Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Being on the outside  – be considerate in communications

Simon Halstead is the Founder of Halstead Incubation Partners – a strategic advisory/consultancy helping businesses scale growth and work through strategic challenges. He’s been in the industry for nearly 30 years, and have been involved in digital since 1999 with Zenith Media, All Response Media, AdLINK, Microsoft AOL and Yahoo. Simon is our latest monthly columnist.

For the first time in a decade and a half, I’m outside a big corporation.  This gives me some fresh perspective, and some interesting takes on the market.

Tough times for all demand kindness in communication

On the back of a positive post-COVID market, people had made life choices and investments/life decisions on the expectation of good times to come.  It was a candidate-positive market with lots of roles and strong offers flowing around. 

The world changed with political events, and the ongoing global crisis continues to impact revenue performance.  Speaking to the market – Q4 is going ok, but no one is anywhere near where they thought this year would be at the start.  We all look forward to a better year to come in 2024 – although that is a year that will face severe industry disruption – which I’ll talk about in my next article. 

It has been a pretty rough year / 18 months for the industry – with that very buoyant employment market suddenly taking a turn for the worse, and a succession of significant layoffs across the market, on the demand and supply side.

It can be a jarring experience for those who lost their roles, and for some even their own sense of self. I know, because I experienced it this year after 15+ years of continuous employment.    I’m still checking in with lots of my old colleagues from Yahoo who were impacted, and on a positive note, many have found new opportunities.  

But the impact has been significant for all and is repeated across the industry – with good people looking for roles after a long time of continuous employment or a prolonged period out of work. 

So this article is a plea to be kind to everyone in the industry, and especially those in the hiring process.

We know that hiring teams are stretched, that they are inundated with enquiries for any roles they share and that people are hanging on their every word.

They face the challenge of changing internal positions on hiring – with roles open, on pause, on a slow down to hire, or just fighting for internal feedback.  Sometimes even being asked to pipeline candidates, but not actually move forward – for either perception or readiness when market conditions improve. 

In an industry that likes to talk about transparency  – we need to improve transparency in hiring.  

  • Quick, clear feedback to interviewees can help reduce the flow of bad applications, or spurious attempts, and enable candidates to improve
  • Enables candidates to manage multiple conversations effectively. 
  • Transparency over salary ranges can help thin the pipeline to appropriate candidates 
  • If using automation to screen cv’s – automate a rejection and be transparent that the CV hasn’t passed your first screen 
  • Feedback and updates are timely whilst the process is ongoing – don’t leave people weeks without responses  
  • Most importantly – whenever a candidate is interviewed in person – good feedback is given. 

For people looking for their next role, each opportunity not converted can hurt to the bone – and above all else, people want to improve their chances for their next shot at a role. They may also have to make difficult personal choices based on success or not, and timelines matter.  Do they renew a flat lease? Do they look outside of the industry? Feedback is essential, and important for managing mental health. 

Those going down a consultancy route face increased competition and the same pressures on project sign-off and approval.  It’s a space developing as people also look at work-life balance – and even collective enterprises.

Behaviour in the bad times is remembered in the good.  People do show their true colours, and individuals remember those who gave time and offered support and those who gave a poor experience.  I want to give a shout-out to Jon Walsh – who with founding a great jobs board at has also built a vibrant WhatsApp community – and that is providing support for people out of a role. Also a shout-out to Paul Rawlinson’s #Imnotok approach which is underway.  

The support offered for people across all levels is heart-warming, and seeing people make new connections and revitalise old connections with offers of advice and support is incredible.  However – over 80% of respondents said they had been ghosted in interview and application processes from the ad tech job seekers chat. 

This is not to attack internal recruiters or recruitment consultants, or HR teams.  They are being impacted, some have lost roles and have more to do with less.  They also are suffering the same economic consequence of not having roles close, and business expectations being met.  They are always trying to do their best for clients and candidates

Reflecting on my time at Yahoo, I know that I didn’t always live up to the standards I’m suggesting here – and that is the benefit of seeing from the other side. I’ll try to do better when I’m next hiring. And I’ll be better about responding to incoming pitches in general

I want to finish on notes of optimism.  The job market feels like it is improving.  This industry is full of generous people who will give time to help individuals – and no one currently outside of the market should feel alone or unable to reach someone for support, a chat – or just a good whinge. 

The sun will rise once more, and the market will become more buoyant