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Topics For Discussion On The Night

What we learned at our CIPD event

The first Pactive event of the year – an evening discussing HR, Technology & Social Media with the CIPD – went off without a hitch. Shoosmiths very kindly provided the venue, the Guardian and Totaljobs provided support, TCMO brought the sweeties and our panel of experts lived up to their billing, with some great insights, tips and advice.

We got a great crowd along on the evening, but for those that couldn’t make it along (there might be time to squeeze in to our next CIPD event), here are a few highlights from the night:

1. "Candidate Experience" is as much about the people you DON'T hire

Rob Moore from TCMO didn’t just help organise the evening, and he brought much more than just a big bucket of retro sweeties. He also treated us to one of the evening’s best pearls of wisdom. When asked what the ideal “candidate experience” entailed, his answer was pretty simple: that 9/10 of unsuccessful candidates would still recommend you.

It sounds pretty ambitious. But as long as you maintain a professional approach, communicating with total clarity at every stage of the process and treating every candidate with the same respect you’d give your colleagues, it’s an ambition every employer can achieve. Do that, and you can turn every candidate into an ambassador for your brand.

2. This year, it's about old techniques and new technology

Recruitment never stays still; there’s always another innovation in the offing. This year, the latest technology on the horizon looks set to be chatbots. Already in action for consumer brands like Dominoes pizza, these are bound to be invaluable in the recruitment arena – offering an automated option for engaging with candidates on your website or through Facebook (and no doubt Linkedin too).

On the other hand, there’s one tried and tested method that still offers plenty of value for recruiters: referral. It’s cost-effective, supports employee engagement and is just as likely to help you find candidates that share your brand values. Yet it’s curiously underused – even some major employers don’t have a programme. It’s an old idea (though digital platforms can provide an effective delivery mechanism), but it’s a good one. And I think we’ll see more of it this year.

3. If you want to build a brand on social media, start telling stories

Euan McNair from Standard Life knows his stuff on Employer Branding (if you want proof, read Euan’s guest blog here). So when he was asked about employer branding on social media, we were all ears. His answer – it’s all about storytelling.

As he pointed out, simply listing vacancies is hardly going to excite the masses, or do anything to build your brand. Instead, making the most of these platforms is all about telling the story of working with your business. So rather than “we need java developers”, it’s “Discover a day in the life of our development team”.

This approach – called content marketing – will help you build a better brand, turning passive candidates into brand fans. (Or to put it another way, turning Lancastrians into admirers of Yorkshire).

4. If you don't have a Social Media policy, you're asking for trouble

Kenny from Shoosmiths told us some interesting social-media horror stories about employees bad-mouthing their employers online, and the legal consequences. The moral of the tale is that any company simply has to have a policy for using social media. It doesn’t have to be complex – just a clear set of guidelines about what not to do, and what happens if you don’t play by the rules. (If you need some help or advice, then Shoosmiths can help.)

Interestingly, we also discussed the other side of social media guidelines – in terms of empowering your employees. It’s such a powerful tool for employee engagement and branding that it can’t be ignored. On the other hand, you can’t dictate every word of every tweet or, as Alastair Blair pointed out, expect your marketing or legal department to ok every post on facebook. Instead, you need to give your employees clear guidelines and the freedom to follow them. That way, you’ll have a brand ambassador offering the world a positive and honest picture of the organisation.

5. Hairy Biker or Country Singer? The jury's out.


The evening started with perhaps the most intriguing question of all: who is my true doppelgänger? Kenny Rogers or Si King from the Hairy Bikers. Here, our panel of experts was stumped – nor did our 60-odd attendees offer a clear answer.

(The answer is the hairy biker. Obviously. Regards, the Pactive creative team.)

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