The key to your success

The power of ‘things’

A characteristic of modernity has been the ubiquitous use of tools, and a characteristic of an effective modern individual is someone who can use these tools to their greatest potential.

In contemporary society our homes, offices and the wider urban environment are awash with technological tools in the form of devices and gadgetry. They have been created with the prospect of making modern living easier to navigate and manage, as well as facilitating increased possibilities of communication.

An interesting interpretation of these technical objects concerns not only the capabilities that they afford us but also the way that they shape our social interactions. The dichotomy that exists between humans and objects is embedded in the way in which we participate in our world. It is often seen to be a dichotomy of experience; between the experiencer and the thing experienced.

The majority of our environment is composed of objects; hence most of our activities and relationships are performed through them. Mobile technology has revolutionised the way we keep in contact and the way we share information, many of us now feel the loss of an imagined limb when we lose our phone. The recent progress made in technological innovation has transported us from merely using tools and objects, to reaching a near state of immersion with them. We now form part of an ‘always on’ network, contactable 24/7, anywhere in the world (signal permitting), leading to the effective shrinking of the globe. Furthermore, mobile technology has now made us immediately accountable for our actions, if we are running late for a meeting we are expected to update our status whilst on the move.

A new era of interactivity has transformed the passive consumption of media and use of technology into a very active relationship. People no longer just stare at screens; instead they are called upon to engage with the information in-front of them.

There is a rich metaphysical tradition in the West to view objects not as inert but full of lively intensities. This interesting notion outlines that we possess a drive to seek alliances with objects, suggesting that there is an irresistible magnetism between things and ourselves. This leads us to think about the enchantment power of objects and our persistent attempts to both use them and ‘get to know’ them. The power of art is a good example of objects possessing the capacity to impress.

It has been said that ’thing power’ works by exposing a porosity; we are susceptible to infusion with or by other ‘things’. Aside from technology, advances in biochemistry have recently revealed the multiple non-human contributions made to human behaviour. When any human acts, we never exercise exclusively human powers, but rather we express and reflect the combined powers of things within us (eg. chemicals, micro-bodies, foods, sounds). And so to delve further into the notion of the power of ‘things’ we can come to the conclusion that non-human objects may in-fact constitute our own perceived actions.

This subscribes to the widely held opinion that many of us are now becoming ‘addicted’ to the technology we use. Some people in the company of their friends, or at the family dinner table will check their phone every five minutes out of habit, and there is a strong belief that these kinds of behaviours are negatively impacting people’s interpersonal skills. But, on the flip-side, there is now a new agreement on social etiquette involving the technology that we use in our lives. Yes, it is an invaluable element for many of us, but it should never take centre stage above and beyond human interaction, if there are people present they both demand and deserve our attention.

We can all reflect upon the items that we own and their implications upon the way we go about our daily business. The true modern individual must recognise the involvement of ‘things’ by embracing the capabilities that technology has afforded us as well as realising the way it shapes our work and lives.

By Kate Grigg, Researcher – PR Division

Selfridges ‘The Beauty Project’ – In association with Dove

“An attempt at undermining female stereotyping, or a hypocritical marketing scheme?”

The offer to go and hear some prominent female journalists speak (including Tiffanie Darke, Tanya Gold and Tania Bryer), whilst soaking up the luxe atmosphere of Selfridges’ infamous beauty counter, is at first an appealing evening out. Selfridge’s Beauty Project is a six week programme designed to raise awareness of concerns over the ‘pinkification’ of young girls – the dangerous stereotyping of women, often resulting in low self-esteem and a desire to please.

The campaign seems like a brilliant way of engaging a variety of consumers; those seeking to hear these stand out achievers speak, those hoping to pick up some free Selfridges gear, and those perhaps just looking to learn a bit more about this new wave of brand-aware feminism.

See Proctor & Gamble’s Always ad which utilises Twitter’s growing feminist collective to promote the #Likeagirl, questioning why we describe negative actions as ‘like a girl’. The issue I have with Selfridges’ The Beauty Project is that it plays on a cultural anxiety; the hyper-sexualisation and subordination of women, to encourage attendees at its beauty salon. Furthermore it’s sponsored by Dove, who promote their ‘body beautiful’ outlook, whilst sharing their owner Unilever with Lynx – whose adverts consistently offend mainstream feminist thought.

The Selfridges campaign is fraught with contradictions – it encourages consumption on the back of a contentious issue and its sponsorship is too transparent. Gender equality is being utilised in campaigns (like the Always ad) sparking debate, interaction and awareness. Perhaps high street stores will learn from the digital agency frontrunners and future campaigns might avoid Selfridge’s blatant hypocrisy.

By Anastasia Taysom, Researcher – Branding, Strategy & Insights

 

Find the ‘working you’ again

Picture courtesy of the www.talentedladiesclub.com

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting experience for many women, but with the right approach and sufficient planning, both at home and with your employer, the transition needn’t be a hard one.

It is more than possible to establish a flexible working agenda, to the mutual benefit of both employees and employers alike. All that is required is a degree of understanding on the part of not just the individual returning to work but their employer and their colleagues.

It’s important to remember that flexible work is no longer a taboo, not everyone seeking flexible work is a mum – there are dads, retired individuals and city high flyers who want to work in a different way. Recent research indicated that two thirds of men consider flexible work an important factor when looking for a new job. Increasing numbers of innovative employers are changing their approach to finding new talent, and are focusing more on output achieved, than time put in to get there.

Top tips for getting back into work 

Be realistic. Honestly assess your situation and understand your true motivations for returning to work, consider the financial and emotional implications surrounding childcare, and what arrangements you’ll need.

Find dependable childcare, there are numerous options and it’s important to find what is right for you. Nanny shares, childminders, nurseries and au pairs are all workable solutions. It’s sensible to also have a back-up person in case things don’t go quite to plan. Look for a safe, stimulating environment and qualified caregivers. Ask other mums, neighbours, your NCT friends and co-workers for recommendations. Check caregivers’ references and trust your instincts.

Talk to your employer. Clarify your job duties and schedule so you’ll know what’s expected of you after you come back to work. You might ask about flexible hours, telecommuting or working part time. It is crucial that you take responsibility for your own ‘outputs’ and effectively manage your employer’s expectations. Often employees are worried about broaching the topic, don’t feel put out but instead demonstrate your understanding of the needs of the business. This will ensure your employer can see your dedication and allow them to recognise what is important and realistic for you.

Stay connected. Even a few months out of the workplace can leave you fearing that all your skills and experience have deserted you. You need to re-connect with the ‘working you’ and the people who valued what you did in the workplace; contact colleagues and work friends, invite your old boss for a coffee and try to attend away days or appraisals.  You are entitled to 10 ‘keeping in touch days’ during your maternity leave without it affecting your maternity pay.

Overall, I advise adopting a mindset which sees setbacks as challenges to overcome. Be realistic (don’t crash and burn!), develop a ‘can do’ attitude and remember you’re not alone; more than 80% of employees – men and women – are parents. Good luck!

By Alice Weightman, Managing Director – Hanson Search

 

Higher Education: In the Pursuit of Excellence?

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC has found that more than 20,000 students complained to their universities last year. An increase of 10% on the year before, the findings have been welcomed by Universities Minister, David Willets, who believes that students are demanding more for their £9,000 a year fee.

As fraught with tension as a Birmingham school governors’ meeting, university tuition fees have long been a contentious issue: they have caused, the now infamous, protests on the streets of London, and have contributed to the rise (remember Cleggmania?) and fall of Nick Clegg, who in 2010 signed a pledge to block any rise in tuition fees, before performing a rather stunning volte-face just in time for the door of his ministerial car to close.

Students, now kettled by the burden of £9,000 fees, ‘see themselves more as consumers than they used to’, according to Rob Behrans, an independent adjudicator for higher education. He adds, ‘they want to get the best degree they can get’. It is this, somewhat facile, argument that seems to have been accepted as a suitable explanation for the growing malaise among students.

And yet, unlike crotchety pensioners bemoaning the cost of a second class stamp, the students interviewed by the BBC did not mention the growing cost of their courses: what worries them is that their studies will leave them unprepared, and unable, to get a foot on the career ladder.

Funding cuts to universities, announced in 2011, have hit newer, teaching-focused institutions especially hard, resulting in a notable reduction in staff numbers. This has led to decreased contact time, a move towards online lectures, and an increase in ‘self-study’ (a.k.a. a good time to watch Murder, She Wrote).

To make up for this funding shortfall, universities have adopted proactive, extravagant marketing campaigns, leading them to be accused of a ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em short’ approach, with the reality not living up to the promise of the glossy brochures.

Mr Willets is right in his assertion that it is encouraging to learn that students are concerned about their education. It is also comforting to know that there is an ombudsman to assess the concerns of disgruntled students. But what about those who finish their studies ill-equipped for the world of work?

It may, more than ever, be necessary for students to look to extra-curricular activities to gain the required skills to get their first career break. If students want to increase their desirability to future employers, they should look to acquire experience outside the traditional realms of academia.  Similarly, if employers want to ensure that the next crop of university leavers be prepared to face the challenges of a graduate role, it is up to them to offer work experience opportunities, such as internships (preferably paid ones, but that’s a blog topic of its own) to supplement their studies.

For some students, higher education may not be the silver bullet it once was, but with employers increasingly keen to see examples of achievements outside the sphere of education, their dream job may be more obtainable than they think.

Are you a driven student looking to gain valuable work experience in a challenging, stimulating sector? We are offering roles in our research team. You will have exposure to different functions of the business and be involved in a range of projects: research; press and social media monitoring; global mapping of markets; database cleansing.

For more information, email: intern@hansonsearch.com

By Christopher Cuthbert, Researcher – Communications Division

A mid-level talent shortage…

As a specialist communications recruiter, we are often asked about industry trends, how the market is shaping up and what the toughest levels to recruit are……always a tough one, but the answer to that is, usually, the mid-level roles. There is a continuing shortage of mid-level talent across the PR and PA industry, and it seems to cross all markets from corporate or consumer PR, to healthcare, digital and public affairs.

So where does all the talent go? There is plenty at a junior level and a decent amount at a senior level, so what happens at the middle tier?

Everyone is different, but often at the beginning of people’s careers their moves are about money and promotion. So, in order to attract great talent at the junior end, you can entice them with a step up in terms of responsibility or salary. As people progress in their career and become more confident in their ability and value, this tends to change.

People become more focused on enjoying what they do and having clients, or a business, they are truly passionate about. Having something to aim for, having the ability to show their creative ideas and implement them and the importance of flexibility in a happy, balanced working life, are the most common desires. This may be because they are starting a family/settling down, but not always. Often it’s because they are driven, hard working and determined individuals who feel frustrated that they are encouraged to be tied to a desk from 8am-6pm to provide great output and results.

So what can businesses do to attract this hard-to-find, mid-level talent?

Be open minded and be flexible. Any working arrangement has to work for both parties and the employer needs to ensure that they trust the person will deliver, and work the hours needed. So you may start someone on five days a week in the office with the plan that, once past probation, they can work some days from home. Or you may want them to send a daily report with their activities and tasks completed that day initially. In the digital age it’s pretty easy to see what someone is adding to the business and what their output is. Being open to different working arrangements can open businesses up to an extra pool of candidates with great talents that otherwise they wouldn’t access, and if you’re not, and your competitors are, you could lose current talent too.

By Janie Emmerson, Director – Communications Division

Global Healthcare Communications Salary & Benefits survey…

Hanson Search has been recruiting in the Healthcare Communications sector for over 12 years. During that time we have seen the industry undergo unprecedented change.

This change is a topic of ongoing industry discussion as it has a great impact on effectively benchmarking salaries and benefits in Healthcare Communications.

In order to understand these differences in salaries and benefits, we would be really grateful if you could complete this five minute survey; and also share it amongst friends and colleagues to whom it may apply. We plan to release a report of our findings and will circulate it to all those who contributed.

For every survey we receive, Hanson Search will donate £1 to our annual CSR project, which is currently about promoting diversity in the communications industry.  To find out more about our CSR project please go to http://www.hansonsearch.com/blog/?p=2185

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HansonSearch

Le recrutement via les réseaux sociaux : Info ou Intox?

Les réseaux sociaux ont vu le jour il y a quelques années et ne cessent de se développer. Au départ, il s’agissait simplement de garder contact avec ses connaissances, mais très vite ils sont devenus de véritables outils professionnels servant aux candidats et aux recruteurs.

La place des réseaux sociaux dans le quotidien des Internautes

Linkedin, Viadeo, Facebook, Twitter… sont des réseaux sociaux qui, ces dernières années, ont véritablement bouleversé le monde du recrutement.

Ils font désormais partie des outils de recrutement utilisés par beaucoup d’entreprises /cabinets de recrutement.

D’après les chiffres d’Internet World Stats, il y aurait 518 millions d’utilisateurs d’Internet en Europe, soit 64,5% de la population européenne. D’après eMarketer, 62% des utilisateurs d’Internet en Europe occidentale en 2013 seraient notamment des utilisateurs de réseaux sociaux.

Monde

Europe

France

Facebook

982 millions

251 millions

25 millions

LinkedIn

200 millions

50 millions

5 millions

Twitter

500 millions

-

≈ 2,3 millions

Viadeo

50 millions

11 millions

7 millions

Il n’ y a plus de doute, les réseaux sociaux font partie de notre quotidien. En Europe, les chercheurs d’emploi sont très actifs: 81% d’entre eux sont présents sur ces réseaux et la plupart y ont quotidiennement recours.

Les plateformes de réseaux sociaux les plus populaires permettent de cibler un public plus large et grandissant, ce qui incite les entreprises à entrer dans l’univers des réseaux sociaux. En trois ans à peine, les entreprises ont augmenté leur présence sur les réseaux sociaux de près de 50%.

Les réseaux sociaux les plus utilisés pour le recrutement

Les réseaux professionnels comme LinkedIn sont les plus utilisés pour le recrutement. LinkedIn est le leader européen; 64% des entreprises l’utilisent pour trouver de nouveaux talents. Facebook arrive en deuxième position, avec 41% des entreprises qui l’insèrent à leur stratégie de recrutement. Et pour finir, 29% des entreprises ont recours à Twitter.

Un recrutement plus stratrégique

  • Faire baisser le volume de candidatures pour augmenter la qualité des candidatures reçues
  • Faire baisser le coût de recrutement
  • Cibler des zones géographiques auxquelles les recruteurs n’avaient pas accès
  • Identifier sa cible de manière préçise: Sourcer les réseaux sociaux permet effectivement d’être en contact direct avec LE candidat
  • Engager un vrai dialogue entre recrutés et recruteurs

Un puissant outil de recrutement

Étant donné la forte présence des entreprises/employeurs/chasseurs de tête et des chercheurs d’emploi sur les réseaux sociaux, cet outil n’est pas à négliger. Au fil des années, cette méthode de recrutement se révèle être de plus en plus puissante.  Effectivement, les réseaux sociaux sont devenus une solution sérieuse et intelligente pour sourcer et trouver de bons candidats, permettant de recruter plus vite et à moindre coût.

Par Laurence Levy, Headhunter – Advertising & Digital

Big Data Analytics: Just a new business fashion? Maybe not!

In the past decade technology has increasingly became part of our daily lifestyle affecting in a positive or negative way, our day-to-day routine. However, looking at the bigger picture, more important has been the impact of technology on business in all its matters.

Since the inception of computers in business related functions, multi megabyte, gigabyte and lately terabyte storage systems have been employed to store key business information: sales data, growth rates, market trends, performance appraisals and so on (the list could probably fill several pages). In addition and more recently, the introduction of new technologies such as social media or smart contents brought in an almost completely new dimension of information. In fact, while the former traditional typology of data is defined as structured, the latter more recent, it’s commonly defined as unstructured.

Thus, given these two definitions, what is big data? In simple words it is the merge of structured and unstructured data and its consequent analysis aimed at providing a better understanding of business matters and helping the decision making process. However, some might reasonably question why the effort of this big analysis should matter to their businesses. The following examples will hopefully answer this question.

The well known management consulting firm McKinsey analysed a large retailer and estimated, through the use of big data analytics in full, an increase of operating margin of more than 60%. Also, a conjoint study of several private and public organizations estimated savings of $200 billion by the US Healthcare System due to the use of big data to drive efficiency and quality. If this is not enough, this last example will convince you of the usefulness of big data. On a more consumer and economic viewpoint, it has been proved that the use of big data to analyse the large amount of “personal-location data” is able to generate a $600 billion surplus receiving the right information at the right time according to your location.

As can be seen from the above examples, the applications of big data analytics result extremely broad and the benefits are brought to businesses of any kind as well as consumers.  Big data analytics will quickly become a key competitive advantage leverage. Most likely, the most responsive businesses to use big data analytics to drive key decisions will be the top players of the near future.

By Davide Cassanelli - Headhunter Market Reasearch and Analytics

The STAR Technique – An oldie but goodie to use in interviews

Walking into an interview can be a daunting task. Your hard work and achievements will be scrutinised and you’ll be expected to demonstrate your skills under pressure. Entering an interview with confidence goes a long way. Ultimately, this all comes down to the preparation.

Candidates often express their concerns to me regarding how to answer certain questions. Describing your input into a complex communications plan can be tricky. When I’m interviewing candidates I need to assess their level of capability and proven track record. You need to avoid confusing the interviewer with irrelevant details and still be concise and clear about the work you contributed to a project.

The STAR technique has been around for a long time but its relevance still stands. “Star” is most useful when establishing ways of expressing your achievements during interviews. The table below outlines the formula.

STAR Theory Answer
S = situation Briefly describe the situation or scene. I was working in a large communications agency as a Account Manager in the public affairs team
T = task Say what’s needed to be done to address the situation and what your role and responsibilities were. Our clients came to us as the government announced they were going to increase taxes and our client was going to be negatively affected. They commissioned us to campaign against the proposed tax increases.
A = action Say what you did and how you did it. Include your reasons if they are useful. I developed a stakeholder map of political targets and interest groups. I then engaged with these groups and secured meetings for my client with relevant MP’s and business leaders. Before the meetings I briefed my clients.
R = results Say what happened as a result of your action. As a result of the campaign my clients were able to convince the MP’s that the increased taxes would have a negative impact and therefore shouldn’t be introduced.

I also advice my candidates to record feedback they receive from their clients and managers. It’s reassuring for an interviewer to know your work is valued by others.

As a comms professional it’s imperative that you showcase your oral communicational skills. At the interview stage eloquence and confidence is key. To achieve this, prepare well. Use the STAR technique!

By Danielle Randall, Consultant – PR Division

What have we learnt from #SXSW14 Interactive?

With so much hype and excitement happening across the Atlantic in Austin, Texas where the annual South by South West Festival is taking place, I wanted to have a look at the hot topics and new trends that have emerged from the festival.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with #SXSW14, it is an annual music, film, interactive conference and festival where the brightest minds in emerging technology come together to explore cutting edge technology and digital creativity.  It is a labyrinth of networking events, keynote speeches, presentations and panel discussions as well as a host of late night parties and events for those not wanting to retire to their hotel room.

It is now in its 21st year and has been a catalyst for many of the technology advances we see today, it can be the starting point for a process/product that will change the way we communicate and live our daily lives (most notably Twitter in 2007 and the launch of Foursquare in 2009). This year amassed more than 30,000 delegates and over 1.2 million twitter conversations giving you an idea of the sheer size of the event.

So what are the key things that people are taking away from this year’s festival?

1.       Data Security and Privacy

An appearance from whistleblower Edward Snowden via video link and a talk by Julian Assange shows how important online privacy and data security is – a global concern, many will argue that we can no longer sit back and allow this huge breach of human rights to continue.  Eric Schmidt at Google also joined the debate and spoke at length on the dangers of the misuse of online data the day before. As Snowden said: “They are setting fire to the future of the internet. It’s the maker community who can create solutions to make us safe.”  The future is uncertain but one thing is clear, it will not be tolerated.

2.       Wearable Technologies

Last year was all about the emergence of 3D printing, this year was all about wearable technology.  From the Google Glasses to The Talking Shoe, it was about demonstrating the technological advances of the tech power players.  Although some concerns are circulating regarding privacy issues around the glasses, the tech world still seems to be embracing them.

3.       Technology and biology are emerging

Bioengineering was one of the most innovative ideas that came out of the festival, with Joi Ito saying we will need to know about this just as much as the internet in the near future.  This concept is fascinating and shows amazing ways that biology and technology can work together to benefit our existence – in a talk “Full of Tomorrow” Paul Kemp-Robertson and James Kirkham spoke about the “Human Body as the next Interface”, explaining technologies like functional contact lenses which augment your world with visual data through to epidermal electronics, which can read tiny changes in body temperature to give us signals about our health. Wow.

4.       3D Printing is getting bigger and bigger

From everyday objects, to food and even buildings – yes the 3D printer is advancing in a phenomenal way.  It emerged that the MIT media lab had developed a cable suspended robotic crane for 3D printing buildings.  3D printed food came in the form of the ChefJet printer which churned out colourful shapes of food and with Cadbury-owner Mondelez International pushing the boundaries and debuting a new 3D printing machine that makes Oreos. How businesses spring up to monetise amazing innovations such as these will be fascinating to watch.

It has certainly been an awe-inspiring few days and there have been some hot topics and interesting technological advances coming out of the festival once again.  I think this quote from the guys at iTech pretty much sums up the festival….As the Internet and mobile devices grew in importance, the SXSW Interactive Festival became its own entity, introducing some of the tech world’s largest forces over the past few years…This year, the trend continues as some of today’s biggest names in technology rub shoulders with the world’s best musicians and film directors. “

I am sure the unforgettable inspirational experiences that only SXSW can deliver will only continue to get bigger and bigger in the future. I for sure, will be working on my MD to secure us tickets for next year.

Until then….

By Amy Stewart, Senior Consultant – PR Division