Unsocial Recruitment

Earlier this year I was contacted by Hays, the recruitment company. They run seminars for their clients and having read about me, they asked if I could come to their London offices and talk to a group of HR professionals about how social media might, and might not, help to improve communication. We agreed I would waive my usual charge for speaking, and in return Hays would send some promo material to their guests before and after the event, and they would reimburse my out of pocket expenses. I’m a little reluctant to work like this, but as I believe in a basic principle of value trumps price, I decided to give it a go. The date was agreed and booked.

Next I went to meet the guy from Hays to talk a little more about the session and to check out the layout and feel of the place, it really helps to have an idea of the physical environment you’re working with. We sat in the room talking and the Hays guy came across really edgy. ‘Are you OK?’ I asked, ‘You seem very nervous’. ‘Well you see….’ replied Hays guy, ‘it’s just that…well we’re not sure how this session is going to go and whether we should be doing it?’ He paused, before blurting ‘We don’t want you to talk about social recruiting because it’s not something we do.’ ‘I wasn’t planning to focus specifically on recruitment’ I replied, ‘it’s not my area of expertise and anyway, it wasn’t in your initial brief to me.’ Hays guy sat back, visibly relieved at having had his confessional moment.

‘You will need to have a plan, some ideas around fielding questions etc’ I said to Hays guy. He tensed again, ‘what do you mean, a plan?’ ‘Well just because recruitment is not an area I will be covering, doesn’t mean your customers aren’t going to have questions about it, does it?’ The conversation continued and we parted company having agreed I would finish my prep, I would also send over a few images to frame the discussion, plus an updated two page guide about What Goes Around for Hays to circulate to their guests. Hays guy would manage any social recruitment curve balls, and I agreed I would support him where I could. I pulled everything together and sent it across as agreed.

A few days before the event I checked in with the recruiter. I confess I was a little surprised that Hays had not been back in touch with me, and what followed was an awkward backtrack on behalf of Hays guy. ‘Errr, umm, yeah….oh, Hi Doug, funny I was just about to call you, yeah been meaning to give you a buzz. Thing is you see, we’d like to postpone the event, just for a few weeks so we can gain more publicity for us and you, OK? I’m on the case and I’ll be in touch again very soon.’ And that, dear reader, was the last I heard from Hays guy.

Plans change – I know that. And I also know it’s basic good manners to be proactive when plans change, perhaps a dash of honesty wouldn’t go amiss either. Hays’ website says ‘It’s All About People, Worldwide’. Certainly didn’t feel like it to me, I sincerely hope they treat their customers and candidates better than this. I guess the main reason for sharing my tale is so that the next time you get an ‘offer’ like this – perhaps you’ll find a way to approach it more usefully than I did?

You might be thinking, ‘shit happens Doug, get over it’, and I am over it – just about ;). Subsequently Carole suggested to me that the next time someone proposes a similar arrangement, I should include the option for a cancellation/postponement charge. Interesting thought, and I’m also aware that with all of the varied paid assignments I’ve been engaged with, this fizzling out experience has never happened, weird huh?


Lightweight Nerd

Travelling Light

When I used to time trial on my bike I was a fully paid up weight weenie, a nerdy type who obsesses about how light the bike and components can be (whilst in my case also continuing to stuff cake down his throat after every race). This afternoon I travel to Belfast to get ready for a day of interesting work and meetings. I’m travelling with Flybe who have an extremely Scrooge like baggage allowance of only 10kg included in the ticket price.

Cue a revisit to weight weenie ville.

I’m almost proud to say I’ve just spent the past hour and a half weighing my travel bag and contents to ensure I don’t fall foul of the weight police later on today. Here’s the lowdown on pretty much everything I’m taking with me, sadly I know this info will appeal to some of my more geeky/OCD mates, he he.

Travel Bag: 2,150g

Lightweight Shirt: 165g

Trousers: 435g

Pants ‘n’ Socks: 240g

Marker Pens: 105g

Ipad and Stylus: 875g

Mini Paint Set: 100g

Netbook, Mouse, Memory Stick and Charger: 1,700g

Toiletries: 650g

Lightweight Shoes: 540g

So it turns out I’m gonna boss the weight allowance, yay! If you were me, what else might you pack for this two day trip? Whatever it is I hope you have a fun, nerdy week ahead too.

Friday Fury – PC Whirled

I’ve been contacted by a disgruntled customer of PC World. The writer wishes to remain anonymous and has asked if I’d care to share their tale of woe. What follows is truly the stuff of Friday Fury. How does service get to be this bad? What’s gone wrong with the customer experience and the employee experience? And why don’t organisations take a more holistic view and try harder to weave the two together?

If you’d like to appear in person or anonymously in a future Friday Fury – feel free to get in touch. Now it’s over to our mystery shopper…

I told a friend that I was going to write to The Daily Telegraph after my trip to PC World. This means I was angry. In turn, it means I was ribbed by said friend and offered an imaginary monocle and honorary red bulbous nose. By the way, the cure for a red bulbous nose is to drink more of the brandy that caused it in the first place.  It will then turn purple. Thats one of my dad’s favourite jokes.

We had gone to PC World to buy a laptop. I was disappointed at how hopelessly I was served and how haplessly they then missed the opportunity to sell me something. Despite the ranting tone I employ here, the key word is disappointed. Disappointed by the false economy of seeking to compete with online shopping by stripping out all the value out of the bricks and mortar experience of buying something expensive, useful, which had been the subject of careful consideration and which was therefore worth paying a little premium for in return for knowing it’s really what you were after and, most importantly,  for having it RIGHT NOW!

The bad service was bordering on the funny. Having loitered purposefully for 20 minutes next to the machine I wanted and close to a couple who had been waiting to buy an iPad for 40 minutes, a young man, whose left ear someone had cruelly attacked with a hole punch, told  me that while he could inform a manager of our need to be served, he could not actually go to the store room and get me a laptop himself. This despite my clear and unambiguous requirement for “one of those”.

I did not need to be advised, merely served. I got a computer science degree in 1989 and therefore have a life long right to pretend that I know all about computers and if I need IT advice these days I just ask someone in HR on Twitter anyway.

Eventually, Holepunch told  Manager, seemingly a Mr Demarcation, who told Bob (no cavernous piercings but a tattoo of his name in mirror writing on his forehead to remind him who he is every fourth or fifth day when he gets a shave) that we would like one of those laptops. Normally, say in a bar where I have the futile habit of trying to ensure that queues are managed fairly, I would have pointed Bob, when he finally arrived, at the iPad buyers first, but I feared someone giving Bob a gold watch in the further intervening 20 minutes and ushering him off to retirement before he got back to us, so I allowed him to serve us. The other couple went home to pre order an iPad 4 (ok, so I made that bit up, and the tattoo).

The haplessness was that when we were finally served they didn’t have any of the laptop we wanted, the one which came top of the latest Which survey, in stock. They carry one at most. This isn’t lean, it’s stupid. I am a middle aged man. Therefore, in turn, I am stupid enough to pay an extra 10% to instantly own a product that will be used for ~5 years. In other words I ascribe 10% of the cost to the value of getting it five days earlier than if I bought it on line. I am that stupid, and so are lots of people. It is easy (trivially so) to predict that the most popular product will sell, even in tough times. This is not a one off, it happened in the same store when I last bought a television, the sort that comes with a nylon shirt, jogging pants, a nosebag and which is so big you have to watch it the wrong way through a telescope through which you can still see the bubbles in Wayne Rooney’s spit.

On both occasions I went home, bought the item on line, with the gratuitous and deliberate intent of buying it anywhere but from PCWorld / Currys.

Do you want to hear the one about the man (one guess who) who stood on top of a huge pile of a4 paper in another PC World to shout and attract the attention of the staff so they might serve a group of people all of whom wanted, separately, immediately and without question, to buy large items? Perhaps another time, but it’s entirely true. I never learn, but neither do they!

photo c/o Joelk75