Talent Net Live In Plano, Monday, November 9 at Capital One

When I first moved back to Texas, I met a guy named Craig Fisher during an event at the Ghost Bar on top of the W hotel. 

Craig's background was similar to my own - a little more fancy, as he was a top notch staffing sales guy for a lot longer than I was, before moving into social marketing. Craig's conference, Talent Net Live, is routinely one of the best events I attend. It used to be - how did I describe it? As a "conference for conference speakers." What I mean by that is the people who speak often speak at other events, and at Talent Net Live, they tend to let the chains off. 

When I speak, I try to get as advanced and complex as I can, knowing that the audience is capable of taking everything I throw at them. This isn't to cast an aspersion on other conferences - but speaking at Talent Net is a different kind of conference. It's cool. It's fun. It's smart. It's full of people who treat each other as family and are keen on welcoming new people into that family. 

So yes, you should come. The event is held at Capital One in Plano this year, which is a top notch facility. To sign up, head to this registration link. If you need to convince your boss - have him or her call me. 

If you're coming in from out of town - the Nylo is close - great little hotel. You'll want to stay in West Plano or Frisco. Lots of choices - and right on the edge of the $5 billion mile. 


Summer Hiring Season Is Over. Ready For September?

Best year in 15 years for hiring across the board, and as anecdotally reported by recruiters, permanent hires are through the roof, even in the month of June. That should tell industry veterans something. 

Normally, summer months are slower, because so many people are scheduled with vacations and early days off that interviews just take longer. It's also a weirder time, because companies who are hiring feel more pressure to get it done so they can head to the lake. That's certainly been the case this year. But like the winter holidays, those who work hardest in June reap the benefits of July hiring before August falls off the cliff. 

It's just hot in August, and it's a bad month to start for the kinds of jobs I work on. It is great prep time, as hiring in September is pretty much the last viable month if you want production out of someone in 2015. 

That's not just me yapping. An awesome digital salesperson in North Carolina told me to get on the phone and make his hire happen now, because if he started in September, with a month of training, his output for the year would be scraps, versus if he started now, he got the last great month in the year to grab his share of budget. 

In Retail Marketing, it's even more important. You can't hire a digital marketing in the 4th quarter, because they and you are so busy, getting together is nightmarish. 
It's July 17th. If your digital manager left this Spring after their bonus, and you've been searching since then, now is the time to call your recruiter or ramp up your sourcing efforts. September hiring starts day. You have 45 days to get it right. 

Prediction On The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing: Hyper Personal

A series of good conversations at SXSW and over the last two months has led me to believe that narrowing our focus will be the most effective tactic in digital marketing in 2015

"...the insights that apply to one field ultimately boil down to the same solution for an old problem. Content is dead. Not because Content isn't important - but because we use it wrong. We're not willing to take a chance and personalize our content, which means that we design/create awesome and not so awesome stuff that really only titillates marketers."

We're drowning in content and analytics - and the amount of waste in the pipeline for most lead generation is astounding. Efficiency is gained creating steps in our marketing, which isn't that much different than the old social "influencer," model, but the new data capabilities should bring us actual influencers rather than the internet celebrity we've used as shorthand for 8 years. 

The words I hear are "end-to-end marketing," with the shorthand being "business experience." Clearly, the best marketers have an eye on operations on sales, and that experience leads us to the Grand Unified Theory. 

It's the old B2B mantra - give me 20 leads that will close instead of 20 million. The methods are the same, but the focus is different (if you don't believe me, ask a B2B strategist to run a 20 MM impression campaign, and watch their expression of horror). 

So the next big thing, is not "personalization" it's turning our focus from "the market" to digestible wins based on smaller groups. I'll make an image later.

2015 Is Going To Bring A Lot Of Pain In Digital Hiring

What a fascinating end of the year. A very slow start to 2014 was matched with record numbers at the end of the year, as companies doled out the big bucks to hire and retain talent. 

Offers were up, but so were counter offers. Candidates in the hottest disciplines were getting multiple interviews and offers, and turning them down so often that I begin to think not turning down an offer was a sign that you weren't that good. 

And a series of interesting trends are going to hit us next year, as the digital talent hired in 2011-12 (what I call the three year window for promotion or job change)  pokes its head up and says, "what's next?" Add in generational gaps in the numbers of people available (less Gen-Xer's, Baby Boomers retiring), the hangover effect on Millennials who struggled through the 2008 meltdown, and a generally risk-averse candidate pool, and you have one of those years where the only answer is Facebook Memes on HireGeddon.

November and December were filled with a lot of phone calls and a lot of discussions with my target market - people making $100k to $180k in the digital and social spaces. With just one exception, everyone was willing to make a move from their current employer, and that one exception said late 2015. It's not that surprising that people talking to a recruiter would be open to moving, but keep in mind I don't advertise for positions or ask for resumes. These are cold and warm calls directly into businesses to find candidates. 

Spring Bonus season is coming, and 4th Quarter for ecommerce is done, so expect to see the hiring engines ramping up in January, with a lot of movement in March, and then a tidal wave of open positions in April as companies began posting jobs to replace those that left. That's a common cycle, but I expect to see over a hundred prominent moves in e-commerce along among big brands, and the fact is there just aren't enough people to fill the high-level jobs now. To make it worse, many companies hired the inexperienced and spent three years training their team, which means you have middle management with 10 years of digital experience, who hold together a much younger team whose sole work experience is cutting edge tactical.

To complicate things even further, job responsibilities are not clearly defined, which means that many candidates have resumes that read well, but their experience was limited to being in the room as it was being discussed. This was a common problem with developers in the 2000's, as you couldn't tell the difference between those who were on the team and those who did the work.

In short, you can't just post a job and hope you get a reasonable number of resumes. I've seen $60,000 jobs that get 1000 resumes, with hundreds of them seeming accurate until you call.


Here is some advice to think about for the next year, both for the client and the candidate side. It's not backed up by fancy reports, and it's focused around digital natives, but it's what I tell clients, and hopefully can help you in your job search. 

1) Clients that lose a talented junior executive need to hire placements quickly: 
There are a lot of hungry companies out there, and many are throwing money at people to move. Pay jumps of $20,000 are low for those in email, social display, social media, data and analytics, mobile optimization, and strategy. That money doesn't seem to have the power it used to, as roughly 50% of the people I talked to don't see money as their prime motivator. That's a generational shift we'll have to get used to. If you're hiring the under-35 crowd, don't think more money is the selling point. 

So why do you need hire replacements quickly? Company loyalty is no more. Boss loyalty is the new way to roll, and when your boss leaves, a major reason to stay disappears. We're not just talking about employees following a popular leader to another company. If one talented person leaves, the chances of the rest of the team bolting as well goes up. I'm seeing entire departments decimated by employees leaving, and when you trace it back, it almost always involved one important employee who left, and then a 6-9 month search that the internal team sees isn't that important. 

This is very important, and explains why so many candidates are looking for influence and attention instead of money. This has always been the case in B2B work, but I'm seeing a real change in B2C attitudes as well. Siloed companies are at the most risk. It's not just the work load - it's a signal of your commitment. 

2) It's Rarely A Bidding War, But It Is An Attention War
That may seem weird to say after I said salaries were going to explode, but the failures I'm seeing are in how we treat these candidates in the process, not what we need to pay them to fight off other offers. If you're not even getting to the offer stage, or you're making offers that aren't enthusiastically accepted, it's because you're the backup in case it all goes south. 

We worked with one client that was bringing candidates into the HR entrance and having them fill out paper forms. Is that how you want to start pitching a candidate you expect to run handle $20 million in digital spend? A simple fix? Bring them in the front - have manager meet them before the paperwork, or at the very least have the manager walk them back to HR. 

If your manager can't spare 5 minutes, paper boy isn't going to fix the problem. 

3) Set Expectations And Stick With Them
Candidates want to know what the process is. Tell them. Send it to them. Stick to it. They're evaluating you both on how you hire, and what they'll have to do to hire if they accept the offer.

4) If The First Time The Manager Sees The Resume Is When The Candidate Hands It To Them, You're Doing It Wrong. 
Don't laugh. I spend hours prepping candidates, and when an interview goes bad, it's usually because the manager spent of all 10 seconds preparing. When the candidate stops calling, do you think the manager is going to say, "I blew it," or are they going to come up with some reason the person wasn't a fit anyway? Stop losing good candidates whose only demands are that you look them in the eye and know their name before they walk in the door. 

5) They're Talking About You. And They Don't Like What They Hear
If you really want to know your company reputation, go to a conference, tell people you're interviewing at your company, and ask them what they think. Social/Digital people are the most connected on the planet. The good ones hear a company name, and before I'm off the phone, they're emailing, DM'ng, texting and messengering their connections asking if they should stay on the phone with me. 

6) Make Sure You're Talking To Your Recruiter
Attention spans are short. It doesn't matter if you're talking to your headhunter or your internal HR - if they don't have quick feedback, they can't give quick feedback. In this world, no call means no offer. If you aren't interested in hiring, don't think you can come back in a week and set up another interview. 

Yes, this means you have to make decisions and live with them. But isn't that your job? 

You Have Six Months
Gas Prices Are Low. The stock market is soaring. Nothing is changing in Washington until 2016. The first six months are going to be very important if you want the best people. 

Oh, and one last piece of advice. 

Day 2 Morning Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014: #DDSUM14

Here we go with Day 2. 

1) Good advice fom @weisesarah about creating personas. Give them a name and a picture. Ask what's in their purse. Make it specific. 

2) The question I heard from a candidate about what makes you more money, improving your mobile app buying experience or hiring a social team still makes me cry a little. So I posted it as a question. 

3) Email isn't dead. Everyone who makes money admits they use email, and @mparkerbyrd says that it's still 3400% ROI for email. But everyone hates it. And it's also true that kids don't read their email. What does that mean for the future?

4) I'm not comfortable with training your customers that you'll always respond. These teams aren't prepped, and all they want is to get you off line. 

5) Talking about marketing automation - he uses the word Omnichannel. I can't wait until that word is destroyed. We should mock it. - Although Hassan Bawab of Magic Logix has a good definition - "fancy way of saying your sales staff is providing the customer with an ideal [buying] experience."

6) I like the slide, "I've known you were going to purchase this for six months." "You're weirding me out - can I just pay and leave." Marketing Automation session from Hassan. 

7) I just asked the conference organizer to play Shia Live. Actually played it for him on my phone. Not sure if they're taking requests for bumper music. They're playing Billy Joel right now. 

8) Mel Carson tells a great story about hiring a monk from Google Ads. It was 10 years ago. He has a testimonial. 

9) Mel also talks about breaking PR into different tiers. I remember doing this for blogging in 2006. The difference now is that much of the "national press" we used to pitch has been replaced with "national blogs." This is the advantage of experience. 

10) In the Marketing Technology panel, listening to @ipullrank - it's funny, because no one here bats an eye at that data privacy intrusion we take for granted, but I can't help but think a lot of people would freak if they knew how easy it was for just about anyone to know almost everything about someone that is in a database. Address, phone, email, IP address, number of people in the home, ages, credit card purchase data. It really is a scary world, but it's been around since the early days of the ETL Data Warehouses. 

Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014

This is going to be just a section for my notes:

1) Trying to choose between Beacon talk and videos. I want cat videos, but will go to the Beacon talk.
2) Met Amy King from Nested Strategies. Ran into Jeremy Roberts from Sourcecon. {What's he doing here?}

3) American Airlines speaker Philip Easter is funny. Video is too damn loud. And hysterical, because with a iphone5, it looks outdated. NVC technology tells American Air where people are when they check in, allowing them to customize service for their apps, for special needs, kids... Pretty cool. 
4) Ran into another candidate - looks like funny Tweets are doing their job. 

5) Will Clevenger of RBA is a smart guy. Remember to follow him. Talking about trends and disruptions. 
a) Enhancing customer experience, b) Transforming digital, c) customizing rewards. 
What does ambient mean?

6) Microsoft guy on UX - didn't like when one of world's biggest companies claims they're a startup, but this guy is polite, and so is the audience. Super polite. When he says hipster doofus, no one laughs sardonically. They all nodded. 

November Headhunting Report For Digital And Social Marketers


Spring is still the big time for digital recruiting. Many company companies bonus in February and March, especially those looking at their holiday sales, which means no one likes to leave with $30,000 on the table. 

Hiring is slightly up for companies who don't depend on 4Q, and movement by candidates in companies where the bonus isn't assured is always a risk.

Below are my notes for October's calls - if they're useful to you, consider sharing it to your network. 

1) Companies are taking too long to hire

Check this article out from Harvard Business Review. It's happening, and getting worse. Basic premise is there's a lot of risk in hiring, and execs/managers/companies are nervous about it. Companies need to improve their process, and recruiters need to address concerns on both sides. There's a lot of wasted time that occurs because "top talent" likes to be courted, but isn't honest about what they want and need.

My rule of thumb is 30 days. You have 30 days from the day the candidate feels like they are a candidate to hire. After that, not only do offers fail, but performance and retention are affected as well. 

And if you're  company that has a critical digital management position open for over six months, Beware! I've seen a number of companies hollowed out when management positions aren't filled.  

2) Salaries about to explode in the social commerce space for the right people.

This is happening in a lot of tight areas, and nothing is tigher than social commerce right now. There are only 50 companies on the Social Media 500 with revenues over $1MM tracked to social media channels. There are 100 companies that want that, and they want it today. I anticipate Sr Manager and Director level positions rising dramatically by June of next year. At the same time, I anticipate much shorter leashes for those jobs. If they boost your salary by $20,000, you may have only a quarter to show results.  

3) Salary matters less then budget and authority

The really competent in this space range from the technical to the analytic to super managers. In the last month, I've heard dozens of times that salary is less important than budget commitment and authority. Salary still matters, but a big bump in pay is less important than infrastructure and marketing department integration. Great social and digital leaders need senior level executive champions who commit to letting them create working campaigns. It's not about a $10MM ad campaign. It can be $100,000, as long as you get the full amount and are allowed to complete the campaign. 

4) Telecommuting is a huge unmet need

Big Brand experience can be important in this space. Apple is not the same as Pete's Apple Emporium. But the number of large firms with a big digital presence can be very limited in a single city that isn't San Francicso or New York or Dallas. There are some very talented people who can't uproot their families, but would travel or take telecommuting jobs with large brands. 

Companies don't like this, of course. They want to see if you make it before they let you work remotely, so there's a tension there that should be interesting. The companies that figure out telecommuting or commit to remote teams are going to be big winners, or...candidates will just have to move for new jobs. Hard to tell where in the cycle we are.  

5) 1 out of 5 of you has what it takes
When I first committed to social media headhunting in 2008, 80% of the people I spoke with had never taken a check for what they claimed they could do. Now, most people get checks, but they're wildly optimistic about their impact on the company.

Well, social is now a preference layer instead of a skillset, so integration with the company is a must. It's fascinating, because social piggybacked on the old fight between Digital and Print (or Creative or Traditional), and now, full integration really is a powerful tool. Combining Direct Mail with Television with Email with Social with Sales is hard to do, but many of you are getting good at it. 1 out of 5 that I talk to understand it and have done it. 

That's good news for companies, who now are told "this person exists," instead of "um, let me look around."

About These Reports

These reports are going to start coming monthly, as a way for me to keep notes and track trends while I'm on the phone.  Expect to see more writing here as I'm now focused 100% on the recruiting side of the house for Brandstorming, and am no longer taking marketing or outsourcing contracts.

Our sweet spot is going to be executive search in  Digital/Social/Web/Content/Email/Analytics in the 100-180K salary range in the US, focusing on the South, Midwest, Mountain West, and Southern California.

 If we're not connected, do so now. Go ahead and call me a friend to connect. You're reading, the blog, right? 

View Jim Durbin's profile on LinkedIn

 If you follow me on Twitter, RT or favorite something I write, and I'll follow back so you can do a confidential DM. I don't live tweet to people who may be looking.

How To Gain From Networking: The Spirit Of Generosity

A simple, but effective, training tool for learning to network is learning to be generous. Think of most networking functions. Most people are too petrified to do more than stand around. Some stand alone. Others huddle in groups with friends they brought along or with people they barely know. Mixed in with the frightened masses are a few outgoing people who step up to a new group, or new person, and ask what they do.

Most of us are grateful to be talking to anyone, but there is a mercenary quality to the question;

"So what do you do?"

Seminar presenters and book-writers pull down big books teaching you how to answer the question, "So what do you do?", but how many people hear the unspoken words that follow it?

So what do you do, and how can I profit from it?

So what do you do, so I can determine whether I need to move on to someone else?

So what do you do, and answer quickly so I can tell you what I do.

There's nothing wrong with asking someone what they do, but the intention behind the question is seldom curiousity. It's a transaction of information - and it's why we hate networking. So I want you, both as a candidate, and as a salesperson (and we're all salespeople), to think of networking in a new light. Networking opportunities, whether they be user groups, career fairs, industry conferences, or standing in line at the local grocery store should be boiled down to one goal - Get the other person to view you as a generous individual.

We love generous people. From big-hearted philanthropists to gift-bestowing grannies to Santa Claus, the idea of someone giving without requiring something in return is an indicator of a good soul, a kind spirit, and in most cases, a very effective icebreaker. The way to do so is simple to say;

"My name is Jim Durbin, and I'd like to know what I can help you with."

Now, you should use your own name, but this little sentence will change the way you view networking events. When you approach someone, think of your goal as finding a way to help them.  Give them advice, a number, a name, a website. Introduce them to someone else you met.  Offer to get them a drink. Do anything that will make their lives easier and help them fulfill their goals. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, but it does have to be sincere. The benefit of sincerely wanting to help people is that you gain, both in personality and stature, when you adopt a giving attitude. And in most cases, the cost of giving is small, and the impact, much bigger. 

You can't go through life giving and not have it affect you. This is the best part of the exercise. The intangible benefits of helping other people gain you the advantages that you hoped to procure by networking in the first place, but not in a tit-for-tat manner.  You're building a network of good will that helps them. Just as profit is created from raw materials through the exchange of goods, benefit is generated in excess of the cost through successful networking, which means everyone who chooses to participate, wins. This manner of thinking is counterintuitive, but correct. And for those who are scratching their heads, the idea of generousity does not apply to your entire life. Giving away all you earn or your services or time for free is a quick route to the poorhouse. The principle of giving in networking only applies to small cost, large impact decisions. So be generous. Learn to help others.  Pass around names.  Take the time to give numbers.  Actually call your contacts and tell them to talk to the person you offered to help.  Send the email from your phone while standing there. 

Take the focus off your needs and put it on others, and you'll find that networking boosts your energy and productivity, instead of being another chore you slog through. To a stingy man, the world is a window to be closed, keeping what is yours and preventing others from taking it. To a generous man, the world beckons like an open doorway, promising riches, excitement, and pleasure the rest of his day. Networking isn't just about finding leads, or job prospects, or people who can help you. It's about improving your social skills, gaining critical knowledge, and branding yourself as a go-to candidate.  Take the focus off yourself, and you will find that people respond to good will.

Why You Should Be Careful About Accepting Invitations On LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a formal suggestion that you not connect to people you don't know on LinkedIn.  Open Networkers (LION for LinkedIn Open Networker) and recruiters in general, tend to ignore this, but I wanted to share with you a reason not to do this. 

A profile asked for a connection earlier today.  It was a pretty young lady named Kambree Derucher with a profile, two companies worked at, and 71 connections.  

I searched Kambree Derucher, and found nothing on Google. That was weird, because LinkedIn usually has profiles unless they are deliberately turned off. So I checked her connections.  

Every connection had a first name that started with J and a last name that started with D.

Knowing this was now a spam account, I did a TinEye reverse image search on the profile picture, and found the image was actually that of a murdered young college student from a few years back.  I notified LinkedIn and posted this on Facebook, where I hear from Stacy Donovan Zapar, who says she received 100 invites from people whose first name started with A and last name started with A. 

Who was the spammer?  Someone looking to access email addresses probably. Maybe I'd get a message in the future, or a text message.  Maybe they would use my name or picture to trick some of my connections into linking to them. It's hard to say.  But this much we can say. 

1) If you have a funny feeling about a profile, check it out using Google TinEye, and the connections.  Recognize that if the spammer has been active long enough, they may have your friends as connections (which means you need smarter friends). 

2) If you're a guy over the age of 25, and young pretty women want to connect to you on Facebook - don't.  I mean really guys, at the very least do a little research, because it's embarrassing when the spammer does get caught and you're listed as a friend. 

3) It's not a bad idea to have a separate email address for your social media accounts, keeping it out of your business and personal emails.  This may seem like a pain, but as more platforms are targeted, you run the risk of having all of your personal information compromised. 

4) Keep personal information personal.  As much as possible, leave out your home address, home phone numbers, and information about your children.  There's no hiding completely, but if you make it easy, you're opening yourself up to risk. If you do post personal information, code it.  Guys like Craig Fisher just numbers his children.  Others come up with personal names.  Many wait to post vacation photos until they return home.

5) Finally, learn to log out of google, facebook, twitter, and other sites from your phone and laptop. It's a pain to type them in, but that access can lead to information leaking across networks.

You can't be paranoid about safety, but you can be, well, safer.  



How To Get A Job (2012 Edition)

{if anything begs for an infographic, it's this}

Getting a Job in 1995:

In the old days, you typed up a resume and a cover letter and sent it to local companies.  If they liked you, they brought you in and hired you.

Getting a Job in 2012:

You check your email notifications for an alert from a local MeetUp networking group where you take your free MooCards that you got as a Klout perk and connect with people on your LinkedIn mobile app from your iPhone so that when you find see a position posted on Twitter you can get referred through Jobvite from a current employee.  You then check YouTube for employment branding videos from the manager you'll meet with, as well as setting google alerts to let you know if the company is about to be acquired. Prior to meeting in person, you video screen through Skype with a recruiter, then take a series of online behavioral screens to determine culture fit.  By now you've of course uploaded presentations to slideshare to goose the search engine rankings for your name, and removed bad information from your Facebook timeline, as well as adding a few tasteful photos to your Flickr and Instagram accounts of your volunteer work and some kind of exciting vacation trip. After interviewing, you respectfully post good reviews (names withheld of course) on your Tumblr feed for the interviewer to read to make them think you liked them, and when the offer comes, you check Salary.com to make sure you got a fair offer. Finally, you take drug, criminal, education and credit checks, unless the company got the EEOC memo about avoiding general filters that could have a disparate impact on your hiring population.

Did I miss anything?