UK worst G8 country for youth unemployme

UK worst G8 country for youth unemployment, behind only Spain & Greece, says @WorkFoundation

CEO admits media pressure forced Goldman

CEO admits media pressure forced Goldman Sachs to ditch bonus plan #davos #talentmanagement #employerbrand

Encouraging news for #graduaterecruitmen

Encouraging news for #graduaterecruitment according to @AGRtweets salaries rose by 4% and vacancies will be up by 9%

Good read Smart emplo

Good read Smart employers know they must articulate the “why” if they want their #employerbrand to work #talentattraction

Where am I?

Announcement from 4MAT, Thursday 26th July:

4MAT announce that Andrew Soane has joined the business as Client Development Director.

4MAT is a full-service marketing services agency that provides websites and digital marketing to recruitment consultancies and corporate employers.  Clients include Aspire Global Network, Capita, SThree and RWE npower

Andrew is a well-known industry figure, with over 20 years’ experience in the employer branding and recruitment marketing sector. He has held a number of account management, sales, general and strategic management roles, with agencies such as TMP, Bernard Hodes Group, Barkers, Penna and most recently SAS.

Andrew joins the executive team at 4MAT, and will be responsible for client development, service and strategy, and – working closely with James Saunders, Managing Director, Claire Davidson, Operations Director, Gareth Jenkins, Head of Development, and Philip Jones, Technical Director as well as the wider 4MAT team – for developing the business’ offering.

“Over the last 13 years, we’ve built a successful, profitable business in the digital recruitment arena,” says James Saunders, Managing Director. “We’re already the leading recruitment marketing provider to the recruitment sector, and now we’re developing our offering to the corporate sector. Andrew brings with him considerable knowledge and experience, and we’re excited about how he’ll complement the skills and expertise we already have”.

“Talent attraction is all about digital, social and mobile”, explains Andrew, “so this was a fabulous opportunity to join a business that specialises in those areas. 4MAT have an excellent track record in this space, and I’m looking forward to working with the team and their clients to develop and grow the business.”

What lessons can we learn from the G4S London 2012 furore?

After two or three days of hiding in the metaphorical cellar, while the political and media hurricane raged about them, G4S have finally come out with the kind of response that they should have done a few days ago.  That they chose to wait, hoping that it would blow away, is no surprise; I’m certain that is exactly what they were advised to do by their PR advisors.

Mind you, I’m sure the delay in their response, and their initial (underwhelming) announcements, have only added to the strength of feeling being voiced in the media, and across the social mediasphere.

For anyone watching BBC’s Breakfast News this morning, they might have been surprised by the tough time that the normally mild-mannered Charlie Stayt and Louise Minchin were giving G4S CEO Nick Buckles, who duly explained that G4S is “disappointed, embarrassed, and sorry”, which more or less echoes the company’s latest statement released late yesterday.

Yesterday’s statement (and Nick Buckles uneasy interview) go an awful lot further than the low key announcement the company made on Thursday, saying that it understood “the Government’s decision to bring in additional resources”, which clearly didn’t go anywhere like far enough.

Regardless of how successful (or otherwise) G4S’ media and crisis management strategy has been, as a recruitment, talent acquisition and employer branding professional, what I’m really interested in finding out is whether there are any lessons to be learnt from G4S’ failure to deliver.  (So, I suspect, is the board of G4S, given the £10m – £20m of contractual penalties they face on this contract, not to mention the likely impact on future potential contracts – Surrey and West Midlands Police forces  have already shelved plans to outsource a large portion of their middle and back office functions since the furore began last week).

Not being funny, but with unemployment topping 2.6m, including record levels of student and graduate unemployment, how difficult could it have been exactly to have recruited 10,000 people or thereabouts, to be part of the ‘greatest show on earth’?

Well, according to G4S, very.

Indeed, the company has described it as an “unprecedented and very complex security recruitment and deployment exercise”, during which it has “encountered significant difficulties in processing applicants in sufficient numbers through the necessary training, vetting and accreditation procedures”.

Except that G4S is the company that just 2 months ago, won the award for Best Global/International Recruitment Strategy at the 2012 Recruiter Awards for Excellence in HR. (No, I’m not kidding).  In its press release, G4S credited the win on its highly innovative and effective direct resourcing strategy that “has been achieved through the application of innovative technological recruiting solutions which match our business requirements”.

Oh dear.

Once the leadership team at G4S have finished wiping the egg off their faces, they will clearly turn their attention to finding out exactly what has gone wrong, along with the Commons Public Accounts Committee which has summoned G4S, two government departments and 2012 organiser LOCOG to answer questions in September.

When they do, I suspect they will find that all sorts of issues have contributed to the situation, including the decision by LOCOG to increase the number of required hires three fold, a year into the contract.  But above all else, I suspect they will find that it’s not been managed in a sufficiently robust and joined up way, and that the project has lacked clear pipeline management processes (in spite of those innovative technological recruiting solutions that G4S boasted about until so recently).

I hope that in due course, we can all learn and understand where it’s gone wrong.  That will be essential to the outsourcing and recruitment industry – in particular those organisations that work on large government contracts.

But in the meantime, I hope that we can all look forward to a fantastic, but above all safe, London 2012.

“Jobsite invents Twitter based recruitment”. Allegedly.

OK, strictly speaking the article that appeared in the Evening Standard on Tuesday 23rd June didn’t actually say that Jobsite invented Twitter based recruitment. But it might as well have done.

The headline actually read “Recruitment by Twitter as job search goes online”. That was in the print version. The digital version was slightly more reserved “Twitter launches job recruitment service”. I guess it would have had to have been a bit more reticent. Online readers are more likely to know that job search had gone online.

But either way, the content in both articles was the same.

It’s a new service that has been launched by Jobsite. It’s been a huge success. And my favourite bit. Gary Robinson of Jobsite (sorry Gary) explaining that after Facebook, “this seemed a logical next step” and that he “has no doubt it will soon be commonplace to find a job through Twitter”.

Blimey, talk about crystal balls.

To be fair, the article does say that Jobsite “is one of several firms offering recruitment via Twitter”. Which is true enough. It’s one of several hundred (thousand?) firms doing it. But then, it doesn’t mention any other by name, just Jobsite.

Perhaps more cynical readers might assume that this omission could in some way be related to the fact that both Jobsite and the Evening Standard are owned by DMGT. But I couldn’t possibly comment.

I’m at pains to point out that I think Jobsite is a great site. And it absolutely has a role to play. But let’s not pretend that they’re breaking any new ground here – in this instance, they’re treading a pretty well worn path. One hopes that media planners, resourcing professionals and HR teams aren’t taken in by this kind of nonsense, but if they are, my agency (and indeed every other credible, digital recruitment specialist or recruitment advertising agency) would be happy to help them unpick fact from fiction.

Cause for celebration?

So has broken the 2 million users-a-month barrier for the first time, and according to the press release it has sent out: “the continuing rise in traffic is attributed to the quality of jobs carried across a wide range of sectors and a strong pool of both passive and active job-seekers”.

Hmm.  I suspect it might be more about the active job seekers than anything else. 

After all, as even the calmest and least sensational of commentators agree, the UK unemployment rate is about to smash through the 2 million barrier – it if hasn’t already done so ( 

In other words, there are more people out there looking for jobs than ever before (or at least, more than at any other time since the birth of digital recruiting).  Is it just possible that more than anything else, it’s the high number of job seekers out there that is fuelling’s traffic numbers?

The Guardian might argue that those job seekers come to because they know they’ll find that high “quality of jobs carried across a wide range of sectors”.  But the truth is, a quick glance at most job sites’ ABCe (  audit – assuming they are independently audited- will show a big jump in numbers.  For example, TotalJobs saw the number of their monthly users increase between Dec 08 and Jan 09 by a massive 90%. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising – in fact I think it’s a strong site in many areas and in some cases would always appear on the schedule.  But let’s not get carried away with some increases in audience and traffic numbers at the moment because right now, that is par for the course.

In any case, if we assume that’s press release “big-ing up” the numbers was the result of a slightly over enthusiastic sales effort, let’s look at what resourcing professionals and advertisers really are interested in when they are formulating attraction strategies for their recruitment needs.

Are we interested in traffic and audience numbers? To a point. But it’s not the be all and end all.  Once upon a time those numbers might be a useful indicator of potential success (or otherwise) of a campaign, but these days, there are so many active job seekers out there (as we’ve discussed), that it’s a little less relevant.  People are more desperate so there’ll be more applicants.  But in that middle-to-senior management space that the Guardian and its sister job site occupy, employers want quality – not quantity. 

The stuff that would really make us sit up and take notice is data on likely success – numbers of applications in similar roles, numbers of shortlisted candidates, and offers made, for example.  In fact, the same kind of information that resourcers and advertisers have been asking for, for years.  Except now, thanks to more joined-up technology, we do have the ability to capture, manage and share this information.  The question is, are we (by which I mean media and site operators, advertisers and resourcing professionals) ready to really take advantage, by working in a more open and collaborative way?


It turns out size is everything

OK, this one may be sour grapes.  It’s definitely borne out of sheer frustration.  But why, oh why do we still hear “we really like you, but we just want to go with a smaller agency” as a reason why we’ve lost the pitch?  (Smaller, niche agencies presumably get the polar opposite from time to time: “we just want to go with a bigger agency”).

Now I know that sometimes HR and resourcing teams are just too nice; they don’t want to have to tell you that you were too expensive, the creative work was rubbish, the strategy had more holes than swiss cheese, or even that “we thought the MD was an idiot”.  But let’s just put that thought to one side for the moment, can we?

Take today.  My company has been doing some fantastic stuff in terms of new business (including a number of blue chip wins we’ll be announcing very shortly), but we’ve also pitched to a medium sized manufacturing business with a global export business, based in the West Midlands, a month or so ago.  Let’s call them Company X. 

We’ve been talking to Company X for months.  We know them.  They know us.  From the first metaphorical shy, nervous smiles across the dancefloor, to the breathless, desperate throws of that first night together, to the pleasant routine of the comfortable, lived-in relationship.  We know everything about each other. 

So why did they wait, until we’d gone to the effort and expense of pitching for their business, before telling us (today) that actually, with hindsight, umm, you know, they really liked our pitch but well, the thing is, they realised they’d be better off with a smaller agency?  But we’d really like to keep in touch, you know, just in case.


I completely understand that some organisations would feel more comfortable working with a smaller partner.  But couldn’t they have told us before we were ready to commit?  It’s not like we were pretending to be anything we’re not, was it?

So you have to wonder, maybe getting jilted by Company X had nothing to do with our size.  As I say, we never tried to hide our size and were completely open at the credentials stage months ago.  So maybe we really were too expensive, or they didn’t like the creative work, or the strategy, or even the MD?

In which case (and this is a plea to any HR or resourcing professionals who happen to stumble upon this blog), please give us honest feedback.  You’re not going to appoint us?  OK, we can take it.  We’re big boys and girls.  No-one expects to win every pitch (like I say, we’ve won a number of blue chip accounts already this year – our strike rate for January is 3 out 4).  But every organisation (including my own) that pitches for your business will invest a huge amount (of time and money) into getting their pitch ready, and that represents a considerable commitment to you.  The least you can do, is to give us honest and clear feedback – so we can properly understand where it went wrong and what we need to do next time, however hard that may seem (nothing wrong in aiming for 4 out 4, is there?).  So if you thought we were too expensive, or you didn’t like the creative work or the strategy, or even if you thought the MD was an idiot, please tell us.  We can take it.

On second thoughts, maybe size is everything?!

Unfortunate timing for a response-based pricing model

Soon to launch ( is touting itself as “a revolutionary new recruitment advertising site where you only pay for results”.

But is that really true? 

I’m happy to be proved wrong of course, but looking at the blurb for employers, I’m not sure if there’s anything new or revolutionary about it, other than the pricing model of course.  And that’s hardly revolutionary – there are any number of on/offline recruitment services available that have some form of response-based pricing/pricing-by-results model, and seems to borrow from those. 

The way it works is this.  I post my vacancy for free, and only pay for the applications I receive.  A rate card cost of £15 per application for the first 10 applications, and £10 a go after that.  They’ll even throw in a vacancy management system so I can easily post my jobs and an employer profile site.  Which is good.

But it’s hardly revolutionary; it takes a pricing model used by employment agencies, paid for search, and even some recruitment advertising agencies (who offer a joined up attraction plus screening and selection service) and puts it into a jobs board setting. 

Which is hardly surprising, given that is part of Search Consultancy, a recruitment solutions business that (according to its site) offers a range of recruitment advertising, response management, temp and perm agency services, volume resourcing and on-site/outsourced recruitment.

But if we leave its ownership to one side (as an advertiser I’m always initially sceptical of a jobs board that is part of a wider recruitment advertising/employment agency: can they be entirely independent of their owners or am I being asked to support my competitors, and pay for the privilege?), the problem with’s pricing model is all about timing. 

After all, with official unemployment figures rising to 1.92m as at November (surely they must be well past the 2m mark by now?) there are record numbers of applicants for most roles, never mind that the quality is not necessarily there, and that is bound inflate the amount that employers using have to pay.

With, if I receive 10 applications for a role, I’ll pay £150.  Which sounds reasonable.  But if get 100 applicants (and let’s face it, lots of junior and middle tier roles are regularly attracting much higher levels of response), I’ll pay £1,050.

Which is a lot more than I would pay if I was using a carefully selected combination of existing job boards, paid for search or social media options. would claim to have thought about that.  You can ‘cap’ your budget and limit the number of applicants.   Which is OK, but as an employer you want to select the best candidates from the total number of applicants received, not stop taking applications at some arbitarily set limit.  So it’s not an ideal solution.

But they do make a bold claim. “Guaranteed quality applications or you don’t pay”. 

Well, that’s good.  They’ve solved the quality issue.  Until you learn that “quality applications” is defined as someone who has the right to live and work in the UK and lives within 40 miles of the job. 

Which clearly won’t cut it for most employers.

Actually, on second thoughts, that makes me a qualified brain surgeon.  Really, it’s true.  I have the right to live and work in the UK and there are any number of hospitals within a 40 mile radius of where I live.  My mum will be so proud …

The problem with a response-based pricing model of this type, is that somewhere along the line you are going to have to limit the number of applications you accept, or costs will run out of control.  And if you limit the size of the pool you’re fishing from, it’s bound to limit the number of quality applicants in that pool.

Maybe at another time, in those halcyon, pre-credit crunch days when we were still talking about rising employment and ever more acute skills shortages, this kind of model would have worked.  But in today’s high unemployment economy, getting the right balance between cost and the best candidates probably means sticking to the more established pricing models (including traditional job boards, social/professional networking sites and search).

As my wife is so fond of telling me, it’s all about timing.


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