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.

How to build a "real" community. Must watch video

After last weeks post about Communities and Stack Overflow, there has been a lot of discussion around the topic. Dimitar Stanimiroff, the Regional Sales Director for Europe and Australasia sent me this video of Joel Spolsky, one of the Stack Overflow founders talking about how the community has evolved. I think there are some great take aways from this around the topic of real community growth. Titled the cultural anthropology Of Stack Exchange, you should give it a viewing, and take plenty of notes.
Bill

Joel Spolsky – Cultural Anthropology of Stack Exchange from HN London on Vimeo.

Signing off from #SXSW: My learning with @fishdogs

#SXSW and #TNLive has been one of the best networking experiences I’ve ever had. It’s been a hard party with new connections every minute. I’ve met some great people. From an hour with Chris Brogan on Friday, drinking with the crazy Rackspace team, too many memories to list them all without being boring.
The big thing for me has been being able to look at what is going on in other sectors outside of the recruiting bubble I usually inhabit. Theres lots more to digest and share over time. Mostly I want to thank @fishdogs for making it happen. We are going to be collaborating on a few things, so watch this space.

Bill

Test Practice Not Best Practice #SocialRecruiting #In

How do you get social recruiting right? I have read a lot of posts on the topic, heard a lot of presentations and had a whole host of conversations about what is best practice. The problem is that what works for one company, or one target audience will not necessarily work for the next one. There are plenty of people peddling the magic formula and showing the data that just proves that you have to do it “this way” to make it work.

One of the hardest things for people is getting started. There is so much talk of branding and the need to get it right, of the need for engagement and perfect posting, that it’s scary to get started. What I have learned is that there is no sure-fire route to success. You need to be prepared for lots of trial and error. Testing, being clear on what you want as an outcome, and being prepared to learn lots of lessons from heroic failures.

One myth I’m really not a fan of is that you should try a channel at a time. The most common recommended starting point is LinkedIn. the advice being get to know this arena well, get it working for you before you move on to the next channel,maybe Twitter or Facebook. My advice is to jump in to social. Go look at every channel. Make some connections. look at what other people are doing and ask for help. Once you start with your own accounts, you get a feel for how the channels work, and you can start introducing your recruiting accounts.

What works for me is getting the business on board with what you are doing. Your colleagues in the business are the best place to start when it comes to research, or for agency recruiters, your candidate base. Don’t try to second guess what channels or content will work best. Talk to everyone about the channels they use, groups, pages and places they frequent. They will guide you on content they are willing to share and contribute to, and will form your brand advocates. It really is about collaboration and experimentation. Being social with your own team, before bringing your outside audience.They will know what would work for them, and what will work for them will work for others.

When you have a list of ideas start trying them. Explore every possibility and understand that some of what you do is not going to work or give you the return you were expecting. It is going to be a question of test practice.” Do, review, then do again. Some will work, some won’t, but find out for yourself and work out the route that works best for you.

Bill

#TRUSANFRAN

 

Is the “lost generation” a myth?

I took part in the graduate recruiting track and the GenY track at #truManchester. My takeaway from the latter was the feedback from those that fit the stereotype by age, (and not the old people talking about them), was that they would rather not be boxed in to an age bracket definition which dictates what they are capable of and how they think. It is much the same as speculating that all Baby Boomers don’t understand technology and want a job for life. People are people and should be approached as such. The labeling is not helping either to integrate, and none of those present lived at home! You can read more about this at the great blog started by The Twintettes which outlines their view on this.

My biggest eye-opener came in the Graduate Recruitment track. The story I heard was far from what I expected. Martin Edmondson from Graduates Yorkshire, commented that he knew of a number of larger companies that ran Grad Training Programmes that just couldn’t get enough applications. As a result, the programmes are still open when historically they would be long closed by now. This astounded me and was backed up by a few others who operate in the graduate recruitment market or hire graduates.

All the headlines tell me we have a lost generation and that the situation for this years graduates is dire.

Some possible causes for this gap between reality and perception among those graduating are:

  • Negative headlines and reports have led to a belief among students that there is no point. More positive headlines please that reflect reality!
  • This year has seen the highest number of graduates taking up continuing education for another 1 – 2 years. This is because of the belief that there are no graduate opportunities and needing an alternative safe-haven for the next few years. Continuing education can be irrelevant and does not necessarily  lead to greater employability, whilst increasing student debt.
  • Theres a greater number of graduates taking extended “gap years” for travelling, believing there is no point sitting around unemployed as there are no opportunities.
  • Poor links between graduate employers and graduates.

Since #truManchester, I have been looking closer in to this by speaking with interns and graduates I’m connected with and others responsible for graduate recruitment. Theres seems to be a huge disconnect between university career departments and graduate employers. There is not a lot of confidence in either their capability to give real commercial advice or to co-ordinate entry in to the workplace. The top 10 – 20% of graduates that have been courted for some years or go to the right universities are fine, but what of the 80% that sit outside this bracket?
The feedback I get is that University Careers Officers are well-intentioned but lacking in real life experience or reality. The upshot of this disconnect is where we are at now, where there are so many students out of work through apathy or access to opportunity, while graduate programmes are struggling to attract a sufficient volume of candidates to achieve the quality needed.
I thought social media channels might provide the  gateway that enables graduating students to connect with reality and find opportunity. After all, there’s lots of great advice out there in the twitter stream about how to find a job, and it is given freely. This is, after all the connected generation we are talking about!

Just how many of those graduating at this time are active in social media? The lowest percentage of social media users in the USA (couldn’t find the UK figures) according to Google Ad planner is 18 – 24 with 9%. (kind of flies in the face of the Gen Y enabled generation theory.) I would imagine that the UK is not going to be dissimilar.

Sourced from www.pingdom.com

There are some very good graduate communities and websites on-line. Graduates Yorkshire and Brave New talent are two that I’m very familiar with. That is great for those that belong to those communities or sign up, but what of those that are either unaware of the communities or just not using social-media in this way? When we conducted user research for the Oyster Partnership, the majority of younger users were in Facebook only (not twitter) and this was largely for social use and staying connected with a small group of friends. The feedback from #truManchester was that there is still major concerns over privacy which over ride a willingness to post personal detail to Facebook. Perhaps this is where the university career services need to be devoting their efforts, in converting a less than social generation in to using social media in the job search, and picking up on real opportunities rather than reading sensational headlines.

I ran a quick search for graduate opportunities in the UK through the TwitterJobSearch engine that reads 120mn messages a day from 30 social sites and aggregates all the job posts in one place (It’s very neat!). This simple search shows that there are over 3,273 graduate trainee jobs posted to twitter today.
Job aggregator 1job.co.uk are showing 6,282 jobs currently advertised on job boards and career sites.
Jobsite alone have 326 jobs posted for graduate trainee specifically and 1480 jobs requiring either new graduates or graduate level entry candidates.
It is a fair assumption that there may be many duplicates or agency postings amongst these figures, but that’s still a lot of opportunities at a time when we are reading the “lost generation” headlines each day.
I’d like to see the careers advisors from the universities spending time on developing student skills in social-media and on-line in order to find jobs opportunities, track graduate employers and get the most of the application process. The students also share some responsibility in this.

Whilst drafting this blog, I noticed a post from Wendy Jacob (who works in a university), airing her disappointment that come the end of term, the students just disappeared. While she works with the students (and no doubt puts plenty of personal time in), she doesn’t always get the follow-up or interest she deserves. You should read and comment on Wendy’s post. Could be that all the “No Jobs” and “Lost Generation” talk has caused many to give up before they have even started. I think more universities should employ the likes of Wendy, who have real recruiter experience. Her role is all about employability, everything we are talking about here.
In my own experience in sourcing interns for clients from Universities, it has been a real mixed bag of experiences. I have had to really battle to get through the layers of career service and get to talk to someone who can do anything. We get there in the end, but if I was hiring for me, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have given up before I even started. Despite much talk, the universities seem disinterested to organise themselves to talk to potential employers who could provide the gateway in to work.

I’d be interested in your views and experience in this area, and the best way to get the right graduates in to the right jobs. It seems that outside of some excellent on-line communities like Graduates Yorkshire and Brave New Talent, both parties are being poorly served.

Be ambassadors for great recruiting,

Bill

Links Listed In This Post

The Twintettes Blog

Graduates Yorkshire

www.Pingdom.com

Wendy The Recruiter

Brave New Talent

Jobsite

A1jobs

Oyster Partnership Research


Method in the madness – #likeminds & #trulondon

Last week I went to a breakfast meeting to see a presenter that I’ve been hoping to meet for some time. The breakfast was organized by Word Of Mouth Uk, (W.O.M.UK.), an organisation you should check out if you are London based. The speakers were Scott Gould and Drew Ellis, the brains behind conference movement #likeminds.

If anyone has not heard of it, #likeminds is a bi-annual social media conference that takes place in Exeter.

#likeminds is in theory a conference on social-media, but it’s not really a conference as much as it is a movement, with many similarities to #tru.

Scott and Drew launched #likeminds about the same time as #trulondon 1, so we tend to keep an eye on what they are doing. Not because we are envious, I admire what they do, but because there is much to learn as we all evolve beyond a simple event.

In my view, the event is secondary to the connections made and conversations had before, during and after the event. The number of people who have made lasting connections, started by a common theme, in both cases, the event, is the biggest factor. Contributors get a sense of belonging and give freely through blogs, links, tweets, video’s and a whole host of other ways. Those that give and help, thrive in this environment. Scott describes the most important aspect of #likeminds as the hashtag. He calls it a “platform” on a #, and I think this sums up what we have built at #tru also.

I’d like to say that we planned things out like this and had great vision. The reality is, on our part anyway, it happened by accident. It has been more a case of perspiration over inspiration, and what has, and is still happening truly astounds me. Both events occurred over a month ago, and yet the hashtag and twitter stream as well as the Facebook fan pages are alive and well.

I’m glad I saw Scott, because his story helped to make some sense of our story. Some of the similarities between the two events are:

: The date we started out and our events took place.

: Both started with zero investment, zero marketing budget or overall plan, but a real desire to do something and the foundations of a personal network to build on.

: Timing and opportunity were also crucial. We both launched at a time when people were looking at all these new channels as more than a bit of fun, recognized the potential but wanted some guidance, and I think, a sense of belonging with other people who didn’t think them idiots.

: There’s two people directly behind the event. One who is very visible and one who is less vocal, but equally industrious and a calming influence. In the case of #likeminds, this was Drew Ellis, who I warmed to instantly, and in the case of #tru, Geoff Webb. http:// twitter.com/radicalrecruit)

: Both have strong international links. From the start, #likeminds were tied with international personalities to blend global best practice. In the case of #likeminds, this was in the form of Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) and Trey Pennington, http://www.treypennington.com.) I’m convinced this merging of cultures, best practice and thinking opens up a new way of thinking, where the only barriers to communicating anywhere in the world are time-zones.

:At the second event, #likeminds attracted 350 people from 3 continents with 30 world class speakers. While #trulondon attracted 180 attendees over the 3 days, they were from 9 countries with 35 track leaders that I would put up against anyone in the expert stakes.

: The #likeminds hashtag is showing no sign of slowing down any day soon. The #trulondon hashtag is showing no sign of slowing down soon. (albeit we are diluting it a bit with #truUSA, #truAus, #truNZ, #truManchester, #truDublin, #truIndia etc etc. The presentation has made me think about whether we need to switch this to one single identity as in #likeminds, or if we are better maintaining the #tru brand but highlighting the local focus.

:Both events had a very low ticket cost in comparison to traditional conferences.

:Both events have more “ambassadors” spreading the word with passion than any other events I can think of.

Despite the conference/unconference format making the actual events polls apart in structure, there are many more similarities between the way we have both evolved. I’m not sure you could imitate it intentionally; it grows out of passion and industry.

My big take away’s from Scott’s presentation that really hit home were:

: The # is THE platform.

: Word of mouth (or as I term it: Word of mouse), is people to people not company to company. People buy the people that are involved, and the energy wave, not the company. They trust recommendations and not pitches.

:You can’t govern or control what people say on the hashtag, about you or for you. You have to let it have a life of it’s own, and a few negative comments can be as strong a message for you as all the positive ones.

: The presentation (and it was a powerpoint presentation), was titled Spreadability v Reach.
Spreadability is social, multiway, adapts, needs guidance (not control), is dynamic and is a personal relationship.
Reach is broadcast, one way, repetitious, governed, static and is all public relations. This point really hit home for me as to the way of marketing and growing in the social media age. You have to let it happen, nurture it, give it a reason for being (the events) but not force it or make it purely referenced to a company or it’s products.

The biggest point for me though was when Scott made the statement: “People don’t necessarily remember what they heard, but they remember how they felt!”

This sums up exactly how I feel about #trulondon, despite everything, something special happened. There was plenty of learning, but the biggest thing everyone remarked on was the deep connections that were made and friendships that are evolving. The same will happen at #truUSA, at Madison on April 18th/19th.

In days past, you had to cram all your learning in to the sessions and the learning finished when you left. You took plenty of business cards but how many of those people did you continue to connect with daily? How many of those people were known to you professionally and personally before the event?

The event gives you the reason to start those connections early before the day, so it’s like meeting old friends when you do get together, and you can continue connecting every day long after the event, whatever the geography. That wasn’t possible not so long ago, and it gives the # a new life of it’s own.

For anyone interested, you can view Scott’s slides here.

Thanks to Scott, Drew, #likeminds (all of you) and WOM for helping me to understand a little more about why #trulondon has grown the way it has. I’d wish you luck for the future if I thought you needed it! I’ve found another inspiration.

Keep being ambassadors, viva #likeminds.

Bill