Today I had a chat with the very insightful Bill Boorman, one of the most omnipresent personal brands you will ever see in the career industry. He has his fingers in many pies (#tru events, blogging, training, consulting, speaking to name but a few) and he shared some great wisdom for recruiters, job seekers and others in the career industry. This interview actually got so long that I’ve decided to post the 2nd part later – stay tuned for that!

What is your day job Bill?

I don’t really have a day job as such, more a series of over lapping projects. My time is divided in to 5 disciplines:

1: Training for Recruiters, Recruitment Managers and Agency Owners in all areas of business growth.
2: Consultancy to Recruitment Firms in all areas of operational practice particularly Performance Management.
3: Running and promoting tru events – The Recruiting Unconference globally
4: Assisting recruiting firms with implement social media strategy and practice
5: Key-note speaking and writing

What are the trends you are seeing in the industry?

The whole recruitment landscape is changing post recession. My main concern is that whilst recorded open vacancies are increasing month on month, and recruiters are reporting increased placement volume, the level of unemployment is still rising. This tells me that there is a distinct gap between the skills available among job seekers and the skills needed by employers. It is critical for job seekers to research the market and identify where the skills gaps are, and what skills they might have hidden in their past and promote these skills. It might also be a time to look at retraining as the best route to employment.

Other trends I have noticed are that job openings are taking twice as long to fill as 12 months ago. This is because hiring companies have introduced extra steps in to the hiring process, with more interviews and extra tests and checks. Companies that have just started re-hiring want to be 100% right, and this has made the process for job seekers quite arduous. In particular, more importance is being placed on the cultural fit between the candidate and the hiring company.

Job Seekers need to be patient in the process and not lose faith in opportunities. Keep following up until a post is definitely closed. Because of Job Seeker uncertainty, up to 50% of offers are now being declined. This means it’s worth following the job all the way, and if you get a decline notice, send a positive thanks note outlining why you would be interested in the joining the company and want to be considered in the future. This could just put you back in the frame when the opportunity comes up again; it is a lot easier for the hiring company than starting again.

Prepare for every interview in the process as if it is a first meeting. New interviewers want to see different things. Research every interviewer through social media and by running a google search on them. You need a new plan to emphasise your strengths and reinforce your interest and cultural fit at every stage. Employers want to know why you want THAT job and that COMPANY, not just that you want a job.

Spend extra time researching the culture of the company. Look up their vision and values. See what other people are saying about them via www.addict-o-matic.com and a Google search. Check who you might be connected to that works there by doing a Linked In search and talk to anyone you know there. (Branch Out on Facebook does the same thing.) Prepare questions for the interview that demonstrate that you have done your research. Always ask questions about things the interviewer has not told you.

Tell us about #tru

Tru is a series of recruiting unconferences for Recruiters, HR, Technologists, Job boards and others with an interest in talent. An unconference is unlike a conference in that there is no PowerPoint, presentations or talking heads. Subjects are split in to tracks with 2 – 3 track leaders who start the conversation. It is a lot like live social-media. Events are also low cost at £100 for 2 days, and have a massive networking element.

What’s your take on social media and recruitment?

Social media in recruitment or more specifically Social Recruiting is starting to grow up. Some companies, like #truManchester track leaders SodexoUSA have been at it for a few years. In the past, much of the talk has been about theory and how things could work. There is much more material about now as to what has worked and failed with these businesses.

About a third of the internet users are active in social media channels. That means that Recruitment Firms, Corporate Recruiters and Job Seekers need strategies that blend in social rather than being purely social.

The key elements that social media brings to recruitment is targeted reach, engagement opportunity, identification of targets and keeping personal, corporate and employer brand in the shop window.

Over the next 12 months mobile and video will feature much higher in the social mix, and will need to form a big part of strategy. I also see the channels moving closer together in how they link up. In the UK, Facebook will continue to grow as a recruiting and business channel. For Job Seekers, make sure you have completed your career details on your FB profile. This makes you much easier to find via this channel. Fan pages and FB ads will equally increase in use and results.

LinkedIn will remain as the main channel for most recruiters, corporate or third party. This means that it is now more important than ever that you have a decent profile rich with key-words to feature in a search. LinkedIn will develop more social applications and link closer to twitter and Facebook. With more use of the box.net application for embedding documents, video and slideshare, I see Linked In becoming much more of a reference site for individuals and companies with a lot more material other than purely career details. (The blog link and twitter follow applications already do this.) This channel will become much more than a post and pray platform, and smart recruiters and job seekers need to keep an eye on how the engagement options develop.

I use the twitter application to follow all of my Linked In connections that list twitter accounts automatically. This means recruiters or job seekers can find targets on Linked In and engage much quicker to make the right impression. I also expect the paid for Linked In services to develop some serious differentiators from the free service as it now operates, making them essential to serious job seekers and recruiters by early next year.

Recruiting on twitter will continue to develop around hashtags on common themes. Twitter chats like #jobhuntchat and #blogchat are becoming an increasingly popular ways for people with shared interests to find each other and share experiences and views. While not massive over this side of the water, I’m expecting these to start springing up in UK streams. This is a perfect place for recruiters and job seekers to start engaging. Applications like TwitterBlast also enable you to follow everyone using a hashtag at once. These common interest hashtags will replace the normal twitter stream by filtering through tweetdeck or other similar applications.

More monitoring, alerts and posting applications will be developed for twitter in particular as well as other channels. The job boards are becoming more social, both for brand awareness and communication. Direct Messaging and Facebook Messaging are becoming the preferred form of communicating, with on-line availability to respond to real time requests and questions becoming increasingly important. Applications like Gist, that enable monitoring of all channels, with alerts for messages will become essential in the recruiter/job seeker toolbox.

Job boards and corporate sites will increasingly post to all channels through the use of tools like Jobs2Web. Monitoring these streams for job seekers will require signing up for services like JobDeck from Twitter Job Search. With so much information floating about the social channels, Job Seekers and Recruiters will look increasingly to use applications that filter noise and deliver only what is needed or wanted. I expect Social Media use to be much more about keeping informed and up to date with the applications and there uses, than about the channels themselves. The last twitter developer’s conference had something like 3000 applications showcased. Recruiters and job seekers will need to identify trusted sources to keep them up to date with developments and find the best ones to suit their specific needs.

Ultimately though, I see the biggest change being the integration of social media and to social recruiting in to communication, recruiting, job seeking or branding/marketing strategy becoming a given part of the plan rather than a stand alone strategy. It will just become a part of how we do things, rather than an area for special attention.

You’re best sourcing tips for recruiters and head-hunters?

That is really dictated by what you are sourcing for, and what your strategy is. Whether you are applying a just in time sourcing strategy or looking to build a talent pool prior to requirement. Either way you are going to need a strong on-line presence yourself with plenty of connections.

I think we have a lot to learn in the UK on sourcing techniques from the U.S. where recruiting is much less data-base focussed and more built around the sourcing model. There are some great resources available to learn from. In particular, I would recommend signing up for the blogs from:

: Glen Cathey – The Boolean Black Belt
: Jim Stroud – The Recruiters Lounge – which includes some great “how to” video tips
: Ryan Leary – Recruiting Tools 
: Irina Shameva – Boolean Strings

Closer to home (UK) you can follow:

: Katharine Robinson – The Sourceress
: Peter Gold – Hire Strategies
: Andy Headworth – Sirona Says
: Mark Williams – Mr.LinkedIn

I think that between this crowd, you can keep up with the latest news, thinking and developments in social recruiting. The channels, applications and the way they are being used are constantly evolving and changing. You need to keep involved and following other recruiters to keep up. Collaboration and sharing with other recruiters can be an unusual concept for lots of recruiters, but by stepping out of the silo you will continually learn. In my view, social learning has even more benefits than social recruiting.

My personal view is that recruiters need to stop thinking in terms of social-media channels like twitter, Facebook, Linked In or YouTube and think of all social media as a combined communications channel. Post links to all of your on-line places so that it easy to connect in all of the channels and use applications that track who is connected to you where. Each of the channels requires a different style of content and writing. People will get quickly bored of you if you cross post the same material and comments in all channels or do nothing other than post jobs on your accounts. Content and regular engagement is key to making social sourcing work.

Final words of wisdom?

“It’s been emotional!”

– Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Related: Top Social Media and Job Search Tips from Bill Boorman.

Bill Boorman has always worked in and around recruiting as a Recruiter, Trainer, Operations Director, Consultant and Coach. Over the last 5 years he has been working as a consultant and trainer to growing recruiting firms across Europe. The last 18 months saw his introduction to social media and social recruiting. He claims to now be best known as @BillBoorman on twitter, and have been described a twitterholic that never sleeps, omnipresent and even a whirling dervish!

The original Undercover Recruiter, after 7 years in tech recruiting Jorgen now runs Link Humans, a social media agency in London.