fit!" You didn't blow the interview, they just chose someone else. (Even if you blew the interview, review the interview again honestly to yourself, take the feedback and use it in the next one. By the way, personal honesty is the hardest type, it is not that comfortable inside that house of mirrors)

It sucks, I know. To quote the great man Forrest Gump "Shit happens". Suck it up, be upset, that's fine, that shows a competitive nature and no one should like to lose, and find the next door to open. It may be hidden, or out of sight, but trust me... it's there somewhere.

Trialled something new this week.

I had a weird feeling this week, it was actually an idea, weird I know...

I've heard all the VIDEO hype, so I thought.. "let's try a video ad without any written words"

I contacted the CIO of SEEK Carey Eaton, and asked if they would have any issues with it, and he was supportive, so we gave it a whirl. An advertisement aimed at getting Graduates for our Melbourne office

Here it is... would love to know what you think.

DWS Resorts to capturing avatars for advertising

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Memory Lane from a Michael Jackson song...

My kids have been caught up in the Michael Jackson tributes and my son in particular will harass me every day in the car... "Daddy, can you put on Michael Jackson please?"

I'm not sure how, but I didn't know this song. "PYT... Pretty Young Thing" it amused me. When I did a really, REALLY short stint as a R2R person, this is one of the key phrases one particular (short lived) client would use to describe what they wanted me to find for them. Sales history, consistent record of surpassing budgets? nah, Knowledge and Network in the industry? nah not so important. A dynamic ruthless cold caller, who will build business no matter what? not so much.

For those about to get the sexist outrage happening, I can feel the heat rising already, this was from a mature aged woman. She said (and some license must be given due to the fact that this would be 10 or so years ago)

"Find me a pretty young thing, please" "Someone who sounds young and chirpy on the phone. The majority of leaders in this industry are middle aged males, they rarely turn down a chance to meet up with someone like this!"

She was serious! I am rarely lost for words. I didn't take the brief. I couldn't imagine the conversation to those unsuccessful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dan talks to Dave Mendoza some more :)

I'd forgotten about this part of the interview when the RSS feed from hit my inbox. I was pleasantly pleased, more so to see the great pictures of my family up on his site.

To see the second part of the interview, please click here.

Thanks to Dave for taking an interest and for the awareness he creates for all of us in the Recruitment industry across the world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Nice Guy

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice" was a sign a colleague of mine used to keep on his desk.

What a crock!

I should know... I've been labeled as this. Nice! It's horrible, and normally comes with the word "too" in front of it!

Being known as "nice" doesn't do ANYTHING for you in your career. Apart from give people he perception that you will do whatever they want. Do nice guys actually finish last?

I see it as kind of like the "You're a great friend, but not boyfriend material, more like a brother" quote heard in high school. Hmmmm, well give me that pen so I can just stab myself in the eye. It's nice to have you around, but don't try anything serious OK!

Are "Nice Guys" taken seriously in the workplace? or in the world in general? A boss of mine once said, I can't have the most popular sales guy in the world here, the guy who has everyone in his Rolodex (yes I am old) but can't close.

The smiling, affable guy, who gets things done, without complaint, rarely gets anywhere. They get lumped with more and more work, because they'll do it and not complain. A doormat if you will.

I'm thinking in cliche's at the moment. Sorry. When I started dating my wife, way back when I was a skinny 18 year old, she would say, "you're such a nice boy" and I'd respond with (in jest) "no... I'm a bastard! I've read "All men are bastards" and I'm a man, ergo.. I'm a bastard!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you have to be a total contrary pain in everyone's behind to be successful (although I know a couple who fit this description), however, I know you cannot be the continuous, affable, jokey, easy going, "no worries, I'll do it" person either.

You have to be able to say no! You have to have the cojones to push back, to question things, to make things the problem of someone else, to openly disagree in meetings, and passionately defend your point of view, no matter who it is against (P.S also know when to back down :) )

I'm not traditionally a confrontational type of guy, but after some feedback generously given to me from a colleague a number of years ago, I decided to make some changes. She effectively put that mirror in front of me, told me of some perceptions and asked me to have a good hard look at myself with my career goals in mind.

Let's just say, I didn't like what I saw and heard. And set out on a course of action to rectify. I began thinking of some of my sporting idols and what made them successful. (You may notice, I like to tie most things back to scenarios I understand) Most looked like nice guys when talking to the public, but once they were on the field or training, they were single minded. They wouldn't be side tracked or allow someone else to set their moods. Once engaged in the contest, they worked harder, fought harder and achieved for longer that their competitors. My dad says they all have a level of "mongrel in them", they don't settle for anything less than what they expect from themselves and others, which is why them win more often that not.

Armed with this new found knowledge and self realisation, I started using the word "no" in meetings, I started putting agenda items in other peoples realm, I challenged, questioned and I made people justify/back up what they said. By doing this I became present in the organisation. Perception, slowly changed and my frustration levels dropped.

So shake off the idea that you need to be liked by everyone. You have to stand for something! You don't get paid for popularity, you get paid for productivity, effectiveness and solving business problems. Push back if you need to, say "no" if that is decided to be the best course of action, but continue to focus on the business. That will move your career in a positive fashion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Six Degrees from Dave

I was lucky enough to meet Dave Mendoza, an icon of the Recruiting industry a couple of years ago at the Australian Talent Conference. Recently we caught up via email and he featured an article about me on his website.

Find out more by clicking here

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is Work over rated?

Oh that was nice to write, however if my boss is reading this.. please read beyond the initial title. It's nice though isn't it?

However, I am talking about the "office" environment, that place I disappear to 7ish each morning after kissing my kids and wife goodbye and mystically return from 11-12 hours later.

Today I did something I have not done for lots of years. I had a day working from home. Dropped the kids off at Kinder and the grandparents respectively, picked up a coffee and headed to the dining room table, my laptop and my cordless phone. To quote a great Australian movie.. "Ahhh the Serenity!"

And that is it. I sat down at that table, didn't move for 5 hours, I powered through stuff, phone interviews, conference calls, candidate searching, advertising, finding a rich talent vein (look out #auteched I'm coming for you!), reference checks, read cvs, made an offer... ohhh it rocked. All for what would be 17 second commute.

OK, so my phone bill may look a little crazy, and I'm sure my team really missed me, but it was pretty cool.

That said, my last efforts of working from home weren't as successful. The last time I was doing this under the guise of running my own business. People kept dropping to say hi, looking for a coffee and a chat.

I have to say this day rocked! I powered through the day, barely noticing the hours passing until I started feeling a little cold.... I hadn't had the heater on all day (and I'll tell you, it's definitely not summer here)

Do I need to be in the office to be effective? Why would my company care? Am I that good looking that they need to see me every day? I surely doubt it.

Why? well my bottom line.....

It is hard to replace the face to face contact, real relationships (which is what makes a successful business person) aren't forged without them. So even though this is great for me to live in my mind. This is first life, not Secondlife people, but wouldn't it be nice once in a while?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Elbow Grease

I'm not a handy man. I try, but to be bluntly honest... I'm useless, light globes I can do, mow the lawn... OK, cut stuff up.. OK, but anything useful, work on the car, fixing broken things in general.. no way! Much to the distress of my wife and probably embarrassment of my Dad, who is the most MacGyver type guy I know.

However I was partaking in some blokey (for those in the US, read REAL MANLY) outdoor activity, had the women folk inside tending to the young 'uns. OK I was outside breaking up branches to fit in the bin, whilst the rest of the family were warm and toasty inside. Doing this type of work is great to reaffirm your manhood, breaking stuff for good instead of evil and a great display of man's (limited) dominance over nature, it is however, also meditative. Gets your head going.

I'm not sure why, but a term my Mum used a lot when I was little came to mind. "Elbow Grease" A strange term sure, and I'm not sure where it came from (I can't be bothered looking up our friend Google), but I sure know what it means. The Definition according to me is this in relation to scrubbing "Hard work, intense pressure"

Sure we have tools to do anything, those great things with the power, noise and grunt that get me excited just thinking of them. It can do so much, so quickly, and is much more fun than doing things manually, or they way my parents or grandparents did it.

Hmmmmm sounds like Social Media for Recruiting doesn't it? You can use your Twitter, your Facebook, your LinkedIn (and all the periphery tools that go with them) etc, but you know what? You still have to do the business. You still need the old elbow grease, to plough through the names, to make the calls, yes to even write the emails, and then fair people, guess what? You actually have to converse, talk, build a relationship with people, the power tools won't do that for you. It's a shame really, wouldn't life be grand if it did? Imagine that techo's, make a tool, where all I need to do to hire someone was use that particular tool and I'd hire someone. One click : One hire. ahhh I smile at the thought of it. But what fun would that be?

The most challenging part of our industry is the people side, no tool can make you better at that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ghosts of songs past, exploring the echo's in my head!

Interesting experience today, well maybe I over thought it. OK let me explain it.

I was driving in the car with two hungry and tired kids and a weary wife, suddenly a song comes on the radio. I wouldn't have heard that song since high school, circa 1990. Here I am hoping I'd learned a bit since then (which could have replaced such rubbish), but wouldn't you know it. BANG... Total recall, phrasing, timing, words everything. Blew me away. And the singing probably scarred the kids for life...

OK I get the whole, music being the soundtrack of our lives, and I know my brain is littered with songs of a love sick teenager, a triumphant sporting success, wonderful BBQs and parties with friends etc, which are etched there forever.

BUT, This song did not fall into that category, it didn't have a huge impact on my life, it was Sinead O'Connors, "Nothing Compares to you". I cringe just thinking about it really.

However it got me thinking, what kind of stuff actually gets caught in your subconscious memory, by repetition. Which this surely is, as I remember not going 15 minutes without hearing it on the radio, back in the day.

I wonder what else is in there? Did I actually learn things from that first dodgy job? (would I remember how to drive a forklift?) Did the repetition of being on the phone, or using the interview guide as a script? Did I actually learn stuff from that old Manager of mine who would go running every lunch time in those running shorts, which showed too much of his "personality" to the girls in the office?

I am definitely a product of my past, it is all in there somewhere (says me tapping my head) it's amazing what will come back when you need it, and what won't no matter how hard you try, and you know it is in there! (Oh Hate that)

So I'm trying to use my new found wisdom for good and not bad. I've turned off the oldie radio station (the kids are thankful) and am trying to access that old dark shadows of my mind, hello... ? hello....? is there anyone in there? (hmmm why is there an echo in here?)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For my Dad

Oh I love this song. My Dad sang it to me constantly as a young boy and I am handing the torch to my kids now.

Always puts a smile, reminds me who I am, whilst keeping my tongue firmly in my cheek and keeping me grounded.

Arrogant? who me :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recruiters: The Sportscasters of Industry

Everyone has an opinion on Recruiting, all levels of a company, and pretty much anyone you meet just on the street. It's always puzzled me yet somehow made sense. Something occurred to me. Recruiters are mostly trespassers.

We are interlopers, we hang out in communities we don't really belong in don't we? We exude expert knowledge in industries we haven't actually worked in. We advise people on career choices in industries we watch yet in the majority of cases haven't participated in. We are viewed suspiciously by all, as we fight for respect.

But here's the thing, I figured it out. Inspired by a post from Paul Jacobs, who asked if Recruiters are like Real Estate Agents, I figured that Recruiters are like Sportscasters. Those professionals who comment and discuss sports. Not all of them have played at the top level themselves, and the don't necessarily have to. Those that have, put in special comments and don't have to wait as long to gain credibility, but in the end, they are still sports commentators.

People listen to them, and take what they say as gospel, without the hands on experience to back it up. What they have is vision, passion, experience, a holistic picture, a flexibility, a craving to be heard and make a good living out of it.

I'll put it this way. They know their Market ie sports, football, basketball cricket; but they hone their craft to standout in their Industry, ie Broadcasting.

Recruiters are the same. We play the same balance between our Markets and Industry.

For example. Here's me, I've been "in" the IT game for 12 or so years now. Can I cut code? Nope. Can I write technical documentation? Nope. Can I Regression test something? Nope. Yet, I am still a professional operating in the IT Industry (OK for me it is m Market). I was even lucky enough to be asked to present at an Australian Computer Society function the other day. (The irony was not lost on me. In my first ever Computer class (they were called that at the time), I managed to format my teachers favourite disk. It wasn't intended, to this day I don't know how I did it, however I got a crowd of people around me looking at the colourful circle I'd magically made. I wasn't allowed back in the class for weeks.) Why? Because I watch my market, I engage with its participants, I know the score. I'm seen to be able to advise the viewers at home (read clients or candidates) as to the state of play, trends, tactics in their Industry (not mine).

But I hone my craft away from the Market or the game. I learn MY Industry, about Recruitment. I pick the brains of Industry veterans, I listen, I read, I try new things, I innovate. (Just like sporting journalists, would speak to their predecessors, watch tape, learn stats, speaking tones, elocution, etc) These tactics increase my Industry knowledge, but increase my value in my Market.

So when you feel that weight of people's eyes on you, casting aspersions as to why you are attending their user group, their conference or sponsoring an industry breakfast. Hold your head high. You may be just working your Market inside their Industry, but think of what our sports would be without the Broadcasters, a bland, lifeless, un-informative, un-entertaining event. We compliment the Industry (event) and make it better for all involved. For all those Australians reading this, think Bruce McAvaney or Eddie Maguire they seem to have done pretty well for themselves. For anyone else... I've got nothing, find your own analogy. :) You know what I mean....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Feedback and Grains of Salt

I like to see myself as an open person, willing to try things, willing to take feedback on board, give it a try.

When I was younger and not as confident, I would take things said to me as gospel, especially as I moved into a Corporate environment, where coming from the Agency world I did feel like a fish out of water initially. I was probably treated that way too, you know, a Agency Recruiter in an HR world. I was viewed with suspicion. Too Salesy to fit within the HR world. Feedback came thick and fast, good and bad.

Here is some of the "magic" advice I received.

I was too loud!
Too relaxed, didn't look stressed or hurried
Walked too slow
Used the phone to much
Wasn't formal enough in interviews
Didn't use interview guides as a script
Gave too much information about the company

I got it, we were a conservative company, and people should have been honoured to work with us.

I bought into it, I mean hey, what did I know right? Just an Agency Recruiter, entering the corporate world, we all have to adjust. So I adjusted.

Well, guess what happened? I sucked! I couldn't find myself, I had been beaten into hiding the real me, I was living a lie at work, and I felt my performance suffering. Sure HR and some of the corporates were happier, but I wasn't doing what I was brought in to do. And what's worse? I wasn't having fun. I was working to other people's template as to what "being professional" meant.

I took a step back and looked at the situation. What was the issue? There was a culture issue. Was it me? Was it the people who had given me the feedback? In the end, it was probably a mix of both. I spoke to the executive of the company, and voiced my confusion. What is the message you need to world to see about your/our company? And thus solidifying the fact that as Recruiters we are the front line of a companies success. Only as good as your people? Where do they come from? That's right boys and girls.... US (no not the US of A) Recruiters! We are the Gatekeepers of the culture, and this was my chance to define that culture with the Executive.

From that I could see that the "stuffy" overly conservative style of Corporate Recruiting wasn't going to cut it, it wasn't really working towards the values they wanted, it turned out I could bring a bit more ME into the role. And the world got better (for me).

I learned some big lessons in this time. You can't pretend to be something your not and be successful long term. Whilst people will give you feedback (and you must be thankful that they care enough to give it) not all of it will work for you, take what works and ignore the rest.

I've been given some great advice (that I now dispense) in regards to perception management, and toning down that Agency Dan in the corporate world, it was important, it was hard to hear, but heeding the advice and working with that really helped cement my standing in the environment and build on it.

There is good and bad feedback people! Your skill in detecting it, deciding what to act on and what to discount will play a big part in your future success.

Dont' pee on your own pool

Customer Service is an amazing thing. Something which seems so easy and straight forward, you're helpful, friendly and essentially do as you say, providing a service.


This may seem petty to some, but this really got my blood boiling the other day. My 5 year old son was awarded an encouragement award at the local football club a few weeks ago (OK they all get them, but it didn't quell the pride, father and son both felt as he picked up his award.) The award, a certificate and a voucher for a free 6 inch sub from Subway.

We'd waited a few weeks before cashing it in, resisting the constant "Dad, (and or Mum) can we go to Subway for my prize please?" We relented until this weekend, yesterday actually, and took him to the local Subway (for those living in Melbourne, it is the Subway in Syndal). In we walk, my son, chest puffed out, announces to the store that he is there to claim his prize he won at Football.

Imagine my shock, his disappointment, and my subsequent anger when we heard the "sandwich artist" meekly announce to us that his store doesn't honour those vouchers. WTF? I checked the voucher, there was not mention of the fact that it had to be used at a particular store.

I felt for the "artist" as he had to tell us, and then had to inform his manager or franchise owner, that he had a customer on the line for him. Now they got a little more than they bargained for. My angry wife... She was brilliant! feisty, grumpy, assertive and then downright tough. (She is my secret weapon, OK not so secret now, but a weapon of mass destruction anyways!)

Let's just think about this a little, these are local franchises, not just a global conglomerate. They were presenting themselves to the local market as local supporting the community by sponsoring the local football club. When my wife spoke to the Franchisee he said, "you must understand from my point of view.... I am losing money on this" My wife responded, with a very caring and humanitarian, "well if you weren't, YOU ARE NOW".

We had something happen to us the other week when a place denied us the use of a discount voucher for an obscure unpublished reason, we paid up, and walked out feeling a little silly, pretty upset, but if it was a rule, that made (kind of) sense then OK. But this is worse, YOU'RE MESSING WITH OUR KIDS! for $6.95 (there are only 40 or so kids at this club of ours (Max out $280, although I would assume corporate would give some compensation to the franchisees for this.)

For a business supplying a local market, does doing this make logical sense? Putting a whole demographic offside? By not living up to what you had committed to do? Not many people like seeing upset kids, even worse when the one upset is one of yours, and when it is something little and ultimately inconsequential to that business and everything to that little person involved, I do scratch my head. Those of you who know my family, know, we aren't the shyest or quietest of people. Word spreads, as it does in all communities and I am letting the world know I won't be back to that particular Subway outlet (210 Blackburn Rd, Syndal VIC 3149) and will have to be persuaded as to whether to go back to the chain at all.

The same goes for all businesses, and I know I am a little emotive about this particular event, but I've seen examples of this in other business' I have been a part of over the years. I've seen companies, place fake ads on job Boards to fill up their database, I've seen people sell a business they made look busy (which had shut down a month earlier) by getting the old staff to sit around making phone calls when the perspective buyers come through, not looking after contractors, ripping off clients or simply don't get back to people. You get a reputation for that! People won't come back to your business, unless by some freak of circumstance you have a monopoly. You are effectively peeing in your own pool, poisoning your own future

What's the old saying? Something along the lines of it takes a lot longer for a good word to get around that a bad one. And I am a sucker for positive and negative comments from others, I love my social media and well I just bought a car from a place which I only went to because of a referral we picked up from out community Network, the Kindergarten Mums - not a group to upset (or mess with their kids) by the way!

Business survive on sound business models, great service, great product and a great reputation, be careful on what you put out there for people to comment on.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From Robbie Williams to Frank Sinatra the inevitable transition

My apologies as the embedded link doesn't seem to be working.

Something about having a birthday makes me nostalgic. I find myself prone to reflecting on what has been in my life and what will happen in the future. I discovered today that I have just passed a milestone, which went largely unnoticed by everyone, including me. But not anymore.

I turned 35 a week or so back. I'm pretty happy with how things have gone to date. I've done the three "L's" I always planned on doing. I've lived, I've loved and I've laughed. I have a happy home, with a wonderful wife and 2 amazing kids and my career, has gone OK so far, the odd little setback, but you have to have those. And you know what else??? I can feel my prime coming on, surely it can't be too far away.

OK enough bragging, but I am grateful.

In this last week, I have transitioned from Robbie Williams to Frank Sinatra. How's that for an ego? :) Watch the video!

You can see the lyrics here for those who don't know the song.

Bottom line, I can't get away with being 17 or 21 anymore. I'm no Robbie! I'm 35, bring on the chauffeur drivers (I think that is my wife and I for the kids) and independent means! Here's hoping I can live up to old Blue eyes and as I enter the Autumn of my years, that I can still "think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, From the brim to the dregs. it poured Sweet and clear. it was a very good year."

Cheers All

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bigfoot, Tooth Fairy and the Recruiting Magic Bullet

I've been reading and writing a lot of blogs, tweets, articles etc about what we all should be doing in our Recruiting efforts of late, and you know what? I think they are all starting to look alike.

Social Media vs Old School
Email, internet vs the phone
Job Boards
The recession
Passive vs Active Candidates
Find candidates here, find the there
The North Pole, the last bastion of old school Recruiters (OK I made that one up)
*YAWN* (and it is late here)

This is going to be a really short post, because my point will come quickly.

All those things are great, and all have their value, good and bad. They all work for some people and don't for others. Some will have great results, others won't.

All these things will work.


Myth - there is a guaranteed way to be successful in this business.

Surprisingly, there is no ONE way to guarantee results!

Bill Boorman asks for advice you'd give to young Recruiters. Mine is find out what works for you and stick with it! Try new things, feel free to ditch what doesn't, but keep trying and you'll find lots of things that work for you. Once you do, you'll get better and better in what you do.