Michael Specht

A blog from Australia looking at technology, management, Human Resources (HR) and recruitment.

Social Recruiting Summit

June 17th, 2009 · 12 Comments · Recruitment ·

A quick summary from the Social Recruiting Summit that I attended yesterday at Google in San Francisco.

The day kicked off with Reid Hoffman CEO of LinkedIn giving us an amazing presentation on LinkedIn. One of Reid’s main messages was that every individual is now their own small business, which means everyone needs their own brand. Therefore you need to build the asset value of yourself. Further if every individual is a small business, every individual is an entrepreneur and everyone will have/need an online profile. Some interesting food for thought.

Reid also provided some interesting statistics on LinkedIn ; 1 million new signups every 17 days, 41 million professionals in over 1 70 industries across 200 countries with the highest per capital membership being from the Netherlands!

Next up was our tour of the Google campus. While only short it was still very hard to take it all in. Some of the highlights included:

  • Meng’s wall of Presidential photos
  • Free food, of course!
  • Two outside lap pools with a lifeguard
  • Lots of random things such as old style phone booths, steal shark fins, pink flamingos all over the campus
  • 24 hour free gym
  • Free blue bikes that you can just take to get around the campus
  • Posters. There were posters everywhere advertising all sorts of things. Not like most companies where there are “official” locations for posters. Not at Google it seems you just grab your poster and tape it up where ever you want.

For the first concurrent sessions I decided to try the unconference sessions on the assumption that the others were being streamed and I should be able to download the video and audio later. The session was Social Recruiting ROI. As with some other unconference sessions I have attended the session was a bit confusing and didn’t really answer any questions. The reason I believe was a mismatch in expectations between the audience and session facilitators. We had about 80 people in the room most hoping to hear from the panel how to identify ROI, while the panel was wanting to hear from the audience. My takeaway from this session is we need some metrics, but no one really knows what they are, yet.

After lunch we had Sacha Chua from IBM talk about the “most awesome job search ever”. A fantastic session looking at social recruitment from the candidates point of view. Sacha had been blogging while at university and during the process had connected with several people from IBM. She told a very funny story of going for her first interview at IBM. Beforehand she did all the right things and prepared for the interview but was very nervous about the process given she really wanted to work for IBM. At the start of the interview, the hiring manager introduced themself and essentially said “it is great to finally meet you I was a bit nervous about meeting you face to face”! Sacha was in shock because that was exactly how she felt! The profile she had developed online meant that IBM wanted her to join them and they were concerned that IBM would not be “good” enough!

Sacha then went on to talk about how productive she was from day one because she already knew so many people inside IBM. She knew more about IBM before she joined than she could ever get off a career’s site. This is essentially Cluetrain Thesis 84:

We know some people from your company. They’re pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you’re hiding? Can they come out and play?

So why don’t more organisations allow their employees to connect with potential candidates? Don’t know how to do that just find employees who are passionate about your company and let them tell stories. Don’t have employees who are passionate? You might just have a problem.

Next up was Joshua Khan who’s presentation was about sacred cows and social recruiting. An interesting look at some of the work he had been doing with Geek Squad and Best Buy. Josh went through multiple examples giving the audience a great run down of what worked, what didn’t and what he has learnt from each experience. One of the key messages from Josh was that lots of social recruiting ideas don’t really cost a huge amount of money, if any at all.

The greatest learning here was that there was nothing new. The work I have been doing with clients in Australia is basically the same as what Josh has been doing in the US. So is Australia really 2 – 3 years behind? Now I will admit I had been speaking with Josh in the morning on the shuttle bus to Googleplex about the level of social media maturity of the audience, which neither of us knew. So this does mean he could of held back some of the really forward thinking ideas and approaches?

The final session was from Shannon Seery Gude on employer online reputation and social recruiting strategies. Even though I have known Shannon and her husband Julian for many years we have never actually met! Shannon knows her stuff and this was the best presentation of the day. Shannon gave the audience an inside look at how Bernard Hodes develops online strategies for clients, just this session provided enough practical tips and hints to cover the cost of event ticket.

You can see her full presentation on her blog.

So the real question is was the event worth the travel and expense. Yes.

My only regret I wish it went on for two days, in fact several people mentioned the same thing. The main reasons were the day felt rushed and I had to make some very hard decisions on which sessions I attended.

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brian Peddle // Jun 17, 2009 at 2:28 am

    RE: ” social media maturity of the audience”

    I think this became the issue of the day for a lot of people. Many have heard all the buzzwords and wanted to come to learn more. I think what would have been helpful is a 101 type session. Provide a little core knowledge so they could have gotten more from the day.

  • 2 Laurie Ruettimann // Jun 17, 2009 at 2:34 am

    M – My highlight was seeing you! :)

    I made a suggestion that a real-time wiki would have been fun to build. Have great typists in the room dedicated to catching the best from the discussions & presentations and funnel that into an online resource for the attendees, those at home, etc.

  • 3 David Manaster // Jun 17, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Michael!

    I definitely think that there is a huge difference between what the most bleeding edge members of the recruiting community are experimenting with and where everyone else is at. I would be surprised if any of the speakers dumbed down their ideas though!

    I think that when the majority of these ideas seem less whiz-bang and mind-blowing, it’s a sign that we are beginning to move beyond the experimental stage of social recruiting (look at all the cool things I can do!!!) and into the less exciting but far more useful stage of how to use these tools to generate results.

  • 4 Master Burnett // Jun 17, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Thanks for the recap Michael. I missed Josh’s session so I could attend the other unconference on blending social recruiting and traditional recruiting. Much like your experience, there was a disconnect between what the session leaders wanted to accomplish and what the audience thought was going to be discussed, but the session was still interesting. It was that session that really made it clear to me that the disparity in experience levels with social media was going to make moving beyond cursory discussions difficult.

    I’d most certainly have to agree that Shanon’s session was by far the most beneficial of the day, if only BH and the other agencies were doing more of that work. I was however very disappointed with the “listening” portion of the model as I have seen what they actually deliver clients and think a five year old could do better. The framework for reputation management is however quite valid, but limited in scope resource wise.

    The most under discussed topic of the day was the notion of marshaling the enterprise to drive social media presence. While guidelines and policies were mentioned, they were never really discussed. No one talked about influencing internal SM users to drive content dissemination, no one discussed developing the business case to counter arguments against ee restriction, etc.

    All in all, it was a great first event and I think David and his team deserve a great deal of thanks for pulling it off.

  • 5 Joshua Kahn // Jun 18, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Hey Michael, was great to meet you, I share the sentiment that I wish the event went longer.

    I hope you eventually found some good coffee :). If you ever come to Minneapolis, I can show you some good spots.

    A few thoughts.

    I wouldn’t say I held anything back exactly, but I definitely have other examples that could’ve been shared. I tried to keep my examples relevant to my best guess at the level of understanding in the crowd. If I knew in advance that the crowd was very savvy about social media/tech, then I could’ve bumped it up a bit.

    Second, it would’ve been easy to put the crowd to sleep with a deeper dive into the merits of RSS and Yahoo Pipes. The great majority in the room however, glazed over at the mention of pipes, except you of course. Which tells me that you are at the leading edge of understanding the technology, regardless of the continent. Generally speaking the stuff I spoke about was fairly common knowledge in other industries outside of HR, probably 2-3 years ago, if not slightly more. Somehow, HR people in general tend to not pick up on this stuff as quick for a lot of reasons.

    Third, as Master Burnett points out, and others, there could’ve been about a 100 other specific and useful topics that could’ve been covered relative to the overarching topic of social media. We’d just need more time and a different structure.

    My job in getting Social Media buy in at Best Buy is easy, because they are very progressive and open, and the leadership largely participates on their own. So in my case the evangelism, and guidelines are already taken care of. Not so of course for the majority of companies with locked down legacy thinkers. <-oxymoron?

  • 6 Michael Specht // Jun 18, 2009 at 7:42 am

    @Josh I found some good coffee ;-). My comment on holding back is not from the point of technology such as Pipes and RSS but more approaches for social media implementations within HR. As you say many of these ideas have been around for several years in other industries. I also agree with Master and Brian a 101 session would be good. I run a 30 minute intro into Social Media Policies in the workplace and spend close to 20 minutes covering what social media is!

    @Master Agree David and his team did a great job, well worth the long flight. Having tried pitching uncoferences to HR/Recruiters before it is tough sale as people are so use to traditional conferences. The talk of SM within the Enterprise would have been good.

    @David Interesting I’m not sure we have moved beyond experimentation with social recruiting but do agree we must deliver results with everything.

    @Laurie I like the idea of a real time wiki, I’m going to steal it for events downunder. It was fantastic to meet you as well.

    @Brian Interesting comment that people came to learn about the buzz words. In Australia I would have completely agreed, maybe misguided, but I would have expected most people to have already understood all the buzz words.

  • 7 Brian Peddle // Jun 18, 2009 at 8:18 am

    @Michael … I believe they have heard all the buzz words but were trying to figure out what they all mean.

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