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

Heading down the Atlanta Highway…looking for the HRevolution Love Shack!

I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway,      
Love Shack, that’s where it’s at!
Huggin’ and a kissin’, dancin’ and a lovin’, 

How come we had no Love Shack themes going at HRevolution 2011? How did we miss the HR Love Shack!

The love was certainly there…

Love for the organisers

Love for the sponsors

Love for the track leaders

Love for the attendees…each and every one of us

Even love for the HRBritpack!

All of it fully deserved!

On my long and rambling journey back to London I’ve been thinking about how to explain HRevolution to someone who’s never been. To call it an (un)conference doesn’t seem to fully do this event justice. There’s way too much energy, adrenalin, friendship, respect…and partying!

It’s so much more. Continue reading “Heading down the Atlanta Highway…looking for the HRevolution Love Shack!”

HRevolution 2011 – The British Invasion

February 9th 1964 – The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and start the ‘British Invasion’

April 29th 2011 – The HRBritPack appear at HRevolution for another ‘British Invasion’

Yes, it’s HRevolution week!

Last year’s event in Chicago was certainly one of my highlights of 2010 with so many intriguing conversations and thought provoking sessions. Whilst there seems little difference between the issues facing HR and Recruitment professionals from the US and UK it was certainly refreshing to hear a different perspective.

So I can’t wait to touch down in Atlanta and see old friends and new faces! And this time there will be some more Brits coming along for the experience!

A veritable HRBritPack no doubt ready to amuse and debate in equal measures! And with the second ConnectingHR unconference happening 5 days later, it will provide a great opportunity to get an insight into new thinking around people strategies in a social world.

So who is in the HRBritPack?

Neil Morrison – Group HRD of a major publishing company, an experienced HR practitioner and writer of the blog Change-Effect.

Gareth Jones – Career spanning HR, Recruitment, Marketing and Technology and writer of the blog ‘Inside My Head’. Co-founder of ConnectingHR.

Jon Ingham – The other co-founder of ConnectingHR, Jon is a writer, speaker and consultant in human capital management. Read Strategic HCM

And me!

We’ll be checking in on Friday afternoon…come and say hello!

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 )

Wide Awake at truNORA

There’s a rumour going around the Twitterverse that I dozed off during truNORA on Thursday. It’s complete nonsense I can assure you.

Flicking through the excellent set of images that Sara Headworth has produced you may see one of those photographic moments where a mixture of light, angle and shutter speed combine to give a false impression…proof that the camera can easily lie.

The offending picture was actually taken during a track that I was co-leading about the candidate experience…there was plenty of debate there to ensure that I didn’t doze off.

I’ll start my thoughts of the day with the candidate experience track as it’s the second candidate experience track that I have co-led at a tru event this year, and it’s a subject that has filled blogs, comments and numerous conversations, both online and offline.

This conversation was similar to the last, in that it featured a mix of representatives from job boards and seasoned (cough, experienced!) recruiters and my conclusions are the same.

Candidate experience is a state of mind not something you should have to think about doing. Automated acknowledgements, no matter how personally written, are not an experience. They should be an absolute minimum expectation as a matter of respect and service and should be followed up by a more personal interaction. Personally I think 3rd party recruiters get too involved in conversations around job board functionality. The experience that matters to the candidate is the one that happens after they have applied, and is most probably important to the candidate whose application is unsuccessful.

Interestingly the recruiters who talked most of the importance of personal contact in this process, of candidates becoming clients and ambassadors for your service, were the most experienced recruiters, those who have been around for 20 years or more…maybe the candidate experience really is just good recruiting habit. In which case shame on the industry for turning its back on it recent years.

I heard a lot about Linked In too, and have to say that each improvement and enhancement to functionality seems to signal another nail in the coffin of traditional 3rd party niche permanent recruiters. Just my opinion, I know, but the industry really does have to come up with a value proposition and offering that does not include something that a client can do for themselves. Posting on job boards and searching on LinkedIn are both routes to market that a well connected hiring director has available directly…we should be able to offer something more that justifies our fee. Most new LI tools are aimed at clients, not at recruiters, which I fear could well lead to a client being able to put together a stronger shortlist than a recruiter unless we look seriously at what we can offer.

With recruiters slow on the LI uptake, it was even more interesting to hear employKyle talk of his age group’s indifference to the platform. Recruiters should be ahead of the curve, not playing catch up…which is why we need to be on top of how the next generation workforce will communicate and engage.

I really enjoyed hearing about Hard Rock and what they do. Loved the Authenticity – Lifestyle – Purpose approach to engagement and believe it is something that all companies should aspire to. I have long thought that trusting your staff, and enabling them see a wider purpose to their role and your business, is key to getting the best out of them. Companies have nothing to fear from social media if they have an engaged, collaborative workforce. If you fear your people will use social media to portray a negative image for your business then your problem is not social media…its much closer to home.

All in all another interesting, thought provoking day offering the chance to chat and debate with old friends and new faces…

…and certainly no time for napping!






Connecting HR : The Revolution Starts Now!

Maybe revolution is a little strong, but there was definitely an air of change, of something new and exciting, happening at the ConnectingHR Unconference last Thursday.

Maybe it was the surroundings at Spring Community Centre (all very Reservoir Dogs) which lent the proceedings an almost militant air?

Or was it the ambience, part palpable excitement, part nervousness of the new that gave it an edge?

Whichever it was, there’s no denying that what started as a small step into Social for the UK HR community ended as a giant leap! When I went to HREvolution in May, the US HR community ended with a key track about breaking out of the echo chamber…for the UK it’s a case, for now, that we need to break IN! And I’m so excited to be part of a movement which is encouraging just that.

So having had a couple of days’ reflection, what are my thoughts? Three things stand out…

Engagement and Trust

It became clear during each track that I sat in, when the discussions turned to the leap of faith needed to let your people embrace the social and start connecting, that we have a way to go before we eradicate the fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of employees saying something that will reflect poorly on the company, fear of them saying things to each other that may de-motivate. Fear of the transparency and fear of the immediacy.

The attendees all wanted to know more; to be able to go back to their companies and make something new happen, yet back home there would undoubtedly be naysayers and doom mongers. There were certainly some lively discussions, with earlier adopters sharing examples with newer adopters of what had worked and what hadn’t.

And for me it always comes back to Engagement and Trust.

The second blog that I posted here, almost a year ago, was about needing to trust your people if you want to get the best out of them. I’ve had countless conversations about social media since then, with people talking about the control and guidelines, the policies and the ownership, and I’ve never wavered from my belief that if your employees are engaged, and they believe in the values of your company, and can operate in a transparent culture in which they are trusted to do things the right way, then you have nothing to fear from them embracing social media.

It was interesting that when we looked at the world cloud from the mornings chatter and tweeting, that the word ‘Control’ was most used. I don’t think that it was used in a negative way, but I do wonder if HR has an innate belief that if something was to go wrong it would be down to them.

We need to get the buy in from everyone…from the CEO to the cleaner. And if the CEO embraces Twitter, then he or she will have to accept that at 11pm one night they may end up online discussing the latest episode of Mad Men with the cleaner. If they have a problem with that then I believe that this is almost certainly indicative of a wider problem of engagement within the business.


The afternoon tracks I went to were a bit more political! The Age of Austerity loomed large over discussions about jobs, skills, training and the big society.

The two big discussions were over the role of HR during the next few years. Firstly, where did it sit during spending cuts and tough times? With management? With the wider workforce?  Or somewhere in the middle? And whose message will they be carrying? A much trickier question than first sounds.

Then I moved on to the the crowd sourced attempt to join the ‘What’s The One Thing I Would Change About HR’ thread.

Ultimately the two ended quite close together…HR needs to be commercial, to be in the business not regulating the business…and probably needs to attract operators from other support functions to really enhance this commerciality. Credibility wasn’t mentioned, but I suspect that a team drawn from a wider business background may pack more clout.

I had asked a question…what if, in Summer 2008, HR had gone to the board, concerned about the impending economic conditions, concerned that they had heard the sales team having difficulties, concerned that the finance team were worried on cash flow, and suggested that the company take a look at its plans and forecasts for the coming 2 years…would anyone have listened?

Probably not. If sales guys have a problem, then it’s up to their manger/director to sort it out…admission that things are getting tougher is more likely to lead to a new manager/director than a re-think of corporate strategy, so may not be aired.

HR should be at the heart of the business, its pulse and its heartbeat, and social media could and should be the oxygen that enables it. A truly connected company, with everyone in the conversation, can lead to a more enlightened, progressive business, in my very humble opinion.

Which is why I was so pleased that the final group decided that the one thing we would change about HR would be…to make it a catalyst for change, not an inhibitor to progress!


I’ve said three things, and that’s very apt, because the first attendee to blog was Alison Chisnell, talking about her 3 learning takeaways.

And this says it all for me because she had never blogged before, yet barely 12 hours after Gareth and Jon closed the doors on ConnectingHR (literally!) Alison published that blog. And it was her FIRST EVER BLOG. Now that’s what I call action! That’s being energised and motivated by an event!

Barely a few hours after that, two other attendees had changed their Twitter names to their own names and their avatars to pictures of themselves. More blogs were being published and were being commented on.

I could sense the energy and curiosity from the very first track, with HR professionals wanting to know more about what tools and platforms to use, how to use them and how to encourage others to use them. And within a day, they were jumping in and using them!

So there you have it. My fourth unconference and I really do still feel like a kid on Christmas morning at the start of each one…always fun, always entertaining, always informative and always full of really interesting people.

My biggest hope from this one?

HR is coming and they’re going to make the corporate world a lot more SOCIAL!

HR in a Social World

It’s nearly time for ConnectingHR, the UKs first HR unconference!

I’m really excited about the opportunity to get together and chat about HR & the Social Organisation with a range of HR professionals, Internal Comms practitioners, Learning & Development specialists and a really great bunch of the sectors’ suppliers, consultants and journalists.

The need for organisations to embrace social media, and for HR to take the lead, has never been greater…




Communication (Internal and External)




Customer Service

Business Development

Relationship Building

…just a few of the areas in which getting social can mean getting ahead and creating real value for the business, its employees, customers and suppliers.

If anyone is in any doubt that now is the time to have this at the top of the HR agenda then just have a look at this article ‘Ten Tips on Social Networking Policies’ which I read today.

Published on a specialist site for small businesses it uses the language of control and suppress…tips such as Enforce Restrictions and Monitor Usage. How about Take Action and Protect You Business!


(Finally, at point 9 we do get Remember the Usefulness of Social Networking Sites! Yay! At last…mind you, they’re only referring to LinkedIn, but it’s a start!)

Seriously, it’s time for HR to take the initiative, embrace the social and set the AGENDA…Not the policies!

Not on their own though…our recent research showed an increasing overlap between the HR and Marketing functions, with social media as the enabler.

So much to talk about and share!

And if you’re still thinking about coming along to ConnectingHR and haven’t taken the plunge yet…it won’t ONLY be about Social Media! We’ll also be talking:

The HR Knowledge Exchange

Talent, skill gaps and learning

Performance reviews or what?

Driving Performance in the Age of Austerity (post spending review)

To name but 4!

In fact we’ll be talking about anything you want…the agenda will be all attendee driven! You can still join in – sign up here

Really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new contacts…and remember, if it’s your first time at an unconference…

The Key to Social Learning is in The ‘Social’ not just The ‘Learning’

Is The Key To Social Learning in The ‘Social’ not The ‘Learning’?

Learning…what is it? How do we do it?

If people say ‘I didn’t learn anything’ what do they mean?

There’s a debate going on now in the UK started by a blog from Michael Carty on why e-learning is seen as ineffective…seems that studies from CIPD and XpertHR showed that whilst e-learning is on the increase, not many think that it’s effective.


Are we so conditioned to the classroom style teaching of our youth that learning is something we do when we’re sat in rows taking notes whilst someone tells stuff we don’t know?

Are we saying, in the words of Kurt Cobain…Here We Are Now, Entertain Us (or rather,  Enlighten Us)

Unconferences such as HRevolution are one aspect of Social Learning, and for a lot of us they are the one of choice at the moment.

And I’m wondering about this because I’ve been reading some post–HRevolution blogs and realize that from a learning viewpoint maybe this event didn’t completely work for everyone, some writers didn’t really learn and in some cases didn’t hear anything new.

I’ve also read that some of the topics tend to get covered at other HR/Recruiting unconference type events now…as we become more regular attendees will we need constantly new topics to engage us, or just different people to discuss them with?

So far in my relatively short time attending unconferences, I have certainly:

–  Picked up information that I didn’t know before

–  Heard people’s views on subjects/topics/issues that made me think about them slightly differently (the topics, not the people)

–  Been able to talk, discuss and debate within small groups in a way in which I have gained information, knowledge and wisdom, as well as (I hope) passing on some of my own thoughts

Yet most of this has come when I have been part of a small group, or a break out group of 2 or 3…a bit like focus groups really. When there’s been a larger track, with many attendees, I’ve noticed a tendency to look to the track leaders to inform, direct, answer questions and provide commentary and insight…yet shouldn’t they be facilitators helping to keep the conversation flowing and on track? A bit like focus group moderators who ensure that everyone gets to join in the conversation and get heard.

Maybe if we are to get maximum benefit from Social Learning, especially from our unconferences, networking and crowd sourcing then…the answer may well lie in getting Social before you can get to the Learning

…I’d love to know what you think?

Reasons To Be Cheerful…I’m Chicago Bound!!

I am so excited! I’m going to Chicago for HRevolution!!! And I can’t wait!

I’m honoured to have got a scholarship from Nobscot, a company whose products and services, and vision and values are genuinely impressive. Getting the chance to meet their CEO Beth Carvin, and spend time with her finding out more about what they do, will be an absolute highlight.

The whole buzz surrounding the event is electric…and I’m still 3,000 miles away! Seriously, some of the blogs I’ve already read have already created a real sense of anticipation, with the range of topics, track leaders and attendees truly awesome.

My introduction will be simple…

I’m Mervyn

I’m from England

I’m here to learn and to share

I’m a Recruiter


(That’s right…I don’t want to scrap it, I don’t hate it…and as I’m an HR recruiter, they tend not to hate me either!)

With that out of the way I can’t wait to meet all my US HR Twitter pals and talk, engage, debate and learn about some really important and vibrant topics. Vicariously I think and talk about these issues every day, so the opportunity to listen and learn more from thought leaders, bloggers, futurologists and some really great, clued up HR pros is too good to miss!

Big, Big shout of thanks to:

Nobscot…for generosity and a mission to make the world a better place to work

The HR Evolution Team…for tirelessly putting this all together and making it happen


Twitter…hell, none of you would have known who I was otherwise!

See you Friday!!

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!