The Ri5 profile:
Deborah McCormick, Sprague Gibbons


Deborah McCormick has been in the recruitment communications industry for a surprisingly (to her) long time since joining Barkers as a graduate trainee. She is now account director at boutique agency Sprague Gibbons in Bristol.

How did you first get into the industry?

I joined Barkers on a graduate training scheme. Although I hadn’t necessarily planned a marketing career, I’d taken a ‘communication’ course as part of my degree which was essentially the basics of marketing, so it felt like a natural progression. I’d already worked with Barkers on my industrial placement which was at Reed, putting together the GO! Graduate Guide – really showing my age there! 

Would you do the same again?

In a heartbeat.

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

I’m a total bookworm, so in an ideal world I’d be running a small local bookshop with squishy couches, good coffee and an as-yet-not-created mega-deal with Amazon which means I’d make a profit. As that clearly isn’t an option, I might have to consider creating a digital shop where you can enjoy the couches and coffee in VR, perhaps with some AI chucked in to suggest your next read….

Who are your favourite people from the industry?

The people who stand out are the ones who have helped me be my best at critical times over the years. Without the inestimable support of Ali Hackett (now Meet & Engage), Kate Milloy (now at Barclays), and Cassie Sissons (now at Amberjack) - I’d be nothing. And my team right now at Sprague Gibbons are very special.

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

“Calm down, dear, it’s only recruitment advertising.”

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

Improving the candidate experience should rule all decisions, whatever role you’re in. If what you create and collaborate on doesn’t excite the best candidates to act, and make it easy for them to do so, then challenge. It’s so easy to lose sign of.

What’s your favourite recruitment ad?

Right now, Spotify’s ‘President of Playlists’ – hardly a serious rec ad, but a perfectly pitched response on Trump’s Inauguration Day – and it certainly didn’t damage Spotify’s cultural brand.

May I also include my least favourite? These are the absolute flood of poorly-written job postings strewn across the digital landscape from the lowest of the bottom-scraping jobsites to corporate career sites. Poorly written, full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, wasting three paragraphs telling the wrong story to the wrong people – and finishing off with an onslaught of bullet points crammed with unintelligible company-specific jargon.

Even if - actually, especially if - the only marketing you’re going to do for that role is throw it on Indeed before leaving the office at 11.30pm, make it worth it. It’s the least you can do for your client, for their brand and their candidates.

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

Well, Riverstation in Bristol pretty much operates as our meeting room when the boardroom’s busy and many clients and contacts have enjoyed a meal with us there – although now The Ivy’s Clifton Brasserie has opened, there’s some healthy competition! 

What are you reading at the moment?

I always have a few reads on the go at any one time. Right now I’m finishing ‘The Optician of Lampedusa’, ‘The Circle’ and ‘The Essex Serpent’, and have just started the fabulous ‘The Limousine Voyager’ by Tom Crawford, whom many of you in the industry will know. 

What items do you never leave home without?

As a Type 1 diabetic, I always have my blood testing sensor, my insulin pen and some jelly babies! As even a little stress tends to lower blood glucose, I always test just before client meetings. I’ve never fallen unconscious in front of clients, but came very close in a presentation by the Daily Mail once!   

What’s your biggest achievement – career or otherwise?

Honestly, it’s managing to carve out a career in recruitment comms for 20 years. I’ve learned from so many great people and always found that special something to throw my heart into. And, of course, my family – they take up as much of my resources as my job, but’s it’s a good balance.     

What single fact would surprise people the most about you?

That I do two Body Attack classes a week plus at least two other cardio or yoga classes – I don’t exactly look like a gym bunny!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

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Cassie Sissons Date: Mar 10, 2017

Big shout back at ya Deb McC X

Dave Griffin Date: Mar 16, 2017

20 years? God I feel old!

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