Have you noticed that advertising is getting a bit gutsy these days? And I’m not referring to Super Bowl commercials. More and more we are seeing the use of ‘attack’ or ‘aggressive advertising’ being used in the consumer-marketing world. This is a direction that was prominent during the days of Mad Men, but could it be re-emerging as the next big trend?

Microsoft’s recent ‘Scroogle’ campaign is similar to a political attack campaign. In the commercial, Microsoft attacks Google for everything from invasive ads in Gmail to sharing data with app developers. It ends by revealing that Microsoft is behind the message with the statement,  “For honest search results, try Bing.” It’s definitely aggressive and controversial.  However, with controversy comes attention, and the metrics have been pretty good.

Kindle has taken a similar, but slightly less aggressive approach when comparing the Kindle Fire with the I-Pad Mini. Ford also aired an ‘attack’ on Honda in their recent campaign.

So what does this mean for us?  Can we effectively recruit great talent with a more aggressive approach?

For employment marketing to be truly effective it needs to answer the question, “Why should the people you want to employ, choose to work for you rather than anywhere else?” We always advocate being straightforward and direct, but I wonder where can we draw the line? Many times we know exactly where the pool of talent is that we want to attract, so why not just directly target them and exploit the weakness in the competition?

Some organizations are beginning to dabble in this direction. Last year, Yahoo stationed carts passing out free chai along Silicon Valley shuttle routes hoping to poach talent from companies such as: Google, Facebook and Apple. The cups were accompanied with a handout blatantly saying, ‘Yahoo is hiring, contact this guy.“ The approach is direct, maybe arguably aggressive, but it’s also been effective both in creating a buzz and an increase in hiring numbers. While this was not a formal HR initiative, there is speculation that this has attributed to the increase in applicants for their HQ.

The employer marketing world tends to be risk adverse. I would assume that if you’re in a Talent Acquisition role, you may be thinking, “I would never be able to pull that off.” The way we communicate is constantly changing and it makes me wonder, will this be the next big thing in recruitment? What would a more aggressive approach look like in your company? How brave would or could you be?

I welcome your thoughts.

By Nicole Dorskind

Nicole profile imageAccount Director, orange Gatorade fanatic, avid runner.

Nicole (nicknamed “Coles” by our British colleagues) started with work Group in October 2009. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a media background, she was interested in an advertising career, but she wanted to be part of something meaningful, somewhere she could really make an impact.

She found her passion at work. “I sort of stumbled across this company and it turned into a career,” she says. Employment branding was a world she knew little about, but she has turned it into her professional playground.

Her time at work has been engulfed with unforgettable memories, tremendous growth and amazing learning experiences. From her very first pitch in London where she made 25 senior investment bankers crack a smile through to traveling to six different countries, uncovering what makes a distinguished financial institution special and why the right people should work for them. Not to mention that time she almost severed her ring finger trying to cut an avocado and had to get a six hour surgery. “It’s my work wound,” she says. Not to worry – the finger is still intact, but the nerves are damaged, which makes bowling extremely difficult.

No, she did not sue. Yes, she still loves her job.

Nicole is a brand enthusiast. “I love Apple, but I don’t think they need help with their employment brand,” she says. Their proposition is the level of standard she wants all of her clients to aspire to. However, Apple is not the type of client she would want to work with. She likes a challenge. She wants to fix things. And she wants to do it all over the world.

She’s always been interested in the emerging markets of places like Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific. “This world is becoming a more connected place and I want to help businesses globally tell their stories as employers,” she says. Helping organizations tell a consistent story and raise brand awareness in countries that don’t have the Internet or are just at the brink of developing their economies is what gets her out of bed in the morning.

So what is Nicole doing when she is not busy helping to build the U.S. business or providing strategic solutions to her client’s challenges?

She is checking off the countries in her NY Times copy of “Best Places to Visit.” In 2013, she spent 10 days in Croatia with her college friends and in 2010, she backpacked through Belize and Guatemala with one of her British colleagues. She’ll also take a last minute trip to escape Manhattan and visit her best friend in Colorado. Good thing JFK is a short cab ride away from her NYC apartment.

Adding more stamps to her passport is definitely part of Nicole’s future agenda, along with developing her professional career. As to what the next five years looks like – that picture is not yet painted. “My past four years have been full of development, growth, travel and laughs. I hope that’s a sign of what’s to come,” she says. Thanks to the magnetic quotes her dad buys her every holiday, she has a constant reminder of how to approach life when she looks at her refrigerator every morning – “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So no matter what the future holds, she plans to do just that.

By Jacqueline Monti

I am part of the largest age group in American history. The Y Generation, the Millennials, or what Joel Stein calls the “Me Me Me Generation” in his latest Time magazine article.

On a steamy July morning, I locked my apartment (that I share with two roommates), and swiped my $113 monthly metrocard (that I personally pay for) to then spend my 45-minute subway ride to my ten-hour work day reading Stein’s article about how my generation is full of narcissistic, lazy, egomaniacs that still depend on their parents for almost everything.

I was livid. I immediately jumped to defend myself thinking, “I moved out of my parent’s house on my 22nd birthday with the money I had saved from working three jobs!” The only thing I had in common with these generalizations was the year I was born.

But I continued reading and realized Stein had solid data. Below are a few of his conclusions, along with my difference of opinion…

Gen Y believes they’re entitled.

Forty percent of millennials believe they should receive a promotion every two years – regardless of performance. According to Stein’s research, this sense of entitlement is attributed to the plethora of participation awards we received throughout our childhood. My mother still shows people a poem I wrote about a rock in the 4th grade. Stein may call this coddling my ego. I call this having proud parents. They’ve always taught me the benefit of a strong work ethic. It’s not about entitlement, it’s about making the most of myself – and my hard work and dedication paid off when I received a raise and a promotion within my first year of working.

Millennials have warped priorities.

Stein’s article stated that three times as many middle school girls would rather grow up to be the personal assistant of someone famous than the CEO of a company. Yes, I did TiVo the finale of Keeping up with the Kardashians. But, I would much rather be on the board of E! Entertainment than be Kim’s assistant.

Gen Y lack interpersonal skills.

According to Stein’s research, millennials send and receive an average of 88 texts per day. Have you ever heard of “FOMO”? Gen Y has such a “fear of missing out” that they created an acronym for it. While I may text my friend from 10 feet away and have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps on every one of my devices, I know how to get information fast. I understand the role that Social Media and mobile are playing in the future of business, and I will be part of it.

Entitlement, distorted priorities, lacking interpersonal skills – even though Stein may have the data to substantiate these labels, I am one millennial they do not apply to. However, as I finished the article, even Stein turned most of his research on its head and admitted that millennials are a powerful group. In fact, the things that “categorize” us are also our biggest strengths.

Data is in the eye of the beholder.

Our sense of self-entitlement enables us to negotiate better contracts and gives us the confidence to ask for what we think we deserve. Some may see this as arrogant. But Sheryl Sandberg may see this as “leaning in.” I see this as being ambitious and persistent. As an employer, wouldn’t you want this mentality in an employee?

We were bred to think ahead of the current trend – to challenge convention. In a sense, we’re the most adaptable generation that has yet to exist. So if millennials are lazy apathetic narcissists, then the next generation will rule the world.

Which perspective do you take on millennials?

By Jacqueline Monti

It seems like every day a new city is christened “the next Silicon Valley.” Boulder, Colorado. Detroit, Michigan. The list goes on and on.

So what makes a city “Silicon Valley worthy?”

Richard Florida, who wrote “The Rise of the Creative Class,” says the magic recipe behind a city becoming a technological hub is attributed to three important factors: “talented people and a high quality of life that keeps them around, technological expertise, and an open-mindedness about new ways of doing things.”

Places like Boulder, Colorado embody Mr. Florida’s trifecta for technological success. Often thought of as a community of rock climbers and hippies whose main concern is legalizing marijuana, this picturesque place has become a magnet for ambitious entrepreneurs. With a population of 100,000 people, it has the most entrepreneurs per capita than any other city in the country. Imagine working out a proposal with talented colleagues over Yerba Mate Tea and then taking a lunch break to hike the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Plus, you don’t have to dump half your pay check into your landlord’s palm to do so. This place reeks of entrepreneurial spirit.

However, when I think of Detroit, Michigan, I think about smokestacks, Ford Motors, and Eminem’s first movie performance in 8 mile. This is not a place I would associate with innovation and growing opportunity, but surprisingly, it’s quickly becoming the core of technology in the Midwest.

After two years of unsuccessful attempts at launching a business in Silicon Valley, the founders of Stik, an online business referral platform, packed their bags and transplanted their idea to Detroit. Reinvigorated by a new pool of talent and funded by the hardworking network of investors at Detroit Venture Partners, Stik has grown into a million dollar company.

And Stik isn’t alone. Quikly, a startup that helps users take advantage of daily deals, moved from Philadelphia to Detroit in 2012. SocioCast also joined the Detroit scene, helping companies optimize their advertising campaigns across web and mobile platforms.

People are excited about Detroit and the thriving startup culture that has taken hold there.

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and a Detroit native, sees this city as a palette for technological greatness. “If you want to really get in at the ground floor of something very special, you want to come to Detroit because you’re going to find things — it’s not only very exciting but less expensive. You’re going to find great, motivated people. Your people are the most important thing you have in these kinds of businesses,” Gilbert says.

What about places that seem to have the secret recipe and just aren’t making the cut, like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for example?

Philadelphia is home to some of the top colleges on the east coast, like University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. The cost of living is half of what you’ll find in New York City and with community events like Philly Tech Week and Philly Tech Meetup, the city is trying to nurture an environment for entrepreneurs where they can get their dreams off the ground. Yet, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the “City of Brotherly Love” ranks dead last among the 15 biggest metropolitan cities in terms of startup activity.

So is it really the culture and the people that make a city worthy of the “next Silicon Valley” title or is it just the interest of investors with deep pockets and big dreams?

What do you think?

By Jacqueline Monti 

It’s like a kale salad or those high heeled sneakers or #throwbackthursday. The word “innovation” is all the rage.

I’ve been working in employment marketing for a few years and have done my fair share of competitor analyses. I’ve seen this buzzword splattered throughout company websites and recruitment collateral, promising potential employees they will be working for an organization that will cultivate their creativity and help them change the world. Blah, blah, blah.

But what does being innovative even mean? And what qualifies your company to make such a claim? Being a cool shiny new start-up? Being the first? Can organizations that have been around for decades be innovative?

Let’s think about Apple – a brand synonymous with innovation. Is it because they created a “floating” Mac screen or that they nurture the spark of great ideas? I think it’s a combination of both.

The products you create are a direct result of how you operate. Steve Jobs created an environment that gave his people the freedom to question the norm, to not settle for a simple solution, to create the future they wanted to see. Having these ideals at the heart of your business is bound to foster innovation.

Now, what do you think of when you hear the name Ericsson? I think of broadband and 3G, which then reminds me I haven’t paid my cell phone bill this month. I don’t immediately think of imagination and innovation. But I am wrong.

Ericsson is a Swedish telecommunications company. More than 40% of the world’s mobile traffic travels through Ericsson’s networks. But what makes them innovative is not just the products they create, it’s how they have built innovation into the core of their company.

Ideaboxes is Ericsson’s own internal sharing platform where employees can post their ideas, no matter how large or small. They will receive feedback from their colleagues all over the world and have the support to transform their rough ideas into polished plans of action. This platform gives them a voice, and the opportunity to turn thoughts into reality. Ericsson encourages every single one of their 100,000 employees to think “inside the box.”

Today, there are over 30,000 ideas swirling through Ericsson’s IdeaBoxes, being tumbled and shaped and refined into solutions that will make connections faster and phone bills cheaper.

Ericsson is one of these companies claiming “innovation,” but platforms like IdeaBoxes give them the right to. I wish other organizations would start putting their money where their mouth is. Click here to learn more about IdeaBoxes.

Is your company truly innovative? Tell us about it. We want to know.

By Jacqueline Monti, Account Executive and Social Media strategist at work Group.

What a question. We live in a world where only a very small percentage of women sit at the top. The C-suite. Government officials. Board seats. Across every industry, we have only a meager presence. After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, I’ve come to believe it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid that we’re not good enough, afraid that a man can do it better. Afraid that we won’t get married because we’re too career focused, or too “intense.” Afraid that if we do get to the top, we won’t have anyone to share it with. As a gender, we are afraid.

When I was a little girl, I started a card shop, printing template cards off of Print Shop Deluxe and selling them to my family friends and neighbors. It cost my dad a small fortune and the cards were ridiculous, but I had my customers. I decided I should sell them in China, so I went to the backyard and started digging. I was told if I dug deep enough, I would get there. I think my parents just wanted to keep me off the computer, but I was envisioning the BRIC economy before it became one. The point is, I’ve had big dreams for as long as I can remember. And more importantly, I was fearless.

I’m not here to write a book review, or even summarize the key points because I truly believe that all men and women should read this book. But I do want to talk about the big question it posed. These words, so simple, so plainly stated, written across the walls of the Facebook office, words that have kept me up a night since I finished the book, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

It’s interesting and sometimes challenging to be a younger woman in the corporate world. From the moment you walk into a room, you have to overcome judgment and preconceived notions. Yes, I get nervous, but am I afraid? I get uncomfortable with success and public recognition. Maybe this means I’m afraid too.

I don’t associate the word “afraid” with my personality. I will get on an airplane and go anywhere in the world by myself. I will not say no to an opportunity, even when it’s beyond my comfort level and outside of my experience. I don’t take no for an answer. But after reading this book, I see that maybe I have been afraid and I just didn’t know it. Perhaps my fear has been unconscious. The important thing is the question. Ask it. Ask it all the time. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Write it across your notebooks, or make it the backdrop of your phone if you need to. This book has allowed me to understand that where I fall short, is related to fear. If Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, asks herself this question, then so should I.  And so should every other woman. The sooner we come to terms with our own fears and how it affects our behavior, the sooner we can tip the scales.

There are a lot of seats at the top for women to fill. In fact, 86% of executive officer positions are currently held by men. I think, if we weren’t afraid, we would get there pretty fast. Sandberg wants 50/50 but I think we deserve even more. As Oprah says, Lean In is a modern day manifesto to women. Get inspired, get motivated and lean in. Our journey is just starting.

Nicole Nicole is an Account Director at Work Group. Joining the business in 2009, her focus is on building effective relationships with clients – partnering with them to uncover their employment promise and bringing it to life through a compelling and engaging brand strategy. She’s passionate about all things “brand” and about women in the workplace. Learn more about who she is and what she thinks on LinkedIn.

When Honey Ross, a 15-year-old student at the King Alfred School in North London, walks into her computing class she is surrounded by testosterone. “It’s sad,” Ross said. “[Technology] is such an amazing world. It’s just waiting for loads of young girls to jump in.”

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology only 24% of technology jobs in the U.S. are held by women, down 12% from last year. Only 19% of high schoolers in the U.S. that take advanced computer science tests are girls. Four out of ten gadgets are bought by females, but only 3% of the creative minds behind them are women.

These statistics suggest that women in technology are becoming an endangered species.

Lady Geek and the woman behind it all, Belinda Parmer, wants to bridge this gap between women and technology. Her consulting firm works with technology companies to change the way they communicate with females. They want women to make the connection between the Ipad or smartphone in their hands and the possibility of creating it.

Technology is a rapidly growing industry, yet young girls aren’t drawn to pursue a career in it. Parmar traces this lack of interest, at least partially, to technology’s image. When her team asked school children to draw a person that works in technology, they all sketched brainy, disheveled looking men.

Parmar recently took Lady Geek into the classrooms, by launching Little Miss Geek, a non-profit that inspires young girls to become technology pioneers. Her team runs school workshops and gets female role models from the industry, such as Olivia Solon, the News Editor at Wired UK and Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director at Media Molecule – a computer gaming company – to visit schools and get young girls excited about a career in technology. Little Miss Geek is currently trying to create coding clubs for girls as well.

The future of our technology is in the hands of this generation, but would that future look any different if there were more women creating it? Click here to learn more about how Belinda Parmer is laying the groundwork to turn women consumers into creators.

By Jacqueline Monti