From Me

Bullies and trolls

My daughter has been bullied at school. It has had quite quite a traumatic time for her, and has had a big impact on her confidence. When you are a Dad, you want to do all you can (and more) to protect your little girl. You also have to understand that sometimes you have to be hands off and try and pass on the love, support and tools in life to deal with it. In any circle, a bully is an inevitability, and as you get older you learn to build up an immunity to such behaviour and shut it out, doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes hurt, but you learn to roll with the punches. It made me think more and want to share my thoughts on bullying in life.
In my life and my career, I’ve had to handle my fair share of bullies I’ve been thinking hard about the ones I have met and worked with and for, and closer to home now, the ones I meet online. Probably the most common are the intellectual bullies. You know the ones, they think they are wiser and better than anyone else, and love to wade in with the barbed comment, then run off to snigger with their mates. I consider them to be no better than the playground bullies, but then I console myself with the fact that you have to be noticed to be bullied in this way, there is a reverse flattery in standing out enough to intimidate someone enough to make them want to bully you. There are trolls of course, who take pleasure in trying to cause trouble, but the best way to handle them is just to ignore them, they feed off attention, starve them of it. We all get bullied some time. It is how we handle it that defines us.
In every walk of life there are people who feel significantly inferior to feel the need to bully others, and this I think is the best tactic. To remember that you already have the upper hand, that is why you got the attention, and you can use it to your advantage. How many times do you hear great comedians learnt to be funny to repel the tough guys at school. Make people laugh and disarm them, smother them with love!
The best advice I ever had was that revenge was a life lived happy. I hope I can pass this on. To my daughter, and that anyone being bullied at work or in life can take some comfort from it. The reality of life is that 99% of people are good, and will do what they can to do a good turn for another human being. Lets remember the 99%, and not let the 1% lead to a life lived in fear of others. Life’s fun, lets just laugh at the bullies and enjoy it! Lead a happy life, and where you see bullying in work or life, call it out. The good guys (and girls) should stick together.

A little respect for 9/11 please

It might be that i turned 47 last week and I’ve turned in to a grumpy old man with a little less tolerance for things. I’m not normally one to post personal rants. This blog is really about technology, HR and recruiting, and many of the great people I meet on-line and on my travels, but sometimes some things just need to be said.
Social media is a great thing.Possibly the best way we have ever had of connecting and seeing the world through others eyes. I don;t always agree with the views that others post, but on the most part I see how they have formed their view, even if I think they are wrong. Other times I might find things a bit silly, occasionally even offensive enough to hit the unfollow button and get people out of my stream. I am rarely offended enough by something to get properly angry. I find most people respectful in their dialogue. Like I am in person, I don’t like everyone or agree with everyone. Sometimes we just don’t get on, but social media has also provided a great opportunity to see how others think and behave. I’m rarely disappointed when I meet people who I have connected with on-line, and I fiercely defend the social channels against any type of censorship. As far as I’m concerned, people have the right to be an idiot and to prove it on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress or anywhere else.

Today though I saw a few things that I need to speak up about. I know a few people who made the comments or produced the content. They are   not bad people, but I can’t help but think they  have substituted sensibility for social, and are behaving in a way they never would do in person because they are on-line.

A  day on from the anniversary of 9/11 I had a bit of spare time and was scrolling back in my stream and looking at the posts relating to the day. There was some very moving posts. Some from people I know quite well who lost friends on that day, others who were recounting what they saw and how they felt, and others expressing their own memories of what happened. It’s not something they talk about every day, but it is a moment in time that has defined many people’s lives as a before and after.Living in the UK it was less personal, but I remember clearly how I felt for mankind. I was personally effected more by 7/7, when someone I had trained was killed by a bomber on an underground train along with many others. I understand how that feels, and I have nothing but sympathy for anyone in the same situation.

I was shocked though to find a few posts making points about US foreign policy, and what is seen as other outrages happening now and in the past, and these were not posts from people I would consider to be extreme in normal circumstances. This time they offended me. Not because I agree or disagree, everyone is entitled to a view and a voice. You can think and say what you like about America provided it is not racist or prejudiced, 364 days a year, but on this one day it is a day for sensibility and silence. I write plenty of content people don’t like, but if I ever wrote anything that I thought had hurt someone emotionally I would be mortified. Content should never be personal.

At the same time, I found posts promoting the sale of “party packs”, T-shirts and other merchandise to celebrate the impending death of former PrimeMinister of the UK Margaret Thatcher. She is old and frail now, and in ill-health. I understand why people have strong views about her and her politics, but party packs available to order and break open when she dies, wit invites, balloons and party poppers?, This is being applauded and shared after they were openly on sale at the TUC Conference. They should be ashamed, and so should the people who share or like the posts relating to them. Whatever your view, celebrating a death with a party and a T-shirt is just wrong. When it happens, and it will soon, a dignified silence for one day rather than posting celebration messages should be the response. By all means attack the politics after the day, but don’t attack the person. Think of their relatives and friends, whoever they may be.

I connect these two topics because I love social media and the freedoms we enjoy. We should use them wisely, and with sensibility, and consider content that might be hurtful at the wrong time to be totally unacceptable. We are fortunate to have the right to say and post what we like, we should use it wisely!


The Technology Miracle

I was lucky enough to spend 3 days at the Paralympics in London a few weeks ago. it was an inspiring and humbling experience that I will remember forever, not least because the stadium is about 10 minutes away from where I went to School, and I had an office opposite the station in the dark old days. I wanted to write about what I took away from being there, but not in a gushy or clichéd way. I’m not one for what recruiting and HR can learn from the Paralympics type blogger. There are many blogs like that you can read on the topic.

The big thing for me, apart from the fantastic sporting spectacle was the fantastic ways in which technology was used in virtually every event to solve very real physical challenges, from prosthetic legs through to the one-armed Canadian archer who had a custom-made device on the top of his shoulder that enabled him to stretch the bow-string, aim and fire with his chin.

What I took away from this is the many ways technology and imagination can make things better. It is about moving the mind-set from believing opportunity to change and improve is limited by barriers, or because there are barriers, and considering how can we fix the problem? Forget what is the normal way of doing things, look at the problems and figure out the solutions enabled by technology.With attitude and technology we can fix anything by looking at the task and what needs to happen, and bridging the gap between the problem and the solution with clever technology.

I think this has important implications for work when considering the issues of disability and employability. My experience as a recruiter is that the reality of employing anyone who doesn’t fit the normal employee mode has been around quotas and legality. Employers have looked at reasons why people can’t do a job, and consider what could be done with technology to solve any work place difficulties. The interesting conversation coming from the athletes was how the difference with this Paralympics was that they were compared as athletes rather than those guys in wheelchairs having a day out. The supporters were able to see beyond their disability and see them as supreme athletes. Wouldn’t it be a real legacy if we could compare potential employees in the same way, as candidates for a job to be judged equally? The miracle of technology and innovation means that with a little imagination we can solve any physical barriers that might be in the way. If it works in sport, why not the rest of life, particularly work?



Use your social skills for good with the Child Bereavement Charity. (Job)

I’m not in the habit of posting jobs on the blog, but i thought this one was worth sharing. There is tremendous potential for worthwhile causes who use social to spread their message. If it is interesting to you please apply directly. Hat tip to Alex Strang for spreading the word. Please share the link if you think the right person to help this organisation spread the word the please share the link with your posse.

Communications & Marketing Officer – 2 year Fixed Term Contract
The Child Bereavement Charity works to ensure that all UK families should have the support they need to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a baby or child dies. We have grown significantly in recent years and have ambitious plans to make our aim a reality.

Of course we can’t do this alone so excellent communications with the growing number of people who share our aims and values is vital. We need someone who can equip and support all teams in effectively using digital communications, including the website, email lists and social media in the forefront of all areas of the charity’s work. In addition they will act as design lead and branding guardian for on-line and printed publications, in accordance with established brand guidelines.

It is anticipated that the scope and remit of this job will evolve with the charity as we introduce new technologies and improve practices.

The ideal candidate would have 1-2 years professional experience including a significant use of design software for on-line and print.
Salary: £18,000-£25,000 (Depending on skills and experience)

You can apply HERE


Sod Recruiting, It's The Olympics

Never mind G4S, security shortages, we can rely on the army, brand wars, commercialisation. The trains will run, the people will come from around the world and enjoy our great city. Just a stones throw from Norton Folgate, there will be victories and disappointments and surprise defeats and astonishing golds. .Mostly I’m looking forward to 3 days at the Paralympics and watching the real super humans.. tomorrow it happens . We’ve been waiting, watching, worrying about the cost and if Britain can really pull it off.
Nothing matters now. It’s here. It’s in London. 20 minutes from where I went to school in what used to be a less than pleasant part of town. Lets forget about recruiting for a bit. It’s the Olympics. and I’m loving it!

Sod Recruiting, It’s The Olympics

Never mind G4S, security shortages, we can rely on the army, brand wars, commercialisation. The trains will run, the people will come from around the world and enjoy our great city. Just a stones throw from Norton Folgate, there will be victories and disappointments and surprise defeats and astonishing golds. .Mostly I’m looking forward to 3 days at the Paralympics and watching the real super humans.. tomorrow it happens . We’ve been waiting, watching, worrying about the cost and if Britain can really pull it off.
Nothing matters now. It’s here. It’s in London. 20 minutes from where I went to school in what used to be a less than pleasant part of town. Lets forget about recruiting for a bit. It’s the Olympics. and I’m loving it!

To @IOR. Don't shoot the messenger.

Today has been an interesting day in twitter to say the least, with a few lessons that might be worth taking note of. You can draw your own conclusions.
I got a few messages this morning asking for my opinion on a Facebook page that was raising a few eyebrows. The page was set up on July 2′nd by David Montague, who I believed was responsible for the Regional Directors of the Institute Of Recruiters. I was very aware of Montague because he had repeatedly sent me messages on LinkedIn about the IOR on what seemed to be a daily basis. The page is named “The Recruitment & Employers Confederation.” This was something of a surprise because the R.E,C. are the leading member organisation for recruiters in the UK. The page had been set up by Montague and contained mostly links to posts on the I.O.R. blog, as does his own blog under the name Montague Consulting.You can see the page for yourself at Recruitment & Employment Confederation on Facebook.

When you see a page named in this way, you would probably think that this was the fan page for “The Recruitment & Employers Confederation.” It isn’t!  I  believed this to be a page from the IOR because one of Montague’s two Facebook accounts reads:

  • “I am the Head of Regional Directors for the Institute Of Recruiters (#IOR).IOR is the professional body for HR, Agency & In-House recruiters. The IOR represents professionals working in the recruitment and retention process that fall into the areas of agency recruitment, corporate (in-house) recruitment and HR. As a professional body, IOR Membership levels are select, based on assessed and qualified standards.The IOR is working towards being an industry leader in services and information, leveraging our performance driven culture to deliver value to members. The IOR and its talented teams will work hard to:• Provide services which rivals cannot match.
    • Provide University backed CPD and Education that is internationally recognised
    • Lower the cost of professional body membership.
    • Ensure IOR membership is considered ‘essential’ by recruitment and HR professionals.
    • Support our members via constant service development and innovation.
    • Connect members both nationally and”
    Whilst the dates on the account show this post was held between May 2011 and May 2012. Being written in present tense, the indication is that this was a current post, and as I had blocked Montague’s accounts to stop the spam, I had no reason to think anything different.
    When I looked at the page, I sent out the following tweet and Facebook update:

    The response from @IOR Director Dave Barber was:

    Now I can understand why the I.O.R would be concerned to see themselves linked with the page, given that Montague is no longer employed by the I.O.R. I’m happy to state that the Facebook page is nothing to do with them, and Montague is a former employee. I would have been happy to do this if they had contacted me before the legal threat. I’m sure they would have seen the point I was making had they clicked on the link before firing off the threat of legal action.

    Montague is clearly well thought of by the IOR. He was a Director for over a year, and his Linked In profile contains the following references:

    “David and I first started talking during the final launch preparations of the IOR. David eventually became a valued Regional Director and from the off, committed to raising the profile of the IOR in an adept and professional manner. David is very well-connected and true to his word. He has never promised anything that he could not deliver on. His use of social media as a marketing/sales and general business tool is admirable and he has been instrumental in ‘getting the message out’ for my organisation.
    Personally, he is very likeable and I would not hesitate in offering my highest recommendation for David.” June 21, 2011

    2nd Dave Barber.Director of Member Services, IOR | Institute of Recruiters
    managed David indirectly at IOR | Institute of Recruiters”

    “David is a very dedicated and capable individual who is a pleasure to work with. He is methodical, conscientious, dedicated and makes it his business keep up to date and involved in all areas that affect him.

    “I am very pleased to be working with David at the IOR where he is a valued member of the team.” August 3, 2011

    1st Azmat MohammedDirector ICT & Operations, IOR | Institute of Recruiters
    managed David indirectly at IOR | Institute of Recruiters”

    I don’t know David Montague personally. I’m not impressed with the practice of setting up Facebook pages in the names of other organisations because this will be misleading for people looking for information on the real Recruitment & Employers Confederation, particularly given that they have no Facebook page.

    The I.O.R. have made great efforts to improve the way they communicate on social media, and the industry perception of them as an organisation after a rocky start. My advice to them is to think about how they manage critical comments. My reaction to this would have been to try to enter in to dialogue to understand why the page was being linked to the IOR, and put their case forward in this case. Blanket threats tend to provoke a fight rather than constructive conversation, even when you are right. This also raises the importance of social media monitoring to see where your images, logos, content and name are being mentioned. All organisations need to be able to take emotion out of an argument and make their case through conversation. It is also worth noting that LinkedIn recommendations stay around as long as you leave them up. If you change that opinion it is worth taking them down. I would also have considered making a statement on their own site to point out that they are in no way associated with this Facebook page although it contains links to their content and images. This would create distance and clarity, and be a clear reference point should anyone raise the question.

    It is clear that this page is nothing to do with the I.O.R, and that David Montague is no longer an employee, but I don’t think their fight is with the messenger.


Being A Recruiter

It’s 2 sleeps till #truParis and only 2 weeks away from #TruLondon, and this week I’m preparing to go live on a big social recruiting implementation. It’s fairly crazy times, but there’s nothing new in that in Boorman world. This morning I completed a screen test for a series of programs on recruiting with a researcher today, and as part of a Q&A session they asked me what it was like to be a recruiter, and my answer, without any spin was that it was, and is a privilege.

Heres the thing, I sometimes need reminding that I’m a recruiter, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.Everyone who works around what I call the people space, does so with one end result in mind. It doesn’t make a difference if I’m working on a social recruiting implementation project, delivering a keynote or twitter or Facebook training, the end zone is still the same, if you’re a corporate or agency recruiter its the same, there’s no difference It applies to all the people involved in technology, digital media (in recruiting), job boards, whatever it is, we do it with the same objective, and that objective is to get people hired by companies, and to get companies the people they need to make their business succesful. Whatever the angle we are coming from, that makes us recruiters in my book, and though it is easy to lose sight of it with so much negative talk surrounding recruiting, it is a rare privilege.

As a reminder to anyone who might be wondering, this is why I’ve always loved recruiting.

You are empowered with trust. A company’s success is dependent on the people they hire. It is the single biggest factor, and businesses trust recruiters to find and hire the best talent. The single biggest factor in a person’s life is the work they do. Work that provides, motivates and impacts directly or indirectly on every other part of their life. People trust recruiters to make introductions and to make decisions that affect their lives more than anything else. They trust us with their careers and their futures. I’ll say it again, they empower us with their trust, and we should be proud of that.  

Recruiters are in a unique position to have real and meaningful impact in so many ways. However you label the people you come in to contact with in your professional life, talent, candidates, applicants, whatever, always be mindful that they are people. Not just numbers in a matrix, and that each resume and application represents someones hope and trust. We should treat it accordingly.

Whatever your contribution to getting people hired by the organisations you represent either directly, as an agent or just being involved in the process somewhere, be thankful of the trust placed in you, recognise the responsibility, and be proud to be a recruiter. I consider it an honour to have worked in and around recruiting for the last 30 years, you should be to!


2011: A Shit Year

End of the year, new years eve, and the end of 2011. At our last event of the year at #truDublin, we were discussing the year ahead, and the many challenges 2012 might bring, particularly in the Eurozone.It was getting a bit downbeat as you might imagine, but then someone said something that really resonated with me.The comment was “It’s been a shit year. It’s always shit, shit is the new normal. This year we’ve learnt to wade through it and get on with it.”
And thats the truth of it. Mostly we’ve accepted things as they are, and learnt to be really entrepreneurial, and create revenue streams, finding new ways to attract talent. Theres been some fantastic products developed, and new ways of doing things that we would never had time to think of when times were good.A time of being bold and brave, because when times are shit, people are at their most resourceful.
And so to 2012, it’s going to be a shit year again, but we are used to that now. We know that if we are going to succeed then we are just going to have to accept things, and that whilst we may not be able to make the whole world better, we can make our immediate world better. Tough times open the doors to collaboration, sharing issues and working side by side to solve problems and overcome challenges, we are after all in this together.

Last thought, I’m a big believer in the power of goodwill, help people where you can, welcome people in to your networks, help people because you can, not just because you see a benefit to you in doing so. you will get a return 10 times over.

It is going to be a shit year, but having earnt my “waders” in 2011, i’m looking forward to it. There’s no surprises in what’s coming, but we are all far better equiped to deal with it.

Thanks for being around in 2011, have a great one!