No such thing as a bad culture

I’ve been talking quite a lot about culture and culture branding recently. I’m working on a book at the moment on the topic. Whenever I start the conversation I make a statement that always creates plenty of discussion: “There is no such thing as a bad culture.” This always leads to plenty of tales about bad companies, bad experiences, bad bosses and the like, all described as bad cultures. Toxic cultures. This is of course nonsense, The culture is toxic to you, but is it toxic to everyone?

My thinking is that there is no such thing as bad culture, only bad culture fit. For 12 years I worked for a company that was very much a command structure, with plenty of orders coming from above, and little room for discussion or deviation. If you know me now, then this will come as a bit of a surprise, but at the time I thrived in this culture.

There is no bad culture, only bad culture fit. It is the big recruiting challenge, and on the whole we are not very good at this. Culture fit starts with talent attraction, and reaching the people who fit. That means a concentration on honest culture branding, and sourcing to culture. Culture fit first, skills fit second. This begins with properly understanding what your culture is first, and making this visible to the world.

At the world cafe sessions at #ATCSM, I led a discussion on Glassdoor and other review sites, and their part in how you are perceived as an employer. Employer and culture review site Glassdoor are expanding rapidly across the globe, as a result of the take up of their Facebook app. To get access to the useful features on the site, users have to leave a basic review of their employer as a minimum. When you look at any review site, the people who take time to add reviews are usually those with extreme experiences, those who love or hate a brand. The real experience though is usually somewhere in the middle.What is inevitable going in to 2013 is that Glassdoor (and the like) are going to grow in terms of reviews and users. When we travel, we rarely book a hotel without first looking at TripAdvisor. When we buy anything on e-bay we place great stock on previous customers comments. Recruiting is not going to be any different. My view is that all companies should not leave reviews to chance and the extremes, but encourage all staff to complete a review on Glassdoor. The resistance to this is that the down side of the business culture is made public, but is that really a bad thing?

You can put the Glassdoor widget, and links, on all of your web and social places, to give outsiders an honest picture of your organisation. This means outsiders can decide if the pro’s outweigh the cons or not, and make the right informed choice about applying to join you. It is a good thing that plenty of people are going to choose not to apply because you don’t look right for them. That saves you accidentally hiring people who don’t fit. Give people the opportunity to choose, based on honest employee feedback, and not the marketing BS promoted by the digital mafia in organisations.





Employment Blanding And The Society Of Secrets #truNZ #ATCSM

Every mention of EVP and one of these guys gets it

I’m really looking forward to being in New Zealand for #truNZ on Monday. I’ve been on a bit of a whirlwind tour taking in Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney, on top of 30 other destinations this year. It has been wild and informative, and a great way of learning about what is really happening in recruiting globally.

I know we are all connected, but you don’t really learn anything meaningful from the comfort of your own bum stuck on a seat in your house in front of a screen. You have to get out there and live it.
At every event I’ve been to there has been a lot of talk about employer branding, and how to get the best candidates to apply. This concerns me, because the big metric that everyone seems to be applying is that more is better. The more people who apply for a job, the better the chance of accidentally hiring the right person. In most locations I’ve heard people talking about defining the E.V.P. and why recruiting is really like marketing, except that it isn’t.
This pains me, because every time someone says E.V.P. a small puppy dies somewhere. Whilst we talk about authenticity, we also talk more about what people can’t say about work and the company because that would create the wrong impression and people just wouldn’t apply. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about how recruiters need to sell a job, and sell an opportunity, but my view is that if you have to sell it then you’ve got the fit wrong.
Lots of companies talk about wanting to be social organisations. They recognise the potential but fear the consequences, and operate there intranets, internal comms channels and the like as a society of secrets. Those who operate Yammer are the worst offenders. They are creating great culture content and having day-to-day people conversations in secret.

One organisation I spoke to at #ATCSM had a whole series of content on why they were a great company to work for locked down in the intranet. Great for the employees, but what about the outside world who might just want to know too? Best not tell them, they might become interested in knowing what we are all about. Best keep our internal comms internal. Keep it all a secret.

I get the point that there are confidential conversations and information that is internal and is secret. That is probably no more than 10% of what is being posted and discussed. That means 90% of the day-to-day conversations, topics and discussions offer a great insight in to the organisation. The real culture brand content that companies worry so much will take so much time to create is already there, its just hidden. They worry about  the cost, and the disruption to the employees day. If staff are allowed on Facebook they will just talk to their mates all day. They can’t be trusted. They are too stupid to be know what is secret and what is for public consumption. Best lock everything down behind a closed wall. Stick to the intranet. It is a nonsense argument really. The content is there. learn to share it, and keep sharing constant, rather than a series of one-off events.pictures, video, audio, text, let employees connect and talk in public. let them tell people why they wouldn’t want to work for you, that way you don’t accidentally end up with the wrong employees. You do, after all, end up with the employees you deserve.

All of your culture branding efforts should be about showing the good, the bad and ugly of working in your company. That way fewer people apply. The numbers go down, but the right people apply. The people who stay and survive.

I have a simple belief that every culture is sexy. People are different and unique. You can’t sum up what is important to them in one small set of statements. One EVP, that’s just marketing BS. On this trip I met a girl in Singapore who worked long hours in a company who had a 24 hour canteen. This was great for her because she could get food on the way home. It was convenient, and gave her life and work order. She changed jobs and forgot to ask about the canteen at interview, and on joining discovered that it was closed in the evening. This greatly inconvenienced her, and led to a quick exit. Her “EVP” was a 24 hour canteen. Ever seen that listed anywhere?

On my travels, I have heard 100 stories like this. Each one unique to the person who told them. We should be thinking of messaging about culture brand as being unique. A message to an audience of one, because really we only want one person to apply, the person that fits us, and we fit them. We should be doing all we can to put the rest off, because we are wrong for them. Needs and wants are unique, so our conversations should be unique ones.

What I’m seeing right now is everyone working hard on employer blanding. Companies doing the same thing, telling the same story and merging in to one. copying best practice, shying from innovation and being unique. Time for a change I think. ditch the EVP and all that other stuff, and start thinking about reaching an audience of one.

Bring on the conversation at #truNZ!



Whats next in Social & Mobile with @KWheeler #ATCSM

Kevin Wheeler is closing a great conference in Sydney, talking about the future. Wheeler starts by talking history in order to understand the future. The first SMS message was sent exactly 20 years ago to a Vodaphone UK cellphone from a PC. The message was “Happy Christmas”.

The first website was in 1991 at CERN. 1993 was the first internet browser Mosaic. The world-wide web was launched in 1994, with Explorer launching in 1995. The cellphone in 1983 and  the first social network six degrees launched in 1997. Myspace and LinkedIn launched in 2003 and Facebook and Twitter in 2006. For most of us, this has been in our lifetime.

MIT recently dropped a box of iPads in to an African village with no instructions. The children of the village figured them out and were learning songs and lessons in only a week. This proves that technology is intuitive rather than requiring instruction. The digital generation have figured this out and are driven by on-line exploration and discovery without fear.

Words and content have no value, it is their interpretation and use that has the value. We are at the end of the beginning of control. We come from a world of control and rules, but data ownership no longer applies. content comes from the crowd. Hierarchy no longer works because no one can own and control anything. The way in which work is organised and done is changing as companies learn to communicate and collaborate through social. The new way of work is smaller, leaner and more agile.

Words are disappearing, replaced by pictures, video and images, but recruiting sites and content is still 90% words. This need to change because people want the message in a way they can relate. We are the people of the screen with very short attention spans.

Candidates and employees become the center of hiring, and the recruiters role needs to significantly change. The next generation live and communicate by games, recruiting needs to reflect this. software is dead  with the future being app based.

Manager means control and a block. blocks won’t work in the new world of work. The challenge is being able to understand data in order to change the way recruiting works. Facebook has an uncertain future, LinkedIn will plateau twitter will slowly rise, Instagram will grow and career sites will disappear. By 2015 recruiting will be about seamless conversations between prospects, candidates, employees and managers. words are going to disappear, replaced by images. the best recruiters will be analysts, choreographers, editors and coaches. Higher social influence scores will be essential to be found. I would add that interaction is critical for visibility, and those who don’t take part will become invisible.

This is an exciting world for me, and in my view we are only 12 months away.




You must read this post on influence

This post is a bit of an experiment related to on-line influence and on-line impact. My view is that when we talk about influence, we really mean impact. Influence became a bit of a trendy word to use, multiplied by the likes of Klout and PeerIndex. Suddenly everyone was arguing about influence, relevance and whether it actually meant anything in the real world, or was just an elaborate marketing ploy.
Some bloggers have tried to intelectualise the whole influence conversation through their blog posts. As recruiters though what are we really interested in, influence or something else? These are my thoughts on what the principle measures should be for recruiters:

> How many people look at our jobs
> How many people apply for our jobs
> How many people get hired

> The conversion ratio of each

There are lots of other matrix I’m going to look at around influence. what content did people look at before they decided to apply. Is one piece of content better at progressing people to the next stage of the process than another. All of this is useful, but a recruiter is not judged on fans, followers, network numbers, likes, size of talent community or engagement, they get judged by hires. All of the other stuff might be useful, could even be considered to influential to recruitment outcomes, but in isolation none of them count for anything without hires.
On line activity is designed to create a reaction and an action. A click on a link, a share, a like etc, something happens because of the content. The worst thing is inaction, when nothing happens. That tells me that I’m either being ignored, hitting the wrong audience or lacking credibility as a source. It can also mean that I haven’t banked up enough credits in the bank of reciprocity. You know the kind of thing. you share my content or help me when I need it, I’m much more willing to help you. When that relationship becomes one-sided then I’m going to stop reacting to your content. I’m going to ignore you and do nothing. Not open your links or share them. Perhaps we should be measuring how many people are ignoring us rather than how many people are reacting to get a real picture of our influence, or rather the lack of it.

I have documented the story of the Barclay’s Social Hub in the past. What is impressive about the data that comes out of this story is that whilst traffic and page views increased considerably, applications dropped significantly. On the face of it this is not great, but the end result was a massive improvement in the conversion ratio of applications to hires because people were choosing to opt out because the added content enabled informed decision-making and opting out. It is fair to say that the reduction in applications shows that the content influenced the decision not to apply. As the conversion rates increased and the hiring targets were smashed, in this case it should be considered a positive influence even though no physical action took place. This brings in to question the whole measurement of influence because the inaction was the desired outcome, and the viewers were mostly “influenced” to do nothing.
I titled this post in the way I did because I wanted to test how easy it is to write a title or a heading that gets opened. Click throughs or open rates are easy to achieve with creative headlines or tweets, but what is important is what happens once the link is open. If nothing happens, is it really influence? If everyone looks at my job but nobody applies, should I be congratulating myself on my high traffic and great Klout score, or be concerned about the fact that no one is actually going to get hired. If the  headline of this post “tricked” you in to opening it, that’s great for my Klout score, but is it really influence?
One of the things that prompted this post was a conversation with a UK blogger who sends out tweets (automated) about her own blog post saying things like “Really interesting post” or “this is really helpful, great post.” When you click on these links it takes you to their blog and their content. I challenged her on this, asking if she had really said that about her own content. The response I got was that this approach was great for click-throughs and traffic. When I landed on the link, I felt cheated. my opinion of the blogger went down considerably. I added a click to the traffic numbers but was that really worth while. Is this influence, impact or nothing? This kind of link prompts an action, clicking on a link, but not a positive outcome because nothing else happens. There is an argument however that there was an opportunity for an outcome because I looked and made a choice not to act. Is this any different to what happened with Barclay’s? An automated job feed on Twitter gets a high click-through rate, but doesn’t really influence my thinking. It does however present the opportunity to consider applying. Should driving traffic be considered as important in social recruiting as “influence”, or is all this talk effluence?

My thoughts on this is that the most important thing is outcomes, and that is going to be different according to need. If you need to hire now, then traffic and applications are going to be key, if you are taking a longer term approach and looking to build pipeline then engagement, page views and other factors are going to be more important. To me, actions and outcomes are far more important than influence, and it is this that should be the main focus.

What do you think?


What’snext in social with @KWheeler #ATCSM

Kevin Wheeler is showing how more and more work is being done on-line and through social media. Macey’s dept store in the states have seen their on-line spend grow by 120% this year, and they weren’t expecting it. As more and more people are moving on-line, so it will become the only destination for recruiting. social is becoming a normal way of life.
Wheeler cites Rypple as a great example of human resources and performance management moving on-line through collaboration. Checkster offers 360 degree sourcing for referrals and peer reviews at sourcing stage.
Hunch (just acquired by e-bay) personalises the internet, asking questions to build a personalised profile. Hunch delivers products according to the profile. The same technology could be used in recruiting.
Flipboard for i-pad personalises news and content. It would be possible to deliver employer branding content and jobs in the same way. I’ve heard Felix Wetzel of Jobsite UK talk about how close this is to reality on their job board. Kevin talked about a virtual agency that include screening and testing entirely on-line. The reduced cost of delivery enables them to be competitive.
Social data is becoming portable. 2012 will become the year for analytics, as all the major technology vendors have acquired analytics businesses over the last year. Real time analytics and measurement is becoming a key feature of recruiting.
Kevin’s predictions:

Small, targeted social communities will replace aggregated ones.
Analytics will be used to understand candidates and personalise messaging.

social media is about Authenticity, Access and Answers. More and more candidates will be expecting this over the years ahead.
I hope Kevin’s view of the future becomes reality.

Pushing the recruiting envelope with @paulJacobs4real #ATCSM (talking Porn)

Lets here it for the crazy ones!

The community DJ is doing his stuff. Paul is looking at industries outside of recruiting to see how to develop recruiting. His view is that many are still recruiting like it is 1999. it is still all LinkedIn and Job boards.
paul showed how he used an infographic as a job ad. He is working out how to integrate the infographic in to mobile and make it interactive. I love this thinking. Some may use livestreaming services brisbane for their events.
Paul showed examples of viral campaigns from other industries, particularly in Facebook. ASB created the first virtual bank on Facebook, that incorporates virtual messaging to communication. This has possibilities for a virtual recruiting office. Most recruiting i-phone apps are just sticking career sites on an app. Jacobs is looking for more.
In the porn industry, they have been using live stream, e-commerce, chat and viral marketing for quite a few years. They are well ahead of the curve when it comes to making connections. Paul showed an augmented reality app from the world of dating, where you can identify who wants to “hook up” in a bar. Why can’t the same tech be used in recruiting?
You Tube now allows you to sign in with your Facebook and put people from photo’sin to images. (He showed the Ikea ad.) This type of app could really work for employer branding and attraction.
The inspiration for his hugely succesful Deloitte NZ grads campaign came from looking at what celebrities were doing on Facebook. He noticed how they were connecting with fans through live streaming and chat. This proved to be successful, when no one else was doing it in the recruiting space.
I’m hoping we can see a few more crazy ones in the recruitment space!

Integrating Mobile In To Recruiting #ATCSM with @TheAlphaFemme

I’m sitting in Carrie Corbins session at #ATCSM. She is telling the A.T.& T mobile recruiting story. The center piece of their strategy is having an independent career site that is optimised for mobile.
Content wise they started simple, listing the basic information that job seekers might want, without over doing it. 83% of the text messages they send out to their talent network are opened within one hour. A.T.& T are one of only 8 Fortune500 companies with a mobile optimised career site.
One quote that really stands out in her presentation is “we do our company a disservice if we worry more about cool than functional.” one example of this is the “browser sniffer.” this enables your career site to identify when a visitor comes by mobile and switches the destination to a more functional one.The sticking point at the moment is integrating with A.T.S.’s to allow job seekers to apply without having a stored profile. This technology is coming, and that will open the doors to mobile technology.A.T.& T’s goal is not to increase applications, it’s about offering an additional method of engagement.
They get 38,000 views to the mobile site each month with a 1000 views a day. There has been 30,000 opt ins to the talent network per month, with over 1Mn members of the talent network signed in to receive messages and jobs by text. Messages are sent according to location and job type. A.T.&T get 1 application per every 200 texts sent, and mobile applications are overtaking traditional applications by point of origin.
Carrie is using QR codes for video and competitions around the area of technology recruiting. The destination of these QR codes need to have a call to action. Theres no point going to a reference site that needs you to go elsewhere. (I need to change mine.)
The recruiters use an i-pad app to upload candidate details at careers fairs and message/schedule the follow up in real time. Because A.T.& T hire technical people, Corbin sees it as essential that the application process reflects this. I’m hearing more and more about the success of text over app’s, and I think this needs to be considered as a key point in mobile strategy.

Video content is built for video, taking in to consideration load and play time. This is because of the volume of video views by mobile. How many people loading video content consider how it plays out on mobile? It has to be a vital consideration.

I’m glad I attended this session. Mobile is clearly key to the talent network.