most recognizable brands on the planet. Unfortunately it’s also one that doesn’t leverage their great consumer brand in their employment brand. I’m talking about Disney.
Let me give you some context here. I live in Orange, California – just a stone’s throw away from Anaheim – or about 5 miles as Tinkerbell flies from the Happiest Place on Earth. I enjoy the Fireworks Spectacular every night from my back yard. For the third Christmas in a row, my family received season passes to Disneyland. Honestly, I’m a Mickey fan. My friends warned me, “Don’t dis the Mouse! It’s practically un-American!” But hey, I just can’t help it! Mickey and friends are just not living up to the Disney standard when it comes to their recruitment efforts.
The landing page for the Disney career site is flat. You can’t click on another page of their website without videos and music. So naturally you’d think with all the splash, boom, bang, technology and magic that they’d have a page that would be so memorable you’d get lost in the wonderment. (I mean for crying out loud - Fortune Named Disney the World's Most Admired Entertainment Company – you’d think there would be some excitement!) Not here. There are four - count them, four - still pictures that rotate on the screen. The pictures are:
The Disney plaque being polished
An artist sculpting characters
The ESPN bullpen (nice diversity touch here)
A shot of Main Street in Disneyland with more people than Times Square on New Year’s Eve (maybe this is so prospective applicants can understand the absolute mayhem and madness of a summer day in the park!)
Their welcome is promising. They talk about imagination, childhood dreams, magic, wonder, culture, laughter, astonishment, joy, thrills. There’s room for talented people. It’s a dream job. Magic - REALLY?! How would I know that? Maybe from the picture of the plaque polisher or mental Main Street? It sure doesn’t look that way so far. But let’s dig deeper.
They mention their culture in their welcome but try and find out anything about it in the career section and you’re lost. They list six values (innovation, quality, community, storytelling, optimism and decency) that “make our brands stand out”. I guess those can loosely correlate to the employee experience. There’s not a lot of depth here. I really expected more from the “Life at Disney” section.
Disney is doing some things right. The “search jobs” function passes my “three clicks and you’re out” rule. This is a huge plus because it makes the process easy for the applicants. I was able to search all jobs in Anaheim in two clicks. Once there, you notice a lot of intern positions. What does this tell me? A couple things. One - the Mouse is cheap, looking for cheap labor from college grads so they can have a big name company on the top of their resume. The second thing it tells me is that Disney has smart approach to filling vacancies and filling the talent pool of the future – get ‘em when they’re young and train them well. The job descriptions are simple, nothing too exciting or memorable with the exception of a lot of corporate acronyms that meant nothing to me.
Disney’s best and most well hidden section of the career site is the link to Disney Auditions. For all you character wannabes, this is the place to look for open casting calls so you can don a Goofy suit and walk around the park in 100 degree weather in August (remember the Main Street picture from the career landing page?) Sounds like a dream job, don’t it?
The word for the audition site is again – flat. But it does give some good tips on what to expect and how to prepare for an audition. The real gem about this page? Videos - finally! Well thank my Fairy Godmother! There are videos from actual employees, like Jamie, who invites you to click her video and watch what she has to say about her Disney experience. Well that’s great – if you’ve already got Quicktime player downloaded on your computer. If not, you’ll feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole while you wait for the installing and restarting (that’s if you decide that watching the video is even worth it at this point). There are lots of employee videos – and that’s great if you want to play Goofy or parade down Main Street. These videos are exclusively for preparing to audition. Unless you’re an actor, you don’t get to see or hear what it’s really like.
The functionality of the videos are not just a Disney flaw; it’s one we see time and time again on corporate career sites. Companies pay a lot of money to have video shot of real employees only to have the video fail to play on the site. This brings up the question of who monitors your career site? There are many schools of thought here:
· Marketing should own it. Why? It’s a PR /communication tool and that falls under Marketing.
· IT should own it. Why? IT owns everything that has to do with the website so it should be monitored and quality control checked by them.
· HR should own it. Why? It’s the career site and they’re in charge of recruiting.
Not an easy question to answer or responsibility to assign, but someone, a human person (not Cinderella’s animal friends) should own the functionality of the career site. They should visit the site daily, apply for a job, play the videos and ensure all the working parts are indeed working! This same thought process also applies to the sites that invite you to “send us an email with your questions”. Who’s answering these questions? How often, how quickly and in whose voice is the answer in?
Back to the site…the audition page does a good job of pointing out that not everyone can be a character, singer or actor at Disney, so they list off all the other opportunities for you to become an entertainment cast member. Two thumbs up for the cult-like approach to calling all employees “cast members” and making it sound like one big, happy family in one huge global conglomerate. The truth is, Disney has all types of positions – they even need experts in pyrotechnics. Disney is a recognized pyrotechnic industry leader and the world's largest producer of fireworks shows. It takes a large team of highly trained and certified pyro-technicians to execute our many unique shows around the world. Trust me, Disney’s fireworks are cool. Disneyland is cool. Even dressing up like Goofy is cool. But Disney’s career site is not cool. I have to give the Disney and the Mouse a “D” on their career site – “D” for disappointing.
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Alex Putman is the first of a series on the most active members of the RecruitingBlogs.com community. He has contributed recent blog posts that have attracted attention such as "Dirty Words Recruiters Use", "Be a Social T-Rex", "Do Your Prospects Know", and "Big Shoes Leave A Lasting Impression."
Alex enjoys consulting & coaching other recruiters in techniques that enhance their marketability and capabilities. He has lead workshops for new and seasoned recruiting professionals via a managed training program focused on goals, objective and time management. In the past decade, Alex's teams have been responsible for the fulfillment of 3,200+ requisitions and job orders.
Alex has a driven passion for utilizing social networking/social media, to benefit human resource services, talent acquisition, career coaching and assisting people in their search for career fulfillment.
Q&A with Alex Putman
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
ALEX: I have been married for 7 wonderful year to my wife Tifany. We have 4 children including our beautiful twin daughters Alexis & Kathryn (6 yrs old), Gabrielle (3 yrs old) and son Corban (18 months).
I am extremely active in the lives of our children; participating in their many church and school events. I believe one of the greatest gifts given to us is the ability to see the world through the eyes of our children. This blessing has changed my entire outlook on life.
My personal hobbies include home renovation projects, working outside, getting together for cookouts with friends (especially during football season) and reading the Bible. I also enjoy Golf, College Football (Roll Tide), Basketball, pretty much a sports enthusiast. I am a strong family person; I do everything with my wife and children! We have a strong commitment to giving back within our community. I have had the honor of working with The Habitat for Humanity – Atlanta in partnership with 13 other local technology organizations. As a deacon at Shadowbrook Baptist Church, I am embedded in a multitude of activities offered at our church. My wife and I are invested in the College & Career class, Awana, and Children’s Worship.
Warm and fuzzy: Every month I take one of our daughters out for a date night! They enjoy going to the mall, having dinner at McDonalds and getting a giant pretzel. I hope this never changes!
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
ALEX: I have been in the industry for 13+ years. I started in executive recruiting and then made the change to the corporate side (Panasonic). Once I made this change my career rapidly progressed from an individual contributor to the HR Manager for Employment, Immigration and Employee Relations. We grew form 88 people to 450 with a Canadian office. After 6.5 wonderful years, we closed the facility.
I then went to work for a DoD contractor in the satellite communications (VOIP) field and found myself in the growth mode again (375 employees to 600 in 1 year!!!!). Too fast, we began to experience the pains of layoffs. I then incorporated myself (Eusebeia Consulting Group LLC www.webstarts.com/eusebeia. I quickly picked up 2 contracts as a consultant, one with Danger (www.danger.com) – they make the Sidekick for T-Mobile and another with Synergis (my current employer). I then decided to go to work growing a staffing firm, and what an adventure it has been! Recruiting has provided for my family over the years and I am grateful to this business and the many wonderful people I have met along the way.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
ALEX: In preparation for my graduation from The University of Alabama (Roll Tide) in 1996 I was going through the campus career center for job placement. By shear accident I dropped my paper resume (yes paper, email was not so big then) into a file for AIM Executive. Little did I know the ride I was in for! This position took me to Toledo, OH (far cry from the farm in Smalltown, USA) and I was a full desk, commissioned recruiter, recruiting engineering talent for the automotive and manufacturing industry. Short lists of industries I have experience with include: Mobile Communications, Handheld devices, Satellite Communications, Utilities, Media, Automotive and Manufacturing. You name it, I have recruited for it, including; software engineers, hardware engineers, electrical engineers, manufacturing engineers, digital design engineers, network engineers and RF engineers. I have placed Project Managers, Program Managers, Product Managers, Sales Manager, HR Managers…really just about every type of person one can imagine.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
ALEX: Wow, huge question! I would have to say going through a company closure (Panasonic) and a layoff from the very next job. I incorporated myself, built a home office and began my journey of becoming highly networked. This is about the time I discovered people like Dave Mendoza existed. Prior to this I was in my corporate shell and let people come to me. I established a goal, “be the most networked person in Atlanta!”, Still working on this one, but the point is, I was able to quickly transition to perm placement from home and contract recruiting. I never missed a beat (or paycheck) and learned that having a strong network means everything (the 400 people from Panasonic all went to other companies, many of which I still do business with to this day!)
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
ALEX: Many! Dan Bell from my first role was a recruiting machine. This man billed $1.5 million per year by himself! Many would not call Dan the “easiest” person in the world, however he instilled a sense of urgency in me early on. He once told me that he was scared to go to the bathroom during the day because he may miss a call that would lead to a placement!
I do plan to meet several “on-line” mentors at Recruitfest this year! This may come as a surprise to these people, but Jenny DeVaughn (whom I have met recently), Maren Hagen, Scott Love, Bill Radin (first person I heard speak) and you Dave are people I see on-line and love your stuff! The Recruiting Animal has some great stuff as well! I really try to find the best in their field and learn as much as possible!
Six Degrees: Tell us about your position as Director of Recruiting at Synergis:
ALEX: I am the manager of recruiting and currently have 4 direct reports (have had more prior to this year). I am part of our leadership team and have indirect responsibility for sales. Our total staff (Atlanta HQ) is 15 people. I have introduced a lot of social networking techniques and each team member has a personal branding plan. We boast a national client base with 300+ clients serviced. In conjunction with my recruiting, I maintain a few clients with whom we do a good portion of business (one client was $300k in sales last year -- goes back to my Panasonic network). I am also a member of the leadership function and involved in the corporate growth and planning of the company.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
ALEX: TekSystems comes to mind, they are huge (12% market share), but what a success story. I respect them for their model, not their size. Apex Systems is a prime example, look at how fast they have reached the $360 million mark (10 years). Many other successful companies have utilized their model and are among the top in our industry.
(B) In what aspects are they superior?
ALEX: These companies have unbelievable training programs! I was fortunate to go through a strong training program, but TekSystems sets the standards. They really invest in the success of their employees.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
ALEX: I know everyone is still buzzing about social networking / social media, but it is a trend that is here to stay! People are so busy and we are use to getting our information in “bits”. I recently read an article on vlogs (video blogs), I believe the industry and technology are merging and we will see this more the norm!
Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:
ALEX: Conferences are great! I am extremely excited to attend Recruitfest this year (booked and ready to go)! I regularly attend the Technology Association of Georgia conferences, The Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce meetings and the High Tech Career Ministries. Our company is a member of TechAlliance (formerly NACCB) www.techservealliance.org and we attend their annual conference in November. Last year I attended a “Lead Like Jesus” conference where Patrick Lencioni presented (great speaker).
This year I will be attending RecruitFest and possibly ERE (potential schedule conflict). I have worked closely with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s career center and participated in roundtable presentations. I am actively seeking opportunities to speak and be published. I am currently working on my first book and my goal is to speak at a major conference or forum in the near future.
Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche? Has it effected your job or that of your fellow team members within the organization? strong>
ALEX: We are in the IT industry and although we have not been hit significantly, we have experienced some down time. In January of this year we (the leadership team) scrubbed our budget to the bare bones. We were able to plan for the year accordingly and to date have had a small increase in sales over last year, added to our sales and marketing functions and remained in the black for 2009.
Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.
ALEX: So many! For two years I have aggressively encourage my team to develop their personal brand. We developed plans and events for them to attend. I created my own Yahoo user group (ConnectHiTech) as my initial platform into the social networking world. Recruitingblogs.com has been a real catalyst for blogging. This is something I always wanted to do, so I took the chance and my first blog written was a feature. After this boost of confidence, I have become a blogging machine ? I created my moniker “The Social T-Rex™” and have been running with this brand! I am currently developing a logo, website and many other features around this brand!
All of these have proven to be fruitful in extending my personal brand. My on-line brand has widened tremendously and has actually led to referrals, contacts and placements!
Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?
ALEX: Don’t be scared! I know talented people, writers, speakers etc that are just scared of what people will think. I have learned, some people will like me, some will not…part of life! But by all means, put yourself out there and see what happens! In conjunction, be yourself, don’t be something you are not. If your personality can come out in writing or interviews then you will gain respect of peers and others (even if they don’t like you personally).
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
ALEX: My ultimate goal is to be a motivational speaker! I want to write a book (professionally and personal ideas) to incorporate my life experiences to help others maximize their potential. I want to be the guy that is sought after for speaking engagements works hard from home and creates a socially big personal brand….maybe as big as a T-Rex!
What do I need to get there? Advice and assistance from people already there! Jenny DeVaughn has a “pay it forward” concept and I firmly believe in this. If those who are already there can pull us up and then we become the ones pulling others up, everyone wins!…