James Mayes

Blog: Review of Enhance Media’s Online Recruitment Conference #EMConf2011

In Conference, Recruitment, Social Media on February 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

When Louise Triance heard I’d be at the Enhance Media Online Recruitment Conference, she asked if I’d like to review the event for her.  What follows is the review in full, originally published on the UKRecruiter site here.

I’d previously heard much about the Enhance conference – after all, it’s been running nine years now and is one of the biggest of it’s kind (in terms of delegate numbers).  Initial impressions were certainly good – first class communication before the event, hashtag communicated to ensure all were on the same stream, plenty of staff to assist on arrival and great WiFi available for those wanting to stay online throughout.  Also presented with a cracking delegate book – hardback and bound, no bits of paper floating around.  Great start!

Everyone being seated, Giles Guest of Enhance quickly introduced the opening address – Lord Jim Knight, former Employment Minister.  He made a cracking start simply by using Prezi rather than PowerPoint.  It was clearly a revelation for some in the audience.  He also endeared himself to the crowd with the declaration that he hired a Special Adviser via Twitter a year ago!

Next, Paul Modley, Head of Recruitment for the London 2012 Olympics Games.  A few stats early on give an idea of the scale of his challenge – quite simply the biggest recruitment project in peacetime Britain. He moved swiftly to capitalise on the unique nature of the Olympics, showing a great video clip designed to raise passion in even the most reticent couch potato. In that one moment, the power of a brand to attract talent was made undeniably clear.

Unfortunately, it then became clear that much of the delivery falls to Adecco, the strategic partner chosen by the London Organising Committee – and as a result, there was little detail on what was actually happening. Paul was also happy to suggest that Online Attraction was only a small part of the concerns for the project – bit of a problem when Online was very much the billed focus of the event.  A few interesting exchanges followed with the Q&A, but for many, one big question was left unresolved.  With Adecco as both a Sponsor and Supplier, how is conflict of interest managed?

Swiftly on to Adam Gilmore of Microsoft. A detailed presentation followed, very much focussed around process improvement lessons originally learnt by Toyota in manufacturing and subsequently adopted by many others.  Some of the slides would be worth studying in more detail if you’re keen to ensure your processes are as efficient as possible – but in relation to Online Recruitment, many of the audience (myself included) found it somewhat away from the topics we were really hoping for. Also somewhat ironic on the day Toyota recalled another massive batch of cars for quality reasons…

After the coffee break, we resumed – the next two speakers being perfectly able to dig deep into the Online topic. First, John Salt, Total Jobs. John stepped up with a couple of quick gags and a promise not to pitch.  What followed certainly drew heavily on the Total Jobs product set (and took a few pops at competitors) – but was delivered in such an engaging style that he was largely forgiven.  Certainly offering stats to suggest a 50% drop in vacancies levels between April 2008 and October 2010 is enough to grab your interest. A slide on left brain/right brain thinking was also very well received – the need to appeal to a jobseeker on both rational and emotional levels. At this juncture, John is streets ahead as the delegate’s favourite.

As John wrapped up, Giles returned to the stage with a bounce in his step and an obviously effervescent passion for data.  As the conference organiser, you might expect full use of the shop window opportunity.  Giles certainly did that, with some well-illustrated examples of what Enhance can do – but the methodolgy and data sources were declared to sufficient extent that delegates would be able to go out and apply a good chunk of the research themselves. A free offer of analysis to those in the room was also an obvious plug, but well received.  He gets away unscathed.

After a brief lunch interlude (for those interested: good food, small portions!) we resumed with a panel event.  Tara Quinn for Hays, Eamon Collins for Michael Page and Nicky Midwinter for Alexander Mann Solutions.  The panel was entitled The Future of Recruitment Consultancies – so a little odd to see AMS on stage, since most literature majors on the “pureplay RPO” focus of the firm. Some pre-set questions from Giles and a few from the floor followed.  As it turns out, the panel held largely similar views, with someone on Twitter suggesting it was becoming a bit of a love-in.  Things livened up briefly when a delegate attempted to put a question across but rather pitched all his commercial interests in one hit! Very well dispatched by Hays, to some amusement in the room and on Twitter.

Hays were also responsible for one of the better points to come out of the discussion – being that recruitment as an industry has a generational issue which is being ignored.  Many active recruiters are younger workers, active across multiple social media sites – using them for personal as well as business reasons. Senior managers who’ve often been with the firm many years longer struggle to understand, support and manage this activity effectively.

The panel gave it their best efforts, but in honestly, they all represented multinational professional recruitment firms – and as such, there wasn’t sufficient difference of opinion as to cause stimulating debate.  Maybe next year, an in-house Head of Recruitment, a major agency representative and someone from the flat-fee market?

Now into a case study – Liz Dougall of Boots.  Hoping for a mixture of methods, data, lessons learnt and more.  Liz doesn’t disappoint; quickly apparent we’re going to get a bit of scene-setting, then a walk-through of the Boots recruitment reinvention over the past few years. Liz is at pains to labour the level of research they conduct to support decisions.  Whether it be data from NORAS or candidate interviews about the usability of the careers site, Boots make sure they do their homework.  We learn that Boots is pharmacy-lead. In layman’s terms, it means if they don’t have a pharmacist onsite, the shop is not permitted (under licence terms) to open.  That’s a lot of lost retail revenue for the sake of one hire – hence recruitment has a more obvious bottom line impact than most businesses we hear from. As she wraps up, Liz gets some great feedback both in the room and on Twitter.  For many (me included) the highlight of the day.

The final session of the day was the Innovation Panel.  Many expected this would simply be one big product pitch from the four companies involved and chose to leave early.  It was set up as a speed-pitch but for many, paying for a ticket to subsequently get pitched by a sponsor just wasn’t cricket! Ovia had a great case study on video tools in recruitment – and reacted on Twitter immediately afterwards to respond to the sales-pitch criticism. If nothing else, it was good to see them so tuned in to the audience.  If they’re the same with customers, they should do well.  Dave Martin of All The Top Bananas did stand out though, for ignoring the pitch instructions.  There were a few bananas evident here and there in slides, but he focussed very much on the growing trend for jobseekers to use mobile platforms.  By educating his potential customers in an engaging fashion, he’ll win good business with no need to pitch in that environment. A very well-judged effort.

So to the close – no organised networking event, just a swift departure. Writing this as I head home, I don’t know whether I’ll attend next year.  Certainly big in attendance numbers, but it feels somehow light on content and heavy on pitch.  One conclusion I can certainly draw is that corporate in-house recruiters are streets ahead of most agencies when it comes to innovative online solutions and social media. Whilst online changes don’t spell the end of agencies, these moves will certainly add to current pressures.  If you find change hard, wait till you try irrelevance.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Social Recruiting, James Mayes. James Mayes said: Blog: Review of Enhance Media’s Online Recruitment Conference #EMConf2011 http://jmay.es/fAEDDr […]

  2. […] 2011 seems to have kicked off with conferences everywhere. We were pleased to be at Smart, Enhance and TRULondon. The dust should settle a little now and make it easier to schedule in those discovery […]

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