Right I’m going to speak plainly here, and use some blunt language.  Please don’t confuse my frankness for callousness.  Maybe I’ve always done this but, as a recruiter, when I meet new people, I always weigh up how they fit into the already large group of people that I already know.  A new person could become a friend, acquaintance, source of information, business partner, enemy, annoyance, or finally a direct or indirect source of revenue.  I always do this, consciously or subconsciously, in some form or other.  I love people, and am a natural nosey-parker, so I almost always find something to admire, or some fascinating and intriguing character trait.  Basically, I’m judging people.

In recruitment, my modus operandi has always to look for authenticity, and to understand the person.  I cannot test them fully on their abilities say, as an engineer or an accountant, or a sales person, but I think I have developed the skills to get under the skin of individuals, and to understand them (at least a little). For me, the key to this is derived from the root motivations and personal history of a person.  Meeting large numbers of new people professionally, also means that this inevitably is also the basis for personal relationships too.

Recruiters also get to know people in a similar way to meeting strangers from internet forums in real life.  Reading about someone, through their CV, without their knowledge, researching them, speaking on the phone, and finally meeting, means that you are in charge, whilst taking the journey from virtual relationship to reality.

As a direct result of launching AlljobsUK.com, in 2000, I have taken every opportunity to also do this with members of the online recruitment community in the UK.  Being out of the easy circulation of the London / M25 circuit, this has been at a variety of networking events, usually organised by Louise Triance and UKRecruiter.co.uk.  Additionally, the past 2 years has brought social media to my screen, primarily in the form of Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.  Here now is another fascinating group of people to meet in the flesh.

So how would this work if I met someone who I had only known via an anonymous online nametag and an enigmatic avatar? Normally this would be the point where I would be able to delve and really get to know someone, but last weekend, for the first time this was denied to me. I was unable to go all the way from virtual to reality with @theHRD, because whilst we met, shook hands, and chatted, he maintained his virtual name, and retained his anonymity.

From last Friday to Sunday, I made the 1,000 mile round trip to beautiful Devon, along with 15 others in our online social media circle, most of whom I already knew very well, at least from a business perspective.  In fact 7 of us are co-judges in the NORAs.  This however, was a weekend of camping, drinking eating and surfing (hence the picture above), and the usual veneer of commerce would be deliberately set aside to reveal the human side of all but one of our number.  I don’t mean to sound unkind; in fact it was a really interesting position to be in, conversing with a flesh and blood mystery online avatar.  I could only assess @The HRD (or Theo, as we all settled upon) on what he said and how he said it, rather than on all the other details I’d usually rely upon.  Ultimately my curiosity was satisfied, not by acquiring every piece of information, but conversely by accepting that I didn’t need it.  @The HRD is a smart, funny, knowledgeable guy, who is very measured, diplomatic, and shrewd.   It turns out that was all I needed to know.


Throughout the weekend, we spoke often about the random subject matter used in blogs, which are then manipulated to somehow relate the content therein to a valuable recruitment truism.  The moral of this tale (the article you’ve just read above), is that often an excess of information on an individual can obscure, rather than illuminate. Except in the case of nosey parkers, focussing only on what you really need to know, can be far more effective, efficient, and often enjoyable.

@The HRD / Theo, I salute you. (His blog can be found at http://myhellisotherpeople.com/)

PS. I had a brilliant weekend, with a great group of people I consider to be good friends.  Other blogs on the events can be found at:

Andy Headworth                             http://goo.gl/qbGJ

The HRD                                               http://goo.gl/mkko

Matt Jessop                                       http://goo.gl/EMkq

Peter Gold                                          http://goo.gl/xAVk

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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