Social Recruiting Conference Feedback

photo c/o The Sourceress

Earlier this week I went along to the first Social Recruiting conference organised by Alan Whitford of RCEuro and Vic Okezie of Crexia.

The event was very well organised and not overbearingly so. Jo’s ability to check us all in so quickly and seamlessly was a great example of how to do something so well that people almost don’t notice. Good work.  The place was buzzing all day. I met some interesting people, and learned a lot too. #srconf was a very busy hashtag that day! Perhaps one or two less presentations in favour of a little more conversation might’ve made the day even better? Here’s what I learned on the day.

People in the world of recruiting seem to like slides. A lot of them. I struggled to keep up at times, particularly with Matthew Jeffery who blasted his way through an opening presentation which left me feeling….bombarded. Maybe playing lots of wild video games has that affect on EA people? EA are doing some cool stuff in the social recruiting space, I think Matthew said that 65% of their hires come through social media.

Next up was a panel discussion on employee engagement. Jon Ingham chaired the panel made up of Heather Taylor of GiffGaff, Charlie Duff from HRZone and yours truly. I enjoyed Heather’s story of how GiffGaff communicated its way out of a four hour outage last week and Charlie’s observations about engaging communities based on her experience of developing the HRzone community were useful. I find being front of house quite nerve racking so I hope I didn’t put folk off too much. I think I said something about trust existing in the space where what you say and what you do overlap. Profound eh?

Jennifer Candee from SAB Miller told us about savings of around £1.8m delivered through a shift to social recruiting. She couldn’t remember hiring from a job board in the last four years though (watch out job board folks?) and asked folk to start thinking about social media as part of the day job (more on that later). A good story well told.

Lennart Sloof won imagery of the day for me with his cool twitter and facebook training shoes, and his Deloitte cocktail job n skills shaker. Lennart told us of the three people hired via Twitter and the eighteen hires from LinkedIn and left us with his aim to be the first organisation in the Netherlands to kill job boards (uh oh). I appreciated Lennart’s frankness – at one point he offered a view that the reluctance to engage with social media is rude to employees – it shows you don’t trust them.

We broke for lunch. The beef casserole thingie was great; don’t know how I resisted the temptation to go back for thirds. Had a good conversation with Oddgeir Lium from Norway about social media – and how people use these tools to shift from online connections to real life. Thanks Oddgeir.

Mel Carson was our story teller after lunch with some funny stories about Bartell Drugs, a pharmacy in Seattle, and a website designed to recruit monks. True. Mel made a good point about how Microsoft uses social media to facilitate internal education, which in turn leads to external evangelism (a hark back to the monk thing perhaps?) And I was confused by one of Mel’s seven value indicators, the Return on In-action. And you measure that how – assuming you want to of course.

Next up was an in depth look at how Cisco have used Facebook as a place to build a thriving online community. Why Facebook? Sedef Buyukataman (winner of most impressive boots at conference), talked about how Gen X and Gen Y are much less dependant on email, and certainly not impressed by companies who feel the need to wheel out the MD (or other assorted “big guns”). They are more interested in a place where they can easily contribute to a conversation. So Cisco tries hard to be responsive. Listen, respond and keep the conversation going. Cisco uses Facebook because it is quick and easy to update. As a user of a fledgling Facebook company page I agree with her on that point. I encourage you to check out their Facebook pages – well put together with lots of conversations going on.

Ted Meulenkamp from Roche was on next. Roche operates in a heavily regulated environment so selling social and the openness that comes with it in Roche can be tough. I spotted a tweet from James Mayes that popped up alongside Ted’s presentation which read “If you find change hard, imagine how irrelevance will feel? Sell that to the board!” Ted showed us round Facebook and talked about how much more powerful it is when employees are engaged and promoting the brand, rather than the company doing all its own PR. Ted showed us some guidelines which Roche found useful when setting out expectations on communicating personally, about Roche, and professionally, on behalf of Roche. He also talked about the importance of authenticity when communicating, not corporate messages. Ted followed this up with a highly structured editorial weekly agenda, and I don’t know about you but I felt these things jarred a little.

roche social media principles

I felt for Colin Minto from G4S, his slot fell in the middle of a very busy afternoon. And he had a lot of good stuff to tell us about. Colin took a risk agreeing to speak at this conference. When he agreed to take the slot his social strategy was agreed – and still being built. G4S went online a week prior to the event. Brave feller! Jon Ingham has captured the essence of what G4S are trying to achieve far better than I could. I liked Colin’s suggestion that social media would be a lot more readily taken up by some organisations if it had the word community in it. As for his closing point about G4S’s success in developing and launching using a number of specialist vendors – now that’s good collaboration.

Maria Pavelka from Cummins talked engagingly and enthusiastically about the fear a lot of companies have about adopting social recruiting, and the importance of a sound business case to help ease some of that fear. Over the two years Cummins has been using social recruiting, they have reduced cost per hire from £6k to £1.5k and reduced the time to fill a vacancy from 14 weeks to 7. Impressive! Maria’s presentation was punchy and brief – she picked up on the flagging energy that accompanies a long afternoon and gave us a real boost. And I appreciated her acknowledgment of all the online viewers and participants – nice touch.

The finalé – Part One

Vic chaired a lively panel discussion involving Becky Folb, Quezia Soares and @BillBoorman. Quezia bemoaned the automated email which says – thanks for your application – we’ll get back to you in 2 weeks. 2 weeks – that’s like a year online, just not good enough! And I noted a few gems from @BillBoorman including the need to integrate social media, don’t make a special case for it. Social media is about where – not how we communicate. And (drum roll please…) let’s encourage folk to use the tools – not drive them to it with fear. It was a shame that the audience didn’t get time to grill the panel.

The finalé – Part Two

After Alan thanked everyone and we thanked him, it was off to the pub. Some good conversations – and then a snowbound totter home.

snowbound totter home

Thanks Alan and Vic. This was an enjoyable useful day full of good learning and good conversation. You guys must have invested a lot of time and effort to make it run so well. I look forward to the next one.


Here are links to other folks’ views, and photos from the event. I will add to this list as I become aware of more stuff going online.

James Mayes’ Highlights

Feedback from Steve Newson

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

13 thoughts on “Social Recruiting Conference Feedback”

  1. Wow, Doug, what a report

    Firstly, thank you for participating, not just on the panel but throughout the day and on into the night. Glad you made it home safely.

    Secondly, we really appreciate the fullness of your blog, your insights and your comments. Just sorry that the Survey Monkey settings conspired against you there – which is now fixed for anyone else who would like to give us their assessment:

    Really looking forward to continuing our engagement.

    Best regards


    1. Thanks Alan. Least I could do given all the effort and enthusiasm shown by folks beforehand and on the day. Great buzz created. Looking forward to #srconf 2011!

  2. Hi Doug,

    Great overview of the day. I know I learned a lot listening to my peers both in the room and online. I can’t wait for the next event! And I’m glad my boots were such a hit 🙂


    1. Hello Sedef – very kind of you to pop by thanks. I enjoyed the depth you dove to in your slot. We got some great overviews from others and you took us a few layers deeper. I appreciated that. Hope to see you again next time. Cheers!

  3. Nice round-up Doug, reminded me of a few things I wanted to follow up. Thanks also for picking up my tweet earlier too – If you find change tough, you’re really going to hate irrelevance. Applies to so many situations!

  4. Many thanks Doug for the detailed review. And we sure do appreciate your honesty, and all the other points you mentioned to us. Mel Carson wanted to get some feedback, so I have pointed him to this post and he may reach out to you to clarify the Return on Inaction’s measurability 🙂

    Shame it was a long day, and our panel didn’t get a chance to be asked questions. I sensed it will be the case b4 we went up, as usually people are tired at that stage, and they are probably still taking in lots of the information. We will surely take all these reviews into consideration, for any future events.

    Thanks Doug

    1. Hello Vic – thanks for getting in touch. If Mel wishes to drop by that would be fantastic. I’ve updated the piece a couple of times already based on feedback received would happily do so again.

      It’s touch balancing presenting time with other things. The desire to deliver value is strong and I’ve struggled with this myself at previous conferences I’ve helped to organise. It’s all good learning and you and Alan and co. delivered a great day – here’s to the next one.

  5. Thanks Doug.

    In the spirit of social and wiki, we have been considering for some time now, a post launch round table for other digital and social thought leaders to crowd source developments and enhancements, however we were not sure if there would be an appetite.

    If there is enough interest we would consider doing something late Jan or early Feb 2011.


    1. Hello Colin – appreciate you coming by. Nice idea, we do a lot of knowledge share stuff with mixtures of roles and organisations and would be happy to help co-create that with you if you would like?

      Cheers – Doug

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