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October 07, 2008


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Alex Hens

Have to say - yet again - these NORA awards continue to underwhelm and antagonize me.

Last year I commented on how I was at a loss how anyone worth their judging salt could arrive at the decision that a decent effort but still a fundamentally flawed site for West Midlands Police could win Best Employer Website over the hugely impressive Royal Navy site. We all know that the budgets involve are so far apart as to warrant a different category for the Armed Forces sites it's true - but when you hold one up against the other then there's simply no competition (especially when you consider a PlodCast section (cleverest thing about the site was this quirky naming IMHO) with not a single podcast available within it to download!).

Then we're onto this year's shortlist and I find all of them dull dull dull. Yes Innocent has a quirky tone and good written content because it's clearly got it's employer proposition right - but the delivery is as flat as a flat thing. The only media rich element is the video of a TV interview which (not sure about your browser) but for me was so distorted it was pretty much un-viewable and would have been better stripped down to just audio.

Perhaps NORA judges are looking for something different to myself - but I have this, perhaps quirky, feeling that awards should be awarded for "best in class", not just "quite good". We're living in a world where rich media and true creative engagement is not just possible but all around us - so flat careers sections with an animated button or two just shouldn't be held up as anything other than "awright" or a "decent effort".

Now I don't profess to have my finger on the industry pulse for best work coming out, but I do know there's far far better out there. Perhaps the problem is how NORA draw up their shortlist, maybe they're not seeing the full picture either - but however you cut it for any of these to win "Best Employer Website 2008" will do the Recruitment Communications industry a massive disservice in regards to the strides we have made with creative digital execution.

BTW - enjoyed reading the additional elements about the Innocent branding :) Thanks Andrew.


Thanks Alex.

Apart from the forces, who does have a great (non-flat) site? I was looking at some comparable US award efforts this week (including the Microsoft Diversity site) and there doesn't seem to be that much there that's going to teach us anything.

Perhaps we need to implement some internet award awards in order to get the bench higher.

Alex Hens

I think we have to be realistic that the Armed Forces will (certainly in today's economic climate) rule the truly engaging careers site sphere for quit a while to come (maybe always?) - but there are still pockets I come across of what I'd consider good work.

I'm pretty frustrated that (but also pragmatic enough to understand why) those pockets are generally limited to quirky campaign sites (especially in the graduate recruitment space), but I also think that with the poor digital creative appreciation that we've seen "informing" and steering the creative debate from awards judging over the years, together with 2Dimensional traditional agency Creative Directors often refusing to see that it's a medium that needs a different approach - there are just too many reasons as to why our industry has such a lot of catch up to play.

I'd love to see an awards set up where people who know what they're judging assess sites clearly and transparently - but perhaps I'm just a foolish dreamer. That said, I think the RADs & CIPDs have been doing their best to raise their game in terms of appreciating the digital plane and hopefully we'll see good work being justly rewarded more and more going forward - certainly everyone's (well apart form NORA it would seem) worried about trying to establish / maintain their awards credibility.

I'm as interested as anyone to see who's raising the bar in Recruitment - which is why I was so impressed by the "B++" Zurich site (although I think I would have given it a straight B - it's failings were still far too apparent even with a poor field around ;). But at the same time I don't want to see flashy for flashy's sake - it can still be modest, but if well thought out and engaging then that's just as worthy of the kind of recognition that gets other clients thinking "that's where I want to be heading".

So I'll put my money where my mouth is - this site was launched (and the grad piece completed) since my departure from 33, but, like an absent father on sports day, I still take pride seeing it do it's best, which I think is actually pretty damned good:

I'm sure it's not faultless and maybe in some places quite marmite - but I'll gladly debate it's merits and shortcomings if only to at least get the debate rolling with the intention of raising the appreciation of good digital execution. But what I do believe wholeheartedly is that this site shows ambition, consideration and utilisation of the spectrum of the medium and really tries to engage the prospective candidate to a level that isn't even vaguely there for sites shortlisted in the NORAs.

All IMHO of course :)

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