#cipdACE summary blog

A couple of weeks ago I attended #cipdACE and was part of the Blogsquad again. Here’s my reflective summary of the entire experience.

I enjoyed it immensely. It’s always one of the highlights of my professional year and this year was no exception.

The conference itself had a great programme with a wide variety of sessions as usual, but I felt it was of higher quality this year. I found it hard to choose which sessions to go to and the only solution I can think of for this is to get some sessions repeated, even if this means going back to three days.

I blogged and tweeted from many sessions and the links to those are below. However my main takeaways were from the sessions by Rachel Botsman, John Amaechi and Lenny Henry, unsurprisingly as these were the big hitters on the programme.

From Rachel’s session I have been reflecting on trust quite a lot and in particular how being more open and transparent doesn’t necessarily build more trust. On reflection I now agree with this and can see lots of examples of this in my personal and professional life. It will have an impact on how I coach in particular.

I’ve learnt more about trust in my first year running a business than in the previous 42 years of my life. It’s strange how individuals behave towards third party suppliers in a way they wouldn’t dream of doing to a fellow employee, and how that behaviour has shaped the way I now deal with companies.

From John’s session I particularly liked his points about the influence we have in HR or in business. Never doubt that we can change things. As someone once said, you can change the world, one conversation at a time. I like that idea.

And Lenny’s session was awesome, highlighting the role of HR in holding our organisations to account for their inclusivity and diversity, with some intensely personal examples.

The Exhibition was about the same quality as last year but did seem larger, and that’s a good thing. The suppliers were varied and whilst the free gifts are nowhere near the standard of previous years, and seem to be dwindling further year on year, there were sufficient variety of interesting suppliers to talk to.

I’ll repeat what I say every year though. Most suppliers are not plugged into the back channel on social media and this loses them valuable publicity. Many did not know their Twitter handle and lots mistook BLOGSQUAD on my badge to be my company name and claimed to have met others who worked for this company.

A good example of this was @HR_Gem at the Perkbox stand. She asked for one of their unicorns and they refused as they weren’t free gifts. She said if she could get 100 retweets would they give her one and they said yes, no doubt thinking she was mad. About an hour later she had them and collected her unicorn. I tried the same tactic the following day and was told at first that I was making it up about Gem and her unicorn as no one on the stand knew about it. Eventually one person said that someone on the stand had mentioned this yesterday and they thought they’d now get into trouble for it, and so were now not repeating it or grasping the very obvious publicity that should have come from it.

Engage with social media, suppliers. We can bring people to your stand and get you free publicity.

I can think of a dozen ways I’d have been exploiting that if I were Perkbox.

Sadly there were other examples too.

As usual, the fringe and social activities provided as much value if not more, and this is again because the conference programme is so packed with good stuff it leaves little time for networking and catching up with people. My solution here is to consider a three day conference again and spread things out more in the programme but it would also allow fringe activities to spread over an extra day. At one point in the Wednesday evening there were four things I wanted to get to, all at the same time, and I managed two.

But the conversations you have inbetween the conference sessions and at the coffee stands in the exhibition, and in the bar in the evening, are often what makes the whole experience worthwhile. The more of that that can be fitted in, the better it is.

My own social media coverage was enjoyable and I put out a good output- six blogs at the event plus this one makes seven, hundreds of tweets, plus a dozen or so LinkedIn and Instagram posts. And not to mention the pre event promo videos I did on YouTube, which many seemed to have liked. I really enjoyed being part of the Blogsquad for the fourth year running.

Overall, this was a better event than the previous year but there’s still ways to make it even better.

And one day, I might get on the main stage myself, who knows?

Till next time…


Ps in other news, eldest son has passed his driving theory test and youngest son is now sitting up unaided. I have it all going on as a father…

Hidden Talent

In this blog I’ll examine why employer branding is something not always in the control of the employer, but is nonetheless something that employers need to be wary of.

Specifically I’m going to be talking about Glassdoor and how it ought to be an active part of every person who has anything to do with recruitment’s strategy.

I’ve blogged before on employer branding here and a little about the role of social media in recruitment on Glassdoor’s own site here.

I like social media. I like the transparency it brings to organisations, and the voice it gives to anyone who uses it.

I also thus like Glassdoor for the same reasons.

It’s been said that Glassdoor is one of the fastest growing jobs and recruitment sites in the world today, and that’s because it started with a goal of creating greater transparency between job seeker and employer. I’ve used it as a jobseeker. I’ve used it as a recruiter. I’ve used it as an HR Director. And I’ve used it as a consultant when advising organisations. What I hadn’t realised until fairly recently though was that organisations can advertise jobs on the site, and therefore it ought to become a much more visible and integrated part of organisational recruitment strategy.

I said before that Glassdoor (and other sites like it that capture public views of an organisation) should be part of any recruiters’ talent strategy. And I mean recruiters in the widest sense, from the line manager who recruits now and again, to the HR professional who does frequent recruitment around their other responsibilities, to the in house recruiter who does recruitment all the time, to the external recruiter who works with a range of candidates AND organisations.

And it should be part of their strategy because of the developing concept of the informed candidate.

Why Glassdoor specifically? Glassdoor provides candidates with access to information that the organisation hasn’t necessarily chosen to give them. It might resemble some of the information on the corporate website, and it might bear even less resemblance to the glossy candidate pack brochure the applicant can access. It might, if the organisation is lucky, have some of the same words in use that the recruiters use to describe the organisation to candidates when they brief them about the vacancy.

But not necessarily.

Like consumers do with TripAdvisor, candidates will go to Glassdoor to find out what people LIKE THEM feel about a company. Not what the organisation wishes to share with them. I suppose that with Glassdoor also hosting job adverts, the candidate might be going there specifically to look for jobs too, so it makes sense to have good content up there in case someone stumbles across your page.

The candidate is conducting due diligence, and for all the best reasons – deciding whether to apply for a job with that organisation, and if they have applied, doing their research pre interview and figuring out if they’ve made the right decision to apply!

So the informed candidate is out there, looking at information OTHER people have given about your organisation, and potentially reading all sorts of stuff you as a recruiter don’t want them to read.

So of course you should have Glassdoor as part of your talent strategy. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s been reported that candidates are using information they find on Glassdoor to research questions they may want to ask at interview. So do your line managers, front and centre in the interview itself, need to see what’s there so they can prepare? I’d say yes. I know if I were interviewing, I’d want to be able to plan for questions a candidate might ask about my organisation and might want some foreknowledge of that too.

With those things in mind, it becomes important for organisations to seek to manage some of the content that’s out there. Your employer brand exists online, whether you like it or not. There’s formal pages like on Glassdoor, but there’s also the chatter that goes on on Twitter and other social channels. It strikes me as odd if you don’t want or have some influence over that.

Organisations can’t control it, but they can put their own content out there to try to make their recruitment more effective and efficient and to make selection easier. This is about companies managing their own Glassdoor pages and creating content to go alongside the content created by other people that might help to create a sense that the company invests time in employee engagement and cares about its employee value proposition.

In this sense, a company might choose to respond to reviews it receives. One of the arguments I’ve heard against organisational use of social media sites is the fear of negative publicity or bad comments. Bad comments and reviews aren’t necessarily a blow to the employer brand or to business, but an opportunity to manage things for a better outcome and show interest in the candidate experience and the wider employee experience.

It might also help candidates to self select. After all, the more transparent an organisation is, the more content it puts out there, the more unsuitable candidates will be able to use it to choose NOT to apply, and the more the suitable candidates will choose to apply. So as an organisation you’d want to ensure candidates have access to the right information, from both company and the wider public, to help them do that – after all, the wrong candidate might sneak through. Also, if you know that your page will help candidates to self-select whether to apply for a position in your company, it would be logical to use the site to advertise any vacancies you might have to save people having to find the links elsewhere.

And this makes me wonder why there are still organisations who don’t have a presence at all. Where there’s little or even nothing there managed by the company, and nothing to be seen from candidates or employees either. I am wondering what the organisation is thinking in allowing this situation to develop, and whether there’s something about employee engagement that the company needs to address.

And that’s something I’ll address in a follow up to this blog in a couple of weeks time, on how HR professionals can find a wider use and relevance for Glassdoor.

But for now I strongly suggest that you check out Glassdoor to see what opportunities it offers you as a recruiter, because your candidates already are…

Till next time…


Ps in other news, I’m very shortly going to have a second teenage child. Not quite sure how that has happened, seems just minutes ago she was a baby…