Brand New Year. Same Old Recruitment Content?

In each of my many years working in and around the recruitment industry it’s always been the same old story as you put the Christmas presents away and turn your attention to all the different things you resolve to do in the new year – recruitment businesses in almost every sector dust down the ‘New Year, New Career‘ message.

It used to be print adverts, created in October and November and booked to appear in the first issues after Christmas. Then it was by email – actually I still got a few of those between 27th and 31st December this year. And now it’s on social media channels thanks to hashtags like #NewYear #NewCareer.

More of that later, because now we also have #MassiveMonday – the first Monday of the New Year when record numbers of people supposedly visit job boards and other digital recruitment sites. And hasn’t this hashtag taken a hammering this year – here’s just a few minutes worth of Twitter…all summed up with the ‘are you getting bored yet‘ tweet from an award winning digital marketing recruiter. Great message to their community!

So where does #MassiveMonday come from? Certainly in my years as a billing recruiter there was no surge in applications on the first Monday of the New Year. In fact the main things bothering recruiters straight back from a Christmas break were usually – Which clients are recruiting now? Who’s looking to interview straight away? Have the new starters all started? Has any client or candidate changed their mind over Christmas?

A quick search of Google to trace the origin leads you to a press release from as the primary source of all the #MassiveMonday stories in the print and digital media. They usually get more traffic on the first Monday of New Year. Not surprising really as in recent years that’s been the day on which most of the main job boards have started TV campaigns…which is the reason they get increased traffic.

No new insight, nothing of any real interest to candidates – they want an increase in job openings not CVs!

So what about #NewYear #NewCareer??

Well, what is a career?

An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress

Now this can be a vocation or trade, or it can be a series of roles (possibly all in one or two companies) which should attract increasing levels of responsibility and rewards at each stage. Sorry guys, people don’t spend their Xmas break planning a new career.

A quick look at Google shows that the tumult of recruitment firms and sites that are gratuitously using this hashtag are clearly not attaching them to any roles that seem to imply progress, development or skill enhancements.

Of course people rarely change careers but they do change jobs. Now #NewYear #NewJob may not have the same ring but may be more accurate. After all, we call them JOB seekers and JOB hunters, not career seekers.

Amongst the plethora of New Year predictions for social business, the one constant was that 2014 is the year of story telling and content. The year of effective content that energises and engages, enchants and enlightens. The year where all businesses (and that includes recruiters) ask themselves what their candidate journey is, what are the pain points, where can they add value? What problems do their candidates have and how can they solve them.

Content is a big issue for recruiters this year. As the REC says in it’s 2014 industry forecast:

The challenge in many managerial and professional markets is the growing shortage of skills and talent…we are re-entering a candidate driven market. Successful recruiters will need to develop content that attracts this scarce talent whilst building meaningful relationships that keeps the talent close.

And what do you need to think about when producing meaningful, engaging, shareable content?

  • Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them
  • Content that gets highly shared is content with heart
  • Take time to engage with your online community

So recruiters, let’s get 2014 off on the right footing. Let’s engage our candidates and job seekers with what they want to know and read about. Stuff that addresses their concerns and doubts. Stories that they want to share and be part of. Let’s stop selling them nonsense like #MassiveMonday and #NewYearNewCareer because it adds nothing to their search and says very little about your understanding of their situation.

Fact is, if you got to ask them if they’re getting bored…then they most probably are…

…and there’s no such thing as a boring industry…just content creators who aren’t very creative


If you want to find out more about what good content looks like and how recruiters can use it to source and attract the best talent through social channels then book your place on this one day workshop when ace social recruiting trainer Katrina Collier and myself will tell you how

The End of the Press Release and Corporate Website?

No sooner had I posted my last blog than I noticed more content marketing research showing a drop in the outsourcing of content creation from 56% to 40%. This makes more sense to me – you can’t outsource your voice to someone else, but you can hire in people who are able to bring your stories, culture and values to life – articulate them in a way that engages others.

CocaCola have recently created a new blogger network of experts. Watch the following video, which says a lot about changing attitudes to content marketing. It only lasts a couple of minutes, but in it Ashley Brown from Coke is able to give us a glimpse of the future:

  • The corporate website is dead – think beyond it and turn it into a media property.
  • The blog is more important.
  • Kill the press release – by 2015 in Coke’s plans
  • Create something that you would want to share if you weren’t at Coke – spark emotion and connection
  • Hire brand journalists

To fully understand brand journalists we need to think about what we understand a journalist to be. According to author David Meerman Scott:

“A story teller is a story teller no matter who is telling the story”

Anyone who writes or creates something, who understands the need of the reader, could therefore be classed as a journalist. As the journalist Dan Gillmor said:

“We are all creating media. Any one of us can, and many of us will, commit an act of journalism. We may contribute to the journalism ecosystem once, rarely, frequently or constantly. How we deal with these contributions – deciding to try one, what we do with what we’ve created, and how the rest of us use what’s been created – is going to be complex and evolving, But it’s the future”

As I said in my most recent post, it is the blogger who is most likely to be able to articulate the brand for the reader that you want to engage.

And I’m now finding this through experience – companies are currently approaching me to write for them not because I am a trained writer, but because I can write things in a way that engages HR professionals and InHouse and Agency Recruiters. They are my network, and an audience whose needs and concerns I understand.

A future without a traditional corporate website, press releases and old school comms may seem a big leap but it will certainly happen. If Coke can envisage this for 2015 then smaller businesses can be looking at this now, leading the way and innovating.

It will start with understanding your customers and employees, their journeys and needs, and finding story tellers with the insight, authority and creativity to talk to them.

Bloggers, Brand Journalists and The Importance of Content


If there’s a word that’s been impossible to escape in 2012 or 2013 then it’s CONTENT. Even more than ‘Talent‘ it’s been a word that unites sectors and disciplines, marketers and HR, managers and non-managers. A word on which everyone has a view, for which every business has a need, and one that inspires many to claim that they know all the answers.

As someone who spent the last two and a half years creating, curating, sharing and searching for content on behalf of a major digital business I can tell you that there’s a lot of it about – much of it of questionable quality and value.

I’ve also spent almost 5 years creating my own, through social channels and this blog, but when it’s for you then the odd misfire is acceptable (still can’t believe how few of you interacted with this blog on my favourite band Wilco, and what we could learn from them about talent management!) and the attempts to try something different aren’t always as critically viewed (although I accept you’ve probably seen enough pictures of my fish & chip dinners on Instagram).

Earlier this year the Content Marketing Institute produced this presentation on 2013 trends in content marketing…and some of it’s survey findings would have come as no surprise:

  • Top challenge is producing enough content
  • Next top challenge is producing content that engages
  • Other challenges such as variety, integration and measurement seemed much less important
  • The main goal for content marketing is brand awareness
  • The second goal is customer acquisition
  • The goal of customer retention/loyalty came in 4th
  • Case studies were deemed the most effective tactic
  • Larger companies tend to outsource content creation

So let me get this right, given that it came from marketers themselves – content marketing is mainly aimed at awareness and getting new customers, volume over quality is the challenge, and someone else is being trusted with your voice. Hmmm.

Does anyone know the customer journey? At what point the potential new customer may be interacting with the content? How is it being shared? How many existing customers (seemingly unimportant) are being turned off by this noise? And why is someone else talking for us?

For social platforms, as with email and the phone before, is it a case of new shiny communication routes being flogged every which way to try and create as much noise as possible? Because noise = success. Right??!!

The content that’s right is the content that works, the stuff that connects, informs, enlightens, educates, amuses or captivates – all or any. So it’s important to get the right balance and the right people producing and sharing it. The number of likes has ceased to be of relevance – it’s the quality and identity of those likes that are important. Repurposing the old marketing approaches for a new platform will miss the opportunity to create something fresh and vibrant that will capture the imagination.

And strategy is important too…is keeping and building loyalty with your current customers really only the 4th most important??

There seems to be a trust of external agencies. I’ve heard many reasons – they can scale content, produce a broad range, have access to the tools for video and graphics – but what about the words and pictures? Have they got the knowledge, insight and authority to write them? Can they authentically speak for you? And do they understand your customers and clients? Can they really create a connection? How will they share the content that they produce – or support your sharing? What are the social profiles of the people who will be working on it?

In my last (short) blog I featured a current newspaper analysis of how the retail industry is looking to Pinterest to save their Xmas trade – sorry guys, but a social platform doesn’t do it by itself…it needs time and attention, to be planted and watered, and tended with care and engagement.

But if we are to trust agencies, why not individual bloggers?

This post on predictions for 2014 via IBM makes reference to the importance and increasing relevance of ‘brand journalism‘ and the positioning of their business as a ‘media house‘ that doesn’t rely on the media, but on getting people onside and into your business who can tell your story. This includes employees too.

And crucial to telling this story will be journalists, bloggers and influencers. People with authority, followings and reach, and the skills to create the type of content that engages, connects, inspires and informs.

In the hospitality sector many companies are already teaming up with bloggers to marry social networks and content marketing campaigns and are able to leverage their networks for greater reach as well as gain further insight to how their customers and potential customers think.

As the Content Marketing Association said, writers, bloggers and the like “already understand that the craft of storytelling is based not on sentences or arresting straplines but on a journey in which characters represent our lives“.

They are also able to bring knowledge, network, access to information, influence, trust and authority. You need to get the best people – they will be your voice and the cost of not getting it right will be greater than the savings from doing it cheaply.

At this point, if I were a tech or consulting business I’d be topping and tailing this blog with some self serving research that showed I was the solution to everyone’s content problem…but I’m just a humble content and social engagement guy hustling for some new work who happens to tick all the boxes above 😉

Let me know if you want to talk more about content…

(image via

If you want to find out more about what good content looks like and how recruiters can use it to source and attract the best talent through social channels then book your place on this one day workshop when ace social recruiting trainer Katrina Collier and myself will tell you how

I’m a Content Curator…Get Me Out Of Here!!


Amongst the insightful, and some not-so-insightful, comments emanating from the recent Social Media Week London was one about content that seemed to slightly slip under the radar but was visible enough to be picked up and mentioned in a few presentations since…

…namely that a leading supermarket chain (oh go on then, Asda) delete any update that hasn’t attracted at least 100 likes within 5 minutes.

Now I find that fairly extreme content curation, the kind of thing you could build a reality show around – gather a group of community managers, let them create or find some content, and watch the twitchy fingers as they decide whether to hit delete or wait a few more minutes, send out a few more tweets, and try and get those likes.

Of course it raises the question of what type of content can pass the 5 minute/100 like test – particularly if you’re not a major consumer brand and have to rely on a healthy mix of curating third party content as well as creating your own, with the bias usually on the former.

This question was perfectly illustrated a couple of Mondays ago as two pieces of content popped in to my timeline almost simultaneously.

First up was this blog from my friend Doug Shaw looking at the importance of taking time out to have lunch with colleagues, break bread, chat, share and generally be social. If you’ve heard Doug speak you’ll know this is one of his pet topics, and rightly so.

Not long afterwards followed this piece on Metro online. Someone has made small plastic knives, forks and spoons that fit on the top of your pen, meaning that you barely have to break stride from in front of your screen when you want lunch. No need to head for the kitchen to stretch your legs and look for cutlery.

The two pieces are from opposite ends – one suggesting we use lunch to have a break, the other helping to ensure that lunch makes no dent in your productive hours.

So in my game of Extreme Content Curation which one would you go for?

Doug’s piece, framed and shared in the right way, should certainly spark some debate and chatter within your community, particularly if you’re working around the HR, Recruitment, Workforce, Management space. The value of a lunch break, the aid to collaboration, knowledge sharing and conversation pitted against the structure of a working day.

But on the other hand, the Metro piece has great images – ready made for hitting the like button without actually reading what it’s about – and novelty value. No doubt many would think it was a good, even fun, idea even if they shared Doug’s view of how your lunch should be taken.

So let me know what you would do.

The clock’s ticking.

And & Dec are waiting to interview the losers.

You’ve got to choose one piece to share and frame.

And there’s five minutes to get the likes…

…which piece would you go for?

(Image via Radio Times)

Disclaimer – this blog in no way intends to infer that chasing likes at all costs is in any way a social media strategy that should be pursued