Is This Social Media Nirvana?

Did you just become invisible?

There’s a thought that has been going around in my head for a while. It started at #truLondon from a comment I made in a track and has been gaining momentum that I want to share with you to see what you think. The concept is really simple, if no one can see your content you can’t influence them in any shape or form. It doesn’t really matter if you have 50,000 followers, friends, fans or connections, if no one is interacting with your content, you become invisible to everyone. Looking at this channel by channel. LinkedIn have been up to lots of tricks recently. Firstly they moved updates from your profile to your home page, with a Facebook type stream that promotes what is trending. Trends are determined by shares, likes and comments on your updates. The best way to trend is to post your content to LinkedIn updates first, and share the LinkedIn update on Twitter and Facebook, because every interaction to a LinkedIn link counts towards your trending score, whatever the channel.

LinkedIn have also been quietly changing profiles to a new design. There is lots of great data on the new design, but a few features seem to be disappearing. For a start, I don’t see any blog links or WordPress apps on the new profiles. I also don’t see Slideshare (though as LinkedIn own them this may stay). There are lots of cool new features that show a bit more about you, like how you are connected and the make up of your network on the new profile, but the only update that is visible is the last one.  The events section is disappearing mid November, so I’m expecting a few other things to drop out around the same time. The point of all this is that if you want to share an event with your network, then you are going to have to do it through an update. I think this is the driving force to get people posting updates, sharing and interacting. If you have new content, new posts, new events, etc., then it has to go through updates, part of the LinkedIn master plan to get us engaging in a channel that was becoming largely static. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the less active groups also getting removed. To get a new profile right now you have to ask for one, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see LinkedIn following the same path as Facebook did with timeline. Update in 3 months or else they will change it for you. Check out the new profiles and start thinking about how you are going to need to change yours.

On Facebook pages (personal and fan), you only see the updates you interact with. This is based on the Edgerank algorithm. Points awarded for comments, shares and likes in that order, that lose their value over time. Unless you subscribe to a feed (the least popular Facebook feature), you lose the updates from your stream if you don’t interact with the friend or page. This favors sponsored story’s as the most popular form of advertising on Facebook (ads are close to invisible on mobile), and also means that you need to be producing engaging content. No interaction, no visibility. I think this will be the biggest feature to drive the Facebook mobile app to enable likes and shares, as comments are only possible at the moment. Expect this change soon, now that Facebook updates are more than 60% mobile.

On twitter, what you see in your stream close to the top when you log in is sponsored posts, and those that you have interacted with in the past. Twitter shows you your closest friends first, as well as what is trending in your network. This is based on favorites, retweets, replies etc. It seems all the channels are favoring an Edgerank style ranking system.

On Goggle search, your results are greatly influenced by what you have responded to in the past by opening links, (which is why authorship on Google+ is so important). Preference is given to content that answers the search from authors you have liked before. Your social connections with the author also influences results, based on your relationship, and relationship is based on interactions. Yes, there will always be listings from people you don’t know, but people you do know and engage with will be showing higher up the rankings, because Google want to give you results that you trust, and that means people you know.

All of this points to one thing, if people are not engaging or interacting with your content, then it is going to become invisible. Forget SEO, forget huge followings, fan competitions to win an i-Pad if you like us and all that kind of thing, no interaction, no visibility. No visibility and no potential to influence, and this is only going to get more advanced in all the channels. Results are entirely dependent on interaction and engagement. Ditch your automated tweetadder followings, stop the gimmics for one off likes, become interactive and encourage interaction. Isn’t that the nirvana for social media? Engage or die!

Stop the talent community BS

It doesn’t really matter where you go on the internet, where people have a common interest they will gather. It doesn’t really matter what that interest is, in amongst the noise people will find each other. On a channel like Tumblr it might be the latest band or fad, on Facebook it might be that you went to the same school or have the same memories, on LinkedIn it could be that you work in the same field and on Twitter it could be as simple as you support the same football team. Social media is built to help people with the same interests find each other easily and hang out, because the conversations on topic usually take part in a public space. It’s a bit like standing in a shopping mall with a megaphone shouting “I love to collect stamps. I have a great collection.” Most of the people passing by will roll an eye and stroll on. Stamps have no interest, but every so often someone will come past and say “I love stamps too. Lets go somewhere and talk about it.” Then off go the stamp men with their cardigans, and their first editions and their passion for stamps, and they sit, drink coffee and exchange stamp war stories, tips and advice.

The guy with the megaphone, lets call him Jim, is talking to his new stamp buddy (lets call him Brian), and they become friends quickly because of their shared love of all things stamps. Jim phones his friend who has a rare first day cover and he comes over and joins the conversation. Jim and Brian, discover that they have a few mutual friends who also love stamps. They agree it would be a good idea if they all met over a beer next week, and brought their friends along to talk a bit more about stamps over a beer in a bar. Word gets out from friend to friend, by word of mouth and word of mouse. The stamp guys hang out.

Enjoying these informal get togethers, Jim and Brian and all the other stamp guys, and now a few stamp girls decide that it would be great if they met once a week to talk about a new super interesting stamp topic, and to show the new collectors’ items they had gathered each week. Once this started happening they soon realised that they needed to be organised, which meant someone needed to take charge, and a few others needed to take on responsibilities like booking the bar, ordering the pretzels, that kind of stuff. After a while, they agreed that it would be good to start bringing some new faces in, because they had seen every stamp each of them owned, and they had each led a meeting to talk about their specialist topic. What they needed was someone to get the word out and take control of marketing the group to new people. Time to get the megaphone out, put a few posters up and make a few announcements.

About this time, there was a stamp fair in town. People were coming from far and wide to buy, sell and swap stamps. They weren’t really connected, but they were all pretty serious about the art of stamp collecting. They had a lot of knowledge, but they liked to keep their secrets to themselves because stamp collectors are seriously competitive. New people joining in the meet ups, which became meetings, always started reserved, but learnt fairly quickly that the more they shared, the more others shared with them. The sales fairs became a great recruiting ground for the stamp group, they even took a stand to meet new people. The more time the group took to run, the more they needed to organise themselves with a committee, organisers and fees to pay for venues, marketing and the like. The group grew and grew.

When the group met each Wednesday, they started to divide in to sub-groups according to their niche interests. Some people had a special interest in first day covers, others were interested in African stamps, new releases and only stamps over 100 years old. These groups decided among themselves that it would be great if they hung out separately on a different night.They still went back to the main group once or twice a month, but mostly they liked to hang out in small groups, with the people who were more alike. The big meetings were more social for a pint and a chat, but the smaller gatherings was where the real business of talking and exchanging stamps got done. Each of these groups started to organise themselves because they needed to, appointing a group leader and an organiser to get things done.

From time to time the members fell out with each other, stamps can be a competitive and challenging hobby to have. One member would be accused of breaking the rules or aims of the group, but there were no rules to speak of, people just kind of knew what they expected of each other. As the groups grew and became more diverse, and other groups started to spring up in other towns it was clear that some structure was needed. Jim and Brian had always been the self-appointed leaders by virtue of the fact that they were the first members, but others were starting to question this. Whilst their contribution was undisputed, they were a bit dated in their views. For a start they didn’t really like the internet, and shied away from anything on-line, but members needed to communicate and trade their stamps even if they couldn’t make the meetings. The special interest groups wanted to be able to connect with other people who shared their interests wherever they might be located, and this could only happen on-line.

Recognising that they were holding back the natural progress of the group, Jim and Brian declared that they were taking a backseat, and organised a vote among the members to elect a committee with formal roles. Whilst they wanted to keep things as loose as possible for the members, they also recognised that some structure was needed, and the first job of the new council was to crowdsource the members and agree guidelines for the members to follow. No one quite knew when it happened, but the people involved had gone from being enthusiastic friends to being members of a bigger community. From that first announcement about stamps, something bigger with structure and culture evolved, a real community, and they took it on-line. The virtual membership and participation became bigger than the physical one. From an early chance meeting, a real community was born.

The point of telling this fictitious story is to illustrate how communities evolve and change over time, sparked by a shared interest and a natural human desire among people to connect and belong to groups with a shared interest, and how structure and order naturally evolves. It is the way towns grew from villages, and city’s from towns. Shared purpose, and the need for a level of order.

There has been a lot of rubbish talked about talent communities around companies. Job seeking is a solo occupation. People don’t want to do it in packs or groups. Job seeking is transactional, communities are based on relationships. Following a company is not belonging to a talent community, at best it is being a part of a talent network. Applying for a job is not belonging to anything other than your interest in the job. Like the stamp guys, real community needs to be around a shared area of interest, and the community is not owned or managed, it evolves and gains structure over time. You need to broadcast the area of interest in the early days to attract those with an interest, get them to the same place then let them decide how it evolves, and the structure it takes. It is a long term gain, not a short term return, and is unlikely to be what a real company needs.

Just my thoughts, evolve like the stamp guys from a single interest, let the members decide the structure and objective and make recruiting one of many secondary activities, and not the basis of a community.


Sunday Shout Out For The Best Blog I’ve Read In A While

Today’s Sunday ShoutOut is for a blog and a blogger. I found this post in the Twitter stream this week. I’ve known the blogger Mitch Sullivan for a few years now, I just hadn’t taken the time to read his blog. Mitch can be an abrasive character with plenty of opinions, but when you get to the bottom of it, he is a hard-working, shoot from the hip honest recruiter, who is passionate about the industry and what he does.

Stumbling on Mitch’s blog, Fasttrack, I read the latest post, and then I read another 30 first sitting, and then  Irang him to tell him I loved his work. I like bloggers who you can read their posts and hear their voice. Mitch definitely sits in this category. His posts make me smile, laugh out loud and nod my head vigorously in agreement. Unlike mine, his posts are short, saying just what needs to be said. This is his latest post word for word:

To all those people getting giddy about the “power of social media”

Posted by Mitch on 26th October 2012

If you still talk shit, people will still ignore you.

They’ll just ignore you in more places.

Seriously, that’s all it means.

The people who are great at social media now, were great with the more traditional stuff because social media only democratises marketing for the people who already had some talent in that area.

Everyone else needs a rethink.

That’s it. Short, acidic and to the point, but you very much get the message. I’ve subscribed for a daily dose of Mitch. You should to! You can view FastTrack here.


My Culture Branding E-Book With KellyOCG

I’ve been lucky enough to get a look at some real culture brands first hand. To see the way some businesses like Rackspace in Texas, HardRock in London,The BBC in London and Barclays have been able to build a distinctive culture, and frame it for public consumption. When you work with brands like these, the challenge is not to get more people to apply for jobs with the company, but to reduce the volumes and improve the efficiency of those who actually apply. The objective is to use social places to give employees a voice to show the reality of work, and to enable potential applicants to opt out if it is not for them.

All organisations have a unique culture. Culture doesn’t have to be dynamic and fun packed, it could be steady and staid, controlling or totally open and creative. The important thing is that the face you show to the world is the reality of what lives behind your four walls. That way people can choose if they want in, or not.

I was first switched on to this concept a few years ago at #truLondon by the excellent Michael long. I’ve since been lucky enough to visit Rackspace and see it in action first hand. I was delighted to share my thoughts and experiences with Sally Hunter, the RPO lead for EMEA for Kelly. Together we have produced this short e-book to share our thoughts. I hope this provokes more thought and discussion because there is more to come!
You might want to view the e-book in full screen view or download your own copy.







Did LinkedIn just become BranchOut? The endorsement story

I got the title for this post from a conversation I had earlier this week in relation to the much talked about endorsements feature on LinkedIn. Just in case you have been offline for the last three months, the way the feature works is that users add up to 50 skills to their profile. LinkedIn offer suggestions and alternatives to add. When you get an endorsement you get asked if you want to endorse back, then if you do you get offered 4 more profiles with skills to endorse. You can endorse these individually or with one click, or you can choose to close the window. Each time you endorse a skill another one pops up. If you close off one of the windows by clicking on the cross, then another one pops up. It is quick and easy to endorse. Personally, I never endorse all 4 at once, but I endorse those profiles that I think are deserving. Some of the people deserve endorsing, so I endorse them, whilst others just make me laugh. I’ve been asked if the likes of Glen Cathey know about sourcing (hell yes), and then I’ve been asked if others (who I won’t mention), know about social media which has just made me laugh.

LinkedIn seem to be experimenting about when they ask you to endorse. I’ve seen it when I log in, when I look at another users profile, or when I receive an endorsement. They will figure out the best place for this interaction, I’m sure. The reference to BranchOut in the title refers to the Facebook application who grew to 25 million users really quickly when they introduced a mobile app, that automatically enabled you to invite 50 friends with one click (and set up profiles for them to claim). I documented their growth in users HERE. The decline in users was almost as rapid as the rise, and the constant spamming of invites proved universally unpopular. Having alienated many Facebook users, the business is now building a network off Facebook, in theory to rival LinkedIn. Because of the way that the endorsements are easy and take no effort to complete the comparison with BranchOut, and the question over the value of the endorsements are inevitable. The interesting thing about the “BranchOut” method of growth was that Glassdoor adopted the same method when they launched their Facebook app, with one click invites to 50 friends at a time. This has been so successful for Glassdoor that they have been able to grow user numbers quickly by over 9 million, and significantly grow the number of reviews on the site to make them genuinely global and valuable, hence the recent huge investment. The difference here is that people saw Glassdoor as valuable when they got there, not a feeling they shared about BranchOut. These two examples show that when you ask users to do something when they log in, and make it as simple as one click, they usually comply. That is the BranchOut legacy, and is a method LinkedIn have followed to spread the endorsement of skills quickly.

To understand the reasoning behind this we need to look at why populating the skills profiles is so important to LinkedIn. It has been possible to add skills to profiles for about 18 months now, but because a profile showed 100% complete without it, very few people actually added skills to their profile. This was a bit of a problem because the LinkedIn search and recommendation algorithm that drives the channel was built on skills and location. Endorsed skills provide much better results than free text job titles or summaries, hence the drive to skills. The skills endorsements are also important because they should give us much better results to need than the free text and inconsistent recommendations in the old style LinkedIn. If LinkedIn can get an accurate breakdown of skills for every user, and get them endorsed by other users, it adds a very useful dimension to the channel, particularly for search, as skills, rather than experience become the new currency.

Much of the criticism from some of the great and the good is that the new style of endorsements are just too easy, and are taking credibility away from the channel. If we have learnt anything about social media, it is that users don’t like change. Just when we get comfortable, the channel goes and changes things and we feel like they are changing our place. They rarely tell us it’s coming either, which gives us no time to think about it. One day we log in and it all looks and feels different. As a result, I expect to hear some complaint around new things, but the noise over endorsements seems to be gathering momentum.

I was a bit surprised about the approach from LinkedIn, but I have kept an open mind to see what the real impact would be on profiles, after all, I was hearing that these endorsements had little value, because they were so easy, just like BranchOut. Now that we are about 6 weeks in, the endorsements are starting to have real impact. For a start, nearly all the active profiles on LinkedIn now have enough endorsements to get a good picture of the skills of the user. this is because the skills on the profile are defined by the user and endorsed by others. This has real value in search and recommendation, where the results have become noticeably more relevant as the endorsements have grown.

I’ve also noticed that on the whole, users are being fussy over their endorsements. They might not have as much knowledge of the users to give a detailed endorsements, but they don’t appear to be saying yes to everything. Endorsements to some degree are earnt on reputation, and are not being given on mass because it is easy. To test this theory, I have looked at 5 people I know quite well, and the top 5 things they are endorsed for. I haven’t found anything I would dispute or disagree with. These are the 5:

> Matt Alder

  1. Digital Strategy – 62
  2. Employer Branding – 51
  3. Digital Marketing – 35
  4. Social Media Marketing – 23
  5. Internal Communications – 9

>Glen Cathey

  1. Technical Recruiting – 80
  2. Internet Recruiting – 55
  3. Talent Acquisition – 51
  4. Sourcing – 51
  5. Recruiting = 31

>Andy Headworth

  1. Recruiting – 31
  2. Social Media – 23
  3. Talent Acquisition – 21
  4. Social Recruiting – 18
  5. Social networking – 15

>Laurie Ruettimann

  1. Social Media – 62
  2. HR Consulting – 45
  3. Social Media Marketing – 34
  4. Human Capital – 26
  5. Blog Marketing – 24


>Bill Boorman

  1. Recruiting – 27
  2. Social Media Marketing – 23
  3. Recruiters -21
  4. Social Media – 20
  5. Public Speaking – 15

If you don’t know all the names on the list, check a few who you do know. Knowing each of these individuals, I would agree with all these lists. This gives me confidence in the endorsements held by the people I don’t know, and in the search results and recommendations based on the endorsements. Despite the criticism  this looks like being another really useful feature, based on the results rather than the noise of the moaners.

In the process of researching this post, I also got to see the new profile layout that are slowly getting rolled out. This changes the look and gives some extra really useful data. If you want to see what yours will look like when you get it check the profiles for Laurie Ruettimann and Glen Cathey.

Now go check the endorsements of people you know, and see if you still think they are of little value,


Sign up for the #SocialAgency Hangout hosted by Bill Boorman on 15th Nov



The old lady in HR


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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?


Companies prefer smoking to social media

I opened my presentation at KellyOCG’s #TSS event in Dublin with a comment that seemed to hit home with the 60 or so HR folk in the room. My comment centered around being a smoker. I’ve smoked on and off since I was young. It is not something I’m massively proud of, and I’m constantly trying to give up. The point of talking about this is not a bearing of the soul about being a smoker, or another public declaration of giving up. I tried that for Stoptober, lasted about 3 days. I will try again.(Read here to know how ghost mv1 vaporizer allows its users to gain complete access by just using their phone).

My point is that in all the jobs I ever had, it was never an issue to have a smoke break. I was often joined by non-smokers because the smokers room was the one place people from different departments actually talked, and was the place where you went when you really wanted to know what was going on. Not many people smoke anymore, which is why some companies have tried to replace the smoke room with refreshment areas where people can hang out, talk, eat and have an accidental engagement. The same accidental engagement that used to go on in the smoking area. The place to find out what is really going on.

The opening to the presentation was not about the engagement, but that smoke breaks were seen as acceptable and reasonable in most companies, provided they are not abused. Contrast this with the attitude of “Facebook breaks” or social media breaks. Times in the day when employees can just check in, catch up, respond to personal messages, things like that. Mostly this is frowned upon as unproductive time wasting, nothing to do with work. A distraction, and those social media people can’t be trusted to do their work. I remember the same reaction when we first got e-mail and first got the internet. There needed to be rules and policies because people couldn’t be trusted, at least that was the message. All along though, I’ve always been allowed cigarette breaks provided I got the work done and didn’t abuse them. I was trusted to be sensible. I only ever smoked in down time, or as a “reward” when I finished a job or met a deadline. When I was busy with things to do, I didn’t smoke.

I’ve asked lots of HR professionals recently if they still allow smoke breaks in the day. The answer is always the same, with the exception of production environments the answer has always been yes, within reason. When I’ve asked about Facebook break question, the answer has been the opposite. Only a handful have said yes. Most just don’t allow personal social media time, and some even use tools to monitor it. Is Facebook really more of a time suck than smoking?

My thought is that if you are going to recruit socially then you are going to recruit social people. A grown up attitude and approach to personal social time shows trust. It might make a difference to the people you attract. It never ceases to amaze me how many companies only allow Facebook in recruiting, hiring from the channel then banning it on arrival. A bit hypocritical? Lets just trust everyone to be a grown up with open Facebook breaks and access, because when you trust people they rarely disappoint. Why is smoking acceptable but social isn’t?





Applicants, Candidates And Content Strategy #truLondon

image by Oscar Mager

I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about where jobs fit in with content and content strategy. I crystalized this thinking last week at #truLondon. We know from all the research from the likes of Evenbase, that what potential  applicants want before they hit the apply button is more information on the company and the job. What we are seeing is that job seekers are just bored of the application process, spending time filling in questions and answers. The average time I’m seeing it takes to complete a first time application with a corporate client is 2 hours. That’s right, you read it correctly, 2 hours, and a minimum of 50 clicks and 50 screens. It’s hard and it’s horrible to apply for a job, then what happens next?

The feedback from the Candees (Candidate Experience Awards) delivered by Gerry Crispin at #truLondon is not a lot really. Very little feedback and a never hear again attitude. The upshot of this is that potential applicants want to be 100% sure of 2 things before they hit apply and go in to the process:

1: They have a good chance of getting the job

2: They really want the job

This means that you need to provide enough information to answer both of these questions before they will go through the pain of an application. The traditional copy writers will jump in and say that this is all down to poorly crafted job descriptions that describe nothing but a list of duties. There is a little bit of merit in this argument, but a text document is really one-dimensional and quite boring. Doesn’t matter how well you write it. It’s often not enough to elicit the type of response you really want and need. The ones left in the funnel are the desperate and the unemployable who have the time and the desire to stick with the process. It is a frightening thought. It also reminds me of the track by John Sumser, where he made the point that the talent shortage is actually caused by over-supply. There is so many people in the job market that it becomes hard to reach or find the ones who are right.

My feeling is that the more we think of jobs as content rather than postings, the more likely we are to solve both of these problems. Increasingly I’m seeing that the real benefit of social recruiting is that you lower the volume of response, but increase the quality of those who apply. People who better fit the company and the job, share your values and have chosen to apply for your job rather than any job. This will also help to solve the Sumser theory by reaching the people who are the right fit. Great content also makes it easy for applicants to see if they fit, encouraging them to apply.

In this post I have been speaking about applicants. I took this from Paul Maxin of Unilever’s track where he spoke about separating applicants and candidates, and having a different strategy and approach for each. Applicants are those people who apply, where as candidates are those people who have got past the application stage and are in the recruitment process at any stage. This means thinking about applicant experience and candidate experience as two different things.I hear the old chestnut often that applying for a job shouldn’t be easy. I accept that getting a job shouldn’t be a walk in the park, but should applying for a job really be that hard? My thinking is that being an applicant should be easy. It is really a matter of giving a recruiter access to your details to tell you if you should be proceeding in to the tough job of becoming a candidate or join the talent network for another opportunity. That has got to offer a better applicant experience, rather than treating applicants and candidates when they are clearly not qualified to be one.

From a content point of view this means having different content streams for applicants around the job and the company, and around the candidate process about what happens next, and more detailed specific content the further the candidate goes through the process. I recently looked at the CERN progress chart that enables any candidate to log in at any time and see where they are up to in the process at any time. This is brilliant for the candidate experience.

Applicant content needs to be around the job, the culture and the values. If we view jobs as content, then you can build a content strategy around the job. I’m thinking job spec, video, pictures on a pin board related to the job, blog post and social connections with the people who do the job. I also see a place for a Jobgram type infographic here that shows the job in a different way. All of this content can be used to populate a culture site (as opposed to a career site) that enables people to properly understand the culture and values of the business from the people who work there.

These are some of my thoughts after an excellent #truLondon. Thanks everyone who contributed,





“Little Data On Demand”: My #HRTechEurope Thoughts

This has been a bit of a mad week. I’ve been on the road at 3 great events. First was #TruLondon, second was the excellent Talent Sourcing Summit hosted by KellyOCG in Dublin, and then #HRTechEurope in Amsterdam, where I got to speak on implementing social recruiting and co-hosted the Kenexa #IceParty. I’m going to write more on each of these events over the coming weeks, but there was a few trends that featured strongly at each of the events. Its something I have been talking about for the last 18 months, and it seems to be becoming a reality.

If we were able to put all of the speakers, exhibitors and attendees conversations during all of these events through some kind of fancy word cloud generator, the words “BIG DATA” would dwarf everything else. For some it was just the latest in a long list of buzz words to include, but there some of the tech suppliers (I don’t like the term vendors),who are building products that solve the real challenge of harnessing the vast amount of data living in multiple on-line places, and in disparate tools, systems and applications. What users in HR and Recruiting really want is what I’m calling “little data” and “data on demand.”

What I mean by this is that what we really want is real-time interpretation of the story behind the data. The real value is in very simple applications that do all the web crawling, data finding and data collection under the hood, interrogating and interpreting what all this information in bite sized chunks. What people want is “little data” to help make the right decisions based on the available real-time information. They want it now, without the need to wait, from up to date sources, on the device that they choose to access it with (which often means mobile), and in a visual format that makes interpretation simple. Little data on demand.

In the IHR competition run as part of #HRTechEurope, I was really impressed by Dutch company Hunite. The Hunite solution aggregates the various HR systems that a company operates to make day-to-day functions like expense claims or authorising simple, with push actions delivered to mobile. I described them in my review of the competition as information middleware for mobile.

The deserved winner of the competition have a great extension to their main product called look up. TalentBin builds profiles by spidering the web from twitter to github to aggregate what they describe as implicit professional activity on the web. This is about finding all the activity and filtering what is important from all the noise. The mobile application is called LookUp (for iPhone) enables instant access to profiles via a mobile device. built for networking events and chance meetings, I think it is quite brilliant, and another example of “little data on demand.” There are plenty of other examples I could talk about, and will do over the coming weeks, What is interesting to note is which of the suppliers have taken steps to ensure that all of their functions work on a mobile platform even when the data feed is less than mobile friendly, and which have simply created aggregated feeds that lead to features and destinations that are not mobile friendly, usually built-in flash as opposed to HTML5. A half mobile experience that promises more and fails to deliver is worse than offering no mobile experience at all.
The 3 trends that really stood out for me were:

>Data aggregation to a single source

HR and recruiting are using a whole plethora of systems. The need to prove ROI and figure out what is working and more importantly, what isn’t. Theres also a need for tracking, and for figuring out the best way to interpret the story the data is telling. This means the data delivered and pre-interpreted through a simple UI. TalentBin describe themselves as Google for people, and that is a good aspiration to have.What users are looking for is a Google type experience on demand on any device, with the belief that what is going on under the hood will deliver results they can have confidence in.
>Simple User Interface

The message is beginning to get through that products must put users at the heart of design and build. This means simple navigation and intuitive functions. The interface of many of the new release look social with obvious buttons and engagement features.In recruiting terms the important users are the recruiters, applicants and candidates.
>Mobilisation of data

It is interesting to note which of the new releases and products are optimised for mobile, and which aren’t. The big trend is for delivering the mobile experience via applications. The start-up businesses and less established companies build for mobile naturally, where as some of the more established companies have tried to tag on mobile features, or have not moved down the mobile route. The message from users is quite clear, build for mobile or don’t build at all. The most impressive mobile app on show was from HireVue and what is the first video selection (interviewing) tool. Kudos to them for this development which is the first of its kind. In terms of “little data on demand”, the effort is to deliver information as it is needed, whenever it is needed, and responds to the shift towards remote working.

A last thought around social is that it is noticeable in product which of the suppliers are social by nature, and who is trying to plug-in social features to products not built for a social world. Social comes from the inside out, and the suppliers need to be social before they build social. When looking for new suppliers who build products with social features it is worth poking around their social accounts to see how they run their own social accounts. If you find limited activity.that should be a real warning sign.No one company can provide everything you need for HR and Recruiting, whatever they may claim. Suppliers need to offer an open API and a collaborative attitude to other suppliers. You want one data flow and access from a single point. Not surprisingly, it tends to be the social companies who are collaborative, and you want all of your suppliers to play nicely.

Hats off to the organisers HRNEurope who put on a great show. I know they have some more events planned for 2013 which I will be glad to attend.


iHR #HRTechEurope. The competing new tech

Now for the good bit of #HRTechEurope. The new tech competition.
First up is  Gooodjob. Built to leverage social media and customer referrals. The value proposition is to provide social sharing technology. They are looking to address the problem of getting employees engaged. Points are rewarded to employees for how far their referral gets in the process, and points mean prizes. Jobs are imported and published to the employees social networks with a unique URL to employ. There is a mobile app to go with it. This doesn’t look like a referral product to me, more of a job poster because it shares to networks without matching. This is job sharing. The panel asks about quality, the answer is that the referrer is asked to rank the quality. I score them 3.
Next up is Hunite. Hunite want to make information available to all employees in one place from the many different HR systems. This is a very neat app. More like middleware. This system is built to share info on any device in the way the user wants it. Brilliant if it works, and I have no reason to think it won’t. Data is distributed by giving API access to the other system providers. This is mostly aimed at hospitals. I think it is brilliant mobile middleware for information. I score this a 9.
My friends from from Intunex. I’ve blogged about them before after #truHelsinki. I love the concept of skills swarms for sharing expertise and advice. This scores an 8 on my scale.

Sciomino was the next contender up in the firing line. This is about gathering all the knowledge and information in a company and put it in one place, extracting data from one source. It brings an end to the intranet, lists and directories. The product evolved commercially from something they built for themselves. I score this 8.

Smallimprovements are next up. A SAS solution for performance management. it is built on on-going feedback. It looks a bit like Rypple, but that is not a bad thing. There are some very neat comparison tools. It’s free for 10 users. I like this a lot and score it 9.5  feedback is continuous and can be given on a 360 basis, and the founder is enigmatic.

Last up is TalentBin. We know the product well. Talentbin sources where other tech doesn’t. Places like Stackoverflow, Twitter, Meetups, Github etc and create a unified profile from the implicit profesional activities on the web. It is an extension of what The Social CV tried to do, only on steroids. They describe it as Google for people. I see where they are coming from. I score this a 9.

Well done to all the presenters. Great job and cool tech. the winner on the day TalentBin, who drew on my scoring with SmallImprovements.