April update

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2012 by edcook

I thought I would write a quick update on my infopreneurial journey so far. I think the main challenge to date has been maintaining a healthy level of self confidence and self belief to keep going. I also think another important factor if you are starting your own business is to identify and build a relationship with a mentor. As I mentioned, before I started the thought leader process I met with Chris Curnow to ask for advice. Upon completing the Thought Leaders course in Sydney I now catch up with Chris twice a month to discuss how I am tracking and obtain guidance on what I need to do in the future to ensure I am successful. This not only provides me with structure but also keeps me motivated and helps banish any doubts I am having.

Another lesson I have learnt over the past few weeks is to focus on a specific message and market from the start rather than trying to launch too many services. I think the reason I tried to do too many things to start with was that I wanted to get some money coming in as soon as possible. I have now focused on one service which is “Leverage your MBA”, this has provided focus and enabled me to set clear objectives on what I want to achieve and what actions I’m going to take to reach these identified, specific goals. Last week I met with 2 fellow Melbourne Business School alums and ran through my ideas with them, the feedback I got was extremely positive, they definitely thought there was a need with MBA students for the workshop series that I’m looking to launch. The challenge now is getting in front of the right people and starting to pitch my ideas to them.

I have also reworded a two-page brochure I created, putting identified problems at the beginning and then communicating solutions to these problems in the rest of the document. The fact that I have both been MBA student and worked with many over the past 4 years will hopefully give me some accurate insights into the challenges that they still face.

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Focus and decision time

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2012 by edcook

Most of my first week was spent making my website vaguely presentable and working on the IP for my first 2 ideas. I had a very useful meeting with a contact of mine who is the CEO at a company called Insync Surveys, this gave me a good insight into what a business of a similar size might want in terms of a service.

My first idea is most closely tied to my past experience. The idea is developing a workshop and mentor series helping MBA students and graduates leverage their MBA. Over the past 4 years I’ve established myself as the go to person for MBA students (primarily from Melbourne Business School) looking for career advice. The topics I plan to cover include: Making the right career choice, positioning yourself in the right market, researching target companies and potential contacts, building and nurturing a business network and finally securing a role and proactively managing your post-MBA career. This would benefit current students and also Alumni.

I also met with Murray Noble, the owner of a recruitment firm and discussed possible opportunities to work together around presenting at CPA conferences etc. When you start to think about it, there are lots of people in a similar situation to me who deliver a focused service, the fact that entrepreneurs achieve more by focussing opens up the potential for collaboration without stepping on each others toes.

I’ve got a meeting with my Thought Leaders mentor, Chris Curnow today and have compiled a list of questions for him, mainly around the production of IP and the best first steps to take in terms of taking a product or service to market.

The beginning of my journey.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2012 by edcook

For those of you reading this and wondering what an “Infopreneur” is. It’s a sort of mash-up between entrepreneur and information, i.e someone who commercialises their ideas. Why does this appeal to me? Well, I’ve always liked being the go-to man for people who want advice, whether the subject is technology, MBA’s or career. So, this gives me the opportunity to package up the ideas I have floating around in my head, expand them, link them together, put a framework around them and then find out who might be interested in hearing them.

In 2010 I completed an MBA from the Melbourne Business School in Australia, part of the University of Melbourne it vies for top spot in the Australian MBA rankings with AGSM in Sydney and sits around the 50 mark in the global Financial Times MBA rankings. I completed the degree part-time whilst working at MBS in the careers department, advising students (mainly full-time ones) on their post-MBA career options. When I graduated in May 2010 I considered a career in management consulting (the default post-MBA career option) but decided to work for a start-up business, looking to establish a talent consulting practice. I initially thought I could satisfy my entrepreneurial urge, but soon realised that working for someone else, whether in a large company or small one meant you had to do things their way rather than chart your own course.

In April 2011 our first child was born, with my wife taking 6 months maternity leave, the start-up would have to wait and a stable income was the first priority. However, whilst I was taking time off work to spend time with our new daughter Amelia I met a few people who were involved with an organisation called “Thought Leaders”. One of them, Sean Spence ran his own consulting firm, during our meeting (which was initially about sailing!) he suggested I look into a course called Million Dollar Expert with the founder of the Thought Leaders concept, Matt Church. He had recently completed it and had found it worthwhile.

Over the next year I worked at a company called Dimension Data, working on their Talent attraction and development strategy. Due to a business restructure an opportunity arose for me to continue to work for them on a part-time basis as an external consultant whilst establishing my own practice. This brings us to the present, March 2012. I completed the core MDE course last week and have started to work out my practice growth strategy. Starting with the best of intentions I have decided to write a weekly blog outlining my progress towards becoming an infopreneur. This is the first explanatory post and I’ll complete another one on Friday with the progress made during the first week, including any doubts, fears etc that I have faced.

Using Linkedin to identify and engage with talent – a guide for hiring managers.

Posted in Linkedin, Social Media with tags on December 5, 2011 by edcook

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a blog on using Social Media and specifically Linkedin to engage with potential, passive Talent.  I’m going to write it from the perspective of providing a guide for corporate hiring managers.  The first post is an introduction and some tips on creating an engaging Linkedin profile.

Introduction.

If you’re sceptical about the power or relevance of social media, before reading the rest of this please watch the following video. [YouTube video – http://youtu.be/x0EnhXn5boM]

There are currently 2 million Australians using Linkedin (2011).  Corporates are increasingly weaving it into their recruitment strategy as a cost effective way to engage with the passive market.  Building Talent communities is all the rage and these companies aim to build authentic relationship with potential employees.

In the past the most valuable asset an Agency based recruitment consultant had was their Agencies’ database.  This is no longer the case; Linkedin is a database that anyone can access, with user-updated, relevant information.  As a result agency recruiters are struggling to evolve their business model to one that justifies the high fees they charge clients.  In my opinion, there are only two recruitment models that will survive: 1. The volume recruiters that run assessment centres for their clients and 2. Executive Search Consultants that extensively map a market and have the skill to engage with passive talent.  The traditional, transactional recruiters will no longer be able to justify the high cost and low value add of their service.  So, what’s the alternative?  Hiring Managers can use Linkedin to firstly build a relevant network and then actively engage with that network, alerting relevant connections when they are looking to attract talent into their team.  The aim of this guide is to provide information to enable a hiring Manager to do this effectively.

Your Linkedin profile reflects your online brand.

What does your Linkedin profile say about you?  Would someone looking to work at Dimension Data know what you do by looking at your profile?  Does it portray you as a specialist within your field?

If you Google your name you are more than likely to find yourself appearing somewhere on the internet.  Before meeting with you, people are more and more likely to Google your name; the Google search algorithms place more importance on Linkedin information than on most other sources.  This gives you the ability to manage your online brand, by creating a Linkedin profile with relevant, accurate information.  As we build Dimension Data’s brand awareness in the market potential recruits will be searching Linkedin, looking for relevant hiring managers to approach, a prominent Linkedin profile will enable you to establish yourself as a Dimension Data ambassador.

So, what does a good Linkedin profile look like?  I’ll run through the various parts of a profile and suggest some ways to maximise its overall effectiveness.

Who should I connect with?

I personally connect with anyone I meet with in a business setting, this would include: networking breakfasts, suppliers, clients, past colleagues current colleagues.  I also receive quite a few invitations, I generally split these into three groups: People I have met with in the past – I accept these.  People who share a common focus (same industry etc) – I accept these and may reply to arrange to catch up face to face and thirdly people I’ve never met and do not have any similarities in terms of focus – I generally reject these.

The main benefits of having an extensive, relevant network is that when you carry out an advanced search or share an opportunity to share you will have access to a substantial group of relevant people.

Summary and Specialties.

The summary gives you the opportunity to concisely communicate your strengths and areas of expertise.  As I’m looking at this from the perspective of a hiring manager, someone who reads your summary should be thinking “I’d love to report to this person and I’ve got a good idea of what they do.”  Have a look at other Linkedin profiles to get an idea of what to write in your own.  The Specialties section is somewhere to dump keywords that describe all your skills; these keywords will enable prospective candidates to find you when they conduct an “Advanced search”, more on this later.

Publications and Applications sections.

Do you write a blog or have you presented on a specific topic as part of your job?  These sections provide

you with the ability to showcase your knowledge; once again, someone that views your profile should gain an insight into your interests, knowledge and ability.  Having read your opinions here, hopefully you’ve piqued their interest and they want to meet you to find out more.

Experience

Taking the time to complete your experience again provides people with the opportunity to find out more about you in order to make an informed decision whether to approach you.  Also, when you do meet someone they will be knowledgeable about your background so you can have a concise, relevant conversation.

Next week I’ll explore using Advanced search to identify passive candidates and also look at ways to approach them.

Poor recruitment processes destroy brand equity.

Posted in Market mapping, Talent management, Talentinsight with tags , , , on January 11, 2011 by edcook

A poorly managed recruitment process damages brand equity irreparably; why do large corporates continue to underinvest in the first experience a potential employee has with their company? What could they be doing to improve the experience and avoid creating vocal detractors of their organisation?

How many times have you applied for a job online and either not heard anything back, received a standard response, or had your time wasted navigating a bureaucratic, impersonal recruitment process where most of the focus is on assessing you rather than communicating the benefits of working for the organisation you’ve applied for?

Three years ago the standard process was to stick a generic advert on seek and sift through the deluge of respondents, after about 2 weeks the unsuccessful ones would be sent a “standard” rejection email entitled “Dear Applicant”.  Approximately 6 of the candidates would be called in for interview with maybe 2 or 3 progressing to the final stage before the selected one being offered the role.  Assuming there were 100 applicants to start with maybe 3% would have had a positive experience, the remaining 97% feeling underwhelmed by the process.

The chances of identifying the best candidate by advertising on an online jobs board are remote.  The best candidates generally aren’t actively looking for a new role, they’re more likely to be focussing on their current role or engaging with their business network to identify their next opportunity.  The worrying thing for the companies mentioned above is that this network is likely to contain the vocal detractors frustrated by the poorly managed recruitment process.  The attraction process becomes harder and harder as more and more potential recruits are advised against working for the organisation.

How can organisations improve this situation and make the recruitment process easier, more cost-effective and faster; enabling them to attract the best passive candidate for a role and ensuring all applicants have a positive experience becoming advocates for the organisation?

Identify and engage with passive candidates: Gathering market intelligence and mapping potential talent is the first step to shortening the recruitment process and targeting potential employees more effectively.  Creating relevant, specific talent pools; develops a talent pipeline which can be engaged with as actively as required depending on the immediacy of the recruitment need.  Events such as networking breakfasts or speaker series can also be arranged to adopt a more active approach to talent engagement.  This enables an organisation to build goodwill with potential candidates and identify talent in a non-threatening, positive environment.  The majority of people who attend an event will start to develop a better understanding of the organisation and even if they are not interested in working there will become potential advocates.

Tap into existing Talent pools: Organisations such as Universities and Business Schools are always looking for job opportunities for their graduates.  In most cases they don’t charge companies to engage with their current students.  In my last role I worked with MBA graduates from Melbourne Business School, I was surprised at the unwillingness of some companies to at least present at the school.  Whilst the value of the MBA is questioned by some; there are full and part-time students with valuable experience and intellectual capability who would add considerable value to many organisations.  Before approaching these people it is important to articulate a clear value proposition to communicate to potential recruits.  The “war for talent” is fierce within Australia’s top business schools.

Better manage the on-boarding process: The first six months in a new role are a stressful time.  Misconceptions gained during the interview process are corrected and potential frustrations are realised.  Coaching and listening to new employees can provide company management and HR with useful insights into potential business problems.  New employees see the company with a fresh pair of eyes.  If their concerns are listened to and action taken to address them they are more likely to stay with the organisation and reach their full potential.  It pays dividends to coach new employees, helping them navigate their first few months within an organisation.  Information can then be gathered to enable the HR team to improve the on-boarding experience for future employees which increases employee engagement and reduces the rate of attrition.

Better manage internal talent: Replacing a key role is expensive, organisations that identify their key employees and put in place a plan to develop and challenge them are more likely to retain them.  I recently heard of a major Australian Bank that made someone on its Talent Program redundant, this suggests that either the wrong people are on the Talent program or the bank’s redeployment program is not working effectively.  A plan needs to be put in place to identify business critical internal talent, design a program to manage their development and coach them to ensure they reach their full potential.

The way most companies recruit has resulted in an impersonal, bureaucratic and unfulfilling experience for the applicant.  Potential employees who are treated as numbers are unlikely to gain much from the recruitment process.  Companies who take the time to engage with targeted talent are more likely to make the right hiring decision in a more timely, cost-effective manner.

If you would like to find out more about what I am developing in this space or if you believe your business would benefit from adopting some of the interventions mentioned above please connect with me on Linkedin (http://au.linkedin.com/in/edcook24) or by calling +61 414 997 677.

What does Australia know about the MBA?

Posted in MBS Careers with tags , , on July 22, 2009 by edcook

Yesterday I was speaking to a recruitment consultant about a role that I thought might be suitable for an MBA graduate from MBS.  The role involved giving advice to franchisees with regard to improving the performance of their franchise.

When I had finished explaining the background of MBS graduates the recruiter said “The MBA is by-the-by, what my client is really interested in is the person’s experience.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this dismissive attitude towards a life-changing degree that I, along with several thousand other MBA students and alumni, have invested so much time in.  It was frustrating and disappointing – especially because I know first hand that the degree makes a huge difference to the overwhelming majority of students who study for it.

I think it’s fair to say that in Australia – and particularly compared to the United States – there is still a much lower level of awareness of the MBA.  I believe that this problem could potentially be overcome with greater collaboration between local business schools, increasing advertising, and alumni themselves helping to strengthen awareness of the degree through advocacy with colleagues, in the media and even, very simply, on their business cards.

Another challenge I think the MBA faces is that in Australia perceived high-achievers can be cut down to size, rather than encouraged or promoted.  We all know about the “Tall Poppy” syndrome, and I wonder whether this will hinder the country’s attempts to become the academic powerhouse of Asia?

Ultimately, the concern that experience is valued more than potential, might see talented Australians (and potential migrants) looking elsewhere for career advancement and growth opportunities.  None of us want this – it would be detrimental to the nation as a whole not just us, as MBA graduates.

I wonder how as a School, and as alumni, we can begin to grow awareness in Australia of just how powerful an MBA can be for us as individuals, for the organisations in which we work, and the communities in which we live?

I don’t have all the answers.

Perhaps you do.

Tips for using Linkedin, Xing etc to find a job in the current market.

Posted in MBS Careers with tags , , on April 30, 2009 by edcook

I’ve recently been speaking to a number of students that have expressed frustration with regards to their job search.  One in particular told me that he had applied to over 60 advertisements placed by Recruitment Consultants and had received a response from only 5 of them.  Not surprisingly he was still waiting to hear from these recruiters.  In my view relying on recruiters to find a job will prove to be extremely frustrating and more than likely fruitless.  I was speaking to another MBS alum the other day who reached the final cut for a CIO role.  He was told by the recruiter that 360 jobseekers had applied to the advert, the chances of making it to interview stage are remote.  So,  what are the alternative strategies?  I’m using professional networking sites more and more in my job.  Used properly, I believe these are the most powerful tools for building a network that will lead to opportunities in the future.  Also, rather than paying contingent recruiters to place an advert online, more hiring managers are now searching Linkedin for profiles first, if you don’t have a good one, they won’t find you.  Here are some tips for getting the most out of the wide range of networking sites:

  • Make sure your profile looks professional.  The summary needs to clearly articulate your key strengths and what you are looking for.  Professional photograph, not one of you at the pub with friends.  Brief descriptions of where you’ve worked (in the employment sections) and key achievements.  If you do a Google search (e.g Linkedin profile suggestions) there are plenty of websites giving advice on the ideal profile.  Make sure you have plenty of relevant keywords which will come up in a search.
  • Get recommended,  if you have worked or studied with someone, ask them if they would recommend you.  Your profile will move higher up search results and you come across as a credible professional.
  • Personalise the link to your Linkedin profile and use it.  On your profile page, look for the “Public profile” section, click edit and change the number to something more personal eg. a standard link would look like this http://www.linkedin.com/pub/2/167/a43 and a personalised one would look like this http://www.linkedin.com/in/edcook24.  Once you have done this add it to your e-mail signature, when you e-mail someone asking for advice, if they want to know more about you they can have a look at your profile.  This is far more subtle than attaching your CV to every e-mail you send out.  You can see how effective your profile is by how many people view it or how many searches you come up in (home page right hand side).
  • Let other users see that you have looked at their profile.  This is something I have only recently changed, in my view you want people to look at your profile, on the “Home” page you can see who has looked at your profile, most of these are vague i.e “An MBA student from Melbourne Business School” .  If you are searching for possible contacts if you change your privacy settings (Account & Settings > Profile views> Show my name and headline) they can see you have looked at their profile and are more likely to have a look at your profile.  If they are impressed they might make contact.
  • Join groups – If you join relevant groups, you can send messages to other group members for free.  You can also carry out targeted searches of people with similar interests of backgrounds.
  • Consider upgrading your account – Especially if you are actively looking for a job, it costs US$ 25 a month, but means you can contact other Linkedin members directly if they are out of your network (using an Inmail)
  • Use other sites –  Linkedin is great if you are based in the US, UK or Australia.  If you want to build a network in Europe, it would be worth looking at other websites like Xing. Setting up a profile is easy, just copy and paste the information from your Linkedin profile.  Other sites like Ecademy might also be useful, experiment.
  • Give advice as well as ask for it – Make sure you respond to people asking for your advice.  Also, browse the “Answers” section and provide comments and suggestions to people asking questions.  This will help promote your profile.
  • Use tools like Twitter – More recruiters are using Twitter to promote opportunities they have, set up #tag searches so you can identify these opportunities.  I’ve started tweeting any new jobs MBS students from @MBSCareers

Please add any comments to this blog, especially if you have a success story to share or any other suggestions.  I better practice what I preach, here’s a link to my Linkedin profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/edcook24 if I’m not connected to you already and you’d like to connect, please send me an invitation mentioning you’ve read this blog.