Start-ups run, corporations want days off

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How do you get people at the same organisation to get together and enjoy each other’s company. This is an age old question that all employers have wanted to answer, both because everybody naturally wants to foster a great spirit between co-workers, but also because it may pay off as a stronger commitment to the company, ultimately resulting in better overall results.

There are tonnes of different kinds of perks that companies offer their employees, and it seems like the perception of the different types vary from person to person. Would you rather that your employer sponsored a company trip, offered free massages, or would you rather have those expenses distributed as a cash bonus?

Startup vs. big corporations
It can be very difficult to determine as an employer, but obviously it also depends on the general corporate culture that you have, or you are trying to foster. To generalise, startup companies may have a (younger) staff that is more passionate about the company and the vision, and may work overtime simply because they care more. Here, perks that bring together people may provide more value, since people spend more time at the office, and the cold numbers on the pay check may matter less. Free beer on Fridays, or the mandatory ping pong table, anyone?

On the contrary, larger corporations with more senior staff may benefit from rewarding their staff with cash bonuses or flexible hours, perhaps because their employees to a larger degree have families and wish to be able to spend their free time there with additional opportunities to take days off, go in vacation paid via a bonus etc.

To repeat myself – I am generalising.

We just started with a couple of runs after work…
What we did at the company where I’m spending all my time, Graduateland, was to encourage our dear colleagues to join different organised runs. It all started during the spring of this year where some of us started to run together after a hard day’s work. Soon more joined, and we decided to participate in an upcoming half marathon in Copenhagen. Anybody who wanted to join would have their ticket paid for by the company, and we quickly organised the design and printing of company running t-shirts. 984033_721568151228134_6234580165882634764_n

Graduateland – The Usain Bolt of university recruitment


Runners from all departments and 4 different countries
Ultimately we were 8 who joined out of 20 employees who decided to run. And that was a very heterogeneous group, consisting of both company founders, sales reps, our university managers, and coders, from Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. That’s a pretty good ration of half marathon runners at a company that makes software!

The fact that everybody finished the race is not the point, though I think it is highly impressive. For most of us it was the first run of that distance. I was personally really happy that they simply thought it was fun to spend their time running.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 21.48.13The following months some of us have upped the distance, and we had one participating in the Copenhagen Marathon,1466105_10152207729819285_734447760699022656_n and two running the Stockholm Marathon. Again, for two of us it was the first time we ran marathons.

More efficient than beer
The obvious positive effects of getting into marathon shape are quickly realised, however it has been so much fun finishing all these work days with running trip across the Copenhagen area, in sun, wind, and rain. One way to get to know people is to get drunk with them – another is to go for a run together.

I think it has been a tremendously great initiative and I’m so pleased that so many of our guys and girls wanted to take part. Looking forward to the next challenge!


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Posted by on 11 June, 2014 in Random


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Can you ‘tinder’ your career to the next level?

tinder_matchIt’s no news that the dating app, Tinder, is highly successful and that it’s more the rule than the exception that singles are using it to kill time, date hunt, and/or boost their egos. Since so many people have started using it it has obtained the momentum that the creators of any online products are dreaming of and the positive spiral where many users generate more users becomes reality.

Why did Tinder succeed in the rather established industry that online dating has become. Well, the element of gamification made the app equally entertaining as it is useful. There is much less investment from the user, both in terms of creating a sufficient profile, as well as vulnerable exposure of the state of singleness and consequent search for company. When I signed up the first time it was done in less than a minute while accompanied with rum and cigarettes and convinced by a friend who claimed that he hadn’t signed up due to an outdated OS version on his iPhone – jeez (!). So because it had to be on my phone that we tried it out, I was the one signing up. Within minutes the first match was made, and quickly the first chat was received. That is efficient stuff. And since it’s possible to claim that its only a game there is no risk of finding friends amongst the faces that pop up.

Dating vs. job searching
So why the link bait headline? Well, since I’m contemplating whether it’s possible to transfer this gamification element to the recruitment industry. It’s no news that a substantial part of job searching has moved to mobile, and even job application via smart phones is gaining momentum. Additionally, companies and recruiters share job opportunities via social media like there’s no tomorrow, so summing up evidently results in the conclusion that engagement between employers and candidates is everywhere, and consequently never further away than those 85 cm down to the smart phone in your hand.

Could we imagine that candidates (I’m not using the term job seekers, since this may even appeal to passive job seekers) would ‘swipe’ career opportunities, with similar possibilities as on Tinder, where you can see a few key characteristics on the first page, tab on the suggestions that seem relevant, and get a bit smarter, perhaps with the full job description distributed across 5-6 subpages? Would these candidates be able to make a meaningful choice as to swipe right or left?
Of course this depends on the amount of info that’s put into the job post, so let’s imagine that they would do this.

Kickstarting a yin yang dependency
As with any two sided market place we need both parties to engage, and if one part initially does the other one has to follow quickly in order to avoid any ghost town feeling. So I’m pretending I’m a recruiter, and I can browse candidates that fit my criteria – education, degree level, certain universities, language skills, work experience etc. Only profiles that match will be shown to me, and initially I’ll see their business portrait along with a tagline. If I tab them, I can see a summary, and if I read on I can see a limited part of their CV. If I like it I swipe right. If not I swipe left. And nobody ever knows, unless I swipe right, and they swiped right to my job ad, and it results in a match. If I were to recruit for my company right now that actually sounds pretty interesting.

Recruitment as entertainment, entertainment as recruitment
Okay, so where are you guys going to attack this concept? That it’s extremely superficial and that the candidates’ looks become pivotal in getting matches? Yes, but I’ve seen plenty of job posts, where pictures are requested upon application – and don’t a lot of recruiters search on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn to get a glimpse of the applicant anyway?

Is this idea idiotic since no employer who takes itself seriously would use anything resembling a game in its search for potential employees? Well, L’Oreal, Danone, and Thales have each made computer games where you among others things play a virtual trainee at the company, and solve puzzles [see videos]. Furthermore, many companies arrange case competitions where hopeful candidates compete for the chance to impress the HR staff of the host company – there are several annual event at my old business university, Copenhagen Business School.
I’m aware it’s not the same, however recruitment has become entertainment, and vice versa.

Perhaps recruitment staff are too busy to ‘play’ the recruitment game, as their time is spent sifting through piles of applications since we are currently experiencing a major youth unemployment. That would make sense – however I would claim that if the ‘swipe feature’ was not necessarily a fancy mobile app (for the employers, that is, it should still be for candidates) but integrated into the existing application tracking system (ATS) it could easily be a funny little feature that was actually used, as opposed to overflowing our LinkedIn news feed with algebra puzzle answers and posts of clever quotes. Voila, the second part of the ecosystem is activated, and the viral element could kick in [fingers crossed].tinder match2

Matching that pretty girl
I definitely think that the concept holds, and if the user experiences for both recruiters and candidates are designed well enough, with the preconditions that each part naturally has, the feature could succeed. As the hunt for talent forces recruiters to move as fast as the candidates in relation to the preferred platforms and tools, all that matters is wether qualified candidates pick it up. And as Tinder shows – even the pretty girls have profiles, simply because they want to know what the fuzz is about and BAM – there’s a match!


…and we’re back!

heart rate…As the chat in Gmail says, after having frustrated the user with brief offline moments in oblivion. It’s been a while since my last post on this blog, even though its my personal blog, and I’ve been linking to it during the last months in my auto-signature of some thousand emails. I guess I’ve been a bit uninspired lately and submitting thoughts into the cyber sphere has not seemed like the cure – rather I’ve just continued to postpone updating. But that time is now over and I’ll allocate time and brain capacity to produce some stuff.

This one is not really a content post, merely a beeb on the heart monitor – the patient is still alive!


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Posted by on 7 April, 2014 in Uncategorized


Does the Catholic Church have a graduate programme?

The Pope, the spiritual leader of the catholic church has stepped down. This piece of news has already gone viral across global news media channels and quickly rumours concerning his health were scrutinised. As it turns out this is not the case, reports the Church, but merely that he does not feel that his mental and physical conditions enabled him to continue as the head of the Vatican organisation.

Nonetheless, Graduateland has already initiated the search for a sucessor since we believe that our user base consists of the world’s most talented individuals.

It is no secret that the papal conclave, which eventually has to come to an agreement of who to elect, has certain criteria which have to be fulfilled. Which criteria that happen to be the decisive is of course difficult to predict, however history can indicate which traits seem important.
Further, I suspect that a number of more modern skills seem relevant to include in the search, seeing that the prospective pope has to manage the Church for approximately 7.2 years (the average length of past papacies) in the 21st century.

Going through the Graduateland datase we can gradually add more and more parameters until our segment contains a satisfying target group. Here I am of course taking into consideration the opening rate of our email campaigns, as well as the click-through-rate to the job post.

First parameter: Gender
Seeing that all popes in the past has been male we conclude that this could be the time that the Church steps into a more modern gender-neutral recruitment policy. Consequently we include both males and females, leaving us at 100% of the user database.

Graduation date
As far as I could find online there has not been set a deadline for application to the opening. However, assuming that the role has to be occupied quite soon, I’m defining the latest graduation date as end of February 2013. No limit to the earliest graduation date as the Vatican has a history of recruiting people with substantial experience from prior work places.

Current status
It is always more effective to recruit profiles that are already looking for new challenges. Therefore I demand the Graduateland database to include only users that are looking for full time positions, as well as graduate programmes, both full time roles. Graduate programmes can be surprising by our statistics show that candidates are open to entry position when these take them trough a training period, though less substantial than real 2-year graduate programmes. Users only looking for internships, temporary positions and part time positions are excluded.

There are the obvious study programmes like theology, which I pick to begin with. Additionally, a number of management studies are included, seeing that the candidate has to lead staff locally, as well as various international subsidiaries. A broad range of educations within humanity is added to the search, primarily because the papal vacancy covers many aspects of communication, history, culture and rhetorics, and I’m acknowledging that many relevant skills are obtained outside the academic institutions, and I’m therefore aware of not excluding strong candidates who don’t have a the right diploma.

Language skills
I’m applying Latin as mandatory and suddenly the seach results are narrowed down drastically. Further, Italian is important, though not essential. Additional languages do not weigh a much, however the more the better.

Additional skills
A quick search of the official website of the pope,, on, shows that SEO of the site has not been the focus of the resigning pope (granted, he does have a Twitter profile, @Pontifex, but who hasn’t?). The future pope will probably not be directly involved with the optimisation but an increased priority of an online presence must be expected. I can easily apply SEO (and other terms for the same concept) to the search – funny how Latin and SEO does not correlate amongst the segment and a large group is dynamically filtered away.

As I’m going through the profiles I’m looking for candidates who are willing to consider travels abroad, despite statistics of the latest pope only travelling abroad 8 times. Experience as a tutor for younger students is also a plus, since intro trips tend to include dressing up in funny costumes and wearing hats.

Funny hat

The target group is ready – sending emails now. Keep an eye on your inbox!

The Graduateland team

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Posted by on 12 February, 2013 in Career


4 obvious tips that ensure that your job application is acknowledged

There must have been written thousands and thousands of blog post about how to write a great CV and an interesting cover letter. That makes a lot of sense since it’s a critical step in landing a job in general, but also because people at the moment find it difficult to get jobs. The news papers are flooded with statistics about unemployment and the topic is alarmingly high on most politicians list of priorities.

Anyhow, as an insider in the industry, as a co-founder of a career portal, and as an employer in a company that has grown on the staff side from 7 to 27 in 10 months, I have a few insides that I suppose most people know, but I still see many people ignore. And I wonder how come these simple things are not common knowledge, and therefore incorporated into every job application that I know is buzzing back and forth out there.

As with traditional blogs I have prepared a list with a random number of tips that will increase the chance that your jobs application is taken into consideration, which ultimately increases the probability that you will be invited to the important critical job interview.


1. The Basics
Often the job description will let you know, that you should include both your CV and a motivational letter. Attach two separate documents as it enables the employer to print both, and share with whoever will be deciding who should be invited to a job interview. The agenda of these documents are different, and are to show different things; an introduction to your profile (CV: education and work experience) and an engaging description of why you are applying for the job (motivational letter: what you can contribute with, and why they should even bother to read your CV).

DON’T – write you motivational letter as the text body in your email, as it cannot be printed properly, and you lose the chance to earn points on how well you set up text in a word document.

DON’T – send your documents as word files. This is like sending a draft, and why would you send a file that pops up with tools to edit the brilliant stuff you just wrote? Just save as PDF and you’re good to go.

2. Make it interesting and appropriate
Try to put yourself in the position of whoever you expect to read your email/motivational letter/CV. Imagine what they are looking for, and take that into consideration when you describe why they should read on, and even open your attached CV, let alone print it and show it to that colleague who’s also involved in the recruitment process.Marketing Ninja Make sure you know who you are writing to. Is the job description written in a casual or serious tone (“We’re looking for a marketing ninja!!!” or “Business Analyst”)?

Is it a startup company with young founders/employees, or a huge corporation where everybody’s wearing power ties (not the slim ones, of course)? Is it a social media company where people are working from bean bags, or a pharmaceutical company where a joke at the lab results in continent-wide pandemics.

DON’T – write too much. People have a tendency of scanning too long text paragraphs when they can – and in this case they can – and if your writing is not compelling as Facebook during a Methodology class your clever pointers may never be read.

DON’T – spell incorrectly. This goes for all text, of course. If you can’t spell, or if your grammar sucks (BTW this is a blog, so correct grammar is naturally less important), it either shows your incompetence, or the fact that you didn’t construct your application thoroughly.

3. Build a relevant CV
Many employers find the CV the most relevant. I personally could invite people to an interview after only reading a killer motivational letter, but it’s quite a risk to take. Stating the obvious then you should of course write all relevant information about your education and you work experience. Make it as straight-to-the-point as possible, meaning that you should only include what makes sense in the concrete job situation. If you’re applying for an undergrad internship it may make sense to write about you high school (gymnasium, in Danish). If you’re looking for a graduate job that requires some years of experience it’s only noise, and frankly, not interesting.
Describing all your classes during your studies can also be too much. It’s usually enough to state your degree programme (e.g. International Marketing and Management), and maybe you can add specifics if it correlates with the job you’re applying for e.g. online marketing for a SEO job. Remember this is primarily supposed to make the employer interested in you, and invite you to the interview, where you subsequently can elaborate upon how much you know and all the relevant courses you have taken.

When listing your work experience include only relevant work experience. It can come across as somewhat premature if you list that you have developed ‘ethics of working hard’ when you were a dishwasher at the local bowling alley, or that you ‘learned to deal with numerous clients’ as a bartender at Hard Rock Cafe. Everybody knows that you have consulted your online thesaurus for fancy sounding terminology to make irrelevant experience sound good.Bartender
If you don’t have relevant experience you may have to write this stuff anyways, but keep your take offs realistic. Instead focus on your personal skills, language skills, extra-curricular activities etc.

DON’T – design your CV in standard tables in a word document. It just doesn’t look good. Remember that the design of your documents reflect how well you present written information. Get some inspiration here

DON’T – write a CV that longer than 2 pages (max 3). Then you have included too much that is not relevant, and you risk that not even the important stuff is noticed. And don’t just jam the font size down to 9 with margins that are touching the edges of the paper.

4. Leverage your former bosses
Presumably you have had some great experiences at your former work places. Remember to write one or two names of you superiors, along with their titles and phone number. Chances are that nobody’s going to call them, but the fact that you’re listing them shows that you’re not concerned if they do. And if they are in fact contacted they may actually help you.

DON’T – write the names of people who will not be 100 % supportive of you. If there’s just the slightest hick-up related to the termination of your previous job they can easily be more loyal to a potential future employer than a former employee who they didn’t appreciate.

Basically, the person at the other end of your job application is just another human being, probably overworked and appreciative of anything that makes their life easier. If you can write an application that is easy to get an overview of, easy to read, and actually be what she’s looking for, then that should very well make you the perfect candidate that will slip through the eye of the needle. Remember that they are actively looking for something and it’s your job to make them acknowledge that you’re that something.

On a personal note I can reveal that my primary focus areas are two thing: experience with that specific thing that I’m recruiting for (someone with sales experience for a sales job etc.) and how they present themselves in the motivational letter. This last often shows how well they understood my job application, and I can also use this to determine whether I think they will fit into my organisation. Secondly, it’s of course important that applicants have some sort of education, but if they have taken a master, I rarely attach much to which direction. I suspect this is different in the case of technical positions, as nuclear engineers rarely make the ideal software developer (I think).Computer nerd

Anyways, hope this is something that can be used next time you write a job application. As stated in the headline, these tips are not rocket science, but as I constantly see job applications and CV’s that lack the fundamentals I concluded that they could bear being the focus of yet another blog post.

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Posted by on 17 December, 2012 in Career


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A Theory of Procrastination

Two months ago, I was looking for participants for my psychology research. It took me six weeks to convince 50 people (students) to fill out my questionnaire. Not a great success, if you ask me.

A new semester started. I sent out new invitations. BOOM. Five new participants in two hours. Three more  in another hour. And again. Wow. What was going on?

Believe it or not, I think that the most important part of data collection is timing. I think that since students like to procre– procrastinate during the semester (especially if they have some homework due!), they are many times more likely to participate in studies (and fill out questionnaires).

So what?

Quite honestly, I am not sure. On one hand, it might be interesting to look at volunteering and participation at studies during the holidays vs. during the semester (I would LOVE to write a paper about that), on the other hand… yeah, you guessed it. Homework. Essays. Compulsory readings. Sometimes I wish *I* didn´t procrastinate…

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Posted by on 30 September, 2012 in Education


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Team Assignments – When Two Plus Two is Really Four

Dear teachers, tutors, and professors. I am sorry, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Similarly, there is no such thing as “magical synergy during team projects”. Just – no. Trust me.

Team assignments are the second worst invention one sometimes involuntarily encounters (beaten only by Hannah Montana games – no, really). The idea that “if you put students together, it will make it easier for them to come up with amazing ideas and enable them to do more than each person individually” is unrealistic at best. It would work only under very specific conditions, namely that:

a) all students are equally motivated to do the assignment (i.e. you don´t have one hard-working student and three slackers)

b) all students are equally skilled (i.e. you don´t have three students with an average of D and one with an average of A+) and

c) the group actually works as a team (i.e. you don´t have four control-freaks who prefer to do everything on their own and then be accountable for their own mistakes)

Unfortunately, these conditions rarely hold in real life. So, in contrast to what many teachers believe, 2+2 is not “5” (yes, I am counting the extra magical synergy/creativity/what-have-you), but can be equal to 1, or 2 – if you are lucky (depends on how many ambitious students that particular group has).

However, there IS a way out for all those unhappy high-flyers who always did the team assignments on their own because “they had a terrible team”: It is called “division of labour”. Let me give you three simple steps how NOT to do a whole project alone:

1. Find a (reasonably) good team. Find either smart people, or at least the hard-working ones. Avoid party-goers, irresponsible guys and demotivated do-nothings.

2. Divide (and rule). Split work evenly, try to give everybody a part he or she feels comfortable with (i.e. do not force someone who hates maths to calculate monopoly profits or do not force a shy IT-guy to prepare a presentation). Make sure you control if people do what they were assigned in a timely manner, so that you don´t have to redo something in a rush just because somebody forgot.

3. Meet before the deadline, put everything together, all people check that all parts are of good quality. If you are all happy, submit it; otherwise correct it together.

There. Done. You might not get the mystical “creativity boost” in this way, but at least you won´t have to carry the world (project) all on your shoulders. Good luck!

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Posted by on 23 September, 2012 in Education


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