Staffing Firm Blogs

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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When it Comes to Relocating, Men Need a Pacifier

Tue, 15 April 2008

At least that’s what I take away from Lauren’s latest post in Wired and Hired. When comparing her female candidate interactions with male counterparts, Lauren had this to say.

Unexpectedly, I find men are more difficult to deal with when it comes to the prospect of leaving their “homeland”…I have a male candidate telling me he can’t move because he needs to be around people who understand him and that he can’t go anywhere where he doesn’t have friends.

I’m not actually surprised that this is what she finds as a recruiter. I’ve seen plenty of guys who cling to friends as their source of identity and comfort. Similarly, with wanting to be near your family, hometown, favorite sports team – whatever, men often struggle with leaving the comfort zone to get ahead.

Lauren’s got some harsh words for us more sensitive types. Get a load of this riff:

…I don’t even want to send you to my agencies at this point because I get the feeling you are going to try and make them have cry circles after work where you discuss your feelings. Weird. You should have known when you got into this business that it would require moving at some point. However, don’t call me telling me you really want a job, anywhere, and then when the client is interested start pouting and giving me your stream of consciousness over the phone about all of your insecurities. I do not specialize in breathing exercises and co-dependency management. What I do specialize in is getting you a job that translates to a promotion and more money…

Wow Lauren! When it comes to being a recruiter, if you have to read a guy’s ‘feelings journal’ and get them to leave it on the night stand before an interview, you should do it. Good luck finding candidates that need no counsel when making a job change.

To the male job seeking masses, the tough love should be a point well taken. We are competing against strong candidates who will do whatever it takes to get ahead. So, take off your diapers and stop your whimpering when it comes to moving. If you’ve made the decision to change your life to get a new job, what’s the big deal about changing your location?

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 1 Comment »
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Why Can’t All Staffing Firm Job Ads Read Like This?

Wed, 09 April 2008

Have a look at a nice example of a job ad that reflects very well on the staffing industry. Jim Durbin posted this ad on his blog and tweeted it out to his network.

VP Marketing Role In St Louis

The job ad has the following things that all staffing firm recruiters could do:

  1. Admit right up front the relationship between the recruiter and the client. For seekers really naive about recruiters, it might even be good to link to a definition of contingent search.
  2. Make a short statement about the company in your own words instead of some marketing boilerplate about ‘startup with IPO potential’. Jim really builds trust that he has a relationship with the client and has internalized it enough to boil it down to a meaningful synopsis for his candidate audience
  3. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Jim doesn’t bother with what’s in it for the candidate. He goes right in to ‘What I’m Looking For’. It actually better reflects the fact that recruiters are acting as candidate agents with a responsibility to present the best/right fit for the job. You get the feeling that what he’s looking for isn’t from some internal job description that lists one hundred requirements and ‘desired skills’. He has crafted three profiles from his candidate research that he can effectively sell into the client.

Perhaps if Jim were working for a large staffing firm, or if this weren’t a VP level job, his approach may have been different. Maybe he wouldn’t have had as much knowledge of the client. Had this not been for a marketing job would he have taken the same approach? I’m not sure. It does strike me as a much stronger case for working with a recruiter than the majority of the schlock out there.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Job Boards, Staffing Firm Blogs | 3 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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Behind the Scenes of Wired & Hired

Tue, 15 January 2008

I recently came across the Wired & Hired blog when looking for staffing firm blog best practices. I found one of the posts was particularly well done, and have been tracking the site ever since. Apparently others in the blogosphere think similarly, as the site won best job hunting blog of 2007 on Recruitingblogs.com. So in homage to the victory, and to help all of us staffing firm marketers with our own blog strategy I scored an email interview with Ryan Watkins, TalentZoo’s Web Editor. Ryan Watkins from Talent ZooI wanted to know the secrets to success and Ryan was happy to oblige. Here’s what I learned.

Tell me about your blog strategy, when, how, and why did it come about at TalentZoo?
Talent Zoo has several blogging sites, each of which serves a different industry and reader. The overall goal is to spread our name throughout the blogosphere to drive readers, job seekers and industry professionals to TalentZoo.com.

The blogs were created long before I came into the picture. Our company saw the importance of interactive marketing, and there is nothing more interactive than blogging. Creating a relevant dialogue with our readers was, and continues to be, the basis for the blog sites. Our authors have valuable information that we feel will help our readers in their careers, job searches or even personal lives.

Your title is Web Editor. What does that mean, and where does your role fit into the organizational hierarchy?
I belong to the Development Department here at the Zoo. It is my responsibility to ensure that all of the written content on any page on any site we produce is correctly presented. There is a lot of content on our sites, but I’m a wordsmith – I enjoy editing, proofing, and writing as much as I enjoy any off-the-job activity.

Wired & Hired is recruiters speaking directly to the Creative job seeker masses. How did you find the right recruiters for the job?
Our Wired & Hired writers come directly from Talent Zoo. I have to admit that I don’t have anything to do with the hiring process, but our HR department does an excellent job of brining in smart, driven recruiters.

Most of the writers on our recruiting sites are Senior Level. They have the experience and the smarts to present their knowledge in a meaningful way. They’ve been around the block a few times and will gladly share their opinions to anyone who will take the time to listen. The advice they give the readership also makes their jobs easier, so who can blame them for that?

Do you give your bloggers any oversight or content ideas? Do you dictate any tone guidelines or stylistic hints?
I rarely give any input on the content. As I said, our recruiters know their game – they know what fits and what doesn’t. My job is to make sure their content is proofed, properly worded and relevant. The tone and style remains their responsibility. I have never had an issue of having to pull or send back a submitted article. These guys make my job much easier than it could be.

What has been the biggest challenge of the project? What advice would you give to other staffing firms that are trying to enter the blogging arena?
If you’re interested in blogging, it’s an inexpensive marketing resource. The only advice I can give anyone would be to choose quality writers and posts. You may not always know who that will be in your company, but it’s worth finding out.

Presentation can go a long way, as well. There are hundreds of templates and dozens of excellent reference books on blogs and blogging tools. The more seriously you take blogging, the better your results will be.

We work in a high turnover industry. What is your approach as your recruiters who blog come into and exit from the TalentZoo organization?
Like I mentioned earlier, most of our bloggers are Senior Level. They’ve been with Talent Zoo for a while and have created a niche for themselves here. Recruiting does have extremely high turnover, but a lot of industries do, as well. We’ve yet to lose any of our bloggers since I was brought on. In fact, we’ve actually added a few!

What is the approach you are using to measure the ROI?
We keep track of how many users find our homepage from our affiliate sites. When a marketing or ad professional finds the perfect job after reading through one of our sites, we certainly consider that a major success. Of course we monitor traffic, incoming links and comments on all of our blogs, but the primary goal is to drive job seekers to Talent Zoo’s homepage and ultimately to our job board.

That’s not to say we sacrifice any aspect of the blogs’ traditional purposes. It takes excellent, relevant content to keep the readership returning. Without solid contributions from all of our writers, we would cease to expand our readership. We have the most knowledgeable contributors in the industry and their insights are readily available to the world. That sort of information is valuable to anyone who reads our content, and that in itself is strong ROI.

What are your immediate goals in the coming months, do you see your approach changing?
Our immediate goal is the continued expansion of our readership. We’re going to continue to provide the best content possible. We’ve found a stride in recent months with our sites and will continue to ride the wave.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 1 Comment »
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What is the Voice of your Staffing Firm Blog?

Thu, 13 December 2007

Matthew Grant over at Aquent offers an introspective look at the voice he uses while blogging on behalf of his firm.

What are the characteristics of the “corporate voice”? It is essentially educated, relatively formal (no cursing/minimal slang), and thoughtfully diplomatic. More significantly, the topics it discusses are “safe.” Aside from being relevant to the business of the corporation itself, in my case, “marketing staffing,” it shies away from topics that could potentially offend any of my more or less anonymous, more or less accidental readers. That means: no direct discussion of political or religious issues (to the extent that the two can be separated in the United States), no commentary on the actions of our current or potential clients, and, naturally, no criticism of the staffing industry or particular staffing firms.

This gray area of corporate transparency that distinguishes an individual blogger’s views, style and approach from the corporation’s (especially a public one) seems to be getting in the way of his voice. Matt goes on to mention:

But what if using the “corporate voice” was not in the best interest of this blog? What if the blog would be more popular if I spoke in a voice closer, if not equivalent, to my own?

This is a really timely topic for me as I think about the tone and structure of the Hudson voice in the blogoshere. The point of blogging for a corporation (as opposed to the more formal marketing website) is to bring your own voice to the matter. I doubt anyone is going to hang out very long at a blog if it lacks the author’s true voice. I’ve always read Matt’s content as authoritative, if perhaps only a little dry. Sure, it reflects very well on the Aquent brand as does the design of their website, and the other authoritative video content they put out there. Aquent comes across as knowing their stuff in marketing for sure! I think perhaps the only mistake Matt is making is that he’s the ONLY voice. Tim Donelly’s But Less About Me, a blog written more in his own voice, functions very separately from Matt’s. I have no clue who is getting more traffic, but I’d bet Tim is. The corporate voice of Aquent is the sum of the talent they’ve chosen to retain. Why not bring the two closer visually and architecturally so that both blogs serve to support the corporation. And why not invite more Aquenters into the mix?

Another interesting staffing voice is the Manpower Blawg. I have no doubt that Mark Toth is using a voice other than the corporate one of Manpower. It seems to be a bit off kilter to me from a corporate branding perspective, yet at the same time his blog is a very targeted and engaging read. Surely not everyone at Manpower is an employment law expert, yet the fact that a high ranking employee of the company is using his voice does say something about the company and its corporate culture. Similar to Matt at Aquent, I do think that more voices from Manpower need to join the conversation for it to become a meaningful corporate communications vehicle.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 2 Comments »
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Wired & Hired: Your Website Sucks

Mon, 03 December 2007

Hot damn this is a good blog post from a staffing firm. Apparently Talent Zoo, has enlisted a recruiter named Michael to write for their candidate-focused blog Wired & Hired. Michael takes his real world creative recruiting experience and wails on the non-website building creative class. Then he tops off the post with the obligatory hideous dog pic. Well-done Michael!

Of course the title of my post is a bit of a misnomer. The Wired & Hired blog is a beacon in the fog of boring staffing firm blog content. Staffing firms that recruit creative and marketing professionals are definitely the most clever. While these firms’ marketing departments have created online publications like the Creative Group’s Ezine, finding recruiters within the business who can blog is a high art. Could it be that they are themselves frustrated creatives who found more dollars sourcing the best talent rather than being the best talent? Hey, whatever it takes. Find me an engineering or IT recruiter that can capture candidate attention and build an audience. I mean it…seriously…no really, ’cause I want to read some of their stuff too.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 2 Comments »
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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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Staffing Firm Blogosphere

Wed, 28 November 2007

Staffosphere
Underlying photo by Giant Ginkgo.

Marketers in almost every industry today are turning to blogs as a channel to augment their interactive marketing strategy. Marketers of staffing firms are no different. We’ve read much of the advice (and hype) on corporate blogging and I’m sure a good majority of us are coming to grips with what that means for our staffing firms. The charter (I think) is to evolve our slick, brochure-ware website approach into content heavy “blogchures” that demonstrate our expertise, build trust with clients and candidates, assist our SEO, and give our companies personality.

There are a few staffing firms giving it a whirl already. They get kudos for entering the fray and learning from their mistakes. I’ve got their feeds nourishing my reader every day with tidbits of advice on resumes, quips on the industry they focus on, and in rare cases insightful new ideas on the Talent ratrace we all live and work in. Over the next few months I will follow the “Staffosphere” closely as I learn from my peers, and attempt to take Hudson into Blogland.

For now, here’s a short list of the staffing firm blogs I’m tracking (also included in my blogroll).

Candidate Focused Blogs

Client Focused Blogs

If you have a site to add I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I’ll provide my analysis on some of these sites in the coming days.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Staffing Firm Blogs | 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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