Tag Archives: Facebook

Where do you go to get things done?

What is this place we call work?  We get in the car, get on the bus, get on the train, join the commute and descend upon this great bricks and mortar building where we all are required to do great work.  This is 2011.  We are all connected.  Is this best use of our time, our skills, our talents?

Jason Fried is the Co – Founder and President of 37 Signals.  Here he asks a great question, very simply “Where do you go to get things done”?

So what’s the answer?  When you really need to get something done, where do you go?  Is the answer really work?  So why do we go to the same place every day?  Do we need to anymore?

Working practices are changing at the fastest rate in economic history.  Change is scary, change is exciting, change creates opportunity.  What do you think?  Do we really need to go to the same place each day to achieve great things or even just get things done?


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Filed under Careers, Employee Engagement, Hiring

What is the future of the recruitment industry?

There are some unusual, unpredictable, disruptive things going on.  The status quo is being challenged, our assumptions being questioned, that which we knew to be true undermined.  World order is being turned upside down.  Much of it we cannot answer, its scary, exciting, it creates opportunity.  Some people are grabbing it, some people are stood frozen, helpless, like a rabbit in the headlights.

Take retail.  The traditional model is under enormous pressure.  Look at HMV.  It has no substantial high street rival and yet it is in ruins.  We all know what happened.  Itunes.  We download our music.  Online rivals don’t have the additional costs that come with staff, utilities and town centre property.  Online, the world is your shop window.  The internet now accounts for £1 in every £10 we spend shopping.

The business press is full of its usual doom and gloom and focusing heavily on retails woes.  Yet look at the success story that is ASOS.  UK sales have risen by 59% in the last three months.  International sales at ASOS have risen 159%.  So what is it that ASOS is doing that many other retailers aren’t?    They have taken a traditional model and applied technology to deliver a better experience for customers at a better price.  It has become the “one stop fashion hub” for 15 to 25 year olds (and older!).   This month they launch a fully integrated Facebook store.  Brilliant.

I should confess here, I hate shopping.  I have about a one hour shopping tolerance, therefore online is a lifesaver for me, clearly I am biased.  In the spirit therefore of balance, lets talk Books.  I love them.  Give me a bookstore and a coffee and I am a happy man  My local Borders had a Starbucks and I had no mobile signal in the store.  I used to hide out in there.  My refuge has gone.

The kindle was Amazon’s biggest selling item in the UK last year.  My wifes 79-year-old Grandmother has one and she loves it.    We can read at the touch of a button and its brilliant.  Even for a book lover like me.

So what about the recruitment industry?  In 2007 recruitment in the UK was a £27 billion business.  In 2010 it was £19 billion.  At the same time employment levels have dropped from 72.6% to 70.3%.  Clearly we have had extremely challenging economic times and unemployment has increased significantly, but to the extent that we have lost 30% of our market?

Historically the value in a recruitment business was in its database.  That and its people.  What distinguished one recruiter from another was the calibre of candidate on its database and the ability of its people to deliver the right candidate to the client.  We protected that database as if our lives depended on it, rightly so.

Now that database is published to the world.  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.  The world is connected.  Our ability to filter, to cut through the noise, is still of enormous value but increasingly employers are becoming smarter at filtering for themselves.  75% of hires in investment banking are direct hires.  The CiPD evidences 72% of vacancies never make it to the public domain.  Never a truer adage not what but who you know.

What is going on here?  The times they are a changing.  The recruitment industry has not changed its model for 80 years.  Innovate or die.  It is time for revolution.

What will we look like in five years time?  Historically we were a bricks and mortar model.  Is this still necessary?  We are still a handshakes, face to face business, but increasingly we can reach an ever wider pool of talent virtually.  How will this effect the customer experience?

I have some views, too many for one blog post.  It occupies my mind virtually every waking hour.  I am taking steps, making plans to address it ( Watch this space ).  In the meantime, what is the future of the recruitment industry?  HMV or Itunes?  What will be the recruitment equivalent of ASOS?

This is an important debate for an industry that I love.  I would love to hear what you think.


Filed under Recruitment

Do less to achieve more

Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry, Smartphone, PC, Laptop, Tablet, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Connectivity, Globalisation.  Real time, face time, 24/7 do it now time.  All these tools were in invented to make us more efficient.  Did they work?  Do we achieve any more, or are we just doing more?

We live in a world of go, go, go.  It never stops.  We are fearful, stop and pause for breath and something will pass us by.  We cram so much in, or at least try to, that we have devalued downtime.  I am talking about real downtime, not lying on the couch, smartphone in hand tweeting, connecting, emailing.  I am talking about peaceful, restful, real, downtime.  Re – charging.

When was the last time you woke up in the morning off the back of 8 hours uninterrupted, beautiful deep sleep and leapt out of bed fully refreshed, full of ideas, creativity, energy?  Imagine just how productive you could be, how much you could actually achieve, instead of just do.

We have forgotten how to switch off.  I have forgotten how to switch off.

Regular readers know of the value I place on the excellent TED talks.  Here is yet another.  Ariana Huffington, Co – Founder of www.huffingtonpost.com delivers a short yet highly thought-provoking presentation on the power of sleep.  Give yourself permission to watch it.  Then go and take a nap.  You’ll feel all the better for it.

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Filed under Lee Cooper

What will you do differently?

What will you do differently in 2011?

For me it’s easy.  I have a poor attention span.  I am too easily distracted.

At any one time I have a countless browsers open, each one with the promise of further engagement, conversation, opportunity.  You can never be lonely as a Recruiter.  The only asset you have at your disposal is your network and I work relentlessly to engage with, communicate with, stay in touch with and grow mine.

Even then I don’t succeed as much as I would hope or wish.  Every connection has a story to tell, something to say that should be listened to intently, is a link to someone, is a door that could open to who knows where.  Who knows when they might need me, or when I might need them?

Phone, mobile, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Skype, this blog, they are all tools for me to reach out to the wider world and I need them.  Indeed I love using them.

So what’s the problem.  Well none of the above, they are all business critical tools.  My problem is email and in particular the multitude of devices I use to check them.  PC, Laptop, IPAD, Iphone (other brands are available!).  I am not alone.

Every ping of the inbox and vibration of the hand-held brings the promise of future riches.  I check (sorry that should read checked) my email first thing in the morning, last thing at night (even in the middle of the night).  I feel a desperate need to respond to every enquiry, question, suggestion.  For me engaging in the conversation is what it is all about.  I can’t resist.

I start each day with real focus and great intentions.  Then those little pings start and my day takes on a whole new path.  Not any more.  I have made a change.  I check my email first thing, at lunch and last thing.  I prioritize those that are critical and leave those that are not.

I need to be proactive and reactive in my day.  The trouble for me was that I was getting to be too reactive and not proactive enough.  Those things that I want to do, that I am passionate about, that I must do, require of me to focus on the proactive.  So that’s my change.  It’s hardly revolutionary but already it’s working.  I feel better and I am getting things done.  I am no longer slave to the latest email.   I have razor focus, I am sharp.  I am achieving.

How long will this last?  Believe me I am committed to seeing this through.  I am a whole 3 hours in to my working day and so far this is working brilliantly!

So what will you be doing differently this year?


Filed under Uncategorized

Why we have too few women leaders

Five years ago I was invited by a large Investment Bank to a recruiters forum to debate gender diversity.  Specifically the issue being addressed was why there weren’t enough female managers in Investment Banking.  How are we going to attract them?  Where are we going to get them from?  How will we retain them?

It was a frank, open, grown up, honest debate.  A lot of good ideas and initiatives were suggested from those 50 or 60 recruiters and HR PRofessionals in the room.  I don’t know how many of them were implemented, but five years on and the debate still rages.

So why doesn’t 50% of the population of the planet occupy 50% of the top jobs?

The numbers speak for themselves.  190 heads of state, 9 are women.  Women occupy only 13% of all the Parliamentary seats available on the planet.  84% of top jobs in the corporate world are occupied by men.  In the not for profit sector, a sector often assumed to be occupied by more women, men still assume 80% of the leadership roles.

From an employers perspective, we are limiting the pool of talent from which we select for leadership roles to only half that available.  Why does this happen?  Particularly when all the research evidences the more diverse an organisation, the more long-term sustainable success it is likely to enjoy.

Rather than give you the perspective of a 38-year-old Anglo-Saxon male, I thought it would prove more insightful to get the perspective of someone who really knows from personal experience the journey that women must take in order to achieve leadership responsibility.

Sheryl Sandberg is the mother of a five and two-year old.  She is Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  A Harvard MBA, her CV also includes Chief of Staff to the US Treasury and Vice President of Online Sales at Google. She also helped establish the philanthropic Google.org

If you have 14 minutes 58 seconds to spare I implore you to watch this.  There is much here from which we can all learn.  If you don’t have time, I would love to know your views.  Let me have your comments.  Why do we have too few women leaders?

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Filed under Careers, Leadership

You can’t email a handshake

Yet another thought-provoking piece from the excellent www.techcrunch.com this weekend.   Entitled “The phone call is dead”,  the article, written by Alexia Tsotsis, evidences the following ;

According to Nielsen data, voice usage has been dropping in every age group except for those past the of age of 54. Text is just easier.

“Now, 78 percent of teens recognize the functionality and convenience of SMS, considering it easier (22 percent) and faster (20 percent) than voice calls (though still fun). Voice activity has decreased 14 percent among teens, who average 646 minutes talking on the phone per month.”


There was once a time that I could not conduct my day job as a Recruiter without the telephone.  It was (and in my view still is judging by the number of calls on my call log) the business critical tool.  Is this changing?

Nothing gets done without talking with each other.  We feed off others, we need to communicate.  People love people, evidence the rise and rise of Facebook.   What happens if we simply stop talking with each other?

Think this through however and I realise we are still communicating, we are just finding ever more efficient methods of so doing.

I have recently spent a great deal of time in hotel lounges packed with people conducting business meetings, face to face, talking, engaging, communicating.  Face to face works because we have the benefit of facial expression, intonation of voice, body language that we simply don’t get from SMS or other forms of electronic communication.

However as I reflected on just how my meetings in these venues came about, I thought about the mechanics of how they had been achieved.

The initial introductions were communicated by email and followed up with a phone call.  Meetings were confirmed electronically, followed by SMS or other forms of messaging to confirm arrangements on the day.  Meetings were followed up electronically (again usually email).  All things that perhaps as little as two years ago would have been handled in a telephone conversation.

SMS, email, electronic forms of communication are more efficient, allowing us to get to more of the face to face stuff.  I look at my desk, there is not a dial-up hand – set in sight.  Yes I have the mobile, but Skype is open in the browser.  I don’t need the traditional handset anymore to do my job effectively.  I need to be able to communicate, sure and I fail to see as a recruiter how you can do your job at all well without meeting candidates face to face.  However my ability to stay in touch, to communicate is massively enhanced by the plethora of electronic forms of communication that are right in front of me.

All of this however worries me.  I can name a couple who would sit in the same room and text each (it didn’t last).   Is our increasing reliance on technology meaning we communicate more but talk (and indeed listen) less?   I cannot imagine a time when an interview will be conducted by SMS, Instant Messenger or email.  (Skype is a different story, it already has enormous value).  I cannot imagine hiring someone without the benefit of a face to face meeting.

The traditional dial – up call may well be in decline, but you cannot email a handshake.  Long live the handshake, let’s not let it die.


Filed under Hiring, Recruitment

Do you take the counter – offer?

Google again.

Today Google is reported as having made one of the most astounding counter offers on record.  Facebook had allegedly been courting heavily the services of a key staff engineer at Google. Google responded by offering  $3.5 million in restricted stock.  That is stock worth $3.5 million based on its value today.  How could you possibly turn that down?  It depends what is on offer on the other side of the fence.  On this occasion Facebook lost and this Staff Engineer decided to stay put.

The counter offer makes for an interesting debate.  Every situation is different, every employee has a different set of motivations and reasons for turning up to work each day.  I would always counsel caution with respect to accepting a counter offer.  What is it that you are doing today in your job that is so much more valuable today from that which you were doing yesterday?   Why are you suddenly worth so much more?

It is not because your employer thinks you are great that they are offering more money to stay.   It is entirely in the employers interests to keep you, for now.  It is cheaper for the employer to offer you an incentive to stay than it is to go out in to the market and hire someone else.   They are buying your loyalty in the short-term.

If you resign from your job to move to another company and you are counter offered by your employer (hugely flattering though this is) be prepared to ask them what has changed.   Why are you today suddenly worth more than you were worth yesterday?

The reason that you were prepared to resign from your employer is, rarely, solely down to money.  Nice for sure, but it is just papering over the cracks.  The reasons that you were considering a move in the first place, unless addressed, will re – surface, eventually.

What about the relationship with your employer.  Will they ever really trust you again in the same way?  What about the relationship with your colleagues?  Why is this Staff Engineer suddenly worth so much more than the person sitting next to him?  How does that impact staff morale?

Somebody somewhere in Palo Alto is a much wealthier person today.   Good for them.  However at what price? (well clearly $3.5m!) How an earth can he consider leaving again?  If he resigns in future, how will Google respond?  Offer him more?

Word is out at Google, resign and make yourself rich.  Not a smart move from a company that until now would appear to have been full of them.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Remuneration