The Ri5 profile: Dan Birmingham, Talent Works International

The Ri5 profile: Dan Birmingham, Talent Works International


Dan is Creative Director at Talent Works, where he leads a team of Art Directors, Copywriters, Motion Graphics Specialists, Digital Designers and Web Developers based in both the UK and the US. With more than 15 years’ experience in recruitment communications, he combines his writing skills with an intuitive understanding of high-impact design. He believes passionately that intelligent messaging, allied to deft copywriting, always forms the basis for the most powerful employer brands.

How did you first get into the industry?

I replied to a press ad for ‘Graduates in advertising’ in the Sunday Times appointments section, with PA Consulting. They rejected me for a copywriting role based on a Maths test. Six months later they invited me back. It turns out the candidate they recruited who was good at Maths couldn’t write too well…

Would you do the same again?

I would do the same again. But, if I’m honest, there’s a lot I’d do differently too.

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

Definitely something to do with writing. Probably writing something equally obscure as recruitment ads. I’m fascinated by the signs they put outside churches - do the priests write those themselves? So, a freelance contract writing those would be perfect. Not sure who to pitch that to, though.

Who are your favourite people from the industry?

Many years ago, I met Abby at Park HR and we’ve had two children together. So she’s still top of my list.     

I met a lot of memorable people at Park HR and Barkers. A lot of people whose help I wouldn’t have got anywhere without.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

“What’s the point if we’re not going to be the best at this stuff?’ – Neil Purcell.

And what piece of advice would you give somebody starting out in the sector?

Employer brand can be a genuinely absorbing, thought-provoking and challenging subject and our industry is full of inspiring, articulate people that you can learn from every day. The more you immerse yourself in it, the more you get out of it. If you’re not too bothered, that’s fine. I’ve got better things to do too.

And, never leave without your dignity.

What’s your favourite recruitment ad?

Anything with a headline by Mark Glossop.

And what’s your favourite non-recruitment ad?

The Martini ads with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins.

You’re entertaining industry contacts. Where do you take them, and why?

Literally, no idea. If you knew me at all, you wouldn’t ask me that.

What are you reading at the moment?

‘Violent London: 2,000 years of riots, rebels and revolts’. I’m a very violent person.

And what are you listening to?

A playlist made up of Langhorne Slim, Nick Cave, Euros Childs and Dinosaur Jr.

Which five guests would you invite to your ideal dinner party?

The words ‘ideal’ and ‘dinner party’ don’t really sit together for me. John Cooper-Clarke. Stewart Lee. Larry David. Bret Easton-Ellis. Bill Shatner. Maybe Chris Skinner.

What are your top three films?

Badlands, Full Metal Jacket, Killer Joe.

Something or someone for Room 101?

Buses. The internet. Men who wear shoes without socks. Pollen. Coconut. Cameras on phones.  Lazy people. Fruit in cheese. People who don’t listen and talk over you. DIY. Peppa Pig. Obesity. Bean bags. The list could go on.

What items do you never leave home without?

I always leave home without something. Every day.

What’s your biggest achievement – career or otherwise?

I was once asked to leave an agency because I hadn’t ironed my jumper. Proud to say that I never went back. Apart from that, joining Talent Works as their first creative and first Manchester-based employee. It’s now the most exciting and progressive agency I’ve worked at, with astonishingly dedicated and intelligent people on both sides of the Atlantic.

Who’s your biggest hero, and why?

Mark Glossop. Because he designs and writes.

What is your ideal holiday?

If I go anywhere for less than a month, I can’t really settle. And I don’t like places that are too hot. So it’s a combination of Ireland, Italy and South Africa, rolled into one, for about two months, I’ll need a car, wifi and air conditioning. If you can get Ocado to deliver there as well, then I’ll start thinking about this seriously.   

Three words to describe yourself?

Sarcastic. That’s it.

Your best and worst habits?

Best:  I try to help people

Worst: I’m too sarcastic. I sometimes work from home just because I think my team need a break from me.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I think this list could potentially get quite long. Let’s say UFC. Peyman Salehi, our motion graphics designer, got me into it.

What was the worst job you’ve ever had?

I worked in an insurance call centre for a while when I left university, dealing with queries from insurance brokers who dealt with corporate death-in-service schemes. I used to tell the brokers that the system was down and I couldn’t help them. I did that every day for six months. The person they recruited into my role when I left had a nervous breakdown.

What single fact would surprise people the most about you?

That I got this far. I don’t think anybody expected that. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

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Paul Ainley Date: Apr 13, 2017

Very enjoyable read Dan. Does it work as a web banner? An ad? A radio script?

Alistair Williams Date: Apr 21, 2017

I'll echo Paul's points Dan. A great read. And as ever, you made me smile.