Career and social media advice from one of the most influential recruiters in the world

By Neil Patrick

One of the things I love about writing this blog is the great contacts I have made because of it. Social media is such a powerful platform, that despite living in a forest in Wales, I’m in daily touch with amazing people all over the planet.

One of the most remarkable of these people is Axel Koster. Since 2002 Axel has been the General Manager of the Manhattan Group, a global executive search recruitment firm specialising in the luxury hotel, resort & event management sector, placing candidates from manager to VP levels. Axel is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Four and a half years ago, Axel picked up on the growth of social media and decided that it would be a powerful way for him to build a much stronger personal network. This would be beneficial to both his clients and job candidates. To say he has succeeded in his goal would be an understatement. Developing his own unique style of presenting relevant content, today he has over 360,000 followers on Twitter! This year, his Twitter following has increased every single month by around 10,000 people!

Axel has gone much further than most people in his industry and has created his own branded hashtag #AxelJob which helps spread his jobs fast and wide across social media networks. He has also created his #AxelHappy hashtag which is for motivational and inspiring Tweets. Axel welcomes other recruitment companies using his hashtags for the simple reason they give career seekers a better chance of securing suitable positions.

Axel Koster
Axel’s LinkedIn network currently includes 9,427 people, ranking him amongst the top 1% most viewed profiles on LinkedIn.

Kred scores Axel’s social media influence as 984 out a maximum possible of 1,000. He is now ranked in the top 10 people most influential people in Australia according to Kred. To put this in perspective, in January 2013, not one of the world’s largest pharmaceuticals companies with their huge marketing resources and budgets, scored more than 800 points on Kred. In case you are interested, the 3 highest scoring were Novartis, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer.

But as you’ll discover when you see Axel's video below, he’s firmly of the view that big numbers should not be our goal in social media. He shares my belief that social media is about listening and helping, rather than telling and selling!

For the first 15 years of his career, Axel was a chef, rising through the ranks of his profession to become the Managing Director of the Templeton Marine Hotel in 1997. In 2002, he swapped the hotel industry for the recruitment industry.

So how did this former chef turn from being an accomplished but largely unknown hotel industry professional to a social media phenomena?

Since I am lucky to count Axel amongst my circle of friends, I thought I should get his answers to what I think are some pretty important questions for readers of this blog directly from him. Because he has the double qualification of being both a senior recruitment industry executive AND social media expert, he’s probably just about the most well qualified person on the planet to ask.

So here are my questions and his answers:

How do you think social media has affected the recruitment industry over the last 5 years?

Social media (SM) has become a very important factor in many industries and certainly within recruitment markets. It has fundamentally changed the way many companies now communicate and respond to different situations.

Companies without an SM presence are losing out and new firms with a better appreciation of SM are rapidly building market share. SM has also allowed many individuals to start their own company and work from home. For these people it’s important to also have a detailed understanding in their field and of course a strong network in their industry.

It is crucial for companies and individuals to establish an effective SM ‘footprint’. Establish a roadmap so to speak which allows us to understand and follow through on our own objectives and progress.

How valuable do you think social media is in advancing our career ambitions?

SM is often seen as an advancement in social flexibility and it says a lot about your personality and character. The challenge here is that there are so many new SM sites coming online so frequently. Which ones should you use and which will give you the best return on your time and investment?

There is no doubt in my mind that individuals and organisations with good SM presence and understanding have an advantage over those that do not. We all have to respond to the fact that modern communications technology has reshaped our lives in the last few years.

What should a mature professional that hasn’t really started building their social media profile do as a priority?

The first question you should ask yourself is what do you want to get out of it and which is the best SM site for you? Then do some research to discover how well different sites deliver against your requirements. Some sites work best for family/friend relationships. Others are more geared to professional or business connections. Match your site choice to your personal requirements.

It’s often a great idea to speak to some friends or colleagues if you are new to SM and ask them about their preferences, experiences and recommendations.

My belief is that we should all start by walking before trying to run. Make a start now, show your willingness to commit and half the battle is already won.

What do you think are the most important do’s and don’ts for professionals using social media?

The two do's are very clear for me: I feel passionate about positivity and sharing information to all avenues of SM but I dispute senseless negativity, bullying and hatred.

For larger companies it is imperative to have a procedure around who does what and what the content is all about. I often feel that larger companies are far better off engaging an experienced and skilled SM firm to get their message out in the best possible way. SM must have boundaries and they must be comprehensively stated and understood by everyone involved.

Individuals on the other hand can achieve wonderful impacts through SM showing their professional talents and building an appreciative audience. People only need encouragement and a bit of start up assistance to become pros in their own way.

I'm really blessed meeting so many people through SM and I have endless contacts through Skype, landline or just DM's with people which I would have never met without the remarkable tool of SM.

Axel has also produced this YouTube video as part of his YouTube channel in which he shares some great detail and insights about his thoughts about how we should all approach building our social media profiles:

Axel's Social Media Chat Blog -YouTube

I’d like to thank Axel here not only for all he’s done to help me, but also the thousands of others who have benefited from his willingness to share his insight and experience. I've had the pleasure of speaking with Axel on various occasions now. What marks him out as special to me is his generosity, integrity, humility and down to earth personality. Perhaps these are the most valuable secrets of his success we can all learn from.

I cannot recommend strongly enough that you should connect with Axel in whichever way you prefer.

You’ll find him on Twitter @AxelKoster

You can also reach him and the Manhattan Group here:

Invite Axel to connect with you on LinkedIn here:

Subscribe to his YouTube channel here:

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