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The benefit of consistently attending a range of recruitment conferences is that, among other things, you hear different things from different experts at different times and patterns start to emerge. Many people at these events make public predictions which are just that … predictions.

What happens down the track, months or years after these predictions are made?

Do these predictions come true, partly or fully, or not at all?

Here’s an example of when an expert has got it 100% right.

In December 2011 I attended the ATC Social Media Event. The final speaker was Kevin Wheeler. As one of the organisers of the ATC events, Kevin anchors each event with the closing keynote. He has done this at each of the eight ATC events I have attended and Kevin has never disappointed me. Every time I come away from listening to Kevin, I have a new insight into the fascinating and rapidly changing world of recruitment.

Kevin’s Social Media Event keynote was a simple and compelling explanation of how the future for recruitment is social.

Here’s a bullet point summary of what Kevin delivered:

  • Social media will just be part of your life, it’s how business will get done
  • It will be highly tailored to your needs, wants and interests
  • It will shape what people think about you and your organisation
  • Everything will be measured
  • Getting a job will be a social experience

Kevin’s specific predictions were:

1.  Facebook and other social networks will serve as platforms for small, targeted social communities   that will replace aggregated ones and, use analytics to understand core motivators and decisions to personalise all messaging.

2.  Social Media will be the foundation of all recruiting ‘Because if you are not fully embracing social media in all its forms, you will have missed the bullet train and you probably won’t be able to get back on’ Jim Spinello, Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, rEvolution 

3.  The social media success will be about

  • Authenticity: Open communication, honesty, transparency
  • Access: Communication with employees, managers, anyone at all
  • Answers: Facts, data, advice

Fast forward five months.

It’s the Recruiters’ Hub   Conference in Sydney and Firebrand Talent  CEO, Greg Savage   takes the stage to present on his company’s approach to social media in recruitment. Greg did not attend the ATC Social Media Event. To my knowledge, he’s never seen Kevin speak.

Greg’s presentation was living proof of how quickly Kevin’s predictions are coming true.

Here are my conclusions from both Greg and Kevin’s respective keynotes:

  • Being a social recruitment company is the future  . Having a social media strategy tacked onto the ‘real strategy’ is the agnostics’ approach that won’t take you anywhere.  To quote Greg;
    This is not an experiment for Firebrand. Social media is part of the way forward in a world that is far more transparent, with far fewer degrees or separation. A more networked world, a more casual world and a world where people want much faster response times’
  • The recruitment results generated so far by social media are small but that’s rapidly changing. Greg quoted a 2011 Jobvite Survey (USA) that highlights, of the companies surveyed, the biggest increase in recruitment spending was in social media (54% of companies, 30 percentage points ahead of the next category – referrals). The biggest decrease in spending was in agency recruitment (32% of companies spending less than in 2010) just shading job boards (31%). As more money and time is invested in social media, I expect the positive results will accelerate rapidly.
  • Social media is the most effective way to build influence, build a community and build a brand. Greg provided some very compelling, real time numbers on how this flows directly through to PR/speaking opportunities, leads, referrals, recommendations, hiring Firebrand staff and unearthing and activating passive candidates (the KEY reason for Firebrand).
  • The maximum impact and effectiveness comes when ‘social’ is driven by the CEO who has an authentic presence. If social media is driven out of the marketing team then you are already behind. The success that Firebrand have had with their social strategy is due to Greg leading from the front (eg The Savage Truth blog averages 3,000 views per week and recently recorded 22,000 views of one blog in the first 24 hours after posting).  Greg consistently and quickly, personally replies to a large majority of the blog and Twitter  (11,572 followers) comments/replies he receives and he regularly shares very specific and relevant information with his online audience.
  • Integration maximises commercial outcomes. The five components of the Firebrand integrated social strategy are: social media, website, blog, and marketing automation. Greg showed how all these components flow through the Firebrand system into the desired final destination, the talent pool, and by association, the client pool. This flow-through directly generates more placements.
  • Social media generates positive financial results: The specifics that Greg shared; 20 new clients traced back to social media, fee generation of $120,000 from clients contacting Greg directly, 14 of Firebrand’s past 25 internal hires initially found out about Firebrand or the vacancy via social media and Firebrand’s spend on job boards is now 90% less than it was in 2008.

It would be easy for a recruiter to dismiss the Firebrand experience as ‘not really relevant to me’. Such a recruiter would most likely argue that the Firebrand target market (creative, digital, marketing) is the most active and savvy target market using social media and therefore highly responsive to a recruitment agency’s social media presence.

I believe that argument, although on the surface valid, would miss the point. It’s the trend   that is of most importance.

Yes, it is the Firebrand niche market that is currently the most responsive to the online social world but aren’t they just leading the charge? Isn’t it where every other candidate community is going, sooner or later?

And that’s where the gold is.




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Right on Ross! I was at the second ATC (2008 maybe?) and Kevin was talking about this cool new 'Twitter' thing that was going to be huge. Good spotting Kevin!

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