I have to say I was a bit sceptical about this unconference milarky at first, but the informal atmosphere at #TRULeeds made for a refreshing change from more traditional conferences I've attended in the past. The big advantage being that everyone's there to make an input - in some tracks that's about sharing your own knowledge and experience, whilst in others you're very much there to learn. And you're learning from the group at large so lots of opportunity to ask questions, probe deeper, agree and disagree. I opted for tracks on Employer Branding, Sourcing, SEO and Social recruiting.
We kicked off the day with a session on Employer branding led by @Patrick Boonstra
who's agency had been working with the Dutch army to help increase the volume of applicants - a tough challenge if ever there was one. From my perspective, the strategy was bang on, brand building activity via TV, Broadcast and other above the line platforms, and highly targeted recruitment ads across search, social and direct. It's working well with applications growing week by week and interestingly, spikes of activity which coincide with news reports of soldiers killed in action.
The hot topic for debate centered around the media inventory which included lots of search along with the google content network
. Parents in the group were concerned that blind advertising would be picked up by children and youngsters and worried that would influence them to consider an army career. Watersheds and screening were discussed and it was interesting to hear people reasoning for themselves how the web might continue to mature, and how our pre-digital reality is changing for ever. We didn't reach any hard and fast conclusions on that one but it was debated frankly and made for a fairly rounded session.
The next track I sat in on was sourcing. Lots of organisations are talking about direct sourcing but few I've come across are actively doing it. In some ways it's just traditional recruitment research, but using the web and social in particular to pinpoint talent for a live vacancy. We talked about boolean searches, using social and a variety of search engines to really track down the individuals a client would be interested in meeting. We agreed that sourcing was just one part of the picture. Recruiters were keen to talk about adding value by matching particular individuals to specific roles, and everyone agreed that brand was still important if you were to succeed in being first choice employer for the very best talent. The frustration seems to be around getting commitment to a longer term resourcing strategy with most people agreeing that recruitment was still far too reactive.
After lunch I attended a track on SEO which was fun and interesting too. It was particularly insightful to hear of another example of boundaries being pushed as various people had chanced there arm to see how much Google would tolerate before kicking them out of the index listings. SEO can seem like hardwork and I still reckon that unless you have someone looking at optimising your sites and digital presence, you're not going to get that far. The key thing is to really understand your audience and what they'll be searching for. Overall, I reckon it's a bit like going on a diet, if you're going to be successful, you have to take a long-term view, make small changes consistently, measure what impact they're having and make more small changes to continue to improve. Not sure how good I'll be at SEO given my track record of trying to shed the pounds!
Overall, it was a really great day, I really enjoyed lots of lively, witty and insightful debate. It was great to see that the recruitment industry is still alive and kicking. It's vastly different now form how it was just a few years ago and I would argue it's much better. Certainly the guys at #TRULeeds were real professionals, keen to be the best and deliver the best for their clients. Great day.