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The battle for unemployment public relations – Diary of an employable Blogaholic

Having worked for a recruitment company for 9 years plus, you get used to telling a good tale. Post 2008, we spent 3 consecutive years telling clients that “next year seems to be looking better” and that “other clients are telling us that they will be looking to recruit again”. It can be rather tough going when you are being laughed at! Lets call it employment public relations, or perhaps unemployment public relations is more apt.

Doing ‘telesales’ – yes that is what it is – and being laughed at down the other end of the phone, when asking if they have any plans to recruit in the next quarter, was the only barometer we used in my office for knowing that the unemployment market was still getting worse. It sadly got to the stage, when a positive call (just someone being nice!) was celebrated nearly as much as we used to celebrate picking up ‘another’ job that week.

That is why and I have always found the balance between ‘recruitment agency and political spin’ and truthful journalism, poles apart.

Post recruitment / telesales calling, the only measure you can make is what your mates and family tell you, and ultimately what you are told via the press and trade publications. However 9 years of commercial recruitment has taught me one thing, there is an ultimate need to look and sound successful, even when you know the reality is very different – shiny shoes, but dirty feet (if that makes sense)…Recruitment Public Relations!

At the start of the year,I interviewed my old boss, James Reed, as prior to redundancy I worked for Reed. I asked him, in a roundabout way (I wasn’t so bolshie back then!) whether the Reed Index, which is a barometer of the recruitment market, always spun the good news over the bad. James was, as always, diplomatic in his answer, and responded by saying that we all had a duty to look at the positives over the negatives, which is tough for me to argue against, for fear of looking like an ex-recruitment warmonger!

I note now for example that the Reed Job Index now sits at 141. This is in comparison to the 100 baseline that it was given at it launch, mid recession in 2009. But lets put it this way. If 100 was ‘really really really bad’. How do we measure the current 141? Maybe that means that it is currently just ‘really bad’?

This is not an attack on Reed, certainly they do right to try to measure the jobs market. However to the unemployed (employable) man and women on the street, being told that the jobs market is improving and that there is real growth, is only really relevant if they can find employment. Much like politicians; Tory’s & Lib Dem v Labour, will counter argue that the jobs market is getting better / worse, the recruitment industry has an internal responsibility to spin the good employment news and none of the bad. Psychologically, they are, I am sure, hoping that this positive mindset will rub off on the job market and this in turn will result in more jobs being created!

This article appeared as I took a look at google news, to see if I could find any interesting employment news stories from the last week or so…Check out a couple of the first results below and hunt out the articles online too.

One starts “Demand for UK Jobs fall….and was written by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and appeared in the Telegraph

The second one starts “UK’s Employment market keeps head above the water…and was written by Manpower (commercial recruitment) and appeared in a HR publication.

Manpower’s article is positive, but the Telegraph article paints a slight more turgid affair. Employment spin? You decide. Only the ’employable’ know the real unemployment story, but maybe its one that the recruitment industry just don’t like to hear….

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