Who’s Up For a Debate at #TruLondon?



Earlier this year I chaired a debate between Bill Boorman and Felix Wetzel about the future model of recruitment. You can read my summary here.

I ran it along fairly traditional debating lines. Bill proposed the motion and had 5 minutes to put his case. All statistics, quotes and case studies had to be referenced. At the end of the 5 minutes I put three questions to him to help clarify points for those listening. Felix then had 5 minutes to oppose the motion, with same same constraints.

We had 30 minute of questions from attendees – my job to ensure that the debaters stayed on point, answered the question and didn’t make pitches –
and then each had 3 minutes to sum up their case, following which we took a vote. Bill won, but it was a close run thing, and we got excellent feedback from everyone attending.

And I’m very pleased to be reprising the format at this Friday’s TruLondon10!

We’ll have a series of debates throughout the day run along similar lines – but we need debaters! Each session will have a proposer and an opposer, so I”m looking for recruiting, HR and tech types with opinions to get involved. I doubt there will be any shortage.

Bill’s already thrown his famous hat into the ring with the topic – ‘Mobile apply will damage recruiting‘ – which we want someone to oppose. After that it’s down to everyone attending to have their say.

Use the comments below – or message Bill and/or myself – with the topics you want to propose or oppose. Anything from future models for recruitment agencies, alternative sourcing approaches, the death of social recruiting to the myth of employee engagement and employer branding, will all be fair game. Or maybe there’s something else about the evolving world of talent acquisition and selection that really gets your passion roused.

I’ll be looking to chair some strong conversations – hope to see many of you there!

The Cult of #TruLondon

Last Thursday saw the curtain come down on TruLondon7 (actually it was 8 for me if you include TruNora) and from last week’s attendees it was probably only me, Bill and one or two other stalwarts that have been at every one.

Jobsite weren’t sponsoring this time so I was able to experience the event purely as an attendee and track leader for the first time in a couple of years. And I was also able to see it through the experiences of first time attendee colleagues from the wider Evenbase & DMGT Group like Clair Bush (Broadbean) and Bethan Davies (RMS).

This event seemed quieter than previous ones. I’ll be writing about the takeaways and learning points elsewhere, so here’s what I think about TruLondon itself and how it’s evolved…and where it is now. All views my own, obviously…

The conversations may not seem to change but the people having them do.

There seems to be a (mis)conception that an event like Tru needs to push the boundaries; that the conversation constantly needs to evolve. There were tweets on the timeline along the lines of ‘are they still talking about…’ and regular Tru advocate and track leader Steve Ward had blogged about his frustrations in this respect.

I think we expect too much. Sure, there were a number of new topics discussed but then several tracks last week did contain much of the usual content. A lot of the key recruitment themes that usually get debated at #Tru – candidate experience, social recruiting, social sourcing, should recruitment be part of HR – were out in force again, most of them with the same track leaders as before, but the participants had changed. Different people were having the conversation and new people were grasping these concepts for the first time.

And with different people then the conversation is never quite the same.

It’s social.

There are people that I only get to see at #Tru events, and there’s a strong social side to these gatherings. Whilst we may have online interactions and the odd catch up at other events, it’s TruLondon that brings a group of people together twice a year to share thoughts and ideas and to generally hang out and have a good time. They come from the US and Europe, and further afield. Last week gave me the opportunity to meet Paul Jacobs for the first time…all the way from New Zealand.

It provides business opportunities.

Some of the people I spoke to go to other Tru events. Whether it’s the Nordics or the Baltics, Europe or Asia, there are quite a few people to whom these events represent a chance to develop International contacts, gain knowledge of upcoming global trends and launches, and spread awareness of what they do. It’s developed a sub-industry of its own.

TruLondon is like an academy.

Maybe the greatest strength of TruLondon is to introduce attendees to the conversations that bounce around the intersection of social media, recruitment and HR, sometimes called the people space. As I mentioned earlier, there are many who come to these events for the first time and who leave energised by the ideas they hear and the potential and opportunities that they bring to their businesses.

The unconference format of conversation and sharing over presentation and demonstration enables them to learn from others’ experiences in a wholly different way. It’s more personal and more informal, with everyone helping and giving of their time. It’s like a launchpad for the journey into social business.

It can be random and disorganised, and that can get frustrating, but it’s also part of the charm…you never quite know where the next idea is going to come from.

You get out what you put in.

If you’re going in the hope of finding potential consulting gigs or job opportunities then you may well be disappointed. It’s a global community thing and that is probably the most important point. There are opportunities to be had – I’ve written before how most of the attendees at the first events now have jobs in this space, me included – but they come from being part of a wider network. There are always new people to meet, and old friends to talk to.

The twitter stream may seem quieter that previously, as newbies aren’t quite up to live tweeting yet and the old timers have tweeted much of it before, but this shouldn’t be mistaken for there being nothing to say.

Whilst many of us have ‘moved on’ in terms of what we do in terms of social business, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that there are many who are just starting.

The conversation has a way to go yet.

The most serendipitous moment for me came during a track on video when this tweet popped into my timeline. It’s from a political tweeter, so completely unconnected with the TruLondon conversations, yet somehow sums up why these conversations will be continuing for some time yet…

Facebook tweet

HR, What’s on Your Mind?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating a TruLondon6 Livestream chat from the Jobsite studio with John Sumser and China Gorman talking about emerging trends in HR.

From workforce planning and creating value to skill shortages and making sense of data, the conversation was lively and varied… and, as you would expect with those two participants, insightful and thought provoking too.

You can watch it here…click on the image below and let me know what you would have added if you had been on the Livestream.



Will it be The Last Rites for the CV at #TruLondon?

‘He’s not pining, he’s passed on. This parrot is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff, bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t have nailed him to the perch he’d be pushing up the daisies. He’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!’
Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch

‘Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours but the future’s mine
You’re all out of time’
Stone Roses, She Bangs The Drums

At this week’s TruLondon5 I’ll be talking CVs with James Mayes and (I hope) a whole bunch of attendees in the track ‘The CV is Dead!’ If the CV was Monty Python’s parrot would it be pushing up daises, merely resting or stunned? Could the Stone Roses lyric be from an ‘online profile’ to a traditional CV?

This is one of those subjects that creates megabytes of content in cyberspace. Everyone has a view and many like their views to be controversial. I’m sure that the debate on Wednesday will be both lively and heated.

It’s actually a deeply complex topic as it has many facets:

  • How does a jobseeker want to be represented
  • What is the best way to showcase skills and capabilities
  • How does a recruiter want to receive applications
  • How do recruiters screen and select
  • Do recruiters/hiring managers have the time to devote to assessing in a different way
  • What information does a recruiter really need to make an informed decision
  • How much is invested in technology that requires the maintenance of the status quo

These are just a few; I’m sure readers will have many more to add.

I have to say that I don’t have a foot firmly in either camp, which is why I’m looking forward to hearing the range of views. I know from my work at Jobsite that there is an increasing appetite for CV databases, but what form may the ‘CV’ take in future?

To get the conversation started, here are a few thoughts and questions of my own and some gathered from recent blogs: Continue reading “Will it be The Last Rites for the CV at #TruLondon?”

My #TruLondon Journey : from virgin to the sponsor’s lounge

Can’t believe it was only 15 months ago that I made my way through the security procedures at the Barclays tower in Canary Wharf and was propelled skywards (was it 25 floors, 30 floors?) to the first #trulondon.

Have to say that there was certain nervousness, even apprehension…there would be all these people that (barring a couple of old colleagues) I only knew as avatars and 140 character soundbites. Of course there was nothing to fear…as soon as the conversations started it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to sit in a group and listen, absorb, chip in and generally immerse yourself in all this social learning malarkey.

Flip forward three months and, my #tru virginity having been well and truly lost, I went to the next event to help lead tracks and generally meet a whole bunch of people from the UK, US and Europe and talk all things social and recruiting. And what a great event it was…ideas and conversation flowing, new friends made and a real sense of community helping to overcome the odd…er, shall we say…organisational blip ;o)

Twelve months later and it’s time for #trulondon 3. The event has grown and developed, gaining a whole life and culture of its own. This time round there is a dizzying array of tracks and masterclasses, live streams and webinars, with some truly influential thought leaders attending.

And my role has changed too. Having gone from virgin to veteran, I shall now be attending the third event as a representative of the platinum sponsor Jobsite. Like many who were there back in November 2009 for the first event, I have now moved from eavesdropping the conversation to being part of it.

When I wrote a blog previewing #trulondon2 I drew parallels with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol and the ‘All Tomorrows Parties’ series of events. The Velvet Underground comes to mind again thinking of my journey. A (still) highly influential band, it is usually said that whilst not many people bought their first album, most of those who did then started their own bands, hence starting an art rock movement. Maybe the first #trulondon has proved to be  a similar catalyst for the advancement of social media in recruitment?

Can’t wait for the show to start!

(My previous #trulondon blogs :

Do Recruiters Really Get Social Media?

TruLondon and the Power of Twitter

Networking, Learning but still got them Talking Gen Y Blues )

Find Out Some More About Me…

In February 2010 I was interviewed by Dee Allen from Redmos at TruLondon. We spoke about my career in recruitment, the highs and lows, and what advice I would give aspiring recruiters.

As I set out on my job hunt, I thought it would provide visitors to the blog, and hopefully potential employers, with a unique opportunity to find out some more about me.

Whilst discussing highlights, you’ll hear me talk of making my biggest ever fee in 2009 with ‘no sales necessary’…this was important to me as it underlined the importance of relationships, reputations and network to and how they come together to deliver real value. After more than 20 years in the industry, I feel that this is now more relevant than ever, as clients look for some real added value and insight from us, and a different approach to business development.

Hope you enjoy the interview…


Dee Allan



Good Leadership Starts Before Your People Do…Is it a Question of Respect?

I’ve been thinking about Leadership quite a bit over the last week or so, since the Leadership track at TruLondon 2, which provided some thought provoking, controversial and animated debate.

The discussions arising from this track, and in particular from one person discussing their own leadership style, have already started developing on 2 excellent blogs by Jon Ingham (a vlog, actually) and Bill Boorman – I recommend that you read them!

I often interview candidates who cite a lack of clear leadership as reasons for dissatisfaction with their jobs, and quite often that dissatisfaction seems to set in soon after starting their roles. What strikes me is that many leaders seem to get it wrong from the very beginning.

If you’re going to hire someone in to your team or company, then I believe you owe it to that person to give them every opportunity to succeed.

Five areas where leaders often come up short for new employees are:

Managing Expectations – do they really understand what job you are hiring them to do? Have you made it plain what will be expected of them? What their deliverables are? What resources will be at their disposal?

Onboarding – what happens from the moment they accept the offer? Do they feel part of the team? Is anything done to include them before they start? What induction programme have you in place? How will they be integrated into your team or your culture?

Clear vision and strategy – do your people know where the business is going? And how you want to get there? Do they know what their team has to achieve, and how they are going to achieve it?

Consistency – once there is a vision and strategy is it consistent? Nothing is more confusing than leaders who don’t think and contemplate, but who have a tendency to draw quick conclusions, act and move on.

Recognise your people as human beings with emotions, feelings and a life outside work – self explanatory, but decisions that you make that affect your new employees will also inevitably affect their families and friends. For me, one of the saddest things I heard at the TruLondon Leadership track was when a guy who seemed to run a hire and fire culture seemed almost proud that he had fired someone after 5 days as he didn’t think the guy would make it, even though this person had resigned from another job to join him…well that person had to go home and face other people (possibly a partner, maybe even children) and tell them he’d lost his job…and why.

For me it’s a question of Respect…Respect your people and they will Respect you.

What do you think? In what other areas do leaders sometimes not come up to scratch?

Networking, Learning but I still got Those Talking Gen Y Blues – TruLondon thoughts

Following last Thursday’s adrenaline rush of a blog I’m now looking back on TruLondon from a slightly more reflective angle!

There’s no denying that it was great event, and it enabled me to meet and engage with so many interesting and passionate people, from the UK and US, Canada, Holland and Switzerland. Whilst day 2 was certainly more ‘organised ‘than day 1, nothing could detract from the fact that overall there were some very insightful debates.

Three things struck me about the whole event.

Networking… it provides a fantastic networking opportunity. With a mix of HR professionals and recruiters, sourceologists and technologists, job boards and journalists, there is always someone interesting to talk to. My favourite parts are always the ‘break outs’ or the mini tracks where 2,3,4 or 5 people leave a track and start their own discussion. Through this you really get to talk ideas and experiences, sometimes without even knowing who it is you’re talking to!

Learning…  there is a lot to learn. Some of it from listening and some from asking. There is also variety between different tracks, from listening to track leaders debate amongst themselves, to debating with them and finally to those tracks where the leaders often pass their knowledge on. I sometimes wish the attendees would open up more on these and get involved, but then maybe that is something that we all need to work on in this embryonic format. I’m certainly keen to attend unconferences elsewhere to see if there are cultural differences in how we absorb information and ideas.

Got those Talking Gen Y Blues…without doubt my favourite comment of TruLondon came from Charlie Duff when her headline for Day 1 was ‘HR practitioners claim that Gen Y talk is nonsense, but can’t stop talking about it’ …and indeed they can’t!

Talk of Gen Y, the uniqueness of their position, the skills they bring to the workplace, their audacity, creativity and expectations, seemed to permeate through many tracks…and when the debate finally got its own track, then things got quite feisty – an agenda of technology, economics, sociology and geo-politics in one mass of opinions, hopes, fears and convictions.

Without getting shouted down, I’m not sure that their position is so much different to any other generation.  Every age group has wanted it all, and every age group has often had a far sharper and detailed knowledge of current technology and societal mores than their elders. (Dare I say that some of the social and political talk of change sounds not dissimilar to that we’ve read from the ‘hippy’ generation?)

What they do seem to have though is a conviction and confidence that has often been lacking before, but I think are in danger of turning themselves into a cause. However with over 20% of their age group in the UK unemployed, and with companies needing to find ways to best utilise and harness their talents and attitudes, I somehow feel I’ll be Talking Gen Y for some time yet…

All in all TruLondon was an extremely successful event, offering the chance to meet so many new people and learn so many new ideas…and leaving you wanting more. Just reading the tweets and blogs since Friday has made me realise how many people I never really properly got to talk to…

…hopefully I will next time!

Trains, Planes and Automobiles – #TruLondon and the Power of Twitter

If you organise it, they will come. And they did, from far and wide…representing recruiting, HR, technology, job boards, branding, marketing and many other disciplines. Some had laptops, some had smartphones, some had cameras, and all had a lot of ideas and passion.

I met loads of great people today, and there were plenty more that I didn’t get time to talk to. Hope to put that right tomorrow.

So exciting to put faces to names, personalities to tweets. And for me, Twitter is what today was all about. Without Twitter there wouldn’t be a TruLondon and I wouldn’t have met so many great people. I know them all from Twitter, and whilst they all feel like friends and contacts, you can’t beat meeting in person. Real face time.

As for today, it was by turns chaotic and thought-provoking, disorganised and inspiring…exactly what an UNconference should be!

I talked candidate experience.

I talked job boards.

I talked Gen Y (when do we not!)

I talked blogging.

I talked employer and employee branding.

I talked social learning.

And I met loads of intelligent, fascinating and inspiring people!

I was called a rockstar!

I was called enigmatic!

I was told I was talking BS on HR Happy Hour!

I was shouted down for making a ‘political rant’ in the Gen Y debate!

And I didn’t mind one bit!

And that’s not all…

I popped out at lunchtime and had coffee with 2 Twitter buddies, one of whom I’d never met before…she happened to be in Central London today.

This evening I went to a gig with three friends that I first met through Twitter. Turns out we all liked the same band. Midlake – an evening of glorious, cosmic country folk from Denton, Texas.

February 18th 2010 – a day when I did so much with so many people, all of whom I met through Twitter.

Friends tell me that they don’t ‘get’ Twitter. They don’t have the time and they don’t see the point. They’ve got enough friends and contacts without spending time online meeting new ones.

They’re wrong…

They should have spent today with me!

All Tomorrow’s Parties – what TruLondon and Unconferences mean to me

The first time I read about unconferences three words sprang to mind – ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’

Those three words mean two things to me (and no doubt a lot of other rock fans) – an iconic song from the Velvet Underground debut album and an alternative music festival, which runs every year as an antidote to more corporate music festivals.

Both encompass the spirit of everything that I believe unconferences should be, and none does it better than TruLondon.

I will explain…

The Song

One of Lou Reed’s greatest early songs, its lyrics were inspired by Reed watching the groups of people who gathered around at Andy Warhol’s parties, particularly at his studio The Factory.

Reed said : I watched Andy. I watched Andy watching everybody. I would hear people say the most astonishing things, the craziest things, the funniest things….

Now if you were at TruLondon1 you have to admit that this conjures up a recognisable mental picture…one bought to life by the pictures of Sara Headworth and Jill Elswick

Could it be that Bill Boorman is the Andy Warhol of social recruiting…??!

Still need convincing?  Try…

The Festival

This was named after the song and was founded in 1999 as an alternative to larger, more corporate festivals like Glastonbury and Reading.  It takes place in a holiday camp, an environment much more intimate that the usual stadium or large field. An artist, usually a musician, but also visual artists like Matt Groening, curates the festival, inviting their favourite bands and artists to play…crucially the organisers and bands stay in the same accommodation as the fans, mingling and talking, a truly multi-national experience. Setlists are usually driven by the fans. It’s a bit like an unfestival!

Any of this sound familiar??  To me this attitude represents the essence of an unconference, and TruLondon represents it best. Everyone mingling and talking, no pre-determined agendas..

and guess what…

the ATP format is so successful that it now takes place twice a year in the UK, and in the US, and last year travelled to Australia…still sounding familiar??!!

To mark the 10th anniversary of the festival a film was released. It was put together using material generated by the fans and musicians themselves, on a whole range of formats including Super 8, camcorder and mobile phone…’to capture the uncompromising spirit of a parallel music universe’

So on 18/19 Feb come and enjoy, talk and mingle, debate and challenge, meet as many people as you can, indulge in the uncompromising spirit of a parallel HR and Recruitment universe…

..and don’t forget to smile at the camera…

because I’ll see you all at the movie launch in 2020!!…