Our Twitter only recruitment: An update

It’s two months since we announced our Twitter only recruitment so I thought it was time for an update. We’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by the number of people who registered an interest in the Lab.

We had over 14,000 views of the material and are still getting enquiries. The follow up conversations took a lot longer than we thought!

People have questioned me on whether this is actually a more complex way of recruiting than the conventional model.

The answer , undoubtably, is yes.

Just like comms and marketing , recruitment used to be pretty simple. You broadcast your message and waited for the bite. Then you reeled it in.

Social media – and social recruitment – are not about broadcast. They are about the conversation , the slow burn of relationship building. People challenge you. People suggest ideas.

You question whether what you are building is right.

In a conventional recruitment no-one would dare challenge your ideas. They know that expressing dissent is the first sign of a troublemaker.

But in a social recruitment, where chats are conducted away from the shackles of forms and questions and personality tests , the relationship gets democratised.

Welcome to recruiting through the network.

I want to publicly thank everyone who took time to speak to us. Your input has been invaluable in shaping the pipeline of the Lab and the way we go about making the network operate. Thanks to everyone who has shared the material about the recruitment too – your support is incredible.

So what have we learned?

  • A lot of people want to work with us in some capacity but not in a full time role based in the Midlands. Only a few people expressed an interest in full time work for one employer and this has led us to reshape the idea of three roles.
  • There was a lot of interest in doing some work at mutually agreed times and the development of a retainer based – or time limited – relationship.
  • Peoples skills and experience are a lot wider than the rather narrow confines I put around Data, Design and Digital

So the challenge for me over the past few weeks has been to redesign something that makes use of the great talent that is out there in the network.

So what are we doing?

Firstly – we’ve decided we really need a full-time design role – and it’s the one that lends itself least to remote working. So we’re going to advertise this role for two weeks only with interested applicants going through the existing Bromford recruitment approach. You can find details of this role here. People who previously expressed an interest were given an exclusive preview but new applicants are welcomed. Give me a shout if you want to chat about it.

Secondly – we are developing opportunities for people that have a specific expertise that we need coaching in.  These are likely to be commitments of a few days of  time spread over a period between 3 months and a year. These will be available to people regardless of geography. The bulk of the people who expressed an interest first time around fall into this category and will work with me to shape it.

Finally we are developing a way that we can commission the services of people on a one-off basis. So for instance – a problem enters the Lab that we don’t have the skills to host and we need to bring in the network to do it for us. Many people suggested this might be done on a more creative basis than simply employing someone . For instance , we could develop an incentivised challenge to solve a specific problem.

This is an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved in the Lab.

Thanks for your support!

Why Social Recruitment Is Disrupting How We Apply For Jobs


What if your next employer spent ten minutes searching your online profile? Are you happy with everything they would find?

Last week I posted about how social media could land you your next job and the dangers of online professional invisibility. But having a badly curated profile can be even more damaging when it comes to job search.

But should recruiters be looking anyway?

In his thought provoking post “The Application Of Social Media – Using #SM in HR” Phil Lyons raises issues of potential discrimination against job applicants, and the dangers of unfair judgements about candidate suitability. Phil recounts advice he was given rather than presenting his own views. This included the suggestion of a ban on the use of social media during an application process. Essentially a hiring manager was NOT to check someone’s online activities.

But do the people who are giving this advice really understand how SM is used in practice?

In response to the post John Popham questioned whether recruitment may be one of those areas in which the current rules have been overtaken by the pace of change. That “the concept of infringing privacy can’t apply to social media because content is, by definition, in the public sphere.”

I think he could be right.

If I were to recuit a role on my team the first place you will hear about it is on SM. And rightly or wrongly , I’m going to make an initial judgement about a candidate based upon their digital profile. I would expect that if I was applying for a job. I think we have to accept that initial opinions will be formed about you online rather than face to face.

Of course – this is problematic. It could be argued that your online presence is more real than the image you choose to present when you walk into an interview room. Generally it won’t be as polished and you are more likely to see someone’s true opinions. And – social media is all about opinions. Unless you only post pictures of kittens, it’s likely that someone may take exception to one of your posts.

Interviewing someone begins the moment you connect online.

Old recruitment went something like this:


But isn’t modern recruitment more akin to this?


OK , I exaggerate for effect. But the normal rules of recruitment are being disrupted.

Just this week we have seen another new approach. Pizza Hut stated that interviews for a new post would take place in 140 seconds. Follow up interviews will take place via a Google Hangout. Your application is being made public and crowdsourced. Of course a lot of this is about brands gaining valuable PR by using unconventional approaches – but the point is that social recruiting is happening.

So – do we need new rules? I don’t think we can expect them just yet – this is still an emerging area. Both recruiters and applicants have got to adjust to the online world and find an approach that is both ethical and fair. Jobseekers need to be sensible , curate their profile and search themselves on a regular basis.

Recruiters need to respect that people have a life. Someone who has been on that weekend in Magaluf and posted some very embarrassing photo’s has made a mistake. But is also human.

And personally I’d rather recruit someone who shows they are a real human being – flaws and all – over someone who has zero digital footprint.

What do you think? Does there need to be more control over what employers can use in an application process?

The Social CV: How Social Media Could Get You Your Next Job


I often joke with a friend of mine that if they ever lost their job they would be unemployable. Because they have a great CV but zero digital footprint. No LinkedIn , no Twitter , no Facebook. Nothing.

I ask them to imagine a future where you don’t have a CV or resume. A future where your talent and achievements are broken down into tweetable chunks. Your professional life , and a good bit of your personal too, is available online for all to see. You are scored according to your worth and the value of your followers. Your score can determine whether you get that job interview.

And they laugh at me. ‘Paul , you are such a geek.’ As if that is ever going to happen.

Except it has happened. In 2013. At least if you are applying for a job at Enterasys Networks.

As many of you will already know the web was set alight when Vala Afshar pronounced the death of the CV.   “The Web is your résumé” he said “Social networks are your mass references”.

Enterasys have just broken new ground with their latest job advertisement. The minimum requirements for which are:

  • A Klout score above 60
  • A Kred influence score of 725
  • 1,000 active Twitter followers

This has made a lot of people start frothing at the mouth at the absurdity of it all. It’s a natural reaction when someone proposes a completely new way of doing something.

But I’m more interested in the opportunities this presents than its flaws. I think Vala is right for trying to disrupt the way companies recruit people. Why shouldn’t we start using social influence and the Social CV as part of recruitment?

Most minimum job requirements are based on what people achieved in school. If I were to apply for a job tomorrow the first thing it will ask me after my name and address is what I did 20 years ago. A time when jobs required completely different skills.

But we are still hung up about educational attainment. Even when it has no practical relevance to what we are applying for.

Don’t believe me?

A former colleague of mine recently applied for a job and was told that because a GCSE didn’t meet the required grade they were an unsuitable candidate. They came with my full endorsement – someone I’d employ again in a heartbeat.  The qualification that scuppered their job chances was 15 years old –  everything they had done since was irrelevant to the employer. And this wasn’t some blue chip city firm – it was a housing association- a business supposedly founded on the principle of giving people a second chance.

15 years of achievement and all it comes down to is what’s written on a piece of paper.

How absurd.

What I like about the idea of a Social CV is it is a genuine meritocracy. Anyone , anywhere can become influential on social media. Regardless of educational performance you can reinvent yourself online. Whatever their faults – Kred and Klout have something that educational qualifications will never have – they are bang up to date.

  • Go on holiday and your Klout score declines
  • People stop finding you engaging? You lose Kred.

Surely something like RebelMouse , that creates a Social front page based on your digital presence , paints a more relevant picture of you than the conventional CV?

Social Media has changed recruitment forever. HR teams and employers must change their practices to adapt to it , not expect social media to adapt to them.

I would agree that the concept of the Social CV has got a lot of maturing to do. But it will become accepted as employers realise that social media skills are becoming a necessity.

But what do you think? Could the Social CV replace the traditional approach?

An Opportunity 4 Employment

On Friday I was faced with a major dilemma – choose just one of three unemployed people , who also happen to be customers of ours , to be my personal assistant for 6 months.

All deserve the opportunity , all desperately need someone to give them a break.

I’m convinced companies need to think and act differently if we are to have any chance of reducing employment and creating jobs for the future.

And nothing needs disrupting more than the way companies recruit people.

I’ll post more on this next week.  For now I want to hand over to Sonja – who was unemployed just 9 months ago.  Sonja helped me have chats (can we lose the entire concept of interviewing?) with the customers.

She was confident ,inspiring and the applicants (awful word , lets lose that too) could relate to her more than me. I , like most people who recruit , have not been in their position for a long time. We use process and language that was created in a different time. A time that isn’t relevant anymore.

I asked Sonja to write a few words:

“I had the opportunity today to sit in with Paul on his interviews for his Opportunities4Employment placement. I was so excited as O4E made such a difference to my life. I couldn’t wait to meet the next candidates! As soon as they walked in I saw their faces and I was transported back to how nervous I felt at my interview – it was all so close to home.

It was amazing to be on the other side of the interview and listen to why they want to come and work for Bromford and what this will do for them! I know that they were probably thinking what I was thinking 9 months ago what do I say? How do I sit? Should I have a drink if they offer? What will make me stand out from the rest?

My journey? I started out homeless without anywhere to go when I had my first connection with Bromford – they offered me a house!!!

Then to top it off after about 12 months they offered me a job!! – I remember being called and told that I had got through to the assessment day and being really nervous almost sick feeling because I thought I can’t do this what will make me stand out??

The assessment day was brilliant and I was made to feel so welcome, afterwards I wanted this job more than anything but with so many candidates making it through I thought I had no chance.

At the interview I remember being so nervous that I was shaking walking up the stairs, I wanted this opportunity so badly! Then I got the call…. I got the job!!!! I was so happy things were going to be so different for myself and my family!! 6 months down the line after working really hard and pushing myself doing things I have never done before and hopefully making an impression on the team I finally got the news that I had my apprenticeship I am now 3 months into it and loving it.”

We need to create hundreds of thousands , millions , of stories like this.  And , along the way , we need to reinvent employment and recruitment for the 21st Century.

What’s in a name?

How do you describe what you do?

A few months ago an incredibly wise guy by the name of Bob Battye delivered a session to our Leadership team.

He challenged us to re-write our Linkedin profiles describing what we were like as people – what we were actually about – rather than what we actually DID.

It’s challenging.

We are so used to hiding behind job titles and career achievements. We use words that provide an easily understandable code to each other but , let’s be honest, mean little to anyone living in the real world.

That’s why plenty of Bromford people now have a profile reading something like this:

Bob reminded us that we engage with people not titles.  We are interested in people who show what they care about , rather than just the function they perform.

Job titles can often lead us to talk about our purpose in the most prosaic terms imaginable.

From Assistant to Officer to Team Leader to Head of Whatever , to Director of You Know What.

It’s too often about structure rather than culture.

Starbucks knew this. It just wouldn’t have worked if they had employed Beverage Attendants. They had to have Baristas instead.

Most modern job titles only exist for two reasons: To differentiate one department from another and to provide a snapshot of the persons position in the hierarchy.

A lot of this was borne out of 20th Century management think. Before the onset of flatter structures , collaborative workspaces, crowdsourcing.

Last week I posted about how we had tried to apply new thinking to Job Descriptions. Aiming for the inspirational rather than the functional.

But we have gone a step further and begun to apply it to Job titles.

  • A Neighbourhood Investment Advisor becomes a Skills Coach.
  • An Economic Inclusion Manager (what?!) becomes an Opportunities Manager.
  • And I’m now an Innovation Coach.

You can’t tell who leads the teams and it’s not clear who line reports to whom.  But does that matter?

This isn’t about us.

It’s not even about the organisation.

It’s about not letting people be limited by their place on a structure chart. Enabling them to be they best they can be.

And to talk about why they got up this morning.

Young People are not the problem. But Employers often are.

The other day I was sitting with my colleague , James Walsh , and a Recruitment Consultant – talking about the difficulties of employing young people.  And how employers , and outdated recruitment practices,  are all too often part of the problem.

Unintelligible jobs descriptions. Never giving candidates any feedback. Lack of mentoring.

The insistence on applying 20th Century recruitment and management approaches to a generation who were texting before they could write.

Rather than talk about what we have done to adapt to this , I thought I would hand over to a guest blogger, Sarah , to describe her experience of entering work. For me – it shows how we have changed, and also the things we need to improve upon.

“I remember when I heard that Bromford was recruiting. My mom was going crazy telling me to apply, I kept putting it off because I felt 100% there’s no chance of me getting picked. After DAYS of nagging from the mother I eventually filled in the online application, even though I knew deep down there is no chance. I did it to keep my mother happy.  After a while I received a phone call.. I’d been invited to an assessment centre.  I will never forget the feeling I had when I received that phone call..

When I attended the assessment day, I met loads of people who were at the same stage as me. Looking round I felt a bit threatened, everybody else seemed much more confident than I was. I didn’t have much interview experience so I was very nervous. There were loads of members of staff all from different teams explaining what they do or what service they provide for Bromford customers. I sat and listened to every position which was available and remembered a little tip my dad told me  – ‘ ask questions! ‘ 

We then had a phone call role play, I found this really easy and I felt I did well on this..  Also we were asked to complete a group activity! Build a shoe rack from string and bamboo sticks. This enabled them to see how well each individual works as a team. I must admit I was well into building this shoe rack.

A few days had passed and I didn’t hear anything.. which was what I expected. Then to my surprise I had the phone call  ‘ We would like you to come in for a four hour work experience’. This was a shock to my system . My mom and dad encouraged me to remain positive. I was so worried.

During my work experience I was asked to think of a short but sweet paragraph to introduce a new brochure which was being distributed to customers.  The four hours were finished in no time. And it was back to the waiting game.

To my surprise I had the phone call.  I was starting an Opportunities 4 Employment Placement. Whooooop!

I started at Bromford on the 3rd of January. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt at ease straight away.  I remember logging on for the first time, and setting up my phone! I’ve never had my own desk or my own personal phone in a job before so this was a big change for me! I was really excited!. 

I remember having my first telephone call. It took me 10 minutes to record my voice mail as I kept making mistakes I was so nervous. I stuttered on my first phone call which was disappointing but lucky it was a voicemail so I just hung up ha-ha.

As time passed and the more phone calls I was asked to make I became a lot more confident. And now I can phone anyone about anything! And my phone manner has improved by 100% I’d say. Also my computer skills. The whole aspect of the job is completely different to what I would normally do so it has opened a lot of doors for me. It really has been a confidence and knowledge builder! Even though my placement will end I feel a lot more balanced when it comes to work. Almost  I’m learning to ride a bike.

You taught me to ride, now you’ve taken off my stabilizers and watch me go! “

It’s all about people…….

Yesterday I blogged on the dangers of just talking about what you do ,rather than what you actually change.

Today I saw a lovely poem – on our internal social network. It’s written by one of our “Opportunities 4 Employment” customers. O4E is a 6-month paid placement aimed at offering people an apprenticeship and a career.

It’s really powerful and I ask you to read it. But there is one thing wrong with it. I’ll tell you what it is later.

Here it is:

Bromfords done so much for me
a tenancy – an O4E
they took a chance and set me free

I knew that i would stand my ground
work so hard make them proud
kept on going, stand out from the crowd

Challenged myself with every turn
confidence growing as i learn
be everything that they need and more
from 9am straight through till 4!!

To think that a few years ago
I was homeless, alone no place to go
no job, no home, no life, no me

The one thing wrong? The opening line.

It’s not about Bromford.

It’s about people like Charley.

Two things you can’t say on Twitter…..

There are two opinions that are definite no-go zones amongst the liberal left twitterati.

Opinions that , if you were to express them openly , could see you banished to the most remote, uninhabited and hostile parts of the social media planet.(Linkedin…..or even worse, Google+)

What are they?

1 – Saying you think the NHS is a bit wasteful really and maybe reform isn’t a totally bad idea


2 – Saying that despite the economy being tough –  you think that there are jobs out there

Well , I feel like starting the week with a bang. So I’m going to say that , I , Paul Taylor , believe that there are jobs out there.

OK – before you press “unfollow” let me explain:

  • There are millions of jobs that have yet to be invented. I’m not going to expand that point here. You can read my previous blog on this. In fact if anyone knows a window cleaner who also cleans the house/irons clothes/and cuts hair please pass on my details.I’m recruiting.
  • There are jobs – but often people don’t feel they have any skills , or feel terrified at the prospect of even applying.
  • There are jobs – but people get fed up of applying when they get zero feedback and never hear anything about their application.
  • And even in the area’s where jobs are very few -there are loads of volunteering and training opportunities that provide people with confidence , and improve their skills.

Very very few people don’t want to work – just sometimes it looks like it’s too much of a challenge. It feels like they will never make it.

Today see’s the launch of a new project that I am proud to be part of.

Connect , as we call it , opens it doors today as a private beta site. It’s a Social Network for Jobs, Skills and Opportunities. A virtual marketplace for the user to share their skills and develop their confidence , and get access to priority work opportunities. And it will also offer loads of volunteering positions, and give access to innovators who might just help people develop the next big idea. The jobs of the future.

We want it to be a supportive community which is about hope rather than despair. It’s about helping everyone be the very best they can be.

Initially all new Bromford tenants and their families will be given access to Connect. Additionally they can access a Skills Coach, whose job it is to inspire them to do the things that they thought they couldn’t. Whether its getting online for the first time , or preparing for an interview – we are hoping we can remove some of the many barriers that people face as they enter or return to work.

We’ll be letting you know how its going here and on the Connect Blog.

If you haven’t unfollowed me, of course.

Job Descriptions are rubbish…..My Top 5 new rules

The Worlds Worst Job Description. Ever
The Worlds Worst Job Description. Ever

Did some work on some JD’s this week. I’ve been messing around them for some time – really struggling to articulate what I wanted.

On Wednesday morning at 9:40am it struck me. Somebody , somewhere , about 50 or 60 years ago – decided what a JD should look and feel like. A lot of words (management words, not real words) describing a lot of tasks and job accountability. I’ve never questioned it.

Need to recruit someone? Yeah! Lets make their eyes bleed with 3 pages of total bollocks.

Most of the work we are now doing , and the work the economy desperately needs, requires people to have creativity , a sense of autonomy and certainly a high degree of purpose.

So why on earth would we put things like this in a JD?

“The post holder will also perform any additional duties at the request of the Manager” (Which means – you need to do as I tell you – I don’t  trust you)

“You will be responsible for completing a daily report at 9:30am that should outline the tasks you and your team achieved in the previous day” (Which means – I don’t trust you or anyone else who works for me)

“Postholder will be required to attend in a punctual manner and be well-presented at all times” (Which means – I don’t trust you to get out of bed. Or even to have a wash)

I didn’t make these up by the way – just did a quick search.

I think at Bromford we have shown a fair degree of innovation. But there is much to be done. Here’s my (personal) new rules for JD’s:

1: 140 Character Job Purpose – If you can’t sum it up in that you are waffling. Plus – you can advertise it on Twitter

2: 1 Page Total – Anything more than that means we are in 20th Century Management mode and being over prescriptive – squeezing creativity out of someone before they have even applied.

3: Use a picture or graphic. A picture that describes the purpose. If you can’t think of a really bold , emotive image to accompany the job then you probably don’t need to even recruit someone. You can probably get a spreadsheet to do it.

4: Passionate language. If you really want someone to get out bed in the morning knowing EXACTLY what they are here to do there is nothing wrong with including words like “inspiring” “brave” or even “sexy”. I’ve gone a step further this week and included lyrics from George Benson’s “The Greatest Love Of All” (or Whitney if you prefer ) and Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power”. Ridiculous? Maybe. No problem , don’t apply!

5: Stick to how you want the person to make a difference. Describe how you want the successful applicant to make people FEEL rather than a list of things you want them to do. I’ve amended one JD to say to I want them “to inspire people each and every day”. That’s their purpose. How they do that it is entirely up to them.

I’m not saying this is right. But let’s all try something different. There has to be a better way.

I’m with our HR team on Monday finishing them off. Wonder if Public Enemy will make the final cut?

Feeling like a somebody rather than a nobody…..

The other day I blogged about the negative press surrounding work experience. And about how employers have to think differently to create a positive experience that unlocks potential in people. Especially the people who are the future of work and will expect very different career paths than my generation.

Quite by chance , Marie – one of our newest Opportunities 4 Employment placements – asked me for a quote about how I thought she was getting on. She wanted to use this in her Learning Log . This details her experience of Bromford – and will be used when she (hopefully) makes the transition to an Apprentice.

I agreed , of course , but asked her what the experience so far had felt like for her.

This is what she said – unedited:

Being an O4E is a title in itself, your given an opportunity to do something.

That something, means more to me than I could ever imagine. Its turned my life around in so many positive ways.

Rather than being held in a category that I wasn’t working because I was lazy and just wanted to reap in benefits, was totally untrue and I wanted to break that mould.

Being an O4E has made me a somebody, rather than a nobody.

That’s what we have to create for young people.

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