In the Trenches With Jeffrey Wernecke, Account Director at The Hired Guns
Wernecke must have made a good impression on The Hired Guns' Top Gun, Allison Hemming, back when she taught him how to snowboard (and when she worked with him during his stint in the advertising biz); after all, when she needed a solid client manager, he was her choice. The Hired Guns has a roster of 5,000 contractors specializing in creative services like design, marketing, and writing at the ready to take on clients' short-term project or long-term personnel needs.
As Account Director for the past year and a half, Wernecke puts potential job candidates through a fine sieve before approaching clients with the cream of the crop. He first isolates A-, B-, and C-list people, then conducts a pre-screening phone call which is possibly followed by an in-person interview. With clients ranging from investment banks to industrial design firms, Wernecke stresses that companies hire individuals who compliment their weaknesses, rather than making the common mistake of "hiring themselves."
What are your favorite online destinations in the a.m.? Why?
I'm a big fan of the e-mail newsletters. MediaDailyNews is something I read everyday. I often read the news feed from Media Bistro, and the Herman Trend Alert [a newsletter produced by The Herman Group, a Strategic Business Futurists firm focusing on workforce and workplace issues].
Another place I frequently go to in the morning is Reuters.com-to take my head out of the industry and look at the world. I also go to Yahoo! Finance regularly to see how poorly I did in my investments the day before!
What other sites do you visit frequently? Why?
I bike to work everyday, so Weather.com is my bible....My favorite site is Shopping.com. My first dot-com client was Shopping.com...I'm addicted to comparison shopping there.
I do a lot of Moviefone, and of course [New York] Citysearch because I'm hopelessly out of the loop on hearing about what's cool.
I do spend a lot of time at Stratton.com [Stratton Mountain, Vermont] and various ski resort Web sites. I also go on wakeboarding sites to work out techniques and to learn new moves.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The challenging part is quickly getting up to speed on a client's business model so we can provide them with valuable insights and suggestions.
Often clients ask for one thing and need something else altogether. If you talk to them about it from a project level, you often miss it. If you talk to them from an overarching process of understanding how this project fits into the bigger picture, and how it's all interrelated, you can understand their real needs.
What do you like best about your job; what keeps you interested?
I think down the road I want to have my own business. I never thought I'd be in this area of recruiting. I'm getting a glimpse at a vast array of companies, how they're structured. This is insight I don't think you even get in business school.
One of my favorite parts about working at The Hired is the fact that I am helping build a start-up company from the inside out.... I have an entrepreneurial nature. Everyday is a learning experience and having been a contributing factor to the dramatic growth we experienced in just the last year makes me feel very accomplished.
When will true media integration take place for advertisers?
There are some people who are starting to integrate, but agencies are not structured that way. At end of day, you have a different business head and a different bottom line; there's too much politics involved.
If you don't have a general guy fighting with a direct guy fighting with an online guy, then the way you can address the issue is more integrated.
What's the most divisive online policy issue right now?
Can-Spam was a big issue for one of my clients. Now spy-ware is an issue for e-commerce clients. There are issues that will affect a hire in some cases. We've been in the process of bringing in a full-time person in the e-mail marketing realm, and the entire hire was put on hold to await the outcome of some legislation involving e-mail marketing.
Are a lot of your current clients in the e-commerce and e-mail marketing business?
Clients are really looking for people with both e-commerce and e-mail marketing skills. Starting early this year, it's tremendous how busy we are now in the area of interactive and direct marketing, particularly in the area of client services. An area that's been stretched thin is client services.
One of the main things we counsel our clients on is protecting their current assets. People are getting poached....They're underappreciated; there's been a promotion freeze, and now clients are hiring without taking stock of who's in their organization already.
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