When Flattery Becomes Plagiarism…

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Recently I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed and a very familiar looking blog popped up.  Now, the reason it was so familiar to me was because I wrote it.  Yes, my own words.  However, the post about it wasn’t a link to my blog. Or even me. Someone had taken my blog, changed a few words around and claimed it as their own.  Sections of their post were identical, and they hadn’t even bothered to change the title.  There was no reference to me or my blog. It was an imposter!

At first I was annoyed, then I was intrigued.  What makes someone want to copy you and pass off as their own?  I debated about naming and shaming them, putting both blogs on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and outing them to over 10,000 people, but thought better of it.  I emailed the “author”.  It does however raise a good point – when does the flattery of being imitated become plagiarism?

I don’t think that many of us can say we have never looked at another company’s job adverts, social media, recruitment campaigns and the like to generate ideas from them, to gain an understanding of what our competitors are doing in the marketplace.  Can you?  I know I can’t.  As a young recruiter learning the ropes in agency land I know I looked at other job adverts to gain ideas and potential structures.  And once I moved to the big world of internal and started setting up the employer brand for Youi in NZ there was SO much out in the marketplace to learn from.

If you are using someone else’s work word for word (or almost) a quick email to them to ask permission to use it with credit to them is normally enough.  Had this “author” cited me in their post I would have been absolutely happy for her to use it on her website.  However, if you’re straight copying a job advert or marketing campaign I’m not sure that the author is going to be so giving – I’d encourage you to take the idea and improve it or customise it to your brand, business and values.  If you don’t you could be in a little hot water, and also missing out on an opportunity to take to best practice ideas and grow your own from them – sometimes this can produce the best results for you!

We don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time we work on something as a profession, but if you plan on copying what everyone else is doing you are going to get left behind.  Innovation is key to recruitment and staying one step ahead.  We all know how important it is to stay relevant and be leading the way in digital, recruitment strategy and employer brand awareness.

The final update on the blog plagiarism?  Three days after my email was sent the blog post was down.  I’m still yet to receive a reply to my email – and I don’t think I will get one. But I’m happy with the outcome.  Next time however, I may not be so cool about it.

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“You’ve been unsuccessful” – how to handle rejection when job seeking!

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Job seeking is tough for most people. The applications, the interviews, the emails, the phone calls, the references…. and the rejection.  In the line of work I do, I reject a candidates on a regular basis.  It’s a recruitment funnel – there will always be more applications than there will be jobs to offer (oh, how I wish it was different some days).  Check out the usual recruitment funnel below.

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We all suffer rejection at some time – the role might be too senior (or too junior), you might have flunked the interview or you might just not be quite right for the role.  Rejection is a tough pill to swallow – particularly if you really want a certain position or to work for a specific company.  Rejection can affect us all differently and people take rejection from me as a recruiter well, and not so well. They can either take it incredibly personally, bounce back really well or somewhere in the middle.

Unlike in England recently, where a woman staged a sit in for 90 minutes at an employer who rejected her application (and had to be removed by the Police), there are much more tactful ways to handle rejection!  I’d encourage you to:

  1. Remain professional and polite.

It’s a small world out there, and a lot of people in industries are connected (especially in recruitment!). Remember what Mum taught you about treating others how you want to be treated? This is still the case when dealing with rejection from a job application.  If you are rude upon rejection – do you think you might be the first person they call if they get a similar or better suited to you vacancy? No.  You just cement the reason for rejection.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

It’s not always all about you. As a job seeker you usually have no idea who you are up against in the running, if there is an internal candidate, any specific quirks or requirements with the role etc. There may have just been a better suited candidate.

  1. Ask for feedback.

If you have been unsuccessful, it’s OK to ask for feedback.  I would even encourage you to do so – it’s only going to give you insight as to where you could improve and it might help you on your job hunt for future roles.  I give all unsuccessful candidates I decline feedback – it’s part of running good recruitment practice!

  1. Keep in contact.

If you are unsuccessful, and the company is one you still want to work for, then sign up to their job alerts from their careers page, add the hiring managers you met with on LinkedIn, follow their company pages on social media and engage with them ongoing. I’d also encourage you to send a thank you note to your interviewers (if you had a face to face meeting).  You never know what role might be coming up in their business that you could be perfect for – so keep the lines of communication open!

Overall, I would encourage you to not be discouraged by rejection, it’s a part of job seeking. It’s just not possible to get every job we apply for (although it would be nice wouldn’t it?)!

Giving Back… Today I Returned to High School!

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Some of you may not know, but I grew up in Northland.  Born in the Hokianga, I did my early schooling in Rawene, then moved to Kaikohe and attended Northland College.  I then completed my degree at NorthTec in Whangarei before heading off to the big smoke of Auckland.

Today I had the absolute privilege of returning to my old high school – Northland College.  Decile 1, it’s a regional school with its (well documented in the media) challenges.  However, the staff there are fantastic.  Some of my old teachers are still there and it was great to catch up with them all – these are some of the people who have helped shape me and my career.  To my teachers – thank you.

Today I spoke to 300 odd students at morning assembly and then I did a workshop about careers, job seeking and education after high school with the Year 13 students afterwards.  I really enjoyed it, and hope the students got some insight out of it too.

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At the end of my presentation I wanted to leave the students with three big things to remember.  I wanted to share with my blog readers too.  They are:

1. Respect.  

Respect your leaders and your teachers.  They are there to grow and support you. And you never know when you might need a reference for your first job either! Respect your peers.  Life after high school in a small community means you never know who might be your boss in future.  New Zealand is actually really small and very well networked!  Treat others as you want to be treated. And finally, respect yourself.

2. Want something?  You have to work for it!

Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those that work their ass off to get it.  You have to be proactive – knock doors, do work experience, get life skills and take opportunities given to you and run with them.

3. If you think you can’t – you’re right.

People will expect you to fail, or give up.  You need to back yourself and chase what you want.  Believe you are good enough, believe you can do it and you more than likely will!

While these 3 principles were for school leavers, they are also three very important principles for any part of our working lives.  Take note, and grow your career!