An interview with social recruitment expert – James Mayes
12th February 2014
We’ve bent the ear of James Mayes, an experienced recruiter and advocate of technology, and he has been kind enough to give us some insights in to recruitment and how technology shapes his industry. You can follow James over on Twitter here!
How and why did you get started in recruitment?
I came out of university with strong communication skills, a fascination with all things tech and a student bar bill that would terrify a rugby squad. I wrote to a few tech recruitment agencies looking for my first break and one offered me a job – the classic “accidental entry” to the agency world”
Do you miss the way recruitment used to be? How has technology in the recruitment industry changed the game for recruiters over the years?
It’s always been about making the connections that others miss. That’s still true today, but with many more data points to work on. Good recruiters can work faster than ever before, and across wider areas – but the process of interviews and offers remains as slow as ever with many employers.
What is the one thing you would change about the recruitment industry?
The pricing. So many clients complain about the service they receive, but when it’s time to negotiate, they’ll drive down to the last penny. If you pay peanuts, you get….
You’ve just been appointed as an advisory board member to Reconverse – what does that look like?
Reconverse is a boutique events business and again, it’s very much about making those connections. From an advisory point of view, I’m a sounding board for the company, offering a fresh pair of eyes on new ideas, throwing in suggestions and helping to make sure the events themselves remain forward looking and interesting.
You’re very active on Twitter – what benefits do you derive from that platform?
It’s great for advance research. Going to a new city or event for the first time, it’s a very open platform for research, for making connections and getting a feel for what awaits you. I often go to conferences in new cities and know a dozen people before I arrive, purely from Twitter. That makes all the difference in how fast you find your feet and start getting real value from being there in person.
What annoys you about social media? Or is it all upside?
People who think there are rules. There aren’t. Good manners, certainly. Established etiquette in some areas – but very little in the way of hard and fast rules. I have to remind myself that while I’ve been immersed in it for some time, it’s actually still young, changeable, immature and dynamic. Any rules you do find today will likely be busted by the end of the year.
You’ve been involved in a number of products such as TweetJobs – can you tell us about them? Do you enjoy being a product manager?
TweetJobs was an early foray into using Twitter for recruitment. An experiment as much as anything else, it succeeded in some ways, failed in others. Taught me a huge amount! As for the Product Manager aspect? That’s very much like social media too – it’s very immature as a professional role, which means much of it is around experimentation. That’s always enjoyable! A good PM needs to be able to understand the Business, the Tech and the User – it’s a fascinating combination.
What exactly is social recruitment?
Recruitment, evolved. The same principles of branding, connecting, relationships – but with more channels to communicate through, more opportunities to be creative and more data to guide decisions.
SMEs are terrible at recruiting. We hire reactively, fail to define job specifications and don’t like to pay agency fees. What can we do better to make our lives easier?
Define what the job is actually worth to your business first. Once that’s understood, it becomes less of an internal battle to put real time/effort/resources into doing a good job. The hire might only be a £20k salary, but have a bottom line impact of £200k per annum.
What’s your take on using job boards as a way of recruiting?
Despite constant predictions of death, they’re still a valid part of the solution. The key change is that ten years ago, they were ALL of the solution for some. The landscape is more complex now, and they need to be correctly leveraged within a wider strategy.
Where do you see the recruiting industry in 10 years from now?
The bigger agencies will have to add significant layers of service, moving more and more towards RPO models. The smaller niche agencies will thrive, provided they’re deeply embedded in their markets. It’s the direct hire model which will see the biggest growth though, as changing mindset and improving technologies see more and more firms building an inhouse recruitment function.
Where can we find you online?