Monthly Archives: October 2012

Companies prefer smoking to social media

I opened my presentation at KellyOCG’s #TSS event in Dublin with a comment that seemed to hit home with the 60 or so HR folk in the room. My comment centered around being a smoker. I’ve smoked on and off since I was young. It is not something I’m massively proud of, and I’m constantly trying to give up. The point of talking about this is not a bearing of the soul about being a smoker, or another public declaration of giving up. I tried that for Stoptober, lasted about 3 days. I will try again.

My point is that in all the jobs I ever had, it was never an issue to have a smoke break. I was often joined by non-smokers because the smokers room was the one place people from different departments actually talked, and was the place where you went when you really wanted to know what was going on. Not many people smoke anymore, which is why some companies have tried to replace the smoke room with refreshment areas where people can hang out, talk, eat and have an accidental engagement. The same accidental engagement that used to go on in the smoking area. The place to find out what is really going on.

The opening to the presentation was not about the engagement, but that smoke breaks were seen as acceptable and reasonable in most companies, provided they are not abused. Contrast this with the attitude of “Facebook breaks” or social media breaks. Times in the day when employees can just check in, catch up, respond to personal messages, things like that. Mostly this is frowned upon as unproductive time wasting, nothing to do with work. A distraction, and those social media people can’t be trusted to do their work. I remember the same reaction when we first got e-mail and first got the internet. There needed to be rules and policies because people couldn’t be trusted, at least that was the message. All along though, I’ve always been allowed cigarette breaks provided I got the work done and didn’t abuse them. I was trusted to be sensible. I only ever smoked in down time, or as a “reward” when I finished a job or met a deadline. When I was busy with things to do, I didn’t smoke.

I’ve asked lots of HR professionals recently if they still allow smoke breaks in the day. The answer is always the same, with the exception of production environments the answer has always been yes, within reason. When I’ve asked about Facebook break question, the answer has been the opposite. Only a handful have said yes. Most just don’t allow personal social media time, and some even use tools to monitor it. Is Facebook really more of a time suck than smoking?

My thought is that if you are going to recruit socially then you are going to recruit social people. A grown up attitude and approach to personal social time shows trust. It might make a difference to the people you attract. It never ceases to amaze me how many companies only allow Facebook in recruiting, hiring from the channel then banning it on arrival. A bit hypocritical? Lets just trust everyone to be a grown up with open Facebook breaks and access, because when you trust people they rarely disappoint. Why is smoking acceptable but social isn’t?




Applicants, Candidates And Content Strategy #truLondon

image by Oscar Mager

I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about where jobs fit in with content and content strategy. I crystalized this thinking last week at #truLondon. We know from all the research from the likes of Evenbase, that what potential  applicants want before they hit the apply button is more information on the company and the job. What we are seeing is that job seekers are just bored of the application process, spending time filling in questions and answers. The average time I’m seeing it takes to complete a first time application with a corporate client is 2 hours. That’s right, you read it correctly, 2 hours, and a minimum of 50 clicks and 50 screens. It’s hard and it’s horrible to apply for a job, then what happens next?

The feedback from the Candees (Candidate Experience Awards) delivered by Gerry Crispin at #truLondon is not a lot really. Very little feedback and a never hear again attitude. The upshot of this is that potential applicants want to be 100% sure of 2 things before they hit apply and go in to the process:

1: They have a good chance of getting the job

2: They really want the job

This means that you need to provide enough information to answer both of these questions before they will go through the pain of an application. The traditional copy writers will jump in and say that this is all down to poorly crafted job descriptions that describe nothing but a list of duties. There is a little bit of merit in this argument, but a text document is really one-dimensional and quite boring. Doesn’t matter how well you write it. It’s often not enough to elicit the type of response you really want and need. The ones left in the funnel are the desperate and the unemployable who have the time and the desire to stick with the process. It is a frightening thought. It also reminds me of the track by John Sumser, where he made the point that the talent shortage is actually caused by over-supply. There is so many people in the job market that it becomes hard to reach or find the ones who are right.

My feeling is that the more we think of jobs as content rather than postings, the more likely we are to solve both of these problems. Increasingly I’m seeing that the real benefit of social recruiting is that you lower the volume of response, but increase the quality of those who apply. People who better fit the company and the job, share your values and have chosen to apply for your job rather than any job. This will also help to solve the Sumser theory by reaching the people who are the right fit. Great content also makes it easy for applicants to see if they fit, encouraging them to apply.

In this post I have been speaking about applicants. I took this from Paul Maxin of Unilever’s track where he spoke about separating applicants and candidates, and having a different strategy and approach for each. Applicants are those people who apply, where as candidates are those people who have got past the application stage and are in the recruitment process at any stage. This means thinking about applicant experience and candidate experience as two different things.I hear the old chestnut often that applying for a job shouldn’t be easy. I accept that getting a job shouldn’t be a walk in the park, but should applying for a job really be that hard? My thinking is that being an applicant should be easy. It is really a matter of giving a recruiter access to your details to tell you if you should be proceeding in to the tough job of becoming a candidate or join the talent network for another opportunity. That has got to offer a better applicant experience, rather than treating applicants and candidates when they are clearly not qualified to be one.

From a content point of view this means having different content streams for applicants around the job and the company, and around the candidate process about what happens next, and more detailed specific content the further the candidate goes through the process. I recently looked at the CERN progress chart that enables any candidate to log in at any time and see where they are up to in the process at any time. This is brilliant for the candidate experience.

Applicant content needs to be around the job, the culture and the values. If we view jobs as content, then you can build a content strategy around the job. I’m thinking job spec, video, pictures on a pin board related to the job, blog post and social connections with the people who do the job. I also see a place for a Jobgram type infographic here that shows the job in a different way. All of this content can be used to populate a culture site (as opposed to a career site) that enables people to properly understand the culture and values of the business from the people who work there.

These are some of my thoughts after an excellent #truLondon. Thanks everyone who contributed,





“Little Data On Demand”: My #HRTechEurope Thoughts

This has been a bit of a mad week. I’ve been on the road at 3 great events. First was #TruLondon, second was the excellent Talent Sourcing Summit hosted by KellyOCG in Dublin, and then #HRTechEurope in Amsterdam, where I got to speak on implementing social recruiting and co-hosted the Kenexa #IceParty. I’m going to write more on each of these events over the coming weeks, but there was a few trends that featured strongly at each of the events. Its something I have been talking about for the last 18 months, and it seems to be becoming a reality.

If we were able to put all of the speakers, exhibitors and attendees conversations during all of these events through some kind of fancy word cloud generator, the words “BIG DATA” would dwarf everything else. For some it was just the latest in a long list of buzz words to include, but there some of the tech suppliers (I don’t like the term vendors),who are building products that solve the real challenge of harnessing the vast amount of data living in multiple on-line places, and in disparate tools, systems and applications. What users in HR and Recruiting really want is what I’m calling “little data” and “data on demand.”

What I mean by this is that what we really want is real-time interpretation of the story behind the data. The real value is in very simple applications that do all the web crawling, data finding and data collection under the hood, interrogating and interpreting what all this information in bite sized chunks. What people want is “little data” to help make the right decisions based on the available real-time information. They want it now, without the need to wait, from up to date sources, on the device that they choose to access it with (which often means mobile), and in a visual format that makes interpretation simple. Little data on demand.

In the IHR competition run as part of #HRTechEurope, I was really impressed by Dutch company Hunite. The Hunite solution aggregates the various HR systems that a company operates to make day-to-day functions like expense claims or authorising simple, with push actions delivered to mobile. I described them in my review of the competition as information middleware for mobile.

The deserved winner of the competition have a great extension to their main product called look up. TalentBin builds profiles by spidering the web from twitter to github to aggregate what they describe as implicit professional activity on the web. This is about finding all the activity and filtering what is important from all the noise. The mobile application is called LookUp (for iPhone) enables instant access to profiles via a mobile device. built for networking events and chance meetings, I think it is quite brilliant, and another example of “little data on demand.” There are plenty of other examples I could talk about, and will do over the coming weeks, What is interesting to note is which of the suppliers have taken steps to ensure that all of their functions work on a mobile platform even when the data feed is less than mobile friendly, and which have simply created aggregated feeds that lead to features and destinations that are not mobile friendly, usually built-in flash as opposed to HTML5. A half mobile experience that promises more and fails to deliver is worse than offering no mobile experience at all.
The 3 trends that really stood out for me were:

>Data aggregation to a single source

HR and recruiting are using a whole plethora of systems. The need to prove ROI and figure out what is working and more importantly, what isn’t. Theres also a need for tracking, and for figuring out the best way to interpret the story the data is telling. This means the data delivered and pre-interpreted through a simple UI. TalentBin describe themselves as Google for people, and that is a good aspiration to have.What users are looking for is a Google type experience on demand on any device, with the belief that what is going on under the hood will deliver results they can have confidence in.
>Simple User Interface

The message is beginning to get through that products must put users at the heart of design and build. This means simple navigation and intuitive functions. The interface of many of the new release look social with obvious buttons and engagement features.In recruiting terms the important users are the recruiters, applicants and candidates.
>Mobilisation of data

It is interesting to note which of the new releases and products are optimised for mobile, and which aren’t. The big trend is for delivering the mobile experience via applications. The start-up businesses and less established companies build for mobile naturally, where as some of the more established companies have tried to tag on mobile features, or have not moved down the mobile route. The message from users is quite clear, build for mobile or don’t build at all. The most impressive mobile app on show was from HireVue and what is the first video selection (interviewing) tool. Kudos to them for this development which is the first of its kind. In terms of “little data on demand”, the effort is to deliver information as it is needed, whenever it is needed, and responds to the shift towards remote working.

A last thought around social is that it is noticeable in product which of the suppliers are social by nature, and who is trying to plug-in social features to products not built for a social world. Social comes from the inside out, and the suppliers need to be social before they build social. When looking for new suppliers who build products with social features it is worth poking around their social accounts to see how they run their own social accounts. If you find limited activity.that should be a real warning sign.No one company can provide everything you need for HR and Recruiting, whatever they may claim. Suppliers need to offer an open API and a collaborative attitude to other suppliers. You want one data flow and access from a single point. Not surprisingly, it tends to be the social companies who are collaborative, and you want all of your suppliers to play nicely.

Hats off to the organisers HRNEurope who put on a great show. I know they have some more events planned for 2013 which I will be glad to attend.


iHR #HRTechEurope. The competing new tech

Now for the good bit of #HRTechEurope. The new tech competition.
First up is  Gooodjob. Built to leverage social media and customer referrals. The value proposition is to provide social sharing technology. They are looking to address the problem of getting employees engaged. Points are rewarded to employees for how far their referral gets in the process, and points mean prizes. Jobs are imported and published to the employees social networks with a unique URL to employ. There is a mobile app to go with it. This doesn’t look like a referral product to me, more of a job poster because it shares to networks without matching. This is job sharing. The panel asks about quality, the answer is that the referrer is asked to rank the quality. I score them 3.
Next up is Hunite. Hunite want to make information available to all employees in one place from the many different HR systems. This is a very neat app. More like middleware. This system is built to share info on any device in the way the user wants it. Brilliant if it works, and I have no reason to think it won’t. Data is distributed by giving API access to the other system providers. This is mostly aimed at hospitals. I think it is brilliant mobile middleware for information. I score this a 9.
My friends from from Intunex. I’ve blogged about them before after #truHelsinki. I love the concept of skills swarms for sharing expertise and advice. This scores an 8 on my scale.

Sciomino was the next contender up in the firing line. This is about gathering all the knowledge and information in a company and put it in one place, extracting data from one source. It brings an end to the intranet, lists and directories. The product evolved commercially from something they built for themselves. I score this 8.

Smallimprovements are next up. A SAS solution for performance management. it is built on on-going feedback. It looks a bit like Rypple, but that is not a bad thing. There are some very neat comparison tools. It’s free for 10 users. I like this a lot and score it 9.5  feedback is continuous and can be given on a 360 basis, and the founder is enigmatic.

Last up is TalentBin. We know the product well. Talentbin sources where other tech doesn’t. Places like Stackoverflow, Twitter, Meetups, Github etc and create a unified profile from the implicit profesional activities on the web. It is an extension of what The Social CV tried to do, only on steroids. They describe it as Google for people. I see where they are coming from. I score this a 9.

Well done to all the presenters. Great job and cool tech. the winner on the day TalentBin, who drew on my scoring with SmallImprovements.



Can HR Change? @ChinaGorman at #TSSDublin

I’m at the Talent Strategy Summit in Dublin, hosted by KellyOCG. My friend China Gorman is leading the opening keynote entitled “HR as Early Adopters Of Change?”
HR is seen as a defensive function in organisations, responsible for ensuring compliance in organisations. In the US people go to jail now for breaking corporate law, so fear prevails. The opening slide says:

“Change is not death. Fear of change is death.”

Gorman quotes Steve Jobs “There is always change and improvement. This is life in the technology game.”

The same is true in HR. Globalisation is impacting on everything even for domestic organisations. Gorman asks the question “Is early adoption against HR’s nature?” to answer this we have to look at how HR has evolved.
The evolution of HR:

  • Started as personnel
  • Time and attendance control
  • Admin tasks
  • Regulatory control
  • Evolved to Human Resource Management
  • Behavioural theories shift the focus
  • Technology begins to be leveraged
  • Repetitive functions outsourced
  • Now In The Talent Management Phase
  • Focus on strategy
  • Thinking and leading

You can tell where a company is at by what they call the human resources function. There are still plenty of Personnel depts about, and that says a lot about the organisation.
Critical to the success of change is getting the early adopters on board and become the cheerleaders.
The early majority follow the champions but are willing to try new things.The middle adopters accept change and go along with it as the change becomes adopted.
The laggards need to be forced.
HR tends to live in the late majority. HR is not known for coming to the table with new ideas. It is interesting to note that the function of HR is fragmenting, between talent acquisition, learning and development etc. There has to be a reason for that. the is that the HR team are being asked not to be strategic, and individuals are trying to position themselves away from the perception of HR as the old Personnel dept. I think this an interesting point for brand HR. Early adoption is against HR’s nature, and personnel, but probably not the talent management . There is potential to change, depending where you see the role of HR.
This was an inspiring presentation, and a good indicator of who HR people are in the organisation. Perhaps change in HR will only come by shifting the perception of self. Are you ready for the change?

At Last: Source In Facebook Featuring @TheBalazs


#Trulondon is now over. I’m back in the game with a head crammed full of ideas. If you ask me for the top thing about hosting #tru it is that I get to meet and become friends with so many super smart people. I first met @TheBalazs at #trulondon, then he set up #truBudapest with great success. #Tru gives some of the lesser known names a chance to showcase their talents. I’m really proud of the number of people who got their first exposure through one of the events. It’s hard to imagine that people like Jonathan Campbell were largely unknown only 2 years ago.
Balazs Paroczay is the EMEA sourcing lead for Kelly OCG. He reminds me of a raw and super enthusiastic Glen Cathey (with hair!). This is the outline of his brilliant talk on cracking open Facebook at the #Sourcelab at #trulondon. He has set up a new blog called “Balazs and this magical sourcing world”, to share even more resources like this. It is a must follow.

Brilliant work my friend. Thanks for sharing!


Recruiters, Sourcers, HR Folk, Technologists: I need your help

I’ve always been about connecting people, and contributing to the sense of community where I can. In the dark days BT (before Twitter), I used to sell my knowledge and experience, and guard what I know quite closely. I viewed my knowledge as this big secret tat had a big value. I had a business as a trainer that did quite well for a few years, then not so well when the recession came along and no one had any money to pay.

The thing I came to realise was that I didn’t have any big secret about recruiting. I didn’t invent anything. I was quite good at framing it. Explaining and simplifying what I knew and inspiring people to get on and do it. I could map out a good process, and spot problems, but there was nothing secret about it. Then everyone ran out of money and there was nothing to pay for a consultant or trainer, and I had to start again.

What I learnt from all this is that information and knowledge is free, and everywhere in the net age. The more of my knowledge and experience that I gave away and made public to anyone who wanted to talk or listen or read, the more people wanted to work with me to just try something crazy, something different. With #tru, I wanted to make knowledge sharing as cheap as possible, and give anyone who wanted to share a platform to do just that, and I wanted a community where  anyone with an idea, even without a reputation could share it. I also wanted a community where people can connect and help each other. Help each other not for financial gain, though plenty of people do naturally buy from the people they get to know and trust, but just because we can and it is what we do. When someone wants some help from some of the crazy folk who think differently, then we give it, because it feels good, and you never know when you are going to be doing the asking.

A few years ago I discovered Stack Overflow, the programmer community where anyone can ask questions, get answers, rank answers and recognise other contributors to the community. It mirrors my philosophy of not having any competitors, only collaborators. You can read my review of Stack Overflow HERE. This is a real community run by the community. I’m delighted that founder Joel Spolsky is going to be at #trulondon on Monday to share the story from 4.00 PM GMT. You can watch Joel’s conversation live via the Kelly Services Live Hangout (along with the rest of the 2 days by registering HERE.

Since starting to follow Stack Overflow and seeing how the community runs itself, and members help and rank each other, I’ve wanted to build something similar for the people space to do the same. I define the people space as anyone from recruiters, technology folk, HR etc who have anything to do with getting people hired.

Stack Exchange gives anyone the opportunity to set up their own Q & A site in any niche. To make this site, #trufriends, a reality we need your support. Area 51 is the incubator for these communities to test interest and content before moving to Beta and public launch. To move to the next stage we need 51 followers and 10 test questions. In Area 51 you will be asked to:

“Write an actual question that you might ask on the site.

Discussing whether questions are on-topic or off-topic helps figure out what the site is about, and, more importantly, what it’s not about.”

YOU can help make this a reality by signing up to follow the site and asking the type of questions you would want to ask on the live site, and to share the concept in your own networks. There is a way to go before we are live, but my plan is to take the community to 1000 members over the next 6 weeks. The important thing here is that the community determines for itself what #trufriends is going to be about. We are 31 followers from the next step. Please be one of the 31.

I think this will be a great resource for sharing and helping, and a real community. I want to provide the on-line place through Stack Exchange, and let the community do the rest.

Please sign up HERE and spread the word.



Guest Post: @ChinaGorman: HR and Early Adoption: An Oxymoron? #trulondon

China Gorman is coming back to #trulondon in a week’s time and is asking the question if HR is the department of no. This is China’s thoughts.

How frequently do we hear of HR departments being labeled the “Department of No.” It’s a shame, really, because when HR says “No” it is frequently doing what it’s paid to do: mitigate organization risk as it relates to compliance – at the local, regional and national levels. It’s easy to believe that the average manager in the average organization doesn’t have a clue about the growing complexities of the regulatory environment in which organizations all over the world are doing business.

It’s this context that makes it hard for HR to quickly embrace the new; to lead the charge in identifying new technologies; to be Early Adopters. And yet, HR must learn how to do this. C-Suite pressures for increased productivity, reductions in staff turnover and increased engagement mean HR has to try new approaches, new solutions, new technology, new partners.

At #truLondon this month we’ll have a discussion about what being an Early Adopter means, how to encourage it in yourself and your colleagues, and if it’s even possible for HR to keep risk mitigation and compliance on the back burner while exploring and implementing cutting – or even bleeding – edge approaches to managing talent.

This is always a lively discussion – especially when there are talent acquisition folks in the room. These HR professionals, more than those in any other HR sub-function, seem to embrace the role of Early Adopters (think social and mobile) and maybe even Innovators. We’ll talk about that, too, and see if the characteristics that enable staffing folks to welcome new technologies that can be ported into other HR functions.

If you don’t know China, this is her bio: 

China Gorman

CEO, CMG Group

Connecting HR to Business and Business to HR

For more than 25 years, China has held strategic business leadership roles in the human capital management sector. Currently CEO of the CMG Group, a consultancy supporting solutions providers in the human capital management sector, she is a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the broad human resources marketplace. Data Point Tuesday at has quickly become one of the most-read HR blogs.

Well known for her tenure as Chief Operating Officer and interim CEO of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), she also held the posts of President of DBM North America, and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, the global consulting division of Adecco, which became the performance leader in its industry under her leadership.

China travels extensively – throughout North America, Asia and Europe – speaking to business, professional, corporate and academic groups on topics related to the strategic value of HR in creating business success and implementing effective people management strategies.

Recently appointed to the Strategic Advisory Councils of RiseSmart ( in San Jose, CA; Pinstripe in Brookfield, WI (; and CVCertify in Herndon, VA ( she also serves as Board Chair for the Chicago-based Council for Adult and Experiential Learning ( and on the board of Jobs for America’s Graduates (, headquartered in Alexandria, VA.  A native Midwesterner, China earned a bachelor’s degree from Principia College in Elsah, IL and has completed significant post-graduate work in Organizational Development. 

Blog: www.ChinaGorman

Twitter:  @ChinaGorman

It is good to hear that China sees recruiting as an HR function. It is a debate that we have had on this blog in the past. I particularly noted China’s comments on HR being labelled as the department of no. It is a common perception among many of the people I speak to, at the same time I get to meet plenty of HR professionals who want nothing more than to change this, enabling rather than prohibiting. Please add your views in advance of #truLondon. The event takes place on the 22′nd – 23′rd October. There are 11 tickets left. You can get one HERE


The #TruLondon6 Schedule. 

#Trulondon 6: The Schedule

We are now only a week away from #truLondon6. Every time we host #truLondon, I always worry about how we are going to keep evolving and making the event better. This time around is no different. I’m massively grateful to the 55 track leaders who have stepped up and want to host a track. One of the aims of #tru is to give a platform for new faces. I understand that many conferences need to sell big price tickets, and as a result they need big names to draw in the punters. This makes it hard for people with a great story to tell to get a platform, and plenty of repetition from event to event. I always want to find space for new names and new faces, and anyone who wants to lead a track is encouraged to do so. That means lots of conversations, and something for everyone. New for this event is the agency stream, sourcers lab and Kelly hang out. We have had feedback in the past that the conversation has been largely around the corporate market, great content but less for the agency recruiters. To counter this all of the tracks in track area 3 on day one will be run by agency recruiters, hosted by Cloud Nines Steve Ward.

We have also been able to assemble a brilliant team of sourcers who will be running the sourcing lab for both days. 12 dedicated sourcing tracks, sourcing competitions, spot prizes and plenty of geekery. This is one of the best collections of sourcers I’ve seen anywhere, making the sourcing lab an event in itself. I could comfortably spend the 2 days in the lab without moving out.

If you want to know how to find the most difficult candidates, these tracks will have the solutions. The Kelly Hangout is another new addition, from sponsors Kelly. The hangout will stream 2 days of tracks live via Google+ and Air. This makes the #tru track experience accessible to  anyone, anywhere. I will be publishing the log on details next week, or you can pick it up in the stream. JobsiteTV returns again on Monday 22′nd October. Recruiter Editor Dee Dee Doke will be running a series of panel conversations on the key topics of the day, with participants and track leaders. These always prove popular, and are worth tuning in for. There are too many great tracks to highlight any in particular, though I’m really excited about seeing Joel Spolsky, the founder of Stack Overflow talk communities. Joel has grown a fantastic community globally and I’m really looking forward to hearing the story. We will also be joined by one of the Godfathers of recruiting Gerry Crispin, talking about the findings from bot the US and UK candidate Experience Awards.

You can view and download the full schedule here:

Thanks must go to our sponsors and partners, JobsiteKellyStack Overflow and MySocialTalent.Com. Our partners make the events possible.

If you are thinking of coming, there are 10 tickets left. I hope you can join us.




The perfect #SocialRecruiting tool for agency owners

You remember this from the film Men In Black, a neutralizer to wipe the brain. After a few conversations this week, I think it is the only device, tool or application that would convince agency owners to take the risk and let their staff get social.

A few weeks ago I read a blog post that advised getting new starters to sign a contract to say who their contacts were on joining, and to hand over any connections when they left. The lawyers have been filling their boots (and wallets) over this fear. Devising contracts, handbooks and handcuffs to tie down new recruiters. I think it is just rubbish!

How motivating and welcoming is it to start your new job being told how you are going to have to behave when you leave, and that your new employers are already planning your exit and don’t really trust you.  It just doesn’t work. You set the scene of distrust, don’t be surprised if your recruiters do the dirty, particularly when you hired them for their contacts.

The simple message is:


Data is public, it is in the public domain, and the only people who can claim ownership on LinkedIn connections or data is LinkedIn. Here is a revolutionary idea, how about you trust your recruiters, and you build relationships with the contacts in the business. If owners invest time in to the relationships in the business, then who your clients and candidates are connected with on LinkedIn is not important. The revenue is in the relationship not the connection.

We don’t yet have a neutralizer, so you can’t erase what your leavers might know. Exercise some trust and reap the benefit of social recruiting, rather than being paralyzed by fear.