Obsessively curious

To squirrel

/ˈskwɪr(ə)l/

  • Verb: To search in an inquisitive and restless manner.
  • Verb: To store valuable ideas in a safe place.
  • Noun: An agile, web-dwelling varmint with a bushy tail, typically feeding on pure digital insight.

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Facebook interview – Part 2: Dan Paine, Security Recruiter

The digital world is notorious for spin and sensation, with few tech solutions living up to their own hype – or going the distance. Fads come and go, but few actually make a tangible or truly disruptive impact. Can digital tech displace the human touch in recruitment? The Daily Squirrel caught up with Dan Paine, Security Recruiter at Facebook in London to discuss the challenge of recruiting cyber security specialists at the world’s best-known social media platform.

Are there any particular trends – technologies or tools – on the horizon that you’re excited about?

The big one is AI and machine learning and everyone’s talking about how it will affect recruitment. I think that, yes, it will have an impact, but you’ve got to look at applying it in the right way and I don’t think anyone knows what that is yet. How can this actually help us?

At the end of the day you’re always going to need the human touch in recruitment. Some say that AI is going to take recruiters’ jobs, but it won’t because you’ve still got to do interviews, you’ve still got to have phone calls with people and talk to people. It’s a people-to-people business; you really don’t want to be approached by a machine.

Recruitment bots are something that a lot of companies are missing out on and that could be quite big – a bot that would stay in touch with someone via WhatsApp messenger or a Facebook group. Maybe this person won’t be interested straight away, but this bot could pop up every four or five weeks to have a chat about team size, environment and day-to-day work. Then, when that person is ready to chat, the bot could set it up automatically with a recruiter.

That kind of creative stuff, which will make us more efficient and more scalable, is where it’s going to be at – but I’m very much waiting to see it happen successfully.

What is your view on the workforce of today?

I hate the word “millennials” and giving a group of people a label, but I’m very passionate about young people exploring different careers and opportunities in the workplace. The 18-22 age group in full-time work is very low, they’re really under-represented in the workforce, but this is our future generation. A lot of them are going to university, but what happens to the ones that don’t? Do they end up in part-time supermarket jobs for the next three years because they don’t know what else to do?

By 2030, around 75% of these people are going to make up our workforce and they’re more or less wasting their time. Where this really stems from is the early education years, 14-15, when you’re at a point when you’re just starting to think about the future. Where our education system is fundamentally broken is the lack of business knowledge available, and what the world does – what businesses actually do – and it’s quite worrying.

If I’d had the opportunity when I was that age to really learn about business and how things are actually structured, I’d have been in a much better position.

In terms of cyber security, what key challenges do you face as a major social media platform?

We’ve actually faced a branding struggle recently, which is surprising considering we’re one of the most famous companies in the world. I’ve spoken to many people who’ve said they never thought Facebook would have a security team here in London, and it’s a real branding issue – we’re not just software engineers, we do have some pretty hardcore, exceptional and industry-renowned security people who work here.

The other challenge is the famous ‘skills gap’, or talent shortage – I would always say there isn’t actually a skills gap, it’s more that the bar is set very high when you’re interviewing people. It’s not about finding the right skills, it’s about finding people with the right personality who are going to be able to be successful here. We have a lot of people who are great technically, but the way Facebook operates doesn’t agree with some people.

On the whole, diversity is also an issue in cyber security recruitment – diversity in tech is a massive issue anyway, and this is something that needs to be taken back to the schooling system and get people interested early on in their career.

People need to learn that you don’t have to have a certain sort of profile to study computer sciences or get into IT. You can go beyond coding and into sales, HR or project management or analysis. That’s where our industry is struggling quite a lot.

Click here to read Part 1 of this interview

Blog your way to success

There are many reasons why your business should publish a blog: it’s your direct communication channel with customers and clients; it gives your company a voice; it allows you to share your expertise and – most importantly – it provides insight into your audience and helps drive SEO.

Here are a few tips for you to consider when writing a blog for your business:

Visuals are the key to success 

People want visuals, so even if you only share one header image on your post, it gives the reader an idea of what the content is about and, chances are, that image will stick in your reader’s mind throughout the whole post – so make sure you use an appropriate one.

Using personal images or videos will also enhance your credibility by proving that ‘you’ve been there’. You didn’t just sit at your desk, open your laptop and decide to start writing random posts. Use visuals to get closer to your followers.

They want to see PEOPLE

Speaking of followers, you want to attract the right kind. And by the right kind, we mean the ones that are actually interested in the product or service that you’re offering. Followers won’t stay for too long if there isn’t someone behind the blog. They need a face they can relate to and a personality to get to know. So don’t be scared to upload employee photos, events, social evenings etc. – with their permission of course.

Our Social Media Manager, Melissa, has been running a lifestyle blog for almost six years now and saw a big boom in followers and engagement the day she decided to start posting more photos of herself while writing hotel and restaurant reviews, blogging about her trips across Africa and even writing about beauty products. People saw a face they could relate to and that was all they needed as a reason to follow.

Visit Melissa’s blog here: Tiger On a Gold Leash

Schedule all the way to the top!

When it comes to blogging, consistency plays an important role. Writing a post today and not writing another for two months won’t get your business anywhere. The ideal approach would be to write one a week and then schedule the same post to go out on social media several times over the following months, targeting the audience that didn’t have the chance to read it the first time it was shared.

To do this, it’s important that you write timeless blog posts that are relevant today, but also in six months’ time when you’ll share it again.

Be creative!

Stay up to date with all the industry trends, but once you’ve decided what to write about, try to give it a different approach. What hasn’t been said yet? What questions haven’t been answered yet? Your alternative spin on topics is what will make people want to read your blogs.

And remember, blogging is a way to tell your brand’s story by offering insight into your company, philosophy, employees and inspiration. Think creative and stay true to your culture.

Facebook interview – Part 1: Dan Paine, Security Recruiter

Cyber security is a major buzzword in digital circles and is set to gain in importance as the regulatory spotlight on privacy and anti-terror initiatives intensifies. The Daily Squirrel caught up with Dan Paine, Security Recruiter at Facebook in London to discuss the challenge of recruiting cyber security specialists at the world’s best-known social media platform.

What is your role at Facebook?

I’m a recruiter hiring for Facebook’s new cyber security teams in London. We’ve traditionally had a lot of security presence in America but now we’re looking to ramp up here. There are a couple of different teams I work with; one of them is dealing with internal and external threats, so for example if an incident occurs through a third-party cyber attack or someone clicking a suspicious link.

The other team is more focused on product security; they’re basically working with our engineering teams who are building all of our products, and are focused on ensuring that the applications are built with security in mind.

How would you sum up your ideal approach to recruitment?

It’s about bringing everything back to basics and seeing where you can make the most of nothing. So if you’re hiring for a startup or building a brand new team, what small things you can do to have the most impact and be the most effective with the least effort and spend.

“Move fast and break things” is a slogan that was coined a number of years ago at Facebook and is extremely relevant in recruitment terms – you’re moving fast, so you’re acting less like a traditional corporate organisation and breaking obstacles that might be in your way to keep moving and being as efficient as possible.

It’s really about having the basics and building processes to scale, rather than just sitting there and being reactive.

The name ‘Facebook’ carries exciting and progressive connotations. How does Facebook differ from other recruitment environments you’ve worked in?

How we recruit and what we do isn’t really that different to anywhere else. It isn’t anything revolutionary or truly innovative. We just hire great recruiters and sourcers who really know their stuff, and that’s what makes it what it is, because the people are passionate and take huge amounts of ownership. We have some pretty cool internal tools too.

At other companies I’ve worked at recruitment is just seen as an HR function, but here it’s seen as something that’s truly needed and all the managers have bought into it. The people here really take ownership over the process.

So what’s it like to work at Facebook – how would you sum up that way of working?

It’s about extreme proactivity and extreme ownership. If you asked anyone in an interview they would say they’re proactive and take ownership, but to actually have living proof of that is another thing.

People think of Facebook as massive and compare us to Google and Amazon, but realistically we’re about a fifth of their size. We’re not there yet, so a lot of our people do two or three different roles in one. You’ve got to be very proactive and able to diversify yourself, and be very agile to go and try something different.

You can’t pass the buck at Facebook and people who work like that have struggled. That’s the environment, you have to be super proactive and take responsibility always – but be honest with yourself if you’re struggling and ask for help. It’s like a very well-financed startup.

Do you use any particular digital tech to support your recruitment drive?

Anything from Google searches and LinkedIn to some other tools… Being a technology company we’ve built some of our own sourcing tools to help us find people quicker and be more effective about it. It’s nothing crazy or massively new, just the basics done very well.

Usually people buy things like ATSs and database systems, but we build our own. Some new tech will help with the fluidness of everything, from posting a job to booking interviews.

Click here to read Part 2 of this interview

Instagrowth: Making the most of Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there and a vital (and free!) marketing tool for your business. It can showcase your company culture, your people and all the key elements that make up your USP – the crucial part is turning your engaged followers into customers.

So how can you attract more followers on Instagram and grow your business organically?

Instagram Influencers

An effective way of growing your Instagram account (and hence your business) is to connect with influencers in your industry.

Instagram influencer marketing introduces the customer to your brand from a trusted source (the influencer) in a casual way instead of via a traditional ad. This maximises the chances of someone following your business account and become a customer/client.

Hashtags

Use hashtags to attract new customers that would be interested in your content or product. You can even use a branded hashtag unique to your business – either the name of your brand or anything that represents its culture. Use this branded hashtag on all of your photos and, with time, your followers will start using it on their photos too.

Be consistent

If you want to get more followers on Instagram organically, it’s important that you stick with a theme. If your theme is coffee, don’t confuse people by sharing too many cat photos, for example. People started following your account because of the type of photos you share – don’t switch things around too much. And be sure to use high-quality photos that showcase your brand in the best possible light.

Community content

There really is a community for everything. Investing time in your community members by liking, commenting and even sharing their content is a great way to capture more Instagram followers and turn them into loyal customers.

Turn your bio into a call to action

Your Instagram bio should be able to convey what your business does and tell a customer how to find you, while showcasing the company’s personality and prompting the customer to take action. You can also include a hashtag to encourage followers to associate their content with your brand and expand your business’s visibility.

The field for entering a URL in your profile is essential and you should make the most of it. When you want to promote new content, place a short, trackable link in the bio. You can then promote the content via the photo caption on your latest post (i.e. “Check the link in our bio for more!”). Be sure to change the link regularly and according to the content you want to promote.

Timing is everything

Top brands only post about five times a week, so the key is not the quantity of posts but the quality and consistency. Create a schedule around the best times of day for engagement. This varies day by day, though after-work hours are generally best because that’s when people tend to spend more time on their phones checking social media (or that’s the theory, at least).

We can help you grow your business’s Instagram account organically. Get in touch at contact@redsquirreldigital.com