There is a stench coming from Liverpool F.C and isn’t from Raheem Sterling

"Trust me Raheem, we only have your best interests at heart..."

“Trust me Raheem, we only have your best interests at heart…”

Lessons to be learned about employer branding and employee relations from the L.F.C versus Raheem Sterling saga.

As a recruiter I have watched with interest the never ending employee related catastrophes which appear to constantly emanate from the Premier League Football Club, Liverpool F.C. A club which is one of the largest and most important in the World if you believe the hype! How can they possibly have got their employer brand message and employee trust policy so utterly wrong?

A quick 5 minutes of reflection takes us back to the saga a couple of summers ago when the infamous eater of human flesh, Anfield’s very own Hannibal Lecter, the amazingly talented Luis Suarez made it very clear that he wanted to leave the club. Over a period of months we witnessed a constant display of posturing and antics from both parties which achieved nothing other than undermining the football club in terms of integrity and ethics. Suarez really couldn’t undermine his own reputation any more. Liverpool actually exploited this fact.

The web of lies and physical posturing which ensued left most of us wondering who was actually telling the truth. Luis Suarez agent claimed that the club had promised his client that if they didn’t qualify for the Champions League that they would allow him to leave. This was a gentleman’s agreement, nothing written down just a genuine goodwill gesture. Liverpool F.C denied that any such agreement had been reached in strenuous terms. We believed them.

This was closely followed by the true or not £40,000,000 + £1 offer from Arsenal who we were told were led to believe that there was a sell clause in Suarez contract which automatically meant he could leave if an offer exceeding £40 million was made. Liverpool’s owner John W Henry came out with his much repeated comment

“What do you think they are smoking over there at The Emirates?”

We believed them and all the media and pundits had a good laugh at Arsenal and Arsene Wengers expense. Which when you consider how open and honest Arsenal are about just about everything, such as Arsene’s telephone call with Alex Ferguson about Robin van Persey, is rather odd. Why would Arsenal be smoking anything? It’s business, it’s football.

It later transpired during a Sports Conference in the USA, that John W Henry admitted to lying and that Suarez did have a legal and contractual £40 million buyout clause. So suddenly what we learn is that when it suits Liverpool they will bend the truth, they will risk litigation and they then have the arrogance to admit this, almost as though this deceitfulness is somehow funny.  So how do we know that the rest of their protestations were not lies as well? The simple answer is that we don’t. But once a liar always a liar, we all grew up with the tale about the little boy with his finger in the dam. So where does this leave Liverpool in terms of trust and relationship values with their playing staff? On a pretty rocky precipice of course, in just the same way as any other business who made a conscious decision at a corporate level to lie and cheat to manipulate their employees would. Think about this in the context of counter offers for example?

Now we have the on-going saga about Raheem Sterling, a bright eyed and talented 20 year old. Liverpool F.C and his agents have become embroiled in a publicly damaging tactical relations war. Raheem Sterling has made it pretty clear in his own words that he doesn’t want to stay at the club. He has also claimed on many occasions that it isn’t about the money. I believe him, simply because I couldn’t believe anything that comes out of the media machine behind Liverpool, the same media machine who created a catastrophic faux pas out of the Suarez and Evra racist issue. The same club who left Stevie G’ sweating over a new contract so long that even that legendary stalwart decided to take matters into his own hands. The same club who treated Roy Hodgson so despicably not too long ago, again when it suited them regardless of the bad PR. Who is their communications manager out of interest? I’m guessing it is either Max Clifford from his prison cell or maybe even Alistair Campbell who sailed Tony Blair through choppy waters and eventually left up a creek without a paddle.

Raheem Sterling undoubtedly has an amazing future in front of him, one that was initially crafted and developed by Queens Park Rangers, a club that Liverpool had no issue with exploiting to extract their future talent from when it suited them, who conveniently overlooked any question of loyalty and integrity when they were poaching another club’s talent, who waved the money, the flash cars and probably lied to some extent about their future chances of becoming a trophy winning team at some point in the not too distant future. Raheem Sterling took the bait then and believed everything that he was promised. Yet he now finds himself in a club with no Champions League football and after over 4 years at the club no nearer to realistically winning anything than QPR.

The club has no integrity, their owner personally proclaimed himself to be a liar, not in private, but in front of the global sports media. They have openly broadcast to the world that their word means nothing. So how can they expect any kind of trust and respect from their employees? This is a club so wrapped up in its own delusional arrogance that you have to ask the question, why would someone with huge talent who could probably join any of the premium football teams in Europe, enhance his earning potential in a more savoury and trusting environment where the owners and the manager speak the truth and work with honesty, not look towards another employer with fluttering eye lashes and open arms? I would.

There is a lesson here for us all as employers. Your brand, your reputation is incredibly valuable. It’s easy to destroy it but much harder to repair it. Liverpool cannot possibly come out of yet another public PR disaster with any positives. How can they have allowed this to happen?

PS: Raheem I’m confident that you would find an entirely different scenario at Arsenal FC and look forward to seeing you teaming up with our own creative team next season. ; )

Social Media Schizophrenia and You!

Always be yourself Unless you can be a pirate Then always be a pirateLike all social media platforms for many people it offers them the ability to be someone different. To perhaps portray themselves in a more favourable light, be braver, bolder, or just pretend to be someone else entirely. How true is this of LinkedIn? Have we all checked out a current or former colleague or friends LinkedIn profile and laughed out loud at the absurdity of the on-line presence and the person you actually know? Does it matter that they are so vastly different?

Here are some of my thoughts.

The Sociopath

How do we really know that the nice sweet guy who congratulates everyone for every post and agrees with every point of view raised is actually really a nice sweet guy? The fact is we don’t. He may be some kind of sociopath who is just playing a control game, or he may just be pretending to be a very likeable person so that we will do business with him. He may actually be many things in real life that would make us run a mile. He may have hundreds of personality traits and opinions that would make our stomachs churn. He may just be an illusion in many ways.

He may even be a pirate (Mitch Sullivan)!

The Fraud

Across Social Media there are literally thousands of examples of people pretending to be things they are not. This ranges from views expressed by people playing devil’s advocate to the more concerning aspects such as people actually lying about achievements and / or their career. If you do a search for a certain group of professionals for example literally hundreds of them have profile photos emedded into backdrops of CNN, Forbes, Washington Post. This is accompanied on their profiles with claims indicating that they have worked for, been interviewed by or as seen in / on CNN, Forbes, Washington Post and so forth. It looks very credible. What it doesn’t tell you however is that they paid a premium price for an article to be featured on-line and now claim to be a thought leader using that as their provenance. Is this misleading? Yes I think it is.

The Self Aggrandiser

Then we come onto job titles and achievements. I see thousands of CEO’s and Managing Directors of organisations that basically don’t exist. They have no website and no employees. Is this wrong, is this a misrepresentation of the facts. Where does the fine line between personal branding and the truth and exaggeration and misrepresentation stop and start. Who are we to judge? If I set up Darren Ledger Ltd tomorrow, I am for all intents and purposes the Managing Director. Although the title implies more than just managing my own work it isn’t misleading. But in the same event if I titled myself on LinkedIn as CEO I think that could be.

The Vain

Put your hands up if you think your profile photo is the real you? I meet people who I am connected to on LinkedIn all the time. In the vast majority of cases their profile photo is a genuine reflection of them. But it’s usually them when they were 10 years younger. I’m guilty of this myself. I looked better 5-6 years ago when the photo I use was taken. I’m smiling for a start. I like that photo, I was relaxed, was not aware of the camera and my nose looks remarkably smaller than it actually is.

Should it really matter?

But the real point of writing this blog is that without confusing LinkedIn with Facebook and I know many do, is there actually a line in the sand about how much of our real personality and our beliefs and opinions we should share on line? Does this justify having an alter ego that may be far removed from who we are in real life. Is this a personal assessment of the risks both professionally and personally? I wrote extensively on LinkedIn about my views on the Scottish Independence Referendum, I’m openly an Arsenal FC supporter, I have engaged in discussions about why I think the war in Afghanistan was right. Should be clear and open about our political beliefs, our hobbies and passions on LinkedIn? Is this the place to express these opinions? Am I causing my professional brand problems and alienating people or should those of us who portray ourselves as we really are be applauded?

After all, I am exactly what it says on the tin when it comes to LinkedIn, but are you?

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PS: Before anyone jumps up and down and begins berating me for using the term Schizophrenia in this post please don’t. I’m well aware of the serious nature of that condition. But I did not think Social Media Walter Mitty had quite the same ring to it…

If I was 20 years younger, I’d be a base jumper!

I often see people complaining that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, often with good cause. But sometimes as professionals in a world of commerce we become absorbed by accomplishments around our careers and financial gain. It’s easy to overlook the truth of our species, that never ending desire to push boundaries, to go where nobody has gone before, to achieve or even just attempt the impossible is an insatiable appetite within our make-up.

20 years ago (or thereabouts) I was a mad alpine climber, I jumped out of hot air balloons and aircraft, I mountain biked and ran marathons. Today, I try to balance my personal life with my professional life, finding time for a good walk, a stretch on a bike or even getting my haircut is difficult. To that end I resort to watching a new generation do all the things I would dearly love to be able to do now, or could have had the chance to do 20 years ago.

Base jumping from buildings and precarious cliff edges, riding air pockets of turbulence down a deep mountain gorge with an alpine meadow below. Or running through city skylines bouncing and leaping from point to point with grace like a two legged mountain goat would be the order of the day for me if I was 20 years younger. Mixing in some snowboarding with loads of Apres-ski, and the occasional hostile terrain marathon would have filled my days across the seasonal calendar.

Instead I’m resigned to doing the things I can do. When I arise in the morning with the help of a can of WD40 for my knees, and stretch my aching back as I hobble to the bathroom, I’ll take solace in the fact that I did what I could, and that was much more than most are ever privileged to be able to do. I’ve run for hundreds of miles through the Kuwaiti and Saudi deserts, I’ve climbed Mount Cook and Monte Blanc and I’ve rafted in Uganda. But I’ll never base jump the Angel Falls, not in this lifetime at least.

What would you do, if you could do anything? Where would you go and why? Maybe I’ll see you there one day, life isn’t just about chasing promotion, creating that winning personal brand and meeting targets, its about living and exceeding expectation as well.

Thanks for reading, please do comment, I really appreciate them all.

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I am a specialist international recruiter within the retail technology space. I may very well be one of the most tenacious, diligent and innovative recruiter’s around, at least I try to be. As importantly I deliver my services and solutions using GrassGreener Group’s very own bespoke candidate assessment and delivery platform called i-Intro®. This means that I don’t just find you exquisite talent, I test it and measure it for you.

If you would like to know more about how I can enhance the way you recruit, increase accuracy of hire and probably totally redefine the way you recruit, click the link above in Bold

Or just reach out and contact me, its free to talk:

✉ darren@grassgreener.co.uk

Interviewing Backwards – Reverse Engineering Recruitment Part 1

Darren Ledger:

Improvise your interview style and win over passive job seekers, the ones who are basically window shopping.

Originally posted on Recruitment Utopia:

Time-wastersThe Candidates are coming

A candidate driven market is one whereby the candidates are in the driving seat and they call the shots. It means that they can window shop to their hearts content. In the retail world consumers now undertake what is commonly known as ‘showrooming’, guess what? Job seekers are doing it too. Ultimately it will cost you time and money, it will ensure you miss recruiting deadlines, maybe fail to deliver strategic goals or projects. Simply because showroom job seekers will interview, they will even go all the way to offer stage and then decline. Simply because they can.

Exceptional talent, the kind of talent that you want in your organisation has options. They know who they want to work for and why and generally they tend to meet with those organisations first. The chances are if you are privileged enough to get some face time…

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Motivational Self Belief Speakers or Snake Oil Salesmen

images (1)Yesterday I was offered a complimentary ticket to attend a show by a world renowned Motivational Speaker and Author. I use the term show to describe the event because I simply don’t know what else to call it. If it’s anything like the Tony Robbins gig I attended about 20 years ago, show is the appropriate word. The only things missing on that occasion were Elvis Presley costumes and knickers been thrown at the stage, although I do recall we got to see some Kung Fu and Karate moves.

I’m curious though. This is BIG MONEY. There are summits, shows, seminars in the recruitment industry that charge upwards of £1,000 per day per delegate to attend. There is no Gala Dinner or Hotel in that fee either. But for throwing a huge chunk of money at some guy who recruited back in the day when we were all carrying Rolodex and your clients had the number for your local pub, they’ll tell you how to explode your potential. I’m not sure Michael Page or any of the founders of the UK’s leading listed recruitment organisations or their current CEO’s ever attended this kind of event, in fact I’m pretty certain that they didn’t. But they still sell these gigs out, a bit like the Rolling Stones I suppose, you know that what you are going to get is a dusty book jacket, but just maybe there will be that one amazing rendition of a wonderful song that will become legendary like Coldplay performing Fix You at Glastonbury. As a recruiter you just want that one snippet of information, that nugget of gold that will elevate you to the summit of recruitment excellence.

The truth is, if you ain’t got it, you simply ain’t got it. Harsh but true. We are not all destined to be multi-millionaires from this industry and we shouldn’t all want to be. Of course monetary reward plays an important part in what we do, that is fundamentally why most of us go to work. But for me passion for the industry, a love of your job and what it offers you in terms of emotional and psychological reward are just as important. Are you proud of what you do and how you do it? If the answer is a resounding Yes, then just keep doing it until it becomes a No.

In the meantime if you really want to see a Motivational Speaker – there are loads on Youtube for free. Gather the office around and check out my absolute favourite: Kevin Nalts –

The World’s Worst Job Advert – Job Seekers Beware

The excellent organisation Safer Jobs

The excellent organisation Safer Jobs

Want to know what one of the toughest things to be in the World right now is? It’s being a Job Seeker. Trust me, if you haven’t tried it, do. Even if you just pretend for a day. Let me give you one example of why.

Whilst browsing through my professional twitter feed last night I came across this post from The Daily Smarter, for a ‘Director, Human Resources’ vacancy:

“THE TML GROUP INC. – Toronto, ON – strategy to the business strategy Previous experience working in a startup company an asset Candidate Profile: A high energy Leader, the incumbent must be self-directed and motivated Must have a sense of urgency and an entrepreneurial spirit to be successful in a creative and fast paced entrepreneurial environment. Results oriented, the incumbent must also have the ability to “roll up” their sleeves and get involved at a detailed level to ensure that appropriate solutions are delivered in… – Tempo indeterminato – Full time – See more at: http://www.thedailysmarter.com/director-human-resources-6/#sthash.YwIL4y52.dpuf

First impressions count and after reading that my first impressions were “How truly bloody awful”. I was stunned by the sheer idiocy of the advert, the absolute lack of any real content or insight. Job seekers have a hard enough time sorting through the rubbish out there in a quest to find a genuine vacancy, but this really does take the biscuit. I thought to myself, this firm needs more than a HR Director, they need a Lecturer in 101 English Language.

But the real kicker was yet to come, curious as to what kind of company could actually post such an advert, I clicked on the ‘Apply now, click here’ link. Fully expecting at worst to be taken to a job board aggregator or similar. Nope, I was actually taken to an AdF.ly page and an advert for a war game called Fate of Arun. I hate war games. So I skipped the advert thinking that maybe this was some kind of initiative test. It wasn’t, it simply took me around to another advert.

AdF.ly basically enable anybody to get paid for sharing links on the internet. So effectively there are now hundreds of people who post misleading job adverts on job boards with Apply Now buttons that take you to an advert for something completely different. I’ve seen this in other places and job boards as well, always the free to post ones where there are no real formal checks on content or actual validation of the posting companies identity or authenticity.

This is a shame, as I said at the beginning it’s tough enough being out there in the job market without having your time wasted by pointless exercises such as this. My advice, stick to the credible job boards where an organisation has to pay to advertise. There is a whole plethora of creative and innovative ways that unscrupulous con artists and similar can exploit job seekers whether they are looking to extract up front payments from you or steal your personal identity, but few if any of them will actually pay up front for the privilege.

More information on Job Board Scams and how to be safe here: Safer Jobs

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Retail Tech Recruitment – Treat job seekers as consumers and reap the rewards.

Originally posted on Recruitment Utopia:

imagesSo here we are at last, 2015 has arrived and with it for many, a new age of economic optimism. The retail technology helter-skelter has finally begun to shake out, despite the original doom mongers predictions of a surreal virtual world of on-line stores, it looks like bricks and mortar is here to stay. As a guy who likes to pick things up, try things on and generally get a feel for the quality of the merchandise, I’ll drink to that.

But on a very serious note, we are all excitedly talking about Endless Aisle Inventory Management Systems, little data transforming into Big Analytic’s and how RFID is the new black. Yet few of us are really looking at applying the same level of innovation to the way we attract and engage exceptional talent. Beyond investing in a careers portal and an applicant tracking system (ATS), our desire…

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