Blogging

7 Year Anniversary at Hudson

Wed, 26 January 2011

Hello blog. Where have you been? Actually, where have I been? It has been a very long time since I have spent much time writing what’s happening at work. In February 2011, I will celebrate my 7th anniversary at Hudson, a professional staffing and recruiting firm based in Chicago, IL. I have now worked from my home in Webster, NY longer than I worked in the Chicago office. I blame the vast changes in the internet over the last 7 years for keeping me so busy, and so invested in one company. When I started this blog to try to figure out social media in 2007, Facebook wasn’t even on the radar. Last year I posted a grand total of 4 times on my blog. This was largely because my focus at work has changed from Social Media to SEO, then to Lead generation and CRM. But, also because Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter have made me lazy and distracted from long-form discussion.

There aren’t enough hours in the day after our economic downturn and staff reductions. There’s so much to figure out and learn. Instead of taking 20 minutes to write, I use that 20 minutes to read. I realize this has taken me out of the game. Writing takes practice. Writing forces you to digest what you’ve learned and replay it in a way that is at least meaningful to yourself and hopefully meaningful to others.

There you go. My first blog post of 2011, on my 7th anniversary at a job that has taught me everything I know so far about this medium, and how much more I need to learn. C’mon Kris. You’ve got to keep writing :)

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Social Media | No Comments »
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Twitter for Learning in IT

Thu, 13 November 2008

I just wrapped up a post on IT Hire Wire on using Twitter to learn within the IT industry. With the majority of Twitter users still being from the Social Media side of the world (consultants, wannabe consultants, gurus, experts, wanna-be experts), I thought it was important to point out to IT workers how valuable an asset Twitter can be for their professional development. Now, to keep the piece short I focused on only a few ways to purely take from the network essentially by following smart people. I’m fully aware that Twitter is even better when you are participating actively. But, I think this level of extroversion and participation is still a turn-off for many. That’s why people should still get into Twitter just to better learn from those highly active members.

The reason Twitter is such a compelling professional learning tool is that you can be a fly on the cubicle wall of the best thinkers in IT. Think of it like the world’s biggest shadow program. Instead of reading another dry Ruby on Rails book, you can follow the guy who invented it, David Heinemeier Hansson, or sit next to Sam Stephenson as he programs with it every day.

Read the entire post here, and let me know what you think.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Professional Networking | No Comments »
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Quick Review of LinkedIn Apps for Blogging

Wed, 29 October 2008

I was amped today to see that LinkedIn has launched its application platform. The first thing that I wanted to do was add my blogs to the site to enhance their visibility to my business network. I started to use the WordPress application.

I installed it, and within minutes realized that it was only intended for WordPress.com blogs and not for self-hosted WordPress installations. Boo!!! My website, and my current pet blog project IT Hire Wire are both self-hosted WordPress installs.


You can try to enter your self-hosted blog, but you won’t get very far

I tweeted Mario Sundar to see if there is self-hosted compatibility coming. We’ll see what he says.

—UPDATE 10-30—
The WordPress App DOES support self-hosted. They’ve been working out the kinks. Read the tweets from @tellyworth. So far I’ve found that you can only have one feed into the WordPress LinkedIn App. When you add it to your profile, I don’t think it appears on your Public Profile. It also appears before your resume. I’m not sure that’s a great User-Interface. If you add a lot of apps to your LinkedIn profile, it has the potential to cloud your personal brand. I see these apps as additional interesting areas of content to be explored AFTER your review my credentials.
—END UPDATE—

Not to be defeated, I moved on to trying out Blog Link by SixApart. That experience was a whole lot more rewarding, but still has a bit of a caveat.

When you first install Blog Link you’ll notice on the “My Contacts” tab that it immediately goes out into network and pulls blog entries from any connections that have a blog listed as a website on their profile. This was amazing! I found blogs I never knew existed, which just goes to show you that you ought to list yours in your LinkedIn profile. Then I had a look at the “By Me” tab, and I had a couple of hiccups.


Check out your By Me tab and adjust the websites you have listed on your profile accordingly

While the links that I list in my profile for my blogs are for humans to use and get to the front end of the content, the best URL to get a clean feed into a feed reader is much different. In the case of this website, krisrzepkowski.com, the best human readable URL to get to the front-end content is http://www.krisrzepkowski.com/blog/work/, however the way to get to work-related entries into a feed reader is to use my feed URL (http://www.krisrzepkowski.com/blog/work/feed/). Using this, I won’t be feeding my stories of deer hunting and hanging out with the kids into my LinkedIn profile.

With IT Hire Wire, the best feed to get my postings on the multi-author blog turns out to be a feedburner URL (http://feeds.feedburner.com/ItHireWireKrisRzepkowski). Again, this is not the human-readable content URL I would want someone to click on within my profile. Because Blog Link opted for simplicity (which I admire), by using only the websites you have listed in your profile instead of requesting en explicit feed URL, you need to make a choice.

I’d prefer Blog Link to request feed URLs for the entries it shows in By Me, and allow your profile website to be separate. One last question on Blog Link. What do the up/down arrows do? I can’t for the life of me figure that one out.


Does anyone know what this does?

—UPDATE 10-29—
I figured out that arrow thing. It actually scrolls the entries, it’s just an unconventional control, and depending on what is showing on your screen, it is difficult to see that anything changed.
—END UPDATE—

Let me know what your thoughts are on the new blog integrations with LinkedIn. The intent of these apps is noble, and will build a significant traffic stream of business related readers the likes of which we haven’t yet seen.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | 2 Comments »
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Hudson Launches its First Blog: IT Hire Wire

Mon, 14 July 2008

IT Hire Wire Banner

Last week Hudson launched IT Hire Wire, a blog targeted at professional-level IT candidates. For me, it is the culmination of nearly 10 months of work to test a more transparent way of doing business online for Hudson, and an intense bit of learning in my marketing career (check my tweets along the way). Before I get to outlining the project and some of the lessons learned to date, let me first encourage you to visit the blog, read some entries, and leave any comments that you’d like regarding the project. I appreciate any feedback received.

Making the Case for a Recruiting Blog
IT Hire Wire originated through the same strategic process that brought about our Web Video efforts. As I mentioned here,

…our global marketing team convened to discuss new media and the social web phenomena. At the time, recruitment on Second Life and MySpace was grabbing headlines, while YouTube and blogging were creeping into corporate communication strategy. The common themes were transparency, authenticity and audience control of the message.

On a limited budget we agreed to test one or two new media channels to begin to participate in this movement. While not ideal to choose a channel before defining goals, we knew that a certain amount of experimentation would be required to remain competitive.

To shepherd the project, I started by getting more knowledgeable about blogging than I ever had been before. I familiarized myself with the latest tools like WordPress and various social websites like MyBlogLog, Del.icio.us, RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook. This resulted in my new personal blog and a blogroll filled with competitive sites that I admire.

With this as a backdrop, I lobbied hard for the blog project when budget season came around. I wanted the help of an agency to make sure we set the cultural groundwork properly within Hudson, and to have enough resources to complete the project on top of an already heavy load.

Enter Cowboy Advertising
In November of 2007, we contracted with Cowboy Advertising to assist with our blog effort. From that time until our launch, the Cowboy team was instrumental in getting our internal group of bloggers aligned with the project mission. Together we chose our IT practice to pilot the program because we felt the target audience was most comfortable with blogs. At the same time our IT recruiters were likely to be the most blog-savvy of our employee population.

Creative Direction
Cowboy helped to facilitate conference calls as we concurrently decided upon a creative and technical direction as well as got our bloggers up to speed on how to write content. We wanted to differentiate the site’s look from the many tech news or gadget blogs out there and, at the same time not take ourselves too seriously. We ended up with a theme that evokes the balance of work, life, and the technical knowledge it takes for a successful IT career.

The Cost of Blog Development
None of the agency-provided services came without cost. While the theory is that you can do a blog for practically free on any public blogging platform in an evening, the reality is that involving an agency cost us significant dollars. I do believe that it bought us excellent creative, and a thought out editorial process that will be crucial to our long-term success.

I’ll provide updates on further development as the project progresses. For now enjoy the blog, and let me know what you think!

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, Staffing Firm Blogs | No Comments »
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WP Blog Fix Needed: All-In-One SEO Google Descriptions Missing

Wed, 09 April 2008

HELP! I’ve decided to open up my blog development inadequacies with posts that help me get little annoyances on my WordPress blog fixed. I’m not a web developer and never will be one. I like to tinker with a lot of things and I get backed into corners that I don’t know how to get out of. Sure I can Google with the best of them, but there are times when you just want answers.

So, I’m going to make posts that spell out the issues I’m having, then link back to the post from development forums so that potential helpers (be it smart marketers, developers, garage-bound computer nerds, whomever) can get all of the detail they need. I’ll be happy to post the solution to the issue and give the fixer link adoration.

Today’s Problem: No descriptions beneath my page listings on Google.
I’m using the All in One SEO plugin on WordPress. Currently the All In One SEO plugin is version 1.4.6.7 (just upgraded from 1.4.2, would that fix it?), and the WordPress install is 2.2.2. I don’t understand why there are no Google descriptions as they do show up in the meta description of blog entries and even the static homepage of my site (View Source on them to see what I mean). Is it that there is something messed up with my code, some kind of plugin conflict, or perhaps Google is not creating a description for some other reason? I know Google doesn’t rely just on the meta description.

Blog Description Missing

Blog description missing on every post

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | 5 Comments »
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Contract Attorney Blogs: Voices of Reality

Tue, 19 February 2008

Photo of Overworked Temp Attorney

There is so much in the marketing world about the interaction between customers in the blogosphere and the companies that make products or services for those customers. From the iPhone, to the Dodge Challenger there are robust communities all over the web making or breaking products through the power of word-of-mouth stimulated by social media. Very little of this interaction is sponsored by the makers of the products, but these voices no doubt affect the direction of the products, and future marketing decisions.

Jobs and labor are no different. In fact, one could argue that the transparency of company and consumer attitudes toward labor, from the advent of labor unions, to the existence of F*ed Company has a far more rich history than some contentious discourse about your crappy computing device.

Transparency is Coming to Legal Staffing
In the past year, this issue has come to the forefront for more legal staffing firms. Employees are not so afraid anymore of getting fired for blogging, even though this, this, and this suggest they should think otherwise. While online conversation had been the perview of IT workers since Usenet, it seems fairly recent that legal professionals have taken to blogging en force.

I first started to look into the online presence of legal professionals in 2005 when I noticed a small website, paralegalgateway.com sending a bit of traffic to Hudson’s websites. Upon further review I found that it was Jeannie Johnston’s site (a Hudson employee at the time) who through a small link in a blog post, had driven some traffic toward us. I was very curious to see one of our own interacting in a very meaningful way with a targeted talent pool from which she would recruit. This sparked more curiosity in me as to where blogging and online community were taking place within the world of our legal staffing practice. I knew that entry level legal professionals were hanging around the Monster Legal channel that we helped to establish in 2007. Still, there didn’t seem to be a voice of the practicing temporary attorney who was doing the large-scale document review which was becoming common.

The Awakening of 2007
With the exception of “Tom the Temp” who started his blog in late 2005, it seems that in mid-2007 the temporary attorney blogosphere became more populated and interesting. Joe Miller posted his first JD Wired entry in August of 2007, as did another anonymous temporary attorney in Washington DC. All of these blogs bring a very real voice to the marketplace that is useful market intelligence for legal staffing firms.

The good (from Tom the Temp):

Anonymous said…
reality check has the right of it. I’m an attorney working at the Newark site, and the original post couldn’t be a bigger bunch of bs. The Hudson people are courteous, pay on time, treat us like professionals, and have made the environment as pleasant as possibly given some constraints by the client (i.e. no phone use in the coding room). Whoever gave you the info for the original post either was fired on the first day for being a slobbering idiot, or needs to work on his fiction.

I’ve only been to this blog for a few weeks, but I already can see it’s just a bunch of WATBs. You cry babies have probably never worked a single day of your pampered lives at a real job. Whah whah whah.

$35 an hour plus time an half for coding isn’t good enough for you? Go get a “real” job then. Most firms aren’t looking to bring on board pouty, bitchy juveniles who think the world owes them, but hey, you might get lucky.

The bad (from Tom the Temp)

I really hope this is true. It’s time for some structure, people. The firms, temp agencies, predatory banks, and TTT law schools are continuing to eat us alive. How much more non-dischargeable law school debt will they be allowed to pile on top us? For the fifth straight year, will you just sit back and allow them to yet again “deflate your rate”? Will you lose yet another P.T.O. (not just any P.T.O, but one belonging to Dr. King), while profits per partner continue to soar? I hope not.

The ugly (from my attorney blog):

John Smith Says:

December 13th, 2007 at 11:00 am
Hudson totally screwed me out of referral fee because I was not staffed with them at the time. What a joke! I will never refer anyone to that agency again.

While marketers base their reputation on being publicly accountable for their thoughts, it appears that temporary attorneys see the opposite. Much of the commentary on these blogs as well as message boards like JDUnderground is anonymous and incendiary. To some extent this helps you get a pulse of the industry better than any employee survey could. Salaries and benefits are down, demand is less than supply, and work conditions are sometimes less than ideal.

I will admit that reading the content is entertaining, although somewhat like watching a car wreck. Hudson has put hundreds of satisfied people to work that are already speaking on our behalf within these social media. So far, my role is to know what is being said – to listen. Not only that, but Hudson’s front-line staff are listening. The real question for an interactive marketer then is how to join the conversation in a meaningful and beneficial way.

photo by mr oji

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 1 Comment »
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Random Tweets of Kindness

Fri, 04 January 2008

2 little tweets from Shannon Seery Gude the other day gave me a shot of adrenaline that is starting to help me understand why, against my better judgment, I’m spending SO much time figuring out how to use social web technology.

@ KrisRzepkowski how do we not know one another? You’re an Interactive Marketing Director focused on Recruitment – your blog design is great

One of the nicest ways I seen to integrate content from several blogs – http://www.krisrzepkowski.com – lifeblog / workblog

I just…just…loved to get my very first blog compliment from the professional world. Sure, my mom likes to catch up on the family happenings, and I’ve gotten a bit of commentary from others who I’ve written about. This was the first, unsolicited cheer I’ve gotten after I started trying to figure out blogging in earnest in February 2007.

I learned a ton from those 2 little tweets.

1. Flattery (link love) is an incredible networking tool. I think that Shannon makes a point of genuinely looking at tons of web content everyday, and leaving a trail of compliments wherever she goes. What a terrific way of immediately building interest in her activities.

2. Twitter is a great place to spread good will. I’m a complete Twitter noob. I have no idea why I even tried it, as it really seemed like another time suck. I’m slowly starting to get it though. The community there is much more immediate than anything else I’ve experienced – even Facebook. Just following any mentors, or industry pros who are twittering is another way to become infinitely smarter almost by osmosis.

3. Blogging will help you grow professionally. I was once a skeptic, but now I’m convinced. The value of blogging about your professional life is like laying your career on the table for curious onlookers to help you along the way. How rewarding!

I’m going to try and find ways to spread some Random Tweets of Kindness in my web life. It is amazing the effect you can have on people with less than 140 characters.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | 1 Comment »
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Staffing Firm Blogs: Where’s the Value?

Thu, 29 November 2007

I found John Sumser’s analysis of Talent Pools today to be easily applicable to staffing firm blogs:

  • Talent Pools are not (primarily) ownership vehicles. They are places where value flows from the employer to the potential employee. The potential employee is better off because of their membership in the pool.
  • Value is not another word for job listing. Value is better understood as cash or cash equivalents. White Papers, Training, Networking Opportunities, Technical Information, Advancement Aids, Parties, Vacations, Discounts. For a talent pool to work, real value must flow towards the Potential Employee.

If the care and feeding of Talent Pools is on your list of blog goals, then DO NOT put a job listing in the body of a blog posting. That’s just tacky. Put them in a sidebar like on the Aquent Talent Blog, or perhaps a separate bloggy looking page like this one for the MN Headhunter. Candidates will find you and your jobs when they’re good and ready, as long as you’ve provided value.

Value, is the challenge we face when creating a blog within Big Staffing. Just Look at James Durbin’s comments.

If you want a candidate blog, you need a local blog, and the local line recruiter is swamped with too many job orders. The time and effort to create a local recruiting blog, while I believe it will pay off in terms of placements or hires, is not yet regarded as the best use of time.

If you can get your recruiters to provide the insight, technical information, job market pulse, and local humor relevant to the talent pool in the local market via a blog, by John’s definition, there’s real value to the candidate. Would it be better for your recruiters to do it via the phone? No way! You can only scale your company’s expertise if it is available to a much wider audience.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 1 Comment »
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Learning CSS Layouts and WordPress – the Hard Road

Sat, 09 June 2007

In my desire to learn, I have bit off about as much as I can chew. In February, I wrote a quick post explaining only briefly that I had come out from the dark ages. I was embarking on a journey to learn how to layout pages using CSS, blog using a platform other than Blogger, and build a dynamic website that meets my long term requirements. As a frame of reference, my old website, ziprz.com was built in a short period of time to get my first .com job in 2000. It was a simple design built with static tables and frames, plus a dead-nuts simple blog on Blogger.

Here it is June 9, 2007 and I have learned a lot.

Ambitious Ideas
First, I have always had this idea in my head that my website could chronicle EVERYTHING about me if I so chose. If I wanted to talk about professional things I could do that. If I wanted to talk about Life, I could do that too. But, I want to keep them separate. Do my family and friends care about the latest recruitment marketing trends? Nope. Do work colleagues care about my fishing trips and personal rantings? Doubtful. I want 2 clean feeds. I also have this obession with documenting every piece of design I have done since the dawn of time. I am both a chonic organizer, and someone who likes to collect things. Even though a proper portfolio only has your 10 best pieces, EVERY single thing that I create is some sort of learning that educates the next thing I do. When I’m doubting myself before I get the next idea it is therapeutic to look back and say “I have had good ideas in the past, surely one is to come”.

Master of My Personal Domain
The domain I chose in 2000 was largely a result of reading Peter Merholz’s blog. Ziprz.com became the home of me because it was much shorter than my real name and sounded cool, hip and webby. Now that I look at identity management online, it seems clear shauninman, cameronmoll, jeffcroft, and many others have solidified thine firstandlastname as an excellent choice for personal domains. My job has taught me a bit about SEO too. If someone were to meet me at a conference, they are likely to Google Kris Rzepkowski (although they would DEFINITELY misspell it). Fed up with Catalog.com I wanted a blog-fiendly host where I would register my new personal domain, krisrzepkowski.com

Spelunking in WordPress
With a general sense of what I wanted to accomplish, I then searched for a platform. I knew that blogging tools could be manipulated into almost anything you want to publish dynamically online. I read a few platform reviews, and ended up with WordPress. I installed it and started to play with its features; first by importing my old Blogger content, then by examining the site structure. I found with a little manipulation of the default template, I could split out the site into Work, Life, and Portfolio. But, I also got a sinking feeling that I would need to understand a few foreign languages (PHP, HXTML,and CSS) to really bend it to what I wanted

I’m a Designer, Who Needs Templates?
My blog is also a platform for professional development. While plenty of people put up a basic blog in 15 minutes, I’m a designer – I need something different. I figured it would be perceived as weak to use someone else’s template. Who respects a marketing person who uses someone else’s brand? I’m paying for that attitude this very minute. While I learn CSS for doing layout – which I have found to lack any sense of intuitiveness, the inner pages of the blog are next to impossible to read. Instead of minor tweaks to somone else’s template, I jumped right into Illustrator, did a design, and am now trying to reconstruct the default template’s CSS to accomplish it. This approach has been insanely slow and tedious.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | 1 Comment »
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Technology has changed drastically in 7 years

Sun, 25 February 2007

In the 7, WOW seven years since I thought it might be a good idea to create a website to showcase my abilities as a designer for the shear need to get a job, technology has taken a GIGANTIC leap forward. Today, I finally feel like I am catching up again.

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | No Comments »
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This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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