Dallas Tech Week

I'm here at Dallas Tech Week - pretty excited to be here with Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins of Roger Wilco


Mark has an awesome camera that we're going to use for interviews and panels. I think I want to buy like 10. It's called the Mevo, and we'll post it here as well as streaming live. 

Here's the introduction - if you see me this week, say hello. I'll be doing lots of interviews, asking about the Dallas Tech scene. 

Day 1 is at the Capital One Garage in Plano. 



KOIOS Meets Bellion Vodka at Barista Ventures

Last Friday, down at the Barista Ventures HQ in downtown Dallas, a group of marketing executives met up for a friendly talking about digital marketing and moderate drinking. 

The 211 N. Ervay building includes three floors that host a number of startups and startup focused marketing companies. It is our goal to regularly throw parties, events, meetups, card games, and showcases. It's a great space, and let me tell you - unused space is wasted space.  

First, Bellion Vodka and KOIOS soft drinks were featured. And by featured, I mean that I brought them as my contribution, along with a six pack of Blue Moon. If you remember Bellion, it came to my attention last year, and I'm a big fan because they recently got their technology peer reviewed. They can't say it, but I can - they did clinical trials that showed the hepatoprotective value of the vodka. It actually protects your liver while you drink. Or rather, it does less damage than alcohol, which puts into the category of a functional spirit. 


That's a bottle looking fondly through downtown Dallas. Here's a Bulletproof Podcast on the topic

KOIOS came to my attention through a Facebook ad. It's a drink with MCT oil, which is what I put in my Bulletproof coffee. They sent me a case in addition to the one I bought, so I brought it in to test it out. It's full of B vitamins, no sugar, no added caffeine, and when you add the two, it's just about the smartest drinking you can do .


Under the FTC rules - we're supposed to make sure we're clear that we tell you when stuff is sponsored. None of this was sponsored, but I didn't pay for the KOIOS or the Bellion. KOIOS sent me a free case after a shipping error. I drank the one I bought, and brought the other for the party. Or the other way around. The Bellion Vodka was also shipped to me several months ago, but that was as a gift because through last January, I was working with them to make some placements. I have no financial links to either company, and have not promised anything for the products. I have also purchased both products on my own. 

What Is The Value Of A Reference Check


                                Your offer is contingent upon a successful reference check from this guy
We've seen that before. We've written it into our offer letters. We've worried about it briefly when we accept a position (what if they uncover something they don't like?). The reference check is considered a last line of defense by hiring authorities - the golden standard that can make or break a hiring decision. 

And yet, they're almost always a complete waste of time, useful only when the jobseeker has successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of each and every interviewer. I wonder sometimes if people who talk about references understand that a reference check bad enough to sink a candidate is only possible if you stink at interviewing

I've been writing about recruiting since 2004. In that time, I've heard hundreds of people extol the value of the reference check. I can't even imagine the fainting spells I'd see if I pitched this at an HR conference. That reference checks are common sense and mandatory is holy writ - and we'll pull your SPHR certification if you disagree! Do those people actually make reference calls themselves? For those who do, do they have a script, interview notes, or the courage to ask real questions that were brought up in the course of the interview? 

Clearly not. These are the questions we hear. "Were they employed?" "Was this their title?" "Would you hire them again?" "Were you their supervisor?" These are basic fact checking questions. Why don't we ask the tougher questions? 

"Why aren't they working for you anymore?" "Was there anyone better?" "Is it true that they left because they were never going to get your job?" "When they left, were you surprised?" "Did they have other offers when they accepted your position?" "What did their references say when you checked them?" "What is your vesting schedule for options?"

Now that would be a reference check!

Alas, it's not to be. While a few people have given me those kind of references over the years, the majority have been rote, plain, and filled with grunts of assent. Of course they are. The population we're looking to hire normally has some kind of longevity in their role, and are currently employed, which means that references are literally years old or decades old. Checking a reference from 2002 is just plain stupid. And yet, I've done it. It was policy. 

What About The Candidate Experience? 
Aren't we supposed to worry about candidate experience? I was reading a book on hiring systems, and the author said that we should ask for the spelling of the names of former managers because that's a great way to warn off candidates who will lie about their references. The author explicitly says that the fear of you calling managers who aren't their references is a good thing.

Here's the problem. Why are you trustworthy? Is there some magic that makes a 24 year old HR generalist a competent reference checker for a Senior Director of Operations? I remember taking a call one day from a "professional" reference checking organization. They were calling to verify employment for a current employee who had not yet given his notice. The hiring company intended to make an offer, but hadn't yet told the candidate. This kind of mistake happens on a regular basis, and yet candidates are supposed to trust you with the cell phone numbers of their current employer? 

Are They Worth It? 
I shouldn't be so hard on the system. I've had references that alerted me to fraud. I've had references who tried to deep-six a candidate (it didn't work - you can usually identify a bad manager). On occasion, references have actually sealed the deal, providing important information on how to manage a new hire or where they could use training.

Those are the exception - and that's for a guy who is very thorough in gathering references. But if you must do so - and that's almost all of us, there a few tips I can give you. 

  1. Be upfront what you're looking for. Direct supervisors, clients, or direct reports (when hiring a manager, get at least one direct report). 
  2. Once you get the references, have a call with the jobseeker to discuss them. Discuss each one, looking for questions to ask, ways to build rapport, and verifying information from earlier interviews. 
  3. Ask for references that you can't call. There are bad bosses. There are horrible companies. I'm more concerned with a candidate being honest with me than them having a perfect background. Having a hands-off list is a great way to dig through the information the candidate is hiding. Be firm, but polite about this. Your goal is to work with them, not filter them for living in the real word. 
  4. Don't ask, "would you hire them again?" Instead, ask them, "What should I be looking for when managing them?" That's a neutral question that allows savvy managers to tell you the truth. 

Facebook Ads Specialist Needed In Dallas (Remote and Part-Time)

A client of mine in Dallas regularly has a need for someone used to driving email conversions from Facebook Ads. We currently have two projects, that while small, are pilots that could lead to larger long-term contracts. 

We're looking for part-time, offsite help, local to Dallas, but occasionally able to pop into our offices. The jobs are mostly set-up and maintenance, which means you need experience in small business ads, but once you've done the work, you're mostly collecting a paycheck. 

To apply - you don't really need a resume, you just need to call me and explain what you know. If you know more than I do, I can get you the job.

Things I want to hear:

Your use of Power Editor
How you build your ads
An example of at least one long-term (3 months or more) project where the conversion was emails. 
A clear understanding of whether you did the work or whether you were there when the work was done.
If you've had specific training, what kind of training you've had (Blitzmetrics would be awesome).

Alternately, we could pull up a screenshare and we could talk through what you know. 

Payment is based on the spend. Roughly $1,000/month to start, but we have ad spend that will get to five figures and more, and if you can prove it on the small projects, you can prove it on the big ones. 

Contact me at Social Media Headhunter, or email me at jim@socialmediatalent.com if you're interested, with a short email explaining why you make sense for this. 

Our New Dallas Location: Digital Marketing Headhunter Joins The Barista Ventures Family

This is fun news. The Digital Marketing Headhunter (that's me) and the rest of our team are working with Barista Ventures in downtown Dallas at the 211 N. Ervay building. 

We're working on the fancy logo and more content, but all the rest of our information will remain the same. 

Barista Ventures is a Dallas digital marketing firm that includes mobile, web design, world-class writing (ad, social, and feature), and a number of back end technologies. They're the marketing firm for Dallas Start-Ups, and they're making quite the splash downtown.

We'll be in one of their offices on the 7th floor, but we'll also be assisting in hiring and strategy needs. We'll be posting some content, and writing some content, including the invitations to their monthly parties - so make sure you ask Jim Durbin about an invitation. It's not that you need one - it's just that you'll want him to make your introductions. 

To look at a proper story, check out this one from Launch DFW that includes the CEO of Roger Wilco, Mark Hopkins.

Mark Hopkins, CEO of Dallas instantaneous digital video production and content marketing firmRoger Wilco, recently announced intent to join forces in creating a collaborative space that aims to provide incubation capital and other support to Dallas startups organized by several Dallas tech companies under the direction of Josh Stramiello, Broken Box Startup founder. The intended goal of this space is to be a part of transforming Dallas into a thriving, business-rich environment that is more diverse in its offerings.

The hybrid private equity incubator attached to the space will offer companies rolling admission with an open-ended platform that is measured by KPI metrics. It is geared toward the vision that companies can reach to make the next level instead of achieving simple add value on a set calendar.

More to come!

List Of Interview Questions For Email Marketers

This is a series of scripts I've been writing for digital recruiters. Today, we'll address an email marketer.

Here are some current requirements for Email Marketers posted as jobs. I'll go through the requirements and post my questions at the end.

Here's one that's posted for an Email Specialist.

-Develop and maintain email marketing campaigns that integrate with website and magazines. (Integrate email with the website and with print?)
-Create and manage Email lists. (what do you mean, create? Pull from a database? Excel? Actually build the list from scratch?)
-Day-to-day activities include email set-up, scheduling, tagging, targeting, and deployment of ESP's. (ESP normally means Email Service Provider. When you say deployment, do you mean, sending the email? Do you have multiple providers? Or is this internal jargon? Do you really mean, deploy the email through an ESP?)
-Other duties are assigned. (I think you mean as assigned)

Skills and Experience:

-Minimum 2 years experience in Email & Internet Marketing. 
-Proficiency in mass mail platforms. (Mass. Is that 1M, or 100M? And how many do you need to know? Silverpop and Salesforce and Eloqua? In only two years?)
-Knowledge of basic HTML, and Adobe Suite programs. (So, a coder and a designer? Or someone who can use Mail Chimp's templates?)
-Outstanding written, verbal communication and collaborative skills.  (Outstanding, or just, pretty good? How do you measure outstanding?)

Here's another one that's more detailed. 

  • Assume primary responsibility for deployment of email campaigns, including: scheduling, content/asset gathering, creative development, database management, client approvals, landing page creation, testing, troubleshooting, detailed reporting, and overall quality assurance.  (Okay, that's a pretty good description of everything you need)

  • Develop customized email invitations and registration forms. Registration forms? For the website? Do you want me coding forms?  

  • Gather requirements and create timelines for all email marketing campaigns.  good

  • Coordinate the cross-functional process to implement the campaign from project kick-off to delivery to performance reporting  good

  • Develop detailed documentation for best practices.  good

  • Maintain reporting log for email campaign performance. good

  • Analyze email trends and devise and develop new templates, ensuring best practices are followed and the creative is “on-brand.”  good

  • Develop list segmentation and email personalization recommendations based on data mining and email/website analytics.  Do you really mean data mining here? Or is that thrown in when it really means "eyeball the data and pretend you have a good answer?"

  • Conduct regular reviews and QA to ensure flawless execution of email campaigns.  Hopeful, but a good standard. 


  • Bachelor's degree

  • 3-5 years experience in content management, working on email campaigns, or comparable role. Law firm or professional services experience preferred. Experience with content management systems (CMS) preferred. (Law firm? That seems a bit strange considering all of the requirements you have. Did you copy/paste this from someone else with a robust department?)

  • Intermediate Web design skills including knowledge of HTML coding is required.  (Web design? What other language do I need besides HTML? Am I hand-coding the website? Or do I need to know enough to build a landing page and make changes in the design? Speaking of which - is there a designer, or an I the designer as well?)

  • Comfortable coding in foreign languages (not required to know the language). (I wasn't aware that you could code in another language. You can leave edit notes in another language, but that's not the same thing. Does this mean I'm working with overseas people who write other languages, and we're coding together? That sounds strange.)

  • Experience with Tikit or other email campaign software. (Tikit - that's a technology for the legal sector. I'm guessing you use Tikit. Can you just say you'd like Tikit experience? Why add the "or other email?")

  • Ability to identify, investigate, and act on opportunities to improve email performance/experience.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite. (Does someone on the planet that you'd hire not have this? What if they're only good at Google Docs or Pages?) 

  • Exceptional organizational and skills and attention to detail.

  • Excellent verbal/written communication and interpersonal skills.

  • Must be a self-starter who understands the details within a much larger context. (Oh, so I'm working alone?)

  • Ability to work in a teamwork/collaborative style and environment with a willingness to share information, goals, opportunities, successes and failures with the appropriate parties. (wait - nope, I'm part of a team. So you want a self-starter that asks the team what they think first? What if you were forced to pick one?)


The first posting is just bad. It doesn't tell you anything beyond the title, and in the case of the ESP, actually gets the term wrong. The second is more detailed, but as you read through it, you understand that this is a template for the perfect worker, and is very likely copied from somewhere else. When you add in that bit about foreign coding, you began to realize they just want someone who represents well, because they have no clue how to run the program.  Both job description should make it impossible for a recruiter to find someone of quality through anything but blind luck. Basically, you find someone who did email for a law firm and present them. If that's true, why the long description? 

But let's not just pick on others. Here is a list of questions I would want to ask to determine the level of experience for an email marketer. Feel free to take them apart in the comments. 


Here are my template questions for email marketers. After each, I'd ask them to explain, and push past the simple answers: 

1) What did you do last Tuesday 

2) What kind of testing do you do? Which parts of the email (subject line, data sets, graphics load, bounce rates, open rates, forward rates and social share rates)

3) What software platforms have you used? Why did you like them? Are you expert in those? Do you code them yourself or use the template? Do you make the graphics or do you insert them into the email? 

4) Who compiled your data sets? Who managed them? Was that you? 

5) What was the behavior of the list (people bought, people opened, people called in, people clicked on a list to a landing page)

6) Did you create and test your own landing pages? 

7) Do you still send text versions of the email? Why? 

8) How much oversight did you have on this? Approval? Contribution, Interference?

9) What did you do with your data after you tracked it? (how was it used, disseminated to the rest of marketing)


Note that the questions I ask will give you the answers that fit your requirements, but they don't allow the candidates to simply say "yes," "no," or "I sent a lot."

And for extra credit, here are the answers I don't like to hear from candidates. 

1) We sent out 10 million emails a month (and no explanation of what they were). 
2) We did extensive A/B Testing of the emails. (what does extensive mean? what did you test? Was that a test each week before the send?
3) I've worked with all of the email software programs and know them well
4) We were CAN-SPAM compliant. 
5) Our data team would pull the lists each week, and we'd work with the graphics department to get the right images, and then the IT department to code the email. I would test and send the email (nothing wrong with that, but it suggests someone who is only good in a large operation, and will need each one of those components to work. But at least they know it takes more than one person. Those who don't know this and assume they can do it all, are often lacking in experience). 


Hiring Greatness: David Perry And Mark Haluska

I've spent the last seven months traveling back and forth to New York City working with a spirits brand for the launch of an exciting new product. Building up their team in digital marketing, operations, and finance has been a great ride, and it gave me the opportunity to work with one of the finest recruiters I know (or have even heard of), David Perry of PerryMartel.com. David and his partner Mark not only are doing a great job on an important role, they also just launched their latest book, Hiring Greatness. 

The book, available at Amazon, is designed to teach executives and their board members how to work with headhunters

Those of you who have known me for a decade would remember David from his books Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters, as he engaged early recruiting bloggers at Recruiting.com 

The book is a mix of how-to and personal experience - a description of what it takes to get the results you want from a headhunter, but also a map for headhunters to understand what they need to get from their clients. 

It's difficult to explain to people not in our industry how complex a search can be, especially at the top of a company, where value and salary have less correlation than anyone would like (what do you do for a CEO who can turn a $100 million into a $1 billion?. How do you compare that CEO to one who can get you to $150 MM?).

After some late discussion over szechuan and very early mornings meeting with candidates (he's forever changed my view on how many candidates are acceptable to screen in a search), the data point that stuck out most was his idea of multi-dimensional recruiting. 

On the plane home last week, while reading the hardcover, this is what I wrote.

"The best search professionals can't be taught. Their talent exists or it does not exist. And yet there are no naturals in our business. Raw talent has to be uncovered, and then refined. Your ability to do the job is not on the surface, but instead comes from deep within you, and has to be brought to the surface as a result of the extreme pressure that comes from repetition, rejection, and reward." 

That's the kind of book this is. It's makes you write long, thoughtful sentences that open a debate. If what I wrote is true, the next question is, how do we learn to surface that talent? David and Mark have learned the hard way, and they share it in this book. 

Digital Marketing Video Topics For 2016

One of the more successful things I've done as a blogger is the listing of questions for popular jobs. This drove over 100,00 page views for Java Swing back in the day, and I'll be replicating this in 2016, focused on digital and social marketing. 

So - obviously, watch this blog. 

But I'm also going to be doing video descriptions of how to hire - in the hopes that if people see how I work, they'll be more likely to hire me as a headhunter. 

So in that vein, here are the topics I have the expertise to cover. 

Digital Topics/Interviews

  • Hiring a social media content writer
  • Hiring a social media specialist/manager (customer service)
  • Hiring a social media specialist (product)
  • Hiring a social media specialist (B2B)
  • Hiring a social media strategist  (B2B and B2C)
  • Hiring a Manager of social media
  • Hiring a director of social media
  • Hiring a web designer
  • Hiring a social designer
  • Hiring a creative director
  • Hiring a director of digital marketing 
  • Hiring a director of content marketing

Keep an eye out. This blog will be filled with a lot of content that you'll need in 2016 to hire. And if you already know you need help hiring in the digital/social realm - now you know a guy.

Digital Marketing Manager - National Spirits Brand, Parsippany, NJ

The Digital Manager manages the online presence of all Bellion properties, collaborating with employees, agencies, and consultants to integrate all relevant media and channels into the right platforms. It’s a pivotal role as it serves as the foot-on-the-gas role for project completion 

Regular Duties:

Develops media strategies and campaigns across all digital mediums including:

  • Prioritize and execute the setup of multiple campaigns across numerous networks
  • Actively manage and scale multi-channel campaigns on a daily basis
  • Optimize channel investments based on proven performance through bidding to reach desired KPIs
  • Provide creative direction for banners, text ads, images and landing pages
  • Build and maintain working relationships with creative, design, and development partners
  • Analyze data against the defined campaign success metrics
  • Knows and stays up-to-date on all relevant market and consumer information necessary for the preparation of the most effective and efficient media planning
  • Determines best use of multi-channel media mix including traditional, digital, and social media outlets to best meet clients goals and objectives – using constant optimization practices
  • Gathers, analyzes and reports on metrics on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis
  • Leads the creative team in strategizing sessions
  • Manages vendor budgets and resolves invoicing discrepancies as needed
  • Negotiates best rates, CPM’s, CPP’s, special time parameters, value-added sponsorships and promotions, bonus impressions, e-newsletters
  • Understands rating estimates as well as digital performance metrics such as CTR and conversion rates
  • Works closely with all assigned media personnel in the group with evaluation of media information necessary to the preparation of the media plan that best implements the media objectives and strategies

Desired Skills and Experience 

  • 4-10 years of marketing communications experience related to branding and product sales: designing, implementing, measuring and improving integrated marketing campaigns that leverage marketing technology, content, and measurement
  • Proven experience creating ROI-driven marketing program strategies/plans
  • Demonstrated proficiency with multiple channels and tactics used in demand generation, including, but not limited to email, website, paid search, organic search, content marketing, social media, traditional advertising, and PR
  • Demonstrated understanding and experience in modern marketing fundamentals

The video announcing the product launch. They're live in one state, have license for 10 more, and will be national this spring.