The Social Recruiting Summit - I’m wagging my tail

NB: This is a re-post.

Yesterday I attended, along with about 225 other attendees, the inaugural Social Recruiting Summit at the Googleplex in Silicon Valley, USA.

Unlike other conferences I’ve been to in stuffy hotels and auditoriums, I was really looking forward to seeing the Google work environment. I’ve heard so much about their campus style workplace. More importantly, as a dog owner, I wanted to see a dog. This was an absolute must for me. Taking a dog to work is pretty much a foreign concept where I come from. I would’ve been gutted to have come all the way from New Zealand and been short changed.

Lazlo Bock, Google’s VP Human Resources welcomed us. Lazlo spoke briefly about Google’s work culture. Google have really thought hard on how to create an environment where people connect, interact, and have fun (yes fun!). Lazlo said innovation comes from these things.

I thought the line up of speakers were first class, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaging. I’m not going to summarize each session, but will make some overall observations:

  • It appeared we were living the cultural things that Lazlo spoke about - quite possibly running the summit within Google contributed to that.
  • I got just as much from the audience and the discussions as I did from the presenters.
  • In addition to the presenters, many audience members are movers and shakers in the recruiting and social recruiting space too, so I enjoyed hearing their views. I’ve heard some concern about the knowledge level of some of the attendees, especially vendors, but my take on that is that people have different levels of knowledge and experience and we are all there to learn. Maybe there could be some sessions in future summits that are pitched clearly to different knowledge levels.
  • I enjoyed being amongst peers that were open to the social recruiting concept. Nobody said “I just don’t get the point of social networking”.
  • It was great to see supporting statistics, poll results etc to back up the presenters’ points. Some of the numbers presented shocked me and challenged my thinking.
  • I felt more time could have been spent at the start of the day defining ‘social’. The terms community, collaboration, and conversation were mentioned, but some of the ideas presented throughout the day were not what I perceive as being ‘social’ or followed the 3 C’s.
  • The term Community Manager was used a number of times. I hate that term. Maybe it’s just semantics, but it is more about enablement and giving power over to the community in my eyes, than ‘management’. One presenter said communities aren’t formed, they emerge. I believe community [managers] emerge too.
  • I felt too many attendees were wedded firmly to LinkedIn as their one and only social recruiting tool. The enhancements to LinkedIn appear very useful for a recruiter and their growth is phenomenal (a new member every second), but I felt some people need to think more about their target demographic and ascertain where they hang out and how to engage with them. Maybe some people need to look at using a more blended approach. It’s OK to use Facebook, Twitter etc for branding purposes. I’m not so convinced there needed to be two sessions on LinkedIn.
  • I found it ironic we were using Twitter to tweet during Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn session. Why were we not using LinkedIn to do that? ;)
  • I agree 100% with a tweet from Master Burnett who was very disappointed with the number of recruiters who see social networking sites as just another place to post job ads.
  • Loved the live tweets showing on the screen during Joshua’s session. On average, throughout all the sessions, a tweet using the hash tag #socialrecruiting went out every 15 seconds.
  • I don’t really feel I picked up too much new knowledge overall - lots of little morsels instead. The session on mobile recruiting is all pretty new to me and has got me thinking about all the possibilities. I would like to develop some tools in that space. I believe employers need to start thinking about how to use smart phones for employment branding and recruitment beyond SMS / text campaigns.
  • I think the summit organizers should consider making future summits two days in length. The day did seem a bit rushed between sessions and it was a very long day, especially when I was concentrating on making out what some people were saying with their strong accents. Maybe I need to get my ears tested!

I’m pleased I made the trip over to the summit. I thought the social events before and after the summit were exceptionally well organized. I probably got just as much from the networking as I did from the summit sessions.

I don’t feel the US recruitment audience is further advanced in this space than a New Zealand or Australian audience. In fact, we are doing some very innovative stuff downunder. The conference opportunities on recruitment and talent related topics though are heaps more in the US. And it’s a well oiled machine. I would like to see next year’s summit take place in New Zealand please!!!!!!

I’m happy and relieved to report that I saw 3 dogs, but because I signed an NDA I can’t report what the dogs looked like, or what breeds they were.

Paul Jacobs

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