Category Archives: social media

Who’s Your Customer?

By Dan Ridge, Senior Contributing Consultant, Q4B

Ask any successful business leader who is their customer and you are likely to get a pretty detailed answer. Some could provide you with demographics and statistics on age, gender, education, income level and buying habits. Others might base their answer on type of product or service offered and their specific market’s competitive landscape. Still others could offer a price breakdown comparison within certain product or service segments and advertising dollars spent.

In other words, all successful business leaders know their customer. After all, businesses need customers who will buy, rent or use their products or services. Companies can spend huge amounts of money compiling up to date information, conducting point of sale surveys, and reacting to customer satisfaction surveys and complaints all in an effort to make sure that they are offering the right product or service that their customers would want or need.

So why then does the vast majority of companies treat some customers well and treat other customers as though they don’t exist. The customers who are treated well, the customers that companies spend vast amounts of money on, the buyers of product or service customers are treated well, are wooed are catered to.

The customers who are not treated well, who are by and large ignored are those customers who are applying for your open positions. They are your candidate customers.

Candidates are customers. They could also be buyers of your products and services. But first and foremost they are buyers of your brand, your company, your job opportunity. And they should be treated as such.

Imagine a company attempting to attract the buyer of product or service customer with advertising that did not excite, did not attract, did not create interest in their product or service but merely listed everything about a particular product or service including all disclaimers and legal formalities. Chances are that not many of the buyer customers would respond. Chances are that the company would not be in business for too much longer.

Now look at how most companies attempt to attract the best candidate customer for their job openings. Most job postings (company job sites, job boards, social media sites, newsprint) do not excite, do not attract and do not create any interest on the part of the candidate customer that the company is hoping to target.

The majority of job postings contain every bit of information about a job including disclaimers and legal formalities and they are an insult to the candidate customers who are being targeted.

Here is what should change with job postings.

  • The job posting should contain just enough information about the position, reflect the company’s brand, provide only absolute must-haves for the position, list any possible restrictions, and if required the mandatory legalese, that will grab the attention of the candidate customer and excite them, make them respond, and have a call to action.
  • The job posting should show respect for the type of candidate customer who is being targeted. In other words if the job requires a certain number of years of experience in a particular field, it should not be necessary to list every possible tool, application, instrument, program, etc. that may or may not be used in this particular job. If the candidate customer has the years of experience in a field and similar environment, chances are he/she could do the job.

Valeria Maltoni, who writes a very successful blog, Conversation Agent, suggests that “there is an opportunity for businesses to understand each customer as an individual — and they can do that through direct interaction”. Isn’t that what treating your job candidates as customers is all about?

As recruiters we certainly get to understand each candidate customer as an individual and we do so through direct interaction (sourcing, screening and selecting).

And it all could start with a well written, exciting, creative and respectful job posting.

Here at Q4B we are on a mission to rewrite the book on job postings and in the process help educate our client companies on a better way to attract, excite and create interest from the talent that they are looking to hire.

Check out our Talent Hub and see our progress as we start to rewrite our existing job postings and post new opportunities as we get them.

We look forward to any comments or suggestions that you may have.

So, Who’s your customer now?


Making Great Presentations and Owning the Room


This week we at Q4B will be putting the final touches on a webinar that we will be presenting at the HR Institutes Virtual Conference July 25 -26, 2011. The topic will be “Social Media for Recruiting and HR – Making It Part of Your Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategy”. We were honored to have been selected to present our thoughts on this most important topic and feel that for those attending it will be time well spent.

As part of our preparation, I decided to reread Tim Koegel’s NYT and WSJ best seller, The Exceptional Presenter, just to see if we might have missed something in our planning and if any of Koegel’s advice could be applied to this situation.

Koegel suggests that exceptional presenters are not born but can be trained and that the keys to becoming an exceptional presenter are learning to OPEN UP in order to Own the Room. OPEN UP is an acronym for what an exceptional presenter is, Organized, Passionate, Engaging, Natural and what an exceptional presenter must do, Understand their Audience and Practice.

I am now in the process of evaluating our preparation for the upcoming HR Institute event to make sure that our presenters (Bonnie Browning, Q4B’s VP of Client Services and I) are ready. So I am asking our team, are we

  • Organized – Will we take charge, and be poised and polished? Do we realize that our goal is not to overwhelm but to inform, persuade, influence, entertain or enlighten? Is our message structured and clearly defined?
  • Passionate – Will we exude enthusiasm and conviction regarding our topic? Can we speak from the heart and leave no doubt as to where we stand? Will our energy be persuasive and contagious?
  • Engaging – Can we build rapport and involve our audience early and often? This may not be easy in a virtual setting but to the extent that we can, we should try to connect.
  • Natural – Will our delivery have a conversational feel? Will we appear comfortable with our audience and come across as confident?
  • Understanding of our Audience – How much information can we get prior to the event in order to better understand those to whom we are presenting? The more we know the easier it is to connect and engage.
  • Practicing – Have we or can we practice enough so that our delivery skills are second nature and will not fail under pressure?

I know that going through this exercise will help us not just with this presentation but with future presentations and can certainly help us in our business.

This OPEN UP approach is not just for those who are presenting at conferences, presenting seminars, webinars or offering information before a large audience. The OPEN UP approach is a success formula for recruiters and candidates as well.

As a recruiter (internal, 3rd party, consultant) in dealing with your hiring managers, decision makers, peers and candidates, are you organized, passionate, engaging, natural? Do you understand your audience and do you practice?   If not, then you will never Own the Room nor will you be as successful as you could.

For candidates, when you are conducting your job search, working with recruiters, preparing for interviews, contacting possible employers, are you organized, passionate, engaging, natural? Do you understand your audience and do you practice? If not then you too will never Own the Room nor will you be as successful as you could be.

Owning the Room means that you have applied and understand the OPEN UP approach and you exude confidence and can command the attention, respect and interaction from your audience, even if it is an audience of one.

Our goal over the next week is to prepare for the HR Institute event. Our goal the day of the event is to Own the Room.

We hope to see you there, virtually of course.


Love Change, Learn to Dance and Leave J. Edgar Hoover Behind!

When I travel I like to bring a few books along to read on the plane, in airports, on trains and just have with me as I sit in some beautiful piazza on the Italian coast not wanting to look like a typical tourist.

One of the books that I brought along on this recent trip to Italy was Visionary Business by Marc Allen or Visionari Affari in Italian. The book in both languages is a fictional guide to success for entrepreneurs. Sound advice in an easy to read story. However it is not just for those looking to start a new business. The advice can be easily applied to any one, business leaders, employers, employees, candidates, consultants and yes, even recruiters.

One of the chapters is titled the same as this blog. The story comes from a very successful CEO of a fortune 50 company who attributed the success and profitability of his company to his company following three simple rules: (1) Love change; (2) Learn to dance; and (3) leave J. Edgar Hoover behind.

Allen’s main character goes on to explain the three rules this way. “The first rule is obvious: Learn to accept change, even to love change. The nature of life is change, and we either learn to love it, or resist the inevitable. Every company, like every person, is changing all the time. Technologies change, people’s tastes change, their desires and needs change. Some companies and some people have the vision to use that to their advantage, some don’t. Those that don’t, don’t survive very long.”

As a business leader you can easily see how this rule applies to what you want for your company. Adapt, change or stand still and be run over by the competition. As a recruiter, the same rule could be applied. Social media, cloud sourcing, talent hubs, candidate communities, transparency in the hiring process, behavior based interviewing, talent pipelines, performance profiles, these are all relatively new concepts and terms that have changed the recruiting landscape. If you are not aware of all of them and how they might impact your business and career, then you are not following Rule #1. Love Change.

The second rule is learn to dance. Allen’s character explains it this way. “This means dancing with all your customers, all your distributers, all your suppliers, everyone you work with. The more we learn to dance with people, smoothly and skillfully, and give them what they want with the best possible service and quality of product, the easier it is to achieve our goals. Our working relationship with others should be a dance, not a struggle. Creatively working with people so that everyone’s happy. Finding win-win solutions – dancing together!”

Again, for a business leader you can see how applying this rule can dramatically impact your business. Happy, engaged customers, suppliers, distributors, employees, vendors are the key to success and profitability. Not to mention the key to a much more enjoyable and less stressful work life.

For recruiters this rule applies just as well.  Giving your candidates, hiring managers, partners, co-workers, talent managers, HR Directors what they want with the best possible service you can provide is the surest way to both your success and that of your company. Learn to Dance and not just the old Texas Two-step!

The third rule was Leave J. Edgar Hoover Behind. When I first read this I thought it had something to do with Hoover’s rumored cross-dressing habit. But Allen’s character explains it this way. “J. Edgar Hoover was famous – or infamous rather- for his complete control of his employees’ actions. His management style was completely dictatorial. Everything came from the top down; management told everyone exactly what to do. At least that was the reputation he had. Leaving him behind means giving each employee responsibility to do their job in their own way. Hire good people, clearly define their responsibilities, and let them do it their own way. They’re the ones in the trenches, doing their job all day. Get responsible people, treat them like adults. J. Edgar Hoover would hate this approach.”

Successful business leaders can easily see the importance of following this rule. The key to making sure that this rule is followed in your company is to have a company culture that allows for and encourages bottom up decision making, strong mentoring programs and the hiring of nothing but “A – players” for all positions.

Following this rule as a recruiter is a little more difficult. Recruiters don’t necessarily make business decisions, however, when it comes to hiring Great talent, recruiters can apply this rule by insisting on developing and implementing a hiring process that attracts the right talent, that supports a more complete understanding of what each job requires, what outcomes should be expected, what competencies are desired, and that all sourcing, screening and selecting of new employees is aligned with the business goals for the company. If this is done then as a recruiter you will never have to think about J. Edgar Hoover again. Elliot Ness maybe.

I am now off to read another chapter of Allen’s book “Give abundantly and reap the rewards”. I sure hope that it is true because I think I left an enormous tip at that last little trattoria.


Ciao again!





Some Tips for Finding Innovators

Bloggers Note:  Some of my sources use the terms innovation, innovator, creativity and “outside-the-box” thinkers interchangeably. I will do the same in this blog.

“Innovation can be defined as coming up with ideas that bring value to your customers and then bringing those ideas to life.” says Robert Tucker, author of Driving Growth through Innovation. Sounds like the type of employee that every company would want to not only find but hire. Before you run off in search of your next Thomas Edison read on.

The October issue of INC. Guidebook offers up some good advice regarding finding innovators. I have creatively added my outside-the-box thoughts to the points that were made.

  • Decide which kind of creativity counts – Hiring for creativity starts with deciding how much of it you can tolerate. Many companies find it difficult to integrate true outside-the-box thinkers, true innovators.
  • Breadth of Creativity vs. Depth of Creativity – Understand the difference between the two. Breadth of creativity is ad agency, IDEO, Disney Imangineers whereas depth of creativity is looking for better ways, process improvements within one’s own job or department that when implemented add value to your customers.
  • Market your company to Attract Innovators – This starts with your web site, your career page or portal, job descriptions and the use of social media including Facebook, Twitter, employee testimonials on YouTube. Marketing to creative types does not exclude those candidates who are not creative. If anything it might attract a better quality of non-innovators.
  • Recruit from nontraditional sources – Realize that expertise can be acquired, creativity can not. If you are looking for outside-the –box thinkers then think outside the box!
  • Look for Career Adapters – Most companies would shy away from candidates who took a year off to trek the Appalachian Trail; who went to work for a non-profit  for little or no salary; who provided elder care for a dying relative. Look for experience, adaptability, passion, fortitude not just a certain number of years with a certain skill set.
  • Know how creative they are – It starts well before the interview. Whether or not your marketing efforts attracted a creative candidate, how they manage to get noticed by your company is the first clue to how innovative they may be. Did they respond in a non-traditional manner, was there contact with the company different than most other candidates? In the interview, were they able to handle the behavior based questions with more than rehearsed answers? Could they think on their feet when faced with puzzle type or what animal would you be type questions?
  • Build a Creative Culture – If you currently employ some innovators you want to keep them. If you are just looking to hire some creative types you want to make sure that they want to join your company and stay with you. Culture is everything. Building and maintaining a creative, innovative culture requires that the work inspires them, the compensation is more than financial incentives and the environment that they work in is a happy one that doesn’t squash their creativity.

A final thought, companies that innovate are often more successful than those that maintain a status quo. In order to innovate, you need to hire some creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers. And in order to hire these types your company needs to have a culture of creativity, of innovation.

So, what comes first the chicken or the egg, the creative culture or the innovative employee?

For me, I am now off in search of another box that I can think outside of.