With the help of Social Media I met some fab people!

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Warning – This is going to be a long one!

This has been a rather busy week and one that I wish I could re-experience over and over again – it was that much fun. The highlight “day of the week” was definitely Thursday 10th June 2010 which started at 05:00 and didn’t conclude really until I got home again at 23:00. But boy what a buzz the day was; from start to finish I didn’t stop speaking with or listening to people for all but approx 45 minutes and what great people they are too.

So let’s start at the beginning. I had a journey of approx 30-45 mins by car to the train station and then a 1 hour train and Tube journey to get to the first location in London SE1. This is important because getting the choice of music right is essential for setting up the day right. So for those who know me you won’t be surprised to learn that in the car was Boston’s self titled album, with “More Than a Feeling” at a distorting volume, as the livener! So onto the train and I always pick the same few tracks on the iPod for this journey because 4 tracks can get me to where I need to be and in a very relaxed frame of mind. So it has to be 24.33 minutes of Supper’s Ready by Genesis – but the live version from Seconds Out, followed in sequence on the album by Cinema Show and then Dance on a Volcano and Los Endos. And then I arrive at where I need to be! The Start rather then The End actually! Smiling and relaxed but also pumped ready for action.

So why did I get to London SE1for 07:30. I was attending one of the regular Breakfast with The FIRM meetings. Rather than detail The FIRM and its background in this posting I will respectfully point you to Hello world! History of The FIRM – a previous posting. Whilst this older posting paints a picture it does need updating briefly.

True to the founding principles, The Forum for Inhouse Recruitment Managers is exclusive to in-house corporate recruiters or those working in such a capacity on site but for an RPO provider. We are strict – no one else gets in!

Today we have approx 2400 members in 44 countries representing over 1000 companies in approx 100 different market sectors. I won’t labour the background since much can be found elsewhere, either in the About Me page of this Blog or at The FIRM’s Group page on LinkedIn.

Back to the events of Thursday then. In the past we have had sponsors such as LinkedIn, Google, Barkers, 33, SHL, whereas this Breakfast with The FIRM event held at 15 Hatfields, and exclusive to Members of The FIRM was run entirely sponsor-less and allowed us to hear at length from fellow members; sharing experience and concepts. So we had over 50 in-house recruiters plus guests from The Buzz, Recruiter Magazine and UKRecruiter spend 4 hours in each others company. We even ensured that we had free wireless for all and created a hashtag #thefirmbreakfast should people want to use Twitter during the sessions. And of course Keith Robinson duly obliged to keep a worldwide audience updated. The thread is still available on Twitter.com – just search on #thefirmbreakfast for all associated tweets.

The first session of the day was a talk from Paul Maxin, Global Resourcing Director at Unilever on how Unilever has managed its growth through effective use of a global RPO agreement with Accenture.

A very informative and eye-opening presentation – the numbers were huge and impressive. Some, such as the fact that they have made and had accepted 11,309 job offers in one year to March 2010 and achieved customer and candidate satisfaction rating at 80% – globally are staggering, hiring more people in one year than many members have in their global workforce. With RPO Unilever retain control over their Employer Brand, Talent Attraction and Acquisition Strategy and Talent Planning but outsource the operational side of sourcing and managing the talent pool including provision of ATS and CRM tools to Accenture

It was interesting on the day that some people questioned whether the Employer Brand can be effectively promoted and protected when using an RPO provider. I too am not a great fan of RPO, but you have to admit that Unilever gives detractors an idea of how the right choice of RPO partner and the right level and quality of process management will and can deliver effectively and play a crucial part in enhancing the corporate brand. Let’s face it, Unilever are in a more sensitive position than most with the vast majority of their customers being consumers and we all know how fickle we are!

Another very interesting stat that came out of the presentation was that Brazilians wash their hair more often than other nationalities!!! Random I know!

The presentation although only 45 minutes long was packed full of information for the audience, to absorb and consider. It was very clear that whilst the scale of Unilever’s recruiting is challenging, the basics are the same for most other companies; efficiencies, quality, delivery and customer satisfaction amongst others. Thanks Paul.

After a break our second presenter of the day Matt Jeffery Global Director of Talent Brand at Electronic Arts was introduced. He started of by comparing The FIRM to a nefarious organisation and comparing yours truly to Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone character in the Godfather. I found Matt’s comments flattering and honorable; I honestly have no knowledge of his whereabouts today officer!

Matt presented with passion about how EA go about their Attraction and Acquisition processes, a major priority is the emphasis of the EA Employer Brand (EB). He suggested that an EB is not owned by HR, but must be owned by all parts of the business and the workforce must be ambassadors for it. The EB is what others say about you! He explained how EA reinvented their Job Descriptions, ensuring the formats were standardised; clean, easy to read and actually gave the candidates the right information. Matt reminded everyone it is how the candidates read a job description that is important. A Job Description has to be simple and sell whilst conveying the right message at the same time; above all be exciting!

EA use their recruiters to backup the EB and are considered “Marketeers” for the brand, the company and the opportunity. I know this subject has been written about previously in various other blogs. (I have yet to hear a compelling reason why the corporate recruitment function needs to belong to HR. It could be a very interesting debate to have).

Matt went on to give examples of how EA have taken advantage of various Social Media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube etc.) to promote the EB and EA brand, build communities and engage with the potential talent pool, stating that EA ensure it is all about a bilateral relationship rather than just pushing information, by way of one-dimensional job postings to an unknown audience. Each of these channels have seen incredible subscription and follower levels.

An excellent and engaging presentation full of thought-provoking ideas. Thanks Matt.

The final hour of the Breakfast was taken up with a table session where attendees were asked to discuss with each other what major issues they faced or they needed to address going forward. The idea behind this was two-fold; it gave the attendees a chance to openly share ideas with each other as well as give us feedback on what they would like to discuss or hear about at future events.

Members during Table Exercise
Hot Topics that came out of this:

Candidate care;
Recruiter workload;
Social media;
Employer Branding;
Reducing agency spend

Some interesting Breakfasts and Webinars ahead, but it goes to show that with 45 or so companies represented on Thursday we all have similar issues to one extent or another. I would suspect that if we extrapolate across the global membership we’d be see very similar issues elsewhere.

We also wrapped up the whole session by showing the attendees some screen shots of what the new and impending community web site for The FIRM will look like. Watch this space (and others) over the next couple of months for more info. So thanks to everyone for coming and for your continued support of each other – this goes for every member of The FIRM whether you could attend or not and particular thanks and praise to Matt and Paul for their words of encouragement and for taking the time to deliver two outstanding presentations

The next Breakfast by popular demand will be a full day with members and industry thought leaders discussing tactics and ideas along with “how do’s” and “how to’s” around the creation and management of Direct Sourcing Models. Subject to getting sponsors on board and finalised we will be formerly announcing this in the next few weeks – thanks to Vanessa Townsend of Recruiter Magazine for the write up!

So on to lunch!

The rest of the day was spent in company of more friends made via a various social media platforms and what a good advert it was too for the power of connections via people you already know, especially Marianne

Louise Triance, a big supporter of The FIRM and very near neighbour of mine in rural England writes a great newsletter and blog, UKRecruiter, had arranged a social networking gathering for the early evening kicking off at 6.30pm in Holborn, London. With the help of some very generous sponsors this get together, which also had a #recnet Twitter hashtag associated with it was both very enjoyable and very successful. After some introductory comments from Lou, Stephen O’Donnell talked for 5 minutes about the NORA’s and announced that they are now able to accept nominations for this years awards and was followed by Fiona Lander of Lander Associates who talked for a few minutes about motivation.

Whilst I thought I was going to one of the few corporate recruiters amongst a majority of agencies I was very pleasantly surprised by their absence or their good sense at avoiding me!

There were at least 60 people in the small room so as you can imagine the noise level was quite high and as with most of these events people initially gravitate towards people they know. To overcome this Louise came up with the fantastic idea of Speed Networking. Facilitated on the night by Oliver Barrett, we were all asked to find someone we had not met before and then talk to each other for 3 minutes, after which time Oli blew a whistle and we moved on. Great idea and a real ice breaker. Needless to say the usual suspects where there; Matt Alder, Mervyn Dinnen, Gareth Jones, Emma Mirrington, Andy Headworth, Alan Whitford, Simon Lewis, Keith Robinson, Jeremy Snell and was I pleased to meet up with people I didn’t expect to be there, namely Carline Winder of 33, always a pleasure seeing her. On top of that there were two people with whom I had being tweeting for some time, @TheSourceress,(Katherine Robinson), and Wendy Jacob a real pleasure to finally meet two really terrific people. I even got to meet the real @RecruitingDad but my lips are sealed! Then there were all the newbies; @HeatherTravisUK, @sambluesky (Sam Woodwood) and Wendy Cowell of JobServe, thank you all for your conversations and your polite attentiveness – I know I can prattle on!!

A great evening, well organised and well supported, congratulations Louise and thank you!

One of the advance plans for the day was for four of us plus two initiates to slip off for a curry at the wonderful Masala Zone in Covent Garden, however 9pm came and went and tiredness was the decider, so excuses were made and departed to catch the train. As it was I was with Louise and we got to Paddington in time for the slightly delayed train to Reading and the final leg of our journey by car. Despite the fact we were shaking with tiredness we didn’t stop talking all the way home – fantastic day! Finally I got home just before 11pm very tired but buzzing from an awesome day.

Good to meet those I did for the first time, good to see you again for people already well met, I look forward to seeing you all again. Thanks for reading.


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