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25/02/2010

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Matt

Nice post Chris and great to see another guest post on here. It's interesting as I've been thinking a lot about this recently. For some reason since I started my own business I've found myself refereeing between groups of social media enthusiasts who are frustrated that "things will never change" and some much more change averse groups in recruitment and HR who take comfort in the fact that "things will never change"

The fact of the matter is that things do change and they change all the time. I can tell you that the "norms" of the recruitment industry today...job boards, ATS providers etc etc were the new kids on the block when I got into the industry in 1998. I remember standing up in front of a group of HR Directors back then who told me that I was wasting my time with this Internet stuff as there was no way people would ever apply online for jobs in any sector other than IT.

Fast forward 12 years and guess what I'm hearing the same thing. I was told again last week that no one will use social media to get a job other than people in the IT sector. It would be funny if it wasn't so frustrating!! I also remember trying to sell Milkround in to my clients when it launched and being told that the internet would never threaten the directory market for graduate jobs

The one thing that I've learnt is, no matter how cool and useful the technology, revolutions do not happen overnight in our sector BUT (and this one for all you naysayers) they do ALWAYS happen. It took 10 years for online recruitment to become an established norm but regardless of how many people pushed against it (and there were a lot!) that's exactly what it did. The same will happen with social media, it won't take nearly as long to become established as online recruitment did but it is an unstoppable force and will absolutely get there in the medium term.

Chrismuktar

Matt- very interesting you should say that, definitely good to have somebody with lots of experience chip in. It is quite frustrating trying to convince HR departments of our validity as a core media, sometimes it feels impossible. It's so alien compared with the general fast pace of most internet businesses. It seems that even when agencies try to sell this stuff in to clients, clients still say no. Sometimes you wonder why they hired the agency in the first place, and some agencies or account handlers take a really good stance on innovation and finding the next big thing.

Let's just hope the revolution is here sooner rather than later and we can all look back in 10 years time with our pints at the Recruitment BuzzUp and tell everyone, 'we told you so'. :-)

Ben

I have to chip in here and say that, much like Matt, I remember the days of banging the drum for online media, only to be told it was a 'novelty' or a nice to have, and again, only really relevant to the IT sector.

The current challenge facing 'selling' social networking solutions is no different. There is a comfort factor in 'what you know' and many times I hear that age old phrase used by people trying to rationalise non-activity - 'no-one ever got fired for hiring IBM'.

It's odd, it's frustrating, and in many ways, demoralising when you can see the breadth and wealth of opportunities this new (is it still new - me thinks not really) platform offers us and our clients, and just like back in the late 90's, we have to work at this and prove the worth before getting broad-level buy-in.

The grad market is a great space to promote this, and with a product like Wikijob, it's great to have something that's strong and well-established to refer to (just like we used to with Milkround all those years ago). For me, the thing with Wikijob is that it's a bit of a pioneer if the truth be known. And it wasn't necessarily set up as a commercial entity at the outset - just a great idea that the end user found really useful (ring any bells with any other brands out there?).

The market will turn, and will embrace the platforms that are available to them - but the timing of this latest solution to recruiters probelms (in terms of a global recession and budget cuts everywhere) mean it is taking its time to establish itself.

As Matt says - and being an old fart I know this to be true - it WILL happen, and we WILL see this in a few years time as a post that we all laugh about, but unfortunately it will just take a bit of time, a few pioneers, and organisations using social networking for the right reasons - which are way more widespread than just getting bums on seats. We just have to, as always, be patient and support our clients in understanding what they do - short and long term - to enter this space and see real tangible results. Tangible results that can be measured in a way totally unfamliar to our sector and what has always been considered the norm in terms of benchmarking.

While not being able to attend the multitude of events taking place currently that are all positioning themselves as the answer to everyone's problems in this space, I am enjoying listening and learning, sharing these experiences with colleagues and clients and chipping away at opinion.

2010 I believe will be a different year to 2009. We are already seeing some great work by a few organisations, and this will help us all to make the case for our clients and your clients to switch their focus and embrace the opportunity that Social Networking affords.

Either that, or it'll be a 12x5 in the Guardian and a job posting on Milkround please.

Great post though - really enjoyed reading it. And to the fellow founder members of the Digital Recruiting blog, anyone remember that fateful day when we all met up and realised we're all having the same conversations with our clients and the media suppliers in a theatre somewhere in London? Seems like such a long time ago...

Alex Hens

It’s a good post Chris – and I (as much as anyone else, as we too are flogging a new product in this sector) feel your pain and frustration. I’m afraid though that, as commented on by my esteemed blogging colleagues, the HR fraternity simply aren’t the most adventurous. I can only imagine it’s even harder if you’re trying to flog a new way of doing things to Finance.

But at the same time I find it sometimes helps if you try and step back and try and look at things from their perspective (perhaps set the lights low, put on some calm music (maybe a welsh male voice choir singing Myfanwy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIgW7sMIDMU) and a large glass of red wine (or strong cider ;)).

Firstly, despite everything CEOs feel they must be heard to say in regards to “investing in people” and “people are our business” etc etc, recruitment is generally seen as a pure cost to the business – so it’s always got massive downwards budgetary pressure. So if your in HR / Recruitment, most often try something that doesn’t work and that’s a one way street to ArseKicksville.

Then add to that the noise of all of those people around you who you (over a beer or two) would admit to being cowboys in your space. Or maybe even just those who don’t/can’t really deliver on what they’re selling. Not REALLY. And think of those who went before with full on sales spin and then delivered the sum value of sweat FA. You’ve got a target audience with fingers burned and cynic level set to 11. It’s very hard to tell the BS from the No Brainer – because some of these BS merchants are (as I know you know) particularly compelling if you don’t scratch too deeply (which most people buying this stuff don’t have the time to do).

So keep the faith. I don’t think there’s a writer on this ‘ere blog that doesn’t rate what you’ve done and doesn’t believe you have a bright future. But it’s going to take time and be very frustrating for a long while yet – but it will all be worth it one day IF you can hang on in there, because if you keep doing the right things and growing your brand and traffic, then it is they who will fall away and your offer which will shine through.

Keep clinging and smiling Chris ☺

Griffithsneil

Guys, all I can say is keep the faith. Old skool HR are beginning to see the light. They are however needing their hands held and are feeling exposed. It's up to guys like you, and other forward thinkers in our space to keep educating, so that we all benefit from the 'new world' - and quality ideas and thinking cut through and make the industry an interesting place to be involved in.

Good luck to all

Chrismuktar

Thanks for your kind words everyone! I'm reassured by your confidence that the market proves good media in time. I can't blame HR for going down the IBM route like Ben says- lord knows I stick to what I know probably more than most.

In the second half of this year, I'm going to be exploring the possibility of repeating what we've done for the states. I'll be interested to know if there's any quicker uptake out there. My initial thoughts are that there will be- I've seen jobs advertised on forums and stuff all over, but I'll be sure to let you know as I found out!

On the plus side, I can say that attitudes have softened massively since we started. Back in the early days, we got angry phone calls from companies demanding stuff be taken down or else. Funnily enough (exactly) these people have returned to advertise. What a crazy world... ;-)

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