@StevenRothberg: Is America Best? #GEC12

I’m at #GEC12, the graduate employability conference in Leeds, organised by Gradcore. Steven runs the largest graduate job board in the US. He has come to share the best practice from the US, and life in general in Minnesota. Steven founded CollegeRecruiter.Com in 1991 and went live on-line from being magazine based in 1996. CollegeRecruiter now host 100,000+ internships. They have chosen to build the site requiring no registration, and without a CV database. All they want to be is the destination of choice by being very easy to use. There is a lesson in that.

The problem in the US is that the cost of education is rising significantly while the salaries on leaving are declining. The biggest drop out rate is men by far, as a result , men are entering more jobs that don’t require a degree, where as women are going in to jobs requiring a qualification. Martin Edmondson of Gradcore commented that in the UK we are at the beginning of the curve with the cost of tuition. It will be interesting to see if the same patterns emerge here in the UK.

Steven is talking about tuition fees. He feels the cost of education is really a subsidy to the Banks, because the debt can’t be written off, and is guaranteed by the Government. The perception in America is the more expensive the university the better the degree. Contrasted with China, education is free. The state invests in learning. it’s interesting to take this principle and compare the fortunes of the nations.

College recruiting is all about big companies, but the jobs are with the small companies. There is clearly a divide but universities embed big company thinking. It is a situation I’m familiar with here in the UK. Grad recruitment is as much about PR in big business as requirement. University employability depts need to move closer to preparing students for where the jobs are. Employability should be embedded in everything the Universities do. If they sell the dream, and charge for it, they need to deliver it.

Steven sees more of a rise in entrepreneurial student or outliers in the States. They went to University for a year or two but chose to leave and work for themselves. The university environment kick starts this. This will be a real problem for graduate employers because the best talent are not sticking around, because a degree and a job is becoming less viable and attractive.

Steven is talking career sites. No one starts their job search on a career site whatever the research says. The influence started somewhere else. Influence is hard to track, applications are not. This is a common problem for recruiters unless you track the relationship rather than the application. We need to think more about how we track this.

70% of career service time is spent on resume/CV writing with only 27% on help with finding an internship. This is a complete waste of purpose and resource and should be the other way around. Employability should be about helping create this gateway in to work. Career services need to move away from being secretarial services. I think the situation in the UK is not that different.

Steven is proposing a scheme of “loan forgiveness.” This is working in unpaid internships to pay off student debt in good faith. Once you get past the need for expenses, it is an interesting prospect. Steven commented that careers offices measure their success by foot-flow. They should really be measured by how many of their students get jobs. Amen to that!

i want to close on this tweet from the floor at #GEC12. It makes a great point. Steven did a brilliant job telling the US story. Thanks for sharing.

#GEC12 Very struck in remarks by@StevenRothberg lack of structural opps for social mobility in the US; and UK gov is looking to US models?!


A different type of diversity #WorldAtOne #CIETT2012

I’ve been asked to be a guest on World at One on Monday on Radio 4. It’s not guaranteed of course, there might be something more important than recruiting on Monday, but all being well I’m going to be talking about diversity. Not in the traditional or legal sense, but in terms of hiring people who are just different, and why this is important, as well as changing recruitment thinking to make sure that you are not hiring the same people because you only source from the same place.
My thinking is that the world in general is for the most part, in a bit of a mess. We are trying to fix a whole host of problems with the same type of people who made them. In politics, if there was an election tomorrow I really wouldn’t know who to vote for because they really do all appear to be the same whatever the badge they might be wearing. Business has been mostly doing much the same thing. Hiring a “type”. Promoting a “type”. Rewarding conformity over different, creative thinking, and that all begins with hiring.
One of the things I’ve noticed about on-line communities and networks, is how many people build their networks around people like them, who come from the same places, like the same things and do the same job. I can understand the reassurance of only really hanging out with people who all agree and pat each other. Comfort in being the same and thinking the same, and being as one. The problem with this is that there is no new thinking. No challenge to the status quo because that’s not “how we do things around here.” Theres no new learning or thinking because people like you tend to think like you and know what you know. It becomes an old boys network. A mutual love in. Something i would describe as a cliquemunity where your face fits or you don’t fit.
I went to #CIETT2012 this week, organised by the REC. Kevin Green and the team did a brilliant job of putting on a conference that was a break from the usual offering with 2 hours of unconference and some of different people running tracks rather than presentations. When I look at the REC now, I think Kevin has done a brilliant job of changing their outlook for the benefit of their members. I know that this hasn’t always been popular or easy, and when he was first appointed there was plenty of consternation that the REC had opted for someone from the HR world rather than recruiting, but for me, it’s a decision that has paid dividends in changing the way things are done at the only real trade body for recruiters. They are no longer a private members club, and that is what businesses need to become. They need to be different, but not too many are getting the message.

Diversity of talent is an issue that is organisation wide. You are not going to fix the new business problems with the same people who caused them, and radical times need radical solutions that begins with a mind-set to accept the difference and try something new. The Footsie 100 and Fortune 500 companies largely control the economy and influence the way nations think and act. If we take recruiting back to the entry-level, they are still hiring from the same Universities for interns and new hires. The same type of people who studied the  same subjects and got the same marks. Might be new people, but its new people in the same mould. The on-boarding process is geared to get new people to conform. To be like we were if you want to get on. You have to look the same, think the same and talk the same if you want to fit in and get on. You won’t fix the problems with the same thinking that created the problem in the first place, and you won’t get new thinking when you hire a series of clones.

I’m reminded of a quote I heard a while ago: “If we all think the same, some of us are irrelevant. ” If we look at the approach taken by the highly successful tech companies that have emerged and flourished over the last decade, their approach echoes this. I’m seeing trends emerging like flexible working, managing work rather than hours, interviewing for culture fit rather than fit to a specific job and other similar initiatives. It’s well documented that Google work to the philosophy of fail often, fail quickly, fail cheaply. Facebook live by the mantra of move fast and break things. LinkedIn believes that the platform is always in beta. It took different types of people to build these businesses. Different types of people who didn’t fit the usual mold.

On the radio show I’m going to talk about 3 things that I think would change the way companies recruit. It means turning the recruitment process on its head and looking at fit before capability, and intentionally targeting people who are different to the people you have now.

1: Sourcing from different places in particular universities.

2: Matching to culture.

3: Auditioning for work over interviewing.

I really enjoyed #CIETT2012. I got a real sense that there is an acknowledgment that things need to change, and they are not really working as they are. It’s time to think different and stop doing what we’ve always done in the attraction and recruitment process. Go hire some crazy ones.


The @CERN Track: Perfect ATS

At #TruGeneva I got to meet the Head of Recruiting for CERN James Purvis. It was interesting to hear the challenges they face in hiring some of the greatest brains in Europe if not the world. During the conversation James spoke about the challenge of what an ATS should look like in these social days. He produced this video for #TruMadrid, posing the question:

The conversation carried over to #truDublin and this summary was captured by SocialTalent who did a great job of mixing the final cut. Here is what #truDublin had to say after some added refreshment, Dublin style.

What are your views on what the perfect ATS might look like?


How to fail at on-line advertising (infographic) from Monster

I was sent this infographic from Monster which they put together after conducting research among job seekers, and what turns them off when deciding where to apply. Some of it is quite obvious, like spelling mistakes and ambiguous job titles. All of the research I’ve seen recently points to people only applying for jobs they feel they can do or will get an interview. This means the skills and experience required needs to be very clear in your job postings, whether it is in the social channels or on the job boards. There is no need to try to be over creative to get attention in the copy you are writing. A simple search on Monster in the UK found 146 current jobs listed as “Manger” and include postings from companies like Enterprise Rent-A-car and The Co=operative. These jobs won’t feature in searches for a manager’s job, or on e-mail alerts, which will have a major impact on response. Might be time to check your own postings to see what you are posting, and always get a second person to run a check.

Finding the needles in the haystacks. A Google sourcers story.

One of the highlights of an excellent #truDublin was listening to Google sourcer Wojciech Smailinski talking about the type of candidates that he needs to source for the recruiters responsible for the engineering team in EMEA. It gave a fascinating insight in to how you can find what would be for many of us the unfindable.

Wojciech has been working for Google in Dublin for about a year, before then he had no recruiting experience but plenty of enthusiasm, and the excellent Blue Belt Internet Sourcing training from Johny Campbell at SocialTalent. He explained that his target candidates are hidden deep in the internet, well below LinkedIn or any CV database, in fact he went as far as to say that if any candidate had a prepared CV they probably wouldn’t be suitable for these roles.

Google receive 6000 CV’s a day globally. It’s a big pot to mine from, but the type of people they want to hire for specialist IT engineering roles are not looking for jobs. They are usually content and often working on their own products or projects. The last thing they want is a LinkedIn profile. The best they might have is a very vague one, because as soon as they put any detail, skills or qualifications on-line they get overloaded with calls and approaches from recruiters . The challenge is how do you first find the right target people and then approach them, when they are not hanging around in the usual social networks and places. 

One of the things that become clear when you talk to Wojciec is how he sees the sourcers role, and why a single focus is so important. This also illustrates the big difference between being a recruiter and a sourcer. The true sourcer concerns themselves with finding the people with the right skill set and experience to meet the hiring requirements. He doesn’t concern himself with detail like personality fit or retention in the business, that is the job of the recruiters. The sourcers find the people who meet the requirement, who are interested in talking to the recruiters, and the other detail is the concern of the recruiter. It makes sense, recruiters recruit and sourcers source.

Johny Campbell of SocialTalent has been both a recruiter and a dedicated sourcer. He talks of the need to shut himself away from the world and any distractions when sourcing. Physically plugging in the headphones, playing loud tunes before getting lost in boolean strings, starting with a very narrow search and working outward. it would seem that Spotify is now an essential part of the sourcing toolbox, and the ability to switch off and focus on the task is the key skill needed when hiring a sourcer. It was interesting how many times Woicech commented “that’s not my job.” This wasn’t in a jobsworth way, he is simply focused on his part of the recruitment process.

I can contrast this to a track at #truLondon about a year ago with Glen Cathey who writes the excellent Boolean Black Belt blog. Glen is probably the leading commentator on deep sourcing techniques, but he was quick to point out that despite his reputation, he is not a sourcer, he is a recruiter. Comparing Wojciec with glen, it’s easy to see where he is coming from. Whilst Glen identifies talent through just in time sourcing techniques, he is equally concerned with fit, candidate relationship and managing the process through to hire. He is the ultimate recruiter rather than a sourcer.

The big question then is where you find these people who are choosing to hide themselves away and don’t want to be found. During the track, a thought went through my mind. It as much about finding the haystacks as finding the needles. Identifying the on-line places where these people are likely to be hiding out. Listening to the sourcers in the room, these are usually the on-line forums. Both Github and StackOverflow got a few mentions, and the search in these forums was for the people answering questions rather than asking them.

SEO expert Ivan Stojanovic explained how he searches for the geek words rather than profiles. These are the unique words or phrases that one person might say (or post), to another that identifies the discipline they work in or the skills they have. He has used this very successfully to source from twitter, and of the 27 people who were placed from this exercise, only one had a LinkedIn profile. Ivan advises using the same geek words to source in these forums, and if you already employ the type of people you are targeting, they are going to be able to point you in the right on-line direction.

The other suggestions for locating those needles in the haystack:

> YouTube – Post technical videos or find specialist videos in  your target market. The commenters and likers are a good place to start your search.

> WordPress/Blogger/Posterous/Tumblr/Typepad/Jux/Posterous Places/Blogetry/Weebly/Live Journal – These 10 are blogging  and content sharing  platforms. Each platform has a search engine that enables search of all content. Finding blogs in your target market (using the geek words) enables  you to identify targets by author and also commenters.

> Flikkr, Instagram and other photo sharing platforms. – The photo sharers contain a wealth of names and job titles which are all searchable.

> Google profiles – Anyone with G-mail or any Google product will have a Google profile, and they are usually left open and searchable. This links in to Google+ which is the easiest of the social channels to search  through the “find people +” feature. This also allows for geek words for shared content in the stream. Anyone sharing content in your target area is worth investigating.

> Skype – The internet phone channel is one of the biggest on-line channels by users, few profiles are closed and are searchable. Whilst the detail might limited, when you find someone a message or call makes it easy to connect.

> MeetUp – Each week there are 100′s of meet ups going on across the world. You can search for meet ups going on by topis, tags, participants etc. Most of the meet publish an attendance list, and if the group is in your target area you might just find what you are looking for.

> Eventbrite/Lanyard/Plancast – Much like meet up, each of these event platforms are searchable and many events publish attendees and their contact details.

> Slideshare – The presentation platform is searchable and can be followed by presenter. If the content is in your target area then it’s another good place to search for talent.

These are few of the places that came out of the discussion as places you can search in when you’re looking for the hidden talent. The final challenge for the sourcers is how much requirements are changing by skill set. It’s a constant requirement to understand how skills are merging, and that the jobs Google are hiring for don’t necessarily exist in other companies. Some of the jobs did not exist even a year ago, It’s not about searching for one skill set in isolation but combinations. This means a sourcer needs to develop an understanding of the job requirements in detail skill by skill. and the priority of skills in each job. Different companies use their own internal jargon to describe skill sets. A modern-day sourcer needs to understand the market terminology and what skills mean what from one organisation to another. The other confusing factor is job titles, which are unique, anything from  chief nerd to disruptor have been hired in the last few months. The modern-day sourcer needs to ignore titles and interrogate skills to get the right combination.

It was a great track, with content worth sharing. It is about finding the haystacks first, then looking for the needle, and all the time with the right Spotify list blasting out.


Sunday ShoutOut: Louise Triance @UKRecruiter

There’s always a lot of talk about building the elusive community. I think we are beginning to get there with the #tru events, so i know how much time and effort this takes. Communities need purpose, a firm foundation and activity. For a long time when your building them it can seem like you’re battling on your own, but you get a few wins and a few people happy to champion the community, contribute and support your events. In these days of social media building communities are much easier because it is so much easier to share content and get the message out. It’s also easier to create an on-line place to meet and share content, with channels like Facebook made for the purpose.

The first on-line community I got involved in was UK Recruiter, founded by Louise Triance in April 1998. At the time, the community consisted of a website and monthly newsletter. My first contribution was a series of reviews on psychometric tools when they were quite new to the market. They created a bit of discussion and I got a taste for on-line content. The discussion took place in the new forum section. Forums were the only place to have on-line discussions in those days, though most of the communication was around the newsletter. I’m grateful for my early involvement that gave me the later inspiration to build my own LinkedIn Group, and the rest is history. I know I’m not alone in this, and without UK Recruiter, who knows what the story might have been.

UK Recruiter today is the leading community based site for, as the name suggests, UK Recruiters. The website consists of a very active forum with  lively debate, and regular contributors. The  job board features a host of in-house and agency roles powered by Changeboard that gives recruiters the option to search jobs, upload a CV or broadcast their details to targeted businesses. Theres also a detailed recruitment suppliers directory, a paid for resources section, UK Recruiter Plus, that recruiters can sign up for £40 a year, and Louise’s own blog, providing industry commentary. 

In addition to on-line, Louise has steadily increasing the number of opportunities for the community to meet in person. These events have grown out of the quarterly networking get together’s, and now include specialist events like the technology showcase that takes place on the 24′th May in London, Recruitment Directors learning and networking that takes place in July and October, Practitioner only events in September and the end of year conference in November. These events have gone from strength to strength, and have further built the community through in person meeting. it has been great to see what the recruiters have always viewed as “their place” going from strength to strength.

During the last 15 years, Louise has been the driving force behind the community, and an integral feature of the UK recruitment scene. Away from the community, Louise is  qualified to level A and B by the British Psychology Society and conducts assessments and training on a wide range of instruments, as well as being a busy Mum.

Prior to founding UK Recruiter, Louise spent over 7 years working with Highfield Human Resources in a variety of roles. It is this recruiting background that I think helps separate her from other pure journalists. She is really a recruiter building communities for recruiters. Louise is always found on twitter, and is constantly connecting others and helping outside of the site.

I know this will be a popular shout out. Thanks Louise for all you have done and are doing to support the UK Recruitment Community.


Louise on LinkedIn

UK Recruiter

Thank you to loui

Viral Content. Dancing by yourself? #TruDublin

Oracles Drulis

At #TruDublin the topic of how to make your content go viral came up. It is a consideration for any social recruiting project. This is where network comes in. For me, that means building a network of internal employees and contacts and understanding what content will entice them to voluntarily get involved.
We had some great examples of this from Klaudia Drulis at Oracle, who shared the history and future plans of Oracle Community. I was involved with Oracle at the start of this process, and it has been great to see how this has grown in to an engaged community that has spread the employer brand and improved the quality of hire. As a result of this, Klaudia has been promoted to manage social media and recruiting globally, and is hiring for somone to develop networks and community in America. If your interested in being a part of their continuing success story and are based around the Dublin area, you can find details of the job HERE.

I’d recommend applying, as well as following the Oracle Community for great examples of viral content.

After the track, I was forwarded a video by Rod Smith of #truDublin sponsors Arithon. It’s a few years ol, but i think it makes a good point in a simple way. You need to watch it for a few minutes before the reason becomes clear, but I think it is worth it. What I like about this is the way all you need is one person doing one thing to set off a chain reaction.

This is a physical example, but you can equally apply to your content. It might seem that you are going nowhere, but all it takes is one person to comment or share your stuff, then another to pick it up and so it goes on. Are you dancing on your own or attracting a crowd?