What does diversity in AI means for diversity in recruitment?

If you’ve been to any HR or recruitment conference in the past six months, or scrolled through LinkedIn at any point ever, you won’t have been able to avoid the rise of AI, big data and bots. People across all industries are worried that they’ll soon be replaced by AI, bots or robotics. And while bots probably aren’t going to write the next smash hit Harry Potter novel (J.K. Rowling is pretty safe by the looks of it ) technology is going to continue to change the recruitment landscape. Great insight, I know.

But the people who are creating this technology are human. And given how they’re going to change the way people across all industries work it’s important to consider how these products are made, who is making them and how the lack of diversity in one industry might impact all of us.

The evidence

There’s already a whole host of concerning trends out there. If you do a Google image search for ‘doctor’ or ‘engineer’, the results are incredibly white and male. Voice recognition software has historically struggled if you have an accent or are female. Software used to predict criminal behaviour in the US may well be biased against black people. Skewed data sets feeding healthcare AI systems mean they’re likely to give better advice to white men. I could go on.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AI systems often function as black boxes, which means it’s hard to identify any inequality, bias, or discrimination when a system makes any particular decision. This was the case when a university study found significantly fewer women than men were shown online ads promising them help getting jobs paying more than $200,000. It may have been how the advertisers had set up their ads, but equally it could be the unintended consequence of machine learning algorithms that work the recommendation engines. There was just no way of knowing.

All of this stems from a lack of diversity across software development and technology. Too many people share too similar a background. Being typically designed and built from the perspective of white men, the unintended consequence is that they’ll favour white men. But for such a revolutionary technology that is going to change the world so dramatically, this lack of diversity is something we should all be concerned about and shouldn’t accept as the norm. And if as predicted these systems will be making hiring and firing decisions, or even just recommendations, it’s possible that diversity issues in one industry will snowball across many more.

So what can you do as a recruitment manager, a HR adviser, or a CEO when looking at a system which uses AI, machine learning or big data?

Always ask what’s being done to assess, measure or correct for any bias in the system your investing in and implementing. If you don’t get a decent answer, keep on digging. Ask about the diversity in their development teams. Make sure the data sets you start out with are balanced and fair.

And what about the hiring process in general? 

It’s not all on the software you’re buying in.

Look at your attraction campaigns to appeal to a diverse audience - if you’re targeting Russell Group universities for a graduate campaign, you’ve already selected an unrepresentative audience

Review your job ads using a gender decoder, like this one from TotalJobs. Research has found that having feminine coded ads will only have a slight effect on how appealing the job advertised is to men, and will encourage women applicants. But ads that have more stereotypically masculine words will risk putting women off applying.

And make sure you keep offline checks and balances in the recruitment process to make sure you’re seeing a range of candidates. Name, age and institution blind recruiting can all help reduce unconscious bias from both recruiters and hiring managers. Look at having a ‘Rooney Rule’, or diverse interview panels to avoid ‘groupthink’. 

 

 

 

 

Society and businesses benefit when we’ve got a diverse workforce. And as we move towards the age of AI, it’s vital that we make sure everyone gets a fair shot.

Can unhappy employees really deliver a great customer experience?

We’ve had lots of headline news recently to prove how vital it is to the success of any business that it has employees who are truly happy and engaged. I’ve been reflecting on my own experiences with EE over the past few weeks. It’s been one of those “should have been so simple” type of things that became a real saga. And it’s no exaggeration to say the customer care at EE is absolutely the worst I’ve ever experienced. It’s rude, ineffective and takes an awful lot of effort from the customer to make any headroom. In the end, we had to agree to part company which seemed to suit us both! 

It may have been just a one off incident. The blip in the system. The one that went bad. Call me cynical, but I couldn’t help wondering what it might be like to work at EE and whether what I’d experienced was as a result of a toxic organisational culture. So I logged onto their Glassdoor page. 

Their ad reads....”WORKING AT EE FEELS GOOD. Here at EE, we’re feeling on top of the world....We know that keeping our people happy, motivated and engaged is key to our success, so we’re dedicated to making EE an outstanding place to work for our 13,000 employees”. 

This ad copy sits right besides employee reviews that read like...

”Terrible company to work for”...”Care more about marketing than staff”...”Just a number”...”BOYS CLUB”. 

OK, there are some positive comments too but the theme running through the many negative ones has helped me understand why things went so wrong in my dealings with them. Passed from pillar to post, lack of empowerment for anyone to get things done or spend time understanding the root of the problem, not calling back when they said they would and generally not caring about getting things sorted. 

But EE are not alone, most of you will remember the Ryanair winter of discontent when in the run up to Christmas last year, they were forced to cancel hundreds of flights because of pilot shortages. Official responses from the airline cited issues with coordinating annual leave for their pilots, but rumours quickly circulated that pilots were generally unhappy at Ryanair, and had been leaving in their droves. Either way the episode led to the airline having to recognise Trade Unions for the first time in their 30 year history, which in turn led to them cancelling 20 Portugal flights earlier this month as cabin crew went on strike.  

It makes total sense to assume that a bad employee experience converts into a poor customer experience - but at what cost? Graeme Johnson, then Head of Resourcing at Virgin Media pondered the same question when thinking about how their recruitment experience impacted on their consumer brand. He discovered that 18% of unsuccessful candidates who’d applied for a role with them each year were also Virgin Media clients. Further investigations showed that two thirds of those candidates were found to be detractors within their NPS scores, and that 6% had cancelled their Virgin Media contract within one month of an unsuccessful job application - amounting to £4.4m worth of lost revenue each year.

Sometimes, it’s not always clear how investing in your employer brand or your people experience is linked to your business plan, but stories like this clearly demonstrate what can happen if you don’t. If you need help making the case for your employer brand project, or working out where to take it next, drop me a line, I’d love to chat. 

Is there such a thing as the perfect work/life balance?

As I flop on the train after a really great day listening to some really inspirational working mums speak about their careers at the Mumsnet Workfest conference I keep wondering if there’s a perfect solution to finding a work life balance as a working mum.

I’ve been a mum for 9 years now and when I had my first baby I was so naïve. I took 20 weeks maternity leave and presumed that I’d skip back to work full time knowing my baby was happy at the wonderful nursery I’d picked out for her. Within a few months I’d realised the error of my ways and negotiated a 4 day week, and that worked out more or less ok for the following 8 and a bit years. But a couple of months ago, with the prospect of my youngest starting full time school in September, I decided to go back to full time. Which is great. For me. (And hopefully my colleagues!). Work is more fulfilling, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my child free time and the full time salary doesn’t go amiss either.

But managing the juggling act between working hours and childcare is a challenge I think all working parents identify with, and there’s a huge opportunity for employers to embrace the opportunity to rip up the rule book when it comes to thinking flexibly.

One of the big takeaway comments from the conference was that parents need to appreciate that flexibility is a two way partnership, not a chance to dictate your working patterns. And having an employer who’s prepared to be flexible makes all the difference to retaining bright, intelligent women* in the workplace through the mummy years. Meaning that when those same women are ready to step back up a gear once parental responsibilities are less demanding, they’re still up to speed with their role and the industry instead of having to build their career up from a junior level while male counterparts have been flying high. Making for a more well rounded, diverse and experienced workforce. Which surely has to be a good thing for everyone?

I’m lucky, Chatter are fabulously flexible and understanding of the juggling act I go through as a full time working mum. And we have an informal understanding that I’ll work flat out and be as flexible as I can when the business and our clients need me to. Even if that’s on an evening or from home. But if I have to get to the office late or leave early because of childcare limitations, or take a huge chunk annual leave in the school holidays, or dash off in the middle of the day because school rings to say one of my kids is sick. That’s ok too.

At the conference there were some really great panelists. Well known working mums who have these huge high-flying careers and raise a family too. And women who have negotiated amazing flexible working arrangements for board level positions. So how do they do it? Here are their top tips:

1. Take your kids to work!

Jo Whiley, had her first baby 24 years** ago when “flexible working” didn’t really exist and taking her kids to work with her didn’t stop her doing a great job on shows like The Word yet it’s probably still one of the biggest work no nos. Clearly toddlers running around the workplace is totally impractical, but the odd day in the school holidays where your 7/8/9/10 year old brings in a bit of homework or their iPad and chills out quietly at the office while mum cracks on, could relieve the school holiday annual leave bottle neck and keep businesses more productive year round.

2. Marry a super-husband!

Jess Phillips MP had a baby at 22 and spent 11 years developing an enviable career culminating in her election to Labour MP and being in a position where she can do great things. Her kids are thriving and happy with her husband as primary carer and it seems to work well for them as a family. Clearly this is more about who your partner is than who your employer is but employers can help by encouraging parents of both sexes to request flexible working and not just mum.

3. Be upfront and honest with your colleagues and clients and have a great support network.

Karen Blackett OBE is Chairperson of Mediacom UK as well as being mum to a little boy. Karen’s approach has been to make sure she has a great support network that includes neighbours and family as well as a nanny. She’s also a big advocate of being upfront and honest with her colleagues and clients that she is a mum and sometimes he will have to come first but that she won’t let them down when it comes to the crunch.

4. Find a job share buddy. Claire Walker, Director of Communications at Teach First has job shared with Hannah Essex at 2 organisations.

They’re equal partners who trust each other implicitly to do their job to their standard when they’re not there and between them they both have a 3 day week and 2 days off with their kids where they can completely switch off knowing the job is in safe hands.  

5. Be flexibly flexible! Emma Graham, Corporate Business Lead at IPGIT works a 3 day week but has the flexibility to ramp up to 4 or 5 days as her workload demands.

This does rely on having the support network to step in around your (probably not at all flexible) childcare arrangements, but could give the best of both worlds. Time with your kids when work is quieter and time to focus on work when you’re working on big projects.

6. Make flexible working a reality for everyone. I attended the Mumsnet conference with our lovely client O2.

They offer a whole host of flexible working arrangements that are open to most colleagues regardless of whether they’re parents or not. Everyone needs a good work life balance and offering flexibility to all employees put everyone on an equal footing.

So as I sit here watching the countryside fly by as I race to get home to my kids for an hour of much needed cuddles before bedtime, I think there are so many opportunities to “have it all” if you and your employer can be open and think a bit creatively to find a solution that works for all. It will never be perfect. You’ll always feel that you’re not giving quite enough either to your job or your family but working mums today are one hell of a lot luckier than our mums and grandmas when it comes to having a great careers without missing out on the joys of parenthood.

Because whilst times are changing, and there are loads of fantastically hands on dads out there, let’s face it, there are still a lot more mums than dads who take a step back career-wise while the kids are small.

Kiva Loans from our New Starters

Every time someone joins Chatter, we give them $50 to loan out to low-income entrepreneurs or students across 80 countries via micro-finance charity, Kiva.

Kiva's mission is 'to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty', and we're excited to play even a small part in that process.

So, with four recent new starters in quick succession, it's time to catch up on where the money's been going…

Georgina

I'd like to give to Soeurb as I spent several months in Cambodia and I found them to be some of the kindest and happiest people despite what they have been through as a nation. I like that even though Soeurb is 63 she is still keen to open a second business for the sake of her family.

https://www.kiva.org/lend/1505799

Alex

I chose this one because the start-up business has already helped to employ people within his community. I’m impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown after loss in the family and taking the risk of changing from farming!

https://www.kiva.org/lend/1505892

Robynn

My reason is because I strongly believe everyone in the world has a right to a good education. We take for granted our own education system which is the only reason I am able to do the job I love. More importantly, this school educates young girls too; something that's still severely lacking in many parts of the world.

https://www.kiva.org/lend/1517279

Jonny

I've chosen this project because I already support other projects in Zimbabwe, as my Fiancée's family are from there. I was drawn to this project specifically because I love the spirit of collaboration and determination that Samantha has shown. 

https://www.kiva.org/lend/1504700

News From the Roost

Soph had a blast at World Employer Branding Day

Last week, Soph hopped on a plane to head over for World Employer Branding day over in Prague. With over 400 world leaders and 30 speakers, all together in the city’s beautiful National House of Vinohrady, it was a jam packed day full of insight, best practice and air guitar.

The speakers included Senior Director Global Employer Branding at Salesforce, Jennifer Johnston Di Loreto, who shared her 5 step plan to becoming Fortunes #1 Best Workplace. Head of Global Employer Brand Strategy & Design at Adidas, Nanci Hogenboom van het Hof, who proved that your people and their stories really are your greatest asset. And not forgetting Chief Enthusiasm Officer at Branded.Careers, John Driessens, who brought the house down with a masterclass in sticking to Rule No.5… Any guesses on what it is?  

It was all wrapped up with some cocktails at Prague's most exclusive venue, the Cloud 9 Skybar Hilton, and a networking boat cruise along the Vltava in the sun the following morning. And Soph even had time to explore the sights and soak up some sun, too!

Head over to Instagram and check out our highlighted story #WorldEBday 2018 to see what she got up to.

We had a cocktail (or ten!) at our Team Day

Hey, did you know we’re SEVEN?! Yep, way back on the 1st April 2011, Chatter was born to three proud parents Lisa, Paul and Jon. And since then, the team has already outgrown two different offices and has now expanded to being 18 strong!

To celebrate, we held our team day at the Tetley to discuss how far we’ve come and how far we plan to go in the near future. All of which means we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline… so watch this space.

After our team day, we headed over to East 59th for a celebratory birthday dinner where we enjoyed far too many of their signature giant pornstar martinis (especially Emma), before heading to town for lots of dancing and a bit of falling over (especially Emma).

We had yet another New Starter Day

While we’re talking about how the business has grown in the last 7 years, we should probably also mention that we collected yet another new starter this year. That’s five in 2018 so far (and counting)! So, enter Rick - our new and very much needed head of development. Welcome to the madhouse!!!

Meet the Chatterino

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the… umm… talent that can help you get the most from today’s digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it’s Soph.

Now, no-one likes hearing the words ‘air traffic control’ and ‘accident’ in the same sentence, but in this case, we’ll make an exception. Why? Because despite everyone claiming this, Soph really did fall into people comms quite by accident. And it was while she was working on a National Air Traffic Control project, of all things. Here’s how her career got off the ground…

Whilst studying Graphic Arts at Winchester School of Art, Soph got the opportunity to work with National Air Traffic Control on a live project. Her challenge was to design a campaign/solution that would attract Air Traffic Controllers and help retain them during the notoriously tricky first 8 weeks of the training programme.

It was her first taste of people comms and she loved it, so you can just imagine her joy when she caught wind of an ace employer branding agency, tackling problems just like that everyday, just down the road.

Hmmm… now who could she have meant?

Fast forward to today, and Soph’s been one of the team for almost 2 years now, getting stuck into all things employer brand - from developing and delivering HUME (our EVP research tool), to playing a big hand in delivering an award winning, industry first chatbot, too!

We caught up with her to find out what she’s been reading, watching and listening to, and hear all about that one thing she couldn't live without…

“I’m currently re-reading Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s all about human intuition and how we use the rational and emotional sides of our brain. I first read it at uni and it totally changed the way I approached challenges and problems - I can’t recommend it enough!”

“I was a bit late to the game with this one, but I recently finished watching Big Little Lies. A powerful storyline, incredible acting and a brilliant soundtrack… what more could you want? Plus it’s got me very giddy to road trip around California in a few weeks time!“

“A bit of Neil Young or Dylan was always blasting out in the car growing up, so there’ll be no surprises that I’m a big fan of bluesy folky rock. I’ve been loving Alabama Shakes recently, Sound & Colour is a great listen.”

“It’s going to sound really boring, but if I could only own one thing it would have to be a comb. There’s nothing that a good ponder whilst coming your hair can’t solve. I probably do it about 20 times a day… minimum.”

Creating an employer brand that excites your senses

Fortnum & Mason isn’t your everyday department store. And that means they’re not your everyday employer branding client either, as we’re quickly finding out.

With an utterly spectacular timeline that began in 1705, F&M have been responsible for the invention of the Scotch Egg in 1738, the introduction of Heinz Baked Beans to the UK in 1886, and the beginning of the famous Fortnum’s bees residency on the roof of their Piccadilly store in 2008 - to name just a few unique occasions that have contributed to their legacy.

And right now, we’re working with them to create something equally amazing – their first ever bona-fide employer brand. And it’s promising to be something that really excites your senses, just like the store itself.

We grabbed 5 minutes with Vicky at Fortnum & Mason, for a chat about HR, employer branding, the Fortnum’s food hall, and a whole lot more…

How did you get into the industry?

I studied Communication and Media at A Level and loved it so much that when it came to choosing a university degree there was only one choice - Communication and Media at Bournemouth University. After this I took a short term role as a Communications Assistant for Combined Universities of Cornwall. Having got a taste for working in industry, I promptly took a train to the big smoke to meet Recruiters and see what was out there. I found a foot in the door at an Energy trading company – Gazprom Marketing & Trading - where I started as a PR Administrator, growing into Communications Advisor and moving into Internal Communications.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Have a vision in your mind of where you want to get to, what your end game is and work with that in mind. Take time for yourself; work is important and it is a place where you spend a third (or in most cases probably more) of your life or more, so you need to be happy in what you do but don’t try and take it too seriously.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

I am not traditionally from an HR background, so working in the HR team at Fortnum’s is a whole new experience for me. I would say gain as much exposure and insight from others as you can. This nugget is a key one and holds true when you are starting out and equally when you are at the top of your game – you never stop learning because industry changes so much and the demands of the employee workforce of tomorrow are constantly changing. 

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

The team at Chatter are such a friendly, organised and creative bunch of people who really get employee brand. Working with them feels like working with an extension of your own company in many ways.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

Watching: I was totally addicted to The Crown, but sadly I have now finished series two so waiting for the next series to come out.

Reading: Homo sapiens. This book is incredible. A must read.

Listening: Spotify keeps me company on most commutes; I usually go with their ‘discover weekly’ playlist or daily mixes as you hear some amazing new music that is in line with your tastes. Some recent discoveries include Maribou State and the new George Ezra album - totally different styles of music but definitely sounds of the summer.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Going down to the beautiful food hall at Fortnum’s last thing on a Friday and spending too much of my salary on fine foods and wine!

Three words to describe yourself?

Enthusiastic, hard-working and open (to people, opportunities and new adventures).

News From the Roost

On the hunt for new starters

New Starters? Not again, you ask. Why? Well, let’s just say that all those stress nightmares, tears, mental breakdowns, and 25-hour working days should now be a thing of the past. At least for a while. That’s because we’re incredibly excited to welcome a couple of new account managers to the team: Alex has joined Sas and Harry on Fi’s team and G has joined Ben and Emma on Ellen’s team. And in the immortal words of Roy Scheider, “we’re going to need a bigger… umm… Roost.”

On the hunt for more awards

He’s done it again! Earlier this month we trooped down to London for the FIRM Awards where we managed to bag another award for our work on Ask Jeff with Sky Betting & Gaming. This time our old mucker Jeff won an award for Innovation of the year – he doesn’t do things by halves, eh?

On the hunt for Easter Eggs

HAPPY EASTER!

Before we each embarked on our bank holiday weekends to celebrate Easter with some overindulgence, we kicked things off with our Easter egg hunt tradition here in the Roost.

Like always, things got competitive, but at least no fights broke out this year (just).

Check out how it all went down here.

Meet the Chatterinos

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the… umm… talent that can help you get the most from today’s digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick. This month it’s the newest recruits to our in house creative team, AKA the dynamic duo better known as Jonny and Robynn.

Jonny

My creative journey started at church when I was about 13 or 14, where I was introduced to live visuals and media by the media team that volunteered at the church. I started creating graphics during my IT lessons at school and the rest is history. Since then, I’ve worked with small businesses and companies who target the young people's market, and this along with my portfolio helped me bag the job here at Chatter along with Robyn.

In my spare time, I'm involved in a lot of volunteer music projects through my church where I help teach young people to sing and play instruments. Later this year, a song I wrote and recorded is going on an album that's being released in June so I will officially be a recording artist! I also really love fashion and other forms of design, and 

it's always good to stay in touch with (and be inspired by!) what is going on creatively across all mediums.

Watch: Brooklyn 99, there are 4 seasons, which is a great start, and they never get old. I think I'm on my 5th watch through now and I still belly laugh at every joke!

Read: My bible - I love the direction and inspiration it brings and lets face it, it's probably the best selling book of all time, so all those people can't be wrong!

Own: A lucrative piece of real estate, so I can have a constant stream of income that allows me to rent everything that I need!

Robynn

I started my design career about seven years ago, freelancing for local bars and restaurants in Hull. Back then, like anyone starting out in the industry, it was all about building up my portfolio to help me land my first agency job.

It didn’t take me long, and that first role involved designing mostly for retail clients like shopping centres together with quite a few clothing brands. But what was really nice about it was that I also picked up lots of experience of working with corporate clients, too.

However, after three and a half years, I decided that it was time for a change – and, I also wanted to get a bit more variety in my portfolio in terms of the kind of clients I work with and the types of work I was doing.

So, I made the move to Leeds to look for bigger and better opportunities, found myself starting at Chatter at the same time as Jonny, and the rest is history!

Watch: I can't narrow it down to just one, that's not fair! But my favourite TV show is The 100, so I'd have to go with that.

Read: Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk.

Own: My PS4 - as long as Fallout 4 came with it.

Putting social media to work – at work

As one of the world's most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, it made sense for Atkins to work with one of the *cough* world's most respected *cough* recruitment communications agencies.

And one of the projects we helped them out with was a social media driven campaign that ran across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, Monday to Friday, for four weeks. All to seek out and attract a number of transport planners, who are pretty rare on the ground.

Not only did it generate lots of interest internally and externally, the campaign was nominated for an industry award. As it was so successful, Atkins decided to run it again a few weeks later. Phew.

We caught up with Katie, Atkins’ Talent Attraction Analyst to find out more about how they put social media to work.

 

How did you get into the industry?

Like most people, I didn’t dream of going into recruitment when I was a child. I sort of fell into it after a career change from PR and I’m so glad I did as not many people can genuinely say that they love their job. After a few years of recruiting, I moved into employer branding and recruitment marketing. I’m currently responsible for supporting the creation and delivery of a talent attraction plan for the UK and Europe at Atkins which also incorporates a detailed annual social media plan. I’m passionate about bringing the Atkins brand and culture to life and showcasing the innovative work that our amazing teams do through marketing, advertising and social media.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Do what you love. I’ve never really focused on money or position in my career. I’ve always just tried to do the best job that I can and have always gravitated towards jobs, work and companies I truly enjoyed. By doing that, I’ve developed a series of wonderful career experiences.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Get work experience and explore all areas of HR until you find out what you like and don’t like. Continuously explore and experiment within the HR profession to find which specialities and options you find most compelling and exciting.

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

Chatter are one of the most creative and innovative companies we’ve had the pleasure to work with. They’ve been a huge part of the driving force behind our new tone of voice on social media, which has really helped enhance our employer brand.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’m reading Middlesex, which is about an American hermaphrodite identifying as a male. I’m a very slow reader so I’ve probably been on this book for over a year, no joke. But this is no reflection on the book. I’d give it a 4 out of 5.  

Watching- I’m ridiculously excited for season 3 of Billions this week! I was Team Axe all the way but I’m leaning towards Team Chuck now.

Listening - I’ve recently got into podcasts on my commute. The High Low is brilliant- a weekly news, pop-culture and current affairs podcast.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Taylor Swift and Love Island….!! Not sure why I just admitted to both…

Three words to describe yourself?

Loyal, kind & *ahem* disorganised! 

What fact would surprise people about you?

I was a baby model and did a Pepsi advert for Egyptian TV!

News From the Roost

Getting our skates on

Crikey, it’s the start of March already. And given that we’re planning to grow our team even more this year, which means we’ve had to really get our skates on this month when it comes to making space for new Chatterinos. So, we’ve had a bit of a shuffle around here in the Roost, which primarily involved chucking out the mountains of gunk we seem to have accumulated...

Watch this (much tidier) space for more news, and check out our big clean up time lapse here!

Getting our skis on

Given that it’s been one of the coldest February’s on record (thanks to the beast from the east), most of us have spent the last few weeks bundled up in the Roost, drinking hot chocolate and getting our fill of wintery action live from Pyeongchang.

But that wasn’t enough for Lisa and Ellen, who both escaped Leeds to chase the snow and get some winter sports in for themselves. Lisa spent a week skiing in the Austrian Alps, and El headed all the way over to L.A. for a belated honeymoon of snowboarding in the Sierra Nevadas.

There’ll be some very familiar faces on the Beijing 2022 slopes at this rate…

Getting our charity heads on

You’ll probably already know that HSS is one of our lovely clients. But what you might not know is that Lisa Crawford, Head of HR has close ties with Lancashire & South Cumbria Kidneys Patients Association (LSCKPA), and we recently had a chance to help this worthwhile charity out.

We've built a great relationship with Lisa over the last couple of years and we learnt  that a few years ago, her dad, Steve, who was also the chair of the LSCKPA, was diagnosed with kidney failure. Lisa’s husband, Ryan, discovered that he was a match for her dad and successfully donated a kidney which motivated Lisa’s dad to become even more active in the charity – taking on all kinds of cycling challenges to raise money. Unfortunately, he was also later diagnosed with penile cancer and passed away almost 12 months to the day of his kidney replacement.

LSCKPA was Steve’s legacy, so Ryan decided it needed a refresh and a boost to raise awareness. And that’s where we came in. We were proud to have the opportunity to play a (tiny) part in Steve’s story and we helped the team out with branding and website development which they launched at the annual Christmas get together.

You can check it out, and find out more about the brilliant work that the LSCKPA does at their website: www.lsckpa.org.uk/

Meet the Flockers

Everything you've always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the talent that can help you get the most from today's digital world.

 

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it's our copywriter – and Grippet owner – Rich Hartley.

Rich started out in the world of recruitment advertising over 20 years ago and has never looked back. A creative copywriter, Rich has won loads of industry awards and worked with all kinds of clients. This has led to him touring universities, care homes, all manner of call cent

 

res, at least two prisons (they let him out) and a chocolate factory at midnight!

Rich started his career at HB Advertising and went on to work for TMP Worldwide and Barkers before becoming Creative Director at Havas People and eventually turning freelance. Rich worked with Lisa at Barkers and became a Flocker five years ago.

He’s always worked in the North West as his home is based in the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. And when he’s not being a wordsmith, he’s a football manager for his youngest son’s team.

We asked Rich to tell us what he’d choose if he could only watch, read and own one thing for the rest of his life:

Read: As a copywriter, I should probably say a classic or Booker prize-winning novel. But I’m not going to. When I get time to read (I’ve got two boys, so I spend a lot of time in the role of Dad’s taxi), I pick up any book by Terry Pratchett. He was a genius. His books instantly take you to other worlds and make you laugh out loud.

Watch: Sport hands-down! Manchester United or cricket (as I live on the border, I like watching Yorkshire and Lancashire). If sport isn’t allowed then I’ll go for the Blues Brothers. It’s got great music, has classic lines, makes me smile and is very silly.

Listen: My music taste is best described as eclectic. So, I’d have to go for a mix tape (the grand-daddy of playlists for those who have never seen a cassette) as I like everything from Otis Redding and The Killers to Madchester and Macklemore.

Own: My mobile would be the natural answer. But I’d have to go for a whippet. They arefantastic. We have one and a half (one of our dogs is technically a grippet - half whippet, half greyhound). And yes, I do have a flat cap - but it doesn’t suit me!

Good copywriting… it’s all about the feels.

Copywriting is all about the feels. It’s about evoking memories. Creating emotional responses. And getting people right there. Just ask Virgin Care – we’ve been busy creating a whole new employer brand for them that does just that.

The way they work is designed to help their people feel inspired. Or feel confident. Or feel cared for. And any one of a thou

sand other emotions that drive them to deliver the kind of care that really makes a difference.

The bottom line is that their copy is designed to describe a working environment where anyone can feel good about their career – and you can check some of it out at http://careers.virgincare.co.uk

We caught up with Garry, Head of People at Virgin Care to find out how he feels about his career – and here’s what he told us.

How did you get into the industry?

I studied HR at university, when I graduated I decided not to go in to the industry straight away and started to work for Thomas Cook as a holiday rep in the Balearic islands.  I worked for Thomas Cook for 6 years, working my way up to resort manager.  My final role with them was within recruitment, travelling the UK recruiting holiday reps for the company.  I always knew I would return and work within HR eventually, so I hung up the clipboard and the rest is history!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Know your strengths and believe in them. Basically, don’t sweat about the things which you aren’t amazing at, know your strengths and work with them.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Have a plan, and always plan your moves.  Always be able to justify any career move you make, think about how you’ll justify any move during your next job interview and always have your end goal in sight.  

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

The Dog stories – hahaha!

Seriously, its just been so easy to work with Chatter, whether its just the day to day or brainstorming and even having challenging conversations, its all just easy.  Our two brands align well, we have a true partnership where we have open communication. It almost doesn’t feel like a traditional client, agency relationship but the perfect kind of relationship where we are on a journey together supporting one another.  From that we’ve developed the employer brand and a great suite of materials which feel authentic and we can be proud of and which will help us to fill roles at Virgin Care…I’m excited to see how the Chatter/Virgin Care journey goes! 

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

Reading: I’m reading a lot about HR systems at the moment for a system redesign project I’m leading. So lots about data interfacing and process efficiencies.  Outside of that I do a lot of my reading across social media channels.

Watching: Derry girls – it’s so funny.  I don’t re-watch many things but I’ve spent a lot of time flying recently and will have seen every episode four times, it’s a really good watch especially when I just need to laugh!  McMafia is also good for those long journeys.

Listening:  Kylie!  I’m totally obsessed, I’ve just bought tickets for three different shows for her upcoming arena tour.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Kylie!

Three words to describe yourself?

Personable, fun, focused.

What fact would surprise people about you?

I ran the Dublin marathon in sub 4 hours.  Don’t feel the need to do it again but I set myself a goal and achieved it! 

News From the Roost

New Year, New Starters

Aaaand we’re back! After a lovely 10 day Christmas break which flew by, we’re over the moon to tell you that the Roost is growing again. So, in usual Chatter style, please say hello to our new Chatterinos, Robynn and Jonny. The guys are here to join John Winney in the creative team to make it into more of a creative team – rather than just… well… John Winney.

New Year, (more!) New Nominations

We know you’ve probably only just put down the New Year champagne, but you’re gonna have to pick it right back up again. Why? Because we’ve been nominated for 4 FIRM award categories: Best Careers Website with Morrisons; Best Development of an Employer Brand for both Five Guys and Sky Betting & Gaming; and finally Innovation of the Year with Sky Betting & Gaming for Ask Jeff. We’ll keep you updated after the ceremony in London on the 5th March. Cheers!

New Year, New Positions

No, not those kind of positions. In case you haven’t heard, we’ve all taken up weekly yoga in the Roost! For the past few Monday mornings we’ve enlisted the help of a yoga instructor to show us the moves, poses and positions, so we can bring a little bit of calm and Zen into our mad office. And yes, as you may have guessed, this was indeed El’s idea. Here’s to a more mindful (and bendy!) 2018.

 

Meet the Flockers

Everything you've always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the talent that can help you get the most from today's digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it's our Paris based copywriter Peri.

Peri left university in 1999 with a degree in Literature, before joining a boutique recruitment communications agency in London as a Junior Copywriter. She spent the next four years learning from some very, very good people, being a totally green graduate (“Um, what’s a DPS?”), and taking full advantage of London’s bars and social life.

What that really means is that she spent more time drinking than she did as a student – while also getting a good grounding in the industry, working on lots of cool commercial and charity projects.

Then, in 2004, she moved to a bigger agency with a whole new client base and buckets more smart people – who happened to include Chatter’s own Boss Pearson.

Around the same time, she’d been regularly visiting friends in France until one of them asked her “why don’t you live here?”. The big move happened in 2007, and Peri carried on working for her old agency on a freelance basis, while learning (ok, mangling) the French language. But it wasn’t just a big leap geographically – it was a massive jump culturally too. From central London to full-on, French vineyard-type country where life moves a looooot slower – especially if you get stuck behind a tractor during the grape harvest.

Fast forward 10 years, and Peri’s still freelancing, but now for French agencies as well as English ones, translating web content and marketing copy, as well as working on all kinds of HR comms projects.

We’re not sure how well a Yorkshire>French translation would work here, so we asked Peri to tell us what she’d choose if she could only watch, read and own one thing for the rest of her life – in English. Here's what she said…

Read: tough call… I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like to. Anything by Annie Proulx, who writes just beautifully. Zadie Smith I love too. And of course, you could spend a lifetime swooning over Romeo & Juliet (or anything by Shaky, really).

Watch: my collection of Bill Bailey DVDs. He’s a genius. Although right now, I’m loving Omid Djalili too. Could also watch Father Ted or Blackadder forever: yes, I know, I’m showing my age.

Listen: These days, my go to playlist on Spotify is ‘Discover Weekly’. I used to listen to lots of top 40 stuff, but I’ve been hankering for new sounds and artists. I’ve discovered big band jazz (don’t laugh) such as Sammy Nestico and I’ve been finding lots of other great people on another site called jango.com. It’s been eye-opening (or ear-opening?) discovering French artists too – I can recommend Ben l’Oncle Soul and Jain.

Own: other than my fat cat, Elwood, it would have to be my ancient and trusty Collins French dictionary (or Google Translate) – both have saved my life out here numerous times. The internet’s pretty essential too, both for work and keeping in touch with friends and family.

Our people comms campaigns don’t just push boundaries. They cross them.

Gone are the days when creating a ‘big impact’ people comms campaign meant booking a double page spread in your local rag.

And then crossing your fingers and hoping the right people bought it.

These days, campaigns can – and usually do – involve press and print, digital media, video, social activation, experiential marketing and a whole lot more.

For a growing number of our clients, those campaigns aren’t just focused on one city, one region, or even one country. They’re truly international.

One of those clients is Nobia, Europe's leading kitchen specialist. This is why a few of the guys here at the Roost have spent the last few months regularly jetting off to various destinations in Europe to help plan, launch, and create an employer brand that literally crosses international boundaries.

We tracked down Susanne, head of employer branding at Nobia Global, to find out a little bit more about how she found her way there.

How did you get into the industry?

Back in 2010, I moved back to Stockholm, decided to change my career and set my mind on employer branding. Before that, I worked within events for a long time and even wrote my thesis about retention management at events. But even while working in events, my aim was to bring people with different skills and interests together in order to create and experience something together. This definitely resonates for the work I do now with employer branding.

As I didn’t have a degree in the field or work experience, I started off working within employer brand research to learn the ropes, and moved on to consult other companies to help with their employer branding strategy. And since last year, I’ve been managing Nobia’s employer brand.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Don’t be too scared to try something new!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Try to get a variety of experience – HR is such a wide sector but it’s all interlinked. It’s good to test a few things as it will give you a holistic picture of what HR and working with people is about. You’re touching people’s lives with everything you do, be it in recruiting, employer branding, talent management or leadership – so it all needs to fit in with each other.

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

The people! I really appreciate that they have a real focus on employee communication as well as expertise across all areas - the creative, the strategic, the technical part. This makes it easier for us to get an aligned and holistic delivery.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I am reading a book by a Swedish author called “Hjärnstark”. It talks about the impact training has on our brain and how we can become more resilient to stress, depression etc. A great podcast I’m following is “Employer Branding Podcast”, in which companies share their latest EB projects and thoughts on employer branding.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate (that was hard to guess, wasn’t it?!).

Three words to describe yourself?

Curious, open-minded and positive.

What fact would surprise people about you?

I can read Korean (and speak some very basic phrases), as I spent nearly 12 months in Seoul during a university exchange and an internship. Kimchi and Bibimbap are still some of my favourites.

Cool brand + cool agency = cool video.

In 2015, CoolBrands made it official. Five Guys became a cool brand.

What's more, they needed help getting to the bottom of their EVP and developing a whole new employer brand, which means they also needed the help of a pretty cool agency.

And, y'know, it sounded like just the job for us.

Our research discovered that the kind of people who have what it takes to be successful at Five Guys are people who aren't afraid to muck in and get the job done. People who don’t beat about the bush and say what they mean. People who bring the energy and never stop learning.

People who are made of 'the right stuff'. And that's exactly what we built the Five Guys brand on.

Part of our brief also involved creating a hero video that put the audience right at the heart of the action, and helped them to get a real feel for the environment, what's expected of them when they join, the key behaviours they need, and what they'll get from being part of the Five Guys family.

So, it was a great excuse for us to put our film and video know-how to the test. You can check out the result here.

As we worked through it, we caught up with Chris, head of recruitment at Five Guys in the UK to make sure he had the right stuff, too. Here's what he told us…

How did you get into the industry?

I suppose, like a lot of recruiters, I fell into recruitment. I studied HR at Uni in South Africa – but wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it after I left. I knew I’d enjoyed learning about resourcing, so thought I’d give it a go. My first role was as a consultant agency side (doing IT recruitment) - it was a bit of a baptism of fire and nothing like I thought it would be – but I actually ended up loving the sales and target driven nature of the role. I eventually went in-house with a client of mine and if I thought agency was tough, in-house proved even more ch

allenging… you’ve got nowhere to hide in-house!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Not sure if it’s the best piece of advice but someone once told me to fake it till you make it – but it certainly resonated with me. It’s all about doing things that force you out of your comfort zone with confidence and you’ll surprise yourself when you achieve things you never thought you could!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Never forget it’s about people, as individuals. We can often get so caught up in strategy, data, branding, processes, models, etc., that we can forget that what we do in HR can (and does) have a direct impact on a person’s working life. Just like you and me, they want to be treated as an individual – not part of a resource plan or a number on a spreadsheet.

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

There’s loads - they’re so easy to work with because it’s about people. I don’t think we have a traditional client relationship with the guys at Chatter, because I feel like they’re part of the team. They’re able to cut through the ‘noise’ and present solutions/advice that are/is effective – and delivers results in the real world. And they’re a good laugh which always helps – they just get it!

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’m reading Gold: My Autobiography by Nick Skelton who won an individual gold at Rio 2016.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Not sure it’s a guilty pleasure – more of an unhealthy obsession – but it has to be spending time with my horse (if you’d like to know more, and have cleared your diary for a week, I’ll happily tell you about him).

Three words to describe yourself?

Quirky, thoughtful and funny (I hope?).

What fact would surprise people about you?

Not many people believe this but when I was in the Army in South Africa (this isn’t the surprising thing), I was shot at when on border patrol trying to catch people who were trying to cross the border illegally. I survived (obvs).

#whatsfortea? It’s Jon’s Bacon Jam!

It might sound odd... but like anything that involves bacon, it’s also delicious... Trust us!

Jon's Bacon Jam

Ingredients:

· 500g smoked bacon

· 4 cloves garlic chopped

· 1 medium onion sliced

· 3 tablespoons brown sugar

· 1 dash tabasco sauce (to taste)

· 1 double shot of espresso (60ml) or a small cup of fresh coffee,

· 60ml apple cider vinegar

· 60ml maple syrup

· Black pepper to taste

· Extra water as needed.

Method:

1.     Cut the bacon up into 1 inch pieces and fry off in a non stick pan until lightly browned and starting to crisp up. Put the fried bacon into a dish to one side.

2.     Using the same pan, fry the onion and garlic in the bacon fat on medium heat until translucent and softened

3.     Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a cast iron pot large saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hrs adding 60ml of water every 25-30 mins or so and stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom.

4.     After a couple of hours it’s going to look like a weird brown mess and you’re going to wonder why you started this. Stick with it!

5.     Cool for about 15-20 mins. While waiting place the glass jars and lids in a 120 degree oven for 10 mins to sterilise them. When you take them out, avoid touching the insides.

6.     Place the cooked bacon mix in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 secs at a time, so you get a smooth-ish paste that’s easily spreadable. Spoon into the jars, seal and refrigerate.

Top tip: Delicious straight away, but the flavour will develop further over a few days.

News from the Roost

This month we've spent a weekend hopping over to Amsterdam for our Christmas do, Chatter style. We've worn out our writing hands by signing every single one of our brilliant 2017 cartoon style Christmas cards. And we've given our newest Chatterinos the warm and fuzzies by getting them involved with the Kiva loan scheme. Here's the lowdown…

Partying in Amsterdam, Chatter style

 

It’s that time of year again! Where the #&%* did the time go?! Still, it meant we had our annual excuse for a seasonal bash, and this month we hopped over to Amsterdam.

We met at the airport for our super early flight, then headed straight to the lovely brasserie Vandam for brunch. After that, we took a scenic walk/pub crawl through the town. And, of course, through the freezing snow.

That evening, it was back out on the town for yet more drinks while the snow continued to bear down on us (there's a theme emerging here!), and we threw some shapes at a long list of bars across the city.

After some much needed recovery pancakes, Saturday brought out our cultured side as we headed to the Anne Frank house and the Moco museum of modern art, followed by… well, you get the picture.

And then our short but sweet trip came to an end, as we flew back home and headed straight to the medicine cabinet for a final round of paracetamols, Alka-Seltzers, and bed.

 

Check out our Christmas card(toons)

On the subject of Christmas, you definitely need to check out our 2017 Christmas card.

Every year we create an iconic card to send out. And every year the theme is the same - to try and top the card from the Christmas before!

So… without further ado… ta daaa! Behold our beautiful 2017 Christmas card, courtesy of the very talented Dave Burley, who's also our featured flocker this month.

After brainstorming our ideas, the crew decided on a ‘Where’s Wally’ design, and Dave took the reigns and drew up cartoon versions of all the Chatterinos in the Roost.

We're pretty sure you'll agree that it quite accurately depicts the mayhem that unfolds when we all get a tad over excited about Christmas.

Look out for one in the post!

 

Getting the warm and fuzzies with Kiva loans

Every time someone joins Chatter, we give them $50 to loan out to low-income entrepreneurs or students across 80 countries via micro-finance charity, Kiva, Kiva's mission is 'to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty', and we're excited to play even a small part in that process.

So, with four recent new starters in quick succession, it's time to catch up on where the money's been going…

John W

Safiya, Nigeria - school costs

Diana, Lebanon - school costs

"I hope the loan makes a difference to these two families' lives. While they're living in such challenging times, they are still looking out for the future of their children, trying to get them an education. Seems hard to comprehend that in 2017 people are still struggling to send their children to school."

Claudia

Estrelita, Philippines - fish selling

Khoder, Lebanon - school costs

"I chose to lend to Khoder as I felt that funding education is helping to contribute to his family in the long run, rather than a short term fix. I also chose to lend to Estrelita as I felt that lending to small businesses and developing them is a particularly effective way to develop a community in small steps. Also, I admire her for her independence in running her livelihood."

Emma

Zhypara, Kyrgyzstan - crafts

Dorothy, Kenya - dairy

"I was inspired to help fund Dorothy for a couple of reasons, firstly and definitely not most important, we all know I love a milky tea - and Dorothy was raising funds to purchase an additional dairy cow!  As a girl from a farming background I appreciate a lady who likes a bit of animal husbandry, it's hard work, it can be pretty relentless, I love that she seemed to have a passion for farming and food production. I wanted to support women through my choices, and who doesn't love a cow?! 

I also chose to support Zhypara because I share her passion for crafts, I'm a bit of a craft geek and like to try my hand at different crafts when I have time - and I'm better at some than others! Part of Zhyparas funding was going towards employing a further 3 women locally which influenced my decision. "

Ellen

Thien, Vietnam - water filter machine

Stephen, Uganda - school costs

"For Thien, I find it quite upsetting that something I don't give a minutes thought to could be life threatening for someone else. Something as simple as access to clean drinking water. I can't think of anything I'd rather support more.  

I was lucky to be born in a country where education is provided. Not everyone is that lucky, it's lovely to be given the opportunity to contribute towards helping Stephen fund the education of his children and help shape their future."

You can follow the progress of our loanees, and join our Kiva team, here (https://www.kiva.org/team/welovechatter). 

Merry Christmas from all of us at Chatter!

Meet the Flockers

Everything you've always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the talent that can help you get the most from today's digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it's animator, illustrator, designer, and… er… perfectionist, Dave Burley.

Since busting out his felt tips 12 years ago, Dave has been lucky enough to work with and learn from some of the biggest and best known names in the industry. After starting out at Cosgrove Hall and Aardman as a designer and animator, he's gone on to spend the last seven years producing illustration, animation, film, video and design work for various agencies and clients across a variety of media.

Some pretty impressive agencies too, if we do say so ourselves.

Whatever the project, Dave says he always aims to bring individuality, character, something new, and a lot of thought and care. Some people might call him a 'perfectionist', but as far as he's concerned, he's just ‘doing it proper!’

As usual, we spent a few minutes picking Dave's brains, and we asked him if he could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of his life, what would they be? Here's what he said…

Read - '100 Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Majestic, weird and a pleasure to get lost in.

Watch - hands down it would be 'Jaws'. Never gets old - great story, great music, great performances. It's impossible to watch it and not enjoy the experience.

Listen - Pretty much anything by Bowie or Radiohead (and yes, even the plink-plonk bleep-bloop stuff that everyone else hates)

Own - I'd really love my own bottom-of-the-garden studio space - ok, it would essentially be a fancy man-shed, but somewhere between a Grand Design or a George Clark Amazing Spaces would be perfect!

#whatsfortea? It’s Sophie’s Allspice Cookies

It's no secret that our Soph loves a good cuppa, and we all know no cup of tea is complete without a biscuit for dunking.

So here's the recipe for her allspice cookies – they’re the perfect winter warmer!

Sophie’s Allspice cookies

Ingredients

Biscuits: 

  • 175g plain flour
  • 110g butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Decoration: 

  • Extra caster sugar to dust
  • Royal icing
  • Silver balls

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C and lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, beat the butter until it’s a soft consistency. Then beat in the sugar, followed by the sifted flour, allspice and cinnamon.
  3. Bring the mixture together using the wooden spoon, then finish off with your hands to form a paste.
  4. Transfer to a board lightly dusted with caster sugar and roll out to 3mm thick.
  5. Cut the biscuits using a circular cutter and arrange on the baking sheet.
  6. Place on the highest shelf in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack, pipe on the royal icing in snowflake shapes and add some silver balls to finish.

Top tip: Add some orange zest to fruit ‘em up a bit!

News from the Roost

This month we've been down to Sheffield to raise the profile of the fabulous team at Sky Betting & Gaming as well as partaking in the fundraising of their second annual charity ball, and we've celebrated El’s wedding as she finally tied the knot to become Mrs. Cairns…

 

Our Made in Sheffield event made their day

One of Sky Betting & Gaming's big challenges is to continue raising the profile of their Sheffield location - especially their tech roles - amongst locals who weren't aware that they had such a game 

changing business on their doorstep.

So, we headed down to not-so-sunny Sheffield to help the gang at SBG target people who actually commute away from the city for tech related jobs.

From 7am to 7pm, we invaded the station with clean graffiti and digital posters, and kept tired commuters ticking over with flapjack and coffee to remind them that working for SBG in Sheffield could mean more time at home and less time on dreaded trains.

Overall, the day was a huge success. We met a ton of interesting people, and we're pretty confident that we made their day by telling them that they could do the job they love in the city they love. In fact, we reckon that many of them will soon be new faces on SBG Sheffield’s tech team!

 

Having a Ball

Earlier this month, we all got suited and booted and headed down the road to the Royal Armouries for the second annual Sky Betting & Gaming charity ball.

This year, they’ve been partnered with Give a Duck; a Yorkshire based charity who work to get every child suffering with cancer a chemo duck. These ducks are so that specialist

s can show children and their families what to expect when they start their treatment. Since the evolution of this wonderful idea, Give a Duck have raised enough funds to gift every child in Yorkshire with a chemo duck, and now they plan to get one to every child across the country. What a great cause!

The evening was kicked off in style with some brass infused nineties club classics for Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, followed by a couple of moving speeches from chief exec Richard Flint and lovely guys at Give a Duck.

Then, after a top notch three course #whatsfortea, we got lucky on the virtual horse race with Paul placing the winning bet on the horse Kim Jong Run and bagging a private box at the Ascott races this summer. Other fundraising activities included a silent auction and a rafflewith some more amazing prizes. The rest of the evening saw us living up to our name and dancing the night away to the sounds of the Funk Soul Family.

 

Having raised £27,000 in the lead up to the ball, and an extra further £30,000 on the night, it’s fair to say they completely smashed their target of £25,000... Get in!

Here’s what Fiona Barker from SBG had to say about the evening:

“We raised over £57,000 for Leeds based Children’s Cancer Charity Give a Duck, in what was a hugely entertaining and successful Charity Gala Ball!

Chatter supported us on the night with pre-event comms including a registration website and e-invite which looked great and gave a slick yet fun feel to the event.  Everything our guests saw on the night from the brochures, menus and videos were designed by the lovely team at Chatter – and helping to kick start the fundraising pot, they even sponsored the Photobooth on the night! – Thanks to the team and to Saskia who made the perfect Account Manager for this sort of engaging event.”

 

El’s Bells

Last month, wedding bells were ringing in the Roost as our Miss Scales became Mrs Cairns.

On a surprisingly beautiful and sunny October day, East Riddlesden Hall saw Greg and El tie the knot. But more importantly, we turned out in force for the first Chatter wedding. Exciting times, indeed!

In fact, we were so excited that for most of the night we were the only ones on the dance floor, throwing some shocking dance moves as the rest of the party watched on in horror.

Now, one month in, El has this evaluation of married life so far:

‘I always said that one day Greg would make a lovely wife, and now that’s true’.

Congratulations to the lovely couple, we wish you all best in married life!

Meet the Flockers

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the… umm… talent that can help you get the most from today’s digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it’s the ink-redible Steve from Simple Displays.

Steve has worked in the printing industry since… well… forever, apparently. He got hooked after picking up a bunch of John Bull Printing Kits as a kid, and after serving his apprenticeship in Leeds in the late 80s and crossing paths with Graham (aka G Fonk), went on to work for some of the industry's biggest hitters.

Until, one day, he casually said "why aren't we doing this ourselves?". He went straight out and picked up some slightly larger and a tad more sophisticated 'John Bull Kits' and Simple Displays was born - and the rest is history.

His philosophy is: do our very best, on time, every time, and keep it simple, and he says it’s the fantastic, eclectic mix of clients that makes his job fresh, exciting and rewarding.

When he's not printing, Steve's into open water swimming and makes regular trips to Salford Quays on Saturday mornings for a swim… quickly followed by a large coffee. And his latest obsession is his 18 month old Boston Terrier - who’s super cute even with her dodgy eyes. As Lisa said recently, "she has one eye looking towards Leeds and the other towards Halifax". Nice!

In between stapling and corner cutting – we asked Steve if he could read, watch, listen to and own one thing, what would they be. Here’s what he told us…

"On the reading a book thing, I would proudly say the Harry Potter series, I revisited them recently with my daughter, alongside current affairs!"

"Watching would be a Peter Kaye loop - something to make me lol, no matter how many times you watch it."

"Listening wise, anything from Tears for Fears, through to Massive Attack, through to Sasha, however I'd throw Graham Norton on Radio 2 in there for a bit of company!"

"Owning, well, that's one's easy... A Porsche 911. The basic model would be fine. Any offers?"

Helping Sky Betting & Gaming turn careers into experiences

Whether it's racing or footie or just about anything else, Sky Betting & Gaming play a huge role in turning major sporting events into experiences to remember for their customers. So it makes sense that they also create memorable experiences for their people and candidates, too - with our help.

And staff experiences don't come much bigger than this summer's The Gathering. A day long, bona fide festival for over 800 employees, it featured tipis, live music, and a VW camper cocktail bar. Plus, a main stage that featured discussions on the future of tech, big data, politics, payments and diversity, together with a keynote from David Rowan, Editor at Large of WIRED Magazine.

And then there's their annual Charity Ball, which raises over £20k each year for brilliant causes. This year, the chosen charity is Give a Duck, and the night will be hosted by TV presenter Ed Chamberlain, and will feature live virtual racing and tons more.

And we can't forget their recent outdoor attraction campaigns either, from street events for their Made in Sheffield campaign (more about that in the news, below), to campaigns that introduced their new employer brand, Our Way.

We caught up with Claire, Sky Betting & Gaming's Communications and Events Executive to find out more about how she found herself at the cutting edge of Outdoor, Events & Experiential marketing…

How did you get into the HR industry?

I never really knew what I wanted to do in my career, so throughout my education I took the tactic that if I chose the subjects I enjoyed, I would end up doing something that I liked!

After finishing my degree in Journalism, Film and Media at Cardiff University, I interned for a few months at various PR agencies in London, before landing a job within Bromley Council’s Corporate Communications team. Beginning my career in the public sector was the best thing for me, as I learnt very quickly the importance of accurate but relatable communications, particularly with sensitive subject matter.

I then went on to work for a global Japanese trading company, Sumitomo Corporation, focusing on their internal communications across thirteen European offices. The job involved a lot of travel and working with people from lots of different cultures; I knew from then that I would stay in a people facing role and that brings me to my job here at Sky Betting & Gaming…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Go with your gut.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Show your personality and get to know as many people as you can within the company you work for. You’ll be surprised at how much information you can gather from a quick chat in the kitchen!

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

I love and appreciate the way that they make us feel relaxed in situations that are quite simply… not relaxing. They’re great under pressure and they certainly deliver service with a smile.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I really like period dramas and historical novels – I’ve been gripped with the second series of ITV’s Victoria (which is actually filmed at Leeds East Airfield, where we held The Gathering) and I’m reading Philippa Gregory’s Three Sisters, Three Queens.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Trash TV – I’ll even stoop to TOWIE.

Three words to describe yourself?

Outgoing, friendly and thoughtful.

What fact would surprise people about you?

I’m a huge worrier! When you’re an outgoing person, I think people assume that you’re totally comfortable and relaxed inside… but I assure you that my head is a jungle! I’m learning to get better at it – events like The Gathering are certainly a test, but they offer lessons and learnings that I am channelling to better myself in the future!

Social Media: The New and Shiny Creative Marketing Tool

Shockingly, it has been proven from a number of recent studies that adults spend around three hours OR MORE of their day on their mobile phone (!!!). While this figure is arguably concerning, if not downright upsetting, it means that social media platforms are rising in importance as a creative tool for marketing agencies.

Marketing companies are breaking into this intimate space that we have with our phones as an opportunity for advertising. As we all know,  this can come as a very unwanted and intrusive invasion into our precious social media time. So, believe it or not, there are now specific agencies evolving in order to make social media advertising a smoother and more welcome experience. The ‘Facebook Creative Shop’ is a specialist in-house agency that designs and tests ads specifically for Facebook and Instagram to make sure they are especially effective. As it has been suggested that we process images 60,000 times quicker than any other form of communication, it is clear that the key to successful social media ads are well-planned creative visuals, and agencies such as the Facebook Creative Shop know what visuals drive results.

Facebook has been the go-to for marketers and advertisers to reach an audience through social media. However, in recent years Instagram has risen to arguably be a new favourite due to it’s versatility in content. The discovered reliance on visuals means that Instagram can catch attention through dreamy sunsets as well as relatable memes, and are overall thought to be becoming a snappier attention grabber than the social media OG that is Facebook.

An even newer kid on the marketing block is Snapchat... From a playful start as a photo and video sharing app, Snapchat has evolved into a major marketing app that can’t be ignored. Snapchat has continually been signing on more and more creative partners to maximise opportunities for marketing and advertisement and to justify it’s value to marketers.

Not only is social media an important format for advertising specific products or services, but also a way for a company to reach out to the general public to portray their personalities and for their brand to grow and develop. It puts companies in the position to be explored, shared and discussed as we go about our everyday lives, phone in hand. This is why it is so critical for marketers to jump on board this growing band wagon.

Here’s a little insight into what social media means to the different sides of our team:

Fi, from client and social side:

Social media is a great way to lift the lid on the culture of your business in a way that your other comms channels can’t. It allows potential employees to really engage with the heart and soul of your operation - not just give factual info about the nuts and bolts of the company - meaning that they’ll be a much better fit for the business if and when they decide to apply for a role.

Susanne, creative and design side:

By creating an engaging visual you can increase impressions - stimulating web traffic and brand attraction. Social media definitely is a great creative tool if used in the right way!

Ian, creative flocker:

Because we can now reach increasingly precise audience segments we need to refocus our creative from generic attraction statements to concentrate on discrete, authentic “what’s in it for me” messages for specific, highly-targeted audiences. This presents a fantastic opportunity for agencies who love to tell stories but perhaps a greater challenge for recruiters in terms of both budgets and the time & resources required to collate the brief. But being able to really bring opportunities to life through social media, especially through video, engaging media such as Facebook Canvas, or even digital versions of the good old-fashioned job brochure, promoted via PPC or organically (or ideally both), gives employers incredible opportunities to find - and nurture - truly engaged candidates cost-effectively.

#whatsfortea? It’s Charlotte’s heart-warming tuna pasta bake

She may have flown the nest, but it’s hard to beat Charlotte’s heart-warming tuna pasta bake at this time of year. It’s the perfect dish for those back to school evenings, as the nights start to draw in and the leaves are on the turn.

Oh and did we mention it’s dead easy? You can fill your belly whilst hunting down that new winter coat online (come on, you know you’ve already started looking…)

Charlotte’s heart-warming tuna pasta bake

Ingredients

  • Two pans
  • Some pasta - fusilli (pasta swirlies if you may)
  • A tub of passata
  • 1 tin of tuna
  • A pinch of fresh basil,
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Some cheddar - mild or mature (whichever takes your fancy!).

Method

  1. Boil your pasta with boiling water and a pinch of salt in one of the pans until soft.
  2. In pan number two, add the passata, the full tin of tuna, basil, salt & pepper together and cook on a low to medium simmer until it begins to bubble.
  3. Preheat the grill pan at a medium-high heat.
  4. Drain the pasta of all it’s water once cooked.
  5. Once the sauce is hot all the way through, add the sauce mixture to the pan containing the cooked pasta.
  6. Mix together until all pasta is covered.
  7. Add the mixture to a large baking tray.
  8. Grate the cheddar cheese all over the top of the pasta mix and put under the grill. Leave until the cheese begins to sizzle…

 

Top tip: Why not crunch some crisps on top before you add the cheese!

News from the roost

This month we’ve been celebrating Jeff’s success at the RBAs, refreshing the roost to develop a new creative work space for John and Susanne, and welcoming our new starter Claudia.

What the eff, Jeff?

A week or two ago, 8 of us headed to Manchester with an armful of finalist nominations for the 2017 Recruitment Business Awards, including even more for AskJeff. The night got off to a great start when we discovered that we’d all be sharing one apartment (whose crazy idea was that?!). But after a couple of cheeky shandies, we forgot all about it, got our glad rags on (including our makeshift Sainsbury’s bag hats – it’s Manchester, of course it was raining!), and headed out.

We met up with the ace Sky Betting & Gaming team at Alberts Schloss, before legging it down the road to the Midland to catch the lovely Mel and Christie from Shop Direct for some fizz at the reception.

And after a pretty good feed (extra gravy for the Northerners) we ended up bagging the Chairman’s Award for our creative work on ‘Ask Jeff’ for Sky Betting & Gaming... back of the net! To celebrate, we were treated to some top notch entertainment from a beatboxing trio who smashed a mix of 90s club anthem and modern pop… three guesses which pair were up on their feet first.

We inevitably ended the night at the notorious Mojo’s, dancing on the tables until 4am. The word hanging just didn’t do us justice come Friday morning...

 

Getting our creative heads on

If you’ve followed our newsletter, you’ll know that we’ve welcomed lots of new Chatterinos into the Roost over recent months. But what you might not know is that Paul and El have had to give up their desks to work up on The Perch. So, this month, the Roost has been going through a bit of a revamp.

We’ve called time on our clunky old Chatter Box and turned it into a shiny new Creative Workspace for John and Susanne to really get their creative heads on.

But we’re not stopping there. In a few weeks, we’ll also be getting our hands on the keys for our new meeting room, so get your best bird related name suggestions in now! We’ve also heard rumours of a health and wellbeing corner for smoothies and yoga and all that kind of stuff, too – so watch this space.

Hopefully, it’ll also have a bar...

 

Welcome on board, Claud!

With Saskia entering full-on client service mode, we started the almost impossible task of hiring someone to fill her Marketing Assistant shoes. And guess what – we actually did it. So, enter Claudia, stage left.

After 3 years in the toon, studying an English Literature and Language degree at Newcastle University, she’s just moved back to God’s own country to learn how to adult instead.

But it’s not all bad. Now 6 weeks in, we think it’s safe to say she’s landed butter side up and has taken to Chatter life like a duck to water.

Great to have you on board, Claude!

Meet the chatterinos

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the brains behind the brands and the… umm… talent that can help you get the most from today’s digital world.

Each issue we introduce you to some of the clever people who make our business tick, and this month it’s our creative enigma, John (with an H) Winney.

When it comes to experience, John’s been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and probably worn it out, too. With a creative career that began with a junior art director role around 20 years ago, he’s seen it all – which means that now that he’s on the team, we’ve stepped up our creativity game another notch or ten.

He’s spent the last 15 years in an agency in Manchester city centre, and in his own words has “always wanted to travel”.

Well, you got your wish John… Welcome to Leeds!

By now, you should already know the drill – we asked John if he could read, listen to, watch and own one thing, what would they be. Here’s what he told us…

“If I had to read one book for the rest of my life I would choose The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan. It’s one of those picture books that has so many layers that you see something new every time you read it. The story has a great moral too - sometimes you need to open your eyes to what's around you... there's a place for everyone and everything.”

“I would choose Disclosure's Moog for love to listen to but as this is only a three track EP it may be a bit much for the rest of my life so how about Kasabian's 48:13.”

“Watching would have to be Star Wars, any of the original three. I watch it every Christmas without fail, that and Die Hard, it's not Christmas until Hans Gruber says 'Ho, Ho... Ho'.”

“If I could own something for the rest of my life it would be the family dogs. That doesn't need any further explanation - other than a shared appreciation of football and biscuits.”

Where creativity is Hardwired

Convergence Group are one of the fastest growing and most exciting connectivity companies you’ve (probably) never heard of. At least not yet, anyway... 

Since they set up shop in sunny Brum back in 2004, they’ve been making a huge impact on the UK’s networking sector. In fact, their vision is ‘to be the leading supplier of data network services in the UK’, and with last year’s acquisition of Networks First, they’re well on their way to realising it.

But what’s even more exciting is that they’re about to make the same kind of impact in the recruitment comms space too with a new employer brand – thanks to a bit of switched on creativity from us.

It all began when Franki jumped on board earlier this year as People and Culture Director, and we kicked things off with our EVP research tool, HUME, to help the business define the nuts and bolts of their offer.

With that box ticked, we went full steam ahead and developed a new employer brand – that we call Hardwired – which brings their ‘fast and furious’ culture to life. And with the kind of art direction that celebrates their down to earth, ‘started from the bottom and now we’re here’ story... you know you're gonna want to watch this space!

Amongst all the madness, we managed to grab 5 with Franki for the usual Chatter grilling…

How did you get into the HR industry?

Mmm, it was after a decade in Operations that I realised that the big dial movers were the people. Without great people, businesses are average at best, so I decided to complete my masters in HR and move over to the dark side! As for the tech industry, I’ve always done retail or hospitality, it was Mr Harrison (that’s Neal – the boss!) himself that enticed me in to joining the tech industry, he’s a born salesman!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Never compromise your own integrity; it will cause sleepless nights for a lifetime.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Keep things simple and be respectful. Remember the impact you can have on people’s lives.

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

Their ability to translate my scatterbrain thoughts into reality without any fuss!

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’m reading The Girl in the Spiders Web (Stig Larssons/David Lagercrantz), watching Billions (to see how it’s done!) and listening to Tracy Chapman – I just found it on Apple Music, and love the album.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Any marvel, star wars, X men films - I love them all!

Three words to describe yourself?

Driven, determined and small!

What fact would surprise people about you?

I’m a trained sports masseur… rusty but true!

#whatsfortea? It’s Fiona’s easy peasy birthday cake

Fi’s got three little ladies, and whilst that means our resident Disney princess can channel her inner Elsa from Frozen on a day to day basis, it also that means she’s got to bake three birthday cakes… every year. That’s a lot of eggs!

But don’t worry, her easy-peasy birthday cake is a real time saver… and delicious too!

Fiona’s easy peasy birthday cake

Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 225g butter
  • 225g sugar
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 4 large eggs

Ingredients (for decorating)

  • 1 tablespoon raspberry jam
  • 200g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Food colouring
  • 500g ready to roll icing
  • Ribbon
  • Cake topper
  • Figures/toys

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180°c and line 2” x 7” round cake tins with cake tin cases.
  2. Cream together softened butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time stirring a spoonful of flour between each egg. Mix in remaining flour and beat ‘til you have a smooth, light batter.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the tins and pop in the oven to bake for 25-30 mins. Check they’re done by poking a thin skewer through the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean your cake is baked.
  4. Once baked, take your cakes out of the tins and leave to completely cool.
  5. Soften butter and gradually mix in icing sugar, beating in lots of air and fluffiness. If the icing is a bit stiff add in a splash of milk. Pink food colouring is great for a girly touch!
  6. Smooth raspberry jam on top of one cake. Then spread a decent helping of buttercream across the top of the cake too. Sandwich your second cake on top. Next, smooth layer of buttercream all over the cake, including the sides, to fill in any cracks and create a smooth surface. Chill your cake in the fridge for around 30 mins ‘til the buttercream hardens.
  7. Roll out your fondant icing into a large circle, about 2mm thick, then lift your sheet of icing, draping it over your cake. Smooth it from the top down. The trick is to gradually work downwards, smoothing against the buttercream an inch at a time, lifting out any folds before they stick together.
  8. Trim off any excess icing with a sharp knife and use a decorative ribbon at the bottom. Simples!

Top tip: An icing topper or figures/toys can be placed around the base or on top of the cake to give it the final wow factor.

News from the Roost

This month, we’ve been getting our Yorkshire on for Yorkshire Day, Jon’s have been getting up to mischief at Pride Manchester, and we’re all getting ready to get down at the RBAs in September.

So, get the news from the Roost right here…

Ey up, it's Yorkshire Day!

We don't enforce the Chatter dress code policy very often, but on the 1st of August it was compulsory flat caps all round. Why? Tsk, as if you have to ask. It was only bloody Yorkshire Day!

We celebrated in style with a canal side BBQ in the kind of rain that gets you reet wet. We held a big Yorkshire quiz with an even bigger hamper full of Yorkshire bait for the winner (we’re talking Wensleydale, Parkin, a bottle of Yorkshire Blonde, Pontefract cakes and last but not least, a gut busting bag of Yorkshire Mixture). And we annoyed our neighbours with all the Yorkshire classics blasting out on the Sonos including Mamma Mia, the ABBA classic about a boy telling his mam that he’s arrived home, and Ice Cream Man by Van Halen - y’know, the one about visiting the pharmacist for your haemorrhoids treatment (think about it).

Any honourable Yorkshireman – or woman – would have done the same...

Chatter loves pride

Every year, August bank holiday sees Manchester taken over by tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of flags, and millions of sequins. And they wouldn't have it any other way!

Well this year was no different... The gay village was transformed, the likes of Faithless and Pixie Lott took to the stage, and the world famous parade brought the party to the streets. The whole thing ended with a moving candlelit vigil, embracing all things diversity and showing support for LGBQT communities around the world. 

Our friends from O2 were there, ending their 2017 Pride road trip in style. Armed with confetti cannons, a whole host freebies and a live stream of all the #O2prideparty fun from the big blue bus, it’s safe to say they shared the love. 

Jon was there too, doing us proud with Chatter flags.

We’ve already got it in the diary for 2018…

Keep ‘em crossed

So, it’s that time of year, and once again we’re off to the Recruitment Business Awards over t’hill in Manchester on September 7th. Last year’s entertainment hit a high note with a heady mix of a brass brand and 90s club classics, and this year… well, we’ll just have to wait and see. As for after hours, rumour has it that Chinese Charlie's Karaoke Bar has shut up shop for good. Probably for the best, but it means we’ll need a new plan for the rest of the night. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, fingers crossed that we come away with an award (or two, or three, or even four!) for Best Campaign for Shop Direct, Best Copy for Sky Betting & Gaming (Ask Jeff), Best Innovation for Sky Betting & Gaming (Jeff again!) and Best Website for Morrisons. Keep ‘em crossed.

Meet the Chatterino

What goes around comes around, they say. Which means Ellen must’ve done something pretty terrible in a previous life to wind up back in the same team as Lisa, Paul and Jon just a few short years after escaping.

After spending time in the product advertising world including a 5 year stint in Sydney where she worked in full service creative agencies like M&C Saatchi and JWT (servicing clients like Google, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson), developed comms strategies and produced content for leading digital and content marketing agencies, and finally taking off snowboarding around Canada and the States for 6 months, Ellen is back. And this time she’s not fresh out of uni, which means filing definitely isn’t part of her job description anymore.

As is tradition here at the Roost, we asked Ellen if she could listen to, read, watch and own one thing, what would they be. Here’s what she told us…

“I've developed a bit of a podcast addiction, so I'd have to say my favourite show called The One You Feed (contrary to popular belief, it wouldn't be Neil Diamond!).”

“I love a good Roald Dahl book, they remind me not to take life too seriously.”

“Can I say Netflix? Haha, I'm guessing not... I'd say history documentaries - I know I sound like a geek but I really could watch them all day everyday.”

“That's easy... lip balm!”

Made for you, whoever you are

O2 pride themselves for being an inclusive place to work. A diverse group of individuals meeting the needs of a diverse group of customers. Simple. 

They strongly believe that it is a necessity to set an example of an open-minded business in order to lead to a strong and diverse workforce. Bringing equal opportunities to employees of any walk of life. It’s just how they roll.

As proud supporters of the LGBTQ Network, O2 celebrate the talent and unique ideas that their employees bring to the workplace. Their Women’s Network promotes that, regardless of gender, background or race, everyone deserves to feel empowered and supported. Both at home and in the workplace. It’s in their DNA, and it’s in ours too.

Fresh from a month of partying with O2 at Pride across the country, we thought it was about time we caught up with Lyndsey, Resourcing Business Partner, for the usual Chatter lowdown…

How did you get into the HR industry?

I fell into it. I was at uni and decided to temp over the summer. The agency I registered with asked me to work with them during the summer doing admin work and then during that time asked if I would like to look after a temp desk and become a recruitment consultant. So I decided not to return to uni and that is how my career in recruitment started.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

The best piece of advice I have ever been given is to believe in yourself and what you can achieve. Nothing is impossible if you have the drive, the tenacity and ambition to succeed.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

HR to me is all about relationships; therefore, effective communication and listening skills are key. If you can manage stakeholders and have strong relationships then I believe that is a great foundation for a career in HR. 

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

The people. They understand our business and what we are all about and they are all lovely people who I really enjoy working with. Their passion and commitment to deliver is second to none.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I have started reading James Patterson books, which I am really enjoying, so the book I am reading at the moment is called Jack and Jill. I listen to a wide variety of music but recently it is Bros as I went to see them in the O2 on the 19th August, which was just amazing.  Last time I saw them I was 14 so it took me back to my teenage years. I am watching Nashville at the moment. Love the programme and the music.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Trash TV – love TOWIE and anything reality based. 

Three words to describe yourself?

Scottish. Fun. Caring.

What fact would surprise people about you?

Used to do belly dancing and took part in a few shows. 

#whatsfortea?

It’s Paul’s Jerk Chicken!

Seeing as it’s his birthday this month, and knowing that he does love a good BBQ (and we don’t think you’ve seen enough of him this issue), we thought it’d be a crime not to share the recipe for Paul’s summer sizzler…

Ingredients (for the Chicken)

4 large chicken legs, skin on, cut into drumsticks and thighs and scored
Olive oil - for frying, 2tbsp
Worcestershire sauce
Rice - to serve
4–5 thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Ingredients (for the Marniade)

1–2 scotch bonnet chillies, deseeded and fi nely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
2tsp ground allspice
5–7 thyme sprigs, leaves only (you will need about 2 tbsp)
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Method

First of all, get the barbecue smoking hot - remember, absolutely no cooking on there until the coals are white hot.
Next prepare the marinade by combining all the ingredients with a good grinding of black pepper and a dash of oil. Rub the marinade into the chicken pieces, massaging it into the scored meat. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour (or, better still, overnight).
Now place the meat onto the grill and barbecue until the skin is crisp and the juices run clear.
Serve the chicken hot with rice and eat it with your fingers!

Top tip: Once the coals are hot, push them all to one side of the grill creating a cooler area so you can circulate the chicken to avoid it from burning.

News from the Roost

This month, we’ve celebrated Pauls 40th, Charlotte and Alf’s time in the Roost, the arrival of our new creative director John and account manager Emma, and our haul of awards at the RMAs in London. We need a lie down.

How to stretch a birthday out, by Paul Ainley, aged 40

July is a big month for birthdays here in the Roost, but much to the resident Queen of Birthdays’ disappointment (Charlotte!), this year was all about one man and his never ending 40th…

So, picture the Roost in full on surprise party mode, with flockers, family and friends, a playlist by resident DJ Ben, balloons, bunting, and a table filled with everything that should really excite someone who was born way, way back in the 70’s. We’re talking jelly and ice cream, egg and cress sandwiches, a cheese and pineapple hedgehog, and party rings. And we even got our hands on a bottle of Cinzano. Tasty.

And if that wasn’t enough, Paul, Lisa and Jon then jetted off to Mallorca to keep the celebrations going, culminating in an all night bender in Magaluf. Nothing like stretching a birthday out, eh Paul? Hope you had a good one – we certainly did!

And they’re off!

It’s been all change in the roost recently. We said goodbye to Charlotte, who discovered that the pull of the Steel city was stronger than she thought, ‘cos she’s off to join a Mansfield based agency as a Project manager.

And we also said goodbye to the tour de force that is Alf, who made his grand depart 3 years to the day since he joined Chatter (where did those years go, dude?!). He’s off to South America for 5 months of travelling, soul searching and beard growing… and we’re all insanely jealous.

Good luck guys!

But it’s not all sad news… this month we also said a big hello to our new creative director, John, and our new account manager, Emma. So watch this space for a future Meet the Chatterinos interview.

A headful of hangovers and a hatful of gongs at the RMAs

July also saw us down in the big smoke en masse for the RMAs at The Brewery. And along with a collection of sore heads, we came home with a couple of well-deserved first places for our work with Sky Betting & Gaming, which demonstrated our employee engagement chops.

First off, we won the Best Recruitment Site Under £50k award, against the likes of M&S, WHSmiths and Swinton Insurance. And we also nabbed the Technology Innovation award which was a new category for 2017, against the likes of Virgin and Nandos, for our work on the infamous Ask Jeff recruitment chatbot.

Oh, and Ask Jeff also picked up a nomination for copywriting too – but unfortunately his banter went just wide of the post this time. He talks about Hartlepool United too much, we reckon!

On top of that, Lisa took to the stage - no, not to do *that*! – to present the Best Video Above £10k award to the British Army. Easy, soldier.

And we all got a bit giddy about seeing the Chase’s Sinnerman in the flesh. So much so that we ended up in a dodgy bar in Soho drinking a bunch of spirits whose names we couldn’t pronounce. By the end of the night, we all sounded a bit like Ask Jeff ourselves!

Meet the Flockers

Neil started his career in advertising, long before the days of computers when everything was visualised and hand-lettered and when designers had to actually draw for a living. After a spell in that there fancy London, he was lured back up North where he ended up working in recruitment comms and employee engagement, and very quickly found his niche.

The days of the Mad Men agency quickly changed with the onslaught of technology and the rise of the Mac Men meant Neil was pioneering the first in-house recruitment studios of the generation. Who’d have thought that all that colouring in would lead him from studio manager in the North east, then Creative Director of the North (move over Jon Snow) to now running his own creative business on the banks of the Tyne. In that time, he's been lucky enough to work with some the world’s most exciting – and now some of the most engaging! – companies, and pick up a few awards along the way.

When Neil's not colouring in you can find me in the kitchen, exploring the many restaurants, or out and about rediscovering his love of Photography.

As is tradition over here at the Roost we asked Neil if he could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of his life, what would they be? Here’s what he had to say...

“I have to say I’m a great fan of Spotify which lets me listen to my eclectic taste of music – from classical to Ibiza hits, so I tend to adjust to my mood or creative thinking. I’m currently reliving my youth by listening to a great Blondie playlist, including the new stuff of Pollinator. When I’m not in the mood for music, I’m usually catching up on Radio 4 podcasts, the Archers, comedy shows or the afternoon dramas.”

“When I can find some time for telly I’m usually a binge watcher on Netflix (House of Cards, Stranger Things) and currently very content that winter is coming and Game of Thrones has returned. I’m a big movie fan too and will watch anything from black and white classics to art house, my top ten all time movies changes constantly and I make a point of annually staying up to watch the Oscars live and trying to catch as many Oscar nominated films beforehand.”

“As for reading, I guess I don’t get much time nowadays to plough through, but I am trying to get back into reading the Game Of Thrones books, love a good thriller, and my favourite book is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night” by Mark Haddon. The stage play is pretty awesome too and I suppose I’m fortunate enough that the North provides some great theatre, which I love seeing.”

“Ok, one thing to own…  apart from my Macs, my colouring pens and my daily fix of marmite… I’d say my passport, as I love to travel and am lucky to have friends scattered across the globe who are on my bucket list of countries to visit before I retire or pack my felt pens away for good.”

Gather round for a masterclass

This month, we helped our friends at Sky Betting & Gaming do something a little bit different for their people. Given that we’re smack bang in the middle of festival season, SBG’s The Gathering was the perfect way to give employees a cracking time – and a groundbreaking way to communicate the past, present and future of their business.

With everything from music stages to street food to an assault course, it was an absolute masterclass in employee engagement. We caught up with Joel, Internal comms and engagement manager, right after the fest for a bit of a natter…

How did you get into the HR/Comms industry?

"I spent my twenties avoiding proper employment by working in music and radio, so didn’t follow a conventional route into my eventual career. When it became time to get a job that paid a regular wage I started working in a call centre and quickly established myself as someone with a bit of creative flair and energy for doing things differently. With each successive role I took every opportunity to build comms experience by bolting things on outside of my day to day duties, until I finally got a dedicated comms role in an industry I really enjoy."

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

"Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done."

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR/Comms sector?

"Find ways to stand out and get noticed. Don’t be scared to try stuff and fail. Also: crack on."

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

"Flipping great plate spinners; gyrating with control, panache and a twinkle. Also, they crack on. A perfect match for SBG."

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

"Reading some Margaret Atwood thing “Oryx and Crake”. A bit weird. Watching more Atwood: Handmaid’s Tale. Also a bit weird. And as I type, I’m listening to Arcade Fire’s new album, Everything Now. Guess what? Weird."

What’s your guilty pleasure?

"Watching TV on my commute."

Three words to describe yourself?

"Lemony, gorgeous and tolerable."

What fact would surprise people about you?

"I’m not always this pleased to be here."

#whatsfortea?

Ben’s become pretty famous for his lunchtime choices at the Roost. He’s a big fan of the classic ham and cheese (or Ben and cheese as its now known), but sometimes he likes to change it up, so here’s his university alternative that packs a fiery punch.

 

Ben’s pesto inferno wrap

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tortilla wrap
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • 2 to 4 slices of deli meats of choice (I like using German salami and chorizo)
  • 1 to 2 slices of honey roast ham
  • Mature cheddar sliced
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 birds-eye chilies or jalapeños
  • Some dried coriander, oregano or parsley (experiment with these to suit your preference) and chili powder
  • 1 metric ton of Tabasco (okay not really, but the more the better!).

 

Method

  1. Take your wrap of choice and lay flat on a plate.
  2. With the back of a spoon spread your pesto in the centre of the wrap into a lovely circle shape.
  3. With a knife, cut the deli meats and ham into small pieces about 1cm in size. Mix together and sprinkle the deli meats and ham evenly covering the pesto.
  4. Cut the cheese and place in even, yet sporadic, positions on top of the meats.
  5. Cut the pepper into strips and place evenly on top of the meats and cheese. Then dice up your chilies or jalapeños and scatter over the other fillings before sprinkling over some parsley, oregano or your herb of choice.
  6. Finally dash some chili powder over the top and DROWN it in Tabasco, the more the merrier.

 

TOP TIP: Goes well with an oaky rioja or a fire extinguisher.

News from the Roost

This month, we’ve been camping it up in boiler suits on our Crystal Maze away day, we’ve been grilling up a feast for our dads, and we’re facing up to the fact that it’s time to replace the irreplaceable Saskia. But it’s not all bad news, as you’ll discover in this month’s News from the Roost…

 

Start the fans, please!

A few weeks back we decided to roll our annual summer away day and 90’s TV fantasies into one with a trip to the Crystal Maze at Granada Studios in Manchester.

In our usual grown-up style, we organised ourselves into teams over a cracking lunch at Alberts Schloss, with Paul taking Team Thrush under his wing, and Lisa leading The Tits into battle.

After 2 hours of solving riddles, running around the Aztec, and rolling about in giant hamster wheels, Team Thrush stormed to victory with 9 crystals compared to The Tits’ 5. For all you Crystal Maze fans out there, that gave them 20 more seconds in the dome!

Following a quick outfit change (not sure we’d have got far in our boiler suits), we headed out to the Northern quarter for drinks and a buffet of fried food (seriously, why are deep fried mushy peas a thing?!) before ending up at Mojo’s until the sun came up.

And the unsung hero of the day? It’s gotta be our Harry for going hell for leather in that ball pit…

 

Daddy, daddy (not so) cool

With temperatures soaring to 30 degrees last week, there was only one thing on the Chatter Fathers Day menu this year… clue: it began with B and ended in Q!

Whilst most of us put our feet up, sun cream on, and cracked open a cold one in the back garden, Ben and the Walkers headed off to the biggest and best back garden of them all – the Dales – for some riverside lunching.

It wasn’t burgers for everyone though, Fi and the Dockers had a full on family affair by rolling her nephew Leo’s christening and Fathers Day all into one!

But the prize has got to go to Paul, who spent it drinking a glass (or two) of Tuscany’s finest with his dad, whilst kicking back to views of the vineyards themselves. Jealous!

 

The good news, or the bad news?

We’ll start with the bad: the time has come to replace the irreplaceable Saskia, who joined us way back in November 2015 as an apprentice Digital Marketer. But the good news is that she’s only bloody moving into our Client Service Team full time to be an Account Executive.

Phew!

So that means we’re now looking for someone to pick up the slack as a Marketing Assistant. And if you or someone you know is trying to get their marketing career off to a great start, this is the perfect opportunity to get your head around what it all means.

You can find out more here.

Meet the Partners

As our resident tech monkey, Jon gets involved in all things digital at Chatter.

He’s been working in people communications for over ten years now, having started working life as a web designer at a consumer ad agency. But really, it all began way before that. He was given his first computer at the age of seven and has been tinkering with technology ever since.

Most of Jon’s time is spent helping clients get to grips with new technology, and finding pragmatic ways to solve their resourcing and employer branding issues online without jumping on every passing bandwagon. His philosophy is that while there's plenty of shiny technology you could use, the fun part is figuring out the approach that you should use.

In his spare time, he’s a keen portrait photographer and cook, and enjoys picking up heavy things and putting them down again. And in time-honoured style, we asked Jon if he could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of his life, what would they be?

Here’s what he had to say...

 

 “It’s hard to choose, as I listen to a lot more spoken word than music! BBC Radio 6 Music is usually a safe bet though and the last year has seen me listening to people like Nerina Pallot, Tegan & Sara and Nao a lot. I listen to a ton of podcasts too, No Such Thing as a Fish, This American Life and My Dad Wrote a Porno are all fantastic. But if I had to choose one thing, it’d probably be BBC Radio 4, the sheer breadth of news, drama and spoken word always surprises me.”

 

“Jessica Jones and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have probably been my two biggest favourites over the past year or so. And they’re pretty much polar opposites! But if we’re talking guilty pleasures, I’d say Ru Paul’s Drag Race is a winner, it’s light hearted bubble gum fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has launched some fantastic performers like Jinkx Monsoon, Trixie Mattel and Sasha Velour to name but three!”

 

“I love reading, but rarely get time to do it. The books that Game of Thrones is based on are a good solid holiday read that I’m slowly working my way through and I love David Sedaris’ dry, funny books too, can’t wait for his new diaries which are just about to be released.”

 

“I’m going to have to go for the cop out answer and say my iPhone as it so rarely leaves my hand! I don’t think we stop often enough to think just how amazed we’d all be if 20 years ago someone had handed us what is today completely commonplace or just how reliant we’ve become on having access to all of human knowledge all the time…even if I do mainly use it to look at cat pictures.”

The kind of company that digital was made for…

Shop Direct are the people behind littlewoods.com, very.co.uk and Very Exclusive. With an 80 year plus heritage, they’ve transformed their business over the last decade from a catalogue driven company into the UK’s 2nd largest pureplay retailer (that’s a full blown digital department store to you and me).

They’re the kind of company that the word digital was invented for.

They’ve also made their mark in the fashion world and are one of the UK’s biggest consumer credit businesses. And with their HQ being based in Liverpool, they’re keen to do their part within the Northern Powerhouse. 

However, they’re so well known and respected in the North West that they’ve never really had a problem with recruitment up North. But darn sarf, it’s a different story. In London, they were seen as just another multi-£million start up - but one with a genuine mission to create world class digital experiences for their customers.

So, with their biggest challenge being attracting talent in the capital, the decision was made in late 2016 to open a tech hub in the heart of London Victoria with a focus on attracting the best Data Scientists and Dev Ops specialists that London has to offer. That’s where we got involved.

Our challenge was to help them build a sexy campaign that delivered a world class recruitment experience that matched their customer offer. And so, the Hey London campaign was born. Based around a tumbler hub to keep content fresh, up to date and agile, we developed a warm tone of voice that encapsulated northern friendliness and communicated the chatty and open culture you’ll find at Shop Direct.

With a cheeky nod to AI systems, a ‘geo targeting’ style pin drop icon to show how we’re putting SD on the map in London, and genuine imagery to showcase all that Shop Direct have to offer, we nailed the brand.

We also introduced an easy application route using a CRM tool that minimised the effort these incredibly sought after candidates needed to put in, and to ensure a consistent recruitment process, from offer to onboarding.

Right now, the campaign is in mid flow with the first recruits due to join the business when the London office opens its doors in July.

In the meantime, we caught up with Talent Director, Helen, for a bit of a natter…

 

How did you get into the HR industry?

I spent 15 years working in Music and Media, always in HR, starting as a HR Assistant and by the time I left EMI I was Head of HR. Through a contact, I made the move into retail at HMV and Waterstones. However, I was keen to move into a pureplay digital business so I jumped to ASOS and then to Shop Direct, where I’ve been able to take everything I’ve accumulated over the years to hopefully bring to life the importance of talent in a customer centric, digital, highly commercial, and never-a-dull-moment business.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

We’re here to create experiences for people, not processes. 

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Think of yourself, but also learn about and act as a commercial business person who happens to have expertise in HR. Good HR people can talk knowledgably across a range of topics about their business – not just HR.

 

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

Chatter is a straight talking, passionate Northern company like Shop Direct. They’ve got a razor sharp ability to work in partnership so we all get to learn and contribute to our shared goal.

 

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’ve just finished reading Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriaty, loved it. I’m listening to my youngest daughters Disney playlist on Spotify, constantly. And I’m watching re-runs of The Trip – what’s not to love about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon trying to out-impersonate each other.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Butterscotch Angel Delight.

 

Three words to describe yourself?

Focussed, determined and playful.

 

What fact would surprise people about you?

I used to have my own cake baking business.

 

Google… for jobs?

Thought Google had already taken over the internet? Well they’re not done just yet… the guys over at the Googleplex just ordered a taster board, and guess what’s on the menu? 

Recruitment.

Yep - that’s right folks, ‘Google for jobs’ was announced last month at the I/O 2017 keynote, and it could change the way we search for jobs for good!

Making use of the popular ‘search vertical’ feature, it will use machine learning to recognise when users are searching for jobs and cluster together relevant roles and allow job seekers to refine based on a number of factors, such as commute time. CEO Sundar Pichai says he’s “personally enthusiastic for this initiative because it addresses an important need and taps [Google’s] core capabilities as a company from searching and organizing information to A.I. and machine learning,”

 

Search Verticals have been around for a few years now, providing rich search tools and results when you search for movie times, news stories or flights all without leaving Google... sounds like it could be the end of job aggregators as we know them then, right? Well rather than taking on the kingpins of job search, Google are partnering with them, working with the likes of LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, Facebook and CareerBuilder to bring the service to life. It’s a widely known truth that most job searches start in Google, so rather than searching ‘retail jobs’ and then jumping into a jobs board to refine that search, ‘Google for Jobs’ will allow users to refine within the Google itself, so when they jump into the job board it’s to view the most relevant content. In other words, it creates a much more meaningful interaction which is win win for everyone.

 

But, eventually, they’ll inevitably start rolling jobs feeds from company careers sites and ATS systems into the search vertical results too. So the ATS’s and businesses that structure their content in a way Google can easily understand will get an instant leg up… and over time those aggregators and job boards will see fewer visitors.

 

Perhaps the most exciting prospect of ‘Google for Jobs’ is the part that machine learning will play in clustering related job titles. It’s a big problem that different employers use a range of terminologies to describe the same role, but ‘Google for Jobs’ will recognise this and cluster similar titles together, allowing users to filter and refine their searches so they are only looking at the most relevant positions.

 

Google are also teasing us with a general purpose recruiting platform (or Applicant Tracking System to you and me) called ‘Google Hire’. They’re keeping things very quiet, but are currently testing the service as an invite only beta with a few tech giants in the US such as CoreOS, Medisas and Poynt… so watch this space!

 

‘Google for Jobs’ is currently being trialled in the US, so give it a go if you’re stateside and let us know what you think using the hashtag #chattertechweek

Careers site top tips

We're kicking off #chattertechweek by sharing some words of wisdom. Here are our top tips for a great careers site... 


1. Mobile first
With around 67% of candidates using mobile and tablets, having a careers site that’s desktop only is crazy!
 
2. Does it work for ALL your candidates?
Many businesses recruit very different candidates. From warehouse people to software developers, senior execs to retail managers, they all have different motivators; location, benefits, size of the challenge and so on. Does your site guide those different people to the right content?


3. Turn off as many as you turn on…
If you’re a volume recruiter, or filling roles that attract lots of applications (lucky you!) then it’s important that the careers site content subtly discourages unsuitable candidates from applying, just as much as it sells the benefits of working with you. This can be woven into the content, or more explicit using a quiz or realistic job profiling tool.


4. Make it easy to apply
Review your application process, if you’re not using some of the data you ask for, get rid of those questions! Let candidates sign up using their LinkedIn or other social profiles and make sure you feedback whether they are successful or not.


5. Show your culture
It’s hard work to generate regular social content, but really worth it as a way to showcase the great events going on across your business, from the organised stuff to the little everyday things. Make sure that content also gets pulled from your social channels onto your careers site, so everyone sees it.
 

Britain’s best trained workforce?

Whether it’s sharing your favourite toy as a toddler, or juggling that english essay and your best mates houseparty as a teen, we start developing transferable skills from a young age. Without those experiences, we’d be lacking the day to day skills we all need to get by in the workplace. It’s something the military recognise and work really hard to instill in their people right at the start of their careers. From time management, to adaptability, to problem solving, they put recruits through a comprehensive training and development programme from the first day they put on their boots. It’s probably what makes them one of Britain's best trained workforces!

With an estimated five million veterans currently in the UK, and around 24,000 people leaving the Armed Forces each year, that’s a massive resource of some of the most motivated, efficient and loyal candidates in the market place - why wouldn’t you want a piece of that action?

...Nope, not sure?

Let’s kick things off with a bit a role play then. Picture this; you’re the head of recruitment at a medium sized organisation that’s growing quickly and going through big transformation, and you need to hire someone into a mid to senior management position. Someone who can empower and align their team with a shared set of values and clear direction. Someone responsible who can step up quickly and be trusted to make decisions. Someone who won’t just lead, but develop their team to be prepared and capable.

Sounds like the perfect candidate right? Well these are exactly the kind of transferable skills that ex military candidates can bring to the table - but don’t just take it from me… we caught up with some of our ace clients, friends of the business and media, that are passionate about military recruitment, to find out a bit more...

Over the pennies, our friends at Yodel run on precision, focus and structure to deliver millions of parcels every week. Having recently signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant and holding a silver award in the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, we caught up with People Director, Lynne, to see what part former military play in bringing Yodel’s nationwide 24/7 delivery operation to life:

“We recognise the many skills and attributes that our former military colleagues possess and offer a range of opportunities in operations, engineering, HR and IT. We find that strong leadership and organisational skills, accuracy and the ability to keep calm under pressure, all of which are vital in logistics, come second nature to ex-service personnel.”

It’s no surprise then that when we caught up with former military mechanic of 22 years, Jon, on day one of his Yodel placement, he told us how he hoped his leadership skills would really come into their own:

“I’m hoping that pretty much all of my skills that I’ve developed in the Army are going to be transferable in one way or another, such as leadership and management training. There’s a lot of working in teams, and independently, which I think will put me in good stead.”

Talk about a match made in heaven! We managed to squeeze in a chat with Jon on his last day and - surprise surprise - he took like a duck to water!

“It’s been fantastic. It’s been an eye opener. It’s an experience that I will be recommending that everybody does as part of the transition. It’s been absolutely invaluable to experience how it actually works in real life, so that I can manage my expectations and I can better target myself and sell myself at that particular industry. Absolutely invaluable.”

Something we chatted about with Jon was the role that he hoped his soft skills would (and did) play, particularly teamwork - a skill that’s central to life in the military. For the guys over at Morrisons it plays a massive role in bringing their ‘Ways of Working’ to life. We had a chat with Resourcing People Manager and all round lovely lady, Paula, to hear a little bit more about the role that ex military play at Morrisons, and her own experience of making the transition from the military to the private sector:

“We owe a tremendous amount to our Armed Forces for their huge contribution to our country. We proudly signed the corporate covenant back in 2015 and we actively support the employment of veterans and reservists.

Being ex military myself, I understand the challenges and difficulties service personnel face when making the transition into civilian life and employment, but there are so many transferable skills that are attractive to employers. 

The key one for me and one of our 'Ways of Working' here at Morrisons is 'Teamwork' - Teamwork is all about togetherness, trust, communication, collaboration, pulling together, dedication, support & encouragement - all the great qualities we look for within our organisation.

Thinking back to my initial days in the military, you rapidly learn that teamwork is everything - no one gets through basic training alone, you need your team around you to survive and succeed and it's no different in the corporate environment.

You can only achieve so much alone but as a team, the opportunities are endless. We’re once again looking forward to Armed Forces Day to our reservist recruitment days along with our fundraising initiatives. We’re passionate about 'giving back' to our heroes.”

Where there’s successful teamwork, a strong leader isn’t far behind, and the military are renowned for being natural leaders. They live, eat and breathe the mission command principle, encouraging their teams to achieve a given goal using their own initiative. In other words, they empower their people to take ownership and have confidence in their decisions - a skill that all leaders in any sector or industry should embody.

This was a key theme in a webinar ran by the Officers Association in discussion with Alex from the York Strategic Leadership Programme. As an ex Army officer with 11 years service, now working in corporate training and leadership development across a broad range of sectors, he’s gained a rich and diverse insight into the types of people businesses look for when recruiting leaders. Discussing mission command, he says that “the essence of it is very much sought after” and that “it presents a huge opportunity for ex military as they move into the private sector, it’s a unique ability that is definitely something to sell and promote about oneself”.

Coming from a military environment, where you are aligned with a distinct culture and set of values from the offset, creates the kind of camaraderie and brotherhood (...and sisterhood) that you couldn't buy off the shelf, and making the transition into an organisation where that isn’t necessarily the case can be a big challenge. But it also presents a huge opportunity. For organisations that share similar values and behaviours to the military, such as efficiency and adaptability, bringing somebody on board that embodies them can have a big impact on its people (rallying the troops, as they say). For our friends over at British Engineering Services, they’ve found that ex military are the perfect cultural fit. We caught up with Head of Recruitment and Talent, Kiera, to find out a little bit more:

“As a business we recruit ex-forces people, mainly into management and Engineer Surveyor positions. Not only do we find that they have excellent technical skills but their attitude and behaviours are second to none, and a great fit for British Engineering Services.”

It seems pretty safe to say that, by having the right balance of transferable skills and cultural alignment, ex military are very desirable candidates. It’s a belief that the guys over at Quest run on everyday. We chatted to the Editor, Lynn, to hear a little more:

“As the essential monthly guide to funding, training courses, careers and transition, for those still serving as well as in their resettlement period, one of our main aims at Quest is to emphasise the huge range of transferable skills possessed by those in HM Armed Forces. We firmly believe that – coupled with appropriate training and preparation – such attributes are a highly valuable asset, specific to Service leavers, that will help them reap many benefits in their future career choices. And it’s clear that employers see the benefits of a Forces background too: quite apart from academic qualifications, ‘soft’ skills, such as communication, planning, problem-solving and team-working, are also a very welcome transferable currency in the civilian workplace – as the case studies we publish every month clearly demonstrate.”

So I’ll ask you again - why wouldn’t you want a piece of that action?

...Yep, thought so! 

#whatsfortea?

By his own self-admission, Harry’s pretty lazy, and… well… Spring is no fun if you have to do a load of cooking! So when we asked him to share one of his favourite recipes, he chose something that pretty much cooks itself. Typical.

Harry’s Greek Roast Lamb

Ingredients:

  • 1 large leg of lamb
  • About 3kg/6lb 8oz
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch oregano
  • Zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ kg new potatoes
  • 400g can chopped tomato
  • large handful pitted baby kalamata olives

Method

1. Heat oven to 240C/fan 220C/gas 9.

2. Pound the garlic, half the oregano, lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, then add the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Stab the lamb all over with a sharp knife, then push as much of the herb paste as you can into the holes.

3. Tip the potatoes into a large roasting tin, and then toss in the remaining olive oil and any remaining herb paste.

4. Put the lamb amongst the potatoes, roast for 20 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Roast for 1 hour 15 mins for medium rare, adding another 15 mins if you prefer your lamb medium.

5. Baste the lamb once or twice with the juices and toss the potatoes. When the lamb is done to your liking, remove from the tin and let it rest. Throw the rest of the oregano in with the potatoes, scoop from the tin and keep warm.

6. Place the roasting tin over a medium flame, add the canned tomatoes and olives to the pan juices, then simmer for a few mins. Serve the lamb with the potatoes and sauce and a simple salad.

TOP TIP: Why not combine this beautiful spring dish, with a spring onion and feta cheese salad (tossed with cos lettuce and 100ml of olive oil & 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar) - it’s one of our favourites… but only if you can be bothered, as this bit certainly doesn’t cook itself.

News from the Roost

Looking for a transfer?

Seeing as though we're talking about transferable skills, this is a great time to mention that we're looking for more fabulous folks to transfer to the team here at Chatter!

First up, we’re after a Creative Director. Someone who’ll join us as a senior member of the team, keep pace with our growth, and help shape our business so that creative is firmly at its core. Someone who’s a big thinker. Someone who has a no-nonsense approach. Someone who can deliver work with proper wow. Someone just like us, in fact.

We’re also keeping an eye out for a talented Account Manager who’ll share our passion for what we do and the way we do it and provide our fab clients with a brilliant experience day in, day out.

Interested? Here’s a bit more info to get stuck in to…

Creative Director

Account Manager

She's been to Ellen’ back

Fresh faced from 5 months of exploring Canada and the US on her snowboard, Ellen (AKA the best filer that Lisa, Paul and Jon have ever had) just joined the team as a Client Partner – and we couldn’t be more chuffed!

After studying a Linguistics degree and not quite knowing what to do with it, she took a job as a temp in a large agency, where she ended up staying and progressing into consumer advertising and marketing, and she’s not looked back since. With a pretty impressive CV including Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT in Sydney under her belt, she’s followed her roots back to Leeds to settle down with her fella and throw herself into life at the Roost.

Beer, pizza and UX design

Last week, our friends over at Sky Betting & Gaming launched their first ever Design Works event. Following a week of internal activities, workshops and charity work, the design teams opened up their doors to share a collection of talks by internal colleagues and external guests.

After a bottle of DevHops and a few (okay more than a few) slices of pizza, head of design James McPherson kicked things off with a welcome.

Dr Lucy Buykx took us on a rollercoaster ride through the importance user research. Next, Sheffield based studio Side by Side showed us the power of emotion in design and Delhi belly (but we'll save that story for another day!), And finally, a panel of design and UX leaders opened it up to the room, answering a bunch of questions that ranged from who are you voting for?' to 'can you describe the future of design in 3 words?' (the answer was User Centred Design, if you're wondering).

We're looking forward to the next one (and the beer and pizza) already!

Meet the Flockers

After falling in love with all things creative during a design degree at London Guildhall University, Vix kickstarted her career designing adverts for the Reading Chronicle. From there, she felt the pull of God’s own country and relocated up to Leeds to work for a large agency, where she met three cracking folk by the names of Lisa, Paul and Jon. Life would never be the same again!

After a brief spell here and there at a couple more agencies across the North, she’s now based in Reading with her lovely kids and, thanks to the time and expectation management skills she picked up during agency life, successfully self-employed.

Together we’ve brought life to a whole host of brands, creating design solutions that captivate, engage and make a BIG impact – and most importantly, solutions that we’re proud of.

Amongst social media graphics and booklets amends galore, we found some time to catch up with Vix and ask her the burning question on everyone’s lips… If you could only watch, read, listen to and own one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“I’m not sure I could just pick one book. But I’ve just discovered Alex Marwood. The Killer Next Door and The Wicked Girls are a great read.”

“Currently the highlight of my TV watching is discovering an episode of Topsy and Tim or Bing that I haven’t watched before... Seriously! As for grown up TV, I’ve just discovered Line of Duty, so it would have to be that.”

“Tricky…. Paul would say anything from the 80’s (and he’s not far wrong!), and Lisa would probably say China In Your Hands. But I'd have to say Bon Iver, Skinny Love. And when I’m working I love a bit of talk radio, so LBC.”

“I should say my iMac, but I also want a Winery and my dishwasher (again – seriously!)”

Delivering for the deliverers

Yodel are one of our lovely clients, and we deliver all kinds of training and onboarding comms for them, primarily to engage their people and help them develop valuable transferrable skills. We're talking about an onboarding portal so that new starters can complete paperwork online an find out more about Yodel before their first day, induction packs to get their employed drivers up to speed, training passports so employees can keep track of their personal development and an information pack to help their vast network of self employed drivers get to grips with Yodel as a business.

Yodel’s a business going through a huge transformation but they’re always looking to support the people who work for them and with them. A key area for this is Yodel’s close relationship with the military. As a Silver Covenant employer, they know they have lots to offer to those leaving the military for civilian life who might consider a role at Yodel. But they’re also keen to support to the whole military community. Whether that’s supporting employees with relatives currently serving in the military or supporting those making the transition by offering work experience. And we’ve been working closely with the team to provide comms and training materials to support this military partnership.

We grabbed a coffee with Nicky from Yodel, and gave her the usual Chatter grilling...

How did you get into the HR industry?

I was lucky to have a job as a 'Saturday Girl' at Boots the Chemists on the perfume counter, which eventually turned into a holiday job when I was at University studying Behavioural Sciences. One day, the Personnel Manager asked me to support her setting up the interviews and assisting with the psychometric tests. From that moment, I knew HR was for me, so I applied for the Boots HR Graduate Programme after I left Uni. I stayed with Boots for 7 years, starting as an HR Administrator then Personnel Manager and then working my way up opening their prestigious Speke Store in Liverpool. The rest of my career comes down to being at the right place at the right time…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

“80:20 Nicola. Stop being such a perfectionist.”

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the HR sector?

Take the opportunity to get into the detail, understand processes and policies and learn everything you possibly can and do everything you possibly can to get involved in HR. It will pay dividends when you’re established.

What’s the best thing about working with Chatter?

The enthusiasm and passion of the team – they’re just fab at communicating and enhancing your brand. They also verge on telepathy at times!

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’m reading the light between oceans by M.L.Stedman presently, as I wanted to read it before I watched the film. I don’t watch a great deal of television, but I do enjoy films. I enjoyed watching Jane Eyre over the weekend with Michael Fassbender.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Music. Love it. Got too much of it – whether that’s on my iPod, phone or vinyl. I have music on wherever and whenever I can. I also have a classical mini iPod on my desk at work which I play when I need to calm down…

Three words to describe yourself?

Conscientious, fun, loving.

What fact would surprise people about you?

I have recorded a CD with a couple of songs.

Account Manager

£26,000 - £32,000 + good kit + 25 days’ holiday + bonus scheme

Leeds

A new breed of people communications business, we’re a friendly, straight-talking bunch of communications experts who blend highly creative ideas with good old-fashioned client service. So, if you’re a talented Account Manager who’ll share our passion for what we do and the way we do it – you’ll fit right in at Chatter.

Supporting our three founding partners, you’ll provide our fab clients with a brilliant experience day in, day out. As well as keeping the wheels turning dealing with day-to-day requests, you’ll roll your sleeves up and get stuck into all kinds of projects from planning media campaigns, organising events and managing social media strategies, to launching new HR initiatives and creating shiny new careers websites. Put simply, your role will be to apply the very best marketing and communications solutions, so some of the biggest brands around can continue to attract, recruit, engage with and keep hold of the very best talent.

No stranger to the world of marketing, recruitment, resourcing or HR consultancy, you’ll work as of a client team supporting the Client Partners and working alongside a talented team of Account Execs. They’ve got bags of potential and it will be up to you to help them realise it by managing, inspiring and guiding them every step of the way. You’ll also get to know our Flock as well as we do. They are a group of creative specialists who we draw upon to deliver award-winning work on time, to budget and beyond expectations. As you’ll soon discover, we like to do things a bit differently around here.

We’re looking for someone who is honest, direct, hardworking and sociable. They are our values, so it will be pretty handy if you live and breathe them. A charming, vibrant personality would be good too, as you need to get to know our clients in no time at all and quickly get a grasp of their needs and challenges. Uncompromising when it comes to quality, making our clients happy by managing their employer reputation should put a smile on your face. And as things can get pretty busy, you must be able to juggle different priorities under pressure and make sure we always deliver what we promise.

We’ve ambitious plans for growth. And we want you to be part of them. So, if you’re equally ambitious with an eye for detail and plenty of new ideas – let’s chat. Apply here.

Creative Director

Leeds

£let’s chat

For our 6th birthday, we’re not asking for cake. Or Lego. Or a Spiderman outfit. Or even a My Little Pony lunch bag.

We’re asking for a Creative Director. Someone who’ll join us as a senior member of the team, keep pace with our growth, and help shape our business so that creative is firmly at its core.

Someone who’s a big thinker. Someone who has a no-nonsense approach. Someone who can deliver work with proper wow.

Someone just like us.

We’re a 6 year old people comms agency based in Leeds, we’re dead keen to hear from people will recruitment and/or internal comms experience, but we’re open to all sorts of chats. And if you’re wondering about salary… well, let’s just say we’re up for a chat about that, too.

The kettle’s on, so get in touch if you’d like to find out more…

#whatsfortea?

Perfect for birthdays, bank holidays... who are we kidding, Saskia’s chocolate and pistachio fudge is perfect every day!

Ingredients:

  • 350 grams dark chocolate (chopped, minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 1 x 397 grams can of condensed milk
  • 30 grams butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150 grams of pistachios (or 250 grams of plain digestive biscuits)

Method:

  • Put the chopped chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt in a heavy-based pan on a low heat, and stir to melt.
  • Put the nuts (or digestives!) into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.
  • Add the nuts or digestives (or both!) to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.
  • Pour and spatch the mixture into a foil tray 23cm/9 inch square, smoothing the top.
  • Let the fudge cool, and refrigerate until set. You can then cut it into small pieces, cutting 7 x 7 lines in the tin is the best way to achieve 64 pieces.
  • Once cut, it can be kept in the freezer - no need to thaw just eat straight away!

The recipe may be a classic from Nigella, but if you’re not a fan of pistachios, try swapping them for digestive biscuits. It tastes just as amazing!

News from the Roost

Six years? You’re joking!

The 1st of April is a pretty important day. It’s the day that the ruins of Pompeii were rediscovered, the day that the Big Bang theory was first proposed in the Physical review, and the day that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer from Job’s parents’ garage. Oh, and it’s also a little thing called April Fools’ Day too. But the most significant of all? It’s the day that Chatter was born 6 years ago. Yep, 6 years – where did that time go?

‘Tis the season to… eat our body weight in chocolate

This year, the annual Chatter Easter egg hunt was actually very civilised. Probably because Lisa was a few hundred miles away on a plane to Benidorm with the girls. Once we’d found (and noshed!) all the chocolate, Saskia headed south to visit her nearest and dearest, Fi celebrated birthdays for two thirds of her ‘mini-me’s at Alton Towers, Ben was giving it large at a lasagne party (yeah, we’re not sure either!), and as for the rest of us… well, more chocolate of course.

We’re gonna need a bigger… trophy cabinet

Wahey! We’ve just found out that we’ve been nominated for the HR Excellence award for Most Effective use of Internal Communications - for our work with Criteo which included a brill onboarding project. The do is on Tuesday 27th June at the London Hilton on Park Lane, which means it’s going to be a pretty fancy affair. Good job we all scrub up well when we need to, eh? We’re up against the likes of Celesio (the folk behind Lloyds pharmacy), HSBC, Superdrug and the University of Sheffield… so wish us luck!

Meet the Flockers

As the story goes, Bazza ended up in recruitment comms because he didn’t much like the idea of getting a proper job after University. So, the next best option was to write about other people’s.

Since then, he’s written all kinds of copy for all kinds of clients. From recruitment and employee comms projects for UK household names, to consumer-driven above the line, retail, TV, radio, web copy and more, for some of the world’s biggest businesses. His career has taken him from junior placements at ad agencies in London, right through to Head of Copy level stints in agencies across Manchester and the north via a short time at a pan-European agency in Brussels, and finally to running his own creative studio by the beach up in the North East. Phew.

His work has been read, watched, viewed, played, listened to, scrolled, consumed, clicked on, linked to, copied, pasted, talked about, argued over, and remembered by millions of people across the world.

You’re probably already one of them.

 

 

But… when he’s not writing completely pretentious rubbish about himself in the third person, you’ll find him in the North Sea at Tynemouth if there are any waves, out on his mountain bike if there aren’t, or reluctantly watching Peppa Pig for the 18 millionth time with one of his four kids if he doesn’t manage to escape from the house unseen.

As is tradition over here at the Roost we asked Baz if he could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of his life, what would they be? Here’s what he had to say...

“Man, don’t ask me that… it’s the toughest question in the world. What I do at the minute is just let Spotify make all the decisions for me – their personalised Discover playlist digs up all kinds of awesome stuff for me every Monday morning. This week’s soundtrack has mostly been by Eluvium, an ambient producer from Oregon… next week’s will be something entirely different. If I had to pick one record, it would probably be A Storm in Heaven, Verve’s first album, for lots and lots of reasons.”

“As for one thing to watch, I don’t get to check out much telly these days other than Peppa Pig, as I’ve mentioned. Bah. I probably know most of Daddy Pig’s lines off by heart though, so that’s something. One thing I definitely try to catch are the eleven World Surf League tour events each year… how mad is it that you can actually watch an entire surf contest, completely live, shot from the water in places like Fiji and Tahiti?! I remember when you had to wait a month for the next magazine to come out before you found out who won. I’m not sure I could watch a film over and over and over again, so for this one I’m gonna pick the video of Kelly Slater and Rob Machado in the Pipe Masters Semi Final on the North Shore in Hawaii, December 18th 1995. I still get the shivers every time I see that thing.”

“Reading is another tricky one as I don’t get as much time to get stuck into a book as I’d like. What keeps me occupied most at the minute is the journalism at the New York Times (there’s a lot to write about these days), however I’ve got a bunch of books racked up on the Kindle that are biographies (of famous surfers, mostly) and travel accounts from people who’ve cycled across countries or around the world. One day I’ll find the time to do the same. However, for this bit, I’m gonna choose a book called Barbarian Days by a guy called William Finnegan. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2016 and is an account of growing up surfing in Cali and Hawaii, with tons of world travel chucked in. I’ve almost finished it and I already want to start it again!”

“Ok, one thing to own… my 6” Lost Bottom Feeder. You might need to Google that one, but I’ll probably end up being buried with it when the day comes.”

Internal Comms That Have No Fear

From a startup incubator in Paris to the worldwide leader in digital performance advertising, Criteo’s growth has been nothing short of astounding. Today, they’re probably one of the biggest tech businesses you've never heard of.

However, growth of this kind of scale comes with equally big challenges. Such as making sure that internal systems and processes can keep up with that growth, while also making sure that everyone in the business is aware of those systems and knows how to use them… and that’s where Chatter came in.

In the last 12 months alone, we’ve helped Ellie, Senior Director of Internal Communications, and her team to launch a new HR system called cHRIS, a new way to manage expenses called Vikings, a new CRM tool called HOUSE (we helped them kill off their old one which was called Dexter!), and a brand new way to onboard employees called FlyCriteo, which makes sure that their new starters' careers really take off… (oh, and a heck of a lot more, too!)

With so much going on, it was essential to ensure that each of these new systems gained traction across the business, and that each employee developed a good understanding of what those systems could do for them.

It all meant that we not only had to launch and embed brand new ways of working – we had to scale up all their communications activity so that it made a huge impact on 32 offices across the globe. What’s more, we also needed it all to work as part of an overall communications strategy that used the kind of pop culture references the guys in Criteo love.

Trust us, it was one of the most exciting jobs we’ve ever worked on!

We recently caught up with our friend and all round lovely lady, Ellie, for a bit of a chat…

How did you get into the industry?

I actually fell into the industry about 15 years ago. I was working for the CTO of 3UK and was writing his comms, creating newsletters for his team, and also organising events for an office where around 1,500 people worked. One day he asked me ‘what do you actually want to do in your career’? I didn’t know that Internal Comms was the name for what I was already doing naturally (and loving!), but he supported me in applying for my first Internal Communications role and I never looked back. I’d found something that I was passionate about then and I’m still passionate about now, and something that still challenges every day me but also plays to my key strengths.

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

A travel writer! Visiting cool places, talking to the locals, writing creative stories… whilst being paid for it! 

What’s the best piece of advice you've received in your career?

I was told to ‘listen, really listen’. As a communicator, and an extrovert, it’s sometimes easy to think silence is uncomfortable and to try to fill it. But I’ve learned that silence can also create time for ideas to form, for others to come forward, and for reflection. 

What advice would you give someone starting out in the sector?

In many companies, the Internal Communications ‘department’ is just a lone person or a very small team. I’d advise anyone new to this sector to find a mentor or someone in the industry in another company (or even find a LinkedIn forum) to bounce ideas off so that you don’t feel that you are completely on your own. You’ll find people who have tried all sorts of tools, methods, channels and suppliers – their suggestions could save you a load of time and they’re always keen to give you solid advice on how to approach problems in alternative ways.

What's the best thing about working with Chatter?

I love the energy and creativity of the Chatter team. They have a knack for getting to the root of a request need really quickly and are able to turn it into something creative, quirky, beautiful or sometimes, something very simple that avoids any misinterpretation. I see them as a natural extension of my team.

What are you reading, watching or listening to at the moment? 

I’m binge-watching Homeland. I thought that life would end after Breaking Bad finished… but I’ve found my new addiction!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I am an avid, avid fan of ‘Labyrinth’ with the late, great David Bowie. I wore out my first video I played it so often. I had the outfit worn by Sarah. I have the T-Shirt. I have the mug. Still obsessed 20-something years after first seeing it. David Bowie in tights! 

Three words to describe yourself? 

Engaging. Energising. Exuberant.

What fact would surprise most people about you? 

I trained in Classic Opera singing and have sung on TV!

From lecture theaters to conference rooms

Going from a lifetime in education to starting your first graduate job is a pretty big deal. And, amongst the excitement of graduation ceremonies and ‘congratulations’ cards, it can be a very real and daunting change.

2016 saw the arrival of 4 fresh faced graduate Chatterinos at the Roost, straight out of uni. And now that we’ve all passed our probations with flying colours (wahey!) we thought it was about time we shared some advice to help this year’s graduates, far and wide, make the most of those vital first few months in their new job.

So, put those course books down, stop harvard referencing, and let us put your minds at ease. It’s not as scary as it seems...

Sophie, Graphic Arts at Winchester School of Art 

This time last year, I was having a dilemma - should I follow my head and go back to uni, fresh from the Easter break as planned, to work my socks off, or follow my heart and stay up North for a few extra weeks before heading back, to see what doors the Leeds Digital Festival might open? Well my heart won (sorry head!) and I’ve not looked back since.

A few months after coming to an open day as part of the festival, and deliberately applying for the wrong role (just so I could chat to them again), I found myself arriving at the Roost for my first day as a two week old graduate, walking into a flexible role that allowed me to shape my own responsibilities and expertise. Now 9 months in, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to working life. So, here’s a bit of advice that’s really helped me find my feet…

  • Ask questions. It’s healthy. Nobody expects you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything when you walk through the door on day one. You will learn so much more in your first couple of weeks by being engaged, present and enthusiastic, than in your three years of studying.

  • It’s a two way street. Your employers will learn just as much from you, as you will from them. You’re a fresh pair of eyes and that's invaluable; your opinions, thoughts and perspective will challenge theirs, encouraging a more openly thinking and collaborative working environment. That’s a win win for everyone.

Russell, Marketing and Advertising Management at Leeds Beckett

Finishing uni is bittersweet. Or at least it was for me. Bitter because you have to wave goodbye to the student life: Those midweek nights on the town and surfacing mid-afternoon the following day, knocking out a few hours of work and calling it a hard day’s graft. Sweet because I got the grade I wanted and had the chance to celebrate around my family and friends at my graduation. The daunting thing was that I hadn’t secured a job for after I had finished. Little did I know the coolest kids in people communications were just across the road. A speculative job application, a few phone calls and two interviews later, and boom. I had arrived at Chatter. Fast-forward 10 months later and I’m settled into one of the best teams on the planet, and I’ve learned a couple of things along the way too…

  • Don’t be afraid to let people Miyagi you: when you make the transition from the classroom to office, you might find yourself doing odd jobs over and over again, and you might think there is little value. But be patient, it won’t be long before the reigns come off, and hey presto: You know exactly what needs to be done and exactly how to do it. You become a much more valuable resource when people around the business can give you a piece of work, wind you up and set you on your way without having to worry about you mucking it up.

  • Take something, and make it your own: when you start any new role - especially your first after graduating you’ll be expected to the learn the basics of the role as a starter, which is great, it gives you the tools you need to do your job and helps you settle in and get your feet under the table. But if you can, find your niche. There will be parts of the job you love, and parts you don’t. If you can really hone in on the thing you’re really good at and make it your own, you’ll become much more involved in heavy duty projects and garner much more responsibility, pretty simply because you’ll be the go to guy (or gal) for your specialist area. Your word won’t quite be gospel, but people will come to you for answers and tips on whatever your niche might be!

Ben, Music Production at Futureworks School of Media

Almost 2 years ago now I was leaving university and making my first venture into the real world. It was exciting in a few ways, and utterly frightening in others. My name is Ben and I’m a recent addition to the team here at Chatter. I’m a 23 year old, white t-shirt wearing, audio enthusiast and I’m loving working at Chatter more and more each day!

I studied music production at university in Manchester, a bit of a cop-out degree some might say, and I might agree. I chose music on the grounds that it’s the thing I love the most, not because It would challenge me (though it did) and definitely not because of the job prospects. Spoiler alert: There aren’t any. I’m now 10 months into my account exec role at Chatter, and I’m looking back at the person I was just out of Uni and here’s a couple of things that I noticed that might help you too as you take your first steps into the workplace...

  • Don't let a job get in the way of your family and your friends. There's a lot less time in the day when you’re working 9 ‘til 5. When I started at Chatter I was living in Manchester and commuting to and from Leeds each and everyday. Even though I wouldn't get home until 7:45 most days I didn't let it stop me spending quality time with my girlfriend, watching Game of Thrones in the pub on Mondays with my mates and going to see the family at weekends - make it work and you'll be happier because of it.

  • Use your free time to do the things that you love. As I mentioned, you're likely to have less time to now that you've taken your first step into the world of work. Using the time you do have free on weekends and evenings to further your hobby or socialise with friends will keep you from going insane. Organise your time to make sure you do get a few hours on a saturday to play football with your pals or learn that guitar riff you've been working on.

Charlotte, Marketing and Advertising Management at Leeds Beckett

As an absolute homebird, who commuted to university for 4 years (who’d have thought Sheffield would mean so much to a person!), I was definitely scared at the thought that I may have to fly the nest to find a job that really fit my extrovert personality. After meeting the guys at Chatter and realising just what a friendly bunch they really are, I decided to take it upon myself to make the move up to Leeds. This really gave me the opportunity to throw myself into workloads and projects, which resulted in me learning so much more than I ever thought I would! Now, nearing my 1 year anniversary at The Roost, I am so proud of how much I’ve achieved over the past year, and it really does come from believing in yourself and learning from those around you.

  • Be true to yourself. Don't feel as though, just because you're coming into a more formal environment, you need to change who you are - it could be because of who you are, that ended up in you winning the job!
  • Don't worry too much about your final grade. University gives you a great base of knowledge but you won’t use all of this in the workplace. You’ll find you learn so much more as you go on, and it's okay to take that at your own pace. Everyone picks things up differently, so don't feel as though you're slow or you can't do the work, just believe in yourself and take as many opportunities to learn as you can.

Unlike Sophie, Charlotte, Ben & Russell, Saskia joined Chatter through a slightly different route...

Saskia, Digital Marketing Apprentice now Marketing Executive

From leaving Sixth Form in June 2015, I knew that I wanted to begin my "working-life" through an apprenticeship scheme. And whilst going to university was an option, I'd been made aware of the many benefits that an apprenticeship had to offer. The ability to get involved and learn new skills everyday, gain experience working within a fast-paced environment, and, of course, earning a salary whilst learning!

Don’t get me wrong, it was a daunting process. Going from 3:30pm finishes and the only care in the world was hoping that there would be enough Lasagne left at lunch. But with the support of your work colleagues, you’ll feel right at home in no time.

Here are my top tips for those transitioning from Sixth Form to the workplace…

  • Since joining Chatter as an apprentice, I've really valued the opportunities that have been given to me. I've learnt so much in the last year. So my advice is to be completely open-minded. Be willing and show enthusiasm towards new ideas and learning new skills.

  • As most people probably know, Team Chatter are a pretty sociable bunch. Working in such a close environment, where you're spending 5 days a week with the same people, it really does help to be able to call your work colleagues friends.

#whatsfortea?

Our Susanne does love a bit of cheese - so here’s her cauliflower cheese with a twist - ‘Cheesey does it’!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cauliflower - broken into large florets
  • 2 slices of bacon - chopped
  • 2 spring onions - chopped
  • 40g/1.5oz butter
  • 40g/1.5oz plain flour
  • 400ml/14fl oz milk
  • 100g/3.5oz grated mature cheddar cheese
  • Salt and black pepper.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

2. Wash the cauliflower and place in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the cauliflower is almost tender but still fairly firm, then leave to drain.

3. Chop and fry off the bacon and leave to one side.

4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy-based pan and stir in the flour. Cook over a gentle heat for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat.

5. Add two thirds of the cheese and stir in until melted. Stir in the spring onions and bacon and set aside.

6. Arrange the cauliflower in an ovenproof baking dish. Carefully pour over the sauce, ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Scatter over the remaining cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.

TOP TIP: For a vegetarian option simply make without the bacon.

News from the Roost

Oh what a night…

You know it’s been a good night when winning an award was only the second best thing that happened during the evening. This month, we trooped down to the Onrec Awards at the Grange Hotel, St Pauls. After scooping a gong alongside the Sky Betting and Gaming team for our work on AskJeff, and Paul only just missing out on being Personality of the Year, we ended the night by dancing until the early hours at Kanaloa, donned in flower garlands and knocking back the pina coladas as we watched the entire bar catch fire! Actually, now we think about it, that award probably was the best bit of the night.

We ♡ our mums

Curious about what we’re all up to on the day? We’ll spill. Sas is taking her mum for a champagne cream tea at Malmaison. Charlotte’s whisking her mum and grandma off for a spa day. Paul’s mum is helping him with the big move, so she’ll be emptying kitchen cupboards, washing windows, and bossing people around (although we’re sure there’ll be a big bunch of flowers and a dinner in it for her though!) Fi’s hoping for a breakfast in bed from her 3 mini me’s, and it’s pub lunches for all the other Chatter mums. And whatever you get up to this weekend, we hope you (and your mums!) have a lovely time.

Horsey horsey

If you know anything about racing, you’ll know that the Cheltenham Festival isn’t just the highlight of the jump season – it’s the ultimate horse racing experience. Which is why Lisa and Fi jumped (geddit?) at the chance to be there on Ladies Day, with premium hospitality no less, thanks to Sky Betting and Gaming. The rest of us watched on telly and cheered on Lisa’s tip, Thomas Crapper (it did as well as you would expect) in the 3.30. Only Harry came out on top with a win by his namesake, unowhatimeanharry, bagging him an incredible £7. Don’t give up your day job just yet, H!

Meet the Chatterinos

Fiona fell into recruitment advertising about 16 years ago with a bit of a vague notion that doing ‘something in advertising/PR/marketing’ sounded like quite a cool career (yeah, we’ve all had that thought at some point!)

Having done a drama degree it wasn’t the most obvious career path, but she loved it from day one and has never looked back!

Since then, she’s worked with some fantastic clients throughout her career, from major retailers to recruitment consultancies to housing associations so there aren’t many talent attraction challenges left to conquer. And having worked previously in two large media agencies, she’s now the ‘go to’ person for media here at the Roost.

The rest of Fi’s time is spent managing some amazing new clients, re-living her youth vicariously through Harry and Alfie, and learning loads of new tricks from Lisa, Jon and Paul. In fact, she admired Chatter from afar since day one, and in her own words “working here is quite honestly a dream come true and every day is a blast”.

And who are we to argue?

Outside of work, Fi’s married and spends much of her time also living vicariously through her three daughters (there’s a theme forming here, right!), indulging her passion for performing and all things Disney by using her girls as her cover. She also manages to squeeze in the occasional TV quiz show appearance and takes any opportunity she can to… ahem… entertain colleagues, friends and family with karaoke renditions.

Carrying on with the what if’s, we asked Fi if she could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of her life, what would it be? Here’s what she had to say...

 

“Hmmm… I’m known at the Roost for loving my country music, from Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, The Shires and the whole Nashville soundtrack. And I love a bit of classic Take That, almost anything from the 80s, and any show tune I can belt out. Ok, that probably explains why I’m never allowed to choose the Sonos playlist in the office. But the album that currently takes me to my happy place is the La La Land soundtrack. Musical perfection!”

“It’s probably going to shock the rest of the Chatterinos that I'm not picking a Disney film here. In all honesty I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Plus when you have 3 young children who like to watch the Disney movie channel on repeat, the novelty does wear off somewhat! And my fave grown up films are a joint tie between the Back to the Future trilogy and Singing in the Rain. But, if I could only watch one thing forever, it would have to be my Sex and the City box set! Pure escapism with Carrie, Miranda, Sam and Charlotte. Accompanied by a large glass of wine. Heaven!”

“I’m a huge reader so this is a really tough one as I get through around 10 books per month! They’re mostly post apocalyptic/supernatural themed young adult fiction (basically I just haven’t changed my reading habits since I was 15!) But the one book series that I could read time and time again is Harry Potter, or if I absolutely had to narrow it down, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I must have read the complete set about 6 or 7 times in the last decade and every time it’s as gripping as it was first time round.”

“Tempting as it is to go for something multifunctional like my iPhone, if I could only own one thing I think it would have to be a big fluffy duvet! I love my sleep!!!”

Can we do innovation?

After gaining independence from Sky itself, Sky Betting & Gaming wanted to raise their profile and build a strong reputation as an employer in their own right.

Especially as they were growing fast and had over 200 live opportunities, including many hard to fill software developer roles in fairly saturated Leeds and Sheffield markets.

When they were named one of The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Best Companies To Work For’, we spotted an unmissable chance to shout about what makes them different, to position them as an employer of choice to great tech talent in Leeds, Sheffield and beyond, and to try a few of our own groundbreaking ideas.

And boy, did it work! In 2016 they recruited 750 new people, with 300 in technology positions. Unbelievable, Jeff!

And that was just for starters. Since then, we’ve helped Sky Betting and Gaming deliver a fresh careers site, open a second office in Sheffield, win a whole host of awards, and bring their tribal spirit to life through a new employer brand.

We even worked together to deliver a recruitment industry first, and a world first too: our very own Ask Jeff. It’s an AI chatbot built on the Facebook Messenger platform and based on the larger than life personality of Sky Sport’s, Jeff Stelling.

AskJeff is able to pose and respond to questions on the company’s culture, an applicant’s status, business locations, benefits, social opportunities and more. It uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to give applicants 24/7 access to the recruitment process – which means it offers a responsive, interactive and enormously innovative experience from the moment an application starts, right through to someone’s first day with the company.

We’re very proud parents of Ask Jeff, and we can’t wait to conceive our next big idea.

In the meantime, we caught up with Head of Recruitment and all round top bloke, Matt Hughan, to find out a bit more…

How did you get into the industry?

"I fell into it in all honesty. I loved sports and betting and worked for arch rivals William Hill for 3 years in retail ops. I was approached for a role with another bookmaker but discovered I was more interested in talking to the recruiter than talking about the job in question. We stayed in touch and the rest is history. The agency came back and offered me a role recruiting into betting and gaming companies and I haven’t looked back. I loved agency life at first but like many, I couldn’t face the constant target driven daily call metrics. So I moved in-house and progressed through the ranks at Samvo.com and Jet2.com before landing here at SBG. When we divested out of Sky in 2015 and the CEO asked me if I wanted to stay on and head up recruitment, there was only ever one answer!"

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

"Something sport oriented, probably related to golf. In my early career I had a couple of interviews with some small sports marketing companies representing upcoming golfers on the various UK and European tours. Obviously, nothing ever came of it but who knows, I could have been the next Jerry McGuire!"

What’s the best piece of advice you've received in your career?

"Get to know everyone. It’s part and parcel of the role in recruitment and so much is leveraged off our networks to find the right people, but in an SME like Sky Bet and the larger companies I’ve worked at, you simply can’t know enough people. It helps with literally everything and once you know the right people you can learn, develop, engage and deliver value to the business by joining the dots between them all."

What advice would you give someone starting out in the sector?

"As above, get to know literally everyone you can. Work hard and don’t settle for ‘just enough’. Push boundaries, push yourself and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Working in recruitment is about finding new ways of working, and new ways of finding and engaging talent – and to do this successfully you need to constantly try new things."

What's the best thing about working with Chatter?

"Their enthusiasm and creativity is great and they never want to stand still and regurgitate the same old campaigns. I have no idea how they get through the amount of work they do either, burning the candle at both ends and still able deliver on time, every time. They know how to enjoy themselves too, an absolute must if working with us!"

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

"I’m currently not reading anything but I have just ordered Work Rules by Laszlo Bock the former Google CHRO and How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie in a vain attempt to try sound intelligent. As I write, I’m watching West Ham v Chelsea but with a 3.5-year-old and a 1 year old, Disney Channel’s Miles from Tomorrow (catchy theme tune, right?!), The Lion Guard and something dinosaur related are never far from the screen. Music wise, anything goes really but I love listening to the TED Radio Hour on my commute."

What’s your guilty pleasure?

"Chocolate. Bloody love the stuff."

Three words to describe yourself?

"I hope people would describe me as a 1) proper 2) decent 3) bloke. I certainly try to be anyway!"

What fact would surprise most people about you?

"Believe it or not, I was once fairly fit and I still hold my school record for the most points scored for the First XV rugby team in a season. 138 points in 12 games."

Virtual… recruitment?

Virtual reality is a term that’s been thrown around a lot recently. It’s been the centre of a massive 360° hype, with countless companies rushing to incorporate VR into their strategies without taking full advantage of the opportunities that it presents. Because of that, many people reckon it’s past it’s best. You might even be yawning at the mention! Well, stick with us a for little longer, we promise you won’t be disappointed...

Here at Chatter we reckon that, with a bit of care and consideration and not just using VR for “cool’s” sake, there’s loads of potential for it to enhance the way business attract, recruit and engage their people. From immersive ‘day in the life’ videos, to live talks and 360° infographics, businesses around the world are taking VR by the horns to bring their culture to life.

We’ve pulled together a few of our favourites. So get your headsets at the ready (don’t forget to set the video to VR mode by tapping the headset button on the video) and prepare to jump into the future of your people communications…

So to kick things off, what’s your favourite chocolate? Your dream supercar? Your tipple of choice? Now, imagine if it was your job to ask those questions every day… pretty cool, huh? Well, The Telegraph recently commissioned a series of short 360° ‘Day in the life of’ videos to give an insight into weird and wonderful jobs in the UK. From stunt driving to gin distilling (though best not to put those two together…) and everything in between, the series allows us to jump right into the action of some of the quirkiest jobs in the country.

You can check out the full series here, but our favourite has got to be Kat Dixon. She’s a Senior Aquarist at the Sea Life London Aquarium, and spends her days chilling out with this dapper looking bunch…

Stopped thinking about all that chocolate and Gin? Well I hope so, because you’ll need a stomach of steel for this next one… Last year, the US Air Force special ops launched a 360° campaign that puts candidates right at the heart of the action. With the strapline ‘We need people who can do this’, the series is the antithesis of a sugar coated attraction campaign. The footage is raw and authentic, featuring the kind of heart stopping, nerve tingling and hair raising situations that special ops recruits experience day in day out. You can rescue a fallen colleague, have a seat in the cockpit and even jump out of a plane whilst in a boat (it’s called a zodiac drop, and it gives Bond a run for his money!)

You can find them all here, but the one that’s had us all swaying around the Roost is this HALO jump, a tactic used by US Air Force special ops to enter hostile territory undetected when threats are expected. Sounds intense!

When they’re not jumping out of planes, open, honest and frank discussion is one of the best ways to keep your employees engaged. Whether it’s a tech talk from the hottest new start up, a panel of industry experts chatting about latest trends, or just an internal get together over a couple of beers and a pizza… Businesses around the world are embracing the power of discussion to keep their people intrigued, educated, and most importantly, engaged.

For Amazon’s up and coming rival, Jet.com, tech talks and other continued learning events have become the lifeblood of their company. With one of their values being ‘Transparency’, they think that openly sharing information and ideas empowers people to do amazing things. Putting this into action, they opened their doors to the public and invited them to view one of the tech talks in 360°...

A company's brand is one of its most valuable assets, and a huge element of that is culture. From behaviours to values, a company should aspire to employ people who embody their culture. In doing so, they become brand advocates; a group of proud, passionate and engaged people who live, eat and breathe their brand.

At CollegeHumor, a leading online entertainment company founded by two high school best friends, their culture is everything. Afterall, if your job description includes spending your days finding the funniest and most off beat content on the web, you’d expect to find yourself in an equally wild and wonderful working environment. Well, not ones to disappoint, the guys at CollegeHumor opened their doors for a 360° tour of their regular, boring, ‘nothing weird here’ office...

Culture is established from a company's story. It’s the humble beginnings, key milestones, and vision of the future that bring their culture to life for a candidate, so communicating the story in a clear, concise and authentic way is a big challenge for lots of businesses. Infographics have become a bit of a celebrity for taking complex content and translating it into a simple and digestible message, because of this, lots of businesses are using them to explore their heritage and tell their stories.

A story we didn’t see coming was Michelle Obama’s recent rise to queen, or first lady of social media (all thanks to that Turnip video), and neither did the guys at The Verge. They brought the story to life in a whole new dimension, using a mixture of 360° footage and animated infographics to let us walk through the story, literally...

So, still yawning? I didn’t think so. If you fancy having a chat about how VR could bring your people strategy to life, you know where we are…

Meet the Partners

Here’s Lisa's story…

Lisa fell into recruitment communications around 17 years ago after a spell in a full service agency. Luckily for us, she loved it - especially the thinking processes behind candidate engagement - and decided to make it her career.

Since then, she’s held Agency and Regional Director roles for the biggest and best recruitment comms agencies in the industry and has had the pleasure of working with some great clients too, including O2, MTV, Morrisons, First Group, ITV and Sky Betting & Gaming.

However, despite loving the industry and everything it stood for, Lisa became more and more disillusioned with ‘big’ agency life. She felt that the client was getting a raw deal either through lack of resource, lack of creativity or lack of care, so rather than moan about it, she teamed up with Paul and Jon, and Chatter was born.

Throughout her career, Lisa has focused on delivering great service and great work for clients who she respects and enjoys working with. Her motto is: if we get that bit right, we can’t go far wrong!

It’s a simple, no-nonsense philosophy that’s just as ‘Yorkshire’ as Lisa is.

Next up... the really important stuff. We asked Lisa if she could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of her life, what would it be? Here’s what she had to say…

“There’s always music on in the house, and I have music for all occasions. My cleaning album is Radiohead, High and Dry. I’m a big BBC 6 music fan on the weekend, particularly Hugh from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Craig Charles’ funk and soul show on a Saturday night.”

“My guilty pleasure when I’m on my own is Grey’s Anatomy. I’m about 9 series’ in, and it’s taken me 18 months! But I could also watch the The Wire time and time again, probably because of Idris Elba.”

“Haha… I have to say Jeffrey Archer. Paul and Harry could answer that one for me. Everyone takes the mickey, but no-one tells a story like good old Jeff! I’m also partial to You magazine. My dad saves them for me every week.”

“If I could only own one thing, it’d have to be a cracking bright red lippy…don’t care about the brand!”

News from the Roost

We’ve been mega busy this February...

Winning tons of new business, meeting loads of new clients, and even holding a successful team meeting that typically finished up in the pub. On top of that, Lisa’s been sunning it up in Tenerife, Paul broke his leg, and we’ve had a healthy trickle of clients popping in to the office for a chat. Oh, and there was all this, too:

We’re getting tooled up

Here at the Roost, we don't spend all of our time delivering great work against great client briefs. Ok, ok, we do. But what you might not know is that we also develop our own in-house tools too - and we think it's about time we told you about HUME, our brilliant new employer brand audit tool.

Led by our branding consultant Sara, HUME combines our experience of shaping award winning EVP/Employer Brand projects with best practice advice from the CIPD. It can give your employer brand a thorough healthcheck, help you focus on your priorities going forward, and provide valuable insight into how your offer stacks up against your competitors. Using robust scientific methodologies to test the 3 rational and 3 emotional dimensions that we believe make up any EVP, it's a quick, simple and cost-effective way to figure out your next steps when it comes to your employer brand.

Right now, we're completing a testing phase which includes a live test with a large pharmaceutical retailer. The results are very exciting and we're looking forward to opening HUME up to lots more of our clients. Want to find out more? Just drop us a line...

You’re hired!

It’s official. Saskia recently finished her QA Apprenticeship Digital Marketing course with flying colours, and is now a fully fledged Marketing Executive! She said “Dean and the QA tutors were really experienced and enthusiastic about digital marketing, and it was a great stepping stone into the industry. I really value the apprenticeship because it brought me to Chatter!”

Dean added “I was delighted this month to be able to confirm the completion of Saskia’s Apprenticeship… she’s now a qualified Digital Marketer with a City & Guilds Level 3 qualification. Saskia has worked exceptionally hard over the last 12 months to make a success of not only her qualification but to become a valuable part of the Chatter team. I am very proud of Saskia and I will miss her, her coffee and Chatter’s Tunnocks tea cakes! Thank you for always smiling!”

Roses are red…

Roses are red/Violets are blue/That doesn’t make sense/Surely they’re violet? Erm, anyhoo, it might be chilly outside, but things have been really hotting up indoors this month... Fi and Harry dined in for 2 for £20, Rusty whisked his missus off to Harrogate, and Charlotte got a special delivery. Blimey, it all happens here when love is in the air!

Here’s some More for you…

Think you’ve heard it all when it comes to candidate engagement? We’ve not even gotten properly started yet. So, here’s some More for you

O2 is one of the UK’s biggest and best employer brands. Their consumer brand promises More for you, and when it comes to candidate engagement they definitely don’t underdeliver, thanks in part to one of our recent campaigns…

Our kind of client

Suzanne, O2/Telefonica UK’s Head of Resourcing has been part of the business since 2010. She’s enthusiastic, great to have on your team, and committed to customer and candidate satisfaction. In other words, she’s definitely our kind of client.

Back in the summer of 2015, Suzanne and her team had an idea: create a brand new high street retail experience. Somewhere you could pop in, hang out, play with some cool tech, have a chat, and experience something a bit… well… different. So she asked us to help them bring their Stores of the Future to life.

No ordinary campaign

This was no ordinary campaign from start to finish. Right away, we decided that this project needed a different kind of creative approach, and our ‘different someone’ theme spoke to exactly the kind of massive personalities we were looking for. Our cracking copy and mix of highly targeted channel marketing attracted people who could make a natural connection with customers, build rapport and get some great long-term relationships going.

 

Creating an innovative candidate assessment experience was a challenge too, and our pop-up sensory ‘experience zones’ in London and Manchester let candidates see, smell, touch, taste and hear the future of retail. Literally. They left with a goodie bag to say thanks for taking part, and their feedback was simply fantastic. So fantastic in fact, that we also picked up a RAD for Best Candidate Engagement.

Time to catch up

We caught up with Suzanne recently to find out a little more about life in (and out!) of O2…

How did you get into the industry?

I was fortunate enough to be offered a place on the Halifax Graduate scheme (HBOS) and started life out as a Bank Manager – I was approached to manage their Graduate IT Scheme and snapped their hand off. It was an opportunity to give something back and help shape the scheme for future talent. Since then, I’ve never looked back. I love the Industry and I’m passionate about being a great Hiring Manager and providing a fantastic candidate experience.

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

I’ve always been interested in teaching, either Business or Theology!

What’s the best piece of advice you've received in your career?

Always keep the candidate at the heart of everything you do.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the sector?

Knowledge is key. Recruitment moves at pace and there’s always something new on the horizo. Bottom line – make the most of your network to help you stay ahead.

What's the best thing about working with Chatter?

They’re not afraid to challenge the norm and try something different. I truly look forward to seeing what they produce following a brief. Most of all, they’re great, hardworking folk that inject a lot of fun and energy into everything they do.

What was your highlight of the Stores of the Future project?

Besides recruiting some amazingly talented individuals within very tight timescales and picking up a RAD Award as a result, it would have to be the moment Lisa and I stepped into our pop up shop in London. It was a tense and nervous journey down to London that morning but the minute we opened the door, we immediately knew we had created something truly special.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I’d love to impress you with what I’m reading right now, but the truth is I have a 1 year old boy and a 3 year old little girl so I don’t really have the time to read, unless it features Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol. I do however live for music – this weekend’s breakfast disco (something my kids insist on) featured Stevie Wonder, Faithless and the Tribes.

I also watched Idris Elba: Fighter at the weekend, it amazes me that in just 12 months (and despite an injury), through hard work and determination, he went on to win his first professional kick boxing fight. Just goes to show, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Grabbing a bottle of red wine, a blanket and sitting in a field every weekend from April onwards watching cricket for up to 10 hours a day!

Three words to describe yourself?

Driven, determined and fun.

What fact would surprise most people about you?

My husband still doesn’t believe me, but in my younger years, I was the Yorkshire Cross Country champion – something I am very proud of.

#whatsfortea?

It’s Lisa’s hearty Italian Ragu!

If February is the month of love, then Lisa’s hearty Italian Ragu is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. In fact, in the wise words of Elisa Cuthbert, there’s nothing more romantic than Italian food. Apparently.

If there’s someone you want to impress, you could do worse than knocking this up for tea. It’s part of our very own Chatter cookbook calendar, too – let us know if you want one!

The sauce

Extra virgin olive oil, 800g good quality stewing steak (2cm dice), 1 carrot trimmed and thinly sliced, 1 leek trimmed and thinly sliced, 1 celery stick thinly sliced, 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped, a ‘glug' of red wine (small glass), 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, 300ml stock (chicken or beef, dun’t matter), 1 bay leaf, 1 small dried red chilli (crumbled) and sea salt.

The pasta

Tagliatelle or fettuccine, salted butter and grated parmesan.

The cooking bit

  1. Oven at 120c.
  2. You’ll need a big ovenproof pan or casserole pot you can use on the hob.
  3. Heat half of the oil and colour the beef (you might need to do in two stints).
  4. Add the remaining oil, add carrot, leek and celery and fry until it starts to colour and stir in the garlic just before the end.
  5. Pop the beef back in the pan, add the wine, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and chilli, and season with a bit of salt.
  6. Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for about 3 hours, then stir and cook uncovered for another hour.
  7. When you’re ready, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just about tender, drain and return to the pan with plenty of salted butter.
  8. Serve the sauce with a buttery nest of pasta scattered with parmesan.

 

TOP TIP: to make it extra special, you can serve with a few scattered croutons to finish and fresh ‘torn’ basil too.

Bellisimo!

#whatsfortea?

Like a baby bird with a big fat worm, #whatsfortea has well and truly whetted your appetite over the last 5 years.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy, but we have created our very own cookbook calendar if you’re stuck for tea ideas. Let us know if you want one!

Alfie’s Steak and Guinness Pie

Ingredients:

900g diced stewing steak, 25g flour, plus extra for dusting, 100g butter, 2 onions roughly chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped, 150g button mushrooms, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 400ml (Irish, of course) ale, 500ml beef stock, Salt and pepper, 1 egg beaten for glazing, 300g ready-made rolled puff pastry.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/428°F/Gas Mark 7.

2. Pour flour into a bowl and season well. Coat the meat with the seasoned flour.

3. Heat half the butter in a pan and add the meat. Sear all over until golden brown.

4. Add the vegetables, herbs, ale and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and gently simmer for 1 hr. When cooked, season, add the remaining butter and pour into an ovenproof serving dish.

5. Brush the edge of the dish with the beaten egg. Roll out the pastry using as little flour as possible and place over the dish.

6. Pinch the edges of the dish so that the pastry will stick to it and trim off any remaining pieces of pastry from around the edge. Brush the pastry top thoroughly with the remaining beaten egg and place on a baking tray.

7. Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins until the pastry is golden brown on top.

Top tip: Serve with buttery mash, seasonal vegetables, gravy and a tinnie or two!

 

Cheers Alf!

Meet the Flockers

Sara has been part of the Chatter family since the Roost was merely a pipe dream.

With over 20 years’ experience as a marketing consultant and a Masters in Business Administration, Sara certainly knows her stuff. But what makes her really stand out from the crowd is her belief that the strongest and most powerful brands are built through the people within a business. “Great brands” as she says, “are built from the inside, out.”

Sara’s really in tune with the way we work at Chatter, and over the years we’ve worked together with some ace clients including HSS, eSurv, Criteo and Well to deliver a whole range of different research and insight pieces. We’ve even won an award or two along the way!

With all that invaluable experience, we decided to get our heads together and develop Hume; a research tool designed to help businesses implement or to healthcheck their offering. Over the last year we tested a planning principle, transformed it into an engaging tool, and delivered a successful first session with the lovely folk at Well. Reflecting on the story so far, Sara says Hume has been “a real testament to our commitment to building an employer brand. It has so much potential and I’m really proud.”

We do love a “what if” question around the Perch on a lunchtime, so we asked Sara if she could only listen to, watch, read and own one thing for the rest of her life, what would it be? Here’s what she had to say…

“If I could only listen to one thing it would definitely have to be Prince’s Sign O’ the Times. I’ll never get tired of the Purple One, he takes me back to my misspent youth and never fails get me dancing.”

“I think I’d go a bit stir crazy only watching one thing over and over, but if I did it would be Memento. I’ve heard that if you watch it backwards the plot has a whole new meaning... I’d love to figure that one out!”

“If I could only read one thing it would be Alice in Wonderland. It’s timeless. I just love the combination of reality and fantasy, it never fails to deliver something new.”

“It feels so good to smell nice, so if I could only own one thing it would be a little bottle of my favourite perfume, Tom Ford Sahara Noir. It’s such a warm and cosy scent, I just can’t get enough of it at the moment!”

We can’t wait to see where our relationship takes us next, and judging by everything we’ve achieved together so far… The only way is up!

HSSness… what’s that?

Like us, HSS is a no-nonsense business with an unfussy approach...

Whether they’re running through a pitching process or floating on the LSE (which they’d done shortly before we began working with them); they call it HSSness and it makes for a great partnership. They also had a great story to tell, too, and Lisa and the rest of the team called on us to help them tell it.

What we discovered was that HSS is somewhere that you can really ‘make it’ - just like their customers who create it, build it, construct it, fix it, make it, etc, etc. So, 'make it' became our employer brand concept, and we created clear, simple and gaffer-tape-strong messages that could be easily tailored to particular roles. Our first project was a comprehensive careers website that included (amongst loads of other stuff) a suite of 24 videos that gives visitors real insight into every single hour of life at HSS – a true 24/7 business. The average visitor currently spends nearly 2 minutes on the site, helping to drive a fantastic 16.6% started application rate.

Since then we’ve launched their Employer Brand which picked up 'Best Employer Brand' at the RBAs, helped reshape their recruitment processes, and completed a few internal comms projects around reward and recognition, too.

We work hard at Chatter to build lasting relationships with our clients. And with Lisa C at HSS, we all hit it off instantly – which was pretty fortunate given than within a few months of working with each other, by sheer co-incidence our very own Lisa ended up at the same location, in the same hotel on the Amalfi Coast the summer after we met! Luckily the hubbies and the kids got on great. And we shared a fair few Aperol’s along the way.

We recently caught up with Lisa to find out a bit more about where her own HSSness comes from…

How did you get into the industry?

“I initially worked in finance, which will surprise some of my colleagues because I’m not great with numbers – before accidentally falling into HR!”

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

“When I was younger I wanted to work in PR – either that or be a paramedic.”

What’s the best piece of advice you've received in your career?

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s good to challenge the norm.”

What advice would you give someone starting out in the sector?

“For me, drive and commitment is really important. People don’t have to be perfect, but they should do the best job they can. So my advice would be to take hold of every opportunity and run with it to the best of your ability.”

What's the best thing about working with Chatter?

“The team are down to earth, approachable and fun, as well as really creative.”

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

“Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg, Silent Witness… I listen to all sorts of music, but love a bit of Frankie Valli.”

What’s your guilty pleasure?

“Peanut butter or chocolate…  it’s hard to choose just one!”

Three words to describe yourself?

“I’d say I’m passionate, driven and loyal.”

What fact would surprise most people about you?

“I’m a qualified scuba diver!”

News from the Roost

We’ve all got a wingful of projects to deliver at the moment and there’s a real buzz around the Roost.

Here’s what we’re all chitterchattering about right now…

On the road to the RADs…

We’re thrilled to be shortlisted for a RAD. It’s a good’un, too – we’re featuring in the Candidate Engagement category for our work on Stores of the Future with the guys at O2, alongside the likes of Dixons Carphone, Unilever and Thales. But what's just as exciting is that we've booked a table and are taking some of our clients along to the party - Global, Kantar, New Street, and of course O2. So to anyone who's also there tonight, apologies in advance!

 

 

Shedding a few feathers...

Following hamper after hamper of booze and chocolate in the run up to Christmas (and beyond), we’re hitting the homemade soups and protein shakes hard in the office this month. And with Charlotte signing up to boxing for Cancer Research, Saskia’s early morning spins, and Susanne preparing herself for the Filthy Girl weekend, it looks like the health kick is here to stay! Well, at least until the end of the month, when #whatsfortea at the RADs will inevitably be 8 pints of cider and a large doner with extra chilli sauce.

 

 

Introducing our boy, Jeff…  

We’ve been working round the clock here at Chatter and we’re proud to announce the launch of our very first recruitment chatbot. We’ve partnered with our lovely friends Sky Betting & Gaming to develop “Ask Jeff”; a chatbot with all the personality, charisma and panache of the real Jeff Stelling, the face of Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, Super 6 and Fantasy Football. He’s now alive and chomping at the bit to help candidates out in a flash with anything they want to know about Sky Betting & Gaming. He’s a helpful chap, and you can ask him anything you might need to know about applying for a job, preparing for an interview, who to contact, and even where you can grab lunch on your first day!

So, fancy a chat? You can find him at www.facebook.com/askjeffsbg.

 

 

 

The Premier League is back! But will it be a tale of two halves this season?

So after a busy festive period of Premier League fixtures and an FA Cup round, complete with two scorpion kick goals, the traditional Arsenal implosion and a John Terry red card to boot, the Premier League gets back underway this weekend with everyone on a level playing field having played 19 games. Chelsea sit comfortably at the top of the tree, still 5 points clear even in defeat to Spurs last week. 

Who would have thought it too after their distinctly wobbly start under Antonio Conte at the beginning of the season? But alas, of the last 6 teams to be top at Christmas, 5 have gone on to hoist the trophy in May. Liverpool being the only anomaly in 13-14 after “the slip” from monsieur Gerrard, and a timely Dwight Gale hat-trick sealed the title for Manchester City, for all of you wanting the answer to a surefire future pub quiz question.

The obvious mouthwatering tie of the weekend is Manchester United vs Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. United will be looking to continue their 9 game winning run in all competitions which stretches back to the 4th December. The streak has seen them safely into the Europa League knockout rounds, the FA Cup 4th round and to 6th in the league table. 

United beat a tame Hull 2-0 in their last outing in their EFL Cup Semi Final first leg, Liverpool on the other hand went down 0-1 to Southampton in the other Semi Final and could only scrape a 2-2 draw with Sunderland in their last league outing. United are the form team, but no doubt Liverpool will be eager to keep pace with Chelsea, who could be 8 points clear by the time the two sides kick-off on Sunday.

Speaking of Chelsea, the best of Saturday’s action could arguably come from the King Power stadium where Champions Leicester take on current leaders Chelsea. The tables have somewhat turned since last season, when Leicester were top and Chelsea found themselves in the bottom half still mourning the departure of Jose Mourinho. The Foxes lie in 15th this term after a hot and cold start to the season, and will be looking to jumpstart their season with a home win against a Chelsea side who will be looking to consolidate 1st place themselves. 

Time to talk about the Chatter league, the piece la resistance of Fantasy Football leagues worldwide. Much like Chelsea, our league leader Stuart Eynon of Telefonica has weathered the Christmas fixture pile up and is still sitting pretty atop the table. That said however, what looked like a one horse race at the start of the season now looks like your favorite pair of jeans post Christmas, a bit tight! Less than 100 points now separate the top 6 in the league, so it’s anyone’s game. 

Sky Betting & Gaming’s Matt Hughan is hot on Stuart’s tail in 2nd and was looking forward to the challenge when we spoke this week “Managing the team has been a great tactical battle all season. I’ll be pulling out all the stops to catch Stuart and I tell you what, I would love it if I beat him, LOVE IT!”.

Is there such a thing as the perfect work life balance…?

As I flop on the train after a really great day of listening to some really inspirational working mums speak about their careers at the Mumsnet Workfest16 conference, I keep wondering if there’s a perfect solution to finding a work life balance as a working mum.

I’ve been a mum for 9 years now and when I had my first baby I was so naïve. I took 20 weeks maternity leave and presumed that I’d skip back into full time work knowing my baby was happy at the wonderful nursery I’d picked out for her. Within a few months, I’d realised the error of my ways and negotiated a 4 day week, and that worked out more or less ok for the following 8 and a bit years. But a couple of months ago, with the prospect of my youngest starting full time school in September, I decided to go back to full time. Which is great for me (and hopefully my colleagues!) Work is more fulfilling. I don’t feel like I’m wasting my childfree time and the full time salary doesn’t go amiss either.

But managing the juggling act between working hours and childcare is a challenge, which I think all working parents identify with, and there’s a huge opportunity for employers to embrace the opportunity to rip up the rule book when it comes to thinking flexibly.

One of the big takeaway comments from the conference was that parents need to appreciate that flexibility is a two-way partnership, not a chance to dictate your working patterns. And having an employer who’s prepared to be flexible makes all the difference to retaining bright, intelligent women* in the workplace through the mummy years. Meaning that when those same women are ready to step back up a gear, once parental responsibilities are less demanding, they’re still up to speed with their role and the industry instead of having to build their career up from a junior level whilst male counterparts have been flying high. Making for a more well-rounded, diverse and experienced workforce. Which surely has to be a good thing for everyone, right?

I’m lucky, Chatter are fabulously flexible and understand the juggling act I go through as a full time working mum. We have an informal understanding that I’ll work flat out and be as flexible as I can when the business and our clients need me to - even if that’s on an evening or from home. But if I have to get to the office late or leave early because of childcare limitations, or take a huge chunk annual leave in the school holidays, or dash off in the middle of the day because school rings to say one of my kids is sick. That’s ok too.

At the conference there were some really great panelists. Well known working mums who have these huge high-flying careers and raise a family too. And women who have negotiated amazing flexible working arrangements for board level positions. So how do they do it? Here are their top tips:

  1. Take your kids to work! Jo Whiley, had her first baby 24 years ago when “flexible working” didn’t really exist and taking her kids to work with her didn’t stop her doing a great job on shows like 'The Word', yet it’s probably still one of the biggest work no nos. Clearly toddlers running around the workplace is totally impractical, but the odd day in the school holidays where your 7/8/9/10 year old brings in a bit of homework or their iPad and chills out quietly in the office while mum cracks on, could relieve the school holiday annual leave bottle neck and keep businesses more productive year round.
  2. Marry a super-husband! Jess Phillips MP had a baby at 22 and spent 11 years developing an enviable career culminating in her election to Labour MP and being in a position where she can do great things. Her kids are thriving and happy with her husband as primary carer and it seems to work well for them as a family. Clearly this is more about who your partner is than who your employer is but employers can help by encouraging parents of both sexes to request flexible working and not just mum.
  3. Be upfront and honest with your colleagues and clients and have a great support network. Karen Blackett OBE is Chairperson of Mediacom UK as well as being mum to a little boy. Karen’s approach has been to make sure she has a great support network that includes neighbours and family as well as a nanny. She’s also a big advocate of being upfront and honest with her colleagues and clients that she is a mum and sometimes he will have to come first but that she won’t let them down when it comes to the crunch.
  4. Find a job share buddy. Claire Walker, Director of Communications at Teach First has job shared with Hannah Essex at 2 organisations. They’re equal partners who trust each other implicitly to do their job to their standard when they’re not there and between them they both have a 3 day week and 2 days off with their kids where they can completely switch off knowing the job is in safe hands.  
  5. Be flexibly flexible! Emma Graham, Corporate Business Lead at IPGIT, works a 3-day week but has the flexibility to ramp up to 4 or 5 days as her workload demands. This does rely on having the support network to step in around your (probably not at all flexible) childcare arrangements, but could give the best of both worlds. Time with your kids when work is quieter and time to focus on work when you’re working on big projects.
  6. Make flexible working a reality for everyone. I attended the Mumsnet conference with our lovely client O2. They offer a whole host of flexible working arrangements that are open to mostcolleagues regardless of whether they’re parents or not. Everyone needs a good work life balance and offering flexibility to all employees put everyone on an equal footing.

So as I sit here watching the countryside fly by, as I race to get home to my kids for an hour of much needed cuddles before bedtime, I think there are so many opportunities to “have it all” if you and your employer can be open and think a bit creatively to find a solution that works for all. It will never be perfect. You’ll always feel that you’re not giving quite enough, either to your job or your family, but working mums of today are one hell of a lot luckier than our mums and grandmas when it comes to having a great career without missing out on the joys of parenthood.

 

*Because whilst times are changing, and there are loads of fantastically hands on dads out there, let’s face it, there are still a lot more mums than dads who take a step back career-wise while the kids are small 

Onboarding, analytics and pain au chocolat

A crisp, cold Monday afternoon in November saw me boarding a flight from Leeds to Paris for a few days. The first two of which I spent at the HR Technology World Congress just off the Champs Elysee… (and yes, this blog post has languished half written ever since!)

HRTechWorld is a large conference and expo, hosted at the Palais de Congres and jam packed with technology suppliers of all shapes and sizes showing their wares, some great speakers and workshop sessions and over 3500 delegates who were mainly HR professionals with recruiting, talent management and IT responsibilities. What follows are just a few of the things I picked up, general themes and some highlights of the speaker sessions I managed to catch.

Day 1 kicked off in typically French style, 15 minutes behind schedule and with a coffee and a croissant in hand. First up on stage was Yves Morieux from the Boston Consulting Group with a presentation style that was likened to a football manager giving a half time pep talk. He made some interesting points around productivity and engagement, and the importance of simplifying rather than just automating complexity.

Having seen several technology implementations in the past which took an already broken system and automated it, I could see his point! He also made a compelling case for the power of co-operation and teamwork, even though it’s often a little indefinable and hard to measure, its the secret sauce that pulls everything else together.

Next up, on the second stage was John Vlastelica, who was talking about the importance of engaged hiring managers and how much they can bring to the process when they’re treated as a partner rather than a client of the the HR team. He cited some really interesting examples from companies like Yahoo who’d made the hiring managers really visible in the process and found that the authentic conversations they could have with candidates about the role yielded far better results.

If that was the carrot, then the stick was making recruiting priorities part of hiring managers performance reviews, and rewarding managers based on their engagement with direct sourcing.

Later in the day I caught an interesting session from Booking.com talking about their rapid growth and how they’d structured their recruiting team along the same lines as a sales function, looking at recruitment as another sales channel. It was great to see that they were using a whole array of different tools together rather than pinning everything on one monolithic system, and constantly testing and improving what they do even down to the level of doing A/B testing of different job titles to see which yielded more (or better) applications, something we’ve tried with one of our clients too.

Looking at the general themes and trends of the conference, engagement with technology rather than just passively implementing seemed high on the agenda, with adoption and rollout being actively considered as important. Applying what we’d often term “landing the brand” in a technology context.

And talent analytics was being mentioned everywhere, although if I was being uncharitable then it might seem like one or two of the shall we say, “less cutting edge” applicant tracking systems, have dialled up the marketing of their analytics and reporting features to compensate for their other shortcomings.

In a lull between sessions, I caught the end of a presentation from a technology called WiPro who are working on a video assessment solution that watches the video stream of the candidate as they take a test and can detect their responses, if they leave the room and even if they have a friend looking over their shoulder helping them. It didn’t feel quite ready for widespread adoption, but it was an interesting advance!

One of the more interesting presentations I saw was from Anne Jaake, the HR director at dutch lingerie company Hunkemoller. It was clear from the off that they have a very strong picture of the kind of people they want to recruit, their customer base and their values. Which informs everything they do. They’ve also used video really strongly throughout their entire recruitment process from the careers site, right through to the regret email received by unsuccessful candidates. A simple touch, but really effective and it was clear that their approach was helping to create brand ambassadors at every stage of the process. When so many candidates are also customers, it makes perfect sense to keep them on side and turn them into fans.

The big keynote speaker of the conference was Richard Branson, and the excitement from a lot of the crowd at being in the same room as the man himself was palpable. Though it quickly turned I think to boredom, at the end of a long day with an audience of HR professionals the interviewer pitched him a succession of softball questions mostly based on his autobiography, which led to answers about his charitable initiatives and activities outside the core Virgin businesses. This was an audience hungry to learn how HR is done in a truly innovative business like Virgin, which unfortunately wasn’t really delivered.

Day 2 started with an interesting quote from Jason Averbrook, talking about implementation of HR technology, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us”, how many times have we seen businesses where the entire recruitment process is engineered around the shortcomings of legacy software!

This was followed up by a presentation by Ferrero on how they survived a 60% cut to their recruitment budget, largely by pitching in and creating their own ad-hoc social strategy in house using a range of tools. The old silicon valley maxim of “fail fast, fail often” was definitely in evidence with them trying lots of different approaches and then fine tuning and sticking with the ones that worked. Often we see clients taking risks when budget isn’t an issue, so it was nice to see that approach at the other end of the scale too.

The rest of the day went by in a blur of presentations, visits to various software companies around the expo (several of which we’ve already started to think about using at Chatter with our clients) and a presentation about candidate experience talked about how so many careers sites are all about driving volume applications whether they have any hope of being successful or not. Or as they put it, “Why do we invite so many people to the party and then slam the door in their face."

The day ended with a panel discussion and then as quickly as it had started the event was over, with attendees making their way home across Europe and beyond…except for me…i’d booked the rest of the week off as holiday! Salut!
 

Hiring apprentices and why it’s good for business…

Charlie Reeve, a leading expert in early careers recruitment and director at Gradconsult continues our series of blogs to mark National Apprenticeship Week...

I’ve hired over 400 apprentices over the last 10 years, mostly to fulfil one business need. Many businesses today in the UK are facing an unprecedented problem – they have a top-heavy work force of ageing employees who will retire in the next 10 years. The numbers simply don’t stack up. For example, in a transport business I worked for, the operational engineering team in one region was comprised mostly of 55 year olds. It is easy to see the ticking time bomb this business was facing.

And it's particularly problematic for businesses that need technical expertise, hence the traditional apprenticeship focus on engineering and trade skills. As we move forward into the digital era, the need to expand apprenticeship provision is vital for our future success as a country. You can see how much this problem means to the UK government by the slew of recent warnings on future retirement age and reductions in state pension provisions.

Another important reason why companies like apprentices is because they provide what is termed a “talent push”. The employee workforce is encouraged by business leaders to continually improve, and they're looking for ways to pull their talent upwards. Used as a mechanism on its own has limited effectiveness. Many apprentices provide a talent push, introducing fresh ideas, a willingness to learn and in general are more adaptable to change than the more established, longer serving employees. When combined with the talent pull effect, this drives productivity faster than usual. 

Apprentices are vital to many businesses – but as with any development or skills programme, there is a wide variety in the quality of the experiences provided by businesses. The new Apprenticeship Levy will put pressure on employers to demand quality education alongside providing a quality apprenticeship experience. 

What’s it like to hire and train an Apprentice?

It’s National Apprenticeships Week between the 14th and 18th of March so we’re publishing a series of blogs exploring the world of Apprenticeships from a few different perspectives. Last week, Chatter Apprentice Saskia kicked us off with a view from the sharp end. Why the Apprenticeship route was right for her and how things have panned out so far. 

This week it’s Paul’s turn, one of the Partners here at Chatter: 

Since we launched Chatter almost five years ago, we’ve been busy building an agency that “walks the talk” when it comes to developing our own talent. Early careers has always been a vital part of that plan. The three owners have taken a variety of career routes, a mixture of Graduate, YTS and lots of work experience too. We know that building great teams is about people from different backgrounds and types of experiences working together. 

And just like other agencies, we feel we have a responsibility to train, develop and nurture talent for the future. We know they won’t stay with us forever, even though we’d love it if they did, but whilst they are here, we can help them build a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise to set them up for a great career in the industry. Our benefit is having a team of people who can adapt to the Chatter way of doing things, making sure our clients are taken care of to a standard we’re happy with.  

Until last year, our early careers Chatterinos had all been Graduates from the University of Leeds, our first Graduate Harry, has just celebrated his 3rd anniversary with us. All three have invested their heart and soul into the business, and each of them have brought a fresh perspective that’s helped us expand our capability and expertise as an agency. 

Over the past 12 months, we’ve been working on our vision for the future. Growing our team is a major focus. And having scoped a trainee marketing role, combined with some client service support, we knew it was an opportunity to bring in an Apprentice. 

The Trainees we met as part of the selection process were all really enthusiastic, well researched and eager for the role. We’d have loved to have offered them all, but in the end we selected Saskia. She joined us before Christmas and has taken to life at Chatter like a duck to water. She’s already a key member of the team, a real worker bee with an eye for detail and a commitment to getting things done. 

Whilst we don’t have a formal training programme in place, we’ve worked with Saskia, the team here and the training provider to outline a role that helps her gain the most relevant experience to her course, build her skill set and get involved with a variety of different projects. So far it’s been a really positive experience, so much so, that we’re about to start recruiting for a second Apprentice to work alongside our designer.

It’s important that all businesses share the responsibility for developing the talent their industry will need in the future. Taking some time to think about the opportunities you have to offer and how you’ll support your Trainees is really important. And whilst it’ll take longer to train your own talent, in the long run you’ll have a team of people who are more committed, more expert and totally bought in to your business. 

What it’s like being an apprentice at Chatter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

From leaving college in June 2015 with 3 A Levels in Art, Photography and Sociology, I knew that I wanted to begin my career within the digital marketing industry through an apprenticeship scheme. Whilst going to Uni was an option, I knew how competitive Marketing can be so gaining as much work experience as possible would be really important. The other benefit was earning a salary whilst learning.  

Almost as soon as I graduated from college, I contacted QA, one of the training companies specialising in Apprenticeships, who ran a digital marketing course that looked interesting. They organised a telephone interview which lasted about half an hour. During the interview they asked me a series of questions regarding why I had selected this particular course, the type of skills and experience I had and how that could be applied to the workplace. They were really friendly and supportive which really put me at ease.

Once I was registered, they kept me informed about the new roles available in the area. I was lucky to secure an offer from the very first interview I went to, a software agency close to where I live. I was employed to look after their own social marketing channels including designing some of the content. Not long after joining I realised it wasn’t the apprenticeship for me, so I chatted to the guys a QA who continued to be supportive and helped me to look for other opportunities.

Whilst the first role was a bit of a false start, it really helped me think about the specific type of place I wanted to work, and the sort of role that would really suit me. So by the time I met the guys at Chatter, I knew I wanted to work somewhere exactly like this.

During the interview process here, my nerves instantly disappeared and the interview felt more like a chat rather than anything intimidating. One of the many reasons why I wanted the opportunity to work with Chatter was the working environment. Anyone who has had the chance to visit The Roost will agree that it’s not your typical office. Every aspect is fun and sociable and a brilliant place to work. So when I got the phone call from QA to say I was successful in my interview, I was so excited.

The ability to get involved and learn new skills everyday will be a huge benefit towards my qualification and the in-house training at QA Leeds City Centre, where I will be kick-starting my Digital Marketing course this month.

My top tips for other people considering the apprenticeship route would be:

  • Don’t always go with the first offer, explore what’s out there and make a choice based on what you discover
  • Make sure you research the companies you interview with
  • Go for it!

Three months in…

Hey! I’m Saskia, the new (and first) apprentice to join the team! I joined Chatter in November 2015 as a Trainee Account Executive. I recently graduated from college successfully completing my A Levels and I decided that an apprenticeship would be the perfect path for me!

By undertaking this apprenticeship programme and achieving my desired qualification, it’ll give me fantastic experience in the world of work. The ability to be hands-on will give me a great chance to put my skills to practice and it’ll also help me to gain more confidence in the Chatter working environment.

I‘m not your typical Yorkshire Lass, as I moved ‘up North’ 11 years ago from Surrey. Whilst living in Yorkshire, I‘ve enjoyed the best years of my life at school & college, making great friends and memories.

When I arrived at the Roost on my first day, the team made me feel very welcome and the whole atmosphere was positive and optimistic. From accepting the role with Chatter, I understood that I would be learning a completely new concept but with the help from all of the guys at Chatter, I’m confident that I’ll be learning from the best (and Paul)! Now, I’ve been with Chatter for 3 months and I feel as though I’ve learnt a great deal already and settled in as part of the team.

I’m looking forward to my future at Chatter, with the Chatter family! 

My week with Chatter

Hello!

My name is Kaitlin I am in my final year in Year 11 at Outwood Grange Academy. I was able to get a great opportunity to spend a week with the team at Chatter to gain some experience. After worrying about what I wanted to do when I was older I thought it would give me an idea of what career I wanted to do. The first day I started I was so scared and nervous about coming but once I met the team I was put at ease. By spending just 5 days at Chatter I have learned so much about the company and who they work with.

HSS meeting

I was really lucky to get invited to go to HSS with Tom, Lisa and Lucy. It was very interesting for me to sit in and listen to about how HSS can improve their recruitment processes. There were times when I wasn’t even sure what was being talked about but it was great to be able to listen to conversations and learn from them. To be very honest with you I was really interested with the first bit of the meeting about social media, but towards the end of the meeting I drifted off. Which was 6 HOURS LONG!!

The office

The office is not what I expected it to be - a normal office is boring and silent. But this office wasn’t - they had a good taste of music playing out and it was so relaxed. Everyone is always friendly, joyful and always making me laughs even though I was tired.

Tom

Tom looked after me when I was at Chatter always giving me jobs to do so I wasn’t bored. Also he gives good advice when you need help with something.

Harry

Harry is really funny and always manages to make me laugh.

Saskia

Saskia is really friendly and is always smiling.

Lisa

Lisa is also funny. I already knew Lisa (we'd accidently been on holiday together!) so I was less worried when she walked in because I was able to talk to her.

The other members of the team are really lovely and welcoming and was there for me if I needed them.

I've had a great week and learnt a lot from the team at Chatter. I'm leaving more confident than I was before.

Great People, Great Brand

Why is it that we feel real affinity to some brands and not others? 

Why do some covet Apple technology, others remain staunchly Android?  Some seek out Starbucks, others covet Costa?

Essentially it’s because brands are built around collections of rational and emotional triggers that ping our psychology, consciousness and memory in different ways.  As individuals, we are pre-programmed to connect and fit with some brands and not others.  The same is true of employer brands.

Essentially the process for building a brand and for building a solid people promise is reasonably similar.  You need to understand your audience. Figure out their rational and emotional drivers in order to engage, build a relationship and foster loyalty.  You need to understand your competition, what they offer and set out your own stall in order to capitalise on key points of difference.  And you need to get hold of the very ‘essence’ of what makes your brand unique and special in order to stand a chance of forging powerful connections with the people you touch. 

It isn’t simple.  Otherwise every business would be doing it, every brand would be super-successful and all organisations would have an outstanding people promise and a queue of interested candidates clamouring to take seats from employees who simply wouldn’t want to leave.  But it isn’t rocket science either. A robust process and a commitment to research and insights will certainly set you on the right path whether your focus is in Marketing or HR.

But the challenges of building a brand and building a stand-out people promise are not identical.  A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. 

Here’s the critical difference  

Although EVP (or people promise) prompts a buying decision, just like a brand promise, the size of the decision is so much bigger – for buyer and seller - in the world of work.

The decision to take a job with a company has profound implications for the individual in question.  It’s no throw-away purchase.  It involves a commitment of time and a complicated set of long-term emotional transactions that are profoundly linked to the individual’s sense of self. 

There are significant implications for the employer too.  When an individual accepts a job, they effectively become part of the product.  Which means that the values and cultural fit of the person in question ultimately have a bearing on business and brand performance. 

Where consumer branding often hinges of volume of sales, when it comes to employer branding, quality rather than quantity is paramount.

The organisation has to attract the right kind of talent, with the right kind of qualities to make the right kind of contribution.  And because organisation culture isn’t static , the ideal employee profile may prove to be an important lever in orchestrating organisational change.  

So what can HR practitioners learn from their Marketing counterparts? 

Robust research and insight are the keys to unlocking a powerful ‘essence’ that can provide clarity, consistency and cohesion to all communications.  HR colleagues should take time to understand the thinking behind the customer-facing brand – after all employees MUST buy-in to the brand values if the business is going to function successfully.

And what can Marketing learn from HR? 

A well-constructed EVP can and will provide a solid foundation and platform for a fantastic customer-facing brand.  The ‘essence’ of a good experience at work is not the same as the ‘essence’ of product, but if both disciplines respect the other’s remit as well as reinforcing and supporting each other’s goals, any business can secure the people who will underpin their brand.  People who are in-tune with customers and culture, understand their purpose and feel inspired and empowered to make a difference in their jobs.

On the 6th day of Christmas, Chatter gave to me…

On the sixth day of Christmas, Chatter decided to show that we do occasionally do work for real clients, and don’t spend all our time at parties or making Christmas cards. And it may be a slightly tenuous connection, but we recently started working with the team at Sky Betting and Gaming on a recruitment campaign, including 6 sheets!

As well as having a recruitment need for software engineers in the competitive Leeds and Sheffield markets, Sky Betting and Gaming broke away from ‘Big Sky’ earlier in the year. So this would be the first time they publicised themselves anywhere as anything other than their corporate brands (like SkyBet, SkyVegas, or SkyBingo). 

Taking out a message that reflects Sky Betting and Gaming status as an agile, challenger brand, despite the big name, we took to the train stations, streets and news-sheets of Leeds and Sheffield. And once people knew SBG were recruiting, we had to send them somewhere to find out more. So we created a simple microsite where we could direct people to (skybetcareers.com), while in the meantime, we’re working behind the scenes on an even more exciting, more in depth careers site for them.

Here’s some of our handiwork...

That feeling when…

...you walk into the office and you had Aguero as your fantasy football team captain.

Week 8 of the Battle in the Roost is done and dusted, and with an weekend of international football on the horizon (yawn) we thought it was a good chance to take stock and see how everyones getting on.

It was a crazy week, with O2’s Dan Pollinger scoring 110 points - quite frankly, that’s ‘unbelievable Jeff’ -. That’s what happens when you have Aguero and Sanchez in your team, and benefit from drubbing Newcastle and Man U respectively. 

Having been hanging around mid table all season, Dan has leaped to the top of the table - but can he hold to the lead for the rest of the season? Or will FirstGroup’s Mike Baker and fellow O2’er Stuart Eynon close the lead over the next few weeks?

Early season leader Ian Howarth is looking more like Chelsea than his favoured Red Devils - languishing near the foot of the table after getting out to a stormer. I guess that’s karma for having a team made up of Man City and Liverpool players!

Propping up the table is GradConsult’s Charlie Reeve. We think Charlie is emulating the feats of his fellow north-easterners, Newcastle and Sunderland, by playing lackluster, uninspiring football. Sunderland got rid of their manager this weekend, but the question has to be will Charlie make wholesale changes to his team, or will Light Bulb Moments be looking for a new manager once the international break is over?

To keep up-to-date on all the fantasy football updates, as well as regular reports on the true team of Chatter, Hepworth U12’s, follow us on Facebook.

5 Things I Learnt in 5 Days at Chatter

Hello! I’m Sophie, going into my final year at Loughborough University in a few weeks. I was lucky enough to spend a week with the Chatter team in Leeds this summer to gain some experience.

After taking a placement year as part of my degree I thought I’d have more of an idea about what career I want to pursue but really I think I was more confused and unsure than before.

I’ve always had an interest in marketing so I thought why not ask Lisa if I could spend some time at the Roost to get more of an understanding of their world and employer branding and recruitment marketing. So I headed up to Yorkshire to spend some time with the Chatter team and here’s the top 5 things I learnt during my week.

There's a fun & unique culture

It’s more like a family; everyone is always friendly, welcoming, helpful and always a laugh around the office. Being invited on the team night out was great to chat to everyone outside the office and nice to be treated like part of the team.

They've got fab music taste around the office

When you think of an office you imagine just the usual Radio 1 playing all day as background music. Not here! Music from a range of decades played with everyone loving a good old sing a long.

There's loads of experience to learn from

The best thing about being an intern is you’re not expected to know everything so there were times when I wasn’t even sure what was being talked about but it was great to be able to listen to conversations and learn from them. Everyone in the team is always willing to help and it’s great to learn from their experience.

Tom gives good advice

Tom was always there to help and explain things, he gives good advice as well as being a great laugh. Harry and Tom were always fun to be around in the office. (Alfie was off most of the time I was there so I’m not leaving him out I promise.

There's a variety of projects everyone contributes to

I knew Chatter and what they did before joining from having worked with them throughout my placement year, however I didn’t know how much variety there was in their projects and across the different accounts. It was great to get a real insight into the many things that go on inside the Roost and difference in accounts.

I’ve had a great week and learnt a lot from everyone at Chatter, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask to join them again.  It’s a much different experience from the corporate environment I previously worked in but it’s been great to experience both sides of it. 

How to configure your ATS – the way you want it

Our friends at Hireserve share some thoughts on how to approach implementing and configuring a new Applicant Tracking System:

When you enter the implementation phase of your ATS, you can suddenly feel as though those around you are speaking in another language. Abbreviations abound, your supplier spouts technical jargon with the ease of ABC and you’re bombarded with multiple configuration options.

Often, the result is that you’ll lean heavily on your supplier to guide you through the implementation process – and this can mean that you won’t always get exactly what you need from the system. So how else could you approach the implementation of your ATS? And what should you expect from your supplier?

Scope out your implementation consultant

Your implementation consultant is going to be key to your configuration experience. Whether they’re a member of your ATS supplier’s team, independent or provided by your RPO, it’s essential they have a thorough knowledge of the system. A comprehensive understanding of all its features and how these will address your specific needs is vital.

Seek someone who'll take a consultative approach. They should work to understand your end-to-end recruitment process in order to confidently advise where the ATS could add value at each stage, and ultimately produce a tailored implementation plan that directly addresses your needs.

This can make the difference between a truly bespoke solution and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to your ATS project.

Work through the process together

Once your implementation plan has been agreed, your implementation consultant should work through all of the configuration options available to you and outline the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.

In doing this, they should be equipping you with enough knowledge for you to decide what will work best for your organisation. It would also be sensible to discuss, if you haven’t already, your ATS supplier’s approach to bespoke requests and flexibility when asked to reconfigure or create a new piece of functionality.

Taking a collaborative approach will ensure you can take the lead in terms of deciding what configuration options you want, rather than relying on your implementation consultant’s decisions.

Adopt an assisted build approach

Whilst this may be dependent on timescales, an assisted build can prove very effective. Essentially you are involved in the configuration of the system, as opposed to the implementation consultant undertaking the work before handing the system back over to you.

Taking this hands-on approach will enhance your confidence when administering the system so that subsequent training will be much more effective as you'll already have a working knowledge of the system and be more familiar with the build.

Although this approach takes a little more time on your part, training sessions will be less lengthy and should enable you to start using the system from a more knowledgeable, confident position.

Be clear on what you need from your system

Ultimately, the successful configuration of your ATS is going to be based heavily on your unique requirements and how your implementation consultant responds to these.

An over-reliance on the opinion of your ATS supplier could result in you not getting the best out of your system, or needing to reconfigure functionality a few months down the line.

Instead, push for a consultative approach from your implementation consultant, seek a tailored implementation plan and try to be as involved in the build and configuration process as possible.

We can’t promise your implementation process is going to be jargon-free…but we hope this guidance helps you to have a collaborative experience, tailored to you.

About Hireserve

Established in 1997, Hireserve creates leading recruitment software.  Trusted by organisations across the UK and Europe, including CERN, Arriva and Cranfield University, Hireserve’s ATS is agile, intuitive and powerful.

To find out more, contact the Hireserve team on +44 (0)844 324 5027 or drop them a note at info@hireserve.com.

The changing tide in Graduate attraction

On Monday, The Independent reported that EY (Ernst and Young), one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters are to scrap their entry requirement for applicants to have a 2:1 classification.

Instead, they’ll use assessment tools to measure potential, selecting the best candidates for their business, regardless of the degree level achieved.

So why are they doing this?

It’s no secret the number of graduates achieving a 2:1 or above in British universities has surged over the past few years. In fact, well over 2/3rds of grads walk away with at least a 2:1, which makes the job of identifying top talent more challenging than it used to be. 

But there’s more to it than that. Research by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, reports that by the age of 5, children from poorer backgrounds are likely to be an average of 19 months behind their wealthier equivalents in academic terms. And that children from affluent neighborhoods are 9 times more likely to get into one of the top 13 uni’s in the UK. And the trend doesn’t end there. The BBC reports that three years after graduation, those who attended fee-paying schools, earn around £4,500 a year more than their state school counterparts.

So, A-Level grades and the university a candidate attends, is no longer an equitable way to assess talent and potential. In fact, data collected by charities like the Sutton Trust, indicate that assessing against those indicators alone, is simply an exercise in selecting employees based on how affluent their background has been, and therefore missing out on a boat-load of the most talented individuals in the market.

So how can employers tap into this vein of talent?

  • Switching up the mix of higher eduction institutions (HEIs) they work with is a good start. Considering how to use the masses of data HEIs produce these days, and how it can help target by things like ‘Value Added’ scores, alongside the more traditional metrics will help broaden the number of undergrads your scheme can reach.
  • Working with charities like the Sutton Trust to develop initiatives to attract and recruit a more diverse range of grads onto your scheme, is also a good idea. Things like paid internships, work experience and networking events will help undergrads from less affluent backgrounds level the playing field. 
  • Review your recruitment and assessment processes to identify whether there are any unintentional barriers to entry. And consider how much value some of the traditional assessment metrics really add to your business.

And if you really want to do something exciting, why not give us a call at the Roost to find out how we can help? 

Everything RI5 didn’t want you to know…

It's been the biggest scandal in HR comms so far today. Ri5 forgot to include us in their Agency Round up feature. Here's everything they didn't tell you!

A new egg:

We've welcomed another new Chatterino recently, Susanne our new Designer. We already love her not just because she's a brilliant designer but also because she's always first in and gets the first brew of the day on. She dances to our rubbish playlists on Spotify and when she's not brew-making and designing, she also fences competitively - how cool is that.

New clients:

We've helped the AGR to design, build and launch their new learning and development portal AGR Professional. We've loved collaborating with them on this and were at the conference at the end of June to press the flesh and make sure everything went smoothly.

We've also been working with City and Guilds, helping them to develop a new careers site which is due for launch any day. A simple, fresh new look for one of the most respected and recognised learning brands in the world.

A jolly for Christmas:

And finally, the Chatterinos whittled down the destination options for this year's Chatter Christmas do following Dragons Den style pitches - it was between Amsterdam and Copenhagan. Copenhagan won through with the final decision made by the man with his hand firmly on the Chatter purse strings, the one and only Jon Davies. Any inside info on all the hotspots not to be missed would be gratefully received.
 

Glassdoor - The TripAdvisor for HR

Here at Chatter, we’ve been banging on about the importance of your employer reputation for the last 4 years, so why do we think it’s so important? Glassdoor and other sites like it are a great example of why having a great reputation is critically important to the future success of your business.

Think about it - how many of us buy anything these days without checking out a review site or two? A holiday or a restaurant? TripAdvisor; a great book to keep you occupied whilst you’re kicking back on the beach? Amazon. So it’s hardly surprising that candidates want to get the inside track on you as a potential new employer before they take the plunge.

Via Glassdoor, employees past and present, are busy writing honest assessments about businesses they’ve worked for, and the people who manage it. Scary isn’t it?

Since launching in 2008, they’ve seen huge growth. They now have over 22 million members worldwide - that’s the equivalent of the entire population of Taiwan. 5.7 million reviews on nearly 300,000 companies in 190 countries and a shed load of innovation awards!

Your company is being publicly pitched against others and rated for things like work environment, employee benefits, pension plans, diversity initiatives, recruitment process and employee training programs. It’s having a big impact on how successfully you can attract and recruit the best talent to join your teams.  

So how do you respond?

Listen to what’s been said

It makes good sense to monitor your Glassdoor profile. Weed the constructive criticism out from any general whinging and identify common trends and themes.

Actions speak louder than words

As an employer, you do have a right to respond and sometimes it’s good to do just that. Nip it in the bud so to speak. But think before you act, try not to seem defensive.

The key to your success will be how you use the reviews to improve the experience your employees have of you. It might not be comfortable to have your dirty washing aired in public, but it’s valuable insight. Consult with your own people, dig a bit deeper into the issues and think about the small improvements you can make right now, and the bigger projects you can kick off later.

Embrace it

Social media channels are here to stay. Get the housekeeping right within your business and you’ve everything to gain. Encourage your own people to engage with it so there’s a spread of opinion - from those who stay as well as those who move on.

And keep listening, learning and improving.

Drop us a line if you want to know how we can help.

Who’s calling the shots on your brand?

Now, brands can be tricky things, but you should basically think of them as the promise you make to your customers. A way to help manage their expectations about what they’re about to buy. The fact I can shop at both Waitrose and Aldi and leave each store perfectly happy, despite having a totally different experience, is precisely because their brand and reputation has successfully helped manage my expectations.
So what makes the difference between one brand experience and another? Very often it’s your people. Let’s face it, you might have the very best business strategy going, but if you don’t include and involve your people, you may as well not bother at all.  Unless they’re able to deliver your brand promise, your customers won’t get what they’re expecting and you’re probably in for a rough ride.
So what’s your role in all this? Simple. Beyond making sure you have a sound strategy in place and that everyone in the business understands it, you need to be listening to and acting on their feedback. Afterall they’re more likely to help solve the challenges you’re grappling with than any management consultant could, because it’s so often the small everyday details that can make the biggest difference.
A recent trip with a leading airline really brought this into focus for me. I chose them because they flew out of my local airport – convenient; I was after a bit of luxury - premium brand, and wanted it to be a hassle free holiday.
Once on the plane I was treated to exactly what I’d bought into - a first class service. It was professional, friendly and it ran like clock work. Nothing was too much trouble. The cabin crew were that good, I happily overlooked the ailing state of their aircraft, the pitiful inflight entertainment and the fact they ran out of food options halfway up the cabin! In a word, it was fab; and even from my cattle class seat, I felt like a king. So how come they failed to deliver on their brand promise?
Well it’s because every other aspect of the experience was dire - from the booking system, to the call centre team, ground staff to check in agents. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I came into contact with was polite and courteous, for example, they persistently smiled and referred to me as “sir” as they explained why my problem was exactly that.
It was a classic example of a business out of touch with their people and their customers. Their back of house systems were clearly lashed together with gaffer tape which made everything feel a bit over complicated and troublesome. Nothing made any sense to me as their customer, and so the poor guys at the sharp end of delivering the brand experience were being left to fight the daily battles whilst presumably their generals were in retreat smoking cigars and drinking Brandy - a safe distance from the action.
All the people I met were doing their very best to deliver a convenient, premium and hassle-customer experience, but things behind the scenes were so badly broken that in the end, all they could do was to listen sympathetically and remember to call me Sir.
Whatever your brand is all about, logos, ads and promotions are all pretty pointless investments if you don’t support your people to deliver what you have promised.
So whatever your plans look like, remember to look after your people, they’ll look after your customers and your customers will look after your business. 

Serial - the podcast phenomenon

You may have heard the buzz about a podcast called ‘Serial’. It’s being talked about on Newsnight, in the Guardian, the New York Times and on Buzzfeed. Already it’s a cult classic, and despite only having put out 9 episodes so far is top of the iTunes download chart, with over a million people listening worldwide. It centres around the conviction of Adnan Syed, the man arrested, tried and convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It’s pretty much single-handedly leading to a resurgence of interest in podcasts.

As a medium, they’re are a great way of telling a story. Someone subscribes to the podcast channel, and every time a new episode is released it automatically pops up in their download folder, or, as is happening more often, on their phone. Podcasts mean people can listen to radio on demand - in the same way BBC iPlayer and Netflix have changed how people watch TV.

If you’re thinking about doing a podcast, there are a few things to bear in mind. Have you got an easy way to reach your audience? ‘Serial’ is a spin off of the uber-successful ‘This American Life’ podcast, so instantly had listeners. Do you have a big enough following on social media or the channels internally to create an audience? 

And do you have a story to tell? A one-off podcast will never really be that effective. But they’re great if you’ve got plenty to shout about - success stories, interviews with business or thought leaders, sharing expertise or advice on how to be successful at different stages of application. In the same way you’d do with any content planning, come up with a schedule for the next few months and plot out what stories you could put out.

Whatever story you choose to tell, podcasts can be a great way to give people a more in depth and personal look at your organisation, culture and people. 

Life as an agency in Yorkshire…

Here at Chatter, we’re Yorkshire, and proud of it. The Drum recently spoke to a few people from across Yorkshire about the agency scene here. And, also having an opinion or two, we thought we’d add a our tuppence about being a people communications agency in God’s Own County.

The panel were all right when they say that the digital scene in particular is thriving, particularly in Leeds. But there are now less than a handful of agencies specialising in recruitment or HR communications based here, and that can often leave us feeling a bit isolated. We think the agencies that are here need to be less afraid of communicating with each other, ourselves included!

And just because we’re not in London doesn’t mean we don’t work with some really talented people. Our Flock - copywriters, art directors, developers, illustrators, photographers - are spread not just through Yorkshire. In a way that even a few years back wasn’t possible, we’re able to work and communicate with them. The whole of the North has a wealth of talent, and produces some really great work. Some of it, dare we say it, comes from Lancashire. 

Our location doesn’t seem to bother our clients who appreciate that we’re well connected to the capital. For those based outside of London (a slight majority, in fact) we’re always willing to jump on a train and visit, whether that’s in Bristol or Aberdeen - even if that means a few extra early mornings! As mentioned in the article, we’re proud that we don’t compete on cost, but instead on the great quality of work, experience and strategy we can offer - as well as making a cracking cuppa.

There are a few other benefits to being in Yorkshire as well...

Team Chatter enjoying a walk in the Yorkshire wilds

Back on the right side of the Pennines!

I’m just over 2 months in to my new role as a Chatterino and I have to say I’m loving every single minute of life at Chatter HQ. I hop out of bed on a morning with a spring in my step as the dawn is breaking and the birds are singing, and skip into the office... Well mostly; 4am starts for a 20 hour day in Dublin are greeted with a little less enthusiasm, but that’s because I’m a girl who needs her sleep!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here as I’ve not even introduced myself. I’m the newest member of the Chatter team (although sadly that does not make me the youngest considering I’m older than almost everyone else here), so I’m what industry bios would usually refer to as a “stalwart” of the recruitment comms industry having clocked up almost 16 years in the business, first at Brilliant (now Mediacom) in Leeds and latterly over in Manchester at Sparks (formerly Feather Brooksbank/Carat). Along the way I’ve managed to get married and have 3 babies as well as indulging my dramatic side in various am-dram pantos, a few TV quiz show appearances and many, many nights at Charlie’s karaoke in Manchester...

All my adult life seems to have been spent zipping back and forth across the Pennines first because my boyfriend lived in Yorkshire and I lived in Cheshire, then after I moved over to join (and eventually marry) him, I ended up working back in Manchester at both my previous agencies. So first and foremost I am LOVING the fact that Chatter are based in Leeds and that everyone knows what I’m talking about when I mention where I’ve been on a weekend and work nights out don’t involve the midnight Transpennine Express and it’s many dubious characters. I am also loving my fabulous new colleagues and the wide variety of clients and projects that I’ve already had the opportunity to work on. The work we do here is so varied, looking at internal and external comms and all aspects of employee engagement.

The culture at Chatter is totally unique; a warm and friendly team (especially Harry and Tom who demanded a name check!) with Partners who have striven to create a genuinely inclusive, supportive and flexible woking environment that makes it impossible not to feel at home from day one. We have so much fun that even the most busy and stressful days are enjoyable and we can always find five minutes to have a dance around the office to a bit of Dolly Parton. What more could a girl ask for?!

Caterpillar to butterfly, student to Chatterino

I was starting my third and final year at university and had little valuable experience to equip me in the big, bad world of work! Even worse, I had virtually no idea what to do after my student experience had expired - graduation was the end of the line, and at that moment I had no idea what train to get on next…

The process of getting organized and employable began at the University Careers Centre, who plugged all my aims, interests and skills into their careers matrix. They told me the job that I best matched was an Account Exec. “A what?” I did some research about the position and found that a lot of the skills involved came naturally to me. So, I had a little peek at some of the Account Exec jobs going in Leeds based advertising agencies but found that all of them required some degree of experience.

I decided to send speculative emails to them asking for any work experience they could give me alongside my degree. Although the majority didn’t reply I managed to get an internship working every Monday at an ad agency in the middle of Leeds. I loved being part of their small team and the whole experience reinforced my desire to work in advertising.

Inevitably for every student, the second half of third year is far more challenging as you have to catch up with work that should have been done in the first half.  Dissertation deadlines loom, essays seem impossible to finish; long nights spent in the library and a weary season of exams mean that thinking about what to do after Uni is often put on hold. So once I had finished my last exam I realised that, with barely a month left on my house lease, I needed to start applying for jobs or I would be doomed to leave my beloved Leeds and return home for the summer.

I looked on the university careers database and applied for some of the jobs that were advertised. After what seemed like an eternity of disappointing clicks, my eye was drawn to a particularly exciting Account Exec position at Chatter! I immediately liked their friendly, informal and humorous approach. My excitement grew as I began doing my research, looking through their case studies, their Twitter and Facebook and crafting an application email which aimed to show how this position was ideally suited to me and hoping to persuade the Chatter team that I was equally ideal to become the newest Chatterino.

When I was happy with it I sent it off an eagerly waited for a reply… I wasn’t waiting long. 5 minutes later I got a cheery reply from Lisa telling me to hang tight and enjoy the football! A couple of days later I was invited for my first interview. The crippling anxiety I had felt the days before was certainly not warranted, and what I feared would be an Alan Sugar-esque grilling was in fact a really pleasant chat with Paul, Lisa and Jon. I thought it had gone well and was over the moon to be invited back for a second interview – though daunted at delivering the presentation I had been asked to prepare. Despite the added worry of remaining composed in the sweltering Yorkshire heat, the presentation and the following questions went pretty well. Hours later I received a call from the guys offering me the job! I can only compare the nature of my celebratory shout after the phone call to a George of the Jungle style bellow!

However, the anxiety about getting a job was quickly replaced with the anxiety of keeping a job! How will I adapt to a strict work routine? How will I adapt to work routine after the late nights and late mornings of Uni life? How will I manage to look smart without an iron to my name? How will I cope away from the dodgy graffiti ridden student accommodation of Hyde Park? Suddenly I needed to be an adult.

However, yet again my worries don’t seem to be warranted! I have been made to feel so welcome and have really enjoyed my first week here at Chatter Towers. Having coped with a series of £10 Asda phones, I am now in possession of my first iPhone and have abandoned the cheapest dell laptop for a svelte Apple Mac. I am shocked to discover that a room in a smart professional house is in fact cheaper than the damp, hovels I have inhabited for the last two years. I am delighted to find that the transition from student to professional is far less traumatic than I expected.  In fact, rather than looking back on the glory days, it feels like the 'good times' are about to begin.  

Team Chatter are running for Joseph…

Six people. Two smokers. One mother of two. One photographer. One ballroom-dancer. And Paul. Thirteen point one miles.  Have I built this up enough yet?

This year, Team Chatter will be channeling the Olympic spirit of our Yorkshire brethren - the Brownlees,  Jessica Ennis, and the rest - as we lace up our trainers and lather on the Vaseline, and take part in the Leeds Half Marathon. Not gonna lie, we’re doing it as a team, so we’re each doing around 2 miles rather than the full whack, but that’s more than enough for some of us! Still, it’s a challenge, and we’re looking forward to a sprint around the ring-road before hitting the finish line in the city-centre.

But we’re not doing this just for our own health. We’ll soon be passing round the collection tin, asking you for donations to a great cause in support of a very brave little boy. 

Joseph Lillywhite, aged 5, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in January 2013. Neuroblastoma is a very aggressive childhood cancer that causes 15% of childhood cancer deaths. Two children are diagnosed every week in the UK. Unfortunately, long-term survival for children with high risk neuroblastoma is less than half the average rate for other childhood cancer and relapse rates are high. 

Despite neuroblastoma being “high risk” there is no Protocol in the UK  for relapse neuroblastoma if treatment is needed. More often than not children and their families are required to raise money for treatment in either Europe or the United States. 

The Neuroblastoma Alliance UK helps children if they can't join UK trials or if they need a clinical treatment that is only available abroad. To date, they have enabled 21 children to access the potentially life-saving clinical treatment abroad, and have funded ground-breaking neuroblastoma research. They also support families, and will support Joseph and his family in the future should he need to travel abroad for additional treatment. 

Hopefully, Joseph won’t require any further treatment, in which case any funds raised will go directly to The Neuroblastoma Alliance UK to help fund other children who do need further treatment. In addition, the funds will aid the research and development of new and improved treatment of this childhood cancer.

So, please, support this great cause by clicking on the link below. And if you’re around Leeds on the 11th May, it would be great to see you on the roadside cheering us on!

www.justgiving.com/TeamChatter

You can follow Joseph’s Journey at

www.facebook.com/JosephLillywhite

Two weeks at Chatter Towers

(by Sophie)

My placement at Chatter was ultimately to help me get a feel for the branding and advertising industry – alongside getting some real hands on experience. It has been a short and fab two weeks…

Commuting. Where do I start? So apparently when the train pulls in, it is every suited briefcase carrier for themselves, and the days of letting a young lady (ish) in front of you are a thing of the past! People sit/stand with their headphones in, nobody talks, it is AMAZING. There's no small talk or drunken tramps striking a trivial conversation with you just get on, get off and go (can't quite say the same for the local bus to the office - a lot of weirdoes!)

The office is cool; because it’s a nice size I especially like Monday comms meetings on the sofas because they're dead comfy! 

The guys are such a good bunch who have the balance between work and witty banter within the workplace on point. Harry literally makes my day ha I don't think I have ever met a charismatic southerner and the fact that he is super bright makes him so much funnier.

Tom has got me on board with most of his work while I’ve been here and he's been by my side throughout, he has cleared my mind of a lot and filled in plenty of gaps! I'm grateful to have been able to chat with him about the choices ahead.

Paul is great at his job and he is even better at distracting you when he's taking the Mick out of someone, or a recent news story, or society in general. I have been blessed to have done my placement when Paul is not too busy and is very tolerant - so I’m told.

Lisa is LOUD. Louder than I remember or have ever experienced before, especially when she's on the phone. She's a stylish workaholic who has put my future expectations of a boss on quite a pedestal. I respect her so much for her attitude to work, family and life in general and not trying to make her head as big as her mouth - but she is the person I aspire to be myself.

Banjo (Ashleigh) and Jon are my neighbors at my desk and are always there to answer my whispered queries when I don't want to sound like such a newbie. They know so much stuff about everything! And Google EVERYTHING, so if they don't know, they will in a minute, which has often taken our conversations off on crazy tangents…

21 life skills I've learnt on my placement

  1. Nobody knows everything, only Google does.
  2. Radio 6 and Radio 2 are actually decent stations that normal people listen to
  3. How to screen grab on a Mac (Googled it)
  4. It’s okay to have a blonde ditzy moment in a professional environment as long as you can deal with the banter afterwards.
  5. BBC News notifications usually mean someone has died
  6. How to do this job!! And the fact that it is something I would consider post-graduation
  7. You will usually email the people in the same room as you about 10 times a day
  8. Ask questions, nobody will get annoyed - What does this mean? How would you do this? Does this make sense? What would you do if -? You’ll learn much more than you set out to
  9. Fasting diets send people insane
  10. You will be banished if you do not pull your weight in doing the brew round, or make a crap brew (for Paul or Lisa)
  11. Also one must always ask if anyone wants anything from ASDA
  12. Look smart, work smart
  13. Take on board everything people tell you when you’re learning. Listen and engage and it will make you better at your job
  14. Getting up early makes you feel, work and sleep better!
  15. Lisa apparently knows who's calling when she's on the other side of the room - but she is wrong every time, 99% of the time. 
  16. You will get nowhere in this industry if you are not prepared to work hard everyday, in the office at home and anywhere in between.
  17. Every office needs a Harry
  18. Just because people are smart, successful or “have been doing this since you were in nappies” does not mean they're scary and unapproachable
  19. Snack-a-jacks and graze boxes are the future of snacking
  20. All the “great” music was released when Paul was about 4 - according to Paul Ainley (2014)
  21. Advertising is definitely the industry I want to work in. – MISSION SUCCESSFUL

Last shout out to the team at Chatter - thanks for giving me this valuable experience! Don’t be strangers, be prepared for questions off me even when I’ve left and I look forward to seeing you all again in the future (3rd birthday!) 

Our most recent engagement!

The gang at Chatter have been busy helping our newest member of the team settle in to the nest. 

Ashleigh Pickard joins the team from Npower where she was responsible for internal communications.  Most recently she was part of the project team who implemented SAP - no mean feat. 

Over the next few weeks, Ashleigh will be supporting us to increase the level of expertise and support we can offer when it comes to internal communications and engagement strategies, with a view to being able to offer a more robust level of support in this area in the future.

It’s fab to have her on board and we’re looking forward to introducing her properly to our clients and flock over the next few weeks.

Hopping on board…

Successfully onboarding employees is becoming an ever-greater priority for many businesses. The attrition rate in the first few months of joining (or in the case of graduates, in the many months between leaving the world of student loans and joining the salaried masses) is often high, while the cost of replacing employees who leave is often in the thousands. When I joined, Chatter wanted to practice what they preach, and make sure I couldn’t escape their clutches.

Following on from the interviews in late January, I was offered the job with the guys in February. I had always planned on going traveling in June around China and Vietnam (while wearing a Chatter-branded t-shirt), so I would start in July and walk straight from my graduation ceremony into the job. In the months before I started, I was always welcome to stop by the office for a brew and a biscuit, I was invited along to the company’s 2nd birthday shin-dig, and Paul lent me his massive rucksack to save me the expensive of buying a new one. 

Best of all, I was thrown a going away party. The catch? I first had to spend the day putting up flat-pack furniture in the new office, and I had to arrange the party with Harry, as a test of the teamwork and unity we would soon be thrust in to developing. We ended up playing golf on simulators in a bar before heading for a thoroughly underwhelming meal at The Living Room. Still, was an amazing send off.

Since I’ve started, I’ve really been thrown into the deep-end. I’ve helped plan the grad fair campaign for a big bus and train company, been given the responsibility for the day-to-day running of a major new client, and been kicked out of a kebab shop at 5 in the morning after an awards do in Manchester! (We won two awards, one of which I promptly went and broke). Team lunches are a regular thing, although since we’ve got a lot busier it’s more likely to be take-out than eating out.

I get to go to work and supply a service that makes me proud, have a laugh, do something I enjoy, and learn from three experienced (translation: old) business partners. By getting me involved with everything before I even started, I felt like part of the team before my first day had even started.

The three month itch…

So my three months probation with the Chatter team is up. And I’ve been asked to write this before the final hearing - not sure if that’s a good sign, or the guys giving me a chance to say my last goodbyes before I’m not-so-gently shown the door! To say that I’ve gone from 0-60 mph in a short space of time is an understatement. 3 months ago, regardless of what was said in my interview, I really didn’t know much about what Chatter actually did. Now, I’ve got copies of prestigious magazines featuring ads I’ve helped create (God bless the Flock!) sitting on my desk waiting to be scrap-booked; a 4-sheet poster up in Birmingham New Street station; and my first grad recruitment fair coming up next week - more of which to follow I’m sure. It all culminated last week with a trip to Manchester for the Recruitment Business Awards - my first industry bash with the guys, and one which ended with me crawling into bed, legs sore and voice in tatters, after a night of laughter and revelry - at 5am! I was a broken man, curled up alone in my dragon onesie. Although I pride myself on being able to take a call from the lovely Rozy at Atkins to get some final adjustments to an ad made at 9:30am. (See, Paul, sociable AND hardworking - now just honest and direct to crowbar in!) I don’t want to take all the credit, but since I’ve been with Chatter we’ve won 2 awards and got a commendation!! Well, technically it’s now 1 and 9/10ths of an awards after an unfortunate incident with them in my car... I mean really, who gives out glass awards anyway!! That’s just asking for trouble. So, as my review dawns on the horizon, I turn to Arwen from the Lord of the Rings for inspiration - “Ú i vethed... nâ i onnad (this is not the end ... it is the beginning.)” I can’t wait to find out what the next 3 months will bring (what a cheesy end!!!!! Sorry all)

CHEERS DRIVE - H's First journey into Bus Driver Recruitment

For someone that doesn’t have a driving licence, this month has been an eye-opening journey into the world of driving as a profession. But bus driving is much much more than just driving - its about customer service, keeping your cool, managing money and connecting people from all different backgrounds. It takes a certain kind of person. A people person. And they were exactly the kind of people that our wonderful client First Group were after when they asked us at Chatter to help them out with Bus Driver recruitment in Bristol and Avon. Whilst First were clear about the kind of people that they wanted to help them connect communities in Bristol, reaching such a specific audience needed some assistance. The solution? A radio campaign that really bought in to Bristol. We called it ‘CHEERS DRIVE’ (A Bristolian phrase to thank Bus Drivers) and needless to say we ran with the concept! We enlisted the help of the fantastic guys at Global Radio to promote First Group roles across Heart FM in the South West during an intense week of ‘CHEERS DRIVING’, with regional accents galore for a 30-second campaign run across mid-September. Hopefully we’ve managed to avoid the pitfalls of local radio advertising and not annoy too many people along the way. A bigger First was the fact that we even managed to rope in their Breakfast presenters to challenge themselves in a spot of bus driving in the name of competition! And of course, to get some great people on board for First (video attached below). The presenters really bought into the CHEERS DRIVE campaign and everyone had a great time testing out their proficiency with a 30 foot vehicle at their mercy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55eUni6al9k Managing the project was an eye-opener for me. The responsibility, the time-management, the need to make phone-calls - all very new experiences. Fortunately Global guided, and I willingly obliged, with the guys at First reassuringly keen to help out. It was great to work with both the guys at Heart and First Group on this campaign so all that’s left to say is: ‘CHEERS DRIVE!’ And I should really consider getting that licence. H

Chatter wins out in a 3 way pitch…

It was high-fives and whoops all round when team Chatter got the news that they had been chosen to work with Atkins, the global engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services company, after a 3 way pitch process last month.

The 2 businesses are looking forward to building a lasting partnership which will see them bed down Atkins’ new employer brand, support them with talent attraction and help them engage their existing employee community in the new brand too.

Partner at Chatter, Paul Ainley commented “Atkins are a great business for us to be working with. From our earliest conversations we could see there was plenty of common ground when it came to our thinking around employer brand and reputation. We all got on well too, which is really important given that we’ve all got an eye on the long term.”

The team are now busy working through implementation with a go live date planned for later in the year.

Harry's Yorkshire Challenge: The Results

SO... After a month of strenuous effort, gallons of ale, and half-hearted singing attempts, the decision was left to YOU as to whether I had passed my Yorkshire Challenge prior to Yorkshire Day! Having been inundated with votes after four long weeks of shame, depression and social faux pas’ it is clear that the people have spoken... and fortunately my joyous rendition of  ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at’ has tugged at the heartstrings enough for me to be accepted as the most dubious of  ‘honourary Yorkshireman’... for now. There is still a long way to go, and I’m definitely going to have a go at some of the suggestions put forward for more challenges (cricket was always lacking in Norfolk). So keep an eye on the blog for further Yorkshire exploits... and DON'T forget that Chatter's newest recruit Tom shall be endearing himself to the masses pretty soon... FINALLY. The vote as to whether Paul should complete the challenges so as to prove how a REAL Yorkshireman should behave was unanimous. The people have said that he’s got to complete some challenges, BUT at the moment he’s refusing... what challenges would you suggest for him? A Wuthering Heights recital? [caption id="attachment_1326" align="aligncenter" width="300"] SUCCESS! AFTER A LONG GRUELLING MONTH...[/caption]

Yorkshire Challenge - THE VOTE

It's 1st August... Yorkshire Day! And... That can only mean that it is time to assess my month of depression, anxiety and shame in attempting to initiate myself as an honorary Yorkshireman. Now it's up to you to decide whether I've made the grade, or whether I should be consigned to afternoons of Radio 2 (as is Paul's wish) as opposed to the 6Music that I have become accustomed to. Just to re-cap, I've rehashed the mess of footage that was my July... Enjoy, and remember to VOTE below! H  

Yorkshire Challenge #4

‘Ey Up! Well today signifies the completion of my fourth and final Yorkshire challenge, just in time for Yorkshire Day on Thursday and the vote on my credentials as an honorary Yorkshireman. The guys, with their ongoing quest to make me unemployable, sent me off to Ilkley, and the video should hopefully detail the task I was set once there. Now plunged into depression, I shall NEVER maintain a presence on social media again. Enjoy! And remember to vote on Thursday, I think I’ve put in some dedication, so let me know what you think? Cheers, H

Challenge #3 - ALE

Another week... Another Yorkshire Challenge for Harry. This weeks' is a little bit of a cop-out in all honesty. Either we're slowly running out of ideas for my challenges or the guys want to complete my public humiliation through a series of drunken ramblings, but I've been asked to sample some Yorkshire Ales! In my mind, I planned to live solely off Black Sheep and create a masterpiece (a bit like David Bowie with his 'cocaine, milk and red pepper phase' for Station to Station), but alas, I've given in to reason and shortened my drink fuelled escapades down to an evening! And here it is! It might be strangely edited, but that's purely to avoid further embarrassment to myself.   Make sure you keep an eye out for next weeks vlog - It promises to be a bit special, and then you'll get the opportunity to vote on my lack of prowess as an 'honourary' Yorkshireman. I think I could have answered the longrunning question at the very start! Cheers, and let me know if you think the 'challenges' could be made a little more Yorkshire, far less tragic! H Yorkshire challenge #3 - ALE from Chatter on Vimeo.

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