A blog story 5 years on

5 years ago today I started blogging with a small and unassuming post called “Welcome” (original I know), with the first topic to be covered being recruitment. Over the years I have written a lot about recruitment, but also technology, management, and HR.

In summary over the last 1,825 days:

  • I have typed out 1,313 posts, a little under one a day
  • You have made 1,873 comments
  • I have worked for 4 different companies, well 5 as I now work for myself
  • Watched the rise and fall of many companies
  • Watched the rise and fall of many blogs
  • Met some amazing people, I was going to try and list a few but it became too hard.

When I decided to start a blog after reading several blogs for a while and finding very very few covering HR, Recruitment and Technology, ok there were none! I also want a place for my ideas in a format that others could provide feedback so the blog format was perfect.

Thank you to all who read my writing, I really appreciate it. If you have never commented it would be fantastic to hear from you over the next year.

Finally I am looking forward to another 5 years of typing away on this blog.

Social Recruiting Summit

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.

Social Recruiting Summit

I arrived this afternoon in Palo Alto to attend the Social Recruiting Summit, catch up with several people here in San Francisco and have a few meetings. While it is a damn long way to come for effectively 1 day event I am hoping it is worth the effort.

We kick off tonight with a Tweet Up, which happens to be in the hotel where I am staying. Some of the sessions from tomorrow include:

  • A Conversation with LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman
  • Google Campus Tour
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Ubiquity & Authenticity in Social Media
  • No Sacred Cows: Making Sense of Social Recruiting
  • Online Employer Reputation & Social Recruiting

The event is very community focused, while each formal session is 1 hour in length on 30 minutes has been allocated to presentation. The rest of the time is for audience engagement. In addition there are three unconference sessions which anyone can speak, including yours truly.

I hope to blog and tweet (#socialrecruiting) about the event, although Twitter will be limited to PC based tweets as I could not get a decent prepaid SIM with a data plan.

Following the summit I have meetings with several key influencers within the recruitment industry, attending the San Francisco HR Technology Breakfast and catching up with Karen Beaman from Jeitosa.

I also hope to duck away and check out some of the Redwood Trees.

Excellent operational service delivery

This is the third instalment in my look at the hype around social recruiting, if you have missed them see the intro, parts 1 & 2.

HR/Recruiters should focus on ensuring their operational service delivery is excellent instead of creating unrealistic expectations that social recruiting will save them. Like any business there is no point trying to work out how to integrate Twitter, Facebook or any other fancy technology into your processes if your processes are fundamentally broken!

This excellent operational delivery includes treating candidates (and clients) as people, not as a commission. Here is a personal story of how bad third party recruiters have become in Australia. At the end of 2008 as the GFC started to really bite I had an amazing interaction with a recruiter from a well known agency.

Week 1

I was called ask if I was interested in contract SAP Project Management work. During the discussion the recruiter refused to provide the client name until they had an updated resume. I explained that they had called me because they had “found” my details in their system therefore if they wanted my resume they needed to open up. Eventually they told me the client and declined from applying as I did not like the employer. At the end of the call they asked for an updated resume, which I decided to send over.

Week 2

I was called by the same recruiter, not just agency the same person! However initially I did not recognise their name so I said nothing. The discussion was the same they had “found” my details in their system, was I interested in contract SAP Project Management work. By the end of the call I had remembered this was the same person I was speaking to last week, and they wanted an updated resume. I thought it would be fun to re-forward my original email to them as a subtle hint.

Week 3

About 4pm on Friday another blocked number called my mobile. Bingo a recruiter. Not just any recruiter my friend from the last 2 weeks who seemed to have no idea who I was! No they had “found” my details in their system,  was I interested in contract SAP Project Management work and could I send an updated resume to them! I declined.

6 months earlier when there were jobs a plenty this type of interaction was very common. But in December 2008 I was shocked.

So forget about fancy technology until your processes excellent.

Organisational challenges for social recruiting

There are four major challenges facing organisations from integrating social recruiting into their business operations, again I am stealing from the Mckinsey Cloud Computing report. Before we get into them I want to remind you of my current working definition of social recruiting:

  1. Using social media tools as part of recruiting
  2. Building a community of potential candidates
  3. Engaging with candidates as people not numbers

So what are the challenges?

  1. Financial
  2. Technical
  3. Operational
  4. Organisational

Let’s look at each in turn.


Many current approaches to social recruiting left unchecked actually increase the cost of hire and as my colleague Markus Hafner aka eskimo_sparky on Twitter said:

@mspecht I tend to agree with @trib. Many co’s also forget that using socmed poorly can damage brand plus increase cost per hire.

While the use of social media can be seen as “free” ie limited actual dollar spend there can be a massive time sink if not used in an educated manner.


The technical issues are everywhere for social recruiting. They range from data security, privacy, ability to access the services from within the firewall, integration with existing talent management systems to actually how does one use the tools.


How does the recruitment process get modified to include these new technical tools, organisational approaches and ideas? Clear management of both hiring managers and senior leaders expectations needs to be undertaken. Both from a “it’s cheap” and “it’s fast” point of view. What processes and procedures need to be modified to incorporate these new approaches?


The overall structure of HR and recruiting functions will need to be modified to operate within a social recruiting world. What new roles need to be introduced? What roles need to be removed?

I am not setting out to answer all or any of these questions within these blog posts more just putting some thoughts out there to see what happens.

Cedar Crestone HR Systems Survey

The 12th Annual Cedar Crestone HR Systems Survey is in progress. Over the years many of my clients have participated in the survey and also used the results to define their go forward strategy. If you are in a position to participate I would highly encourage you to do so.

Not sure about the survey here is a quick run down from Aleixa Martin Cedar Crestone’s Director or Research and Analytics:

CedarCrestone is requesting participation in the CedarCrestone 2009-2010 HR Systems Survey: HR Technologies, Service Delivery Choices, and Metrics Survey, 12th Annual Edition through June 22, 2009. The survey is a comprehensive research effort designed to provide organizations with important data to plan, justify, benchmark, and execute HR technologies and to address key deployment options. The survey questionnaire is available online at www.cedarcrestone.com/hrssv3.

The 2009 HR Survey is broad in its coverage, including questions about:

  • Technologies to support talent management, business intelligence, service delivery, and workforce management as well as SOA and Web 2.0 innovations
  • Deployment options and related expenditures (on premise, software-as-a-service, hosting, business process outsourcing, etc.)
  • Comprehensive metrics such as employee/HR staff ratios, administrative costs per employee, links between technology adoption and financial performance, and many others

The survey collects responses from HR and IT management with knowledge of the HR technologies in use and planned, as well as those with an overview of key deployment decisions. The survey is targeted to respondents from organizations in all industries (commercial, public sector, and educational organizations) with over 500 employees.

While you are into surveys remember to take the Australian Sources of Talent survey and join over 390 Australian organisation’s who have already participated.

Step 1 define Social Recruiting

I wrote yesterday asking is the hype around social recruiting over, while a bit of a attention grabbing title I think the question still needs to be asked. Because when the hype is over we will all have moved on cause it failed to deliver or social recruiting will be part of everyday business.

In the comments Joshua Kahn from Find & Attract pondered:

Social Recruiting” isn’t that a bit redundant? It’s like saying “wet water”. For anyone who’s ever recruited, its social.

I have to admit the first time I wrote the post I called social recruiting a tautology. But then I thought a bit. Is social recruiting about using social media to recruit? Or is social recruiting as Joshua says a tautology? Or is social recruiting like cloud computing something we are all a bit confused about?

I see social recruiting as a broader topic than just social media, a broader topic than just all recruiting is social because you deal with people and broader than just community building. I see social recruiting as all three. As a rough cut:

  1. Using social media tools as part of recruiting
  2. Building a community of potential candidates
  3. Engaging with candidates as people not numbers

Now these three points are defined from the Australian point of view which is very third party recruiter centric and looking at all phases of recruitment; attract, source, engage, screen and offer.

Social Recruiting: Is the hype over yet?

Gartner HypeNext week I head to the US for the Social Recruiting Summit a one day extravaganza being held at the Googleplex in Mountain View. But as I sit here in wintery Melbourne pondering the future I am wondering when Social Recruiting will fall off the top of the Gartner Hype-curve? It will fall the trick will be to ensure that it does not get stuck in the Trough of Disillusionment.

Social Recruiting is going through a similar phase as cloud computing, I drew this conclusion after reading the McKinsey paper on Clearing the air on cloud computing. Lots and lots of talk, hype and tremendous promise but technical and operational issues are hampering wide spread usage within large enterprises.

Let’s look at McKinsey’s recommendations to stabilise the cloud computing discussion and apply it to social recruiting.

  1. Get an industry definition on social recruiting, Riges Younan and John Sumser have been having a discussion on this over at SocialRecruiting.com
  2. Figure out how to get around the hurdles for adoption in large enterprises; Financial, Technical, Operational and Organisational.
  3. HR/Recruiters should focus on ensuring their operational service delivery is excellent instead of creating unrealistic expectations that social recruiting will save them.
  4. Everyone should take solid actions to limit the time in the trough, recruiters show clear ROI, technology vendors enhance integration, HR develop strategies.

More on this later.

Google Wave and the Enterprise

Google Wave

With a fair bit of fanfare on May 28th Google pre-released a brand new tool/suite/ concept/framework for collaboration called Google Wave. I am not going to cover all the technical details, you can see them over at http://wave.google.com. But you do need to understand that Google Wave is actually three things all in one package.

  • The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It’s an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave).
  • Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
  • The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the “live” concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone’s Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave.

Think of a wave as the combination of an email and instant messaging but on steroids! Google describes wave as being equal parts document and conversation, which sounds very strange, essentially it is a fully integrated collaborative communications framework. Technically the tool is amazing; for example real time edits of a wave appear on all participants’ screens immediately and the ability to “replay” edits of a wave to see how the wave developed. The only part missing from the wave product is a VOIP client, but given that Google has open sourced the core of wave and the extremely flexible API framework a smart engineer should be able to hook one up very quickly.

Within an enterprise Google Wave, or at least the concepts behind it, have the ability to revolutionise the way people work! The flexible streamlined approach to communication and collaboration is both amazing complex and simple at the same time.  For example:

  • Real-time foreign language translation allows everyone to easily collaborate naturally in their own language.
  • Real-time updates on waves allow teams to create documents wiki style at a rapid pace.
  • Changes that happen while you sleep can be replayed using the play back feature so you can see the context that trigger comments, suggests and ideas to be added to the Wave.
  • Drag and drop images, and in the future other media types, allows fast real time collaboration of prototypes and ideas.
  • The open API allows full integration of other products such as production schedules, or CRM tools.
  • The protocol allows you to federate with other organisations for collaborative purposes.

Now this revolution will not happen overnight given the massive investment organisations have made on Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint over the last few years. So initially I would predict Google Wave being picked up by smaller organisations and freelancers who need to collaborate with different people on projects across multiple locations.

A word of caution given Google’s track record of letting services die off time will tell if Google Wave becomes the next Gmail or Google Base.

HR Technology Trends

The Future
Credit: Flickr dbilly

Last month Watson Wyatt released their 2009 HR Technology Trends Report. So I grabbed my credit card and laid down US$45 to get a copy so I could see what they had to say.

Some thoughts:

  • The report is very hard to compare with their 2007 HR Technology Trends Report as the format has changed.
  • Intranets are still the most favoured method of communicating with employees 72%, with newer technologies making an entrance such as social networking 13%, Blogs 11% and podcasts 6%.
  • Organisations are still use manual processes when it comes to some core areas of talent management; succession planning (53%), career development (48%) and workforce planning (55%).
  • However 56% of organisations are planning to increase their use of talent management technology over the next two years. With leveraging existing ERP’s being the primary approach, 29%, integrated talent management systems are next with 27%.
  • Across all talent management areas organisation have a higher satisfaction with external solutions than internally developed ones.
  • However internally developed systems have a higher satisfaction than outsourced solutions in the areas of Recruiting, Compensation Administration, Annual Pay & Bonus Delivery, Succession Planning, and Workforce Planning.

So what next?

  • Technology vendors who have best in class succession planning and workforce planning solutions have the potential for growth over the next two years as organisation move to automate these processes.
  • Outsource providers in compensation administration, succession planning and workforce planning need to clean up their act otherwise they may see business dropping off.
  • Emerging technologies will continue to grow in usage within organisations to streamline communications with employees.