Category Archives: Uncategorized

Edward Hopper, IBM and the death of email

A quick blog post to recount a very surreal but important experience I had this morning. I was taking part in the IBM Collaboration Diner at the Unified Communications Conference. The basic idea was to recreate Edward Hopper’s famous Night Hawks painting but revision it for a connected age where the alienated characters connect to the world through social media. While actors played out this scene there was a panel debate in the “diner” about the challenges and opportunities of social business.

Hopper for 2012

Now I’m sure many of are thinking something along the lines of “what a pretentious load of ……” or “do some proper work” and I have to say that like you I wasn’t 100% convinced about it when I agreed to take part! However despite this it proved to be a very interesting experience.

The rest of the conference floor was full of standard corporate stands spouting standard corporate spin and the whole place was full of suits who had come to do “business” in the traditional sense. The IBM sponsored stand (run by Collaboration Matters) was designed to push people out of this corporate comfort zone and that is what it absolutely did. This is important because in my experience in order to fully understand the opportunities of Social Business, leaders in organizations need to step out of their comfort zone and embrace what might seem surreal and unnatural to them.

To be very clear IBM aren’t paying me to say this (although they do keep giving me free coffee which helps!) but I really like what they are doing in the Social Business space. Obviously they are selling software but they are also genuinely embracing the concept of being a social organization. Although I was too busy in the diner to see it, the topic of the key note speech this morning really illustrates this with IBM’s Social Computing Evangelist Luis Suarez talking about how he has given up using email because it isn’t social enough as a business tool. You can read more here and see the presentation content here

So is he a visionary or completely bonkers? Well only time will tell but I’m pretty sure that he is right and strongly believe that in the future we’ll look back at archaic tools like email and laugh at how important we thought they were. If proving this means I have to spend the morning pretending to be in a 1940s painting then I’m more than happy to do so!

If you want to know more about what IBM are doing in this space they have a new Facebook page here.

Book Review: The Start Up of You – Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

The Start Up of YouLike most established bloggers I receive a seemingly endless stream of untargeted press releases, requests to take guest posts and evermore surreal suggestions for affiliate deals. I was therefore delighted to finally get something targeted and appropriate when a preview copy of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman‘s new book “The Start Up of You” metaphorically landed on the mat (I actually have a post box). So for once I thought I’d break my own rules about doing this kind of thing and attempt a book review!

What is it about?

Written by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casonocha “The Start Up of You” attempts to show people how to “apply the strategies of successful entrepreneurship to your career” The blurb on the back also contains the bold claim, “Just as LinkedIn is the one online community that no professional can afford not to belong to, this book is the book that no professional can afford to be without”……quite some build up!

What I liked

The book covers quite a lot of ground but there are two stand out areas for me:

Firstly I’m very passionate in my belief that careers advice (via whatever channel it comes) needs to evolve significantly to match the present and future reality rather than preparing people for what work was like 15 years ago. I love the fact this book really challenges conventional wisdom on careers and specifically illustrates how some the entrenched thinking established by iconic books such as ‘What Colour is Your Parachute” is way out of date. The world is crying out for books that address the new work realities and I think Hoffman and Casonocha do that very well here

Secondly it should be no surprise that I read this book because of my interest in LinkedIn and keenness to get some insight into the philosophy behind the site and here the book really delivers. There is some excellent content on network theory as well as some excellent insight into the power of engagement over unsolicited spamming (recruitment industry please take careful note!)

What I didn’t like

As I said the book covers a lot of ground and this is actually one of its key failings. I was unsure whether it was trying to be an annotated history of Silicon Valley, Reid Hoffman’s autobiography or a genuine self help book. Very often the practical tips it does include are there in a list format that feels like it was added as an editorial afterthought. This may not bother some readers but I suspect it might be slightly frustrating for those looking for a genuine career self help book


In summary the book is very readable with lots of interesting content. In my quest to make sense of the future world of work I must read 20-30 books like this a year so I’m very conscious that my criticisms could be the result of reading it through slightly jaded eyes! If you are coming at it with a somewhat fresher outlook you’ll probably like it a lot. Perhaps most relevantly for this blog though, if you are a recruiter trying to get your head round what LinkedIn is really about and what works, there is some great content woven in throughout the book which will help you a lot

The Start Up of You is published on Thursday 16th February and you can order it here *

*Just to clarify I wasn’t paid to write this review and that link isn’t part of an affiliate deal!

Recruitment’s ever expanding social layer

It seems that while the recruitment universe is still embroiled in tedious arguments about the value of social media and building technology that spams jobs listings into the social web, real life continues to move on and social embeds itself still further in the job hunting process.

Between them LinkedIn and Facebook have pretty much a billion members and the smartest companies are using the respective API’s to unlock the true power of this human network. Just have a look at this recent initiative from Glassdoor

Now just have a think about the implications for everything from employer branding to the validity of current recruitment processes. Humans have always behaved like this and these kind of platforms are unlocking and massively amplifying the thing that feels most natural in a job search…..asking our friends and connections for help and advice.

Yes there is a long way to go but change is happening fast in our recruitment world and I’m still not sure a lot of people are properly noticing. Let me leave the final word to one of my favourite film characters……..

Charging for Internships really is the lowest of the low…

Very few things make me angry. For those that read this blog regularly you’ll know there are many things that cause me to jump on my high horse and climb on a soapbox however if you know me personally then I hope you’ll agree that there are very few things that make me genuinely gut wrenchingly angry.

A company called Etsio and their business model though are one of the very few exceptions to this rule. For those of you who have missed out on hearing about this spectacularly unscrupulous company I suggest you take at a look at these links:

For those of you who haven’t got time to read about them in depth, a quick summary. Etsio acts as an agent for companies who want to charge unemployed graduates for internships. Yes you read that correctly Etsio’s clients are happy to charge desperate young people up to £200 a day for the privilege of working for them. Etsio justifies this by claiming it is “training” and not employment but the copy on their website and actual “jobs” listed paint a very different picture

It would seem that that legality of this enterprise is down to the legal semantics of the words “training” and “employee” however I think most people would agree that the morality of such an operation is slightly more clear cut

I’m writing this blog post because I’m worried that this could be the thin end of the wedge and feel very strongly that our industry needs to make a stand against such practices. Bill Boorman has set up a petition here and I hope that if you feel as strongly as I do about this you’ll sign it and encourage others in your network to do the same.

Social Business, IBM and the CIPD

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take part in a social business round table organized by IBM and involving several other bloggers including Peter Gold and Jon Ingham. It’s really good to see the whole idea of social business being taken more seriously by more companies and at a higher organizational level. As I say in the video which IBM made as part of the event, (embedded below) essentially every company is a social company because companies contain people and people are by their very nature social! Social tools and technologies offer a fantastic ways to unleash the power of people and collaboration within businesses and I feel very strongly that it’s time for HR to step up to the mark and start facilitating rather than blocking this.

With that in mind I’m really looking forward to chairing the CIPD’s first Social Media in HR conference on the 7th December. There is a fantastic line up of speakers and I’m sure there will be much interesting debate on the day.

Joey Quits – Why companies need to understand today’s employer brand reality

A few weeks ago Joey quit his job. Nothing unusual so far, I’m sure lots of other people did as well, however I bet that Joey was the only one who took a marching band in with him to accompany him handing his notice to his boss! Predictably the YouTube video of said event has already racked up nearly 3 million views and Joey has been hailed as a champion of the recession.

Perhaps the most interesting thing though were the very specific reasons Joey gives on the video for leaving which are certainly unambiguous in terms of sentiment . He clearly mentions his employer and says “they treat us like shit here”. Although this is an extreme example,  the whole episode shows how stories about employers now spread and  how easily reputations can be damaged. Not everyone resigns on  YouTube with their own band but every growing Facebook networks mean many people’s resignations are similar if slightly less spectacular “social objects”

So what was Joey’s employer doing to defend themselves against this kind of reputational damage? In a word nothing. Whatever they have done since, at the time the video went viral they were nowhere in social media or on YouTube. A visit to their corporate recruitment website reveals some stock photography and general corporate jargon about what a great employer they are. The key issue is that there is no proof. There are no videos of their employees, no authentic stories, nothing at all that could possible counter balance Joey’s video

The sad thing is having spent a great deal of time auditing corporate recruitment websites this year I can tell you this is a situation that is common to the vast majority of large employers. Very often modernizing the corporate website or embracing social media is seen as unimportant or too difficult or something for which resources are not available.

I’m sure this hotel will probably have some local recruiting difficulties that may or may not be reflected internationally. All of this will cost time and resource to fix and that time and resource will be significantly more than it would have taken to make sure their employment communications were doing what they should be doing. More than anything this shows that social media isn’t something companies can opt in or out of and the risk of ignoring how the very notion of an employer brand is changing is enormous.

Mystery Applicants and Megatrends – Understanding the Candidate Experience

Last week I spoke at the excellent UK Recruiter end of year conference and shared some of my thoughts on the forces shaping the future of the recruitment industry. I’m not going to go into any detail about the four forces I identified in this particular blog post as I’m working on a whitepaper to be published in January that will cover them pretty comprehensively. However as part of the presentation I also talked about what I believe is going to be the “Megatrend” in recruitment over the coming weeks, months and years:

I’ve always been very interested in the plethora of discussions taking place round the candidate experience topic but have been somewhat underwhelmed by a lack of tangible action that companies have taken to address the real issues. With that in mind I’m delighted to finally talk a little bit about the really smart start up I’ve been helping out over the last few months.

Mystery Applicant will be launching at the end of the month and will be providing employers with real time information and benchmarking tools that will allow them to understand and improve the experience they give to candidates throughout the recruitment process.

As part of their launch the Mystery Applicant team are running a survey aimed at anyone who has applied for a job in the UK during the last six months, in order to get a sense of how people feel they are being treated. They would be really grateful for any help in spreading the word so here is a link to pass on to anyone relevant in your networks:

If you are actually a recent job seeker or are going through the job seeking process at the moment why not give yourself a voice in the debate and fill it in as well

Game Changers, Red Herrings and Relentless Hype

Now that was a long blog break! No particular reason for it either, I wasn’t kidnapped by Monster and forced to write a nice article about BeKnown as ransom (see my last post) nor unfortunately did I spend the summer sitting on a beach drinking ridiculously named but reassuringly expensive cocktails. I’m back blogging again now though and thought it might be worth giving my verdict on a few things that have been going on over the summer.

Google +

Firstly I suppose I should say something about Google +. I like the interface but I absolutely hate the ridiculous bandwagon-jumping link baiting hype that has accompanied it. The Quora stuff at the beginning of the year was bad enough but some of the complete rubbish that has been written about Google + (some of it recruitment related) is really clouding the water when it comes to any actual usefulness the platform might have.  Yes Google+ does have some nice functionality but if that is your USP then it is easily copied. This is exactly what Facebook has done in the last week or so and in so doing has graphically illustrated that functionality alone will never make Google+ a Facebook killer.

Google’s actual USPs are its reach into the Gmail user base and an implied role in SEO. This it what has driven its growth and is also why there is very little content and engagement on there.  At the end of the day while people may join multiple networks they will only invest their time in places where their friends / target audience hang out. Google+ might get some traction in certain niches in the short term but will take a very long time to go mainstream, if indeed it ever does

My Verdict – Relentlessly overhyped, will have relevance moving forward but it is too early to say what that will be

Be Known

I know that I promised an in-depth review in my last post and I’m sorry if I’m disappointing anyone by not doing one. While I still think this is an incredibly significant move by Monster there really isn’t very much to review at the moment. In some ways I think the situation is similar to Google+, lots of people are joining, with Monster leveraging its enormous existing audience to drive this, but there is very little actually going on.

The “commercial talent community” space is an interesting and evolving one but platforms like BeKnown and Branchout have yet to prove that users join for any other reason than to look at job postings.  As it stands BeKnown is just another platform for job distribution and little else. That said though its mention (albeit just on a slide) in the recent F8 conference and partnership with Facebook to be one of the first new social apps could be very interesting indeed!

My Verdict – A Red Herring for now but watch this space!

The LinkedIn Apply Button

I’ve blogged about this before but it seems that lots of people got distracted by a summer long argument about the “death of the CV” that was quite frankly pointless. I really wish a lot of this black or white 140 characters powered thinking would just go away. Ninety percent of the time in has no foundation in the current realities employers are facing.

In an attempt to get closer to the reality of the situation I spoke to LinkedIn’s EMEA Marketing Director, Laurence Bret-Stern, earlier in September. When I asked her about the CV vs Profile debate she pointed out that thousands of companies have already voted with their feet and have installed the LinkedIn apply button! She also intriguingly hinted that there was much more to come as LinkedIn becomes an ever more open platform to “connect professionals with opportunities more efficiently and effectively”

I really feel this is the most under commented on story from the whole summer. Not only has LinkedIn launched an apply button but a significant number employers are now actively using it which, despite their user growth, is not an achievement Google+ or BeKnown can currently match.

My Verdict – The game changer of the summer and I’m amazed no one seems to have noticed!

“BeKnown” – Monster does Social Recruiting

Finally it would seem that one of the major job boards has blinked and properly joined the social recruiting revolution. Monster pre launched a Facebook recruiting network called BeKnown this morning and on first glance it certainly isn’t a token effort. It looks like a very serious play to get into the Facebook recruitment space, a market that has been taking off recently with some interesting successes in terms of both audience growth and client case studies from companies such as Work4labs and dare I say it Branchout.

Monster’s strategy seems to be driven by a desire to capitalise on a differing audience between Facebook and LinkedIn and there is a great blog post here that goes into this in much more detail. This really isn’t surprising, as despite robust denials to the contrary, LinkedIn’s massive growth and significant monetisation of the professional network recruiting market has been a major concern for many job boards.

Inevitably I’m sure today’s launch will see the old arguments about people not wanting to use Facebook to find a new job being reiterated, particularly here in the UK. As I’ve always said though social and professional networks are just platforms and the way people use them varies massively from person to person and in recruitment terms from industry to industry. I’m currently researching Facebook recruitment case studies at the moment and there are enough out there and enough interest from the audience for Monster’s move to be a sensible one.

So is BeKnown any good and will it work? Well on first glance there is a lot I like about it but I’ll do a proper review after I’ve seen Monster on Tuesday to find out more. It is very early days though and it would be churlish to predict any kind of success at this point. Regardless of the eventual outcome though Monster have shown they understand more about social recruiting than I gave them credit for and if I was one of their traditional competitors I’d be watching BeKnown with a great deal of interest!

Controversy and Recruitment 3.0 – Matthew Jeffery from Autodesk

Well know recruiting legend Matthew Jeffery caused a bit of a stir last week when he published his vision for Recruitment 3.0. A highly abridged version appear here on ERE but it doesn’t do much justice to the full version of the article which was published in the subscription only Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. To me it is one of the best blueprints I’ve read for the future of recruitment.

So if you want to know more and want to know how to get hold of a copy of the full version of the article I suggest you watch the interview below!