Monday 25 February 2013

CRSS2013 - Recruitment and Sourcing from CERN

photo(2).JPG  Well, as expected, we all had a fantastic day at CERN on Friday.  So well done again to James Purvis and his team.


Here are some of the key themes - for me at least - which I used for my summary:


1.   Strategy and technology


We heard about some great case studies showing the extent of change underway in recruitment.  These aren’t just about technology, even though this is the driver behind them all - despite Robert Cailliau’s concerns!


However although we shouldn’t overlook the possibilities of emergent benefits, the technologies shouldn’t be our focus.  I liked James’ comment that recruitment innovation is more about mindset than technology.  Also Colin Minto from G4S remarked that their finding was despite the vendors’ pitches, technology seldom does everything you want, so there is still often the need to innovate your own approaches and systems.  And in fact it’s interesting that there was much less focus on the systems than there was in the previous conference - perhaps echoing this increasing focus on the strategy which technology is used to support.


Instead, we need to focus on what’s most important, translating this into a clear EVP (‘your Higgs field for attracting talent’) and employer brand.  I particularly liked some of the ways Connie Gibney and Linkedin are doing this, eg the ‘Life@Linkedin’ onboarding programme, the ‘inday’ day out once per month to focus on a particular area eg career development, ‘inexchange’ trying a job in another country, and ‘inlearn’ online learning.


Measurement has a role here too.  There was a lot of support in the room for the ‘In god we trust but everyone else bring data’ approach which Katie McNab from PepsiCo said was part of the culture there.  But there was quite a bit of support in the twitter stream for my suggestion that in some areas of recruiting at least, there is still room for good (calibrated) intuition.




2.   A need for tailoring - niche and bulk


I put this in because I couldn’t find much similarity between the case studies, so I guess what they really showed is that you get the strategy piece right, every example is different - tailored according to the organisation, sector, context, type of role etc.  The big need which came out to me was probably the one to focus on either niche roles or bulk recruiting.  Eg the smart, social approaches used by CERN for their Java systems analysts aren’t going to right for G4S and their 250,000 security guards etc.


The main difference? - for bulk recruitment our focus has to be on attracting large numbers of candidates efficiently.  For the niche roles, we’re much more interested in finding the very best people (I know the difference isn’t always as clear cut as that sounds.)  So although I sort of agree with James that it doesn’t matter if we get lots of candidates as we can always funnel them down (though I also think that if we’re flooded with applications we’re doing something wrong - ie we’ve not effectively communicated or enabled candidates to self select around our EVP - or possibly we’ve just automated a mess and ended up with an automated mess) we really want to shift the balance to attract a fewer, higher quality people to our role.  Particularly as many candidates are becoming more passive in their behaviour ie waiting to be contacted, as Katie described.


Having said that, some of the technologies we discussed span across this divide, eg asynchronous video interviewing.  And G4S can still make room for some great sourcing approaches for some of its most important roles - reducing cost per hire from 20 to just 2%.  So perhaps its niche and bulk (rather than one or the other).




3.   Basics and sexiness


Something referred to in quite a few of the sessions was the need to focus on basics - eg good assessment tools rather than just the things that might be seen as more sexy.  Again, I think it’s actually both.  And it’s about smart sexiness.  There are some great benefits available from being a first mover.  And some real issues with just following the crowd.  So one of the things Adrian Banegerter from IPTO referred to was the social media arms war as both recruiters and candidates get smarter at contacting (and potentially hiding) from each other.  I may have to post separately on this.  But just being sexy isn’t necessarily smart.  Doing the basics well may provide more value.  Again, I thought it was interesting that we hadn’t actually focused on sexy - so although we had looked at Google Glass (!), we’d not really talked about Google +, or Pinterest, or some of the other, newer and potentially event sexier tools.



One of the examples of this we talked about - basic but definitely not easy - is ensuring consistency, through processes, technology and capability, across decentralised organisations.  I liked the way Manuel Monge and Nestle are going about this - developing consistency but ensuring their recruiters are motivated by leaving room for tailoring.




There you go, that was my summary.  Though actually the session wasn’t so much of a summary as simply an opportunity to people to chip in with their own perspectives and questions, particularly as there hadn't been that much time for these.  I thought it was interesting that the key thing people seemed to want to talk about, though I hadn’t thought it had come out that strongly in the presentations, was the candidate experience.  Still I thought it was great that this was what people wanted to talk about, and more on this tomorrow!

Also see: CERN social recruiting - social not just social media

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