The proof is in the pudding

On Tuesday next week, we’re going to be holding the first L&D Connect Unconference. “We” being: Martin Couzins, Debbie Carter, Natasha Stallard, Stella Collins, Margaret Burnside, Doug Shaw and David Goddin. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am by the event. As of today, there are going to be 30 of us signed up and ready to take part in the conversations. This is quite frankly awesome, unexpected and exciting.

Alison Chisnell has written a post about how friends can help you find your way. This is so true, and I’m so very grateful to the group above for allowing each other and me to make this a reality. I’ve written a post about how the idea for it came into being. But there’s another angle which is interesting to make note of. It all happened through social networking.

I know all of the above people personally. They didn’t necessarily know each other before we started talking, but they sure do now! We’ve used social networks to good effect in helping all of this to happen. We were on Skype when we wanted to do a group chat. We used LinkedIn when we wanted to develop ideas and have ongoing conversations on content, planning and marketing of the event. We’ve used Twitter extensively to get the word out about the event. There have been some blogs written about the event in advance, and a lot of emails flying about personally inviting people to attend. I even recorded a short piece on what the event is about on YouTube!

We’ve had very little in the way of face to face chats and conversations. That’s partly been because we all live in different parts of the UK, and we all obviously have the day job to get on with. So we’ve done pretty brilliantly to self-organise and use the tools available to us to make the day happen. It’s been a great example of collaboration, and giving up time and efforts to make it happen.

The @LnDConnect Twitter account has been used well, and various people have been guest tweeting from it to create engagement and chatter. The LinkedIn Unconference group has been generating a wealth of topics that people want to actively discuss on the day. I think we’ve produced a jolly good showcase of how social media has enabled this event to happen.

Have you booked on to the event? It’s on Tuesday 24th April from 1300-1700 at LBi, on Brick Lane in London. Pass the word around to those you think it might interest. There’s plenty of time to book, and it’s only £50 to get in. Book now!

>Do we still need traditional CVs?

>Hi all, it’s been a long while since I last blogged. Mostly to do with lack of time. Time off here, looking after kids there, getting courses delivered. You know, life. I am tweeting a lot though – A LOT!

Anyhow, this week I went to the L&D HRD exhibition hosted by the CIPD. By Lord, we do like our acronyms don’t we. It was a good day of conferences, seminars, topic tasters and learning arena sessions. I appreciated some presentations more than others, and that’s partly because I think I’m a bit of a know it all. Partly because I’m quite harsh on presenters. Partly because the content wasn’t anything new. All that aside, I did come away with a lot of food for thought.
One of these is about the use of the traditional CV. In an age when social media and social networking sites are central to how you live your life, the question has to be asked – do we still need traditional CVs? Well let’s first discuss the role of a traditional CV. Your CV should give an immediate insight into your key skills, abilities and experience. That’s always been the tradition. And, you know, include things like: education, qualifications, opening statement, personal details. Sure, fine, great. I’ve said this in a previous post ( – this tells the potential employer nothing about you as an individual and how you may approach work, your attitude, and your probable fit to the company/organisation you’re about to be part of.
Interviews/assessment centres/recruitment practices are designed to evaluate those things. But that’s once they’ve got passed the CV stage when you’re already committing time and resource to evaluate these candidates further. Wouldn’t it be great to have a pool of 12 potentially great candidates all bringing something to the party none of the other offers, and have a hard discussion choosing who you think is the best of the best bunch?
This is where I think social media plays a part. We’re in a world now where every employer is concerned about making the right choice, the first time. We want our new starters to fly through their probation, get confirmed in post, and ultimately make us money while enjoying the work they do.
At the HRD conference, one of the presentations was about how to get the best out of Generation Y – anyone born roughly after 1980. This generation use technology as part of their daily lives, not thinking about what life might be without them, or even being able to comment on how life used to be without them. The presenter (I forget his name, very bad of me, he runs Unlimited Potential), gave a story where the punchline was from a daughter to her father: “Dad, if I gave a presentation about how to use a fridge, would you want to hear about it?” in response to why she didn’t watch her father deliver a presentation on how to use the internet. Gen Y see modern technology as being a fridge – it’s there, it exists, you use it for what you need and when you’re done you move onto the next thing.
So why’s that important? Because more and more people are using social media and social networking sites to interact and learn about the world on a daily basis:
– In October 2009 LinkedIn had 50million users worldwide
– Facebook currently has 400million active users
– Twitter currently has 21.2million unique visitors
(above sites all courtesy of
These are staggering figures. Amazingly staggering. And that’s not a complete picture of the social media space, just a choice of three. What does that tell us? Well here’s some of the things I think are important from just the figures.
It’s accepted now that you can be (and most likely will be) looked up through one of these social networking sites. That means in effect your potential employer has complete sight of what you are likely to bring to their organisation in terms of your: attitude, work ethic, potential fit, and a host of other traits not immediately obvious from your traditional CV.
What does that mean for candidates? They have to either be very deliberate about how they use these social networking sites, or be open to scrutiny from potential employers. As an example, I’m serious about L&D. It’s my life and I love it. However, my twitter feed may not show that as I tend to rant a lot on there, or tweet about work/office/company related things, but not a lot about my passion for L&D. My LinkedIn profile doesn’t say a lot about my work experience, my education or the skills/knowledge/abilities I have as an L&D professional. My blog, is the only place someone would know I care about L&D. Am I ok with that? Yes, I am. Only because I’ve made a very determined choice that I won’t be deliberate about how I’m potentially perceived by future employers. There’s a host of people who will violently disagree with my approach and will recommend that if you want to be serious about your job, future jobs, and your career, then your online presence has to reflect what you want to be.
But what about how employers should use social media to find out about you? I mean, they have to be open, fair, consistent in their approach and not allow prejudices or biases to influence their potential hiring decisions. Well this is a whole other can of worms. My initial thoughts on this centre on the following.
1) If a company wants to find out about you, they have to be open about that from the outset on their job advert/site/promotion. You as a candidate then have the option to either allow that to happen or not.
2) The company has to be explicitly clear about the criteria they have for the job role, and therefore what they are looking to find out about you from the sites you have a profile on.
3) If they choose not to bring you in for interview, there must be a direct piece of feedback that relates to the above, and informs the candidate why they weren’t chosen.
4) Once you’ve been chosen to be brought in to interview, your use of social media has to be part of the equation as that’s part of how you were selected in the first place.
There’s a lot to now consider in the role of recruitment. Recruitment agencies need to be clear about how to advise candidates how they use social media. Employers need to be clear about what’s acceptable and why they may want to search social networking sites. Candidates need to be clear about the information they make available to anyone with internet access. Eventually this will lead to further guidance from governing bodies such as the CIPD, ACAS, legislation and employment law professionals. But my impression is that’s a long way off.
So is there a need for traditional CVs? Yes. Are they the be all and end all of what an employer will use to select you for future roles? No. How do you then decide to act on any of this for the future? Talk to someone who is best placed to advise about any of this. In this day and age, recruitment specialists are not the purveyors of all recruitment best practice. Look around you, you’ll be surrounded by people who use social media in one form or another. They’re the ones to seek input from and in some instances, advice from.