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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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