Why we all need to rethink our career plans right now

By Neil Patrick

We all need to think differently about our jobs and careers in the 21st century. This isn’t something which is ever talked about in the mainstream media. They are too busy reporting job losses and hunting down stories about new jobs being created. At best you’ll find tips about interviews or resume writing. None of this information deals with the fundamental shifts in society that we seeing today and which will become more and more dominant in the future. Worse, none of this really helps people who are desperately searching for jobs and trying to figure out why even if they have great qualifications, they still can’t find work…

What is REALLY going on?

Part of the reason for this tragic state of affairs is that the world is undergoing a radical transformation. It’s a change so great that nothing like it has happened for over two hundred years. It’s the endgame of a complex interplay between technology, energy sources, demographics, communications, globalisation and the biosphere.

Jeremy Rifkin’s latest book, “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” has set out an immensely insightful view of what’s really going on in the world today. And it has nothing to do with selfish businesses, greedy bankers or corrupt politicians.

As Rifkin says, “We are just beginning to glimpse the bare outlines of an emerging new economic system, the collaborative commons. This is the first new economic paradigm to emerge on the world scene since the advent of capitalism and socialism in the early 19th century. So it's a remarkable historical event. It has long-term implications for society”.

Technology will continue to make goods and services cheaper and cheaper until they are almost free

The trigger for this global change is something called “zero marginal cost”. Marginal costs are the costs of producing an extra unit of a good or service after your fixed costs are covered. All business people are familiar with marginal costs, most of the public isn't. And as I discussed here, marginal costs have been falling consistently for decades as technology progressively replaced expensive human labor and drove down the cost of production. I distinctly recall wanting a flat screen television about twelve years ago. I never bought one then, because they cost about £15,000. Today I could buy a bigger and much better TV for less than £1000.

Books used to be another thing I would spend a lot of money on. It wasn’t unusual for me to fork out £20, £30 or even more to buy a printed copy of a book that really interested me. Today I can download an electronic version usually for around £5. CDs would cost me £10-£15 each back then. Today, most CDs are about half that price and legal downloads even less.

Endlessly falling marginal cost means consumer goods and many services will continue to get cheaper and cheaper, heading ever closer to zero. Zero or near zero marginal cost is going to dramatically affect every single person in the world in the coming years in every aspect of their life.

A new economic paradigm is on its way right now

There's a paradox embedded in the heart of the capitalist market system that’s pretty much never discussed. This paradox has been responsible for the tremendous success of capitalism over the last two centuries. But here's the irony; the very success of this paradox is now leading to an end game and the new paradigm emerging is what Rifkin calls, “collaborative commons”.

In a traditional market, sellers are always constantly probing for new technologies that can increase their productivity, reduce their marginal costs so they can put out cheaper products and win over consumers and market share and beat out their competitors and bring some profit back to investors. So business people are always looking for ways to increase productivity and reduce their marginal cost.

But they simply never expected in their wildest dreams that there would be a technology revolution so powerful that it might reduce those margins of cost to near zero making goods and services essentially free, priceless and beyond the market exchange economy. That's now beginning to happen in the real world.

And the internet is at the heart of this transformation

The first inklings of this zero margin cost phenomenon was with the inception of the world wide web from 1990. Millions of consumers became prosumers with the advent of the Internet. Today, they produce and share their own videos, their own news blogs, their own entertainment and their own knowledge with each other. In these lateral networks, this is done at near zero marginal cost. It’s essentially free, completely bypassing the capitalist market.

This zero marginal cost phenomena wreaked havoc first on publishing businesses. Newspapers went out of business; they couldn't compete with near zero marginal costs. Magazines went out of business. Record companies went out of business.

But free stuff cannot easily be converted into stuff which earns us money

The strange thing about it is that at first a lot of industry watchers said this was a good thing. They argued that if we give out more and more information goods free and people are producing and sharing it free, these “freemiums” will stimulate people's appetite to want premiums and then upgrade this free goods and information by getting more customized information.

Musicians gave away their music free when they started to see this happen hoping that they would get a big loyal fan base and then their fans would be enticed to go to their concerts and pay the premium in order to be there in person. We saw a similar strategy with newspapers. The New York Times will give you ten free articles a month, hoping that you'll then upgrade to premiums and join their subscription service. It just didn't happen on any large scale.

This was very naïve by industry watchers. Sure, some people have moved from freemiums to premiums but when more and more information goods are out there nearly free shared with each other, music, film, arts, information and knowledge, the attention span and scarcity is not there to motivate people enough to want to pay for the premiums when they have so much available already for free.

What does this mean for jobs in the future?

All the while that this has been going on, jobs have become scarcer for more and more people. Even where human skills are required to deliver services, like healthcare, the ever increasing efficiency of the technology they use to provide care, means fewer and fewer people are needed.

The implications of the zero marginal cost society are huge. We all need to think differently about how we will earn a living in the coming years. There are several implications as I see it:
  1. Even if we are working full time currently, it is almost certain that the number of people organisations require to do the type of work we do will continue to reduce. 
  2. As traditional jobs continue to become scarcer, competition for the remaining jobs will continue to become fiercer. 
  3. The loss of a job is likely to result in longer periods without work. The loss of income coupled with continuing outgoings, will continue to bankrupt many people. 
Placing our entire faith in our skills and qualifications that have enabled our careers until now, will therefore not guarantee our incomes in the future. We all need to plan for this eventuality and the start point for this planning is how we assess the personal assets that we have to deploy. And these may be very different assets to the ones which have enabled our careers up to now.

I believe that we can keep ahead of this tsunami of job destruction if we embrace three essential ideas about our careers in the internet age:

The importance of connectivity and personal networks. The internet facilitates the development of our personal networks. The largest numbers of opportunities will accrue to those who are the best connected people. This is why Linkedin and other social media is so important to all of us.

Collaborative approaches will yield greater returns than competitive ones. Building our opportunities will be less and less as a result of competition. More and more they will be the result of collaborations. People do business with people they like. And helping others out is the best way I know to develop the necessary goodwill for a relationship which has future value to both parties.

Personal intellectual capital and especially forms of creativity that cannot be easy replicated by technology will be the most resistant to erosion. We tend to think of intellectual capital as a very corporate thing. But every one of us has personal intellectual capital which is ours and ours alone. It might be great cooking recipes. Or a gift for oratory, or the ability to show great empathy. The list is endless. But more than ever before we need to clearly understand what our personal intellectual capital assets are. This will be the only way we can figure out how we can leverage our value and continue to earn money in a zero marginal cost society…

What do the best career coaches actually do?

Do you need a career coach? How do you find the best career coach for your requirements?  

Career coaching is a new and high growth industry. There are over 300 coaches following me on Twitter alone. It’s arisen because as job search becomes ever more competitive and challenging, people are discovering the hard way that being really good at what you do is no longer enough to ensure that you have a successful career.

The best career coaches provide the insight and key skills that people need to reach their career ambitions. Whether that’s finding and getting hired into a new job, moving forward in an existing career, or making a complete change of direction mid-career.

But with so many coaches out there, how do you know what to look for to find the best coach for you?

Do you even need a career coach?

So I turned to my good friend Marcia LaReau, founder and President of Forward Motion US to try and find some answers to these questions. Marcia is exceptionally well qualified to deal with this subject. Since founding Forward Motion, Marcia has helped hundreds of people succeed in overcoming their career obstacles.

NP: Marcia, why do you think career coaching is needed at all?

ML: Thank you Neil. First I’d like to say that the definition of career coaching has changed dramatically with the economic situation. As we become a global, technology-driven economy, the very core attributes that are needed for businesses to succeed is changing. That in turn has changed career coaching.

Prior to the Great Recession we believed that we could define what we liked and enjoyed and pursue that as a career. At that time career coaches helped their clients identify what they liked and enjoyed and then helped them find a place where they could do those things, get paid a living wage and hopefully, grow their career. It was a long-term outlook.

Today this isn’t enough. It’s still important for a person to understand what they enjoy; however, businesses have been under a mandate to cut costs, increase profit margins and get everything out of their employees that they can. I don’t’ mean to infer that businesses are all being run by inhumane ogres. Many businesses are simply trying to survive. I also don’t mean to infer that there isn’t a fair amount of inordinate greed that causes companies to drive their employees past what is reasonable.

Let me get back to career coaching—the point here is that companies do not have the capacity to focus on the career growth of their employees (unless it is part of their succession plan and directly benefits the company). So today, everyone who wants to work is in charge of their career development and the direction they will pursue.

The scope of doing this is huge! People have to be aware of their core attributes from a business perspective. They have to position themselves both online and in the business community as a viable, credible resource in their areas of expertise. Then they have to understand the changes in their industry and how they can remain viable in a changing market. It’s a lot!

Today’s career coach is also a job coach and understands the hiring processes and the employment market. A career/job coach guides their clients to maneuver through the distractions to identify the employment goal and scope out an effective path to get there. In the process their client should (in my opinion) learn how to manage their career so they are proactive with regard to their future security.

Without a career coach, many people have become resigned to the idea that if they get a job that gives them a living wage, then they should be grateful and settle…even if they don’t like what they are doing for eight to 10 hours a day (or more), five to six days a week.

NP: Should someone use career coaching when they have a job, or is it really just for when they are facing unemployment?

ML: Businesses, industries are changing at record speed today. In my opinion, everyone should have a career coach and check in with him or her at least once a quarter and more often if there are signs that a business is losing its place in the market. Further, it is expected that everyone will change jobs every three to four years. It could be within a company, but not necessarily.

I believe every person who wants to work for more than five years should engage with a career coach as someone who is watching their industry and market and identifying potential disruptions that could cause an unwanted financial situation. In addition, the career coach should be looking for opportunities to grow potential earnings and help the client maintain their credibility in the industry and move their career in the direction that suits their long-term goals.

All the people that I talk to want to end their career strong. Today that is easier said than done!

NP: Does everyone need it, or are some job sectors more suited to it than others?

ML: Disruptive innovations such as Big Data and social media are changing the landscape of every job sector. So in my opinion, everyone should have a regular “career checkup” with a qualified career coach.

NP: If someone loses his or her job and money is consequently really tight, how can anyone justify spending money on coaching?

ML: How can they NOT justify it? One of the primary goals at Forward Motion is to reduce the time to employment. A good career coach should reduce the number of weeks of unemployment significantly.

Let’s say that a standard (non-executive) job search costs between $2K and $3,500. If a person makes, let’s say $52,000 a year. So the job search costs less than one month of salary. AND if the average job search is approximately six to eight months, and the job coach reduces that by four months, then the client is now $12,000 ahead because they spent $3K on a career coach.

Also, with a career coach, the chances a person will get a better job at a better salary, increases significantly.

NP: Tell me about the typical problems people come to you with?

ML: Their situations run the gamut of the imagination. Some people just have no idea how to go about the job search. They are bewildered and overwhelmed. Others have tried everything they can think of and used every available cost-free option they could find—nothing worked and the finally called me.

Some people are in industries that are failing or have already died and need to assess their transferrable skills and/or re-credential themselves and figure out how to get a new career path without having to start from scratch at as an entry-level employee.

And then there are the early-career millenials who see record-high unemployment numbers in their college friends. They don’t just want a job, but they want to do something that brings value and doesn’t just fill the pockets of corporate business owners and investors.

Finally, about 30% of my business includes executives, who many times have reached out to their network and come up empty. Executives, more than any other group, come to me earlier in their job search. They know they need help and that they aren’t an expert and they want someone who can advise them.

NP: And how does coaching help people overcome these problems?

ML: A good career coach knows the market and the current hiring practices. They can put together a customized program that will reduce the time to employment through a carefully designed, flexible search strategy.

A truly dynamic jobsearch strategy is anything but a shotgun approach where people apply for a ton of opportunities and hope something happens.

I believe that an effective program sets a foundation for the search by identifying the most viable employment opportunities where the jobseeker is found credible, and where they qualify for the jobs. Then they must create an airtight identity both online and through their application materials. That includes a stunningly polished and customizable cover letter and résumé. With the foundation in place, we apply for 5 jobs and find out how what happens. We then rework the materials and apply for five more jobs. Within two or three iterations, the client is getting calls for jobs that are a good fit.

NP: What can you tell me about your success rates?

ML: First, I don’t abandon clients. If they are diligent and conduct themselves in a professional manner, then we will work until they are hired. It’s harder in some industries than in others.


- 98% of Forward Motion clients get hired
- 76% of mid-career clients get hired in 68 days
- 96% of early-career clients get hired in 45 days

NP: If someone is considering career coaching, how should they go about finding the best coach for them?

ML: First, there should be a good fit from a relationship perspective. In other words, there should be open communication. A good career/job coach sometimes has to say things that are personal and private. The relationship should develop so that when comments are made, that are difficult to hear from the jobseekers perspective, the jobseeker knows it is being said with his or her best interest in mind. So the relationship must be candid and comfortable.

Second, the career coach should be someone who diligently wants to get place his or her client in a new job. This is tricky since the jobseeker brings in income for the career coach. There are some career coaches who want to sustain the relationship to earn more income. I am sorry to report this. I handle this by putting a cap on the cost of the jobsearch. So the jobseeker knows that expenses won’t get out of hand.

NP: What does it cost? And are there any things you’d caution people about?

ML: I try to provide my clients with choices around the costs. An early-career search may go as high as $2,500. A mid-career (non-executive) search may double that number although I haven’t had anyone do that. Executives are a different ballgame and it depends on how much he or she wants to do and how much I would do. So an executive search might be as little as $2500 and include no more than a stellar résumé, or it could be as high as $20K and include the total management of a jobsearch.

NP: Thanks Marcia.

ML: Thanks Neil.

I'd like to thank Marcia for the time she has taken to share these valuable insights. You can find out more about Forward Motion US and their resources and services here. Do please post any comments or questions below and we'll do our best to answer them.

Why the economy will never be the same again

As we slowly struggle out of recession, it's tempting to hope that the problems it caused will soon fade. But there are clues that things will not and cannot ever return to how they were. In fact the evidence is all around us; static or falling growth in real incomes despite bouyant stock markets, larger and larger wealth inequality, the ongoing injection of liquidity into economies through QE. And biggest of all, the mountain of government debts around the world. 

The real story of the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent recession isn’t about greedy bankers, dozing regulators or complacent politicians although they all played their part. It’s a story which is bigger than all of them put together. It’s a story about the transition of the whole developed world from one economic era to an entirely new one.

It’s tempting to think that all our financial woes were created by 2008 and its aftermath. And yes, it’s true that we’ve been going through possibly the worst recession in history. But the financial crisis wasn’t the cause of this, it was a symptom of a much bigger global problem and transformation which has been underway for decades. 

And it’s only if we understand the nature of this transformation that we can figure out what each of us will have to do in the coming years to ensure that we don’t become victims. Many of us have suffered enough already from the economic collapse. But the collapse wasn’t a singular event. It was a symptom of the failure of a monetary system which has passed it use by date. The aftershocks will be just as painful to many more of us. Possibly even more, if we don’t individually figure out our own survival plan now.

But I’m getting ahead. We first need to look at what’s been going on and why.

Who is really to blame for the recession?

It’s tempting to adopt over simplistic knee-jerk explanations. People were too greedy. Lenders were too careless. Big bonuses encouraged unethical and even illegal practices. Politicians were self-serving and in league with big business. There is plenty of evidence of all these things of course, but they don’t lie at the root of the problem. They were symptoms of much more fundamental changes in the world.

The real culprits are in the shadows, or at least so low profile and mysterious to most that they attract very little attention from the general public. They are the central banks. The borrowing spree was made possible because the central banks allowed it to become possible. The money banks were lending was only available to lend in the first place because of central banks’ rules around what bankers call fractional reserves. And without over-lax fractional reserve rules, there could have been no explosion in lending and no financial crisis. Whilst much of this story is complex, this is one aspect that is really simple.

How central banks made it all possible

Central banks like the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, require a bank to keep a reserve of capital that is in direct proportion to the amount it has lent. So let’s say the central bank imposes a fractional reserve requirement of 10%, if a bank has £100 million of deposits, they cannot lend more than a total of £900 million. The questionable idea behind this policy is that banks are responsible and prudent institutions and no event could ever undermine depositor confidence so much that everyone wishes to withdraw all their money at the same time, thereby bankrupting the bank(s).

It seems like a crazy notion when we remember that there have been plenty of bank runs throughout history. For the record these include, the Dutch Tulip manias (1634–1637), the British South Sea Bubble (1717–1719), the French Mississippi Company (1717–1720), the post-Napoleonic depression (1815–1830) and the Great Depression (1929–1939).

With hindsight today, it seems incredible that the idea of fractional reserves could persist, but it did and it still does…the fractional reserve system hasn’t been dropped. It’s merely been tweaked round the edges with requirements for slightly higher capital reserves and greater risk mitigation. The main driver of this is the Basel Accords I, II and III which have sought to apply progressively increased solvency and capital reserve requirements on banks.

The system is still viewed by governments and central banks as a reasonable means to support their economies by enabling businesses to borrow money to grow and consumers to spend. Oh and governments can easily borrow too, so their own financial position is never under too much pressure. When they need to, they can simply borrow more money…

Governments are incentivised to spend not save

Western democracy encourages politicians to make voters happy. So they can get re-elected and stay in power. But you don’t get popular by spending responsibly. You get popular by building more schools, providing better healthcare, cutting taxes, creating more policemen to keep us safe from the bad people….the list goes on and on.

There’s one slight problem though. How can a government afford to do this? Especially if the economy isn’t doing too well. Someone has to foot the bill. And that’s where the central banks become super useful to governments. Central bankers are not stupid. They are not simply going to hand over billions to governments just because they are asked. No, they demand in exchange a promise from the government that the money is in the form of a loan. The central bank issues a bill for the loan amount to the government. And in return, the government gives the bank a promise to pay the bank from its future income. It’s called a bond. Through the use of bonds, the government is mortgaging the future wealth of the nation – i.e. the future work and earnings of its population to pay for its spending today.

But governments are not just mortgaging our future work, they’re making the rich richer in the process

And then there’s quantitative easing (QE). In order to prop up the economy in times of extreme stress, like now, central banks print more money to maintain liquidity. Or in other words to keep everything limping along in the economy. In the US and UK this has been carried out by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. It’s a medicine with severe and nasty side effects though.

In August 2012, the Bank of England issued a report stating that its quantitative easing policies had benefited mainly the wealthy. The report said that the QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26%, or about $970 billion. About 40% of those gains went to the richest 5% of British households. Dhaval Joshi of BCA Research wrote that "QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it".

Economist Anthony Randazzo of the Reason Foundation wrote that QE "is fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy. It is a primary driver of income inequality".

In May 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said that cheap money has made rich people richer, but has not done quite as much for working Americans. Most of the financial assets in America are owned by the wealthiest 5% of Americans. According to Fed data, the top 5% own 60% of the nation's individually held financial assets. They own 82% of individually held stocks and over 90% of individually held bonds.

As the majority of people get poorer, so they are less able and less inclined to borrow money. And this is exactly what we see happening. In the UK, government debt has risen exponentially in the wake of 2008 whilst private debt has been falling:

The system makes it much easier for governments to borrow than save

To say “bond bingeing” has become a bad habit is an understatement. In the US today, government borrowing has become a debt crisis. In Between September 30 and October 17, 2013, much of the US government infrastructure was forced into shutdown due to inability of Congress to agree about how the costs of Obamacare could be met.

You’d expect in a financial crisis that a responsible government would look for every way possible to reduce spending. And yes, they attempt this. But not very successfully. Every proposal to reduce spending prompts a counter argument that it’s unfair, unpopular, impossible, or will lead to extra costs elsewhere. And this is where our governments fail us. Unlike businesses which will act fast and ruthlessly slash costs, doing whatever they can to remain solvent, governments are huge unwieldy bureaucracies and every cost cutting proposal becomes bogged down in debate, argument and ultimately delay and compromise.

Meanwhile US government debt is in crisis as it continues to soar out of control. But unlike every recession before, when government spending reduced or slowed, in the wake of the 2008 crisis, the opposite happened and it took off like a rocket:

Total US public debt in 2013 was $17.6 trillion. That’s $36,653 for every man, woman and child in the USA today. It’s 31.3% of all the debt in the world and has overtaken GDP in the US.

But other western economies are not far behind. In the UK, government debt per person is $32,553. In Germany, it is $31,945. France is $31,915 and Italy $37,956. In the most struggling western economies, the situation is even worse. Greek debt per person is $40,486, a staggering 161% of GDP.

But the worst is behind us now…isn’t it?

This wouldn’t be so frightening if western economies were showing improving domestic incomes and earnings. But this isn’t happening. In fact the reverse has been happening for over 40 years.

Despite rising productivity, in the US, real household income has hardly grown at all since 1970!:

What we see here is critical. The vital connection between GDP and household income has broken. Permanently. And this reality has nothing to do with the financial collapse and the recession. It’s been staring us in the face for forty years or more. As technology continues to accelerate productivity, relentlessly reducing production costs and thereby lessening the need for human labor, there is absolutely no reason to believe that future GDP growth will result in increased household incomes.

This situation has little or nothing to do with party politics. It’s not about left vs. right or capitalism vs. communism. It’s to do with global economic and monetary systems, energy, technology, communications and society’s expectations.

And in the west, the expectations of what the system can and should deliver have completely outstripped its abilities to meet those expectations.

From slavery to technology – a brief history of jobs.

By Neil Patrick

How can anyone expect to sell their labor in a future world where machines will do all the work?

Human civilization goes back more than 10,000 years, to when the first Neolithic peoples emerged. Early humans had four over-riding needs to survive: food, shelter, clothing and materials to make tools and weapons. No-one had told them about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs of course. So they didn’t know what they were missing. Consequently, self-actualization wasn’t too much of a priority for early man.

Money also didn’t exist in pre-history. The level and range of consumption was so low that simple bartering sufficed for millennia. Today, it’s hard to even imagine a society that isn’t based on money. And whilst many of us wish we had more money, we don’t really think very much about what money actually is. Let alone about the monetary and central banking systems that prevail in the world today. Instead, we mostly think of money as a handy way of facilitating the exchange of goods and services by means of a convenient and universally acceptable token.

While early man worked digging, planting, hunting, foraging and building mainly to satisfy his own needs directly, today, we exchange our work for money from satisfying the needs of others on a daily basis. We go to work, and that work is usually a job.

A job, any job, is labor. Whether you sweep streets or perform brain surgery, you are engaged in labor. And every job trades money for labor. In general terms, the scarcer your labor is relative to the demand for it in the market, the more highly paid you will be.

But slavery not paid work was the basis for the world’s most successful civilizations.

The more work a society can extract from its population, the more successful and powerful it becomes. So, the powerful members of society in all civilisations were quick to spot the opportunity that was available if you could get labor for free. The means to obtain this was the exertion of force. Slavery was created. We think of this as an ancient and barbaric practice. But the world’s greatest empires and nation states from ancient Greece to Rome and Egypt all leveraged free labor to build their power.

Not many workers were actually paid for building this.

Slavery was so successful that it proved remarkably persistent through the centuries, including in the US and Europe. The thirteenth amendment to the US Consitution, abolishing slavery, was passed by the Senate in April 1864, and by the House of Representatives in January 1865. The amendment did not take effect until it was ratified by three fourths of the states, which occurred on December 6, 1865, just about 150 years ago, which is yesterday in terms of human history on earth.

But that was far from the end of it. More recently, slave labor was the chosen means to sustaining the power of the Third Reich and effectively prolonged WW2 in Europe. Not to mention directly bringing about the premature demise of millions of innocents who were quite literally worked to death. But looked at from a purely economic perspective, slavery is a very effective method for a group of people to acquire by force greater wealth and power than they would be able to do by legitimate means.

But slavery hasn’t really ended.

Today slavery is far from over. Its most loathsome variant has been given a rebranding for a start; human trafficking. There are many different estimates of how large the human trafficking and sex trafficking industries are. Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People (2004), estimates that almost 27 million people are in "modern-day slavery" across the globe.

Only a little less exploitative is the debt-slave or indentured servant. Largely made illegal almost everywhere, this practice remains widespread in many parts of the world today. In order to pay off debts (often incurred through nefarious means in the first place), a person becomes a virtual slave, working to pay off debts that never actually reduce enough to free them.

A less repellent form of indentured servitude is the apprenticeship, where an individual trades their labor in return for training. Whilst an internee may not think of themselves as a slave, they are still willingly participating in a form of indentured servitude. This is why internships are on the rise. They are no more and no less than a white collar version of indentured servitude.

And even the academic world exploits free labor. Here, indenture takes the form of the scholarship system used by most universities. Nearly all Ph.D. programs use graduate students as a supply of virtually free labor, assisting staff and professors to carry out their work on research projects.

Now even slaves are about to be put out of work.

Quite apart from the abhorrent human suffering created by slavery, it has profound economic consequences on the rest of the population. Slave or low paid labor lessens the demand for paid labour. Which in turn makes the rest of society poorer, with the critical exception of those who are able to derive benefit from leveraging slaves or low paid workers.

And right now there’s a whole new generation of slaves. Except they are not human. They are better and even cheaper than human slaves. They are machines. They are micro-chips. And they are multiplying faster than a virus.

And this is the problem with technology. We love the way it enables us to do tasks faster, cheaper, better than ever before. At home and at work. But technology is both a glorious gift and our potential nemesis. Just like slavery, technology is consuming the opportunities available for people to exchange their labor for money. And technology is destroying jobs at an unprecedented and accelerating pace.

Plenty believe that this is just scare-mongering. That there is absolutely no historical precedent when technological progress has resulted in anything other than increased wealth and prosperity. That much is true. But today isn’t yesterday. And here’s why. We cannot separate technology from two other factors which combine to make today different from any time before; finite natural resources and a monetary system based on ever-compounding debt.

Planes, trains and automobiles.

Whilst some will profit from the creation of new types of work created by the tech age, many more will be condemned to a life of exclusion and poverty. And it's not just low paid manual workers. High skill jobs are under threat too. Even with their lengthy training, professionalism and high status, pilots’ days as the rockstars of the world of transportation are numbered.

How long before an aircraft cockpit no longer needs windows?

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now flying all over the world every day. Not just as surveillance platforms and weapons carriers for the military. They are doing photography, crop spraying and rescue work. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos announced in December 2013 that Amazon is planning delivery of some of its parcels using UAVs. This was met with skepticism, with perceived obstacles including federal and state regulatory approval, public safety, reliability, individual privacy, operator training and certification, security (hacking), payload thievery, and logistical challenges. But just 7 months later, in July 2014, it was revealed that Amazon was working on its 8th and 9th drone prototypes, that could fly at 50 miles per hour and carry 5-pound packages.

It can only be a matter of time before unmanned aircraft are carrying passengers and much bigger payloads. How many pilots will become unemployed as more and more aircraft become pilotless?

Calling an argument “Luddite” doesn’t refute it.

The fear that technological progress threatens jobs is nothing new. In 19th century England, the Luddites, a group of textile workers carried out violent protests against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. The artisan Luddites burned mills and smashed looms. Many were subsequently arrested by the government and either executed or transported to penal colonies.

How many people working as drivers today will have little or no work 10 years from now? Right now, every day, Google has driverless cars trundling round the streets of California 24/7. Interestingly, in August 2011, a Google driverless car was involved in a crash near Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. The neo-Luddite’s celebrations at this news were short-lived, when Google reported that the car was being driven by a human being at the time of the accident.

Economists apply the term “Luddite fallacy” to the notion that technological unemployment leads to structural unemployment and is consequently economically calamitous. Their argument is essentially that if a technological innovation results in a reduction of necessary labour inputs for a given activity, then the industry-wide cost of production falls. This in turn lowers the price of the goods or service and increases the supply. The combination of greater supply and lower prices pushes consumption higher. Theoretically, this higher production volume requires an increase in aggregate labour inputs and this extra labour requirement offsets the unemployment caused by the original technical innovation.

But this is where the economists have got it wrong. They are looking at the question from too narrow a perspective. Implicit in their theoretical viewpoint is that our capacity and appetite to consume is limitless. That consumption is potentially infinite and only price dictates how much we will consume. The Luddites existed at a time when scarcity was still a prevalent state of affairs. Today, scarcity of goods has become scarce. It's only the world's non-renewable natural resources which are getting scarcer.

Machine derived work has replaced scarcity with over abundance.

Today, technology means we can produce way more than we can consume. Technology has almost eliminated scarcity in the developed world. Prior to 1800, the world was a low energy society. And the primary unit of work was a human being. A working human can produce about 0.1 horsepower. During this time, around 98% of all work done was the result of human labor. The remainder was animal power and basic technologies like the waterwheel. Machines existed, but they didn’t replace humans, they merely assisted human tasks.

So throughout all of mankind’s history, until around 1800, 98% of all work done was done by humans. This ratio was a fixed constant and meant that while 2% of humans enjoyed wealth and comfort, 98% endured a struggle just to survive. For millennia, there was no absolutely change in the energy available to produce things and so scarcity prevailed everywhere.

In 1781, James Watt created the first steam engine. Since that time there has been continuous technological progress and machines have become more and more efficient at converting energy into work. These developments have spread throughout the world and the United States was the clearest leader.

James Watt's and Henry Boulton's steam engine, 1784
By Robert Henry Thurston , via Wikimedia Commons

Between 1800 and 1900, the use of human labour steadily reduced, as the proportion of non-human energy moved ever upwards. The continuation of these two trends predicted that eventually machines would be doing more work than humans. And this is exactly what happened. We can more or less pinpoint when it happened - 1911. At this point, the proportion of machine-derived work overtook human work for the first time. And its growth has continued exponentially ever since.

As of 1992, the USA had over 35.3 billion horsepower of work energy available from non-human sources. This was a gain of over 4000% in just 192 years, and represents 89,000 kg-cal of mechanically derived work energy per person in the US. Before 1800, this figure had been constant for all time at just 2,000 kg-cal per person – a growth of over 44 times! This made the USA the first country in history able to produce more than it could consume and was the foundation of the US becoming a global superpower in the 20th century.

Today it is no co-incidence that the US is struggling to recover from the reverberations of the 2008 financial collapse. But the financial collapse wasn’t the cause of the recession, it was a symptom of it. A symptom of a society in which the creation of abundance by technology has overtaken the abilities of people to earn money by selling their labor to a market where scarcity was disappearing.

This isn’t a prophecy of doom or neo-Luddite manifesto however. It is merely a description of why we all need to grasp a new economic paradigm if we are to survive and prosper in the 21st century. It’s not the end, rather it’s the beginning of a new economic era. We are on the cusp of a transformation of society which voids many of the ideas that underpinned all our thinking about how we earn the money to lead our lives.

I'm not the only person that thinks this. This TEDx talk by economist Andrew McAfee argues that that, yes, machines will take our jobs. The kind of jobs we know now. And here he thinks through what future jobs might look like, and who will become the 21st century's have's and have-nots.

How to spot character assassins at a meeting

By Neil Patrick

Ever wondered why you come out of some meetings feeling great and others when you feel completely dreadful? In the case of the latter, there’s a strong chance that there’s been some subtle character assassination going on. It’s often hard to spot, but I’ll reveal some of the giveaways in this post…

Yesterday I talked about the shocking story of how some organisations devote 300,000 man hours a year to a single weekly meeting at an estimated cost of £6 million. Today I’m going to look at another insidious characteristic of the meetings culture, which is how meetings are the number one forum for character assassination.

And more importantly, how you can spot when someone you think is being nice to you, is actually out to get you.

Power mongers disguise their tracks

Meetings have evolved to become complex and subtle forums where power plays are an ever present risk. We get so used to how our colleagues behave that the tactics of the power mongers often go unnoticed. But how people say things in meetings betrays their true agendas. And I’ve set out below how to read the subtext of the undermining tactics that the power mongers use to further their self-interest.

A meeting should be constructive, focussed, and extract the maximum value from all concerned. Instead, many meetings display Machiavellian undercurrents that involve obvious and not so obvious tactics by those present to further their own agendas, whilst simultaneously attempting to expose and belittle others. Meetings like this would quite possibly create better outcomes if they simply never took place at all.

If you think you’ve not come across this, think again…

Throughout my career, I’ve observed numerous things people say, which whilst apparently legitimate and innocuous are actually a dead give away that they are out to push themselves ahead while simultaneously putting others down.

And the more senior a person is, the more prone they are to do this. Its seems that seniority carries intoxicants and just like alcohol, the more that’s acquired, the more lax people become about what they say and how they say it.

Over many years I’ve seen what should have been positive and constructive meetings become psychological battlezones where no-one comes out feeling better than when they went in.

And in my book that’s the acid test. If everyone leaves feeling great and eager to get on with all the things that were decided, it’s been a good meeting. If they coming exhausted, stressed and just relieved it’s over, the meeting has been a failure.

So if these are the symptoms, what’s the disease?

If you have a lot a meetings that fail the acid test and you want to know why this is happening, pay closer attention not what people say, but how they say it. If you develop an ear for this, you’ll soon learn to spot who is up to no good.

But it’s important to take these points in context. Remember that none of these examples are absolute no-gos. It’s perfectly possible for any of them to be used legitimately without being evidence of a problem. It all comes down to a subtle blend of context, delivery, relationships and body language.

And the power monger’s first give away is body language. They direct their eye contact at whom they perceive to be the most important person. They more or else ignore everyone else.

But the real evidence is how they say things. They make statements and ask questions which are designed to undermine others whilst simultaneously attempting to elevate their own standing.

Here’s my list of 14 examples with the subtext provided:

“Why do you say that?” The speaker is expressing their defensiveness and probing the strength of your evidence. They are also questioning your reliability at the same time.

“This would be entirely inconsistent with…” The speaker is attempting to rule your view out of bounds by reference to a pre-existing value, policy or premise. It’s a disguised variant of, “That’s not how we do things round here.”

“If we do this, we’ll need to…” A last resort tactic when it seems a decision is going to go contrary to their preference. The speaker is insuring themselves by attempting to both pre-empt a problem and show that they are mindful of the potential negative fallout.

“Have you even thought about…?” The inclusion of just a single word, “even” turns a legitimate question into a complete derision of your statement.

“We don’t need all the details. The bottom line is...” A semi-polite version of “Let’s cut the crap here.” The speaker is implying that you are a pedant, while deflecting the need to involve themselves with trivial details. They are also implying that this is less important than other things they are concerned with.

“Well, these are the facts.” The speaker is emphasizing that they deal with the real facts, while implying that others are being misled by prejudice or invalid assumptions.

“We tried this once before and…(description of negative outcome)” The speaker is attempting to point out their superior experience and knowledge, whilst belittling the present idea by association with a previous action which may or may not be comparable.

“You did a great job on that!” A super sneaky tactic. The speaker is displaying a complementary attitude, while also implying that they’re in a position to judge you.

“Yes but how do we measure this?” The speaker is attempting to score merit points by highlighting that they are results focussed and suggesting that if something cannot be measured, it has no value.

“You might be right.” The speaker is adopting a disguise of open-mindedness while simultaneously patronising your authority and credibility.

“I think we’ve heard enough.” Probably for their own self-interest, the speaker is attempting to cut the discussion short and indicating their impatience to move on, whilst not very subtly highlighting that others are being unduly long-winded.

“I’m interested in knowing more about… Can you get back to us with....?” The speaker is highlighting the virtue of their receptiveness to ideas, while making you do the extra work required.

“I think what you’re trying to say is…” The speaker is attempting to convey that they give credit to others, while also demonstrating that they can articulate a point better than you can. It’s also a handy way to steal other’s ideas and adopt them as one’s own.

“I can see why you might think that.” Could also be phrased as: “I used to think that, too.” The speaker is attempting to veil their disagreement with a sympathetic attitude, while suggesting to the audience that they’ve moved way beyond your comprehension of the real issue.

Of course, a person can say any of these things without being ill-intentioned or wishing to undermine you. Everything depends on context, delivery style and motivation.

And of course, it can be perfectly legitimate to use any of these statements yourself. But they all carry a risk of antagonizing others, so if you are using them, it’s important to mitigate them with other clear qualifiers and cues that show you are not attempting to undermine them.

But to go back to the acid test of how everyone feels after a meeting, if you’ve come out a meeting feeling thoroughly demoralised, I’m willing to bet that you’ve just been exposed to a power mongers’ undermining behaviours.

I’m sure this list could be extended and if you’ve got any more examples to add, please post them in the comments below.

How meetings destroy morale and wreck profits

By Neil Patrick

There’s a hidden cost to meetings. And it’s draining the value from people and organisations every day.

Yesterday I met up with a friend who was passing through. He’d just had a Monday morning meeting with a client not too far from where I was and so we hooked up afterwards for a coffee.

His client meeting had been fairly brief - about an hour and a half. But that was the tip of the iceberg.

Leaving home at 5am, he had driven 300 miles through heavy traffic to get to the meeting. He had spent most of his weekend preparing for the meeting. He’d had countless meetings with colleagues to discuss and gather information for the meeting. One 90 minute meeting had absorbed almost a week of his time and a good deal of his colleagues’ time too.

And because he’d had to invest so much of his time in this single meeting, most of his other work had had to be parked. So he was tired, stressed and demoralised.

Which got me thinking. There’s nothing unusual about this situation. Most people with white collar jobs could relate to it. But does it have to be like this, or am I mad to even think it’s a dreadfully inefficient way of getting things done?

That two hour weekly meeting could cost £6m!

How much time is actually spent by organisations on meetings? The Harvard Business Review has published worrying research by three consultants from Bain on this topic. They found that the answer is that on average 15% of organisations’ time is spent on meetings. This percentage has been steadily rising since 2008.

But there’s much more troubling data in the report. The same research revealed that the weekly executive meeting of one unnamed corporation soaked up 300,000 man hours a year of the organisations’ total man hours. And no, you read it right, 300,000 man hours! That’s mind boggling when you consider that each of us only has a total of just over 8,700 hours a year to spend including sleep! If we assume an average man hour cost of just £20, that’s £6m a year direct cost for one weekly meeting!

I cannot possibly estimate how many of those 300,000 hours were wasted. But there's a good deal of research to suggest that plenty of them were. It would be hard to invent a worse system for reaching decisions than the conventional meeting. For a start, there's plenty of other research evidence to suggest that in the meeting environment, it’s usually the loudmouths who get their way, not the most knowledgeable attendees. 

And to quote Dave Barry, "Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organisations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate."

This astonishing 300,000 hours, didn’t include the non-meeting work preparation time either. It was only the sum total of all the time people spent in other meetings to discuss and review the information to be provided to the executive meeting each week. The meeting attendees would have meetings with their department heads before the executive meeting. The department heads would have meetings with their managers beforehand…You get the drift; a whole network of meetings spinning hydra-like off from that single weekly executive meeting.

I can relate to this. In a couple of my previous jobs I spent more time gathering and organising information for meetings than on any other single responsibility. This task didn’t even appear on my job description.

But more than anything else it stressed and demoralised me. Every hour I spent on this work was an hour less that I could spend on the things I was supposed to be doing, at least according to my job description.

It’s not what goes on in the meeting that’s the real issue. It’s what happens BEFORE the meeting.

To go back to the HBR example, if the weekly executive meeting was made fortnightly instead of weekly, it seems sensible to assume that the savings would be around half – so that’s £3m.

Granted the agenda would possibly be a little longer as the time frame would be greater. But how many sales are needed to generate £3m of profit? Which is easier, adjusting a meeting schedule or making £3m profit?

I’m not saying that meetings are a bad thing per se. They are a critical component of how information and knowledge are shared amongst people and how decisions are made.

But they are also rarely considered in terms of what goes on behind the scenes. They are a bureaucratic anachronism too much of the time. A legacy of the command and control era. And they are hugely expensive, time consuming and in many cases demoralising.

Of course leadership needs to be closely in touch with what’s going on. A management team needs to be working with the same information. And it needs a forum to receive this information, debate it and make decisions.

But the meeting schedule is too often a value sapping component of how organisations behave. And because so much of the time spent on meetings isn’t the actual time spent in the meetings, it carries a huge hidden cost.

More effective planning and use of resources can often prevent the need for meetings, or compress them and let everyone involved spend more of their time doing work rather than talking about it.

If you want to save money AND lift morale…don’t start with your budget report. Take a look instead at your diary.

How to get to love networking

By Neil Patrick

I always hated networking.

All those awkward conversations with strangers thinking, “I hope this is over soon and I can go and do some real work”.

But today I have completely changed my attitude. I network all the time and without it, I’d never achieve anything in my work.

Networking isn’t optional, or a chore, it’s a joy because I learned to change how I think about it entirely. And if you dread networking, or feel awkward, I hope these tips will get you out of the pain zone and into the gain zone.

Rather than thinking of networking as an "event", consider it an ongoing, lifelong process of building new relationships with people you actually like and want to be connected to.

Being a good networker gains you control of your life in ways which many people just don’t appreciate. I realised after many years of getting it wrong that networking means I can choose who I develop relationships with. And by the same token I can get away from those who for any reason I don’t like.

So lets’ get on with the eight tips that changed my whole experience of networking.

1. Focus on giving not getting

Golden rule number one, is that you are not there to get things from others. You are there to try and find out more about them and see if you can get along. Showing an interest in them makes it easier for others to talk to you. After all most people love talking about themselves. People do business with people they like, so let them do it. Relationships don’t materialise in a few minutes. They mature over time. Usually months or even years. So approach networking as a fact finding mission. Ask questions, be friendly and likeable and offer to help people out anyway you can. Never ask for anything from them in return.

2. Be visible

This was always a big problem for me. I always had a desk full of urgent things that I needed to get done. I thought that every networking event was robbing me of precious hours that I needed to do my real work.

But today there’s a great solution. I don’t go to many physical events. I probably do 80% of my networking from my desk. I connect with people on Twitter and Linkedin. But I also move dialogues offline as soon as possible. I Skype with people and we exchange emails.

This has a couple of huge advantages. First my network is global so I can connect with a lot of people, I’d never meet in the real world. And since I live in a forest in Wales, I’m not exactly surrounded by movers and shakers in business. Second, this is much more time efficient. There are no long drives to venues. No protracted schedules. I just fit things into my schedule when it suits me and save the face to face meetings for the times when the real business is being done.

3. Listen more than you talk

There’s a very old saying attributed to Greek philosopher Epictetus which goes something like “I have two ears and one mouth and I use them in that proportion”. This is great news if like me you tend to introversion. It has the great benefit that provided you ask good questions, the other person will do all the work AND you’ll be perceived as more empathetic and interested in others. Both great foundations for a good relationship in the future.

4. Think long term vs. short term

Relationships don’t just magically happen. They take time. Trust is earned slowly and consequently many people just don’t have the patience to nurture business relationships over time. But just as you can pick up instantly again with an old friend you’ve maybe not spoken to for six months, you can do the same with business relationships…provided you’ve already followed the first three points above. Moreover, I find that people I’ve maybe not had contact with for several months are often more pleased to hear from me than if we’d been in more regular contact.

5. Don't over commit or feel guilty

Never promise to do something you have doubts about delivering. This is serious trust-melter. But if you don’t have to the desire or capability to deliver what someone is asking for, you don’t have to give them a blunt refusal. Just tell them that your schedule won’t allow you to do what they’d like. This has the bonus of letting them know in a kind way that you are in demand and it may well prompt them to reconsider their request and reframe it in a way which makes it more palatable or attractive for you. Likewise, meeting someone does not commit you to keeping in touch. Never feel obligated to keep up a contact if for any reason, you feel it’s not right for you.

6. Be honest

Tell the truth. Always. If someone asks you if you know about something, don’t be tempted to say “yes” just to avoid feeling dumb. No-one expects anyone to know everything. And if I don’t know an answer to a question, I am quite upfront and say, “I don’t know”….often followed by something like, “But that’s a really interesting question, I’ll find out and get back to you”. And I always keep that promise. Not knowing something isn’t a problem – it’s an opportunity to learn and prove your worth and reliability to someone else.

7. Take action immediately

Everyone is busy these days. So look for ways to execute tasks immediately, rather than adding another job to your to do list. For example, just the other day I was on a Skype call and the other person said, “Oh you really should connect with my friend, you two would really have lots to talk about.” I agreed and the introduction was made via Twitter. In about 30 seconds flat! And it was true we did have a lot to talk about and have already scheduled a face to face meeting to do just that.

8. Only go to things that excite you

If you have a choice, don’t ever go to things that you think you should attend, just because of who else will be there. If the event doesn’t ignite your passion, you’ll not be on your top form and the event will sap you of the energy and spark you need to make a positive impression on others. In fact I have taken this mantra one step further and created my own local networking event with a couple of business friends. We all agreed there would be no agenda, no speakers, no rules. But it would be exclusive. Exclusive in as much as we’d only invite people we thought could add value and even more importantly that we liked and who we thought would welcome an informal business environment.

I used to hate networking, but today, I spend more time doing it than ever before. And it’s a genuine pleasure because I apply these rules. If you hate networking I hope they help you too.

Recruiters – don’t be a fail on social media – take the eight-point test

By Neil Patrick

A lot of recruiters follow me on Twitter. Over 500 at the last count.

And I follow them all back. I’m always interested to see what they are tweeting about. And I am hugely grateful to the select few who share my content with their followers. Thank you all!

Some recruiters really ‘get’ social media. Many more do not. So I thought I’d run through what I see as the biggest failures by recruiters that I see on social media.

The first give away of a recruiter failing on social media is nothing but endless tweets about job vacancies they are seeking to fill. Tweet after tweet after tweet with links to job postings. And not much else. Sharing your vacancies on social media is fine as part of your activity. But only part. If you are doing this and this only, you are never going to see much return on your investment in social.

Fair enough, it’s your business, and you are free to run it as you see fit. But this approach fails on so many levels and I think it’s a tragically wasted opportunity.

Here’s my list of the eight points I see most often where I think recruiters are getting it wrong.

You don’t have a social media strategy

I’m not saying that no recruitment firms have a social media strategy, but I am certain many do not. And I am certain because there is no evidence of one in most cases. And here’s my evidence that’s there’s no erm…evidence (!): 

You only have a small following

This is such a fundamental point, it’s amazing to me. But many recruiters I encounter on Twitter have less than 1,000 followers. This is such a tiny pool that it makes a nonsense of advertising your vacancies via Twitter. Let’s say you are a recruiter in the IT field. It should be your prime mission to find and connect with thousands of IT professionals. They are your audience and your revenue stream. Moreover, they also know lots of other IT professionals, so if they see your tweet and know someone who might be a great fit, they are in a position to make them aware of it.

Except this won’t happen because: 

You don’t share other people’s tweets

Social media isn’t a free version of broadcast media. It’s an interactive medium and building goodwill is an essential pre-requisite to having others like you enough to be willing to even consider sharing your content.

One retweet or comment doesn’t constitute the basis of a relationship either. Just as relationships mature slowly over time in the real world, so the same applies to the social media world.

You don’t create a sense of community

A recruiter depends for their livelihood on knowing everyone in a given field and geographic area. Or they should. And social media makes this easier than ever before. Social media allows you to build relationships with people even when you and they are really busy. So you don’t even need to meet or speak to be aware of each other. What’s more powerful, a business card at the bottom of a dusty drawer, or a living breathing relationship with a potential future candidate? 

You don’t engage or participate in discussions

With a few notable exceptions such as my friend @AxelKoster (who has over 500k Twitter followers), recruiters generally never contribute to discussions outside of the recruitment community. Big mistake. Especially when this is arguably a more powerful profile building strategy than simply making endless connections on Twitter and Linkedin.

Providing a recruiter’s viewpoint on job and carer topics is so underutilised typically, that the opportunity to steal a lead on your competitors is just there for the taking… 

You don’t make your tweets worth sharing

When I look at my own tweets, one of the things I see is that my tweets without links generally get shared the most. These are tweets when I try to provide a snippet of insight in less than 140 characters. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but clearly people like the immediacy and simplicity of something which can be consumed in 5 seconds or less. And they share them. A lot. It’s not unusual for these tweets to be retweeted 30 times or more. And this attracts a lot more followers.

The life of a tweet is just a few minutes. Then it’s gone. More or less for ever. I don’t expect anyone to be so interested in my tweets that they visit my profile and scroll through my tweets. It’s not going to happen. Tweeting a job vacancy a few times to a few hundred followers will likely never get seen by anyone who is interested. Period. 

You give the job of social media management to the most junior person in the office

How I tire of the tweets I get from the office junior or worse an outsourcer in the Philippines! Whilst I genuinely appreciate the courtesy of any acknowledgment of an RT, ‘Thx!’ is so cursory, it’s almost a let-down. Office interns may have grown up using texting as their default MO for digital communication, but this is business and in the business world, what we say and how we say it determines how others perceive us. If you own a recruitment firm, do you really want to be perceived as a business junior? Because that’s what’ll happen if the intern is left in charge.

Worse, if your social media is being executed as a routine task like answering the phone, how can you expect to build any sort of interest or engagement with the people you really want to be your biggest advocates? 

You don’t give anything to your followers

In the world of social media, giving before expecting to receive is the mantra for all success. And recruiters are in such a privileged position to share the benefits of their insight and experience. But very few do. It’s as if giving is an alien concept.

It actually doesn’t take much. Build your relationships with the people you want to be your candidate pool by supporting them online. You don’t have to RT them. Just like their tweets, or comment on them. Show a genuine interest in them and they’ll show a genuine interest in you.

I am being harsh I know. And there are plenty of notable exceptions like my friends at @Intellegojobs, @HRISjobs and @RandstadUSpros and others. But many more are failing in my view.

There’s a thing called ‘first mover advantage’ in business. Right now this opportunity has been recognised by so few in the world of recruitment that the door is wide open, if not globally, then at least in local markets where the majority of recruiters operate.

And last but not least, this state of affairs ironically creates a big opportunity for jobseekers who are savvy enough to turn this situation to their advantage. If you want to get recruiters to notice you, I’ve created a social media strategy that will enable you to do just that. Go here to discover what this is and how it works if you want to know more.

And if you are a recruiter I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post!