Sunday ShoutOut: Oscar Mager @OscarMager #TruPaperazzi

This past week was the first #truEurope in Brussels. The concept of #truEurope was the brain child of Oscar Mager, who has been a regular attendee at #tru events over the past few years. Oscar is a contract recruiter based in the Netherlands, through his company Recruiting Essentials. Oscar founded Recruiting Essentials in 2005 to provide a specialist in-house sourcing function for corporate clients. During this time Oscar has completed contracts for such businesses as Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways), Rabobank International and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. He is currently completing a contract for the UK and EMEA recruitment for Sonos, the rapidly growing wireless sound system business. He is one of a number of a growing generation of “rent-a-recruiter”, particularly strong in the dutch market, who bring their sourcing expertise in to growth companies on a project basis.
Working in the highly competitive contract recruiter market means that Oscar has to stay ahead of the latest recruiting trends in order to stay current, and he does this by taking part in events. I remember talking about concepts like Google goggles and sourcing through photos, Google+ hang outs for recruiters, and others 6 months before anyone else. He is also a big supporter of the recruitment community at large, in particular the local Recruiters United, but has perhaps become best known for his fantastic photography, capturing the faces and emotions at the many events he attends. You can follow Oscars Flikkr channel HERE,  He has a unique way of capturing emotion in pictures that I admire, and has earnt him the title of #truPapperazzi.

Whenever Oscar is away from an event, he can be found joining the conversation via twitter and sharing his own views. He has a genuine passion for talking recruiting beyond a professional interest, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Prior to founding Recruiting Essentials, Oscar was senior recruiter for Compagnon, hiring in the HR market from 2003 – 2006, a year with Publicis Dialog recruiting in the data fields, a year with USG Capacity hiring sales and marketing professionals. he started his recruiting career with Randstad in 1996, giving him over 17 years experience in the industry. He is a great on-line rec ruiter and a great friend to have. Thank’s Oscar for making #truEurope happen, and for your contribution to the recruiter community at large, a #truStar.

This is oscars work for #truLondon:

Oscar Mager On LinkedIn


A recruiting manifesto #truEurope

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

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

Brussel, 19 april 2012

join the conversation at #trueurope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New interactive career site from Barclays

My friend Andy Hyatt of Bernard Hodes sent me over a link today to a new career site from Barclays that he has been working on with his team. After #truLondon I blogged about the Barclays future leaders career site and social hub, and the results were achieving since integrating social features and channels in to their career site. The big take away from that post was that since switching on the social features in the social hub the number of applications received were significantly down, but the conversion rates of applications were significantly up. As a reminder, this is the important data:

> 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.

It’s interesting to draw parallels between the results Barclays have achieved here, and the work of Michael Long at Rackspace in the States. Rackspace has gone as far as separating out  their career site and a culture site featuring staff bloggers, video, pictures, a cartoonist and plenty of other great culture content, and it’s all very social. I posted about this after seeing Long speak at #TalentNetLive in Austin. The results Long has been achieving:

> The Rackertalent site attracted 37% of the traffic to the career site and ATS, but an incredible 60% of total hires

Looking at the results from these 2 examples, it’s easy to see how taking a social approach to the career site, focussing on culture content told by real employees is not about delivering volumes of applications, (the opposite is in fact the case), but great improvements in the quality of applications and recruiter efficiency. Given the results of the Barclays Future Leaders social hub, it’s no surprise that Barclays have chosen to take this approach to all their recruiting effort visible in the career site launched last week.

Not surprisingly, the site is fully optimised for mobile through a browser sniffer that identifies what device all visitors are using and delivers content in a compatible format. This shouldn’t really be exceptional, all sites should be built this way, though for the moment it is in the minority. If your planning a new site, this is where you should start in your tech plan. The other notable features is that the site is very easy to navigate with unambiguous tabs, and that all sections are interactive. The visitors can engage with each section as little or as much as they want to.

The home page has a welcome message and image. the top tabs are Home, Our Business Areas, Meet Our People, Our Locations and More About Joining. At the bottom of the page is 4 larger widgets. Start job search with the options to choose job sector with a pull down menu, Role and Location, which links direct to job search results. The results are returned with job title, opening paragraph of the job spec and location, with the option to view the job. Jobs are displayed on a single page with displayed by:

> Job Title

> Business Area

> Hours

> Shift Type

> Posting Date

> Expiry Date



>”What you’ll give our customers” related to the role

> “What you’ll get in return.”

> “What you’ll need.”

The bottom of the page has 3 tabs with the option to: Apply now, Send this job to a friend and Send this job to yourself. i couldn’t quite work out how to get the last 2 tabs to work, although they appear to be e-mail functions. I’m sure this is a glitch that will be fixed quickly. I like the way the jobs are broken down and presented for the visitor. It’s worth a look for good content.

The second button and icon is “Take an interactive tour.” I love the way this feature works. you get the choice to take a tour around a branch or a contact centre. Taking the Branch tour, you get a video greeting from the Branch Manager who walks you through the branch and introduces you to some of the staff. The interactive bit is very neat. Each person featured has a “hot spot” (a blue dot) you can click on to get more information about what they do. As you’d expect, the video is professionally produced, but the people are clearly real and not scripted, and it’s spontaneous enough to be believable. each featured tells a bit about their story, background, what they do and what they like about their job, and the beauty of it is that the visitor chooses what they want to see.

The third icon and button is headed “Explore our business areas.” The opening page has scrolling images for each of the 12 business areas to link to, a brief description and associated image. The bottom of the page has links to search the jobs in that area, with clear images of real people. The icons featured link to pages on apprenticeships, location map, the interactive tour, and another great feature on culture fit. I really like the way the links to the different sections of the site are featured by scrolling icon on every page, without being intrusive. The changing images stay solid long enough not to be distracting and to be readable, but not too long to be fixed or boring. they also don’t dominate the page, but are big enough to read.When you click on a link, the page opens in a separate single screen with a close option at the top of the page that takes you back to where you linked from. Your not likely to get lost on this site.

I mentioned the culture fit as being a great feature because this links to a screen featuring an ATM that has a welcolme screen talking about values in a simple statement. Entering the ATM, first up is 100% energy. The “game” involves reading scenarios, and choosing answers of what you’d do from 4 options, each denoted by an ATM button.

The first scenario:

” It’s nearly the end of your shift and a new customer calls to open a bank account. They explain they are starting a new job tomorrow and need an account to receive their salary.”

I deliberately clicked on the wrong answer to see what came back, and the response was;

“Whilst this is a good answer, we pride ourselves on our colleagues working flexibly to meet our customers needs.”

The right answer brought the response:

“Excellent. We are looking for people like you, who are willing to work flexibly to meet our customers needs.”

This is a simple example, they take a bit more thinking the further you go. Again, I like the interactivity of this feature which will appeal to those who enjoy gaming features. It’s a lot more interesting and interactive than just listing values brochure style.

The last icon and button is “Meet our people.” which links to an intro page with 24 pin images of people. Hover your mouse over each one and you get their name and title. each image has a different type of content from video, static (written text), and a day in the life. The statics are a picture, intro, and personal content using “I” rather than we, talking about what they do and personal impressions about Barclays like ” I didn’t realise how passionate Barclays are about training and development”, which goes on to show what this means in their experience. it reads in a personal way that will appeal to those who like text. The day in a life video names the employee, who then talks through their usual day and images and dialogue about how they see their job. The videos are about a minute in length to keep attention, with links to read more about the role, read the transcript from the film and use the job search widget to find the job and see whats available. If I’m being ultra critical, I’d like to be able to see and apply for the job featured without having to search for it myself, although it’s not a great hardship, an direct link though would certainly work better with mobile visitors in mind. A feature that compensates for this however is additional links to find people by business area, role or media. Using the different types of media is giving the visitor choice over the style of content they view. I really like that.

The “About Us” tab follows the same theme with an intro and image, the 4 icons I’ve already discussed, history in 5 paragraphs (no waffle), and similar tabs for culture, benefits (which includes their double your donation charity support), and development.

The “Our business areas” tab gives a more detailed menu of each of the business areas broken down in to more specific functions. Not heavy content, but great for visitors who want to get inside the content a bit more.  Finally, the “more about joining” tab gives step by step detail about the application process. Step one is a few tips about the application process with instructions, details about the assessment process like how long each step usually takes, as well as format and tips. Step three details the interview process and what Barclays are looking for. Step four outlines the security, running credit checks, the validating reference process and going trough an extensive background check performed by services like these. I think this is a great feature for supporting the candidate through the whole of the process. Application is through Taleo, so you can apply on-line or add to a job basket for later reference. The application process in Taleo is a bit cumbersome without a social sign in or apply with LinkedIn feature. This might be an area Barclays want to give some consideration to in order to give some continuity between the site and the application process, particularly by mobile. I’m sure at this stage most candidates will plough on so the impact will be minimal, but it would help improve the candidate experience further.

When I compare the new site to the future leaders site, it feels and looks a bit more corporate. I understand that Barclays are moving to putting all their sites, not just careers in to one format, look and feel. Given that this site is for all candidates from apprentices and school leavers through to senior managers, i can see the need for this. There are less social features like Facebook content widgets, but this is compensated by links to the live Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts. These are active accounts with a focus on engagement, so the social aspects are not far away. The videos are a little more consistent and polished in style, but the content and presentation is personal. Overall, I think they’ve done a great job particularly in integrating mobile, simple navigation and interactive features. You can feel the culture and values throughout the site. Hats off to Bernard Hodes and Barclays on a great job.




Andy Hyatt

It’s official: TruDublin will kick off again on May 16-17

TruDublin May 16 and 17 Sycamore Club Dublin

I am delighted to announce the third TruDublin Unconference will take place on Wednesday and Thursday May 16th and 17th, in the Sycamore Club Temple Bar in Dublin, for two days of all things recruiting and technology.

Early Bird Tickets for TruDublin at just €99 each until May 5th (normal price €199) from Eventbrite, Click here to book.

If you don’t know by now, a TRU unconference is a a unique event where the emphasis is on conversation, communication and the free exchange of ideas and experiences. Participants come from the people space, usually made up of Recruiters (corporate and agency), Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Technology Developers and Vendors and more.

The format is to run a minimum of 3 tracks each hour. The tracks are started by a track leader who has some experience of the discussion topic. The role of the track leader is to start the conversation and let the conversation evolve wherever it goes. Participants are actively encouraged to move between tracks according to what they need individually. No one is offended and there is no need to stand on ceremony.

We have 4 simple rules:

1: No PowerPoint (or KeyNote, or Prezi…)

2: No Presenting

3: No Name Badges (Just ask!)

4: No Pitching

Outside of that, anything goes!

Track Topics so far:

  • Attracting Graduate Talent
  • The Future of the Recruitment Agency
  • Legal Pitfalls of Social Recruiting
  • The Future of Semantic CV Search
  • Has Video Assessment gone mainstream?
  • LinkedIn: Social or Job Board?
  • Power & Pitfalls of Interruptive Communication
  • The Social Agency
  • Building an In-House Recruitment Agency
  • The Challenge of Large Numbers
  • Growth in Recession
  • Employee Referrals: The Holy Grail?
  • Global Culture in a Social World
  • Email: The Unsexy Social NetworkThe CV is Dead, long live the CV
  • Dumb Database & The Futureof the ATS
  • Big Data

(More tracks and topics will be announced over the next two weeks)

We can exclusively reveal our first batch of Track Leaders are:

Mairead Fleming, MD Brightwater Karl Murray, CEO Ingage Ivan Stojanovic, CEO
Peter Cosgrove, Director Cpl John Dennehy, CEO Zartis Barry Rudden, Associate Director Sigmar
Klaudia Drulis, Global Social Media Strategist for Recruitment at Oracle James Mayes, Social Recruiting & Start-ups Expert Ed Hendrick, Founder Sonru
Gary Mullan, Owner & Co-Founder Prosperity John Dillon, Alumni Director at Trinity Foundation, TCD Stephen Harrington, Strategic Account Manager CandidateManager
James Mailley, Sales Director at Monster Shane McCusker, MD 1ntelligence Jonathan Campbell, CEO Social Talent
Colin Donnery, President at NRF & MD of FRS Recruitment Letrecia Tippett, Chief Services Officer at Morgan McKinley Bill Boorman, Founder of TruEvents

More track leaders and tracks to be announced over the next few weeks – watch this space! See you all in Dublin!

Breaking News: Evenbase announces acquisition of Jobrapido

In January, I blogged about the launch of Evenbase, and what this might mean for the digital  recruiting space. The Evenbase portfolio comprises of the market leading digital recruitment assets within the DMGT Group,including Oilcareers, Jobsite and 10 other niche, generalist and vertical sector job boards, the leading multi-poster and unified search provider Broadbean, and technology partnerships including NHS Jobs, Northcliffe Media and Johnston Press. Evenbase was created to encourage collaboration between the brands, and to spearhead global expansion. At the time, the Evenbase C.E.O. and Jobsite founder Keith Potts commented that each of the brands would remain independent with their own management team, and representation on the Evenbase board. Growth of the group would come about through a combination of organic growth wherever there is synergy, and strategic acquisitions that added to the capability of the group. I got the distinct impression that it wouldn’t be too long before further announcements to this effect would be forthcoming.

Today, Potts  announced the acquisition of Milan based  jobs aggregator Jobrapido for 30Mn Euros. Jobrapido were launched in 2006 by Vito Lamelle, who stays with the business as Chief Executive. Potts has spoken to me in the past of the importance of retaining the entrepreneurial individuals who built the businesses. This provides continuity, and expertise gained by building the business, whilst adding the additional knowledge and resources from the group. The Jobrapido acquisition follows this formula.
I first became aware of Jobrapido in June last year, when they launched the business in the U.S. following significant growth in Europe. The launch was promoted  through a story told on video, of an Italian ,Daniel who had moved from Italy to LA 2 years previous, and was in danger of being dumped by his love for being workshy. Using Jobrapido to apply for jobs, he was able to get 14 jobs in a month, The video stood out because it was amusing and wacky, but more importantly, it showed the range of jobs on Jobrapido. The video proved to be very popular with U.S. jobseekers, driving significant traffic to the site.

Job aggregators provide job seekers with a single site to search all job boards for opportunities, and to sign up for e-mail alerts. They derive their income primarily by partnering with job boards, and from clients who want to promote their listings. Jobrapido do nothing but job aggregation, and having tested the site, they have an accurate algorithm behind the search screen that returns jobs to a job seekers criteria. The user interface is simple, through a single screen, with quick sign up for jobs by e-mail.

All of the job board research I’ve seen puts simple sign up and accurate jobs by e-mail as the top 2 requirements of job seekers. When job seekers log on to the home screen of Jobrapido, theres 3 search options: What? Where? (By country) and Distance. Each search returns the option to set returns by e-mail. It’s incredibly simple, and as a result leads to most of the visitors signing up for the jobs by e-mail option.
The benefit aggregators offer to job seekers is enabling them to be able to search all the job boards without the need to visit multiple sites. The challenge for the aggregators is getting the technology right to avoid job duplication when jobs are posted to multiple sites. You can imagine how irritating it would be to get an inbox full of the same job notifications. I have run 20 searches to test this in the UK, as well as signing up for jobs by e-mail, and they seem to have solved this. There will always be issues with agencies who are posting the same jobs, but this is not dissimilar to the problem on any other job board or media place. Applicants are redirected to the original job board, with the only data retained being the e-mail address and search parameters. The additional traffic Jobrapido bring is great for the job boards and their clients, and the convenience of being able to search and get updates from one source is great for the jobseekers.

When you look at the leading job aggregators across the globe, there is really only 2 names that feature, Indeed and Jobrapido, and the gap between 2 and 3 is significant. On the face of it, Jobrapido are much like any other aggregator, and there are plenty of them, but if you dig under the bonnet a bit, you see what the appeal is to Evenbase. For a start, they have a significant presence in 50 countries, bringing significant global reach to the group. The site is multi-lingual, currently operating in 15 languages. Jobs are syndicated from all of the domestic job boards, and are converted for advanced S.E.O., returning them to the top of all the local Google searches. Coming top in the rankings in most job types attracts the most unique visitors. I’m not sure how the Jobrapido technology achieves this, but whatever goes on under the hood definitely works. Comscore data ranks Evenbase in the top 5 (with the addition of Jobrapido) for traffic globally. It’s great to see a British company positioned at the top of the tree.
Looking at the Jobsite figures, they achieve around 5million unique visitors a month, JobRapido have a massive 42 million, and the traffic has been doubling each year since their launch, with a current annual total of 660 Million visitors. In my opinion, it is the traffic volume that makes this such an interesting deal. When you combine the reach of JobRapido, Jobsite and associated job boards, Broadbean and the other partnerships like NHS jobs, and you are looking at accessibility to candidates on a global scale, and Evenbase as a leading name in digital talent acquisition, is really strengthened by this reach, combined with proven technology.
Hitwise, the recognised reference site for internet visitor numbers in the UK feature Jobrapido in the top 5 sites each month in the UK. They are ranked as number 1 in Italy, Spain and other European countries, and as the number 1 aggregator in the important German market. Given the restriction on social recruiting in Germany, reach in this market through traditional means is key to European coverage, as well as number 1 status in emerging economies like India and Mexico. In the U.S. they have achieved the number 2 status in a short space of time. It’s impressive growth that rivals any other site of its type.

Evenbase C.E.O. and Jobsite founder Keith Potts, told me that they have been looking closely at aggregators for the last decade, and JobRapido really stands out for their ability to attract traffic and to duplicate the model globally. Evenbase will add expertise and resources in expanding in to new territories, further developing the technology, as well as identifying opportunities to collaborate within the group, offering new products to the client base. It’s an exciting prospect.

Potts commented on the deal: ” There are significant opportunities for our existing portfolio of brands including economies of scale, entry to new markets, increased ability to capture CV’s, and attractiveness as a partner to international corporations. Take Jobsite, for example. These synergies will position that brand as the clear number one in the UK market.”

“Just as valuable to us are Vito Lomele and the Jobrapido team who are exactly the savvy, innovative and passionate people we love to work with. Their success in six short years speaks volumes.”

Commenting on the deal, Vito Lomele added:

“Our short and intense history has seen us grow from a self funded local operation to a successful international business ready for its next stage of growth.

“As Jobrapido enters this new phase, I am convinced we couldn’t find a better partner for consolidating our international reach than Evenbase with its global brand and client base.

With Evenbase we gain the backing of a global group such as DMGT, as well as the vivid entrepreneurial spirit and the deep industry knowledge of Keith Potts and his team. And to top it all off, there are market synergies that can be activated immediately.”

Keith Potts

Keith Potts

I spoke with Potts about how Evenbase has evolved since the launch in January, on his way back from having signed the deal in Italy. He is clearly excited by the prospect of what Jobrapido adds to the group. Potts is of the opinion that the future of job search will be centred on 5 channels:

Mobile. Social, Job boards, Referral and Aggregators.

The companies who perform best in digital recruiting will have a focus in each of these areas, rather than one or two exclusively. The addition of Jobrapido gives Evenbase a strong position in each in each. (Broadbean now operate a joint venture with referral technology company launching Broadbean Referral.) This range of coverage across each channel must put them in what I see as a unique position.
Further growth within Evenbase will come from a mix of organic growth, further acquisition and joint ventures, with a global focus, In particular,I’m interested in the prospect of the joint ventures that could emerge from the group. A great example of this is what has been achieved by the Jobsite brand, who now provide the technology powering the job advertising for 55 of the U.K.’s local newspapers, as well as all the on-line recruiting for the N.H.S, the U.K.’s largest employer.

What I think defines Evenbase in my dealings with them is that everything starts from the job seekers perspective. Their website describes them as a digital recruitment group, set up with the aim of revolutionising the matching of talent to opportunity, making the recruitment process better for everyone involved. When you consider the synergies within the group, the expert knowledge and experience within each of it’s component parts and the entrepreneurs who make up the board, then it is going to be interesting in seeing what evolves. Potts will be joining the Jobrapido board as Chief Executive, along with Ray Duggins, who heads up  new ventures within Evenbase. Jobrapido will be integrated in to this part of the group.

I wish Keith and all at Evenbase all the best with the new addition to the group. They’ve always been good people to work with, and have an attitude to job seekers I admire, Jobrapido adds to the 5 channel approach, and as the first acquisition, provides the foundation for growth.  It will be interesting to see what comes next on the Evenbase journey.





Broadbean Referral

Keith Potts

The history of recruiting according to @Zartis #Infographic

This is a bit of a fun infographic created by my friend John Dennehey from Zartis. I think he makes an interesting point that referral recruiting is far from a new concept. Although technology changes the possibilities in terms of reach and relevance, theres lessons we should have learnt from the past, not least that paying cash rewards has limited impact to volume or quality.

don’t forget to Pin it!

Abba – A Recruiter’s Lament

Guest post by Elkie Holland from Prospectus IT Recruitment.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the lyrics of “Ring Ring”  by Abba from 1973.  Listen to it again now and visualise a Recruiter sitting at their desk having advertised their latest job and waiting for the star candidate to call them.

I (recruiter) sit and wait and wonder about you (quality candidate)
It’s a dark and dreary night
Seems like nothing’s going right
(no placements)
Won’t you tell me how can I go on here without you?
(no quality candidate = no placement)

Yes I’m down and feeling blue
And I don’t know what to do, oh-oh

Ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call?

Is this a sad visualisation or a stark reality or perhaps a prophesy about to come true ?

Well, times have changed dramatically in the recruiting world and if Recruiters don’t change with it, they may well be sitting there singing this song.

You were here and now you’re gone
Hey did I do something wrong?

To be honest, the Recruiter may not have done something wrong, but they certainly aren’t doing things right if they’re still stuck with the mind-set of 1973 i.e. drafting up a nice little advert, placing it in the newspaper or trade magazine and sitting back and waiting for dozens of quality candidates to give them a call to tell them how great they are for their vacancy. 

Now I know 1973 seems a long time ago, and most many reading this won’t have been born then let alone been Recruiting at that time !  However, recruiting was still like this up until not so very long ago, except adverts were placed on the job boards rather than in newspapers or magazines.

Tell me, are we really through?
Won’t you hear me cry and you will know that my heart is breaking

The answer to this is that Recruiters are not finished.  They are still needed.

Yes I’m down and feeling blue
And I don’t know what to do, oh-oh

Recruiters need to adapt and move with the times.  Unless you’ve been hiding under rock, then you’ll have realised that Social Media has arrived and it’s here to stay.   Social Media has turned the Recruiting world on its head.  Recruiters are being forced to ‘hunt’ for quality candidates rather than just rely on ad response and waiting for their phone to ring.

It’s not that quality candidates are all hiding or don’t have phones and never reply to adverts but they are now being approached in a variety of different ways.  Therefore, they don’t always need to hunt vacancies on job boards and respond to adverts.  If a quality candidate has a LinkedIn profile, chances are they get a half a dozen or so In-mails a week starting with  ……. “I hope you don’t mind the approach, but I found your details on LinkedIn and wondered if you would be able to help me/be interested in etc”.    They may also have a Facebook profile and have been sent a personal message, or have been contacted via their Twitter account.  So candidates are being served opportunities in more ways than just traditional advertising from recruitment agencies and direct employers !

Won’t you please understand the need in me
So, ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call?

So, if you’re a Recruiter and you’re just sitting waiting for the star quality candidate to call you, then this song could be your song very soon !   Instead of you lamenting that the candidates “understand the need in you” and that they “call” you,  perhaps you should understand the needs of the candidate and go to them.

1973 was a great place to be a recruiter (and so was 1983, 1993 and 2003) but times have changed and you need to change too.  2012 is still a great time to be a Recruiter but you need to adapt to the exciting changes of the time.

To summarise: 

I am not saying job boards are dead, I am saying that Recruiters are no longer needed.  What I am saying is that Recruiters need to do more and get Social if they wish to avoid adopting the Abba song “Ring Ring” as their Lament  !

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

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

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

A message about Spam

Networking has changed. People are far more likely to connect with people than ever before without any real prior relationship, but at the same time, they are quicker than ever before to ditch people. The second or third message is key, leading straight to block, disconnect or unfollow, and the biggest reason given for doing so is spam. Spam, by my definition is all about relevance, and no deceptions, but a growing number of people seem to miss out on this simple point. Everyone has their own spam threshold, and what falls in to this category.
In my streams, this is what I see as spam from messages I’ve received in the last week:
 An invitation to an event which further exploration revealed I was unable to apply for a ticket because they were only open to specific job titles. If I don’t fit the audience, don’t send the invite. Spam.
 A link to a blog on twitter labelled as “This is an interesting post.” The link goes to the sharers post, calling their own blog interesting. Sorry, I see that as a deception. Spam.
 Joining me to multiple Facebook groups without asking, and posting the same content in each group. I only need to belong to one, duplicate updates are just annoying. Spam.
 Sending me a job on LinkedIn that I’m clearly unqualified for, or far too experienced to do. Do some research first. No research? Spam.
 Join me in to groups which are clearly not in my interest area. I know Facebook lets you do this, but please invite me first. No invite? Spam.
 Invite me to join a LinkedIn group I already belong to, or I don’t qualify for, Spam.
 Posting a link on a hashtag I follow where the post has no relevance to the group is just annoying. I follow hashtags to get relevant content. There’s no rules, but please try to keep the streams clean,. No relevance? Spam.
 Using multiple twitter accounts to put the same message on a hashtag stream. If I see the same message multiple times on different accounts, I’m turned off the link. It’s Spam.
Just a few of my thoughts of the posts I get that make me think spam. Think relevance before you post.

Talent Communities, Talent Networks And Stack Overflow Reviewed

In the music industry, few bands attract real fan boys and girls. A cult like following of people just waiting around each day for a proclamation from the chosen ones. The majority could loosely be described as followers. A following who quite like the band but aren’t scouring the news for the next release. If they hear of the next release they will probably download it, but they are not visiting fan pages or websites every day in the hope of the next announcement or the next snippet of news. They don’t want to know all the news, gossip, but they are pleased when they come across the news of the latest release.
In the sports arenas where people are genuinely labeled as fans but he number of actual paying, participating fans compared with the population as a whole is quite small. Theres a much bigger group who would describe themselves as fans but actually fit the follower category. They have an affection for the team in question. They look for the results in the papers and might watch them and cheer when they are on TV, but that really is as far as it goes. Most people are by nature passive followers. Not emotionally attached enough to make a commitment to do something on a regular basis, but enthusiastic enough to take a look when something comes across their path. They will always read a post that involves their team or band if it comes across their stream, but they won’t be desperately waiting on it. This is why sports teams and the music business have taken to social media, because they can get in front of the passive followers and connect with them, in the hope that repeated connections will result in them forming more of an attachment, perhaps becoming fans or customers. It makes commercial sense to be where you might get noticed by the vaguely interested.
In the recruiting markets I don’t think things are dissimilar. Most people are not looking for a job. They don’t want to visit in talent communities which require their effort or participation. They come to content and opportunities as the vaguely interested, often driven purely by noseyness, to see how the other half live. That really is the benefit of having conversations about work in public places, someone might just hear or see enough to want to go a bit further and look under the surface. At the looking stage they are going to mostly passive. Not announcing they are there, but wanting to poke around and see a bit more. This is why I’m not convinced about many of the talent communities which employers have tried to set up.

I don’t think the majority of people you want to hire are actually interested in actively engaging with an employer on a regular basis, other than when they are actually looking for a job, and then they don’t want to talk about specifics in a public place. What you need to be offering is much more than just job or employer content, and that’s my main reservation about what are company managed and hosted talent communities. What best suits most companies are not talent communities but talent networks. Talent networks enable people to sign up for relevant updates, jobs etc. Technology like  and TribePad allow people to sign up in all their social and web places with one click. The technology uses data from social profiles particularly LinkedIn to tag them and create lists for sending relevant jobs and content. it keeps people in touch with opportunities without flooding them with every job that comes up.

I’m also more enthusiastic about skill communities that have a very different focus to job seeking. I like the way BraveNewTalent tag people and employers by skills, and enable them to communicate. The platform has a way to go yet, but I think it is the beginning of something interesting, and will be watching closely what skills (not jobs) based content emerges, and how those with similar skill sets connect. If the team at BNT can develop more features around knowledge exchange and advice that go beyond job search and careers.

The platform that has got this right in my opinion is Stack Overflow, the site for programmers. What I like about Stack Overflow is that its primary purpose is not recruiting or careers. The jobs and careers aspect is an add on for members for the community as and when or if they want to use it. The main purpose is to connect programmers to ask and answer questions about programming. Because of the technical nature of the questions and answers, there’s not likely to be anyone other than programmers actively involved because we wouldn’t understand a word of the content.It’s also a public platform, not owned by one employer. Stack Overflow is free for users, and is accessible via a dedicated platform or Facebook application. Sign in and sign up is by social profile.  Stackoverflow is part of the Stack Exchange family of Q and A communities. There are over 85 sites in total with 1.7mn users, 3.5mn questions and 7.2mn answers. All the sites are community based and free to users, ranging from topics like cooking and gaming through to real talent communities like game development, Unix and Linus, WordPress, Drupal and the lead platform Stackoverflow. I think it is this approach to community and community features first with a clearly defined purpose, with any recruiting or jobseeking as a secondary option that makes these platforms stand out as some of the few genuine communities.

Stack overflow explain their purpose and function in this way:

Stack Overflow is a programming Q & A site that’s free. Free to ask questions, free to answer questions, free to read, free to index, built with plain old HTML, no fake rot13 text on the home page, no scammy google-cloaking tactics, no salespeople, no JavaScript windows dropping down in front of the answer asking for $12.95 to go away. You can register if you want to collect karma and win valuable flair that will appear next to your name, but otherwise, it’s just free. And fast. Very, very fast.

We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do. Stack Overflow is collaboratively built and maintained by your fellow programmers. Once the system learns to trust you, you’ll be able to edit anything, much like Wikipedia. With your help, we can build good answers to every imaginable programming question together. No matter what programming language you use, or what operating system you call home – better programming is our goal.

Members of the community post questions and other members answer them. Users rank the answers, which earns reputation points, so there is a big emphasis on peer-to-peer rankings, and the rankings are based on the answers. Users with high reputation points are the “stars” of the community. Questions are tagged, so it is easy to search questions or answers by tag.

Theres a chat area, where anyone can set up live chats and send out invites to others who share the same expertise. To take part in chats you need to have earned 20 reputation points before taking part. This makes it easy to see the expertise of contributors. It also means members don’t have to wait around for answers when they need a few ideas.

The more you use the site, the more intuitive it becomes, offering questions you might find interesting based on your tag preferences by choice, or the tags of questions you’ve answered previously or looked at in the past. Other tabs are featured questions, hot questions and the most popular by week or month.

The platform plays to the ego of users, with gaming features like the leader boards and badges. In the right environment, where badges and league tables mean something have real value, based on peer recognition, it’s an important community aspect. It’s a way users can recognize other users, and individuals can promote  their own expertise while adding real value to the community by sharing their knowledge. The community is also self-policing, with moderators elected by the users, and gaining extra recognition. For me, it’s a perfect talented community, operated by the members, for the members, on a simple to use technology program. Theres a reason to be there other than looking for a job or careers.

This is taken from the Moderators section of Stackoverflow:

Stackoverflow is run by you! If you want to help us run Stack Overflow, you’ll need reputation first. Reputation is a (very) rough measurement of how much the Stack Overflow community trusts you. Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other Stackoverflow users that you know what you’re talking about.

The users of the platform are all involved in the moderation process, with greater moderation points earnt by reputation as follows:

  • Users with 15 rep can flag posts.
  • Users with 500 rep can retag questions.
  • Users with 2,000 rep can edit any question or answer in the system.
  • Users with 3,000 rep can cast close and open votes.
  • Users with 10,000 rep can cast delete and undelete votes on questions, and have access to a moderation dashboard.
  • Users with 15,000 rep can protect posts.
  • Users with 20,000 rep can cast delete votes on negatively voted answers.
I see this as being another feature that marks Stack overflow down as a real community in that the rules and policing are determined by the community members themselves, and elected by contribution and reputation. positions of authority are earned  rather than being self-appointed. The moderators are described as human exception handlers. I like that expression.

At the side of the main screen, there is the option to enter the careers area. The Careers 2.0 section is an optional section of the platform rather than its main purpose, which is the exchange of knowledge and advice driven by user requests.  Users can create a profile either to apply for jobs advertised in the job board section, or matched jobs sent by employers. The bit I really like is that not everyone gets a profile.they are available by invite only. According to the site:

“Stackoverflow grants new invites to users fitting certain criteria of activity on Stack Exchange sites, including reputation. Participate more, ask good questions, and give good answers. You never know what might appear in your inbox.”

Effectively, members of the platform determine you are worthy of a profile. Thats got to make for a better place to source from than an open platform, and another community recognition feature. You want to use the site to get hired, then you are going to have to get involved. When you get a profile invite, you can populate the profile using your LinkedIn data with one click. Quick and easy. As you answer questions, these are rated by the questioner and other members, and these rankings, tags and comments on expertise are added to the profile, enabling companies to see how peers rank the expertise of their potential employees. Thats got to be great information for anyone looking to recruit the best talent in to their organisation.

Members and users of the site are kept up to date in the meta stack overflow area, which is a site designed for posts on bugs,features and discussions around the platform.

The careers area includes a job board which is easy to navigate, and laid out in the same way as the rest of the site for familiarity. Visitors can search for jobs by keyword, job title, location, employer, telecommuting only or distance from home. Theres also featured employers on the home page who have paid to be listed. Jobs include the same tagging as the Q & A section. For the benefit of users, advertising companies include a “Joel Score.” The Joel Score is a 12 question questionnaire that gives the software team at the employing company a score between 1 – 12 based on the number of yes answers they give. It’s not scientific but it is quick to complete and gives potential candidates a comparison between employers.

The Joel Test

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

The apply button takes you to a screen that surprisingly asks for your personal detail like e-mail and phone number, and space to write a cover letter. Stackoverflow explain this by the fact that they do not want to make applying too easy, and applications to be personalised, as they would be through traditional means. Next is CV upload, and a check screen to review how your application is going to look before sending it. For candidates without a CV, there’s a neat feature that converts the user’s profile in to a C.V.with the option to add free text.

Stackoverflow has over 15million monthly users from around the world. This has to make them the biggest collection of programmers on a single platform anywhere.Prices to advertise start from $350 to list a job for 30 days with a featured job function which highlights the job and raises search rankings, costing an additional $250 a month. Top spot which keeps the ad near the top of the listings for an additional $900 and brings an average of 4 x more click-throughs a month, and spotlight, which features the hiring company logo and description on the home page users log in to, and the job board page with price on application starting at an additional $600. Given the number of active users of the platform, it has to be a serious consideration if you are looking to reach a targeted audience.

For recruiters looking to be more proactive, there’s a profile search available by subscription. User profiles are only available to those with 15 or more rep points, awarded by other users. The members with profiles have the option to mark their profiles as active jobseekers, meaning they are open to approaches from employers, passive jobseekers denoting that they are open to occasional messages. Messages come to the selected member through the platform and elect if they want to receive the message and make contact.

The search is organised by:

> Skills (any of or all of.)

> Location (and a within bar) with the option to include candidates seeking relocation.

> Employment type with options to include full-time, temporary, telecommute or internship.

> Candidate type with options for all, active or passive.

Results come back showing profiles that match by profile and on a data map (overlaid on Google maps.), as well as data graphs that show:

> Top Technologies

> Demographics by active and passive, student and non-student, relocate and not relocate’

The profiles from the search display the following data:

> Name, location, web address and twitter name

> Summary of career interests

> Technologies displayed as tags by likes and dislikes

> Experience including work history, tags and summary

> Education including tags

> Stack Exchange network accounts including reputation points in each

> Open source data

> Tools by first computer and favourite editor

> Background including projects and links

Recruiters can access the additional information behind the reputation points and Stack overflow and their interaction with the site. The data is displayed by:

> Bio including name, title, website, location, age, summary and twitter name.

> Picture and reputation points

> Answers – access to all answers given on the platform and reputation points awarded

> Questions asked by votes received, activity and newest.

> Tags attached to answers

> Accounts held with the stack exchange platform.

> Badges awarded by peers like “Nice Answer” and “Disciplined.”

> Active bounties (Bounties are traded reputation points, only available to users with 75 or more reputation points. This positions a question as a featured post for 7 days, making it stand out by position and visually. I really like the concept of trusted and rated users being able to promote those questions they want answers to, as well as raising their ranking by interaction with other members.)

> Votes cast (Users can vote questions and answers up and down.)

Users have the option to keep profiles private, viewable by invitation only. Public profiles have a vanity URL that can be listed anywhere for external access or linking. The members have the choice and control over how their data gets viewed and by who, privacy obviously being a key concern to many potential users. There are over 50,000 live profiles on the site with 4.9,000 in the U.K. Whilst the numbers are quite small compared with LinkedIn, it is a focussed community with user’s knowledge ranked by their peers. A peer ranking of knowledge has to be far more valuable than a solicited recommendation in my opinion.

I’ve gone in to a lot of detail looking at all the features of Stack overflow and Stack exchange because I see it as one of the few real talent communities on the web. There also taking the communities off-line through a series of meetups across the globe aimed at bringing the members and users closer together in person by location. I’m confident that this initiative will take off and build the platform.

The key features of Stack overflow, in my opinion make it the perfect blueprint for any talent community. If your planning on going down this route, take a good look at the platform for a few ideas.