Happy New Year from a cold and cheery Berlin. Tonight, I’m going to be joining about a million other people at the Brandenburg Gate to say “Bye” to 2012, and “Hello” to 2013. The reality of a new year is that not much changes between the last quarter of the departing year, and the first quarter of the new one. I started writing my own review from this years notes, and when my musings reached 5000 words with no sign of stopping, i thought it was worth breaking these up in to a 10 part series. This is part one, and my lessons from 2012;

The best review post of 2012 was from Neil Morrison, who reviewed the year by saying that for most people, this year was about making sure they had a job to go to in 2013, and that he did a lot of necessary stuff he didn’t really like doing in 2012. If you haven’t read it yet you should check it out. I think this post is a very realistic take on what 2012 has been for many people at work in the UK and elsewhere. We can split the working population to be a shrinking group with a traditional job in full time employment, those out of work or between jobs, and a growing collection of people who work on projects based on their skills, moving from company to company. This changes the role of recruiter from talent acquisition to project management, and I’m expecting this trend to be a dominant factor in 2013.

I was surprised to make a top 10 recruiting posts list this year, for a post I didn’t remember writing called “Return on irrelevance.” This was my take on why non-targeted chat and conversation without a real business objective were important, and how the more we tried to strategies  the more we lost sight of this. I still think we spend too much time theorizing and not enough doing. I haven’t really changed this view. The way to understand social is to be social, and the best relationships come from accidental engagement and begin with conversations, connections and introductions. Make more time this year for chance conversations without objective, and see where they lead. The more conversations I have, the more opportunities I get. There is no mystery to that!

One of my most memorable conversations this year was with Paul Maxin, the Global Resourcing Director At Unilever, about their approach to Facebook and pages. They are using BuddyMedia (now owned by SalesForce.Com), to run one corporate page, where the visitors country of origin (according to their IP address) determines what local content they see, whilst keeping in a corporate environment. This also means that local brand ambassadors can create their own content and have their own local conversations. Maxin was quick to point out that the original thinking (and experience) in this area came from their corporate marketing team. What was working for the individual brands, could equally work for the local employer brands. There was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Whilst the local focus  is quite neat, the thing that really stood out for me was that they hadn’t added a means of applying for opportunities with the company, or join a talent network. This is purely about creating an on-line place where people can connect with the company. Applications come later, and in other places. Paul opened my eyes to the benefit of looking at applicants and candidates as two different sets of people, and having technology and process to manage both. Maxin is my old head boy at school, and he is the “head man” in global recruiting in my opinion. When the purpose of your social places is to connect and converse, and the job bit is secondary, then the real social recruiting happens. There is a difference between talk to and apply for.

The stand out point from all the travel in 2012 has been the confirmation of just how local recruiting is, and how much recruiters have been seduced by the digital media mafia to focus on talent attraction rather than whole recruitment process. It seems the concentration has been on reaching and getting more and more people to apply, whilst employing technology and process to persuade more and more people not to. It’s all a bit nuts.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of talking about candidate experience, and extremely underwhelmed by the number of people actually doing anything about it. Plenty of outrage, very little action. Let’s hope that the changes in 2013 are more than surface, a few forums and communities, starting with a wider adoption of Nick Prices excellent Mystery Applicant product, which is a business I hope will really take off, taking real feedback and data from source. Only by real feedback and data collection, will the applicant process ever really change.

Tomorrow I’m going to be looking closer at some of the innovation I have seen this year in recruiting technology. Hope you enjoyed part one.

Bill