The unblog dialogue

A daily post of anything relating to The Recruiting Unconference London. Random thoughts, twitter streams, chat and anything you want to post. musings, discussions and all things social recruiting.

The old lady in HR


No, this is not a Halloween inspired post, there are more than enough HR ghoul posts about tonight without me adding to them. Today’s post is about the “old lady in HR”, it needn’t be sexist though. It could equally have been called “the old man in HR.”
I’m quite old. 47 in fact. I was thinking the other day about the interactions I have had with HR depts over the years. In the beginning of my career, we never had human resources. I was reminded of this when I first starting working. In those days it wasn’t an HR dept, it was a Personnel Manager. Personnel from Fort Collins payroll services was where you went when you had a problem with either payroll, or a personal ailment that you didn’t want to discuss with the line manager. The role of the personnel lady was part administrator and part mother. When I first became a manager they were the person you went too if you didn’t want to tell your staff something personal like them smelling of BO and needing a good wash, personnel was great for that. They were also great to direct unwanted calls to, like agency recruiters because they were good at being blockers, and could be relied on not to make a decision.

This was a good many years ago, and HR departments for the most part have evolved from Personnel to HR. HR was a bit different, with wider ranging responsibility and influence over the business, and more specialist roles like learning and development, performance management and the like. This was the time I came in to the HR realm. I’d always been a recruiter setting up new desks, opening new offices and building new teams. I built a training division to train all the new recruits who joined the business throughout their career with us, I set up and ran assessment centers and managed all the recruiting activity, things like that. We did quite a lot of this because we grew from 6 branches to 167 in 12 years. Pretty rapid, very demanding. I introduced a performance management system linked to appraisals, reward and recognition to bring structure to the way we were growing. In the last few years, after some expensive learning experiences, I took on the responsibility for conducting disciplinary investigations and mopping up messes, attending more than a few industrial tribunals to represent the company. The strange thing is that I never once thought of myself as an HR person, always as a recruiter. The business also thought of me as a recruiter doing some HR stuff, and this really helped me to get things done because I was one of them. I was different to everything they thought an HR person was. They still had this picture of the old lady in HR.

HR has moved on again now to Talent Management. An even more comprehensive and strategic role. What I’m puzzled about though is when I speak to people about the role of HR in business, and I get the distinct impression that people are still thinking in terms of that old lady in HR. I still occasionally meet the odd personnel lady (or man), masquerading as HR, like the two I met recently who were selecting C++ programmers to interview on the strength of the spelling and presentation of their cover letters and CV (They still exist!). The majority of HR professionals I meet are quite the opposite though. Working as an integral part of the business with specialist functions and lots of expert knowledge. You can read about China Gorman’s presentation from the KellyOCG #TSS event HERE that explains this model in more detail.

Some of the discussions I have with others about Talent Management (the new HR), makes me think I’m still talking about the old lady in HR. That is why in house recruiters fight hard to say they are not an HR function, when clearly they are. That the DNA is different. You know the argument.

The reality is that I know very few “old ladies/men” of HR. In the age of Talent Management, or Human Capital Management, or whatever title is being used these days.  Part of this problem is that people don’t really know what the role of HR is anymore, because it is constantly evolving, and the folks from HR are quite insular in who they hang out with, preferring the company of other HR folk to more open communities. HR folks need to get out a bit more away from the usual cliquemunities in the HR space and start sharing a bit more about the work they do.The solution for me is more talk around brand HR, and less thinking by those out of HR about that old lady from the Personnel days. Things have moved on, and those in this space need to be more public about that, and stop looking for safety in numbers.

What do you think?


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.(Read here to know how ghost mv1 vaporizer allows its users to gain complete access by just using their phone).

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?





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.



The full #TruLondon line up including Joel Spolsky

We are just 2 weeks away from #trulondon6, and there’s only 30 tickets left. I’m delighted to announce that the founder of Stack Overflow Joel Spolsky is flying over specially for the event, and will be closing out Monday 22′nd with an open discussion on communities. This is Joel’s bio:

Joel Spolsky, founder and CEO of Stack Exchange, is a globally recognized expert on software development. His websiteJoel on Software is popular with programmers around the world. In 2000, he founded his first company, Fog Creek Software, which creates project management tools for software developers and most recently launched a group project management sharing tool, Trello. Prior to this, Joel worked at Microsoft, where he designed VBA as a member of the Excel team, and at Juno Online Services, where he developed an Internet client used by millions. He has written three books, including Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent (Apress, 2007) and worked as a contributing editor for Inc. magazine. Joel graduated from Yale University with a computer science degree and is also a world-renowned speaker. Before college, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a paratrooper and helped found Kibbutz Hanaton.

I’ve seen a video of one of Joel’s last talks in London and it was brilliant. Spolsky has built Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange in to the largest community of programmers in the world. You can read my review of the Stack Overflow community HERE.

The sourcing lab is an event in itself. With a team of top sourcers running tracks on techniques and tactics on finding hidden talent. Tracks in the sourcing lab will include:

: Irene Shamaeva – Inside Bullion

:Balazs Paroczay – Cracking open Facebook (Not branding, pure talent ID.)

:Gordon Lokenberg – Making Google say sorry

:Shane McCusker – Free LinkedIn

:Jonathan Campbell – Social footprints. From Google+ to LinkedIn

:Bill Boorman – Twitter talent stalking

:Andrea Mitchell – Uncovering hidden talent in any channel.

:Martin Lee – Free cool sourcing tools. The sourcers toolbox.

:Ivan Stojanovic – Building a Google custom search engine.

:Oscar Mager – Searching images

:Dimitar Stanimiroff – Sourcing inside communities with Stack Overflow

:Katharine Robinson – The UK Sourcers

:The sourcing dream team (all) – Our one sourcing tip.

13 tracks dedicated to the art of sourcing and finding talent across the internet, sponsored by interactive sourcing training channel, 6 tracks each day that will prove valuable to any recruiter.

#truLondon has always led the discussion on the candidate experience, from a graduate, candidate, recruiter and technical point of view. The unique mix of disciplines who attend make for valuable insights in to ways to fix what is a broken process. I’m delighted that this year we will be featuring a track hosted by Leigh Carpenter of the UK Candidate Experience Awards, the CandEs. Leigh will be sharing the trends coming back from the comprehensive bench-marking and perception survey of real candidates on which the awards are based. This will be the first look at the emerging trends, best practice and areas for improvement in the UK market.

The CandEs recognise those companies who set a high standard for how they engage and treat candidates. Following the success of last year’s 2011 North American Candidate Experience Awards, the inaugural U.K. programme is open to organisations that recruit in the British employment market. The programme consists of three survey rounds, designed to recognise organisations that produce outstanding candidate experiences. Although the first round is now closed, the second round, in which participating companies confidentially survey a sample of their 2012 employment candidates, is currently open. The track will focus on sharing feedback on the survey through open discussion.

Dutch based employer branding specialists Maximum has developed an engagement index for career brands in social media on Facebook. Over the last few month’s Maximum’s research and technology teams
have been collaborating and crafting an online tool, the Social
Recruitment Monitor, which lists social media activity for the world’s
biggest employers. It accurately tracks data for all
the major social networks. Maximum have been collaborating with Facebook HQ in Dublin and will publish the global list at #truLondon.
The list will be refreshed weekly, so figures are always up to date. Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are being added to the list soon.
Maximum will be launching the index at #trulondon, and sharing the top 10 career brands for engagment, following and  other factors, as well as comparisons for UK and EMEA lists.

The track will be led by  Bas Schreurs the research director for Maximum, and will provide a great insight in to how the brands are really performing.

On the topic of global brands. Paul Maxin, Global Resourcing Director at Unilever will be sharing their experience of launching a global Facebook career page powered by Buddy Media. I will be sharing more on the Unilever story over the next week. The page allows Unilever to manage a central corporate careers page that delivers content locally according to the location of the IP address of the visitor, giving a local experience on a global scale. Much of Maxins thinking is taken from the experience of the marketing team within Unilever. There are some great learning points from this story, and I’m grateful to Paul for sharing.

Long term friend of #tru Andy Hyatt, Digital Director of Bernard Hodes, will be sharing another local to global story, how Staples have taken their UK social recruiting strategy global, the lessons they have learnt, and the differences from country. Andy’s colleague Steven Lo’Presti will be running a track on Real Analytics. Looking at the numbers behind the social recruiting campaigns like Barclays Future Leaders and others. Steven will be sharing what to track, and the story behind the numbers.

For agency recruiters, Cloud Nine founder Steve Ward will be leading a stream of tracks on social recruiting and agency adoption including Wards own business and Amanda Ashworth, new to #tru, from Excelsior Recruitment Partnership, Gerald Morgan founder of Ready People  Elkie Holland, founder of Prospectus IT, Peter Cosgrove of CPL and Vince O’Donnoghue of Select People, as well as tracks from the REC on the latest research, developments and thinking from the industry. that is a day of advice and practical advice from people running desks and integrating social recruiting and social sourcing day in day out.

For in-house recruiters recruitment veteran Alastair Cartwright will be addressing the issue of training for in-house recruiters. Cartwright contends:

“Job boards and social media have distracted in-house recruiters from their core responsibility. Which is to engage with candidates, talk to them, provide them with a positive experience, promote the employer brand and manage them safely through the recruitment process. I know many of these things can be achieved online. But my argument is that you only truly engage with a candidate when you speak to them. This is fast becoming a forgotten skill.”

I think this will be a great conversation around skills and training for in-house recruiters. Given the trend for companies moving or considering a direct sourcing model, it is worth considering the skills needed by recruiters in-house. Also for corporate recruiters, Mitch Sullivan will be talking the in-house/agency relationship, and how in-house recruiters can get the most out of their suppliers. Knowing Mitch, there is bound to be a bit of controversy, and plenty of lively debate.

For something different, Henry Stewart, the CEO of Happy Computers will be running a track on democratic working. Henry will share the “Happy Experience” and the “Happy Manifesto.” Happy Computers have been recognised with the following accolades:

UK’s Best Workplaces (Financial Times, Great Place to Work Institute) for five years
World’s Most Democratic Workplaces (Wordlblu)
IT Training Company of the Year, Gold 2009, Silver 2011 (Learning & Performance Institute)
Best Customer Service in UK (Management Today/Unisys Service Excellence UK Overall Winner)

Henry will be sharing his thoughts on what makes for a democratic workplace, and why this makes sense for business, as well as great employer branding.

On the topic of employer branding, we will be joined by David J Roberts, who has responsibility for employer branding within the BBC. David will share how employer branding is evolving and changing, and what this means in the unique organisation that is the BBC.

Kevin W Grossman will be visiting #truLondon for the first time and will be talking talent communities and talent technology. Kevin is the Director of Product Marketing for Brave New Talent, and has been at the forefront of HR and Talent technology for over 25 years. Kevin will be looking at technology now, and what the emerging trends will be over the coming months.

John Sumser needs no introduction to #trulondon, or the world of recruiter. The Editor of HRExaminer and Principal Analyst of HRxAnalysts will be running a track as only Sumser can. I’m not sure what the title is going to be yet, but I know that it will be thought-provoking with plenty of alternative thinking.

Andy Headworth will be the ring leader in the ever popular “Social Recruiting Circus”. He definitely needs a red coat and a top hat. Andy will be looking at who is doing what in #Socialrecruiting from technology to methodology.

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

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-basedCouncil 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.

China will be talking HR global and HR strategic, where we are now and what is coming next from around the world. It is rare to get the opportunity to share ideas, thoughts and views with someone of China’s global experience.

Steven Ehrlich is Global VP for Client Development with TMP. The summary to his LinkedIn profile perhaps provides the best introduction:

“In addition to being known for my hero-worship of Wayne Gretzky (99GR81) and Bruce Springsteen, I’m also widely known as a “tech geek.” I’ve been an early adopter of everything electronic from the Apple Newton and CDs to Satellite Radio and the iPhone. I’ve been working in the “digital” space since the early 1990′s (wow, so last century!) Now I’m focused on figuring out how to use emerging tools and technologies to enhance both brand articulation and recruitment for a multitude of organizations including Yale University, Deloitte, Exelon, Walmart, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

I spend a lot of time out of the office working on-site with TMPers and clients alike to explore, develop, and implement strategic initiatives leveraging social media, new technology, and innovative employer brand delivery channels. I often find myself in front of a crowd – large or small – yakking away about some new thing-a-ma-jig or a socially-enabled whos-a-what-sis.”

#truLondon is the place for yakking, making Steven a great choice for track leader. Steven will be running a track on the convergence of mobile and social, and other emerging trends from around the world of social media and digital marketing, with a big emphasis on taking the global and local approach.

Jorgen Sundberg is The Undercover Recruiter, one of the leading career and recruiting blogs in the world, with by far the most unique daily visitors of any other blog of its type in Europe. In this track Jorgen will share how he continues to grow audience month on month through content, being close to the target audience and great distribution channels, employing a blend of great SEO, and social media tactics.This is content marketing at its best.

Crystal Miller will be hosting a new track entitled: “Joining the dots.” This is how Crystal describes the track:

“The largest complaint that I often hear from HR/Recruiting/Talent Attraction professionals is that they have a hard time justifying the time they spend on social…
The next is that “We have a strategy, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of impact.”  
Neither complaint is surprising, really, when you think about what typically happens – most social platforms become an avenue for sharing information rather than creating and driving a call to action. 
Basically?  Most Social Strategies…. Suck.  They do – in fact, most aren’t “strategies” at all – because people have been told to just “get out there & play with it” without really understanding how or why they’re on the specific platforms they’re on to begin with.  So, let’s fix it; in this session we’ll discuss how to create a HR/Recruitment marketing strategy for social that’s aligned with the business drivers you need to see results on.  We’ll address the psychology of popular social media platforms & messaging needed to drive action & build a  community presence within them vs simply “collecting/pipelining people.”  We’ll cover the following platforms (and others people bring up, I’m sure!):
Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn
Instagram – Pinterest – Path
Blogging – 4Square – 
Groups & Proprietary Community Platforms”

Jacco Valkenburg runs the largest recruiting group on LinkedIn, Recruitment Consultants And Staffing Professionals, with over 112,000 members, and rising between 50 and 100 members daily. Set up in 2008, with plenty of engagement between members, this group is a model of what all LinkedIn groups could and should be. This track will look at group management, and how to get the most from LinkedIn groups.

Heather Bussing is a lawyer with a difference, with a can do rather than a can’t go attitude. A practicing attorney, and a member of the advisory board for HRExaminer, Heather is well placed to understand both the law and social media. Heather’s track: “Don’t let the lawyers scare you”, will look at social media and employment law, addressing participants questions, fears and concerns.

Peter Gold will be talking the findings of his research for the 2012 edition of The Corporate Recruiters Handbook, and some real life corporate recruiting case studies. Peter has advised organisations including:

* Mothercare

* Krispy Creme
* Superdrug
* New Look
* Sodexo
* Halfords
* Boots
* Jessops
* Tesco

Peter will be sharing war stories from real life corporate recruiting and his current research, in a track that will allow participants to learn first hand what happens when organisations go social and mobile for direct sourcing.

Dave Martin is one of the UK’s leading authorities on mobile recruiting.Where there is talk on mobile, @MobileDave is usually around.  In this track Dave will look at the mobile questions. What it takes to be mobile ready and fully mobile optimized. with plenty of examples of who is doing what, (or not), around mobile, as well as what is coming next.

Felix Wetzel wrote my blog of the year last week, as a follow-up to his recent post on mobility over mobile. In the post, Wetzel uses the wealth of data available to him through his role as Strategy Director at on-line recruiting group Evenbase, to identify the emerging patterns of job seekers. In the post, Wetzel contends that the data and research is firmly pointing towards the 3 underlying principles impacting on job seeking as:

  • Relevance
  • Speed (convenience)
  • Levels of doubt/ uncertainty
You should read the post “A day in the life of a job seeker” ahead of the track. I know that this is going to be a great track packed with valuable data and research.

Aki Kakko will be hosting a track to look at what is happening in the emerging net nations and growing economies, and the technologies that are driving growth. Away from the US, Europe and Australasia there is plenty happening, and an exponential growth in  the adoption of the mobile internet. Brazil,India, Indonesia and  Mexico feature in the top 5 countries for Facebook users. There are lots of trends and innovative thinking coming from places not always on the radar that will be addressed by this track.

Ruxandra Fratescu first came to #trulondon as part of the first #truGrad team, and is now 18 months in to her recruiting career. Ruxandra is now 18months in to a recruiting career, having worked as a trainee for K2, had ashort and interesting stay at a start-up and is now a full cycle recruiter with Next Ventures. Rux will be sharing the experiences of starting out as a new recruiter, the reality of the industry against her perception and her thoughts on training new recruiters.

The #TruGrads are back again to share their experiences and the reality of applying for graduate positions in the final year of study. This is always a great track for giving a real insight in to the life of a graduate. Gen Y talking about Gen Y.

The Hack Track is new for this year. We have 4 teams of developers registered with the simple brief to build something new over the 2 days of #trulondon.  that will improve the candidate experience. They will be checking in at regular intervals to keep us up to date on their progress.

Another first for this event is the Global Kelly OCG HangOut, which will see 12 tracks broadcast from the dance floor via Google+ Air. Details of the tracks and the log in details will be released at the end of the week. This is the first time we have broadcast track discussions live, giving the opportunity to anyone anywhere to join in. Tracks will be hosted by Sally Hunter, Director, EMEA Practice Lead for Kelly OGC, Keep your eyes peeled for the schedule.

Jobsite TV is back on the first day, with a series of panel discussions and debate moderated by DeeDee Doke, editor of recruiter magazine. The panel discussions will be broadcast via LiveStream. Follow the Twitter stream for more details.

That is over 50 track leaders contributing over the 2 days, as well as all the other activities that will be going on. I really believe that this is the most diverse and best collection of track leaders we have ever assembled, and would easily rival any recruiting event anywhere in the world. There really is something for everyone, and I can’t wait to get started.

There are only 30 tickets left. £150 for 2 full days, and some great learning. I expect these to sell out quickly. If you are thinking of attending, sign up now. You wouldn’t want to miss it!


Prince Harrys Todger

Last week the Sun newspaper chose to print pictures of Prince Harry in his Las Vegas hotel suite playing naked billiards with a few girls he and a group of friends had met in a casino. I am also a huge billiards fan and hang out with my friends at all places with pool tables in Murfreesboro area. So I totally understand Prince Harry was too busy playing the game and just didn’t notice paparazzi. I’m not going to the morality of the story, it didn’t concern me, Prince Harry is single and doing what single young guys do in Vegas. What was interesting to me in this story was the reason the Sun gave for breaking the press embargo on pictures of the Princes, in the “public interest.” The front page of the paper featured one picture and the badge “Souvenir printed edition.”

The Sun newspaper gave this reason for publishing the pictures:

“The images were first published on the web three days ago. But the Palace’s lawyers, via the Press Complaints Commission, warned the UK’s newspapers against printing them, claiming they would breach Harry’s privacy and the PCC Code.

Since then the entire UK media — print, online and TV — has reported on them and told readers and viewers how to find them on, the website that first published them, and on countless other sites that followed suit.

That coverage put those pictures a mouse-click away from anyone in the 77 per cent of British households with internet access.”

Read more here:

The interesting thing for me was that this reads like an acknowledgment by the main stream media that news breaks first on the internet, and they can do little to change this other than curate what is appearing on line.It also shows that whoever you are, you can’t kill a story.If you want the news uncensored and as it happens then you need to move to the internet and put down the paper.

When bad news breaks, it is going to go viral quickly, and as a business, you need tobe getting on top of story’s as they break in order to respond in the quickest possible way. no end of social media policies will prevent negative comments from spreading, perhaps not at the pace of the Prince Harry story, but certainly with a great momentum.

As an employer that means that you need to be aware of any story’s as they break that might impact on your employer reputation. This means setting up your monitoring systems to pick up mentions of your brand anywhere on the web. There are plenty of paid for tools you can use like Radian6 (very effective though pricey) or options like Google alerts, Social Mention or Board Tracker that is built to monitor forums. (Board trackers is being rebuilt but is worth watching.)The last 3 are all free options.

The next question is how you are going to manage it to neutralise a story or present your side of a story. I have heard of companies who have placed SEO tagged posts to move a negative story down in the rankings. This is a drastic and expensive step, but can be an option when a negative story is hanging around at the top of Google page one searches. Better to have your own strategy to join the conversation as the news breaks.If you are in it. you can influence it, and no end of effort or legal threat will make a negative story to go away.

Being in the conversation means you can add some balance to the story and access to what you have to say. It is also your opportunity to enter in to discussion with some of the people in the conversation on and off-line, Entering in to dialogue is much more likely to succeed than confrontation, and being over defensive will only accelerate social media attention, and attract the rubber neckers who enjoy nothing more  than pouring gasoline on the flames of a good argument. Anticipate that from time to time things are going to happen from time to time. People might do or say things they are going to regret in the cold light of day. The key is having a plan when  bad news breaks and be ready to enter in to what may be a painful conversation requiring broad shoulders and tact. If you try to block negative comments on your social places like your Fan page then it is only going to move elsewhere. If a firm like the royal family are not able to block it, then you are not going to be able to. Listen and engage!




Are you thinking about the introverts? (TEDx Video) and other thoughts

I don’t think I could ever be described as an introvert, probably more of an extrovert or an extrovert+. I love being in crowds and public speaking to large audiences. the way that I dress can hardly be described as conservative. and reserved, and I love nothing more than being in the thick of conversation or debate, it is what #tru is all about. I think if you asked most people about my character they would describe me as an extrovert in overdrive, but looks can be deceptive.

I got thinking about this properly because I was sent a TedX video to watch by my friend Glen Cathey. The topic of the talk is “The power of introverts” by Susan Cain, and it is brilliant. One of those talks that really makes you rethink about what you are all about, and reshapes your opinion. What I got thinking about was how I work best, and if I am an extrovert at all. Thinking about how I work best, and it is outside of a team. Working on my own, formulating crazy ideas, poking around with new applications, writing or creating content. I like the night best for working when no one else is around and I can be alone with my thoughts. Once I have a plan or an idea, that is when I like to be with people to test it out. Theres been a rush to collaborative working, and I applaud this in most cases, but is this inclusive for the introverts who have a big contribution to make? Work space and culture needs to plan for places of solitude, for those who want thinking time.

When you look at employer brand content, the pictures, video etc  almost entirely features groups of people working and playing collectively.I ran a quick eye over some of the brands who produce plenty of content, and this confirms this. The brand advocates producing this are nearly always in the extrovert category, as they are the ones with something public to say. Will this attract more introverted characters to your organisation? It is worth looking at, to make sure that your branding efforts are inclusive to all the types of people you want to attract. After watching this video, it is something that I will be considering more, by including more pictures of people working alone, featuring the solitary places and giving extra encouragement to the introverts in the team that they have something to share that others would love to see and here.

A little closer to home, I got a follow-up tweet from Glen asking the following question:

“Curious about how the unconference format fits with the introverted personality.”

This is a good question. Not everyone wants to talk openly, feels comfortable sharing or feels they have value to add. We have to allow for that and make everyone welcome. I know when I lead a track, there are always some participants who want to be on the side lines observing. Sometimes they even put their chairs out of the circle, and are much more comfortable talking one to one. It is important that all the track leaders encourage this, and allow the participants to take part in any way they are comfortable. The “watchers” quite often make the smartest comments at the end of the track. People can take part in any way they want, but I need to think about how we keep everyone included without leaving them uncomfortable, by pushing them too far out of their own zone.

These are a few quotes from Cain that I hope will convince you to watch the video, and will give you more food for thought.

“I prefer listening to talking, reading to socializing … I like to think before I speak (softly).”

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

“Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.”

“Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi — all these peopled described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to.”

“[Introverts,] the world needs you and it needs the things you carry. So I wish you the best of all possible journeys and the courage to speak softly.”

This video is brilliant and gives plenty of room for thought. What do you think? Thanks Glen for sharing!



View the whole Tedx talk

Susan Cain Bio

LinkedIn To Build On Facebook?

This post is based on speculation and opinion. I have no inside information, but I have a theory as to the direction LinkedIn and Facebook might take. Over the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what the long term aims and ambitions are for the super channels that are LinkedIn and Facebook. My feeling is that there might just be a marriage of convenience coming, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen over the next twelve months. This doesn’t mean that I expect to see any formal acquisition or merging, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a LinkedIn app built on top of Facebook, and this would be big news for recruiters.

In my view, the long term aim of Facebook is to become the web. Everything I see being introduced in to the channel or talked about is aimed at getting users to spend more and more time in the channel, and to be able to do all that we want to do without leaving Facebook. The recently launched App Store promotes apps from all providers, aggregating the apps in to one store that keeps the users in channel. Facebook acquired instagram which again has the same objective, competing with the likes of Flikkr for users. at the same time they launched the Facebook Cam App which makes images perfect for timeline, further encouraging users to keep their images in the channel.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the proposed Facebook job board. From what I can see this is going to be an aggregator for external job boards. looks like Facebook are not trying to compete with the job boards for users, but under the guise of enhancing the user experience are looking to give users yet another aspect of their life they can conduct on Facebook and stay within the channel. My other feeling about the job board is that they will be introducing a feature like Work4Labs that keeps the application process in channel. I think we are going to be seeing more developments like this in other areas that serve to encourage us to spend more and more of our on-line time in channel, and don’t forget that there has been a lot of talk around a Facebook phone, which I’m guessing will automatically divert and prioritize access to the channel.

My feeling is that this is all about PPC and other ad revenue. The more time we spend in the  channel and the more we do there, the more Facebook learns about us, and the more they know about us, the better the ads they can serve up, and the more we will click on. My feeling is that despite all the talk of Facebook v LinkedIn, the real play is  Facebook v Google, and if there is no need to leave the channel for anything because it is all served up in Facebook, then there is no need to search elsewhere.

This is where LinkedIn come in. My view is that the long term aspirations of LinkedIn are to become the people reference channel. In the past, any time you’ve met someone new or wanted to check someone out, you went to Google, now the first place you look for anyone in the professional space is on LinkedIn. The way the data is structured in the channel also makes it the best social sign in, form auto-completer or application. I think Facebook recognise that they are unlikely to ever be able to compete with LinkedIn in this area. This provides a platform for the channel to grow well beyond recruiting, generating their revenue through third-party access to the API and data.

What I think LinkedIn recognize is that they will never be able to compete with Facebook for numbers of users or non-professional users. If the two channels were to combine resources through a LinkedIn app on Facebook, bot channels could achieve their objectives without competing. If the professional data on a user came from LinkedIn, rather than Facebook info section, and everyone on Facebook was encouraged from registration to create a LinkedIn profile via the app, imagine the possibilities. LinkedIn gets the data, a wider range of users across all work types rather than just the professional sector, and the app gives users another reason to spend even more time in Facebook. both channels achieve what I believe are their objectives, and it is Google who would suffer.

This might seem a little crazy, but think about what a LinkedIn app integrated in to Facebook would mean for everyone, not least the users who both channels claim to consider before everything else. When it happens, you heard it here first.


When The S**T hits the fan. A ConSol Partners Story

I was on my way back from #truMadrid when I got a message on Facebook from a fairly senior head of recruiting at a business you would all know. The message contained a link to a story published in The Kernel about recruitment business ConSol Partners under the heading

“Another Tech Recruiter Lying And Fabricating”under the category “Parasite.” The reason I was being asked about my thoughts on the story was that my friend spends quite a lot of money with ConSol, and was questioning if that was actually a good idea given the story.

The nature of the story was that a recruiter at ConSol had a candidate who had been interviewed by a start up and was waiting on an answer because they had another offer with a deadline, and another first interview with another of ConSols clients the following week. The allegation is that the recruiter knew the start up had decided not to pursue the candidate but lied about not having feedback because they wanted the candidate to let the deadline pass and go for the other interview. The post goes on to claim that ConSol went as far as to fabricate e-mails and storys as to how they had been unable to get hold of their client, and as a result, the candidate let the offer pass, missing out on the opportunity.

When the truth came out, the client was understandably unhappy to have been put in a bad light, and the candidate was understandably incensed, My friend had seen the story and wanted to know If I thought it was true and if they should be cutting ties with ConSol Partners, and they wont have been the only client to see it. The post featured a picture of Marc Cohen, Director of ConSol. Not great PR for anyone.

I’m not writing this post to pour more scorn on ConSol. On the face of it, the business has demonstrated the very worst of what the recruitment industry occasionally serves up, that does great damage to the greater majority of excellent recruiters. I say on the face of it, because I only know one side of the story. There could be more to it. ConSol may have a different take on things, I just couldn’t find it.

The Kernel post linked to the ConSol website and I;m sure they got plenty of traffic. I was looking for some kind of response, or even an acknowledgment, but nothing. I used Addictomatic to look at the wider social arena, and all I came up with The Kernel post and plenty of job tweets and posts. Google front page listed the website and The Kernel post again at 5. If I was searching for the company then there it is, not a great advert.

It could be that this is the action of a rogue recruiter, and the business is investigating or have already taken some action. I would have expected to find something somewhere. A comment on the post to at least acknowledge it could have taken some of the sting out of the tail. A strong network in the social channels would have brought some positive comments about the business from fans, but that takes time.

If I were in ConSol’s shoes, I’d be thinking quickly about how to manage the situation. My advice to any recruitment business is to monitor the social content with alerts so that they can respond to any negative comment before the story gets viral. For many people, silence speaks volumes. You don’t have to hold your hands up to everything you might be accused of, but you should acknowledge comments and be clear that you are not going in to hiding. You also need to have invested time in building your own networks. They will add their support when you need it if you have earnt it.It’s another great example of why recruitment businesses should be social and earning good will.

As a warning to other recruiters, The Kernel are on a bit of a mission. The post concludes with this comment:

“Recruitment companies, with the exception of headhunters at the higher levels, are often grubby, ugly places, staffed by low-grade, barely skilled operators. Few firms act ethically and responsibly.

For some reason, the people who run these parasitic organisations continue to imagine they can get one over on companies and candidates who are savvier and better-connected than they are.

The Kernel is currently compiling a feature-length report on the tricks and scams these unscrupulous companies try to pull on tech start-ups. In the meantime, this is one firm you’ll want to avoid. “

Bloggers have the power to publish, and sensational story’s go viral quickly. You can only influence the conversation if you are in it. There might be legal measures you can take down the line, but once a story is out, it’s out, and hangs around. Judging by the Kernel post, there is plenty more to come out. If ever recruitment firms needed a push to get social in order to understand how to communicate in the social channels, this should be it. Disgruntled candidates, clients and employees can wash their dirty laundry in public. It might be justified, it might not, but the one certainty is that these “exposes” will become more common. Time to wake up and smell the coffee! Be aware, be ready and transparent.



Women @ Work (Infographic)

Most days I get sent an infographic that the producer is certain will be of interest to my readers. Usually they are of no interest to anyone. A thinly disguised link back or self promotion, but I got this one yesterday from On-Line MBA that is a bit different and got me thinking, with regards social recruiting and talent attraction. The number that really jumped out for me is that only 12.5% of UK companies have female board directors. Now I don’t want to go all political on this, but I think it is quite shocking.

At the same time, I work with a few businesses that buck this trend and have a number of senior roles held by women. If you are like one of these businesses, this has to create a great talent attraction opportunity, to make sure that your senior women are sharing their story in your social places. Based on this data, female brand advocates with success story’s to share have got to be a great asset to your talent attraction strategy.


Women at Work Infographic Via MBA@UNC
Via MBA@UNC MBA Online & Women 2.0

A recruiting manifesto #truEurope

this document is not my original thought, though I concur with much of the thinking. This is a manifesto from Bjorn veestra, the founder of Employer brand Insights, prior to his track at #truEurope, in a bit of a Jerry McGuire moment. Enjoy and comment,

MANIFESTO – #trueurope
‘The future of labour: The Talent Stock Exchange’

Brussel, 19 april 2012

join the conversation at #trueurope

Author manifesto and track leader: @bjornveenstra
Founder: and Employer Brand Insights

The labour market’s landscape is changing at a fast pace.
We observe a strong urge among university and college graduates for personal freedom and the ability to engage in entrepreneurial activity on an independent basis. Ask ten higher educated starters or professionals how they perceive their future role in the labour market and expect over half of them to reply that they are aiming to work independently at some point in time in their professional life.

Personally, I am convinced that within the next five years, this landscape will depict a fundamental shift from ‘work agreements’ to ‘talent contracts’. Within ten years there will be a new world in which every individual is marketing his or her own talents and skills either independently or through an organized format.

Talent contract©
Talent contracts will be known for its flexible attitude towards duration, be it extremely short-term (hours, days, weeks) or longer term (months, years). It will be directly connected to the talent and knowledge that needs to be delivered on, scarcity of talent and skill determine the tariff and the talent-contractor carries the risk. Nothing I’ve mentioned so far is new in any way, apart from the fact that it’ll become standard practice.

Talent Stock Exchange©
I firmly belief in action-reaction. Following the above train of thoughts I foresee a movement in which talent groups unite in order to market themselves to employers in an organized manner. Is this the birth of the Talent Stock Exchange? The reversed business model of the major current temporary work agencies, where talent unifies and markets itself. Employers can in turn perhaps also take part in this Talent Stock Exchange.

No matter how you put it, this is an interesting question because the role of the employer brand (as an integral part of brand-management) will only increase in importance. The labour market will be ruled more obviously by the principles of demand and supply due to the pressures of an ageing labour market and an increased degree of flexibility.

Who shall access my talent?
The above mentioned matter is merely functional, and oriented on recruiting talent. An at least equally important fundament of making decisions in terms of employment is determined by the employee: who would you give access to your skills and talent. Research amongst over 5.500 Dutch higher educated (Employer Brand Monitor) has shown that the decision of accepting a task or employer is more and more based on the match between the personal brand and the employer brand. In other words: whom do I want to give access to my talent? Values, norms, culture and archetypes are key in determining the match between the personal DNA and the Employer Brand DNA.

Engage and join the conversation at #trueurope
‘Based on all findings, remarks, opinions, suggestions I will formulate an updated Manifesto on ‘The future of labour: The Talent Stock Exchange’.