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Jamie White

I can see why you're frustrated with the pace in recruitment communications. But I don't think it's a fair or substantiated claim that agencies aren't doing everything in their power to deliver measurable, integrated employer marketing strategies.

I look around and see plenty of inspiring work and innovative tactics that my peers in rec-comms are delivering. And their agencies moved away from traditional commission-based remuneration models to a time-and-materials approach years ago. There's little channel conflict nowadays. Just a bunch of people trying to define and deliver messaging as best they can.

No-one denies that there's an education to be had, but suggesting that 'no-one knows what they're doing' isn't bringing anything to the fore. Don't get me wrong, i love a rant as much as the next man. But i'm sure that most of the innovators in this industry would rather stand up and be counted for their successes and work together to change the habits of the HR community. If anyone fancies doing something about this, let's all talk...


Fascinating - all the talk in the social media world is clients clamoring for ROI.

We also need some decent HR. On the whole applicants have learned to game the systems and if they cannot do that, find the side door. Bad systems bring us all into disrepute.

Game, how? The advert calls for Microsoft office skills - write I CANNOT do Microsoft Office - you will be selected anyway.

Side door - find the person who makes the decision and speak to them direct.

Bad HR - the advert shows little understanding of the job and anyone with any experience knows it. The only people who are impressed have no experience.

John Whitehurst

Well Jamie,

Thanks for your response and I agree on working together on changing the habits of the HR community.

I agree with your comments on innovation, a lot of people (hopefully I am included at times), have done a great job pushing the market.

But for clarity, my issue is now with the quality of the change rather than the pace.

The conflict issue I talk about is around the quality of the advice ... how can a media decision be objective when the agency is paid media commission and kick backs?

We have got to bill on time and results.

Working together is a good idea ... the IAB, IPA, PPA etc ... have all done a great job within the competitive restraints. The idea of this blog is to open up the discussions across competitors.

So I think your question should be opened up ... how can we push things further? I have ideas ... but how about the rest of community?


Jamie White

Hey John

I think the days of kick-backs and commission are long gone. They certainly were when we started three years ago and you simply couldn't have written a business plan around it. I might be wrong but i think most small-medium sized agencies have moved onto time and materials. We've shifted almost all of our business to that model and, from what i hear, only the larger agencies are left with that legacy and they're also the ones spending the most energy on reversing that.

We've all got opinions on what positive action looks like. For me, agreeing some standards and developing products for HR as an industry, rather than a disparate band of prospectors fighting to capture the flag, feels like the right way to go. No smart agencies pockets are deep enough to develop first-to-market solutions in a climate as grim as ours is right now. The big question is, where do we start?

Peter Gold


Valid points but most people/companies are happy with being good; they don't care about being great. I see these kind of issues outside of recruitment/HR; even 'real marketing' (and I say that with a smile) moan and groan. So, we have to find those that actually do want to be great and those suppliers that can work together to deliver.

The GB cycling team are the greatest in history due to their 'aggregation of advantages'; bit by bit they get better. Progress not perfection. Whilst the majority are happy with their lot we can keep hunting for the right customers.

That's my view anyway.


Alex Hens

Great debate opening up here - nice one John and contributors.

passion + intelligence (x experience) = good reading.

I generally find the human race to be an impatient lot (almost certainly why we're in charge and probably why we've called ourselves a "race"), and the emerging/emerged digital world has increased that by a factor of, well, a lot.

One thing embarking on my own venture is teaching me is 'patience'. Doesn't come naturally - still struggling with it on a near daily basis to be honest - but (and to quote someone I try to avoid listening to) "the times, they are a changing". There has been a shift - a shift that has happened at a speed unprecedented in our history. It's as big as the industrial revolution but it's happened in the fraction of the time, and is still gaining pace. The industrial revolution left plenty of people behind, the digital revolution will too, but it will take most with it - it just needs time.

So chill John - whilst I very much understand your frustration, everyone's moving the same way, just at different speeds (much like in the velodrome ;).

Alistair Cartwright (Enhanced Media) twittered yesterday about his frustration with a client refusing to think that ANYONE would click on a sponsored link because he/she didn't. I agree that kind of thinking is just plain ignorant - thinking that all people use things the same way as I do, or indeed refusing to accept black and white stats for what they are. But it doesn't matter. My advice to Alistair was to see this as a win win - if he gets them to try it and it doesn't work it's PPC so it'll cost nothing (other than perhaps a nominal set up fee which maybe they could refund if there was indeed abject failure of the campaign), whereas if it works then the client will get the traffic they're willing to pay for, again because it's PPC. And if they don't try it, then like everything in life they haven’t tried then they'll never know, so it's 100% their loss.

I completely agree that the vast majority of recruitment approaches are absolutely woeful, and even the better ones generally fall down somewhere (please someone prove me wrong), but the pace of change has been so fast that businesses (be that client or established agency) can't be expected to keep up all the time. It scares the pants off many, confuses the hell out of most of the rest. And if those businesses have been about long enough then you also have to add into the mix the number of false dawns and fingers burned outcomes they will have lived through that will have shaped their collective conservatism.

I think Peter is absolutely right (and you can quote me on that Peter ;) – the majority are happy just surviving and right now you can do that through being pretty rubbish (in terms of cohesive recruitment strategy & execution). But don’t get hung up on that, because for those who feel they “get it” and have a “better way” then surely this puts you/us in a great position to build a business whilst others falter and have to re-find / re-invent themselves, shackled as they are by the vestiges of their history.

Remember: Horse. Drink. Water. Lead.

So go find those horses that you can convince to take a few sips, and when that horse is tearing around the velodrome (I love to mix my metaphors) hopefully you’ll pick up plenty more in your slipstream. But don’t write others off. This is a Madison not a Sprint and established performers have a knack of coming good when it matters most – so enjoy your time out front, pick up some points, maybe even gain a lap on the pelaton, but don’t take your hands off the handle bars yet because it’s gonna get fun again and before you know it the rest of the field will have taken their water on board and be keen to join you or else be looking to chase you down.

(anyone else think I might have been watching a bit too much of the Olympics?!)

Peter Gold

And Alex wins Gold for the longest comment!

Alex Hens

There was never going to be any competition in that discipline. I see myself as the Chris Hoy of the longwinded response and comment.



Firstly of all you're absolutely right in this post. The state of online recruitment from a user perspective in the UK is absolutely woeful. I actually did a live demo to illustrate this to someone the other week and it took over half an hour to even get to the particularly job we were actively looking for. This was a role that I know for a fact the company in question find very difficult to fill....I'm not surprised

Secondly I do get very bored with the blamestorm that springs up round debates like this. Small agencies blame big agencies, big agencies blame small agencies, integrated agencies have a pop at digital only people and visa versa ad infinitum....YAWN

Personally I think the blame lies at the door of the online industry as a whole. For ten years it's all been about proving to people that as an industry we were here to stay but now the focus needs to move on and change. Rather than self congratulatory press releases, conferences, surveys etc etc the agenda and debate should shift to how putting the users first will deliver bottom line results. Time to grow up as an industry I think

John Whitehurst

Matt you are right about the blame ... it is not a small vs big ... it is a fundamental flaw in how we work.

Would anyone be happy if your Omega watch did not work because ... it is work in progress. We need to get the basics right ... then improve.

Candidate experience needs to become our focus ... attention to detail is the only way we will achieve this ... and i am not going to chill

Angry people tend to change things ... and that is my new little mission

Jamie White

How about we branch this off as a new topic? Initiatives that the rec comms agencies, digital resourcing specialists and all other advocates of good online employers practices can all get behind as an industry. Guidelines to be built around the user experience, directions to be defined into linear and commercially viable products that everyone can understand and trade with transparently. You define an informal but specialist steering group, build the knowledge side of things in one big accessible wiki and let the those guidelines and directions do the rest. Some idealists with a long weekend ahead of them might just be able to start something really powerful...

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