Thoughts and confessions from SRConf 2011…

An interesting and somewhat lively event is how I would sum up the Social Recruiting Conference 2011, laid on by Alan Whitford and Vic Okezie – well done fella’s!  After a few days off, my reflections and thoughts:

What about the internal talent?  Acquisition is the obsession it seems.  It is incredible to see how pre occupied we are with attracting shiny and new potential employees and I often wonder if this is to the detriment of those already employed.  We are caught up in a needless war for talent and it’s no secret that many organisations are very poor at leveraging what they already have.  I recently read a refreshing piece about Cable and Wireless Worldwide and their strategy of growing their own talent from within.  Their ‘build rather than buy’ approach should be applauded, as should their target of 80% internal fulfilment for all vacancies.  Interestingly, I didn’t hear much talk of this kind of strategy at the conference.

Where is the joined up  thinking?  Ok, so it was a resourcing conference, I understand that, but resourcing can’t add value to a business if it’s not an integrated part of the overal business strategy as pointed out by John Wolhfert,  Director, Global Client Strategy, SilkRoad Technology.  As such, it was notable that most of the strategies outlined in the presentations started and ended with candidate acquisition.  Only Quezia Soares, Recruitment Marketing Manager, Accenture UK articulated a clear, joined up engagement journey that went beyond the hire, into onboarding, ongoing development and internal advocacy, completing the circle.

Where is the employee app?  Plenty of ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ah’s’ greeted the plethora of apps and tools that have been especially crafted to enable the company to ‘engage’ with it’s external ‘talent community’.  Lovely.  But if you are using social engagement strategies in your recruitment activity on the outside, then you better be a social business on the inside too.  It wasn’t clear how many of these organisations are investigating and deploying the same tools for existing employee engagement.  How many of these apps and community tools, where open dialogue is encouraged, and questions are honestly responded to, are replicated on the inside.  Better still, how many organisations have a solution that integrates the two?   We know from recent research that over half of all companies ban the use of social networking tools internally.  I can see it now:

“Bob was hired after connecting with one of our recruiters via twitter one afternoon in May.  Sadly we had to fire him for using twitter one morning in July.”

What happened to sourcing?  There was a lively debate during the afternoon panel session around the ‘Candidate Experience’ and what companies (And lets not forget the other parties in the mix such as job boards and recruitment agencies) should be doing to improve it.  We have built an industry around responding to the ever increasing amount of job apps.  With the volumes as they are, disappointment is almost inevitable and what didn’t hear at the conference was any talk of shifting the focus from feeding this deluge of response via advertising roles to direct sourcing.  There is little difference in the workload in sourcing a marketing manager for example, than there is if you put up a job ad for the same role.  The management of the candidate experience however, and the potential negative impact on your brand, can be measurably less, as David Mason, International Talent Acquisition Director of CH2M Hill hinted at during a discussion on LinkedIn in a recent article in People Management:

“The big change is that we tend to focus on 10 people who match our job profile very quickly, and can invest time in managing expectations, while letting unsuccessful candidates down in a way that leaves them with a positive view of the company,” 

Where is the talent community?  This is a difficult one.  I don’t believe that you can create talent communities around corporate career sites – as documented in my previous posts – and my opinion hasn’t changed since the conference.  But what is a ‘Talent Community’ anyway?  Maren Hogan suggests, in her comment on my blog post, that we are confusing them with “consumer or peer communities”.  She also asserts that creating the opportunity to “allow an employer to engage with folks before, during and after the recruitment process.” is a good thing.  I would wholeheartedly agree with both of these assertions.  This is indeed value added activity and I think represents a great step forward in candidate management.  I believe that this trend will grow and will form the next generation of ‘career site’, if you can call it that, in terms of functionality.  But candidate interaction alone, a talent community does not make.

What about my confession?  Most people who know me or read my blog will know im not short of an opinion or two.  Ok, well maybe three ;).  Unfortunately, my passion means I often confuse my opinions with answers, which they are not.  I don’t have the answers, despite what I may think from time to time.  Lisa Scales took the opportunity to challenge me on my opinion regarding ‘talent communities’ during my stint on the panel.  I don’t actually remember the question she posed directly to me now (Says it all really doesn’t it!), but it set me off on one of my opinion fuelled dialogues, completely ignoring the fact that I was sharing the stage with a good number of well qualified individuals, all with a valid opinion.  To my fellow speakers, Alan and Vic, I apologise.

Lisa threw out the bait, and I took it – hook line and sinker as they say.  Thank you Lisa.  To be continued… 😉


  1. Exactly right, as we always say “build from the inside out, not the outside in”. Hopefully you appreciated Doug Fraley’s emphasis on employee (and alumni) engagement as part of a wider sourcing strategy.


  2. Hi Gareth

    Firstly let me apologise if you felt I was throwing out “bait” as you say – this was not the intention – the intention was to start conversation (isn’t this your common mantra….hey its all about the conversation??!) – you and I are deeply immersed in social technologies from a recruiting sense hence why Vic and Alan invited us on the stage to be on the panels but the audience were there to learn – I have since received plenty of emails from attendees thanking me for my contribution and this can only be brought about by conversation and debate so no it wasn’t bait but “de-bait” lol 😉

    The concept of Talent Communities (and I think we agreed in the pub you actually just have an issue with the description as opposed to the actual function) is new and we are all learning – I am fortunate to be a in a position where our “talent community” platform Tribepad is being used by the 2nd largest private employer in the world with over 600,000 employees and a requirement for 200,000 + people per year and we are seeing some fantastic results so my opinion is based on concrete fact rather than conjecture but I am also happy to learn as all of us are on a journey – we just jumped on the bus sooner than most.

    I would also make a point regarding your first statement about internal talent acquisition – the event I attended the other day was called the Social Recruiting Conference – you are talking about a whole different aspect of talent management which more often than not doesn’t sit with operational talent acquisition in the main – Alan and Vic have concentrated their efforts on providing a platform for the acquisition part to be discussed – for that I applaud them.

    Looking forward to continuing the conversation 🙂



  3. Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for the blog post and discussion. Most importantly thanks for participating at SRCONF. Look forward to continuing the discussion and seeing you at the next event.


    Alex Lund fromCrexia


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