Archive for November, 2009

From Recruiter to Job Hunter…

So my second blog entry was going to be about Google Wave (don’t worry folks – it’s already written and you’ll get it soon enough!) but I read a great post last week on Twitter and decided to change tack.

@grahamsalisbury wrote:
“I am beginning to regard online job boards with the same degree of suspicion that I normally reserve for Wikipedia”

I couldn’t help but smile! I’ve been in the same job for nearly five years now, working as a recruiter, and I’d kind of forgotten what it was like to be a job seeker until recently. I shan’t bore you with the gory details, but basically my employer has had to cut my hours due to the recession and so I’ve had to look for additional employment to supplement my income and keep Mr J in PlayStation 3 games (I know, I know…!) Anyway, the employment issue is resolved (temporarily at least) and I was lucky enough to not be looking too long, but this was my first time as a job seeker in some time and it was really quite humbling!

Last time I was job hunting, local papers were still reasonably en vogue and, while job boards were very much in the picture, there seemed to be just the one or two big names that were worth a visit. But how things have changed now! Now my local papers are all affiliated with (different) jobs boards, there are niche boards popping up all over the place and (maybe it’s just me, but) there seem to be even more ‘big name’ boards too! Now I’ve no problem really with the number of job boards in existence; as a recruiter I’ve advertised on plenty in the past (with mixed results!), but what I did find particularly annoying was the way the same jobs were duplicated over and over on all of them. Some employers were guilty but it was mostly the agencies with the multiple postings. And you can bet your bottom dollar half those postings were out of date too! I genuinely found it quite confusing: When the job descriptions sounded familiar I would have to check back and see whether it was a job that I had already ‘tagged’ on another board. Half the time it wasn’t, it was just that I’d already read the advert three times previously elsewhere, but it was SO time consuming and ever so frustrating. Job hunting is a drain at the best of times, but I felt as though whole evenings were just vanishing into a black hole!

Other than spending half my life trawling the internet for vaguely relevant and still current job vacancies, my biggest quandary was which jobs to apply for. The current market means that most of the jobs I liked the look of didn’t pay the kind of salary I was used to getting (and in my part of the world, salaries aren’t really that great anyway). You work hard to get to where you are and no-one wants to take a step backwards, but at what point do you put your pride aside and say that some income is better than no income? I’ve always said (rather arrogantly) that there’s no reason for me to ever be unemployed – there is always the counter at McDonalds or the checkout at Tesco. But that’s really not true any more; even these entry level jobs have people queuing to apply because some income is better than no income. And there you have it! Who would employ me; a somewhat overqualified candidate with no recent retail experience, over someone who’s been made redundant from Thresher or Woolworths who is far more relevant?! But how do you decide what’s worth the effort? Do you apply for anything and everything and hope that something sticks, or do you do what you’d normally do (if jobs weren’t so fiercely fought over) and stay targeted and focussed, even though there are less relevant positions to apply for? It’s so difficult to decide. It’s easy to judge people who apply for jobs they’re totally over qualified for, but the reality is that many people are not in a situation where they can support themselves and their families with no income.  

Though I didn’t apply for that many positions in the end, I got not one reply saying thanks but no thanks. These were applications directly to employers rather than through agencies and the funny thing was that this neither surprised nor bothered me. And that made me feel a bit sad. When did such disrespectful behaviour start becoming so universally acceptable?!

Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to these problems, but I did want to share my experiences. It’s a tough market out there and, as recruiters, it’s easy for us to get caught up in our work and forget that we’re dealing with real people: They have feelings, families and responsibilities just like us, and they are trying to doing their best. We can all show a little more compassion. Put yourself in the jobseekers shoes for a few minutes and ask yourself how you’d feel.

The Personal Benefits of Social Media

Last week was the UK’s first recruitment unconference and it was certainly an interesting event. I was working the Social Media Track with @mattalder and @carveconsulting. Anyone who knows Matt and Paul will know how knowledgeable both are when it comes to social media; I cannot tell you how much I learned from them throughout the day!

Matt and Paul know all about using social media in business but me, I don’t know anything much about that really. I work in the construction industry and, as emaciated as the industry is, you don’t find that many candidates or clients from my little niche working the social networks. I use social media for me; my personal development and networking. I don’t know anything much about posting jobs, using boolean searches for finding candidates on LinkedIn, or monitoring my company’s brand because that’s not how I use it, so I didn’t feel as though I had an awful lot to contribute on that front. I’m more about personal branding and interaction, so I was a little sad that everyone was more interested in the corporate stuff. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised though really; these are tough times for recruiters and social media is a fairly new tool for a lot of people. Me, I’m a bit of a geek – I’ve been making friends and networking online since my mid-teens and the days of ICQ, IRC and forums.

Social media for personal use is something we all need to be aware of and work smarter at though. The benefits are endless but the two major ones are, in my opinion, personal development and networking.

Personal Development

We all have different work ethics, operate in different industries and have different training. Sharing our experiences and opinions, be it through blogs, tweets, emails or in person, is enlightening! We can learn something from everyone in our network and I think the unconference really highlighted that: There were all sorts of unique ways that companies and individuals were using social media, all sorts of tools that people were using to monitor their brand, and a variety of positive and negative experiences that people had had which we could all learn something from. I’m not going to list them all here; go to the next unconference in February and see for yourself! I didn’t get to visit any other tracks (apart from the secret track at the end!) but I still came away with a couple pages of notes, so I can only imagine what those who had a chance to move about learned!

Networking

I worked mostly in customer service and HR before moving into recruitment so, frankly, I don’t know an awful lot of people in the industry. I say “don’t” but I actually mean “didn’t” because social media (Twitter in particular) has totally changed that for me over the last nine months or so. There are some amazing people out there that you can talk to and Twitter is an amazing way to interact with people you might never meet or give a second glance to in real life. And these people can not only help you find useful tools, be your sounding board, provide services, or introduce you to relevant people; they can also become your friends.

My experiences of social media are nearly all positive. In fact, there’s very little negative I can think of in nearly 15 years of messing about with it in various formats. The kindness of strangers is an inspiring and thought provoking thing. Countless people who owe me nothing have helped me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and I am a better and wiser person for it. It may seem a daunting and unfamiliar place to those new to it, but give it the chance it deserves! Immerse yourself in it, interact with people, share your opinions, offer help and advice. To me, it’s not all about business. My favourite contacts aren’t those who constantly talk about business or forward links, but are those who share little titbits about their lives and let their personalities shine through. So even if you’re mostly using social media for business, consider the personal benefits too and do a bit of work on your personal brand. You won’t regret it!


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About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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