Friday, December 04, 2009

Strange true facts

1- the famous, or infamous, "black box recorder" in all civilian aircraft is actually bright orange. ( usually there are two of them as well! Redu )

2- the average horse in average activity produces disputedly 3.4 hp, with a peak of 12.1hp (wiki) while of course just walking it is under a horse power effort. James Watt knew about averages and studied many horses - used in working pit hoists where horses were employed in tread wheels (mills) and those drawing brewery carts ( common in Glasgow!) so he based his work on foot llbs per minute, from a standing start I believe. So a horse in one minute can hoist a weight so many feet in the air. However a horse with momentum, already moving it's own weight, produces on average 3.4 allegedly in what is a horses average activity- I take it this means a canter or trot. ...and so rages on the torque versus absolute horse power ratings today ( hp = torque x rpm )
Sadly end is in sight for "horse power" as a measurement. James Watts analogous measure - he allegedly chose for marketing purposes- painting the picture of how much effort his improved steam engine could gain over the 'cornish'steam engine or horses themselces - a measure in flesh and blood rather than his own more esoteric measure ( 1 hp = 740 watts app, 0.7 KW hence kw is about 2/3 the rating in 1000s of horse power .)
Now ships and locomotives are quoted as generators have been for many years- kilo and mega watts. Generators Kw/h rating is more applicable to electric power, which ships are moving towards as final drive ( inc. the latest Queen Mary) so to speak- traction motors on shorte prop shafts. Locomotives are quoted more often now in Kw, but some linger on hp and most refer also to maximum lifting peak tractive effort- for example EE type three was 55,000 ft.lbs at 18mph. Electric locomotives have higher peak power at high speed where the high voltage available can be engaged for sprints to gain top speed, but these are not sustainable before electrical equipment overheats.

With the advent of hybrid cars, electric drive pleasure boats and alternative energies, the days of horse power look numbered. Marketing needs something less macho to sell cars which are no longer raw v8s. Perhaps we will relate more to our grandmothers kw electric bar heaters as we meander down the eco-friendly lane.

3.On the subject of driving, more people use the right lane of the road with left hand drive, as summed up on "world standards" hosted in belgium. China is decisive because otherwise the massive population of post colonial india would be outdriving the US and EU put together. Oddly, Samoa (not USA samoa) chose to shift the opposite way that sweden had 42 years ago, this year when they went right to left. Not long after they were hit by a Tsunami, two unrelated events you may ask?

The origins of driving on the left was due to the middle ages in england when riding with your sword at hand to defend from attackers meant people kept to the left hand side so as to defend quickly on the right. Suspicious bunch the english horsemen then. Driving on the right may have to do with rebellion, but also nautical origins where Starboard, or Right, and the relation driote-rights meant that those on the right had er, right of way. Interestingly traffic lights adopted the green, starboard light for GO and the red, port for YIELD surely a nautical decision.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

e-marketing is dead, long live ...iMarketing

Push marketing is in it's death throws - well,many would have you believe that. What is true is that "e-Marketing" is percieved as push, spam and no thank you mam

Now in 2010 it is set to be replaced by a simple change of vowel and dropping of that heavy hyphen - here cometh the prodigy


But how do you interact as a brand manager?

Well it is all about listening, thinking, and qaulifying before you say something!

So trad' marketing is dead? Snail marketing will push more and more people to either the internet or outlets to allow consumers to have an media-rich enhanced and most og
all, interactive buying experience.

Listening has new ears :

Firstly you want to define which social media you NEED to listen to and which are "nice to have's", or just use a supplier like Integrasco to be your ears.

Secondly blogg or when you do something "allow" people to post.

Thirdly allow for customers to voice openly and make suggestions for new products, services or improvements with a suggestions button on your website and your other nodes of social contact on the web.

Fourth and final for this bigger than a tweet blogg, put on a call-me-now button for your country restricted web sites at points where a sale is to be made or a problem can be solved. .................after all, don't forget people like to talk, vent off a little and negotiate with a human once in a while.

meanwhile don't be a facebook fool

USB movies Dongle Films

Well it had to happen. No more ripping from DVD for your favourite movie, get a plastic dongle USB movie branded up

They just had to have bodly gone didn't they?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Agency land ....again.....

Agencies economics do my little paranoic, presbyterian-pessimists head in.

Once again I am off on a below wonderful wage to a company who's business is probably so lumpy that it makes your blind grandmothers porride look of even consistency.

The issue with agencies is that they grow in non linear ways, completely sporadic and at the whim of the commisioning marketing director or senior brand manager at the client.

They either grow by reputation, hard pitching or selling more to the same customers. Every one of these hits a wall. Life's a pitch and then you die.

The company I am merily hopping off, bushy tailed to tommorrow COULD follow a route to producing a software revenue model by combining a browser - my Bot type set up and selling seats at clients. The value add could be in writing meta reports, doing set ups and then updating the system as the arms race on the internet starts to make obselite the once wonderful ( web promoter gold; remember that one?) A product is scalable in terms of sales, marketing and version management. Also today we could include cloud computing for bots, using down time to do crawls and indexing on a network of users machines. Problematic?

How much does it cost to get to a product ? Well it can be pretty well documented and worried about, while surprisingly getting a couple of big service clients and then bumbling through justifying your fees there and building up business on shoe leather, a wind, a single repeating prayer and all by the seat of your pants. Flights for directors probably amount to pretty much the same as a months programming here, or maybe a whole project in India.

Some how this is just accepted by investors, maybe because it is getting them near to the business and early raft investors are happy to see explosive growth on a handful of big-brand-name deals.

For my money and in this case time is money, I would go for the scalable product tied to a service, seat numbers and developments out from the core offering. Then we can get to be puppetteers and play at product management in stead of burning out shoes.

New Paradigm Marketing and Selling

i- Marketing

Traditional marketing Communication

New Media Marketing Comm's

Display Advertising/ TV ad's

Transport / outdoor Media Ad's

Direct Mail

Sales Promotion

Sports Sponsorship

Press Releases & Articles

Flyer (leaflets)

Point of Sale (POS)

Underground/gorilla marketing

Stunt Marketing

Product spot sampling

Classified Advertising

Fax mailings

Closed group Seminars

Exhibition stands

Search Engine (SE) Optimisation

Paid for SE top-Positioning

Social Media / Viral marketing

webcasts- and youtube

Banner Advertising - Pay Per Click Advertising

On line sales promotion / cross selling

Transport Media Ads


Off line ad's referencing links

Industry Directories, yell etc


GPS iPhone geo-marketing

Strategic Linking – web ringing

XML - Online Press Release

Ezine Sponsorship

On line press Article development

e-mail blasts

pod casting

virtual conferences

'Permissions' marketing

Gorilla Marketing & Chat PR marketing

Snowball marketing WOMBAT

Webex demonstrations

Personalised web links-

Traditional Sales

New Media Selling

Sales Visits

following up on DM




Field Representatives

Meeting booking agencies

Business network meetings



Customer Referals

'Call-me-now' web-response teleselling

e-mail selling

Linked-In type contact selling on line networking that is to say

Wombat - snowballing sales leads and messages

Chat room selling/ referrals

Skype sales / webcam selling

Webcast / streaming sales pitches with chat/e-mail closing

Specialist conferences (off line for online!)

Virtual conferences purely on line with pod/web casts and webexes etc.


Telemarketing with Webex

Passive / reward based customer referals

Traditional Sales Channels

New Media Sales Channels




Re-marketers (local)

Country/regional Subsidiary

Joint Ventures

OEM / Own Label

Your Own Web site Response Mechanisms!!

e-Commerce online shop

SMS booking and payment

Online auctions and tender submission sites, price comparison web sites

Reseller / rebrander channels

Interactive sales booths

Web markets / e-bay

Online Joint Ventures

OEM / Own label ( developer)

The King of Marketing is dead, long live the King!

Traditional Channels / Marketing that is Likely to Become Less Prominent or Even Die: well as you can see above even in a non exhaustive listing the means to inform and interact with your customer has widened. The emphasis is that more channels and methods create immediate interaction and opportunities for the customer to buy.

The content of those individual interactions is perhaps actually less rich and diverse than the traditional "press the flesh" or "TV Brand" advertising but cheaper to do per point of touch and it allows the consumer to get exact information and compare prices on line.

Fax marketing will probably die out, unless the spread of desk-top faxing comes back into fashion for some reason.

Traditional TV - this is underthreat beacuse Rupert Murdoch and other TV companies don't like and don't understand the internet. What they don't like is it's largely free and you can avoid a lot of the advertising. Also there are many more advertising sources and very granular business areas in on line marketing which is a sales model they don't relate to.

What they don't understand is that internett will soon become the primary entertainment and information source in the developed social sectors of the world. Their opportunity is to take their media into the internett wholeheartedly, but so far in most countries they seem to be tacit in allowing their "qaulity content" go webcasted- if at all - without big buck advertising they don't want to go on line. ADSL tv and the tv which surfs the net are here. They could have channelised with their own search engines built on a TV controller basis, and mixed media content on a time tabled basis but now they have been run down on the e-highway by on-demand TV and video.

Various models persist, such as the stream-view only packages most known now in spotify, where video on demand can be to some extent controlled to one viewing and advertising imbedded.

The fragmentation of the TV industry and prevallence of pay-to-view for quality broadcasting ( while public broadcasting remains largely devoid of advertising) means that the advertising buck is spread thinly and magical 'target audiences' dematerialse into the standard-distribution curve of decreased audience size. TV advertising is no longer sexy, so budding ridley scotts had better take to youtube productions in order to get a modern profile.

Ironically I believe that transport media will become the highest value per cm2/ hour as it will be used increasingly to drive the metropolitan masses to dotcoms. This is the one area where you get more than a scrolling blink amongst long listings- you can brand your web sites and hgave a call-to-action and sales mechanism all in a couple of lines with the magical in there. This also goes for sports sponsorship, espeically with soccer becoming the biggest world spectator sport. It's format is adamently on the 40 minute half, unlike the NFL's advertising perverted rules.

Sales Promotion on the internet, and especially third part cross value discounting and reward schemes have been about at least since the days of web beanz. This area is under exploited in my opinion and ripe for closing deals from traffic. For example with really good web-only product bundles, discount vouchers, airmiles and likes of spotify earned points. I think this will show big growth because the internet marketer will find it hard to convert traffic to a full-price, branded experience site when cross comparision and used-goods shoppiong is so prominent. People will not only get more used to buying, but more used to shopping about or using 'bid-me' type web sites to invite in the cheapest party on a secluded unbeatable discount.

Thjis is a major problem with product sales on the web. Product sales channels have big vested interests in selling from the shelf and they don't want their margin eroded. However I don't think it will be long before some major brands offer really good discounting on line- they may need to work these up as bundles or do the opposite- sell bundles through the snail world channels.

Small comapnies marketing on the web still conform of course to the need to at some poiint buy from the channel, and also have the same old costs for premises , the CEOs ego based income, the web master and nerds and so on. So with a low barrier to entry, many small third and fourth party sellers struggle to offer any discount worth the salt.

I think the tender and I'll buy web sites will see major traffic expansion because the price can be hidden from the masses. Even if a bvuyer tells all their face book pals to go buy at 50% off, and posts your link on chat rooms, you will still get little traffic demanding the discpoutn or in fatc you could base your whole sales channel on outward spot price selling with no published prices to be frowned upon by the manufacturer!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Job offer

Well what does happen when you get a job offer which you can be cynical about?

How many times have I heard " we are a small company, and we must think of what our current coworkers earn" in the same breath with " good potential to progress quickly" ??

I feel very much like back in Stockport in november - december 1996. Then I managed to squeeze out 3 k more, but even that was selling myself cheap without a company car in the deal.

Even at h-lab I was cheaper than I needed to be and got no offer or leverage for a raise after 6 months.

They are even getting an employment grant.

So I sell myself down the road to long travelling on public transport. I have a feel-bad factor. I feel the same as when I moved to dynabeeeds! Hope is not a strategy, so hoping to get sales of this together and hoping to get opportunities...I think he is an honest guy but that is why vagueness is disinginous if the wind changes.

I get to do analyses, and that is it so far.


1. over riding is that I could do this on my own. I can either work from home eventually or I can start up on my own, or get a better job
- 2. there in I get to learn a new area and review my skills in use of internett

3. I get to know a lot of jargon and ideas

4. I get to have sales leads

5. If I get a sale or a lead quickly converts then I get to ask for 450 000

6. I get to move onto more money 450 000 plus car if I can

7. i get to develop the directions I want to go in.

8. Maybe most of all, I make myself far more salesworthy a prospect when applying for jobs, and I can negotiate upover with wages as the key lever.

Friday, November 06, 2009

summary of actions in CV and applicatons

tips of the day:

1) produce a mini cv resume for open applications. Do many around places outside aust agder, esp though in K'sand

2) FOLLOW UP in telephone with everything you are serious about. Follow up in e-post to those who are hard to get to.

3) Do CVs like dynal application- a focused pull out of key relevatn positions, the others in a list or not on

4) do a middle sheet - a table which compares your skills to their needs

5) consider your man managemetn and people skills

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Interview debreifing

Now, my interview yesterday went very well. But I feel maybe everyone was building up expectations and maybe they are not "aligned"

Ok, so how was it overall?

I did a bit of an overlong career history, but being honest about Dynateeed won me some favour. I did not sell in my own personality or how it succeeds in a work place. I did not really get onto my actual achievements and was a bit worried about my actual level of responsibility, despite being pyshced up as a prospective, experienced and mature 'project manager'

The first mis-alignment is maybe that the job in hand is analyst , most likely to free up someone else to move into a more senior position. My expectation is to get in a little higher than this level, and since they are refocising on London, I feel this is a risk to take a low level, specialist role. However with a poorly formulated contract, I could probably actually get started here and maybe their new investment is not popular with the earlier soft-seed capital?ie moving jobs out of the area having had the idea of being a growth company for local employment!

So I feel that I have to not get all worked up about it being the next big thing, nor get pissed off like I did at Dynateeds, arriving under a cloud.

back to the interview - I got buying signs from everyone and had the EMIR roudn the table. So I did manage to steer things my way and keep it all relevant. This ticked the boses for most of them, but I hope i am not boxed in by my lack of 'wham-bang'

I need a wham bang - I mean like come into a company and shifted it round. I have had many false starts and lost opportunities but I made all the right noises. I just need to be more head strong and opportunistic and use levers with the board of directors.

My aim is to get into an incubator- share pay set up like forinnova. So I need to get on in this company if i take it.

Ah, relax.

Job Interview - a middle aged man !

How can the experiences of a middle aged man related to a new graduate from MSc Marketing?

Well I am in the same boat; for me in a foriegn land with too many marketing graduates, it is hard to get a stable job with some future! SO I am not really on the ladder here. As on old fart too.

Now I happened to have an interview yesterday and it was pretty much front-loading to an actual offer, despite being purely speculative. Here is how I did it:

  1. I had contacted their investment-management firm before.
  2. Being curious in the area helped in 1 and lead to the contact
  3. I held off until after paternity
  4. I went back to the investors and got shoe horned a little, and good mouthed seemingly from their business developer
  5. I then sent a very, very short form post enquiry from the actual company's web site just with a couple of key words and followed this up with a phone call.
  6. I still had to send a CV and not present it myself, but this made it a little more formal.
  7. I was curious and motivated for the position
  8. I am open minded on what form the job takes
  9. I used a state- assisted training grant as an extra closing bait
  10. I was curious....
So what shoudl you do? 60- 80% of first time jobs for you are going to be through unadvertised sources. Curiousity will be the key, and using your nose to come up with several ways into the company. This spurs your motivation and overcomes your distance and shyness to the firm.

Firstly, lose any idea of geographical restriction. Maybe there is a firm in Scotland who you are interested in your chosen sector - add them to the list and be prepared to get a K-B but keep the door open while you are working elsewhere- in the english speaking world if it is so specialist!

Secondly find different ways into the company- contacts. Try to shoe horn in through some route or just go in for an investigation on what they do, or a work place shadowing type day. Also investor companies are a good source or route, because anything coming from them is taken seriously! If you get a recommendation " chat to this guy" from the VC or incubator boss then it is a huge amount self- brand equity you have earned without doing very much.

Maybe you go in from the bottom up otherwise- find a really tarty brand manager or what ever and get in on her back - the marketing director will be more open to her charms ( or "one of the flirty girls" from time to time them being a Sit-Pee)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Next Generation Browser - Bots

Normal 0

I think it is interesting that while few have dared to go out in the market with new products like ,

rather many companies have chosen to offer web-monitoring services on a corporate basis and that this is further become a buzz around making money from buzz- social media surveillance.

At some point these guys have to develop intelligent, directed web-bots to go and find the new content and keep on feeding in this and the meta-stats on how hot something is.

Web-bot – spiders or crawlers are the principle types of web-robots which search through URLs and find key words, links or metacontent and store them for indexing as lists on the search engines.

A distributed web sprider/crawler is one operating on decentralised processing nodes with usually a central machine allocating domain names and MIME types to look at. This is exciting because it could be integrated to specialist groups web browsing behaviour, searches and conscious wishes in building more relevant listings on SE and directing updates on particular topics, sites, themes or ”web rings” ie interactivity.

What is exciting to me is to create a personalised web bot system which enables a user in a specialist field to get to more relevant data per search minute! Also to let them keep updated on those site or page finds, and gather new closely relevant data from the web.

Web bots and indexing are bandwidth, memory and processing time heavy items but if the tasks are spread out over a cluster of like minded individuals active in a search area, and spread out over time when their machines are on line but doing very little then we have the basis for something which can truly be personalised, efficient and a product or service which can attract revenue streams.

The key principles in reducing actual live-search times is to metacrawl and screen out links which are undesirable. Users, or the user cluster, build on the efficiency and relevance by having their actual behaviour monitored- the system learns by AI like processes to frm what the user finds relevant and what they discard or look over. Successful filter builds from metacrawling lead to directed and ’temporal’ (return for updates, expansions, deletions) crawls in slow-time.

It is a sad fact that maybe only 25% of the web gets indexed on the main engines, and this is largely due to the pathway rules the bots obey and the inclusion of top level URLS to crawl down. Partly this is due to the duality of being ”linked in” – the principle of links in and out ’catching’ the bots (having been googles founding algorythm –mantra ” the more linked to relevance you are, the higher the listing”) as they explore outside the URL list. SO they miss material, but of course much of that material is going to be the vanity-web-logging which so many of us do, as I am right now. Proportionally to the traffic of say 1997, are search engines really any more useful to us now, than say following web rings or installing those channel buttons on your desktop was to us back then?

I see spam listings covering at least half of any simple key word search and end up doing my own, old fashioned web ringing to get to new unlisted or ’burried’ content in an area or simply resorting to several BOLEAN search alternatives- both tedious if someone could do this for me while I am away from my keyboard!!!

I am also guessing that in conducting new searches, there would either have to be a screen on URL names, MIME content tags and so on OR a randomly generated domain name engine which uses key words, and web ring to construct domain names and test them for real content.

We have sites like – compete, technocrati, google labs and so on which do something for free but they are apparently metacrawlers and some want paid as soon as value added data is approached. Also metastats are of course useful stuff to marketeers and criminal /terrorist intelligence, and you have to pay.

With the advent of appstores on several platforms and the predominace of book and music buying on the web for under 30s I think that revenue streams from sales and advertising can be secured for either international companies or those with some local-knowledge / language advantage.

Corporate Strategy and Quarter Four Forecast

CEO's Opening Statement

Now we are well into the last quarter of 2009, it is a good time not only to report on our financial status, forecast and after tax results for H1, but also it is an appropriate point to reflect upon our corporate strategy embarked upon August 2008.

Summary of 2008 -2009 Strategic Pathway

To summarise qualitatively, I am pleased to report that we have achieved much of our intended financial and family-strategy in the last 14 months. However as an immediate warning to investors it is in this Q4 that a major turning point will disrupt normal trading and this is a late part of the strategy which is being implemented in record short time. In effect it is to take advatnage of opportunity in the economic environment - more on this below.

In 2008 a strategic decision was made to relocate the corporation in order to reduce costs and stablise the company with the necessitated rise in personell, this being a factor of + 36%. Inflationary pressures in the Oslo area and poor availability of premises in end Q2-startQ3 created a problem, but also presented the opportunity to relocate to an area with far lower cost basis for doing business. Costs of physically relocating were kept low but there was some orginisational stress which was unavoidable if we take any realists perspective. We consider, in balance, that the positivity outweighed down sides and counteracted this stress.

Key Gearings and Results Relating to Change in Strategy

We appreciate the maturity our stakeholders have shown in bearing with us through a radical change in the corporate missioning for 2008. However our long term goals were to reduce cost of premises and increase time in actually conducting high value interactions. So to remind our patient investors, this move is not tactical. Rather it is a key part of fulfilling a longer term strategy and we have taken the pain of relocation now rather than later. We did what we said we would be doing, just a year earlier.

On the downside, our corporate earnings form h1 2008 were reduced with the removal of one main revenue source. However we have a stable stream of income which maintains us in the black and we predict our cash burn not to exceed our operating income and thus we will avoid burning reserves as working capital. When a larger revenue stream is identified from our main income-silo, reserves will be used to purchase new capital items in the IT department. Budget is earmarked for this and aligned to expected extra revenues from this investment.

Q1 2009 was marked by a lower than anticipated revenue stream from a contract in the local area. Upon realising this, an immediate reduction in committment to the customer was taken with a 20% reduction in man hours dedicated to this contract. Not only was ordinary income lower than expected, there was actually no bonus -dividend rewards from the effort used.This was clear breach of contract which would have been costly to persue by legal means and costly in terms of '"loss of forward focus" but the experience and visibility of acting in the local market is not lost on us. We did under perform in this contract. Sometimes it is good to make mistakes, recover quickly and learn what a wrong direction means to the corporation.

Forecast q4 '09- H1 2010

In q4 we expect a major new revenue stream to come on line. This demands committment and we must take the view that it be a profitable contract otherwise be prepared to keep to our basal income levels following up with renegotiation or alternative customers. The new potential customer is a major actor in the internet surveillance and web-bot market on an international scale and becoming a supplier to them is a shinging possibility. However we must be realistic and not be a "cinderella supplier" - in other words a poorly paid servant who does not get to actually play in the real innovation and management of the company.

Strategic Appraisal 2010 H1

Looking into Q1-2 2010, I consider that we will secure either a contract with this major potential customer or take a direction in line with our corporate abilities whilst diversifying offer in our other skills base. Our current run-rate income, as stated, retains us in the black with no capital cash burn. However this limits our expansion and growth in equity. New, high value and long term contracts will be secured by end Q1. If not, then you can expect my resignation as CEO!

Yours faithfully

Damp Freddie
Household CEO

Monday, October 26, 2009

Take Control of Your Own Brand Communications

To summarise a little on what I have included in several bloggs....

You have the power to take control of what a potential employer thinks of you to a far higher degree than you may expect. Take control- don't let them itnerpret, read between lines or skim over things or misunderstand the relevance and specific abilities you offer for the job.

Let's consider it from the two usual approaches - open application ('on spec') and usual advertised job.

In both instances you have to make sure the employer knows what you have to offer and why you are motivated for this job. Either situation means that an employer is trying hard to get rid of time wasters (many in marketing applications) and get down to someone who really has enough to offer the company. It is really easy to leave too much to 'between the lines' from your CV or to write to succinct an accompanying letter such that you lose the opportunity there.

Advertised Job Applications

The employer ( or the hateful recruitment consultant) has a list of qualities and skills they consider important in the job- of the advertised list only maybe half are DEMANDED skills, another quarter are DESIRABLE while the last quarter of the job list is just paff- padding, HR speak, crap. So you have to phone up to find out which are DEMANDS, which are also important -maybe mostly in personality terms or track record - ad which skills can be learnt!

For example, the job ad' may specify a years experience but is that really necessary over the greta knowledge of marketing and tool-set you have from the MSC Marketing at Strathclyde Uni? The hard skills may be in use of data, formulating market research, breifing agencies and writing strategies....The soft skills may include ability to churn through data, or a bubbly 'can do' personality . So Call!

The purpose of your call is NOT to sell yourself- it is enough you call and leave your name as a selling exercise, or e-mail even is ok these days to pose questions. The purpose is to find out which skills / experience / attitudes are absolutely desired and which are also-rans. It is to find out anything like say, which CRM they use, which you can offer a USP in reply to.

THEN in your application make sure you give answer to these key areas in the letter and cover as many of the other ALSO DESIRABLES you have on your CV. Make sure they are not open to interpretation or could be read over.

No one usually fulfills all the requirements- for example "MS PRoject and seibel v 7 an advantage' - you can write- Find it easy to use new datasystems for direct marketing, analysis and planning. In marketing there are often only a couple of really needed things to cover: mayeb statistical ability, maybe an idea of branding.....most often they won't get someone externally who is used to all their datasystems, their market, their marketing mix and of course their product.

Better yet for an advertised job which you can fulfill on several points, take those key DEMANDS and DESIRABLES and make a third sheet on your application - a tabel which lets you give direct, prose answers to their requirements.

This will improve your chances of getting interviews, along with checking the decision maker has your CV and it hasn't been lost, screened out early by a co-worker/gate keeper or skim read.

In interviews you want to continue uncovering what the job actually entails, and which skills are pre-requisite whilst which can be learnt (for that read ANY database, CRM, accounts package or ISO documentation and project control system!). Steer the interviewer to talk about the job itself NOT the comopany- butt the hell in when they begin ranting at the chance to say "and so you are in the happy position to have a new vacancy because of this investment?". Find out even if they have defined the tasks in the job or just have extra budget (OFTEN the case!)

Given you get a goodone2one interview, and not a recrutiment day, then you have the chance to start STEERING THE POSITION AROUND YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND AMBITIONS! Especially in marketing - discuss areas of responsibility, routine reporting, forthcoming projects and steer them around YOU when you see felxibility. Otherwise when you come on board they will STEER you. You will get various monkeys on your back and also some people will just want a piece of you! They will presume authority over you because you have 'new boy syndrome'.

In summary- cut to the qucik, understand the salient skills and the actual tasks in the job and then set your skills and personal brand against that- lead the discussion when you can and make it clear why you fulfill criteria in your letter & CV, your follow up call, the interview and then at the offer stage even! Steer the job around your motivation and take control!

Open Application ( on spec')

This is kind of the opposite from a closed-circuit application in answer to an advert with defined tasks. In an open application you want to avoid letting them exclude you because so much of your CV does not fit in with their little sphere.

You want to sell yourself more as a person and let them decide on the positivities of your 'personal branding' to take you further.

I recommend as in the last point, to have a mini-'teaser'-CV with a good photo of you. Send this by e-mail to a decided target person who would make decision to employ you or just give you work experience. So probably marketing manager, group brand manager or marketing director.

DO NOT send to any vague or old e-mail address. Send it by post.

BUT- wait! Before you lick the stamp- it has to be read by the decision maker if possible- hence you have every right to write "Private and Confidential, Addressee only" on the envelope. Thus you get roudn the jealous temp or the condescending menopausal secretary!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Din CV

  • CV en skal være god reklame for deg selv

  • God reklame er ærlig og positiv!

  • Målet med CV’en er å gjøre din mulige nye arbeidsgiver interessert og invitere deg til intervju.

  • Våg å satse på enkel
  • tilpasser det jobben du søker.

Hvem er du, hva kan du og hva vil du videre?

Bruk i størst mulig utstrekning et aktivt og positivt språk når du skriver CV.
”Innførte”, ”gjennomførte” og ”bidragsyter” er slike stikkord. Det at du har nye mål er også viktig å få frem.

Beskriv innholdet i det arbeidet du har utført i form av ansvarsområder, arbeidsoppgaver, oppnådde resultater, avdelingens størrelse, bransje og eventuelle kundesegmenter.

Hvem er du, hva kan du og hva vil du videre?

En ny arbeidsgiver er opptatt av hva du kan bidra med fremover i tillegg til hva du har gjort frem til nå.

Sats på en basis-CV
Det er mange forskjellige måter å skrive en god CV på. Uansett må den være oversiktlig og ryddig satt opp og uten skrivefeil. Sats på en basis-CV og tilpass denne til hver enkelt jobb du søker på. Sjekk at det er sammenheng i det du skriver i søknadsbrevet og det du fremhever i CV’en.

Det vanligste er en kronologisk CV, men en kompetansebasert CV kan også fungere meget bra i endel tilfeller. Vurder om du skal ta med en kort innledning etter dine personalia der du kort sammenfatter hvorfor du søker denne stillingen.

Fremhev dine fortrinn
Kommer din spisskompetanse tydelig frem, eller drukner den i ”allsidighet”? Allsidighet er bra, men våg å satse på å fremheve dine største fortrinn i CV’en. Vekker du interesse og kommer på intervju får du muligheten til å fortelle mer om din anvendlighet da.

Skal du legge den inn i en CV database på Internett bør du sørge for å få med kjente forkortelser som sikrer deg treff på dine kompetanseområder, f.eks. CRM, HR, SAP.

Du skal kunne underbygge alt du skriver i CV’en. Det du skriver blir garantert samtaleemne i intervjuet.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Working for me

What has really worked for me over the years?

In getting jobs that is, and possible a lot to do with getting laid...same principles, reverse pay off!

Firstly what used to work still does- get yourself fished out the pile of applications or inbox junk by calling up with a few salient questions.

Secondly - this is devious - the teaser Mini CV aka pesonal summary, personal resume. As a communication exercise it is very much personal branding Physically it is a nice little attachment, sheet or footer on an HTML e-mail which sums you up in prose without any direct reference to time periods, job titles etc. It includes a picture and full contact details, and is best sent as a media-rich e-mail.

What it permits you is to tease- to give answer to what an employer wants for their company without letting them 'hang up' on you by losing interest in your actual job titles - or lack of them!

It gives you the chance to sell your character rather than allowing an employer to deduce what they want from your list of jobs and usually incomplete list of responsibilities. It makes them want you and not the list of jobs you have, and in overcoming the 'hyperscrutiny' a normal CV goes under-you cut from black and white to colour of YOU as a person, not a list.

The mini or teaser CV must however not be flanel, BS or over playing your trumpet.

I sent out 30 - 40 open applications as HTML mail with a mini CV at the foot. I got over 80% replies and three likely interviews or discussions. IN fact I completely oversold myself to an industry sector starved of opportunities - they thought I could probably walk in with contacts and erm, contracts, clean up their ISO systems and get them bought out by a blue chip! BUT the response was huge, I mean it was more or less spamming people ! I targeted as many e-mails to personal e-.mail addresses, going so far as to send out a few enquiries to 'info@' addresses to shoe horn my way in further to director level. The end result was negative for me because I completely oversold myself in the prose, having followed the James Hoseasons route to self inflation!

Missing CV.....

Employers often skim read a letter and cut straight to your CV. A sly trick I used to also tease with was sending e-mails WITOUT the attached CV or just sending an application letter with "I will be delighted to prepare a CV highlighting my exact relevant experience".

In this way I at least got their interest and if I was a serious candidate from my letter then I would get a polite note- if they were assholes then I would get to know that from a terse reply. One boss gladly avoided!

Keep it in the Bag.....

I often write that sending your CV is the kiss of death.

What I think actually happens psychologically is the following-

When confronted with having to assess and judge a person the one responsible for the process wants to on the one hand be objective consciously and on the other stay in the comfort zone which is (variably with individual):

1. Avoiding true eye contact
2. Avoiding discussion which could reveal their personal or positional weaknesses
3. stay shy until they have to stick their turtle head out
4. avoid being judged by their own bosses, peers and those prospective coworkers under them! Exactly the fear a candidate may have!

The thing to crack is to break down the resistance to dialogue, number 2 above. Eye contact and some relaxing body language can be achieved not only in person but on the CV- your photo and an appropriate, corporate-mirroring style of prose on your letter and maybe CV.

I am often afraid to establish dialogue, because when selling myself I feel i stand on a cliff with all to fail infront of me at the hurdle. I get over this by applying for many jobs and actually getting job offers I would rather not take- in other words my nerves are distracted.

But those of you who can establish a dialogue and over come the bland objectivity being undertaken with yuour papers, will have allways the benefit in an equal fight. That is to say a position where you are equally qualified and there are no nepotistic candidates long up the feeding chain infront of you. Unfortunetly marketing has plenty of that, being a profession that many are not professionally qualified to get into but are!

So as stated this means most of all that you do most of the talking. You actually want them to talk more and ask the fewer questions. This is done both in your precalls, your follow up call, your call to ask for a cancelled interview...(need I go on) and of course in the INTERVIEW

So keep the CV in the bag- if you are presenting to an open application get them talking about their company first, then interupt them a little to steer them on to personal areas- hiring? downsizing? RIght sizing is a good thing to say- both out wiht dead wood and in with good new timber for the joists!

In an interview where they have your CV, try to spin sell them- get always away from YOU and onto them and what problems have been posed to lead to a vacancy. Get them then talking about the job tasks, demands and goals ahead. Then you stand armed to point to relevant facts on your CV, better yet brushing over your CV by mentioning a job or situation where you had responsibility and results which bode well for your potential employ here !

I remember my very first sales call, as good as it would probably get in a cold-appointment sale, where I was alone and I did not take out the brochure until we had established a bit of dialogue, and to the doctors, which patient group and problem-stilling I would like to discuss. I kept it in the bag.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tips for Job Hunting - Msc Marketing class of 2010 / 2009 also

10 Toptastic Tips for getting You that First, Illusive Job in Marketing!

1. Look back in the papers and marketing magazines a YEAR ago to fifteen months for 'marketing assistant' level jobs. Mysteriously they come up again because of course, those who have used them as a first rung on the ladder have moved up or out! Phone up, ask about any possibilities or just send a spec letter asap before they need to bother advertising again!

2. Look at ad' agencies / web / PR etc company web sites for lists of clients, especially new ones. Find the marketing manager at those clients! They have a spend at least.

3. Work around recruitment consultants! Find out who the employer is, and why they are recruiting, say you are not interested, and then go direct. Especially when they are recruiting a to a new or expanding marketing department. I have landed three really good jobs this way - two by later follow ups having gone through consultants, and one by completely going direct after meeting a brick wall at the consultants Also if you have to go through them, get hold of business cards from the clients and leave your own...brings us on to 4...

4. Make a simple visit card aka business card with your contact details, what you study/have graduated in, and a photo. Leave it at all interviews and networking contacts. This is a lot more discreet than people actually keeping and passing on your CV. Print out on sticky back paper, stick to card and cut with a good guilotine. Or get a printer to do them for as many of you as have cash towards a couple of hundred quid.

5. Make a list of questions you have on a job as your first point after you see the advert. Always call the point of contact and remember to let them talk and describe what the job's actual work-tasks will be.

6. i)When doing open applications, give most emphasis on why you are interested in that company, industry and job function.
ii) DON'T SEND YOUR CV! Send a quick summary of you as a person with your first degree, dip marketing when you get your exam results and MSC marketing when you finish. A mini CV with a photo of you in business dress.

7. Go to sales job interviews at large (blue chip) or otherwise interesting companies :

i) Why bother ? ? ? Interviews for sales jobs are easy to get at large companies which are otherwise fortresses for marketing graduates!

When at the usual 'selection day' you can use some time to network with any marketers there
or at least get names out of personnel- marketing managers, brand managers and so on.

But remember - Discuss about being a rep and be positive. Do any group work or presentations as well as doing the best possible effort you can to impress all present.

ii) When they inevitably grill you about marketing as your choice, either agree and say maybe sales is only a short term route to marketing ( sales managers really hate this) or that on hearing more about the job, maybe it is not sales you want to work in- especially if you have a one to one with a personnel boss. Ask about working in marketing with them, not sales managers.

iii) If all their marketers have been in sales, or there are no opportunities right now in marketing, ask about temporary territory sales ie. cover jobs as a way into the company. These are ok paid, but the big pluss is that you get your expenses for living out a suitcase and a company car (otherwise forget it!) Your face is in the company, you get to meet marketers at training and conferences and you are available without the sales manager letting one of his prodigies leave to the temple of marketing.

8. Get into the local enterprise companies, Technology transfer offices, venture capital, and other government bodies or consultancies helping companies establish, grow and do marketing. Look for graduate placements or blagg some advisor work. Find out on companies who are really growing. or at least those doing a marketing project.

9. Try to find a previous MSc marketer, in a decent sized company, who will consider taking you on a two week shadowing. At the very least you will gain invaluable knowledge on the job, and you may get your face known and asked to put in a CV on spec.

10. i) Find out when interviews will be for an advertised job when you first call, or just phone a week after the deadline. Say you are very interested and would be able to come to a cancellation at short notice, even travel to the location just on the chance of getting in.

If you are a snake, when other class mates have interviews find out when they are...sometimes they will get another job offer and leave a gap, or you at least know which day to ask for cancellations on. At big interview days, ask other candidates what forthcoming companies they have interviews with and try it on there!

ii) another snakey thing is when you get an inteview but no further, is to wait about two or three weeks and ask if they managed to get the person employed or not. If it is an assistant level job then quite often there is an arguement about pay with the person under offer who has that ellusive work experience. Also really good candidates quite often have a choice of jobs and turn down one or other. Finally some companies suddenly refuse to pay decent relocation costs and candidates tell them to get stuffed.

If at fist you don't suceed...try, try again! Never place all your hopes on one job ,career route or company. Always have a couple at least on the go, and if you do get a knock back, you can ask if they will have other opportunities coming up soon. If you don't get an interview then there is little point in asking what was wrong with your CV actually- extenuate the positive by asking about future opportnities. Follow up a month after. With my previous advice, 5 second interviews will land you a great first job, or as in the recession today, a first job in marketing of some sorts! If you get a lot of first interviews, without progress, go back and ask them all what you could have done better or what experience you would need to be as good as the actual winner.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More on Getting into Marketing-

To`The students of MSc Marketing, Strathclyde 2009-010! Relax! Floss...

I think I will take a bit of a radical departure from my previous advice on maybe taking (or needing to take) a sales job as an entry level to a larger or interesting company.

In outset you have the education in front of you which will equip you to work at a strategic level or at least understand much of what is going on around you in terms of this. You lack some of the practical, functional skills and much of the negotiating, presenting and convincing soft skills which can only come with life experience.

What you do not need is to sit in a car and drive about somewhat dissinterested potential customers all day, and what you may learn from a sales job can be in fact condensed into a very short period of ’placement’ for a month or two or even just work shadowing a rep in the field.

Rather than selling, it is a far better prospect for you with the MSc to get into a marketing department which has a decent budget ( spend of more than 300 000 € for b2b or over a million for consumer goods) Even if you start at the photocopier.

Why ? Well it is just use of time and brain cells, in context of all the others without any marketing education who can slug it out in sales. In many sales jobs 90% of your time is wasted in mundane travel, fluttering eyelids, wining and dining or offering big cash discounts for volume upsales and bring-forwards. The best sellers almost without exception in my own experience, have the biggest potential customers and use discount to get more out of them and make their targets on the top line.

The fact that the customer knows of their company through media channels, and furthermore has a product suited their needs to a reasonable starting price is all the hard and fascinating work that marketing do. The sales rep ”only” closes the deal if you ask me, in any form of a large market of customers.

Marketing in most respects, talks ”one to many” but more importantly ”listens many to one”- so anecdotal crap from sales reps about a new product or what customers really need must be taken in context of the many thousand customers you may have and the prospects out there.

However if your research and networking into a given company you would love to market for shows up that most everyone has to go through sales, find out the average time. Find out if there are temporary placements in sales on a larger graduate intake scheme. If everyone is in sales five years then do you really want to work in that kind of department (NO!) ??

With intakes to sales, the perspective to take is not to make yourself the worlds best seller within 2 years then try to get into marketing. The stand point is, from day one I am here to get asap into marketing! There are three ways-

One: flirt, network, suck up and be all over marketing if you are attractive, likeable and fun to be with! Make sure your new wee pals or flattered manager drop you a line when there is a marketing department job on the way. Get in early before the other reps.

Two; get some ’quick wins from the low hanging fruit’ ie ignore all the crappy customers and identify the biggest potential to grow or get in a new. Spend your time on them and forget those which are just small or intransigent. Sales managers will soon like your style, despite their wish you ”get round all the customers” as a newbie. When you have a couple of quick wins, flag them round a bit and blow your trumpet high up, then ask for a transfer into marketing there and then!

Thirdly, keep on looking for a marketing job, and when you even get an interview, start talking to personnel about your move into marketing in a casual manner. At six months in the job either threaten to leave, say you would much rather work in marketing or just use your company car to get round job interviews and land a job! Then either take that job or ask for an immediate move to marketign otherwise you will take that job. If you have a particularily valuable ’technical’¨background, then just threaten to leave if you donøt have a clear path to marketing within a year!

There will be a que of other sellers after jobs, but many will have the problem of being mortgaged or childrened up out in the sticks and not want the upheaval, not to say the probable drop in salary, in moving to an HQ marketing assistant, APM etc role.

In all three cases it is best to take a sales job near head office- you will have more meetings there, more excuses to drop in and more social possibilities with marketeers. Second best is being a ”commando seller” or covering a territory for a maternity leave person. There you maybe have an upper hand in being quicly available and not lost to the company. Companies ”like” to promote internally but usually marketing jobs, even photocopying, are roundly tied up as soon as they appear by networkers.

Having said ”start at the photocopier” I don’t mean being taken for a fool. Ensure you have secured some interesting and meanigful work- that is to say both some form of project work where you sit on a team and get tasks to do, and some departmental work such as helping with dataentry, analyses etc.

When you come into a department, or an ad agency, there will be plenty of first and second rung managers there who will feel a bit threatened by your MSc because in fact they have no actual education or are in the long slow book chase aka the CIM! So they will take this chance to dump on you a bit! Make sure you have real tasks to do and don’t let yourself get landed with crap all the time! If someone wants a pile of folders put together late one night, instead of just saying ”ok I’m the over willing little intern, thank you for shitting on my hair”, turn and say, ”well that would be a bit outside the usual, is there something a little more in it for me if I do a good job? Maybe some work in your brand groups?” If you get shat on, then at least you know to say you are too busy with that guya gain.

Avoid ambushes where you get called into your bosses office with the offending dumper being there smugly levering you into some mundaneity using the boss. Tacitally say you will think about it, and ask for a word with the boss when they rise up to leave, then complain like hell about being used for some shite like this and ask for payback or no way! Use it as an excuse to ask for more demanding, higher value work and say that the non educated interns can do some more donkey work while they learn marketing from the first step!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The modern world of employment opportunities....

I still have not quite got my head around the "modern world" of how vacancies are filled.

I mean that advertised positions for most people are fast becoming a thing of the past. You either get blind dated to an employer through the necessary evil of recruiters, or bliss oh bliss! You marry yourself to your perfect partner ...the girl you think is prettiest and least likely to divorce you in the post nuptual period.

This was probably a status that evolved in the early 90s- a boom of graduates delivered on the job market in 1989-95 with far fewer traditional graduate vacancies available ! Advertising meant nothing- nepotism was rife and for second jobbers it was easy play to move using the slimy recruitment snake- there being so few yearlings in the big FMCG companies to go around suddenly yet no one interested in training new 'milk rounders'

Now the milk round must have set many an unsuspecting 1970s graduate off on a career of 'blamange development' or 'consumer strategy' from having studied medieval icelandic history as a major. Many intellectual soles got wed and familied up and were soon in middle management i P&G or kraft, or GE wondering what the fuck they had done with their imaginations. In the 80s it became marketing which was the big draw, no longer a wet kind of lunch at the ad agency, but a power dressed focus for driving the top line. lead many of us to study marketing and seek it's nicer company car with AC and leather....and promptly dump us on the reject side, worse giving kid on job creations ...non graduate pay, shite, salesy, DMey crap.

So what began in the 90s carried on...big companies got used to nepotism and down sizing was rife anyway, and the internet boom was yet to happen. SMEs showed some promise but already recruitment consultants were used heavily to just dump the work load of piling through tons of CVs for jobs in call centres, field sales, retail management trainee etc..all the shite a self respecting graduate should avoid.

Then come the internet boom and the marriage of bliss was born. I just love what you are doing at AP, P and P internet.....eager beavers and savey industry insiders could present them selves to the yahoos, googles, ISPs and amazons of this world...or the start up 'lifestyle' companies not to mention all the agency-boutiques.

So on the one hand the networker could find his perfect partner, while on the other the experienced account manager would be on a blind date to some new internet start up, just standing with it's back to the prepasice and it's mouth blazing all guns on it's own meteoric, unstoppable growth in equity!

It is not just a skill set, but a very deep ingrained mind set which I need to change. My generation grew up in the blissful ignorance of the milk round expectation- some graduating in the mid eighties being lucky, most everyone else I know graduating in non professions in the later or 1990 being lost into shite or some of their own special interest but hole financially speaking. We went out thinking the world needed us and would with only a little bit of prompting, beat a path to our door wiht an application form merely a formality before blue-chip doors opened and took us to the bosom of heirarchical glossy towers.

Unlike the jim bob or swag man of days gone by, we don't like turning up at the factory gates or the down town street corner and asking for work. God we may get told to stuff our five year university education up our ass. We may get some gate keeper, jaded of being stuck a loser, just sneer at our attempt to marry ourselves to the lovely bride behind the port cullis of mediocre " little " people.

Then we actually have to influence person, no longer just on paper. In other words those who are going to succeed most in changing jobs or from being unemployed, or of course fresh out of uni are those who can sell !

They can sniff the opportunity, network to the decision maker, get their elevator pitch time and sell them on themselves!

All the things I hate about sales and sales people. The presumption they are gonna win, the smugness,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What about Life Goals???

I have just been scribbling down some goals for sailing, which will help me decide if 2010 is a go, or no year. Shall I take "T" with sailing for a year, or maybe longer?

Anyways, it got me thinking about what actual life goals I have now.

I seem to have been on a way big family time period, which is part of one of my goals- acheived! Right location for family and me right now, absolutely. Affordable housing comes at of course, a price- fewer jobs and economic opportunities locally. We are down the road so to speak!

What about career though?

Well I have just had to grab the helm and trim the sails and set a new course based on my own abilities in this weather! So now it is to be back burner to my previous career and front ho for purchasing and log's. I think there are both challenges in this, a career path, valuable experience with people and systems and at the end of the day a stable nine to fiver which has enough structure and team work for me to thrive in.

My long term line to marketing director are somewhat dented by the fact I just dont kiss ass enough! I think this is however, quite possible and extermely likely if I go down the invest-managers type firms like Forrinova was, popping out with a spin out.

This would also be my means of doing financial momentum- over and beyond the establishment of house and home. I think I need to be in several share holding pies, and end up being a mini forrinova myself.

(this is a nicely ranting thread) ...which leads me to the fact that at some point I need the opportunity to build teams up around myself. In both sailing and work life! ( one important goal I should have set for long term in sailing, oops)

How to get there? Well, it is a case that I need to consolidate and move into a new, more administrative role which takes me into management. After this I need to move into a forrinova situation quickly, or a new start. I then need to build a PR profile with some quick wins and use that as a springboard to getting on the share-pay wagon.

I think the route is just as important as the eventual goals, ----wiat up , in fact more so! The route has to be defined with clear goals along the way

1. establish a 'bread and butter' job to pay the mortgage

2. get into some "gravy" - innovation norway, cvntre, birkeland

3. maybe get an on line MBA, or some kind of entrepreneurship, new shaping, spin out diploma

4. Get into a new start , recent start or management company for such

5. get into a position to take some glory and PR it!

6: ride the wave a little

7. Build a team around me

8. buy that team's asses.

9. use the team to get forward.

The eventual goals would be

short term life style: Mortgage, stability for the kids, local sailing, some better OD dinghy sailing, fitness

longer term- team, shares, capital, innovation

meeting the two is the challenge- there seems no easy bridge between the above short and long term unless I take a huge risk in about 3 or four years. Why not take the plunge now? Well frankly moving into semi-soft-VC is not cool with the banks right now. Get mortgaged first.

But an observation on myself now is that I am finally willing to look much further into the future than before. I am planning out 3 to four years for my even beginning to consider the next swing instead of my 1999 happy with a company car and pay at the end of the month. Back then I had no real plan and followed the path of least resistance which in fact was the absolute highest stress route for me- agency land was hell post KMP for me personally and I should have moved client side after McCanns. I guess I had ambitions, but I seem to remember just being happy to be back in Scotchlandshire.

I still remember the night in Edinburgh on which I knew my whole life would change for ever and short term, self centredness would have to give way to being a parent.

][edit= ]Finally I notice another thing on looking back on this blogg- there is no mention of money per se. No mention of which boat or car i will have. This marks a big change in me- placing value and the eventual building of a team around me before actual fast financial goals. Money is the noise of the engine!

Small Town Hues and Blues

Well the thing is about small towns that they are good and bad. Without a high ceiling they are claustrophobic and when the clique start to close in a little, then it becomes hard to not feel squeezed out.

On the one side it was a joy to walk down the street and take time to talk to someone - if I want- to see people with their newborns out for a tour, to feel the wind on the seaside down and see the boats in the harbour.

But on the other side there is the pigeon holing and tall poppy thing which is happening now to me. Best to get the head down a while. I never have really learnt this lesson, but often it pays to keep the head out of the way and not say much. Less is with small towns!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fallacy of Networking

Everyone recommends networking as the way forward to finding both your first job or your eventual dream job. From the employers perspective it appears to save time and money in being passive in the job market and fielding speculative approaches or networked contacts. However there are weaknesses in this approach.

The principle is of course that you recruit the best possible person available (actively seeking) for the position or failing that actually head hunt them out of a job! A priori to this is actually that the would be recruiter has cast a wide net to include as many 'best possibles'. This is where the debate begins- finding the best person or letting them find you.

In letting them find you there are many dangers. The positive side is that they appear to be motivated to work specifically for your company and present a plausible, focused case in theri application and discussions with you. This flatters the company and leads them into what may be a false sense of security. Most all job seeker courses now focus on networking and open applications and so candidates are better at SEEMING to be really interested, motivated, and experienced.

As with Police service and becoming a politician, a strong desire to actually enter these careers should be automatic grounds for exclusion. We get the wrong personality profile too often in both these careers (although not seemingly in my adopted country now!) . People who come to you may be actually over enthusiastic and blind you with one the one side charm while on the otherside they present a strong case in appearance which actually lacks the depth of experience which is to be found out in the market. That is to say in other words, they can press the right button by focusing their communication message better than the generic CVs which land on the desk.

The other down side is even more personality profile related- you tend to attract more extravert and driving personalities. Fine for sales jobs, but you may need someone who is more controlled, detail oriented and not in fact very good at speculative applications. Immediately you choose to only consider specualtive applications and your network, so can your company become filled with clever opportunists rather than stable, hard working and pedantic types you maybe actually need.

Go getters are on a career programme, and rightly so. Resultingly you have to view them with some scepticism. Is this position actually something the candidate is going to go the full mile in or just a foot in the door? Worse is it a stepping stone to work in a competitor!?

My point is that in being passive you don't get :

1) the best possible performer 'in the market'
2) You bias a personality profile over actual necessary skills for the job

Futher is the whole issue of nepotism and other personal favouritism. This is an area which was rife before the explosion of the recruitment industry in the 1980s who managed to sell companies towards the right stuff- use of databases and wide trawling to be able to select from the very best in the market. Now to my chagrin it is rife again. Networking starts at home, just like all those idiots who begin in insurance sales. You start with family and move on to freinds and people who either owe-you-one, or worse you have a family lever over. For example your dad may be a suppliers biggest customer and can more or less demand a place for you there. Total conflict of interest! Never should be ethical! Happens all the fucking time!

One clear problem is that recruitment consultants have actually moved away from offering a diverse and bountiful shelf ware selection. They feel it is unproductive to have people sitting in a database and have to actually hunt them down, check they may be interested and get an updated CV out of them. Now most all jobs I have talked about with recruitment consultants are set out on the web and the candidates self select them. Even, or dare i say Especially in high skill demand areas- the advertised job gets those people in the market and not those who would like to bounce a salary rise around after having had a call out of the blue. In part this is because one key goal recruitment consultants have is cost and inflation control for their customers.

In my experience , recruitment consultants have become a lot less useful for candidates- you must be active in applying for positions that are advertised- this means you are competing against a larger amount of available candidates than you would have been in the 80s and 90s when database was king. I unashamably work around recruitment consultants- they avoid risk taking so won't stretch you into a job compared to someone sitting in that type of job already -so I find out who the employer is and say no thank you to them presenting me. I then pop up as one of these highly motivated candidates specifically interested in them with my nice open application and phone call!

Why do companies rely so much on networking and speculative applications? Well it comes down to time and emotions. Personnel departments are now bogged down with HMS legislation and trying to reduce sick leave, turn over etc while flying their own projects in training and development. There is a certain feel good factor all round when someone is either an eager beaver focused on your company or part of the family already so to speak. The flattery, the reduction in hours to getting a candidate with a good story, and the feeling of doing someone a favour all play to the positive emotions and over come , quite ungrounded the fear of the unknown and recruiting the wrong stuff.

Personnel will recruit - advertised - when prodded by senior management, but a lot of the time they are simply bypassed and end up rubber stamping candidates who have been wise and gone to the actual departmental decision maker by networking. The papers and web sites are therefore crammed with the following- jobs in mostly the public sector, where they must advertise despite the position being already sewn up for the sitting temp or promotee; jobs that are unnattractive- telesales, care work with antisocial hours, part time work and so on; jobs where skills are so scarce and tied up that they don't get enough applications or anyat all; senior ledership jobs where the company really has to be seen to be recruting the best- visibility to stock and other share holders is important as is actually coaxing someone good out of a position!

There in lies the rub - companies will jump through all the right hoops when it is a MUST for a senior enough job that questions can be posed as to how good the person actually was aligned for the role. Whereas the hum drum jobs which actually make the company function are subject to networking and the open application. My conclusion is that companies should spend a lot more energy on being active recruiters- it avoids the risks of bias from networking and passivity while also actually being a source of excellent benchmarking and market intelligence. Your candidates have experience and knowledge you can use- is your competitor offering better terms and more effective training? What is the new buzz in ISO 14000 about? Is your biggest supplier about to go bankrupt?

I recommend that managers use at least 8 hours a month on reviewing and interviewing candidates to acheive:

A more objective review of candidates presenting them selves 'on spec'
A move away from the networking and nepotism bias
Being able to actively 'head dump' ie recruit better people before you sack lower performers
Getting free consultancy!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The interview.......

Interviews are conducted very badly all over the western world

They tend to be too much of a monolgue from either one side or the other and lack dialogue.

In sales and marketing especially, they can become quite literally beauty parades- would you want to work for an employer who chose you on your looks and legs rather than your abilities and personalities?

It is important to establish dialogue- as candidate you are every bit as much interviewing THEM to find out if you can really do the job and if the job is actually going to be satisfying for you. If you are bombarded with a corporate strategy presentation which is obviously going to go on more than 5 mins more from a single persons mouth, then make an excuse for a "comfort " break and come back in having destroyed their flow- as you sit down pose an open question to one of the others on the panel, or if one-one just smile and pose some more postiion oriented questions.

Conversely learn to summarise your experience and stop talking having given a summary- let them question further- don't presume on what they want to hear- they may be more interested in personality, motivation and team-fit than your practical experience. Let them explore areas with further questioning. However if you do have a USP in an area , a real trump card relative to the job, make sure you play it at the right point in the flow of information.

It is best to avoid repeating your CV as a monologous ulogy! Summarise the most relevant areas. In fact given an interview is running late, you can ask to focus more on your recent experience and most related qualifications for the job. This means you can lay your best hand of cards on the table while maybe glossing over those shitty jobs in macdonalds. To this end ORGANISE YOUR CV IN DESCENDING CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Give a lot of detail on your current and last job. You can even diagregate out those jobs of most relevance- leaving others to a simple listing of 'other work experience'.


Be though expecially prepared to answer on why you left a job and any gaps you have. You can for example leave out post uni or mid in uni period of travel and temp jobbing by neglecting to put on the year of your graduation. Or like me getting a little long inthe tooth, I leave out all the pishy marketing executive jobs and have a 'career, the last ten years' .

10 Tips to Decoding the Interview

While you won't truly know until you get "the call," there are many signs throughout the process that can help you determine whether or not you'll make the first cut. The following are questions and clues to help you decode the interview.

1. What is the interviewer doing? "If I am interested in what a candidate is saying, I will nod my head, smile and probably jot down a few notes," says inside sales manager Karen Nance. "I may also ask questions to probe further about what the applicant is talking about or share some thoughts on how this topic relates to the open position."Nancy Kim-Phillips, owner of NKP Consulting in Chicago, says that candidates should observe the interviewer's body language for positive signs, "I find myself leaning forward when I'm interested in what someone has to say. I would expect the candidate to match my body language and lean in too." Watch for negative signals as well. If the interviewer seems distracted, is checking her watch, shuffling papers or looking at his Blackberry, you're probably not captivating your audience. "I'll often put down my pen if I'm not feeling good about what the candidate is saying," she adds.

2. Were you engaged in dialogue? "An interview is going well when there is a dialogue," Kim-Phillips says. "If I don't have to refer to a list of questions, and the conversation flows smoothly, it means there's a natural exchange of information we are both interested in. This can begin from the very first question, which is usually, 'So, tell me about yourself.'"

3. Did you hear positive verbal clues? Lynn Hazan, owner of Chicago-based recruitment firm Lynn Hazan and Associates, says some interviewers may urge you on with positive words like, "Yes, go on...," "This is good..." or even "That’s interesting, tell me more..." These are all clear indicators that it's going well.

4. Were you reciting a monologue?"A turn-off for me is if I ask a question and it becomes a monologue with a five-minute answer," Kim-Phillips says. In preparing candidates for interviews, Hazan suggests they put together a concise 30-second and 60-second spiel. "This, in a nutshell, is the ideal response to questions like, 'Why should we employ you?'" she discloses. "I encourage candidates to practise in front of a mirror. There's no better way to judge how others see you than by seeing yourself," Hazan notes.

5. Did the interviewer interrupt you? If the interviewer interrupts you or starts to look bored, it's time to change gears. Hazan suggests that candidates stop at the first sign of disinterest from the interviewer and ask a question like, "Am I answering your question?" Or "Would you like to hear more about this or would you like another example?" This may save the day and gives the interviewer a choice on where to proceed.

6. Did you ask questions?As the conversation comes to a close, interviewers inevitably ask candidates if they have any questions. Kim-Phillips says that, "When I would ask, 'What questions do you have?' and there were none... that would wrap things up pretty quickly."When interviewers give you the opportunity to ask questions, this is your cue to gain a better understanding of anything discussed during the interview. Questions like, "You said you want someone with a sales background; what else does an ideal candidate need to succeed in this position?" This is also a chance for you to demonstrate that you have done your homework on the company.

7. Were you asked about timing?It's a good sign if you're asked about your availability. "I may start talking about the timeframe for making a decision, and ask 'How does this sound to you?' and 'How soon can you start?'" Kim-Phillips says. "If I'm interested in someone, I want to know who my competition is," Nance adds. "I will ask, 'Where else have you been for interviews?' and 'Do you have any other firm offers?'"

8. Were you a good fit?The more the interviewer talks about what is going on in their company and how you will fit in, the better. Kim-Phillips says she never quite comes right out and says, 'I don't think this is a good match,' but might say 'We're really looking for the right match for this position.'

9. Were you invited to meet others in the company?Nance and Kim-Phillips both say that if it is going well they'll mention that there are some other people they would like you to meet. They may even introduce you on the spot.

10. How long was the interview?Most opinions about candidates are formed within the first few minutes. The rest of the time is spent validating these opinions. If an interview is less than half an hour, it's generally not a good sign. If you reach the one hour mark and the conversation is flowing enthusiastically and evenly between you and the interviewer, you may have hit the jackpot!