Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Digital Recruitment Confusions

Confession: I am a jobseeker. Otherwise known in recruitment as 'talent'.

Since leaving my previous job (end of 2010) it's been an interesting experience to say the least. The digital landscape is so new, and changes so rapidly, that it seems to be a confusing time for both the jobseeker and sometimes even the recruiter!

I'll give a couple of personal examples here and then a few thoughts on what could be causing all the confusion. The first example is a real conversation I had with a recruiter, X who rang me up after finding my CV on Monster.com :

X:   So, I see from your CV that you have worked in social media?

me: Yep, most of my roles have involved social media work, and it is definitely something that interests me.

X:   Great, so in these previous roles were you involved in structuring social media?

me: Uh, I was involved in developing the social media strategy, for the companies I worked for, yes.

X:   Yes but what about the structure

me: I implemented staff social media training, so I had a positive influence on the communications structure...

X: [long pause]

Me: Or do you mean the structure of the platforms? I'm not a developer so unfortunately I can't claim to have built or altered the structure of a social media platform...

At which point I was cut off. I'd be really interested to see what the brief for that job actually was! Was he talking about being a thought-leader, how I had shaped  and structured the social sphere itself? Was he trying to get me to describe myself as a social media 'guru' (I wouldn't, I hate the term)? Or had he just got the wrong end of the stick when my CV said I developed a strategy and thought I built a new Twitter? I guess i'll never know. He had called from an unknown number, and I didn't catch his name.  

Experience number two was with a recruitment company I sourced myself. I found their website (a bit flash heavy, but creative and professional) and sent them my CV. They called back for a chat and told me they'd email over a job description that suited what I was looking for. Less than 10 minutes later, someone else called from the same company, to ask if i'd be interested in a job 6k under my expected salary and for a fluent French speaker. He said he saw I had a French A-level and wondered if I'd be happy doing SEO in French??

I realise these two examples won't be indicative of digital recruitment as a whole, and I am also (of course) grateful that my CV is attracting calls at all, but it does seem a bit concerning. I think I may also know one of the problems: terminology. As I said at the beginning this is a very rapidly changing environment, and the English language is slow moving. Unsurprisingly there is a bit of disagreement about we call these people that do all these newfangled things! For example:

Content Manager - this is not necessarily a managerial level role. It could be executive or even entry level. What matters is that the individual is managing content i.e curating what copy and images are on the website. They could be writing the copy themselves or just co-ordinating and sub-editing it.

Web Editor - pre web 2.0 this used to mean the guy/girl that had built the website. This now more commonly means someone who edits the copy on the website, so needs much less technical experience. Of course the web editor should preferably know some HTML, and the principles of SEO but will nowadays be more likely to be editing text via a content management system (not to be confused with the content manager, above) than coding anything.

Q: What do you call the person hired to run the company Twitter, Facebook and Youtube presences? 

A: Social media Executive/Assistant,  Social Media Marketer,  Digital Marketer,  Online Marketer, Social Community Manager (again not managerial level)Community Moderator and many many more. If they also run the blog, this can extend to job titles including the aforementioned 'content' and 'editor' keywords as well.

I have held (and also applied for) many of these roles, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have a skillset to put a swiss army knife to shame! What it does mean is I have looked past the sometimes arbitrary titles, to what the role will actually involve on a day to day level, and seen whether my experience matches this. 

For the moment, until there is an established nomenclature for positions within digital, perhaps this is the best we - as individuals - can do. Recruiters can try to gain deeper knowledge of the digital sector, listening to their clients, and listening to the jobseekers and really trying to get what the person will be doing. This is no longer as simple as "agency side (check) , account manager (check), digital experience (check)" as that last term could me a whole lot of things, in a whole lot of contexts, with a bunch of different names! 

Of course I wouldn't tar all recruiters with the same brush. Some agencies specialise in digital, and others are just genuinely very good and take the time to get to know the client and the jobseeker. I have had the pleasure of meeting and dealing with both these types. I am just interested in the way recruitment has been affected by the myriad of changes in this developing sector, and what might be causing the communication difficulties which appear to be faced by jobseeker and recruiter alike. I'm interested, as always, to hear your thoughts.

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