The Sunday Shout Out: @KevinGreenREC #CIETT2012

Turning a trade body or institution social must be one of the biggest challenges. When you are a member organisation, and the REC, (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) there’s a lot of barriers to change. For a start, as the oldest and biggest body representing the recruiting industry in the UK, everyone who works in the sector has an opinion and a stake, member or not.
What I have witnessed from similar trade bodies like the larger CIPD, and SHRM in America in the early days trying to be social is that your really on a hiding to nothing. You make the right moves, but people are quick to be critical, either that they are not going fast enough, not getting it right or not really understanding what social is. Your also giving people the opportunity, often for the first time, direct access to the powers that be, the opportunity to communicate and be critical directly and very publicly through twitter and other public channels. It’s a brave man who opens themselves up to this, and in terms of the R.E.C, is Kevin Green.
If a trade body wants to be genuinely social and reach not only their members, but the wider industry at large, then they really need to understand how the social channels work. The etiquette and what to expect. The REC are very much getting this bit right, by Kevin operating a fairly busy twitter account, and encouraging others within the organisation. This is very different to other member organisations who have tried to harness the broadcast potential of the channels, without really being willing to get involved in the conversation. You only get to know social if you are social.
The recruitment agency sector have been slow to adopt social recruiting, and there has been lots of reasons for this. The move towards social by the REC can only help to get more of their members moving to explore the social recruiting options.
Every time we run #trulondon, I invite the trade bodies (and there’s new ones popping up all the time), to attend and take part. To talk to the people who are forming a new section of the market, and are probably doing it out of the established framework. The people who don’t necessarily from the old guard, and are not connected with the trade bodies, but would really benefit from dialogue. The people who are less bothered about what the lawyers are saying, and more about things like candidate attraction, sourcing and what is going to help them solve their real problems. People who are more interested in knowing what technology can help them in their business, and less in who has paid to be endorsed. I know from feedback that Kevin’s track proved an excellent addition to the agenda, and the fact that the REC were willing to engage in this way was a real plus for them. Engagement is about everyone being involved and available, and not just the marketing or social-media department.

It’s the social difference between word of mouse marketing and traditional advertising. In most cases I’ve not had a reply to my invite, so I was delighted that Green not only wanted to attend, but also to run a track, in order to talk and listen to recruiters about their views and opinions on what the future would be for recruiters. It was a very interesting track, and placed Green and the REC in the conversation, rather than trying to peer in from the outside.
In another move to do something different, Green is bringing the #tru format and philosophy in to the heart of the CIETT conference 23′rd – 25′th May. The CIETT world conference is the global conference for trade bodies and the leading recruitment businesses from around the globe, who get together in one place each year. Follow the hashtag #CIETT2012 to keep up to date with the event.
In the middle of what has always been a very traditional conference format, I’m going to be hosting 2 hours of unconference to look at how social is impacting on recruitment. That means 6 tracks that are going to offer something very different, bringing unconference to the establishment.
The tracks and track leaders are:

> Steve Ward – Cloud Nine/Elkie holland – Prospectus IT – The Social Agency
> Jorgen Sundberg – LinkHumans – Recruiter Branding
> Andy Headworth – Sirona Consulting – The Social Channels
> Siobahn Coccorran – Oracle – The Impact Of Direct Sourcing
> Jonathan Campbell – SocialTalent/ Bill Boorman – @BillBoorman – Social Sourcing
> TBC – Mobile Impact

I will also be acting as ring-leader/sheep hearder/community DJ for the tracks, as well as working with Kevin to look at how we can run a blog squad, twitter reporters, livestream etc to socialise the event for an audience outside the room. A trade body should after all be a voice for everybody and not just the members.

With the level of participants I think the content will be ground breaking, and a welcome diversion to the delegates who will have been spending a day and a half essentially listening. The event is at The Landmark Hotel in Central London. If you’re in the UK, CIETT is a genuinely global event, that aside from #tru (of course), will be by far the biggest recruiting event in Europe this year. Take the opportunity to get along, and bravo to Kevin for wanting to do something different

Green joined the REC in June 2008, and has led the organisation through a significant restructure, against a background of significant period of legal change including the Agency Workers Regulation, and the recession, which has had a devastating effect on many of the members, who have been increasingly turning to the REC for support and help. They are the leading lobbying organisation on recruitment matters, trainers, regulators and ombudsmen, among plenty of other things, as well as being the recognized spokesmen for the industry. Green has to have his eye on a lot of different conversations, with an opinion on most things, so he will be right at home on Twitter.

Green is no stranger to change. Before becoming CEO at the REC, he was HR Director for Royal Mail letters, who he joined in 2003, and was part of the management team who transformed the business from losing £1mn a day to £600Mn profit.

Prior to this he was MD of strategic HR Consultancy QTab, who had an enviable client base, which brought him to the attention of Royal Mail. I remember when Green was appointed by the REC, it raised a few eyebrows given that he came from the corporate HR sector rather than the Agency sector. From when I first met him after his appointment, it was clear that he was not afraid of change, and wanted to listen to what the industry really wanted. Members were questioning what they were getting from their trade body, and change was needed. The formation of APSCO also had the impact of splitting the membership base. Change was needed, and Green brought that change.

Hats off to Kevin for getting social. Please go and follow him and share your views and thoughts wherever you are, and follow the other members of the REC who have started tweeting. They need all of our encouragment on the journey to being the social voice of the industry, and I hope you can join us at CIETT.







Barclays Future Leaders Hub: Reducing Volume/Increasing Quality #trulondon #truStockholm

When your working with a high-profile brand with a public presence, the problem is not getting people to apply for jobs. At #trulondon, Peter Gold spoke of Tesco’s receiving over 1Mn applications via their career site. I’ve seen the same thing with my clients Oracle and the BBC, it’s a different type of problem. The last thing these businesses need is more response, and the higher the volume of applications, the harder it is to provide a good candidate experience. Commonly the solution is to put recruiters behind a wall and cut off accessibility. It’s not that recruiters don’t want to give individual people the attention and response they deserve, there simply isn’t time in the over worked recruiters day. What these recruiters want is not more candidates, but better candidates who are a closer match to their requirements who they can invest time talking to, and developing relationships with. Quality over quantity.

Speaking with recruiting teams, it’s easy to bemoan the lack of engagement and relationship skills. It’s recruiters who are on the front line, and it’s recruiters who have the pressure to make their hires in a double-quick time, and to even more demanding standards from hiring managers. To find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This is against a background of a call for greater candidate care. It’s the recruiter who carry the can for empty seats, and from their point of view, there’s simply never enough hours in the day for the demands of social recruiting. They have to concentrate on hires now, rather than possible hires future.

It’s been blogged and spoken about quite often that the modern recruiter needs to think like a marketer. Most of the emphasis ha perhaps the has been on talent attraction rather than recruiting, and the better you get at talent attraction the more people reply. I have made myself a bit unpopular in the past with the digital media mafia, by stating that actually, perhaps the real need is to get the marketeers to think more like recruiters. I think Bernard Hodes have done this with the Barclays Future leaders programme.

I’ve spoken in the past with Quezzia Soares, who manages the recruitment marketing for Accenture. One of the things they have had to do is to be brutally honest about what their minimum requirements are for Graduates right at the start. This means telling anyone on their welcome pages that if you don’t have 400 UCAS points, there is no point in applying. The companies I work with have high standards of entry. Without getting in to the morals of this argument, it is the standard. I’m a believer in transparency. If you have no chance of getting a job, I don’t want to do anything to encourage you to apply. It’s just not fair to create false hope. I also think that there is nothing wrong with the message “It’s hard to get a job here. You have to be special to get in. We have high standards. Are you special?”

Recent job seeker research indicates that there’s a bit of apathy out there. People are just fed up of investing time in job applications where they are not going to get beyond the ATS. The jobs they apply for, and despite unemployment applications per person are right down, are those they feel they have a good chance of getting. This means rethinking how many jobs are presented. We’ve spent so much time presenting jobs to sell them, working on marketing copy and branding, that the requirement is buried so deep in the copy it gets lost. Better to put your requirements front and center, it might even raise the flow of qualified applications, while turning off those who don’t fit the bill.

About 6 months ago I was speaking with Andy Hyatt, Digital Director of  Bernard Hodes, and he told me about the work he was doing with colleague Steven Lo’Presti for the graduate recruitment at bankers Barclay’s. The plan was to launch a social media hub within their future leaders career site, to encourage on-going engagement between the graduate intake of recent years, and potential new hires. I’ve been watching the site closely since it’s launch since the middle of last year. It’s less of a career site, and more of a communication center, there’s also an i-phone app with many of the features converted for mobile, and a full mobile site with browser sniffer on entry. All the features a modern career site needs,

When you land on the site from the outside world, you land at The Hub.The Barclay’s Graduate program is titled: “Future Leaders” and the by=line that sums up the site is: “See More.Be More.”  It’s in an easy on the eye corporate blue, and very easy to navigate. The tabs at the top link to the The Graduate Programme, Undergraduate Programme, School Leaver Programme, School Leaver Programme, Events and Applying To Barclay’s. The applying tab explains the process in detail, with a very clear, “What we look for” section. The text at the start reads:

“There are no two ways about it. We have immensely high expectations of everyone who makes it onto the FLDP; and we’re looking for people who can bear the weight of those expectations. In other words, you’ll need ambition and vision every bit as big as ours from the outset.

It perhaps goes without saying that your academic record will be of the highest order (a 2:1 or above and 300 UCAS points to be precise), but becoming one of our future leaders is as much about your employability. Besides a strong academic record and work experience, you’ll need to demonstrate your involvement in extra-curricular activities.”

For me, this is clear and transparent, and like Accenture is saying if you don’t have the UCAS points there is no need to apply. It’s hard to get a job here.but if you get one, it’s going to be great. Think about what it is saying if you get an interview, it’s saying, OK, we think you could be special.

The individual career type tabs each feature a programme overview, and individual department tabs. Behind the departments are a few features I really like is being able to see individual profiles of the recent intake, and the opportunity to shadow them by connecting on LinkedIn or following on twitter, and there’s similar people to connect with behind every department, as well as blogs to follow. Simple but effective peer-to-peer employer branding.

Behind the events tab there’s a “play more” feature, with a game and leader-board, with an opportunity to win tickets to the ATP Grand Slam, based on taking part in an actual game when Barclay’s visit target universities as part of the milkround. I really like activities that link the virtual world with in person recruiting. I’m a big believer that social is physical as well as virtual. Another great initiative like this is labeled “Smile More.” This features some really cool pictures from the campus events, shot in black and white. When the pictures are taken, the students get invited to check back in to the site to view them, reconnecting them with the hiring hub.

Video’s feature throughout the site, with the opportunity to see the people, get video tips on the assessment process and a whole lot more. Visitors can also sign up for the video channel, that features 44 different videos, in multiple places on the site including the landing page and hub, as well as the Facebook page and Twitter feed. Theres also news feeds and twitter feeds in the hub and on the landing page.

Theres a register or log in section which takes you to a micro-site for the division you choose, and an apply button that links you in to the ATS, which is where the social bit ends. Theres no means of exporting detail from LinkedIn or other social profiles. Given that the hub is very social, I’d expect the application to be a bit easier. All details need to be entered, and it takes 16 clicks to get to apply. The jobs behind the application are easy to navigate, without lengthy job specs to wade through. All the information needed to choose which job is available in lots of different formats  according to the visitors choice, so there’s no need for the long-winded spec.

The easy registration means that Barclay’s can capture data and operate a talent network, connecting over relevent content. Whilst I’d prefer this to be via a social registration, it’s a small detail. Everything else on the site is brilliant.

So what has this meant in terms of numbers?


> Overall, the campaign has performed well, attracting just over 355,000 visitors to the site since it was re-launched in September 2011– an increase of 51% over last year, who viewed over 1.6 million pages – an increase of 75%. And this without an increase in advertising budget.

>Social media has played a big part in this success: at the time of writing the Twitter channel has picked up just over 470 followers – 477 to be precise, and the Facebook page has been liked by 510 users. The YouTube channel used to serve video content has generated over 17,100 views while the QR codes were scanned over 680 times. And these numbers are rising steadily week on week.

>The visitors that interact with The Hub,  have also proven to be more engaged with the site – proving that social content can attract and retain visitors over paid advertising: they are more likely to stay after viewing the first page (15.9% bounce rate vs. 25.8%), stay for longer on the site (9’ vs. 3’51”), and view, on average, twice as many pages per visit (10.05 vs. 5.01).

> Visits to the site have increased by 51%, applications have decreased by 40% over last year. At first this might seem worrying if not for the fact that the conversion rate between assessment and hire increased by 55%. Ultimate proof that targeted and relevant content can deliver better quality candidates who are also more likely to get hired.

I started this post talking about the need for big brand corporates have to reduce the volume of applications, whilst increasing the quality. What Barclay’s and Bernard Hodes have proved through this case study is that while it might take a bit of work, and you need to enlist the brand advocates from the business to do the engagement and connect with interested people from the target audience. The games run on university visits, leader board and photo features gives the students met on campus a reason to connect with the site and register. The social networking clearly drove traffic to the site without any additional spend.

Clarity of the standard required cuts out the many applications that this type of campaign would normally attract don’t apply. Sharing values, job content, peer-to-peer communication and clear job detail leads to people deselecting themselves from the process, avoiding wasted recruiter time.

Hyatt also commented that the feedback from the recruiters was that those who got through selection were totally committed and much more informed about the opportunity, which explains the significant improvement in the conversion rate. Supporting the candidate with information on resources on the selection and assessment process, greatly improves the candidate experience, and removes the risk of good candidates missing out by making errors in the process. For recruiters, only seeing committed and qualified candidates has to make their job better. It’s not just the candidate experience we need to be thinking about, it’s also the recruiter experience that gets improved by an engaged process.

I want to thank Andy Hyatt and Steven LoPresti of Bernard Hodes for bringing this story to #trulondon, and giving me access to the data for this post. It’s a great story. It is my intention to include at least 6 case studys at each #tru event moving forward, and will be inviting Andy Hyatt out to #truStockholm next month.



Barclays Hub

Barclays FB

Barclays Twitter

Barclays YouTube

Meet Our People Blog

Andy Hyatt


Not another Pinterest for recruiting blog. Evolution of a social channel #trulondon

Last week was #truLondon, so I didn’t get much of a chance to blog. More on that later in the week. There was plenty of talk about Pinterest, and how this new channel could impact on recruiting. Max Hayward ran a track on it, has blogged and even pinned it.He is so excited about the new channel and the prospect for recruiting that he is having babies about it.

I don’t need to share more how this channel “could” or “should” be used for recruiting. There’s been enough blogs, webinars and tweets about it.The reality is that any channel, on-line or off-line social place can be used for recruiting. Where you can connect with people, you can hire people, and that’s pretty much down to LinkedIn.We can find people anywhere, and reference LinkedIn to see what they are, and what their background is. The more channels, the more places to connect and come up on the radar. Pinterest is no different to this, with some simple but effective means of sharing infographics as job descriptions. It’s also a good way to attract new people from a niche sector by setting up a dedicated board in a niche.
It’s also looks a great channel for sourcing specialist people, in much the same way as YouTube is most effective for sourcing specialists. The benefits of using YouTube to broadcast job or employer brand content is obvious, but the wise sourcers spend more time searching for people. If you want to reach Java programmers, then the place to look is at specialist videos on Java that contains geek content. The people who like the video or post comments, or follow the channel are probably Java specialists. It’s another community of type.Apply the same principle to Pinterest. Followers of specialist content are probably going to work in the discipline. The people following, posting, liking or sharing are probably in that discipline. You want to find a Java programmer, go find Java images, video and infographics.

I can see the possibility, especially when you start pinning video, I’m just waiting to see what the users determine is going to be the reality.
This is what is at the heart of how social channels evolve. The designers build and imagine a channel operating in one way, then the users take a look, break the rules and decide to do something completely different with it. Anywhere there are collections of people, there are recruiters looking for low hanging fruit. Looking for another way to connect. Another channel or social place that might give access to new people.Google+ did a great job of launching, crowd-sourcing the users and changing the features and functions quickly to fit what the users wanted to use, rather than what they wanted to provide.

Another great example of this is photo-sharing channel Flikkr.Flikkr was built as a game playing platform, much like Farmville  or Cityville. The founders wanted to create a community element around the games, so that the players could share content, pictures, news etc. What resulted was that the picture sharing element exploded, while the other features including the games never really took off. The users determined that they wanted Flikkr to be a photo sharing channel, and that’s what it became.

Each month at Facebook headquarters, the staff at Facebook meet for a hack day. They meet to design and build new user functions, and the only rule is that they can’t work on anything that is related to their job. Employees are encouraged to think like users, and to work in small teams to build new changes. It is this creative thinking that has brought about most of the changes users have experienced and come to love, after first hating them. Richard Cho, head of resourcing at Facebook told me just before #truAus, that the success of features are measured by how much people complain about the change. Facebook changes all the time, as does Google+, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, and the changes are driven by user behavior. Use something a lot, and it gets built on, don’t use it at all and it disappears. Users vote for features with clicks, and although there is loud protest every time there is a change to what is a free channel, the user base for all the channels keep growing at a rate that far outstrips expectation.

Much of the reason that Facebook has grown at the exponential rate it has is that Zukerburg and gang have constantly introduced new user features, dropping those that don’t get adopted, making changes by use and developing those that prove popular. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn describes it best as as being in a state of permanent beta. The product or channel is never quite the finished article. Users always want more. It’s similar to my adage for social recruiting: “Theres no failure, only research.” If it doesn’t work, drop it, and drop it quickly. If it kind of works, get in to the data and crowd source for feedback, then make changes. If it works, build on it, and build on it quickly. I think that you also need to understand that the social attention span is as long as a goldfish memory, and that users fall in and out of love with products, thought leaders, channels and influencers just as quickly.

Today’s darling can just as easily be a turnip tomorrow, unless there is constant change in response to user behaviour and habits. You want an example of this? Search for blogs on Empire Avenue for recruiting, then see when the blogger was last active in that channel, that is if you can remember your password. At this stage, Pinterest could go the same way. The time to judge it is a year from now. If we are all still frantically pinning, then it could prove valuable.  That said, it is worth exploring every new channel from the start, because there is a big advantage to being an early adopter and figuring things out.

For recruiters and job seekers, the novelty factor of doing something different and grabbing attention this way can not be under estimated, but different doesn’t last very long, you need to offer more. For recruiters in Pinterest now, this could be by being first to invite people to a network, then building from there. If you were the first recruiter to post a job on LinkedIn, or make an approach by in-mail, I bet you were seen as a real innovator, do it now and you are almost a spammer. I’m very excited by the prospect for Paul Jacobs jobgram, that turns job specs in to infographics, and the potential they offer when combined with Pinterest and a pin me badge. I’m underwhelmed by the infographic C.V.’s I’ve seen so far. With the odd exception, I think that they have limited value beyond novelty, and that will be short-lived. Put an infographic in to an ATS and see what happens!

This week Mashable published another interesting infographic. It has been pinned lots of times, probably because the post compares the difference between Pinterest users in the U.S. and the U.K, and the topics they are Pinning about. This is an interesting look at how this channel, or platform, or whatever you want to call it, is evolving. I think this is quite interesting given that the women in the US were the early adopters, swapping recipes, shoe pictures etc, which formed the majority of the early day sharing.

It is well documented that Pinterest has grown to 13million users in just 10 months, and the average user is very different in what they are posting. In the US there are 12Mn users, where as there are only 200,000 in the UK, so it is still real niche, compared with the 30Million+ Facebook users. It is also very early days, but the difference in user demographic and use is remarkably different.

In the US, 83% of Pinterest users are female, compared with 44% in the UK. In the US 3% of users are in the higher income bracket, where as in the UK it is 29% of users that earn over $150,000 a year. 42% of UK users are in the 25 – 34 age band, whilst the biggest grouping in the US are 35 – 44 with only 28%.

The most interesting variation comes from topics pinned, which is vastly different.

In the US it’s:

> Crafts

> Gifts and Special Event Items

>Hobbies and Crafts

>Interior Designers

>Fashion Designers and Collections

>Blogging Resources and Services

In the UK, it’s a bit different:

> Venture Capital

>Blogging Resources and Services

>Crafts Design

>Web Stats and Analytics

>SEO and Marketing

>Content Management

>Public Relations

I think this illustrates how social channels evolve. They start as truely social places and then evolve in to something quite different as the people gather and get involved. Pinterest in the US grew quickly because it was leisure and hobby based social. I’m guessing that this was the way Facebook grew in the beginning. Students could connect with other students, share and just hang out. Everyone wanted to be a part, but it took a few years before businesses and brands got involved, and it took even longer for recruiters to decide that they might be able to hire via the channel, though the difference is that this is still largely geared around fan pages, opt in applications and job postings in to the stream, by way of social shares (although this is least effective), and referral networks.

What I’m seeing from the Mashable infographic is that as the channel has reached these shores it has become largely a business channel, around venture capital and the digital arena. What I’m considering is that without the non-business social audience, as built in the states, will this become just an advertising channel? Recruiters here have been quick to jump in and try to work out how this might work for them. There’s 200,000 users in the U.K, and I’m guessing that recruiters will form one of the largest groups of users. What my concern is at the moment is that if Pinterest does not build a base of social (leisure) users, before it becomes a predominantly  business channel, will growth in the UK mirror growth in the U.S? Users dictate the evolution and functionality of any social channel, and if all the users in the UK are business users looking to sell or recruit, what will the channel become? Pinterest needs people before it becomes an effective sourcing channel, and recruiters will have a part to play in not dominating the content.


Sunday Shout Out: Etienne Besson: A Real Life HR Community DJ.@HappyEmployee

This weeks shout out is for my friend Etienne Besson, better known as @HappyEmployee on twitter. Etienne is a practicing HR generalist in Geneva, in Switzerland. He works at the coal face day-to-day, dealing with all the usual challenges that come his way. I wanted to give Etienne a shout out this week because of all he is doing to build an HR community in Switzerland.
I blogged about a year ago about Steve Browne from Ohio, about a year ago. Many of the readers of this blog will know Steve as @SBrowneHR on twitter.

What I admire about Steve is that he has worked tirelessly to connect HR professionals. Steve started on this mission long before social-media, with TheHRNet e-mail newsletter, really growing subscriptions by word of mouth. This developed in to a web site and exploded through social media. Steve is a day-to-day HR Director. He is not a consultant and has nothing to sell. He does it to genuinely connect people and further the profession, and he works tirelessly in this mission. Steve is one of my favourite HR people, and i was lucky enough to spend quality time with Steve at Ohio SHRM last year. If you are not already connected with him, you should be.
I talk about Steve in this shout-out because I see a lot of parallels between the work Steve does in the Ohio and wider HR community at large, and what Etienne is doing in Geneva. Every community needs a DJ. not a manager to regulate and moderate, (leave that to the control guys), but a DJ who makes things happen. A community DJ creates the places, reasons and opportunities to connect, and letting the people who choose to come decide what they want to happen. Etienne, like Steve is the DJ of their respective communities, and I see a lot of simmilarities between the two.

By day, Besson is an HR generalist for Unilabs, who provide laboratory and radiology services to the public and private sector, where he has been based for the last 11 months. Prior to this he worked in a variety of HR roles since 1998. Having worked in a variety of roles, his expertise ranges from practical areas like payroll through to recruiting.

Working out of Geneva, Besson has great experience of managing international projects and working cross boarders. He is fluent in 4 languages, and understands the complexity of international HR, recognising that each culture and country requires a different approach. I admire the ability some people have to switch approaches to HR problems, in particular payroll and accounting, where an understanding of local legislation is critical.

I first came in to contact with Etienne through his interest in social media and HR blogs. He attended the second #trulondon on a bit of a pilgrimage to meet with Laurie Ruettimann, being a fan of her PunkRock HR blog. I’m glad he did, because we have since got to know each other well. Besson works in a country and a profession that has been slow to buy in to the benefits of social-media. For him, learning has been self financed, and driven by a thirst to learn more. This means regular trips out of Switzerland to #Tru and other events.

Rather than get frustrated or bemoan the lack of adoption in his native country, Etienne has gone about building a local community through his blog named simply “Etienne Bessons Blog”, where he offers opinion and curation on the topics of human resources and social media in Switzerland. It is an interesting read, and one you should put in your reader. He also hosts a monthly tweet-up: HRTug, that started with just a few people but is growing in numbers through Bessons enthusiasm and energy. I’m seeing the number of Swiss HR practitioners and recruiters getting active on Twitter and Facebook increasing rapididly, and much of this is down to #HRTug.

On May 4′th we are taking the #tru carnival to #truGeneva, to help build the community further. I know that with Besson’s enthusiasm and passion for connecting the local community, it is going to be a great success. I hope you can play a part by joining us in Geneva.

I’m looking forward to seeing Etienne again at #trulondon, and to his track, which is appropriately named “I.R.L.”, a topic Besson is passionate about, using social as the introducer to get people meeting face to face. Much like Brown, Besson is not a consultant or vendor, so there is no commercial benefit to putting in the hours and building a community. Their motives are more altruistic, with a genuine desire to connect and serve others. Isn’t that a great quality for anyone to have in HR? We should salute them.



Etienne Besson


Etienne Besson’s Blog

Steve Browne

The #TruLondon 5 Schedule: THE Recruiting Unconference

I’m really excited about the next instalment of #trulondon, which has the makings of our best event ever. With 50 tracks and 48 track leaders, it is packed end to end with great conversations, from the first track at 10.00 Wednesday morning, through to 5.00 on Thursday evening.

Aside from the conversation, there’s plenty more going on during the event. Wednesday 22′nd will feature a full day of livestream broadcasting from the Jobsite studio, with interviews and panel chats from many of the track leaders and participants on a whole range of issues. You can follow the livestream, twitter feed, flikkr feed and all other content on the #TruLondon5 site, brought to you by our friends and sponsors Jobsite. You can find the dedicated site HERE.

New for this year we have added a livelab, which is going to be a bit of a hack to build a model career site over the 2 days of the event. The idea is that each hour will feature a different planning topic which anyone can contribute to, followed by builds by trying to turn the concepts in to a working model. At the end of the event we hope to have a model site which will be available for anyone to see and benchmark their own site against. It’s quite a challenge, but I’m sure we can do it.

The areas we think we are going to be looking at, which is open to change according to your opinions, are outlined below:

TruLondon – Career Websites Lab -Applying science to define the ideal career website

The Brief – Day 1

  1. Defining a career website
    1. TruCareers – The Tru career website
    2. Who is it for employer or candidate
    3. What is it – a job board, an information platform, a community platform, gateway to the ATS
    4. Defining the audience
      1. Active job seekers, semi active, inactive
      2. The visitor personas
      3. Where do they hang out, what do they use: Search engines, social, job boards, offline, mobile
      4. What should a career website contain
        1. Brainstorming functionality and content
        2. What is most important
          1. Defining what is important for the individual personas
          2. Scoring functionality and content
          3. Defining the wireframe structure
            1. Defining the user journey and what they need to see/access
            2. Defining the Home Page
            3. Defining a Job Family Page
            4. Defining the wireframe structure
              1. Defining a Page focussed at an active jobseeker
              2. Defining a Page focussed on a less active job seeker

Build the wireframe before day 2

  1. Presenting the prototype
    1. Feedback
    2. What would you change – why
    3. The candidate experience
      1. Expectations low or high
      2. Employer requirements, volume, filtering, prescreening
      3. Using channels
        1. Content via Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs etc
        2. Do you stay in channel or direct to career platform
        3. Capturing information, how do we…
          1. Register (LinkedIn, Quick Apply, CV Parsing, iProfile)
          2. Follow
          3. Express interest
          4. Apply
          5. Mobile
          6. Continuing the engagement, linking with other platforms
            1. ATS
            2. Talent Community
            3. CRM

The livelab will be facilitated by David Johnston of 4MAT. Should be a very interesting two days.

Wednesday evening will feature 2 events. 6.00 – 8.00 in the downstairs area will host the Mashable Meetup, “Lets talk tech-london”, for anyone with any talk left in them. These meetups are happening across the world, with a total of 1,529 events happening around the world, making #tru a part of the wider tech community. You can find the details and register for the meetup HERE.

The main event of course is #trulondon.

You can view and download your own copy of the schedule HERE

As this is an unconference, tracks will be subject to change. To make things easier, we will be announcing the tracks that are going on each hour in the main room. There will also be a help desk near to the entrance if you need any help or direction.

Thanks once again must go to our sponsors who keep making #trulondon possible. Let the conversation start!


BTW: There’s 3 tickets left,. Get 1 while you can!

Platinum Sponsor


Who moved my conference? #trulondon

I’ve attended a few events today at Social Media Week London. It’s the opening day, and things are shifting away from the usual conference model. I spoke at one event. Refused to bring a presentation, used up 5 minutes for an intro as to why I was talking about Twitter, then opened it up to Q&A. This gave me the opportunity to talk about what the participants wanted to hear and for me to speak at their level. It wasn’t the presentation I would have prepared, that would have been beyond many in the room. They would have been bored and confused, maybe even felt a little stupid.
tomorrow I’m speaking at the Recruitment Agency Expo in Olympia. I’m delivering the opening keynote. It’s a requirement that I have a presentation, so I’m taking two slides. One that says @BillBoorman – #tru story-teller, and the other that says, “What do you want to know?” I’m taking the same approach, concerned more about the participants than delivering a pre-determined message, This is the problem with most conferences and events. The speakers second guess who is going to be the audience, and deliver what they think they will want, and it is this content that is used to sell the conference.
Usually, when I’m asked if I’m interested in speaking, I have to submit a speaker proposal, a pitch for my spot and an outline of what I’m going to cover. This gets even more controlled when accreditation or learning points get awarded by organisations like SHRM or the CIPD. Turning it in to an academic presentation makes it even more controlled and regulated. You have to deliver what you said you would regardless of who is in the room. There might be 5 minutes squeezed in at the end of a presentation, and perhaps a squeezed panel discussion. Less discussion and more four or five mini -presentations.This saddens me. So much missed opportunity to actually share what people want to know. It’s also hard to get the smartest people in the room to speak, because there wedged in the audience with the job of listening. 

Next week it’s #Trulondon time. I trust the grown ups in the room enough to know that they will work out what they want to know. When they want to talk, listen, have a coffee, go for lunch or retire to the pub, it’s their event to choose.

This time around i have been thinking more about the people who aren’t in the building. They are no less participants, they just aren’t physically in the room. Everyone who watches the livestream, tweets, blogs or chooses to take part in whatever way they want are part of the event. To extend the opportunity, I’m inviting anyone to join us on Google+. I will be creating a page for #trulondon. If you want a discussion, track or conversation on anything you want to host and invite people to join in. All i ask you to do is to record it, tweet on the hashtag so that we can join in from the venue, and post the recording somewhere so that others who miss it can see the content, maybe even start their own circle in response. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and as much a part of #trulondon as what happens in the City Hotel.

If you want to get to the event, there are 6 tickets left before the fire marshal says no more. The conference has moved. It’s moved as much on-line as off it. it’s a shared experience, open to anyone, and it is about getting the best experience for everyone, in a social way. A social experience without hierarchy, and it joining in isn’t dictated by being able to afford the admission price! Conferences still have a place for those who want their learning that way, but there are an increasing number of alternatives, and more and more companies are beginning to understand that you don’t need listed outcomes to justify attendance. When you’re in a room full of smart people and you can talk to them, you’re going to really learn, and enjoy the experience.


PS: To any conference organisers brave enough to try something different, speak to me. I’d be glad to help facilitate it, and if you want a speaker who talks with their audience, you know where I am.

Twitter Tricks For Recruiters #SocialRecruiting #TruLondon

I’m going to be delivering training next week to a team of corporate recruiters on effective ways to use twitter for sourcing talent. Whenever I run this workshop, it always reminds me how some of the most effective features in twitter are underused, in particular twitter lists and twitter searches.
I think the engagement aspects of the channel have been well covered., though I will talk a little more about this at the end of the post.  It stuns me when I hear of industry spokesman saying recruiters shouldn’t tweet, and shows a distinct lack of touch with reality. Twitter is the introduction channel. You need no invitation to follow anyone and engage with anyone. People are happy to talk to strangers about most things, and there is no real hierarchy of rank.

I know that if I invited recruiters to a networking event which was going to be attended by candidates and clients in their target market, you would be queuing up to attend. I think they would also be wise enough to know that once they got their, the conversation would be about a lot more than shop talk. They wouldn’t just walk up to everyone in the room and introduce themselves by saying “I’m a recruiter, do you want a job?”. There would be plenty of small talk about all number of things in order to start a relationship. Its part of networking. The people who talk only shop get shunned quite quickly, and new connections get tested out with questions or requests for advice from time to time. It’s a part of good networking, and why the concept of the elevator pitch is actually a bit of a joke as an introduction, though it helps to practice answering the question of what you do, without sounding like an a**e. It’s an inevitable question your going to get fairly early in a conversation. When I’m asked, My answer is that “I host unconferences and implement social recruiting plans.” That creates questions if they are wanted, without over pitching. The way you conduct yourself on twitter should not be any different, and small talk will form most of your conversation with any target contacts. This is a good thing, and part of the getting to know you process. In this post i want to share some tactics for organising your twitter followers and following, some applications that help organise you and how to make the channel work for you.
Another myth I want to challenge at the start of this post is that automated job feeds don’t work. Actually they do when they are operated correctly. I think anyone who recruits in any capacity should have one, and here’s why:

Among the social recruiting projects I’m involved in or have access to data, these accounts represent 20% of hires, and a higher volume of click-throughs. People are still actively looking for jobs in the way they always did, and that means searching via google, as well as other search engines, as well as searching in twitter. I’m not sure what the long term impact on this of the twitter feed coming out of Google search results, but right now it is still working, and there’s lots of searches going on within twitter itself. The key to making these posts effective is including location, using #’s for job type, job and location. It’s also important to list that the feed is a job feed, and not to expect engagement, (listing another account for connecting with recruiters for engagement.) Set the feed to post at different times during the day. You can use one of the excellent applications to do this like TwitJobSearch or TweetMyJobs, or alternatively do it yourself by setting an RSS feed to the twitter account or using an automated posting tool. The best I’ve seen at the moment for this is Buffer. Other tips that work are including the link in the middle of the tweet (5 times more likely to be opened), and where there is space asking for a retweet, it still works for increasing reach.

Although I haven’t done it myself, the results I’m seeing back for promoted tweets for jobs against targeted streams or topics are proving very effective, at a lower PPC cost than any of the other channels. I will be trying this myself soon, and will give you feedback.

What you need to do is not judge job feed accounts by follower numbers, you’re not going to get many, the posts just aren’t that interesting. In case you pick up a few though, add tweets every 30 posts or so directing them to a recruiter account for engagement, this stream is built for search, and will return candidates. I have heard of a number of corporates who are now very active with engagement focussed accounts, who started with an automated job stream, and the wins they got from this convinced the business to get more active. Some times its small wins at a time.

Another twitter feature that is grossly underused is twitter lists. I have always used Formulists to build dynamic lists.but unfortunately Formulist called it a day in Jan, so the service is no longer available. I have recently moved to Twitilist that is another good tool for building larger lists. it’s not as dynamic as formulists but it does a good job for simply building lists manually. 

I keep lists for my linkedin connections (this is even more useful now that LinkedIn have elected to take away the twitter app). as well as new followers and follows so that I can keep an eye on their activity for an engagement opportunity.

 For recruiter accounts I also build lists based on disciplines, job titles and employers from competitors. Although it takes a bit of time, you can build competitor lists from LinkedIn company pages by checking employer profiles for the Twitter address. I’m sure one of the super sourcers will have a quicker way of automating this, perhaps Martin Lee can help out with that.

Whatever your view of Klout as a measure of influence, the lists features are often overlooked. These lists are useful for keeping an eye on people who you engage with regularly, or are considered to influence. You might not agree 100% with the list, but I find them useful to follow the conversations they are having to join in where you think it is appropriate. You can export from Klout in to twitter lists, and the other way around. It’s another option for dynamic list building.

The benefit of segmenting twitter lists in to target areas is that you can organise your contacts in a way that is useful to you, and set columns on tweetdeck or hootsuite for closer monitoring and engagement.

Another area of twitter you should be monitoring closer with dedicated columns is competitor job feeds and accounts. You can omit jobs from the feed in the column set up to keep it clean. It’s worth profiling anyone engaging with the account, that way you can elect to make your own approaches. You can also follow competitor lists, or industry lists like trade magazines or events with one click.

One other way to identify potential contacts for following is by setting up twitter searches around geek words. Geek words are words or phrases which one user would tweet to another that would indicate that they work in a particular profession or job role. This allows you to profile the people you find. The clues might be in the bio or you may need to look at another channel, probably LinkedIn to confirm what they do, follow them and list them. As well as geekwords, another good search to follow is 4square check ins against competitor locations. Again you can set these searches up as automated columns in tweetdeck or similar. Check who is checking in so you can follow them and add them to twitter lists.

 Followerwonk is another great tool for building followers in a targeted way. One of the features I really like is being able to search bios to identify people to follow. It’s also great for delving in to competitors followers and lists,as well as comparing  your follow list with your competitors. You can break down their account by most influential followers, most active, by bio or tweetcloud. you also get access to some pretty neat data that helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses in your following.

Another application worth a look at is Twollow which allows you to identify twitter accounts to follow by key-word, as well as some other useful twitter management tools. The upgrade paid for version gives access to extra features including multiple keyword searches. Its worth trialing with the free version and upgrading when or if it proves of value.

I’ve always built twitter accounts organically, but I am aware of others who have used automation to accelerate the process.  The best of the automated twitter tools I’ve looked at and seen in action is tweetadder 3.0. This works by searching bios for keywords, tweets for content, hashtags etc. you can find and follow the followers of other accounts. You can follow lists easily by individual follower, search in multiple languages or by location. You can manage and organise multiple accounts, set to unfollow others who don’t follow you back (if you choose), or send an auto-tweet to identified users by tweet content, inviting them to follow or click on a link. It is very effective for building twitter followings quickly and on scale, and at a price of $55 for one account up to $188 for unlimited accounts, all for a lifetime licence, it’s not going to break the bank. It also has a clever way of switching between servers to avoid twitter jail. My personal choice is always to grind it out building organically, but there is a real benefit to building at speed using tweetadder, and it requires a lot less administration.

Another way to attract a following in your target market is to build a blog sharing account. By concentrating on sharing blogs in your market, you will get followed by people with an interest in the topics being shared. If you recruit auditors, and share audit content, then it is likely that you will be attracting auditors because of the nature of the posts. Because you are sharing blogs, you are also likely to get blogger appreciation, and that can go a long way. To set up a blog sharing feed set up a dedicated account with a clear bio. Search for the blogs you want to include. Although there is no obligation to do this, it’s worth contacting the writers for permission. Once you have this, sign up for the RSS feed from the blog and connect this direct to the twitter account with a share message e:g: latest from (name), post title. Every post that gets published goes to the feed. Monitor the feed for followers, profile them and invite them to your engagement account.

Using any combination of these tactics or tools, you’re going to build a targeted following fairly quickly in your market place. This is going to be worthless without any engagement. As a guideline, focus your time on @ messages first. This starts the conversation, and acknowledges those reaching out to you. My own division of time is roughly 70% on @ messages, 20% checking the main stream and commenting, and 10% on creating new content for the stream. This model serves me well. The important thing is making sure you are engaging and responding to those who want to respond to you. Not answering tweets is a bit like not answering people calling you. Don’t have an engagement account, if you have no time to engage. Organising your followings through lists and columns in tweetdeck help you to know what to engage about.

The last part of recruiting through twitter is analytics. You need to understand what is working for you, and the dynamics of your followings, including things like time to tweet. There are a few analytics tools available to use that mostly have a free version to play around with before you invest in a paid for version. My choice of tool is SocialBro which has some really useful and easy to use reports. You can also get bespoke reports in any area you want to investigate, as well as some useful features for search and list building, mapping, best times to tweet, spam control and plenty more. I love this app, and recommend you take a look.

Twitter is a great channel for recruiting when you adopt a proactive approach, both for building relationships, getting new introductions, branding and as a channel for just in time search. It’s also a great place to promote jobs, make friends, hang out and connect. I’d also say I’ve learnt more from Twitter than any other form of learning, it’s the place for self-development. I recommend the whole package to any recruiter.

This is a breakdown of some of the content that I include in the twitter workshop, which is hands on and interactive. Message me if you want to know more or follow the blog for the next set of dates that are coming out soon. I will also be covering some of this in my #trulondon track: “All of a twitter.” I hope you can join the conversation.
















Imagineering Recruitment Software And Process.

Imagine you could take a hammer to your recruitment software, smash it up and start again. Taking what you know now about the way you work, incorporating how you might work in the future and the features you might need. Starting out with a blank sheet of paper and imagineering something new.

Imagineering is a phrase coined by the Aluminium Company Of America in the 1940′s to describe combining known engineering principle and the imagination of what was possible. It’s a phrase adopted by Disney, who employ Imagineers, whose job it is to design, build and develop theme parks, and stretch the bounds of what is possible. Stephen O’Donnell wrote a blog post on #trulondon last Feb, and how this was like being in a room of imagineers on Recruitment technology, and from that post I had an idea. What if we could imagineer the tech we use day to day, and come up with something new.

We are very often limmited in our thinking and practice by the technology we have, rather than what we could have. We accept limitations in technology because that is what is available rather than what is possible. Most recruiting technology was built P.S. (pre-social), and although social features may have been added as an add on in recent years, most processes and the technology that supports it is built on old recruitment rules and practice, and things are changing. Most recruiting process in organisations was designed to fit technology, rather than process dictating the technology.

It’s a common problem that I see when I go in to organisations, in particular recruiting software that was built for information storage rather than information retrieval. The type of A.T.S. that is great at hiding information, obstructing candidates in the application process and to reduce volumes, tracking a legal process rather than smoothing the transition between candidate approach and hire. If you could start again where would you start?

Theres a few key features that would fit in with my imagineering, and the candidate would be at the heart of the process. Not thinking of the process as applying for a job, progressing or being rejected in a single transactional process.

I want connecting being as simple as one click, and to be connected in all the social places, not just one.

I’d want the process to be one where people are people, rather than candidates or talent, and companies and people connect and communicate,with accessibility between people in the outside world and the hiring organisations.

I’d like my data to be real time, constantly updating, rather than being dated from the first date of contact. (In particular I’m thinking of the resume/CV.) That means being able to access the latest data where it is, without the candidate needing to update it for themselves. Taking data from social places like LinkedIn and Facebook.

I’d like full analytics on everything I’m doing, that will help with decision making, so that I can make decisions based on facts rather than gut feel. I want to know whats working and why, rather than think I know. I’d like my technology to use the data to help with predictive decision making, and make suggestions to people that help them, like Amazon for recruiting. 

I’d like my tech to be collaborative, so that I can plug in to API’s, applications, tools and other tech, and get all the data in one place, and only need to make any action once, and to have my actions tracked for me, without needing to carry out other actions. 

I’d like to be able to search inside and outside of the technology, and access the results in one place, using any search methodology I choose.

I want all my information in one place, with a simple dashboard.

I want my data to be secure and confidential, with the flexibility to scale up and down according to the need.

These are just a few of my thoughts about how I want my recruiting technology. #TruLondon track sponsor and Microsoft Partner ColleagueRS are interested in the same thing. They want to look at how recruiting software could be with a little imagineering, and will be running a track to see what recruiters and candidates really want, and they want to learn by listening rather than talking.  The challenge is quite simple. One hour with a blank sheet of paper, active and vocal participants and an open mind, to imagineer recruitment software for the current day. They will be recording everyones thoughts and producing a post-event white paper on what recruiters think is possible and needed. It’s going to be a lot of fun! Thanks to the team at Colleague for supporting #trulondon.

Hope you can join the conversation, and in the meantime, fire your thoughts over in the comments section and apply a little imagineering.


The LinkedIn Contradiction: A Social Channel?

I think LinkedIn is having a bit of a crisis of identity. It’s driven by the search algorithm that impacts on search results and matching, and  the way in which connections are encouraged, and the way LinkedIn rules apply over invites to connect. I think it is part of the struggle the channel has with itself over weather they are a social network or a professional network, or if the two are really any different. There is a constant battle over features and functions between the big 4 social networks, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. (I see YouTube sitting outside of this.) with each trying to find it’s place. No one channel can be all things to all users, and each has its place in the mix.

Facebook applications are moving in to professional networking in a big way. This week Glassdoor.Com, the employer review site launched an app that links reviews, jobs and connections, (more about that later this week,) BeKnown from Monster, BranchOut, Indeed, BraveNewTalent and others. These apps overcome the Facebook barrier,in that users can connect with employers and view jobs without needing to connect with their personal accounts, or show anything that they would rather keep hidden. Facebook users have responded by adding professional details to their profiles and interests, in numbers. It’s a big play on the LinkedIn space when you consider the difference in user numbers.

In the UK there are 8,373,511 LinkedIn users, or 13% of the population, compared with 30,249,340 Facebook users, or 48% of the population. (data from SocialBakers.Com.)

In the US there are 58,553,631 LinkedIn users or 19% of the population, compared with 155,701,780 Facebook users, or 50% of the population. (data from SocialBakers.Com.)

With changing attitudes as to Facebook as a professional as well as a personal channel, there’s a real battle on for recruiter attention and spend. There’s also the difference of time spent in the channels by users which is significantly different.This becomes important when you are considering the best place for a P.P.C. campaign. When there’s a fight for dollars, it is understandable why LinkedIn are looking for new ways to be social. More of the applications and functions are making it easier to communicate via LinkedIn, without ever going in the channel.You can e-mail direct to groups or respond to messages, post using applications like LinkedIn jobs insider, and updates from Tweetdeck, Hootsuite etc. These all lead to more time out of the channel by the users, with even less interaction.

Any good sourcing trainer will show you that the search results that can be achieved by searching LinkedIn via Google, Bing or other search engines rather than LinkedIn’s own search engine, gets more comprehensive results, and you get to see the full profile. Theres less reason to log in to LinkedIn as it gets easier to communicate from the outside, so is LinkedIn still working, and what do the users want from the channel?

This post isn’t intended to be a LinkedIn v Facebook post. Both channels have their place in the recruiting mix. My question is over the contradiction between how LinkedIn reward users with larger networks with results, and the way LinkedIn invites work. To get the most out of the channel, bigger is better. The more people you are connected with, and the more groups you belong to, the higher you come up in searches, the more jobs you get recommended to and the more people get recommended to follow you. While it makes sense to focus your connections on your area of recruiting, you want to connect with as many people as you can in your niche, because this returns you in more searches and more recommendations. LinkedIn however, don’t see it this way, and I think they should.

The twitter factor changed the way people are willing to connect. Before Twitter, networks were largely personal and connections were known. More of a means of keeping in touch or reconnecting, and then Twitter came along with its 140 character messaging, and the opportunity to follow anyone you wanted without the need to be known or accepted. The users liked this type of networking, and began to follow people in large numbers regardless of geography or relationship. New friendships got made through following and conversation, with no previous relationship, and most people liked that.

This new attitude to connecting switched to other channels. Even Facebook, which had very much been the personal channel, made it easier to find people and accept their friend invites. Whilst there was the opportunity to report people you didn’t know, this mostly didn’t happen. Both Facebook and LinkedIn responded by repeatedly suggesting “people you might know” to send invites to. This was based on groups you belonged to, companies you had worked for, or shared connections with those you were connected with. At the same time, the way in which invites were accepted changed. Despite what the “LinkedIn experts” might say, non-personalized invites with the standard text, were far more likely to be accepted than the ones where you try to justify an invitation.

The most successful invites are where you have a shared group, hence the benefit to joining all 50 groups you allowed.This is why many people belong to groups, and when they do comment, it’s via e-mal rather than from within the group. Whilst groups are seen as the most social part of LinkedIn, I don’t really see this. I looked at 6 of the groups I belong to at random. The combined membership of these groups is around 70,000. There were 266 discussions posted, which attracted a total of 106 comments, less than 0.5 per discussion. The comments figure was 90% from 1 group, Boolean Strings, which bucks the trend. These numbers tell me that they are largely inactive, and mostly noticeboard for posts. The ease of posting in multiple groups encourages the practice of posting, without visiting.

This is not all bad however. LinkedIn remains the highest referrer to my blog, and this comes from shares via groups, or reads from groups.(Taking in to account the e-mail update effect.) This tells me that on the most part, users are choosing to use groups in this way. It’s effective for posting, audience and reach, but can it really be considered social, when there is very little engagement? My view is that LinkedIn should forget about trying to be social, and look how the users use the platform. It’s a notice board, from updates to group postings, and is effective in this way. users should note the same to get the best out of the channel.

There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve considered that LinkedIn can’t be working for me because I’ve not been getting engagement, but then I’ve traced back business to either being found or seen in the channel. As a notice board, and largely a broadcast medium it works because the audience is targeted, and see notifications in their in box. The key to getting read is headline, (think writing for twitter), as most group updates are received and opened in this way. An occasional update catches the reader’s attention and tempts them to explore further.

When you accept an invite, or get an invite accepted, LinkedIn suggests other connections you might know based on this. The encouragement is to connect where there is relevance, even if there is not a relationship, and I would recommend this, in the same way as I would recommend looking at the section on a profile that lists the “People who looked at this profile also looked at …”, and to take a look for yourself for relevant connections, if nothing else, you can always follow them on twitter.

Company pages show who you are connected with at a company, and who works there that you are not connected with. This encourages sending invitations to potential contacts at companies you want to make friends with whatever the purpose. I know you can send requests for introductions through people you are connected with, but judging by the number I receive (a handful in the last 3 years), and the number I have sent out (maybe 3), I’m guessing this is not really used by others either. I’m far more likely to look if we share a group, then send off an invite based on this. I don’t list myself as a friend, colleague or having worked together (unless I have.), though I receive plenty of invites each day from people who claim this. It doesn’t really concern me, and must be working or people would stop doing it. I’m quick to disconnect with anyone who spams me, however. The second message is far more important than the invite.

This is where I think LinkedIn terms of use contradicts the reality of LinkedIn use. The user agreement, section 10B.5 states:

“Don’t undertake the following:”

“Invite people you do not know to join your network.”

Whilst the “I don’t know” function has been removed, to make reporting and suspension less likely, users are still encouraged to report violators, with the threat of either suspension of account, or only being able to send invites where you know the recipients e-mail address, and it matches the e-mail address on the LinkedIn database, recorded at registration.

This is an area I think LinkedIn should take a look at, considering how users are connecting, moving to open rather than restricted networking. Remove the conditions, and leave the choice of the type of invites users want to receive with the users. Users should be able to choose at sign-up the types of invites they want to receive, leaving the choice in their hands. On a personal note, I don’t want to discourage anyone from connecting with me, and neither should LinkedIn.

I have been looking quite closely at what is working for hiring companies recently, in preparation for this post. In particular, I have contacted companies who have either spoken or written about hiring from LinkedIn, to see where their success is coming from. I was really interested how much of their hiring success came from active sourcing, using the channel as the point of search, and how much was from groups, company pages, ads etc. The feedback and numbers for hires I got back show:

> 45% came from direct sourcing from LinkedIn where the recruiter initiated the approach. most had a LinkedIn recruiter account and felt it was effective.

> 19% came from PPC advertising. (In particular the ad featuring the picture from the profile in the “work here” ads) seem to have been very effective.

> 14% came from direct approaches to recruiter profiles or company profiles. (Hence the need for a well optimised profile and easy to find contact details.)

> 11% came from shared jobs and updates 

> 7% came from company groups

> 4% came from other connections

This tells me that recruiters get the most success sourcing from the channel, and this is where the most attention should be devoted, ensuring that everyone in the team are trained in search techniques, and in making approaches to target candidates. For potential candidates, they should be ensuring think of their profile as a findable document, rather than a sales document, and the LinkedIn search engine prioritizes by: (in order of importance.)

> Location

> Skills

> Job Title

The PPC results show that this is an option that should feature highly on the list of considerations. Similar to the approach that should be taken by advertisers using Facebook PPC, the strategy should be multiple ads, segmenting the audience according to key words,location and skills, changing text according to the target group. The lower the target audience, the lower the PPC cost, and the more relevant the ad and response. Think sniper approach rather than shotgun!

Moving forward, particularly as companies look to enable mobile applications or simple sign up, a LinkedIn profile will become the most likely source of information. The new referral engines from companies like Bullhorn Reach and Work4Labs actively find matches from LinkedIn. I expect this trend to continue, with more third-party apps looking to reference LinkedIn data as the main source of professional career information, and this is where the company should be concentrating their efforts, perhaps charging the apps for accessing the data, and finding new and innovative ways to make user profiles more accurate.

The update and missing data notifications to users made a big difference to users adding data. The 100% completion notification needs to be looked at to bring it up to date. At the moment this does not include the skills sections etc and misleads users in to believing they have a fully complete profile, and it has been out of date for some time. With the importance of the skills section to the matching/search engine, users need this fixing to get the best out of the channel, and the users should always come first.

If you’ve made it to the end of the post, thanks for baring with me. My conclusion is that LinkedIn is not really  a social channel, it’s a very effective notice board and directory of talent. This is the function I’d like to see the channel build upon moving forward. I think there is potential to add some other user functions, like Skype calling or instant messaging, to make direct connecting easier. I’d also like to see the “rules” on connecting relaxed to reflect user practice rather than a dated notion on how people network.

The LinkedIn tracks at #trulondon will feature super users, trainers and recruiters Jacco Valkenburg, Jonathan Campbell, Mark Williams and Gordon Lokenburg, covering a range of LinkedIn topics. You should join the conversation!