Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FaceBook Fatigue?

Are we lesser interweb mortals suffering from Facebook Fatigue? Twitter Tire-Out?

Social Media is now maturing very rapidly in terms of new acquisitions. Also many believe a high degree of gaurdedness, even cynicism is needed when sharing private details and even your name and location on SM.

From another perspective looking at innovation: the web sites have somehow backwardly evolved from being young, quick evolving Gazelles into would-be dinosaurs of the itnernet: Their own weight of internal management and number of members globally makes it hard for several SM sites to evolve and now excluded any full revolution to a new format for their home pages.

FB is only really trying in becoming fully interconnected: The latest is importing your skype contacts so you can read about maybe a couple more half-known people and the minutiae of their micro blogs.

I belive the current sites: FB, Linked-InTwitter and Blogger (all TM recognised) ,and the other smaller brands will not only have a declining return on recruitment of new users, but they will struggle to hold the interest of many users and the trust of others, talking about not just facebook fatigue, but facebook farewells or making new, guarded profiles.

People are getting bored with the format, the selective post displays and the functionality of FB. Also many of the "On FB" 40% on average in most western countries, are not very active and the ones with most time are teenagers ( low spend) and narcissists, kind of self brands.

I think there are two or I think FB / twitter is addictive: one there are the narcisists who crave the attention they get for their posts and the related "social light bulbs" who must incessently touch other people and be touched otherwise they don't exist. Then there are the opposites, and the wannabees: People like me who wonder why their friends are not more active on FB and wonder if there is a good social value in it. The wannabees want to be social media nodes, where they become narcissitic and don't need to nurture other posters with more than occaisional comments and links back to their own little world in SM.

In other words, the followers want often to be followed: they are not benign little lap dogs who utterly dote on what the lead writers post, but rather they are traffic steelers wanting to shine from a rub off from a top blogger, FBer or twatter.

Where the real social network value is lies with mobile, always on. Even then it can be a bit tedious to arrange any social life, and better to avoid the fluff and just send an SMS. Also how much can we have as public?

I set a rule on my FB use a while ago and social value: For people I added or whom added me, if I posted something to their wall/ comment/ image and got ignored, talked over, then I would just delete them immediately from pals list. Perhaps they had me straight onto ignore, either way I am not interested. I try to keep my FB down to under 60, and even then I find that FB hides interesting posts from family which I have no interest in hiding!

A while ago I destroyed my own smart phone, having had a few from companies also, but I just popped into a shop and got el cheapo is great: the batteries last a week, if not two with just SMSing. It starts up in 5 seconds and never crashes in any of the functions. It even has a calendar which you can import and export to SMS! And I love it: no distractions, just a monotone LCD screen which does SMSes very nicely and will not run out of juice when someone needs to call me.

This phone parallel is apt: what do you need from a social space?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keep Your Head Up! Get that Job!

I think this will be my last post on this topic for a while: I am very keen to help students and recent graduates to get onto a good career train, or as good as it gets in the recession. However the readership is not huge and social media blogs are of more interest to Freddie readers apparently

The American way we often here is "who is recruiting? " : this is a good, direct way of thinking about grabbing opportunities: for these companies, and think company, growth and not job titile, your USPs ? ( unique selling poits)

1. Cheap: think 5 pounds per hour as ok! You can also be relocated cheaply. As going direct and avoiding recruitment consutlatns / bemanners you save them money, especially on a average graduate start package in the recession. Do not, repeat do not, turn down a good opp' on cash, or any opp in marketing right now. In graduate flat pay or "staff" jobs you will work many 12 hour days without moaning! That averages out to about 35% extra work free for marketing departments and suppliers of marketing services.

2. Available: you can start yesterday! As a graduate of 2010. Also you are most likely young/free/single-ish ( lie!) and therefore can relocate. When head count is to be secured by a manager facing "use it or lose it" budgeting, this can get you a job, or when a spotty non marketing graduate with two years photocopying in a boring marketing department has to give 1 months notice, you can be in there!

3: Skilled: at Thinking and Communicating. this does not go without saying, but you should have good skills here otherwise get out of marketing asap

4. knowledgeable: The MSc is very useful for more strategic approaches to business, which is useful believe me, even if you are not steering any strategy yourself, you have to interpret it and place actions within the mission statement for the company and your department. Once again on balance you are of higher value to the company than all and sundry sales-reps and marketing assistents sans education in the very art, especially if your first degree or work experience from before is relevant.

The last is only any good when coupled to no.3, with numbers one and two being deal closers.

Once in a job you can use the other job jumping techniques to get onto a better career ladder if need be. See my last post on recruitment consutlants.

Dealing With the Recruitment "Industry"

Job Seeking for Strathclyde MSc Marketing Graduates

::::: How to Deal with Recruitment Consultants:::::

At the moment if we take the majority of you with no relevance work experience, then recrutiment consultants will be the last people on earth to hold an umbrella over you in the current rain weather. They have very, very few graduaet jobs that are a good career start fro you. This is made worse because now they have on their books, lots of people made redundant from marketing and related jobs with only a year- or two's experience.

However, "Who is hiring" is a good Americanism to think a look at it. Recruitment consultants are sources for information on who is expanding, or who maybe has a "chicken run" .Through their overt advertising and in revelaing the companies with marketing jobs on the phone, they point the spotlight on a company which is maybe expanding or replacing staff. These advertised jobs may not be relevant to your experience or directly in marketing, but you should use recruitment houses to get the names of the companies and send direct applications or get in the door from other job interviews when actually using the consultant.

Now these "shopping window" interviews may not be for jobs in marketing; it may be admin, customer service or the evil of sales : phone or field. Give them a call, find out who and where their client is. Apply direct to the firm with an open application, or if you feel up to it, go through the consultant to get in the door, make a good impression and leave a much more detailed marketing CV with the client. Also consider making business cards, these can be useful when the consultant sits in, and I have had jobs offered to me after the first position with thrhough consulant is filled.

As advised in a previous FredRant, be careful when using "shopping window" interviews in sales or other functions. A sales manager will be furious to have yet another " work a year or two in sales and then into marketing" if they have just had a string of reps do that. Humour them, get to a head office interview and meet the personnel, maybe agreeing (only with personnel!) in forehand to have a look round the marketing department while you are there to consider the range of opportunities relevant to you. Get your detailed marketing CV and business card to personnel and anyone you meet.

Sales has been discussed before as a route in to marketing: it is a very double edged sword. However a field sales job in the recession is better than nothing and can be a good brand name on the CV. ( Often when I go to interviews, I note that the interviewers put far too much importance onto the larger brand names I have worked at or on: I often had more responsibility or relevant experiences on the smaller ones, but the big ones stick in the mind!!)

Sales jobs in marketing services companies, selling the firm, not working on behalf of clients, are also really worth applying to now: in any given city or industry you will get your feet in the door at countless good contacts and be able to see who has spend immediately: spend= head count as much as ad's and websites.

Other shitty jobs at interesting firms are to be avoided: telesales, call centre etc you really want to do this? Well you may well want to get your face inside the company and get some interview expereince so go along with it, leaving a copy of your own, pepped up marketing CV with personal acheivements and positions of responsibility etc on there. Some other crappy jobs in good firms, or on behlaf of good brands ( consumer or B2B), may be worth getting in to as a first stepping stone. the brand name is worth a lot when you want to move up.

Also, as discussed before, because you are cheap, available tmw and have marketing know-how, you are in fact up for jobs which recruitment consutlants will not send you forward to : one to two years experience. SO work around them on all occaisions: they are a barometer and a way for managers to save time and manage wage expectations on the way in at the lower levels of the copannyu

Through all this though, do not PISS on your chips: keep some recrutiment consultants sweet: or just leave the good ones alone until you have that precsious work experience under way. Recruitment consultants tend to have good memories for people, but they remember a very short-hand version of you: so you need good personal branding and being a "Pushy student who had no real work experience and tried to present himself as a marketer in a sales job interview" will stick with you in their minds or in some euphenistic notes on their database.

Don't feel guilty about using smaller consultants/agents to get leads and "shopping window" interviews. Many of them will go bust soon, or never be able to offer you quality interviews later on in your career. On the other side it may be worth leaving registration at the marketing specialists until later: either when they have a graduate job or when you have more experience.

In both cases Consultants like "fresh shelf wares" - there is a true recency effect, despite their databases: a recent, active job seeker is easier for them to motivate to agree to go to interview than an experienced marketeer sitting in a good job.

Small agencies will use you sometimes in a string of interviews they know you are an outsider for. Large agencies do the same, but you will be relevant to a larger extent than the small, struggling-for-numbers agencies. In both cases they both tire of you or develop guilt complexes and leave you alone.Don't be naive, this is easy to spot: they are doing the hard sell on you and the last point will be the actual crappyness of the job or unlikeliness of you to get the position. It is possible to cut deals with them on this front: Ask them to promise to put your CV speculatively to three companies or get an interview with a better job which is advertised before agreeing to go to some also ran, salesy interviews as a presentable filler.

Much better to hit the MPMs of the world later, long after you have abused other small consultancies with good clients to get in the door and on the ladder of a markeitng career.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Team Work and Job Hunting in the Credit Crunch

Why bother with team work, especially in the dog-eat-dog credit crunch, sorry, recession....

What will team work achieve for you?

The first necessary ambience for team work to happen, and the very crux of why more-minds-are-better-than-one, is the flow of information. As always, knowledge is power.

So this means getting your heads together to share job tips: where a company is hiring, who has a chicken run, what is new and hot , new agencies, and all the paraphenalia: business forum meetings, the gazelle awards, recruitment visits to glasgow...and so on.

It may seem very alien to be doing this...job hunting appears a jealously gaurded occupation. Capital is to a large extent these days dependent on labour not organising itself. ( which means that more labour become capital by starting their own businesses) Being organised means that you will feel the benefits of letting go this selfishness after a short deal of pain. In any case, after June the class will disintegrate into individuality so even the most egocentric has everythign to gain by cooperation.

Now another thing which is key to team work is dividing the tasks up: all these events are not going to be covered by everyone, so a small platoon can go and get the "gen" on each of these.

The final thing about team, for the purpose of this rant, is that a team presents a united front: I have written before that you should get the best CV style you can, and push yourselves forward as strong, leader potential personalities....But this done collectively will make a bigger impact...a strathclyde uni proffessional CV may start to build the class brand, but will also make immediate recognition for qaulity,,,,first step to brandiling

To your own well being too, you will feel better and on a bigger learning curve by being with other people on solving the problem of getting the first post MSc job.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More on Job Hunting in the Recession

We are in a recession, and no calling it just a credit crunch or liquidity speed bump will make that economic fact go away. Growth is just about to be dealt a huge blow in the EU, with Great Britain in particular slashing public budgets, and with the anticipated atvist-republican swing in both congress and the US senate.

So now you are really up against the wall as a recent graduate of the 2009-10 MSc Marketing at strathclyde, while if you are underway on the 10-11 course then at least you have some time to gather your forces for the post graduation struggle to get on the career ladder.

Enough dwelling on the negative, companies need marketing: so how to get some action job hunting in a recession

1) Find sectors which are growing

2) Find "Gazelle" and "Mini/ Baby Gazelle " companies

3) Follow Entrepreneurs in New Industries

4) Follow any "chicken runs"

In detail

1) Find sectors which are growing

Some sectors are growing faster than the average economy, either in spite of the recession or actually because of the recession. For the former, you can see that environmental products and indeed services such as ISO 14000 or home-energy certifisication are areas with growth. Certain biotech areas, within proteomics for example, are growing strongly. And of course internet marketing is growing having both surpassed traditional "above the line" spend on advertising while also displacing many budgets and even entire companies to this channel. Social media and related monitoring is also growing, as will internet services such as web page call centres, where you get to skype a human or set up a call-me now.

One thing companies in these sectors have is a pile of clever, well qualified candidates who have not only come across them but can demonstrate a real involvement in their market.

Getting more granular then you can not only find sectors, but also individual high growth companiesor high potential start ups. viz

2) Find Gazelle Companies

Gazelles and baby gazelles, are young companies which outperform indexes to a set of economic parameters currently defined by Dun and Bradsteet. Many gazelles are of course in the growth sectors of the economies, or within niches of growth, while others are purely bucking the trend and capturing market share in otherwise languishing sectors.

"Mini" or "Baby" gazelles are those which are small now but could become a gazelle, or conform to high growth but on a smaller scale.

Whether small or larger, these are companies with the most hiring requirement, especially relative to the average well established company in a recession, who are likely to be dropping head-count.

3) Tracking Entrepreneurs As Individuals. Gazelle companies are often started by experienced entrepreneurs, and they are the type to see opportunities during a recession, or those actually CAUSED by the down turn.

This may just be a casual internet tracking, and you discover they have set up something new. Alternatively it may be that they are US based (in particular) and wanting to expand into the EU. On a local scale, say for the West of Scotland, you may want to actually contact some successful entrepreneurs who are marketing oriented. Certainly you should track these people.

Areas which are actually growth opportunities presented by a recession are things like anything which is cheaper on the high street or internet, especially for families, and rented accomodation. Maybe an entrepreneur is starting a new web mediated flat rental company or servicing rented appartments.

A slight extention to this route would be to track successful Venture Capital firms, higher risk investment hot shops or new business incubators to find out who is going to expand, or if they are looking for (cheap) staff.

4) Chicken Runs: Ambulance Chasing. This often afflicts marketing services companies when a group of employees, en masse, get up and leave to either start their own company or follow the leader to a different work place. Also some companies show dire signs of financial death in any sector. There can be an obvious chicken run as middle managers with good CVs move on like rats leaving the maybe sinking ship. Okay, they may go bust but you have a rung on the ladder and a good excuse to call recruitment consultants.

Read about new agencies, new internet developers/marketing companies- where have the people just come from? Or look for news on companies with large marketing departments who are facing very tough times. Usually it is mid management who go first, but most often the public symptom is seeking a new marketing director, as he/she has boo-gerred off before the fertiliser is inducted into the air conditioning..


From the above you will see a common thread: "nimble" companies and people. Even in the last option, the quick brown fox has leapt out of the company leaving space for you.

On the last throw away point, you will be "cheap" most likely in order to get a foot in the door at a high growth company. Once in, don't under sell yourself: if you are asked to take on extra responsibility, then it should come with promotion: if you are asked to work extra hours, then it should come with a pay rise. When I say cheap, not much over minimum wage and maybe a months work practice. If on the other hand, the actually have a solid position then don't offer to sell yourself cheap: just let them stipulate the pay and don't complain if it is going to be valuable experience.

Also as I have said often before, MOVE for the right career step. It need not be London, but even then you may get cheap board with a fellow employee or a relocations package if you are lucky. It is really about finding a growing company which

Public Spending: Too Good For The Poor

Looking over the Atlantic, the US faces a groundswell of right wing, individualistic and gun oriented campaigning which the rather radical, neigh reactionary, so called conservatives are riding with the "tea party".

The tea party smell a little of Thatcherism: a hard line direction to "conservative" activist values and a branded bus to get on if you are serious about governing as a Republican. The movement has a simple appeal: cut taxes to those who have a comfortable life and give more freedom to gun owners.

There are several ironies not lost on we Europeans, firstly that the "Boston Tea Party" was in fact the first act the constant history of north american republican protectionism for the US economy ( read up on it elsewhere; steel, commodities, luxury items and of course weapons. Free market?) while the PR went the way of "freedom" from taxation. Infact the freedom was for the local colonies to tax and defend their control of the american coffee trade against the flooding of the market by cheap tea taxed by the British central administration.

Secondly that public spending is bad, bad and bad .....unless you are of course a republican with interests in anything from health, education, defence ( of course!) or the emerging environmental industries. Spending on you if you happen to be poor, uneducated and worst of all sick, well what country based on any economic values would want to waste hard earned taxes there?

I think we will see a new era of lobbyist politics, where individual bribery will outweight the benefits of a true free market. Entrenched un american activities which seek protectionism and subsidy via this insidious influence will be protected from the hard weather of tax cuts with a gaurantee of free flow of tax payers money to them, secured in the back rooms of Capitol Hill.

A Perspective on Public Spending ...where do the taxes go?

Picking up on health then: The USA has an enormous military budget relative to even population. The vast majority of the capital budget is spent on native suppliers. However at 14% of public spend, it is surpassed by healthcare. But of course this is by in large not government hospitals and generic drugs: this flow of gravy goes on Medicare and Branded drugs, produced predominantly in the USA.

Even many Republicans, those who are probably crazy enough not to take Medicare lobby money, point to the poor deal the state gets in paying private health insurance. A health industry which would be at least less attractive to investors if it did not recieve this scarcely vieled subsidy. Furthermor, the US government invests in R&D and education which benefits the industry by means of subsidy through the education sector....and rightly so, this is one area Strong Governments win on.

Medicare aside, tax cuts to the middle class, not to the poor because the undeducated "working" class will still pay more of their income on state taxes at point of sale, are a good thing to stimulate the economy? Tax cuts run the risk of pointing the spotlight on amongst other spends, medicare, whose lobby groups may not be able to fight a serious round of "reaganomics" now. Also defence!

Now you start to cut into areas which are expected to contribute high margins and growth in standard of living and effectiveness of armed forces:; two qualitaitve curves which have been by in large expect to grow irrespective of political colour in the white house. However, just this week the flagship F35 jet fighter-bomber is delayed and this is undoubtely a result of foreign governments cancelling or delaying orders. The expected economies of scale and payback by volume sales are becoming a stick to beat Macdonald Douglas and the US governmence with.

Health "reforms" may take on a new route then, to negotiating and purchasing medical insurance for public employees on a fair, open and objective premise.

okay, so that is only 30% of the US budget we are talking about cuts in and that is only a third of ...wait a minute, the USAs own governmental web site quote PS proportional to GDP as ....over 40%!

This would seem ripe for cutting. Even to me a believer in the balanced economy of european social democracy we have seen since the early 1990s. Call me a "liberal"? Hey, way far right of where we stand !!

In the UK the book balancing is for earnest: gone now are the military pretentions, and the slashing of the defence budget may bring the UK in line with an average for EU countries at long last.

Dangers in Tax Cuts

Although there are some politico-economic benefits in cutting defence spending, on both sides of the atlantic, tax cuts raise the issue of stifling weak signs of growth, and that in only some sectors.

Growth, the topic of the next blog, is a pre-requisite for confidence to invest money, and hence stimulate the whole value cycle on the stock markets. When money is looking for growing sectos, uncertainty of supply of income to these is one thing which will stifle investment.

The trouble being that growth is expected in single figures in most sectors, ignoring niches, and if a cut in public spending affecting these sectors is made, then the meagre growth may fall into a viscious cycle of stunted growth and poor working capital, slowing investment for expansion and competitive advantage in these firms.

The Thactcher-Reagon Legacy

As in an earlier rant you can say that Reaganomics only actually worked for the US when the democrats came to power, and the same could be said of Thatcherism: It was Blair and Clinton who enjoyed steady growth in the economy, low interest rates and inflation and a lush public spending budget afforded in such a high time as the mid to late nineties. Indeed Lady Thatcher once said in the late 1980s that one of her greatest triumphs was in reforming the Labour party away from the command economy of nationalisation and unionisation.

Here though the USA should practicle what it preaches and fall into a cryptocommunist, "Lobbyist" politics where huge government funds are squandered as in a communist country due to the power that lobbyists exert. The Free Market should prevail rather than lobbying, which infers that weak industries can win over the virile challengers by their political leverage. Lobbying in its' current guise is in fact the very antithesis of the Free Market because the information is hidden, the political interests are not impartial and it suppresses new entrants and freedom of mobility of labour and capital by committing governments to monoliths like MediCare.

What I would call for is firstly a cut in defence spending and a refocusing on home land security in military and in the civil policing too. Secondly a liberalisation of the US health care market, whereby an independent federal purchasing body tenders the requirements out and international players are free to provide both domestic and foreign land mediated health care.An alternative which may become attractive once the market has been freed up for new entrants and international competition, a free market in fact, would be the freedom for state employees to negotiate either individual health plans in this multi-supplier market or organise their purchasing power in associations.

Couple to this the final liberalisation of the US farming industry and the savings in goverment spending and consumer benefits in diversity of wares and prices would have global benefits.

The Washington Tea Party

Now it seems the US likes drinking tea and no longer coffee. Both congress and senate will have leaves instead of beans to fuel their daily grind. They will call on republicans to come with them and throw their perculators, grinders and cappachino cups into the Potamac.

Weak taxation, weak government, weak gun crime control.

Firstly on the economic side, the middle class probably need to feel a dose of raw capitalism, sorry, lobbyism, with lower taxes and slashed public spending. Then they will start to realise just how much of their incomes were linked to indirect public spending and the quality of life for the semi- and un-educated working classes who provide them with labour and services.

The winners in this may well be the skilled working classes, who will be the "nimble" labour, also forming new businesses too as their older middle class employers founder, and being more oriented about being male-mobile: hubby travels long to earn big bucks. They will enjoy higher wages through this and cuts in tax. As we have seen in Europe in the last ten years, it has been the skilled working classes who have enjoyed the greatest rise in standard of living, with some commentators speculating that they now have better home economy on average than the traditional middle classes.

Secondly all the gun touting and intent to kill some internal enemy, perhaps sent by a future democratic party, or the largely peaceful and hardworking indiginous Muslim community, worse, the poor afro-americans and hispanics. All that killing yet no abortion for raped teenagers. And don't expect a welfare cheque Miss Raped Single Mom!

We have seen weak government before: the freedoms that allowed organised criminality to flourish in the pyramid selling of deriviatives levered against the ironically, subsidised sub prime house mortgage sector. It seems that weak private industries in the USA need a fix of subsidy, just as long as little of it ends up with the poor and undeserving........