Quite a lot, as it happens.

I’m about to blow my own trumpet so, as convention dictates, first I must self-deprecate.
I don’t have a qualification to my name, and have never been promoted. I did of course achieve my Gold Arrow in the Cubs, was a seconder then a sixer, and in the Scouts was made Assistant Patrol Leader and PL, before getting my Chief Scouts Award. But that’s where it all stopped. I got the usual pieces of paper from high school, but left my college course in chemistry after only 2 weeks, to take a real job. In employment, I have always worked either directly for the owner of the company, or been the owner of the company, making promotion pretty hard to come by.

Enough self-deprecation? Then I’ll begin.

I’m not what most people would describe as modest, but after 26 years in recruitment, it turns out I do know some stuff. It is now the 13th year of the National Online Recruitment Awards, which I started in 2001. In that time I have continually researched our industry’s online offerings, including job boards, recruitment agencies, employers and publications. In that research, I must have registered with thousands of websites; considerably more than even the most determined jobseeker. Given this, I’d be quite happy in a pub quiz, an episode of Pointless or Eggheads even, for the subject of Online Recruitment to come up. In fact, I’d fully expect Judith Keppel to remark “Oh shit, they’ve got O’Donnell”, if this ever transpired.

So last week, prompted by an article I’d written earlier in the year, I was helping a good friend prepare parliamentary questions on the subject of a particularly bad government recruitment website. This friend of mine,who has known me since the age of 11, asks in all seriousness, “Are you sure about this? Do you have anyone else as a second opinion to backup your assertions about this?” I would have been less taken aback, had I just heard that Nigel Farage was taking over as leader of the SNP! I realise that its not always good form to claim expertise in anything (especially when self-titled gurus are so lampooned), but I was forced to re-state that I really do know this shit. In fact, reluctant as I am, I know that in the UK, I’m actually considered to be an authority on the subject of online recruitment (amongst a few notable others, of course).

So the next time I’m asked to get my mum to sign my homework on this topic, don’t be surprised if I smack someone in the mouth.

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

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