Why Social Recruitment Is Disrupting How We Apply For Jobs

recruiting-via-social-network

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:

IMG_0467

But isn’t modern recruitment more akin to this?

IMG_0468

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?

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.

Digital Myths

How confident are you using the internet? On a scale of 1 to 10. And how confident would you say the average user of social housing is?

Last week , I posted about the myth of social housing residents and digital inclusion.

How 99% of our new customers said they had the ability to access the internet either at home or in the community.

And 35% had used a mobile to access online services.

The thrust of my argument was that the real challenge wasn’t access , but digital literacy and confidence. But some new research being done by my colleague Vicky Green challenges the extent to which social tenants feel that their online skills are a barrier.

Of the last 300 customers to join Bromford – over 60% rated their digital confidence at 8 out of 10 or above.

35% said they were a perfect 10. 

That’s an astonishing untapped resource. Like finding out that our communities are built on an oil reservoir.

Let’s get the back of a fag packet out….

Statisticians turn away now…
  • Suppose there are 250,000 new social tenants each year.
  • And suppose the stat’s are grounded in reality – that would make 150,000 highly internet confident tenants moving in every 12 months.
  • And nearly 90,000 of them would rate themselves as a perfect 10.
  • And every year , the numbers would increase.

Now imagine we could make a deal with those people. A customer deal – that you agree to when you access our homes.

We give you access to the huge resources available across UK Housing. You share your skills with the wider community. Together we destroy the myth of social housing customers as digital illiterates.

In return for your help we do everything we can to encourage access to the range of jobs and opportunities that are dependent on IT skills.  And , with a UK Internet economy worth over £200billion by 2016 – that will be quite a lot.

Is that a fantasy? Any more so than saying the “vast majority of social residents have no access to the internet?”

We need to stop re-enforcing the myths and start talking up the opportunities.

Don’t believe the numbers? I’d be the first to admit they won’t be statistically comparable with all landlords. And they do only include those of working age.

But even if the numbers are exaggerated by 50% – we could still miss out on the opportunity to engage a quarter of a million Perfect 10’s accessing social housing over the next 5 years.

And that would be negligence bordering on the criminal.

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.

Let’s make job descriptions inspirational….

About 3 months ago I posted a blog/rant about why most Job Descriptions are complete rubbish.

You know what I’m talking about. You read the one for the job you are doing now.

Uninspiring: Although you said it was really really exciting at interview.

Impenetrable: You had to search the web to understand some of the jargon.

Long. Very Long: You didn’t read all of it did you? Be honest.

If the typical manager/HR team had written a job description for Mo Farah it would very likely read:

“Needs to run 10,000m every couple of years , remain upright throughout and complete the task to an acceptable level. Your performance is subject to an annual review but don’t worry mate keep your head down and do your best – you won’t get fired.”

And then we would follow it with a load of waffle that states the bleeding obvious:

  • Must demonstrate ability to tie own laces
  • Punctuality when turning up for the race – essential
  • Performs other duties as required by the line manager

As I mentioned in the previous blog – my 5 rules are now these:

  1. Stick to a 140 Character Job Purpose
  2. 1 Page Total Job Description.
  3. Use a picture or graphic.
  4. Use passionate language.
  5. Describe how you want the person to make a difference.

A few people have asked what happened next. Did HR get it? Did a JD that included the word “Sexy” in its job purpose get past go?

Well , the answer is yes.

Here’s a quick sample from five of them. See what you think. Would it make you want to get out of bed in the morning?

“You are a teacher , a coach , a mentor and a shoulder to cry on….your mission is that no meeting you host will ever be boring.”

“You are responsible for making Volunteering sexy. You give people something to look forward to.”

‘You will live and breathe Connect – ensuring it delivers “Apple standard” performance to its users. You are responsible for whether it succeeds or fails.”

 “You believe that young people can create the jobs of the future. And you make it happen.”

“You are the first step in helping someone be the best they can be. You change lives”

Whether you love or loathe this – there is a genuine problem we all need to help solve. 1 in 4 of us don’t feel we reach our creative potential in the workplace.

And right now we need creativity , innovation and aspiration in our companies and communities more than ever before.

So let’s say goodbye to average. And aim for inspirational from the start.

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

And

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.

On this work experience thing……..

 
Designing The Experience of Work
I hated my work experience. Two weeks spent making cup’s of tea and doing the filing for embittered old men. It instilled in me a fear of offices, old men and filing that took 6 years to get over.
 
Then I found a manager who helped me find what I liked doing.
 
There is surely nothing wrong with the concept of “work experience”. The concept of giving people a chance – any chance – to prove what they can do has to be applauded.
 
But there is a problem with work experience. And it’s not just that businesses may be using unpaid help to subsitute the work of establishment posts. ( I’ve not seen any evidence to be fair)
 
The problem is the concept of work experience hasn’t changed fundamentally since the late 1980’s. It’s still about herding people into experiences that they might hate rather than unlocking potential.
 
Bromford have gone some way to re-designing this. Over 200 people applied for our last Opportunities 4 Employment placements. Paid placements that give 6 months work experience in a variety of roles and experiences. Giving the young person the opportunity to try us out as much as we are trying them. And if they like it they can have an Apprenticeship in the area of the business they are most interested in.
 
There is room for further innovation. Work Experience needs re-designing for the 21st Century.
 
It needs to be about helping people find out what they love doing and how they can get paid for it.
 
 
 
 
 

The UK doesn’t trust young people – New Blog

When I was on holiday I sent the following  couple of tweets:

“Talking guy from neighbouring maharashtra. Trad fishing family now working in #mobile. State is as populous as Mexico and India’s richest”

 “Massive number of #geny and enterprising – doing 2,3,4 different jobs. We better stop doom and gloom in UK or these guys will eat us alive”
I’ve been in the UK less than a week and I’m already sooooo bored with the political bickering about how we solve this problem.
Lets be clear – No politician or political party will get us out of this.
The best quote I’ve heard came on the Andrew Marr show – not from Nick Clegg – but from Jeremy Irons who said (and I’m paraphrasing)  “We need to look to the creativity from young people  to reach a solution , not look to those who created the mess in the first place”
We have a problem that’s cultural not political – we don’t trust young people. We think that someone who is 40+ in a suit is qualified to advise them on how they should live their lives and the jobs they be should be doing. Rather than freeing them up to develop and exploit the idea’s that they have.
We live in a world where young people genuinely know more about the mobile economy – the new world – than their elders . And they could be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet.
Here’s four young(ish) people I have come across in the past week:
  • Someone who works selling mobile SIM cards. His employer has agreed he takes time off to do an additional (unpaid) job as a Lifeguard as he has spotted tourists moaning about SMS charges when texting home. So he sells them domestic SIM cards so they can text cheaply whilst away. He’s a Lifeguard who sells mobiles.
  • A young man who makes clothes and has a small shop next to a restaurant. He waits and helps out in the restaurant for free . But he uses the opportunity to advertise his shop to every customer. And the restaurant owner pays him in meals and stops other people advertising to his customers to ensure maximum cross selling. His is a Waiter who makes and sells clothing.
  • A young mother who has been told that because of her child it is “highly unlikely” anyone would want to employ her. She has A level results that put mine to shame.
  • A guy with a treatable back problem who has been told he “will never work again” and should give up looking. He just cleared his 30th birthday.
The first two examples are from India. The second two from Great Britain.
One country has  faith its next generation and is on the way up. The other is …. Well , we will see….
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