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Become an expert on your competitors

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 12:45am Thursday 15 January 2009    Print Article

In business, having competitors goes with the territory. There’s almost always someone selling the same product or service you are selling, or at least trying to solve the same customer problem you solve.

It's not personal, it's just business!

We have known about our competitors Destination Talent's test site for more than 6 months, checking out the site occasionally to see how much they have copied us, or the data they have scraped from the RCSA member directory. What have I said previously about online security and protecting your test site or because it will be found.

Oviously, if they can't protect the websites security now...when launched, clients should be worried.

Another interesting development was a programming request made on RentACoder for a "Recruitment Agency Search Program" another person scraping the RCSA member database ey? It's not that hard; just ask me for the script.

Not only can competitors out-market you and steal your valuable prospects and customers; they can put you out of business if you’re not careful. Trying to fight back by out-marketing your competitors can not only get expensive, it can be frustrating.

But there is another solution.

Make the decision to keep increasing the amount of information stored about your competitors each time you review your business plans so that you build an extensive collection of facts and figures regarding their organisation. This way you can design effective strategies that take into account the true market place you are operating in.

Competitors' websites, if analyzed properly, can give you all sorts of information that you can use to increase the traffic and the popularity of your site.

Eliminating your competitors is the easiest way to increase your chances of business success. It isn’t that hard when you know what you’re doing. Become a expert in the industry you are servicing, build trust and loyalty and the clients will follow. Exploit weaknesses and act on their failure.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself in your own recruitment business.
  • Make a list of their product/service benefits?
  • What are the benefits your product/service offers?
  • Identify the features they have that you don't have?
  • Identify the features that you have? Compare.
  • What features are better in their product.
  • What features are better in yours?
  • Why are they better (from a buyers perspective)?
  • What is their price?
  • What is your price?
  • Why is your price different?
  • What emotional needs/desires does your product meet?
  • What physical needs/desires does your product meet?
  • What is the size of your competitor’s business?
  • Where is this competitor marketing? Find their ads, always keep them in your file.
  • What type of customer care do they offer? Research and find out.
  • What type of customer care are you going to offer?
  • What’s different about your customer care or how can it be?
  • Do you offer a special type of advice that they don't? If so, what?
  • If you offer confidentiality, in what ways do you offer this?
  • What are their "availability" hours?
  • Do they offer product discounts? What are their break points?
  • Do they offer value-added incentives? This could be in the form of complimentary documentation or time, newsletters, or other items. What can you offer that is better?
  • What makes you excited about selling this product?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • If you haven't been in business as long, can you explain your quick success?
  • What do customers say about them? What do yours say? Similar is good but unique statements help more.
  • What statistics do you have on your product that you can use to show your uniqueness?
  • Do they have any endorsements?
  • How frequently does your competitor introduce something new in order to stay on the cutting edge? And you?
  • How fast can they get their product to their customers? Can you do better?
  • Were they the first in developing this product? How long ago was that? Do you have newness as an advantage?

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Email Marketing Tips for Recruiters

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 2:57pm Wednesday 14 January 2009    Print Article

Email Marketing provides powerful solutions to businesses which save time, reduce expenses, increase efficiencies, and boost profits. Recruiters need to constantly adjust their campaigns in these market conditions and technology enhancements to stay ahead of the competition.

Coinciding with SEEK's updated website design; they have recently updated the daily "Job Mail" sent to subscribers. The email design has been updated and provides a fresh and clean display. The emails have now been optimized for mobile devices such as the iphone.

When composing your own campaigns, you need to keep in mind some points to make your emails look more professional. Here are some tips on how you can maximize the results from your emails.

Email is a low cost marketing tool - Try something new or different in 2009. If you did email marketing in 2008, challenge yourself to do something different in 2009, like embedding video, podcasts or some new and exciting promotional offers. Always challenge yourself to be even more creative with your emails.

Graphics are excellent tools to use in email marketing. They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words and this is one hundred percent true. A picture could create an instant attraction point whereby you could get the information you are providing easily absorbed by your clients or candidates; could inspire the client or client to work with you, and so on.

Be formal, but personal with your e-mail material. Refrain from using chat lingo. Chat lingo may be cool to people who do chat all the time, but try to remember that the email marketing you are sending out is trying to project not only your product but the image of your company as well.

Make sure you are brand compliant. If you changed anything about your company logo or brand, make sure all of your marketing designs, including emails, now include your updated corporate look. Consistency is important

Measure results - Tools are available that accurately measure click-through rate, conversion rate, how a person one arrived at your website, and more, to enable you to assess the success of different email campaigns.

Make sure your email list is up-to-date. Add any emails you need to include on the list and remove any that have unsubscribed from your previous emails. It is important to monitor and manage any bounced or failed email messages. Set time aside to look at the error reports of each message and unsubscribe if the email address is no longer active.

It is important when you send an email as a marketing tool to allow the reader the choice to unsubscribe. If your emails are informative and to the point, no reader would take the trouble to unsubscribe. However, besides the fact that this is standard legal requirement, this is also a very valid tip on how to effectively use email marketing.

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Interview with Tim de Jardine from Hirewall

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 4:45pm Tuesday 13 January 2009    Print Article

I was first introduced to Tim de Jardine and Hirewall through the "NZ Recruitment 2.0" online networking group and since then have built a good rapport with him. Hirewall is a new web-based hiring system for SME's. See previous blog article here I spoke with Tim de Jardine about his new venture.

What is Hirewall?

Hirewall is a web-based hiring system that focuses on action to accelerate the hiring of new employees. It does this by using a workflow system to prompt and weight hiring decisions as they happen and drive the process forward. Hirewall encourages group collaboration, feedback and the establishment of common criteria when hiring.

Tell me about yourself, and your previous experience in the marketplace?

I have experience in recruitment, working on 100% commission basis only. This led me to see gaps in the marketplace. These gaps were companies that had no HR system or were disorganised while hiring. I have a background in Computer Science and have held various technical and sales positions.

How did the idea come about?

We identified trends in 2007 in the hiring industry that tended to plague companies who have a hard time finding candidates and companies, who did not want to use an agency; or pay for an expensive hiring system.  Hirewall is a summation of these ideas.

What makes Hirewall different from other ATS's?

Hirewall is focused on action. Our methodology is not about collecting candidate and procrastinating or about over analyzing things. It's about action! We believe that the ability to get that great candidate in front of a decision maker at rapid speed will trump other systems. It's all about acting and continuously moving forward.

What technology/web2.0 tools have you used in building Hirewall?

We use Microsoft 3.5, developed in C# using MSSQL Server 2005 using LINC.

What have been the biggest challenges in creating Hirewall so far?

Making a system that does not sacrifice simplicity for software features and bloat.  We cut out all the stuff that people do not want to see or that doesn’t help them make decisions and act with speed.

Is the "global financial crisis" affecting your business?

It is too soon to see any sort of impact on Hirewall. We generally don't pay attention to events like this.

What is the most important lesson in business you have learnt so far?

When using outsourcers, be very careful who you choose and how you use them. We had a bad experience with outsourcers for a very small part of Hirewall that ultimately delayed the release of Hirewall beta by a month.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Build a web presence and have several iterations and refinement of Hirewall. We want to establish ourselves as a leading player for SME hiring systems. Companies that may not necessarily have had a hiring system before and want a reliable, easy to use, value for money solution will be our target market.

If you were offered $100,000 by an investor, how would the money be spent?

Sales and marketing - the most important determining factor for our success will be the establishment of partner sales channels.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Follow your dreams, do not doubt yourself and never give up.  Most of the time; if you have a gut feeling about something, you are right.

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Job Site Traffic Jan 2009

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 2:54pm Tuesday 13 January 2009    Print Article

I was talking to an owner of a national Recruitment Agency last night and he mentioned that applications have increased. Anyone know why? I am not going to regurgitate all the news articles and media reports on job losses around the world. But let’s look at some graphs and statistics on job site traffic.

Note: All the graphs below were created at although the data may not be exact, we can see trends apearing. The images were made 13th Jan 2008. I personally do not trust Alexa 100% but here it goes..

The marking (1) shows us that traffic increased as people went back to work after holidays. Clearly Seek are still the market leaders, and will strengthen its lead on the other job boards with candidates turning to a proven performer. MyCareer and CareerOne are still jostling for the 2nd position. Number 4... well it’s anyone’s race now.

Other generalist sites and leading niche sites are on a small rollercoaster. Up...down...up....down. I can't really make any predictions or conclusions from this data. If I was working at a job board right now, my advice would be increase your marketing spends.

I originally was not going to include this graph, but thought it would be interesting to see traffic following to 3rd party ATS sites. Marking (2) shows the increased traffic from the holiday break flowing through to ATS application forms. I don't fully believe these statistics from PageUp because client sites are hosted on sub domains which may or may not be included in the Alexa rankings.

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Is Just Be heading for the RIP list?

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 8:30pm Monday 12 January 2009    Print Article

I was notified by a client of Just Be that the job board was offline in early Dec 2008. On inspection the whole sever; including email, was not working. We did tried sending a number of emails, as well as calling the office to find out what was wrong...but no responses. My first thoughts were that the site was undergoing a makeover or have left the building. But it soon appeared online again (early Jan 2009).

Just Be launched in Dec 2006 as the "first and only job search and career resource in Australia specifically designed for women". It received exemptions from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, allowing it to run an online job board specifically for women.

There are a number of errors in the search form and results pages (the right hand filter function is also broken), while the newest advert online is dated 28th Sep 2008.

But my main issue is that there are still no apologies or explanations to candidates or paying clients! Anyone know what's going on?

"Just Be is so much more than a job search website. It is a community, offering support, career information and advice to inspire and empower women in the workforce. By joining the Just Be community, you will be instantly connected with employers who take diversity seriously.

One of the reasons employers advertise with us is that they want to encourage more women to apply for roles, particularly in industries which, until now, have been largely dominated by men.

By switching to Just Be, you can connect with employers who really want to help you succeed, whether you are a new graduate or a career mother.

On our forums, you can seek expert career advice from female industry leaders, and chat with job seekers. You will also have access to the major women’s networks in Australia, and be informed of the latest news for women in the workforce.

So, whether you’re seeking employment, wanting to network, or just get in touch with other like-minded females, Just Be can help you strategically manage your career. Join other savvy, professional women and switch now to Just Be to take your career to where you want it to be!

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Corporate Social Networking Trends

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 3:41pm Monday 12 January 2009    Print Article

I read an interesting article about Corporate Social Networking Trends in Talent Management just before Christmas, and only just remembered I had the link saved in my folder. Score!

Recruiting Trends

Human Capital Institute

According to HCI research, there is a heightened awareness among HR and talent management professionals regarding the benefits of these collaboration and knowledge-sharing technologies for acquiring, onboarding, managing, developing and motivating employees. This includes allowing for better informal training by using communities of practice (29 percent) and threaded discussion boards (29 percent), improved communications via communities of practice (42 percent), and faster knowledge transfer via wikis and blogs (26 percent). Respondents also believe that implementing these tools will allow them to access and retain corporate memory and tacit information that could provide significant organizational benefits.

Despite the increased experimentation and perceived benefits of leveraging Web 2.0 applications in the enterprise, organizations included in the research felt that user adoption (37 percent) was among their greatest barriers in using these tools for business purposes, with lack of integration with corporate networks or other business applications identified by some as an inhibitor to employee usage. Creating a compelling business case for the tools (34 percent) also was seen as one of the greatest barriers to corporate usage.

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The difference between a Video Interview and Video Resume

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 2:06pm Monday 12 January 2009    Print Article

Lately I have heard recruiters talk about video resumes, including myself here but are you talking about the correct “video”. The most notable difference between video interviews and video resumes is who begins the video process.

Video Interview

A video interview is a job interview held between a recruiter/employer and a candidate using video enabled technology. Specific video interview tools include webcams, traditional videotapes, or video conferencing equipment. Video interviews can be viewed in real-time (recruiter/employer and candidate interacting simultaneously) or pre-recorded (candidate first completes the video interview, then an recruiter/employer views the recorded video) formats. The majority of video job interviews are completed by participants in different geographic locations; however, some in-person interviews are captured with video equipment in order to share the content with other decision makers or to store the interview. These videos would not be shared with other 3rd parties, and would not be published with out permission from all parties. Have a look at

  • Questions are standardised for all candidates
  • Easily compare candidates
  • Useful for pre-screening applicants
  • Save money on travel expenses
  • Multiple viewings - Interviews are archived to allow later recall
  • Position specific interview questions
  • Little interaction between candidate and interviewer
  • Candidates can experience nerves, leading to a poor interview
  • Subjective
  • Can be $$ costly for initial set up
  • Not all video providers offer 24/7 support

Video Resume

Video resumes are initiated by the candidate. A video resume typically shows a candidate describing his or her qualifications, experience, and skills. Occasionally, a video resume may contain career goals, hobbies, or unique talents that the candidate would like an employer to see. A video resume is typically recorded using a webcam or video camera, following which it is uploaded to the Internet (videotapes or DVDs may be used in some cases). Video resumes are generally not customized to a specific company or position; rather, they are more often generic. Examples of where you can find video resumes include or

  • Free for the employer
  • Find applicants from social networking and video directory sites
  • Lets candidates express their unique character
  • Simplifies portfolio sharing for creative hires
  • Lack of standardisation makes comparison difficult
  • Can contain unrelated or immaterial content
  • Not easily integrated with recruiters' workflow
  • No communication with candidate
  • No standard of professionalism
  • Opens employer up to discrimination risk

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Integrated Social Media Solutions for Recruitment

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 1:26pm Monday 12 January 2009    Print Article

A fellow twitter friend of mine Ryan Chartrand from the US has produced a short video & podcast on social networking and recruitment. Ryan's rants and ideas echo my own advice and consulting I am provide to clients. Create a strategy, integrate, target and socialise.

Social Networking Recruitment

"This is a quick video blog about the recent buzz about social networking and how it can be used for recruitment. I’ve spent many long nights compiling thoughts and strategies about social networking recruiting and think this will be the start of a video blog series on my findings (should anyone care to hear them).

Most importantly is the idea of having a targeted, coordinated campaign that connects your recruiting efforts on multiple networks to a main hub on your careers site to ensure that you don’t lose a candidate at “2nd base” in the recruiting process. While observing what companies are doing out there, I’m seeing far too often people using Facebook or LinkedIn, but with no real strategy to really attain a passive candidate. They’re doing their part, but there’s no strong employment marketing, design or interactivity strategy behind making it all work together."

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Bluetooth Marketing for Career Expos/Job Fairs

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 1:54pm Friday 09 January 2009    Print Article

Have you ever used bluetooth for marketing purposes? Nearly all mobile phones and laptops have bluetooth installed by default, and we use it to transfer images, ringtones, documents, connect to one another or to other hardware. Feb/March is always around the time Universities and organisations hold Career Expos or Job Fairs. But did you know you can use it as a marketing medium to attract candidates?

Around this time last year, I initially approached a number of employers to see if they were interested in trying out an idea...

The expo was held at a major university in Melbourne during April 2008. Which, 5 employers collectively engaged me to help them attract graduates to their respective brands.

2 x Engineering
1 x Bank
1 x Professional Service
1 x Government Agency

If you have been to a careers expo or job fair before, all employers are pushing freebies, flyers and so forth. As you would be aware - these expos can attract hundreds/thousands of Graduates wanting to work for these organisations. There are usually 2 or 3 staff for each stand, and they just cant talk to each potential candidate at once. There is so many information sheets being handed out to each person most of which just ends up in the bin!

The process was quite simple, I set up a recruitment message (campaign) for each employer and then put it into some "bluetooth push marketing software" I have and left it on a computer in the expo hall. I made the assertion that every university student had a mobile phone.

We had some posters on each employer stand which read "Want to find out about the application process? Turn your mobile phone bluetooth on to receive the information" Every campaign had the online careers page URL for users to either find out more information or apply for the Graduate program.

The software sends out the campaigns automatically pinging any mobile device in the area - it also has a reporting system that records how many/who it was sent to. It locates mobile phone devices within 20 meters from a dedicated hotspot.

The results from the trial were varied. I can’t split the results for each employer's campaign but here are the totals for the expo
  • 1400 phones found
  • 980 accepted the message
  • 420 rejected the message
  • 78 failed (but then tried again)
Overall I think it went very well. The demographics was 90% Gen Y and the employers were more than happy with the integrated marketing approach.

Total cost of the project was quite low, and certainly it attracted candidates to their respective brands. The challenge is how to use this innovative tool wisely, and certainly add value to the users. This marketing medium has a lot of impact on end users, so it should be used with wisdom.

Unfortunately I can't give any details to who the employers were, but certainly contact me if you want to find out how you can do this for your recruitment campaign in 2009!

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Using SMS in Recruitment

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 9:54pm Thursday 08 January 2009    Print Article

SMS is an important marketing medium, but has limited application in Recruitment/Job Search. Most of the messages you could send are transactional. The key to a successful SMS marketing campaign relies on the 3 pillars - planning, content and execution. In this blog post I have just summarised my thoughts and ideas into various groups - Uses in Recruitment, Advantages, Disadvantages, Measuring SMS, Questions to ask yourself before sending SMS, Tips and Common mistakes I hear from recruiters.

We use SMS in our own business mostly as a notification service for myself and other admins. When a sale, or new directory listing is submitted we are notified - as I belive it is important to process a sale as soon as possible. I have also integrated it into our various job boards - When a new job, client order, or client wants to sms a user. But how can you use it?

Uses in Recruitment

  • Notify job seekers when a new role matches there profile "Thomas, 2 new roles with CLIENT, PAY, LOCATION. For more info URL"
  • Remind candidates about attending interview. "Thomas, just a reminder you have a interview with CLIENT, TIME/DATE, LOCATION. Problems call me"
  • Administration "Thomas, 5 new resumes from JOB BOARD" or "Thomas, JOB AD TITLE is about to close"
  • Please call "Thomas, please call RECRUITER regarding MESSAGE"
  • Timesheets "Thomas, timesheet due DATE/TIME, questions CONTACT"
  • Payroll "Thomas, $PAY deposited to bank account DATE. Check email for pay slip. URL"
  • Referrals "Do you know a JOBTITLE? LOCATION, PAY RATE, REFERAL REWARD more info URL"
  • Most ATS or Recruitment Databases have an SMS function or module available to use

  • The personal nature of mobile phones makes SMS marketing a very powerful tool.
  • Most mobile users keep it on them all the time - meaning they can be effective for time sensitive messages.
  • Users are inclined to read virtually every SMS they get - unlike email and other means of advertising.
  • Bulk SMS marketing is very economical and one can send thousands of text messages to consumers at low prices.
  • Bulk SMS saves time - instead of writing a message and then sending it to each mobile subscriber, one message is created and then sent to a whole group of subscribers.
  • Tracking of SMS delivery and responses is very easy.
  • Automated
  • Delivery of the text messages is almost instant.
  • Sending SMS can be done from a software application or through a internet website

  • Opt-in. Need to get permission from users before sending SMS
  • SMS message is 140 - 160 characters long. You may need to refer the user to a website or email for further information
  • Impersonal
  • Can dilute a message
  • No emotion, mechanical

Measuring SMS
  • Open rates
  • Traffic to URL/Website links
  • Offer acceptance
  • Replies or response numbers/rate
  • Redemption rate
  • Brand awareness

Questions to ask yourself before sending SMS
  • Why are you communicating via SMS? Should you call? Email?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What is your message? You only have a limited number of characters. Use them wisely
  • When should the message be sent?
  • Can we personalise the message?
  • Who are we targeting?
  • Is viral marketing a possibility?
  • Do you need to cap the responses?
  • Do we have you systems to send out messages, handle the volume and responses?
  • Who is identified as the sender?

Common mistakes I
hear from recruiters
  • We did not target the right market, the message was not relevant
  • We did not identify ourselves as the sender, we received many responses "who is this" and so forth
  • Poor ad copy
  • Targeting wrong audience with wrong offer/message
  • Messages sent out at wrong time
  • Not allowing recipient to unsubscribe
  • Spelling mistakes and typos
  • No personalisation
  • SMS system fails

  • Personalise - "Hi FIRST_NAME, just a reminder about your interview with CLIENT_NAME at TIME/DATE, LOCATION"
  • Always include details to unsubscribe
  • Talk in the same language as your customers. Lrn txt spk-especially for youth markets
  • Test different networks (ie. Telstra, Optus, 3, Vodaphone)
  • Check to see if the appropriate replies are sent etc
  • If it is a competition, plan for unusual/wrong answers and have suitable replies in place.
  • Test language, typos and technical (not all symbols will come out as you expect).
  • Shop around for the best SMS wholesale provider. I use

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