Friday 18 November 2011

#CRSS2011 CERN social recruiting: social not just social media


   I’m at CERN today for a session that their head of recruitment, James Purvis (in the picture, sitting in the middle) has put together.  The session is on recruitment and sourcing, not just on social recruiting, but that’s been the main focus this morning.  There’s over 50 people here (over 30 who didn’t get squeezed in) and more people (from over 40 countries) watching on live streaming.

There are a couple of different reasons why I think the event has proved so popular but one is the tour round CERN that we’ll be going on shortly (looking for higgs bosons), and the introductory keynote from Dr Robert Cailliau (in the picture, standing), who together with Tim Berners Lee developed the world wide web (the set of conventions and standards for delivering over the internet).  This was a great session, particularly for someone who used to be an engineer, but it’s not the focus of this blog, so I’m not going to go into here.  However, I did want to comment on Robert Cailliau’s closing statement:

“Let’s share what we know, not hide it away – that’s how we’ll save the planet.”


I really like this.  Robert Cailliau and CERN both deserve huge amounts of kudos for giving the www away free, but both realised that it would have no value if kept as a proprietary tool.

And I especially like the fact that this has become a key principle of social media and social recruiting – that organisations are increasingly realising that they need to invest time in relationships, with an understanding that this may (but may not) result in returns later on.

In fact this applies more broadly to recruitment in general of course.  I had a very small role in helping get one of James’ team a job here (not that this was particularly altruistic – I was simply trying to get a Geneva tweet-up group established – a need that Etienne Besson has now filled).  And this was done over social media (Twitter) – but – the intervention had the outcome it had because it was social, not just because it used social media.  I was talking to both people and thought that they should be talking between themselves (I shared what I knew, not hid it away).

I was tweeting about the same thing with Gary Franklin this morning.  Yes, of course, if you’re job hunting, you’ve got to go to job interviews (though using Sonru night help?).  But if I was job hunting head of recruiting, I’d want to be right here – putting myself in an environment where I could be socially recruited….



Anyway, what I really liked about today was that this wasn’t just a demonstration of social media, or even social recruiting, but that it was, in itself, a demonstration of being social.

Yes, Robert Cailliau and the higgs bosson were both a big draw.  But actually, I think most people came here because of James Purvis being so social – being prepared to ask people to come along and find out what CERN have been doing and exchange some experiences and views.  It may not be quite as big an output as the world wide web, but I still think it’s a great credit to James, and CERN, that they’ve been so happy to share what they know.



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  1. Great post, Jon. You have encapsulated what I was thinking about the fact CERN hosted the event. Being open and sharing what they do as a means to spark wider discussion. Hopefully we will see more of this type of event over the coming months. Well done to CERN for making it happen.

  2. Thanks for the credits Jon. I think I was just a small catalyst. What really made the event succesful was the amazing contributions from all the participants and the willingness to be open, share and often disagree on views. It was a real pleasure to host and my thanks really goes to the logistics team who ran this as an extra to their day jobs (recruiting) :-)

  3. Thanks for the mention John. I have to say I was disappointed I couldn’t get there. Hats off to James and the CERN team, it was one of the few conferences that I have enjoyed following remotely with great content and disucssion.

  4. Thanks Martin, James and Gary. James, you're right that the speakers deserve credit for sharing openly too - but I, and I think Martin and Gary, still think that was down to your original encouragement - and maybe some of that is down to Robert Cailliau too.


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