Whose year was 2013?

by TheSourceress on 05/01/2014

2013 was good to me. It has probably been the kindest year in quite some time.

Katharine Robinson with a Dalek in August 2013

If I had to pick out one thing that dominated my year, it would be Doctor Who. I’m afraid that this post probably won’t mean very much to those of you who are not fans of this epic institution. 2013 was Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary year and perhaps the best year to be a Whovian that there has ever been. I think I picked the perfect moment to properly discover this very British treasure.

I grew up in those dark years where they weren’t

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making any Doctor Who for the TV :-(

I remember in 2002, I had a small blue handbag that I dubbed my “TARDIS bag” – You could get a lot more in it than its external dimensions implied. Beyond this, my awareness of Doctor Who was a bit thin.

In 2005 I was aware that it was coming back to TV. It sounded like the sort of thing I might like and so I watched it.

As an adult, I’ve never been very good at following anything on the TV. Committing to watching something at the same time every week just doesn’t really work. By the time Christopher Eccleston had regenerated into David Tennant, I had already started missing episodes and thinking I’ll get this on DVD at some point and catch up.

I don’t think I watched any of the 4th Series at all. I was down to catching the Christmas Specials at this point. Matt Smith had been the Doctor for over a year before my friend Ben sat me down and made me watch The Eleventh Hour.

Every time I caught an episode I would think I have to get this on DVD and give it a proper watch through.

It wasn’t until last Christmas, when The Snowmen aired, that I committed properly. I vowed I would have watched every single episode of the new era Doctor Who before the second half of Series 7 was on TV in March 2013. My parents joined me on this crazy quest.

We did it – 93 episodes (and some minisodes) with a couple of weeks to spare. By this point we were pretty obsessed, having devoted the vast majority of evenings to several episodes of Doctor Who for the last 10 weeks or so.

What to do while we waited for the new episodes though?

Tick tock goes the clock, even for the Doctor...My Mum had the answer. She ordered “The Beginning” box set from Amazon and so started our next quest…

I was initially very nervous about Classic Who. What if I didn’t like it? What if it was dull? I should have known better. I’m the person that thinks Star Trek has never really bettered Kirk and Spock with their wobbly sets and polystyrene rocks from the 1960s. This sort of TV can’t be about the production values or stunning visuals, the story and the characters have nowhere to hide. It’s just my sort of thing. These series’ wouldn’t have endured if the elements I value most hadn’t been there in abundance.

I experienced utter delight in seeing the TARDIS fitting in so well in 1963, disguised as a Police Public Call Box and then staying that way even when it materialised in the stone age. Seeing a Dalek for the first time – so unchanged from what I was used to seeing half a century later.

It’s Jon Pertwee’s era as the Third Doctor that has stolen my heart most completely. Not only is he fantastic, all velvet, ruffles and indignity at being trapped on Earth, but the ensemble cast that joins him is so strong. I was initially skeptical of Katy Manning’s Jo Grant but she quickly became my favourite companion. Jo never does what the Doctor tells her and rescues him at least as many times as he rescues her. Her departure in The Green Death is also one of the most touching I’ve seen. The Brigadier and his team at UNIT are wonderful. I feel sad that the UNIT we see in the Russell T Davies era of New Who don’t seem to have nearly as much heart or soul, happily this seems to be changing with the recent introduction on Kate Stuart in adventures with the Eleventh Doctor. Robert Delgado’s Master is joyfully cheesy – a brilliant foe for the Doctor – looking like Ming the Merciless but with a better tailor. Having seen Delgado and Pertwee it makes so much more sense when David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor begs the Master to regenerate, as he dies in his arms, in “Last of the Time Lords”.

But, even several series into Tom Baker’s run, I’m yet to really “get” what people love about the Fourth Doctor so much. He’s perfectly Doctory as Doctors go, but I don’t think he’d make my Top 5. The part of me that knits does admire the Witty Little Knitter who made him that ever-versatile scarf, though.

A Dalek keeps an eye on things at Discover SourcingLooking back it is hard to imagine how I managed to fit in this much viewing as well as organise the Discover Sourcing event and hold down a job!

Saying that, a year of giving Doctor Who the time it deserved (and perhaps a bit more besides), and I still haven’t even seen a single minute of the Fifth, Sixth or Seventh Doctors’ TV appearances, let alone ventured into the world of audio stories or books.

I can say with certainty that I will love Doctor Who for the rest of my days and it will play a significant part in my 2014 too.

I aim to see more of the classic Doctors on screen and discover some of the Eighth Doctor’s audio adventures. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi have in store for us with the adventures of the Twelfth Doctor later in the year.

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I was mainly watching Star Trek and knitting as a teenager, so not much has changed for me. Most people are not so set in their ways though.

Last week I had a couple of conversations about whether or not it is necessary for those recruited into certain job roles to have a degree, more specifically a 2:1 or better from a Russell Group University. Some jobs absolutely need very specific University qualifications – like being a Surgeon, for example. The only justification for the role I was working on was that the person needed to have very strong analytical skills.

I realised that when I am sourcing I rarely look at a person’s academics, unless they need a particular qualification, like a Cisco certification or Qualified Teacher Status. Obviously this would not hold true for graduate roles, but I have never really got involved with that aspect of recruitment. I am usually much more interested in a person’s critical experience.

That this is not the case for most hiring managers and recruiters. Many will put a lot of stock in the degree obtained by a potential candidate.

Perhaps this comes from the fact that I haven’t found my degree particularly helpful in my life outside of academia. I still draw on skills I learned at A-Level, GCSE and Primary School but rarely feel that I would not be able to achieve what I’m doing if I had not been to university. Some of my smartest friends either did not go to university or did not finish their degrees.

I don’t think you can judge someone’s career prospects based on what they were doing between the ages of 18 and 21. Sure – it doesn’t do any harm to see great academic achievements on someone’s CV or LinkedIn profile, but I would never discount someone that did not have them.

Last week also saw a resurgence in the debate over what teenagers say online coming back to haunt them in the future and preventing them from getting a job.

Teens are a large part of the online community now. If they weren’t then I doubt that “Selfie” would have been the Oxford English Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013! (The selfies posted above were taken solely for research purposes, of course ;-) )

Let’s face it, as teenagers we all did stupid stuff. We all went to school dressed a Klingon or threw up in the bus stop outside the Purple Turtle (OK, maybe the first one was just me). We all insulted people in the heat of the moment to chants of “fight, fight, fight” in the playground, before we knew better how to handle people and life. Just because there was no one standing by with a smart phone to capture the moment, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that most of us weren’t irresponsible and obnoxious. It’s normal. Teenagers are learning what life is all about.

It isn’t teens that need to change their behaviour; we just need to get over it. We need to stop judging 25, 35, 45 and 55 year olds based on what they did when they were teenagers. People change and evolve. I might still be knitting and watching Star trek, but I am a very different person (particularly when it comes to my attitudes to work) than I was 10 years ago, even 5 years ago.

What do you think? Should we be able to look at what great things candidates are doing now, and leave their teenage years in the past, or am I missing something?

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#DiscSource – 5 Days To Go!

by TheSourceress on 12/09/2013

Discover Sourcing Banner

I get ideas for a lot of crazy schemes. Some of them I never do, like starting my own knitwear boutique or blogging hilarious reviews of every Star Trek and Doctor Who episode I watch. Quite a lot some I fail at, like writing a cheese blog, becoming a maths teacher or completing NaNoWriMo. Other crazy plans, actually make it off the drawing board…

It’s debatable whether or not some of my projects should see the light of day – the knitted catsuit and ball gowns being a case in point. I like being faintly ridiculous though, so it’s all good.

In 5 days time my latest, and probably most ambitious, project will actually happen. The venue is paid for, the speakers all know where they have to be and when, a whole bunch of people have bought tickets – Discover Sourcing is happening!

About nine months ago I decided it was now or never for planning a big sourcing event in the UK. I called the engine room (my accountant), laid in a course and yelled “Warp speed, Mr Sulu!”

I figured that I’d learn how to put on a conference as I went. I mean, it’s not like I was totally inexperienced. I had been to a lot of conferences, after all – how hard could it be?

After working on a few charity Twestivals and being on the planning team behind Tweetcamp 2011 I thought I’d have no trouble rustling up a few sponsors and selling some tickets.

It turns out that the planet I was hailing from wasn’t in fact Ceti Alpha VI, it was Ceti Alpha V!

Nine months later, with my own little company as the sole sponsor, I’m scrabbling around trying to sell a few more tickets as everyone returns to work after an (unexpectedly glorious) summer holiday.

Today I will be putting on my brown trousers and knuckling down to the final last minute preparations. Every time I start

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to worry, I look back at the great list of speakers that I’ve somehow managed to convince to put their time and energy into my mad idea, and I feel renewed. The event has also shown me just how much home-grown sourcing skill there really is in the UK.

I’ve run a few free sourcing meetups over the last 12 months too – they’re just magical. People get together, agency folks, in-house, rec2recs, vendors and they just share thoughts and ideas and tools and search techniques. I really hope that same magic will carry over into this bigger event. More people has to mean more conversations, more sharing and more magic, surely?

So, as the USS Discover Sourcing enters orbit and we prepare to beam down, I find myself hoping that I haven’t forgotten anything major, that I won’t need to set my phaser to stun and the holodecks don’t break down.

Sorry about all the Star Trek analogies, I think my brain is a little addled!

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Empty Office - Where Did Everybody Go?

When I got my first job with a recruitment company I remember it being pointed out that our business was a lot harder than many others because we were selling a product that had emotions, a mind of its own and could get up and walk away at the drop of a hat.

Just like social networks, recruiters provide a service to one community for free in order to sell it to someone else.

I see a lot of people complaining when a social network makes (or doesn’t make) changes. Then other people telling them how silly they are for complaining because they are getting the service for free. The attitude is that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. can impose whatever they like on their users because those users are not paying for a service.

If recruiters treat candidates like they don’t matter then those candidates usually find another way to get a job. The candidate may not be the one paying the invoice at the end of the day, but they are the product you need in order to satisfy your client.

So, do social networks need to worry more about keeping their users happy or risk having no data or clicks to sell to their clients?

A couple of weeks ago I was offered an invite to the new freemium version of App.net.

If you’ve not heard of App.net (or ADN as the cool kids seem to call it), then simply put, it is very similar to Twitter but with no advertising – ever. Up until now, users have had to pay to have an ADN account. These new free accounts have limited functionality, I can only follow a maximum of 40 people for example. This does give me the opportunity to try out App.net and see what the atmosphere is like before committing. If I choose to stay I will need to pay at some point.

One of the first conversations I stumbled upon in the App.net global feed (anyone been around long enough to remember checking out what all Twitter users were saying by clicking “Everyone”?) was an outburst of rage about LinkedIn from a web developer. He was complaining that people contacted him about job opportunities without having read his profile. I checked out his LinkedIn profile and it clearly stated that he was not interested in approaches from any recruiter. He also didn’t like the user interface – he thought signing in alone was arduous.

LinkedIn have had some impressive numbers in the past year. But who are they really pleasing? Most people I speak to, outside of the recruitment industry, see LinkedIn as a necessary evil at best. Those with the most sought after skills are sick to the back teeth of clumsy approaches from Recruiters – or just too many approaches. Some report stripping back the information in their profiles or deleting them completely.

Inside the recruitment industry, thoughts about LinkedIn are equal measure wonder and panic – but that’s another blog post.

Group managers are worried that charges might be just beyond the horizon, event managers have lost LinkedIn Events…

Who is LinkedIn pleasing? Its shareholders. Ultimately it is selling its users in order to achieve this and they are going to be the first people to walk away. I know people that are already trimming down their profiles to make them harder to find via their skills or deleting them all together. The users with the most hard-to-find and in-demand skills will leave long before the most desperate recruiters stop picking over LinkedIn’s carcass.

The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google are not out of the firing line either. Many people in my network were most upset by the announcement that Google Reader would be shutting down later this year. Facebook regularly upsets its users over privacy concerns and voyeuristic creepiness – like the Like button’s ability to track you around the web. But we can’t complain – we don’t pay to use Facebook. Facebook is not the product, we the users are – sold to the highest bidder. Twitter is dipping its toes in the water of advertising with promoted tweets and trends as well as paid brand pages, perhaps the least irritating monetisation strategy so far…?

Which brings me back to App.net. They say that they are selling a service, not their users.

This might put some people off – we have all been spoiled by free social networks. Join, share the love, if things get too commercial or the audience too “mainstream” then just move on to the next new shiny free thing that hopes to make it big.

But what if we could pay a few quid and our Social Network would be what we wanted it to be – always? If the money comes from the users then keeping us happy is top priority.

If App.net attracts a significant audience and the

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buzz gets big enough then the recruiters, the marketers and the brands will follow. I am already embroiled in a rather tedious exchange with one brand trying to get me to try their product.

But… If all any user can buy is an account, brands will need to be interesting and useful in order to get any attention. No one will be able to hand over a wodge of cash and “machine-gun 100 people with InMails”.

Of course, if the brands do come, they will then form part of the user-base that App.net has to please. Users with more cash – this could take us down an old familiar road.

For now, I am there. I want to see how this one turns out. Will significant numbers of social network users ever decide that free isn’t worth it?

If you want to try App.net’s new freemium version then you will need to find someone with a paid account and ask them for an invite. If I become part of that group then I’ll let you know.

Image based on mcfarlandmo’s photo on flickr.

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Not only is the Eddie Stobart Truckers’ rendition of 12 Days of Christmas an explosion of festive

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joy in aid of a great cause, it’s also a lovely piece of employer branding.

What better way to show that they value their drivers’ other talents than by allowing those with great singing voices to to record a Christmas single and make a video? Genuine Pride in the Eddie Stobart brand shines out.

You can listen to the whole song on Spotify and I defy you not to be grinning once you’ve listened. :-D

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Time For An Update – December 2012

by TheSourceress on 06/12/2012

As of this week, I am the owner of Sourcing Hat Ltd. Working for myself is definitely the way forward for me. Variety keeps me inspired and sharp as a Sourcer.

Sourcing Hat Ltd

It has been an exciting eight months since I finished a contract with Capgemini Consulting and went freelance again. Here are just a few things I have been up to in that time;

UK Sourcers

I have been spending more time putting love into the UK Sourcers community. I started UK Sourcers at the end of 2009 and it is already well established on Twitter. We now have a blog (that is looking for guest bloggers…) and a LinkedIn group. We have also started a series of “hack” events… join the LinkedIn group to be the first to find out about those.

Training

I have provided lots of training with some great recruitment businesses in all sorts of fields as well as some direct employers. The biggest difference I have noticed since I was working for myself in 2010 is that a lot more large corporates are trying to improve their direct hiring efforts.

The most popular topics for training have been the optimisation of using LinkedIn and basic search engine skills. More recruiters are starting to spend money with LinkedIn and this means they want to know how to get the absolute maximum out of it for their investment. Many are also seeing that as more and more people dabble with online sourcing it is becoming more difficult to find those fresh candidates – this is where really strong search skills make the difference.

All my training is bespoke to each client so training can look radically different for different groups of recruiters, depending on how much they already know.

Research

I have a couple of clients that I have got to know quite well (and managed to get a feel for their clients too).

This is really where I keep my day-to-day sourcing skills sharp. If I did not keep sourcing then my training provision would start to feel tired and out of date pretty fast!

Ochre House

Over the summer I spent three months working with Ochre House and their Talent Attraction Specialists (TAS). What a fantastic group of recruiters and sourcers!!

I met with at least one person from all their on-site RPO teams, tried to understand their sourcing challenges and help out where I could. In a lot of cases I returned to individuals and teams several times. We ended up with a lot of resources, an online space for the TAS community to share and learn from each other as well as some ideas for training programs going forward.

This project culminated in the creation of a sourcing challenge open to all Ochre House employees called #OchreChallenge. I’ll let them explain that to you in this blog post by

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Andy Curlewis.

What’s Next?

 

Verizon

I just started a series of projects with Verizon that will see me working with them over the next six months. They are on a very interesting journey with a relatively new in-house recruitment team here in the UK.

I can’t wait to get stuck in!

Game Wagon

A friend of mine has recently launched Game Wagon, an events business for those who love gaming. They are just a few months old and get most of their business from putting on children’s parties. They bring one of their Mercedes Stretch Sprinter vans to your house and up to 16 people can game on all the latest games and consoles within. The vans are “pimped out” as one Gadget Show Live attendee said last week.

It is a nice juxtaposition to all this recruitment malarkey! I will be helping them with their online marketing and Social Media strategy.

I will be trying my hand at schmoozing with Mummy bloggers in an attempt to get some coverage of Game Wagon’s Kids’ Parties as well as trying to make contact with PR folks in the gaming industry – Game Wagon has a lot to offer at game launches. All in all, I think I can learn a lot here!

More of the same

I’ll still have time for my research clients and hopefully time to meet and train some more recruiters and sourcers – but get in touch quick as the dairy tends to fill up fast!

UK Sourcers is very close to my heart. I am committed to putting on more events and generally getting the UK Sourcing community together learning and sharing on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for our next event announcement!

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Are You A Lazy LinkedIn User?

by TheSourceress on 14/10/2012

"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" - Lazy people everywhereA couple of years ago I wrote down my rules for connecting on Social Networks and published them here on my blog’s Contact & Connect page. It was a great way to cut out any of the anxiety associated with not accepting or reciprocating someone’s connection request or follow.

I have recently returned to working for myself and decided to relax my rules for connecting on LinkedIn – it seems silly not to connect to someone that could one day become a client. With that in mind I’ll accept connection requests from just about anyone in the recruitment space in the UK.

I still, however, find it difficult to accept an invitation from someone I’ve never met and have no idea how they came across my profile. All too often I receive a request from a recruiter simply stating “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Everyone knows this is the default text for an invite. I worry that recruiters might be doing this to those they consider potential candidates. I try only to use this text if I know the person REALLY well or I’m actually sat next to the person when I send the invite.

I usually send them a quick message before accepting their request to see how they came across me – some even reply.

Why not personalise the message up front? Those default invites tend to sit in my LinkedIn inbox for weeks or months while

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I try to convince myself to add these strangers to my network. I like connecting, I like meeting new people, but connecting just to make the numbers go up is very unrewarding. I want more conversation, more interaction; I actually want to KNOW more people.

If you’re a bit intimidated by a blank message box then here are some ideas from the Undercover Recruiter blog on what to write in your LinkedIn invitations.

As LinkedIn matures, I think candidates are getting better and better at sniffing out a lazy approach. I even find most InMails to be lazy – especially when I receive one from somebody I already share a group with. I’m a member of so many groups, it would be easy for someone to join one and message me for free – why waste an InMail?

I’m being overly picky on that last point but, as recruiters, we should know LinkedIn inside out. It is one of the most important tools in modern recruiting. When you send a default connection request to someone you have never met you are being lazy and it is obvious.

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