On the Philosophy of Action - For Recruiters

Oftentimes (which tends to mean more so than not), I find myself asking my inner person a flurry of pressing questions. Questions like: what makes me tick as a recruiter, where do I get the passion to act from and why do I do the things I do, the way in which I do them? This thought initially occured to me while I was reading Chuka's Liberal Democrat "welcome" letter a week or so ago, and occured again to me a few days ago once I had completed a Skype interview with an applicant who applied to join me at Impact as an Innovation Lead.

These principally are metaphysical and epistemological questions, meaning they have answers in the fundamental roots of meaning. Chuka, who I have a familiarity with, would have asked himself "Why did I leave Labour, only to join the Liberal Democrats?", just as I asked myself, "what kind of recruitment philosophy am I attempting to re-create by scaling this business with a new hire?". The answer will without doubt require one to assess our methods of decision making. There may not always be singularity in our actions, but there should at least be some degree of consistency.

I can't speak to answer the question which Chuka would have asked himself before writing the letter he sent his members, but I can speak for myself and in that sense, the following remains true, at least for now,

Recruitment in my view is about three vital aspects:
  1. Organizational Development
  2. Personal Development
  3. Procedure
While I concur with the view that one cannot organise, without first being organised. I do not abide by the view that you can only recruit on a big budget. In other words, I place principally the idea that the task of recruiting can be an independent undertaking conducted fairly reasonably by lay persons who choose to partake in the extra-organisational dynamic wither it be as a freelancer or as a business owner.

Organisational Development

This is all about timing. I was always taught that organisations should be thought of as clouds and not entities. Clouds which are not only intangible but also continuously evolving. The development of the organisation should take place through timely interaction. However, this ideal conflicts with the view that I now harbour, which is opposed to the view I was always taught; that scale could come from anywhere, through informal interactions or through spontaneous activities. Now, I abide by the fact that process is central to value creation.

Personal Development

This is all about learning. As humans we tend to learn from every single person we meet and in that sense, recruitment is fundamentally the business of organised  human to human interaction with a specific end. The way we organise that interaction is up to ourselves. Learning can take many forms, I tend to align myself with introverted capabilities like blogging, watching webinars and using resources to acquire the relevant knowledge and skill.


As I have learnt and as I still come to learn, the process of making recommendations is all about who has the best process for doing so, without innovating too far from the original purpose of any particular assignment. E-mail is not the future, so please stop contacting your clients with CVs via e-mail. Good collaboration with a hiring team is always achieved through mutual respect and commitment. Top class recruiters know how to avoid the e-mail trap and to follow a recruiting process through to the point of onboarding, that and nothing else, creates value for the organisation. In other words, build your recruiting strategy on your vision for your business's process and not on contemporaneous technological cloud like approaches like depending on electronic mail. Touche to Dr. Simon Kelly.

Thanks for reading! I also posted this on Medium.

Discussing TalentLyft's Platform Innovation

So, I've been quite busy over the last few days, but thought I'd keep everyone in the loop as to what I am up to. Yesterday, I had a long-awaited demo with TalentLyft, which I had pre-scheduled with Ivan, the AE at TalentLyft, for a week prior to the day.  

It's safe to say my expectations were met with glee, and then some. From his very impressive demonstration yesterday, I found TalentLyft - a vibrant recruitment technology startup based in Croatia - to be very early stage. I've put together some notes from my demo with TalentLyft which double up as my thoughts on the product itself. Essentially, TalentLyft provides a state of the art recruitment marketing / employer branding solution to the mid-market, and while the product is very "early-stage", it's extremely well designed and has bags of potential. 

The business are actually just transitioning into a version 2.0 product, so that conveys how TalentLyft is very conducive to an environment of product innovation in terms of the adoption of new features, modules, components and extensions, which may be able to improve the end user experience and of ultimately, end user engagement.

Key notes from the Demo:

  • TalentLyft's version 1.0 platform has a complete candidate tracking suite
  • Platform to social engagement features
  • Leadership profiling – ads can be utilised as referrals (for candidates who are not very active and for employees who are comfortable with sharing ads)
  • Employees can share job ads – where users are more comfortable using job aggregators
  • TalentLyft’s ATS DB is MS Azure/Back-end Python
  • Original target market was small IT companies – now very much focused on middle market
  • Later this year, enterprise functionality will be added
  • Roadmap plan for 1 year is in place
  • Ambitions to target the US market & Eastern market
  • SEO allows for easy integration with Google for Jobs
  • Version 2 beta is live
  • The roadmap will include enterprise & SMB solutions – different pricing points for each
  • Data Science and Machine Learning features are being added to Version 2.0 beta
  • The business uses Hubspot – to employ extended high-level Recruitment Marketing & Sales synergies
  • The Product team builds Buyer Personas prior to developing new features
  • Verson 2 of TalentLyft is being designed with respect to original Workable and Greenhouse ergonomics - very impressive 
  • Interviews are being conducted with end clients to provide the main roadmap for new additional features

It's exciting times for the guys at TalentLyft and the Recruitment Marketing sector as a whole so potentially, our collaboration may have come at precisely the right time.

I've got a 1 month extended demo with the beta version 2.0 product, so I'll be sharing my views on TalentLyft with Ivan over the course of the next few weeks as I attempt to map some understanding of the product and it's features.

Wish us luck!

Upcoming Events: SAS Forum UK 2019

Access The Live Stream Here

Tune in from 9am tomorrow to hear from:
  • Andreas Ekström, futurist and commentator of the digital revolution, covering the biggest issues for our digital future and how you address to thrive in a whole new way.
  • Oliver Schabenberger, EVP, COO & CTO at SAS, discusses how you can unlock the value of real AI through Analytics
  • Charles Senabulya, VP & Country Manager for SAS UKI, showcasing real world examples of AI  & Analytics in Action
To see the full agenda, please visit the SAS Forum UK website

IR35 Changes are Welcome, But Let’s Not Criminalise the Staffing Sector

What about me?

Let me set the set the scene for you. The skyline of San Diego and suburban palm trees of Los Angeles attract many a recruiter from these shores to a more fruitful life in the West Coast of the United States. That was exactly my motivation when in August last year, I made a compelling case to collaborate with a US based recruiter through the spontaneous Californication of my UK recruitment business in the direction of this particular geography, which is home to a reasonably sizable chunk of the eminent search firms that can be found in and around this side of America. 

To make things even more difficult to understand, after the best part of three years managing my own recruitment company from home in London, last August, it also finally hit home that I may be a self-employed contractor, using a corporate intermediary. Did I panic? No chance. Ironically, as a recruiter in the tax space, I had become somewhat intimately familiar with the nuances which guide the employment statuses but more so the tax affairs of workers in a wide variety of international jurisdictions (US tax is somewhat more lenient with regards to sub-contracting than its sister tax regime in the UK).

IR35 in the context of international intermediaries

Pay as you earn (PAYE), may be a less difficult way to align financial outcomes with ones employment status than through a personal service company (PSC), but even so it remains the case that PSCs used by recruitment agencies as a method of offsetting tax responsibilities of their workers are being unfairly treated as fair game by the taxman. The upcoming April 2020 changes to IR35 for off-payroll workers - who operate under an intermediary - present a particularly interesting turn of affairs for international agencies and businesses who also choose to place UK employees into umbrella company contracts, whether it be in California, Paris, or even Frankfurt – all jurisdictions I have come into contact with previously. 

These changes are ridiculous for the most part due to the fact that workers operating through a PSC, or a limited corporate intermediary, often have the same tax status as workers operating as contracted employees (through what might be deemed a contract of services), but secondly because the focus of the entire exercise is presumably to usher in a new level of national insurance and income tax deductions for workers outside of IR35. It’s a welcome opportunity to tighten up a historically lacklustre policy loophole.

I for one find it rather contemptible that the British government are attempting to separate the tax obligations of a limited company from that of an individual employee, especially in light of the 2015 Budget Statement clampdowns by George Osbourne on buy-to-let mortgage holders who purchased their home through similar special purpose vehicles. It is seemingly a Conservative-led assault on the rights of the corporation, all while big business pays less and less tax on their multi-million dollar profits.

Key takeaways

The main advantage of a PSC is that workers in recruitment would gain from being judged to be 'self-employed' under current HMRC guidelines. These workers will be subsequently able to pay themselves a small salary and get most of their income from dividends.  Dividends aren't subject to NICs and attract a much lower rate of Income Tax compared to the higher rate tax bands.

The clearest course of action may be to allow UK domiciled contractors to outsource their labour through intermediaries and restrict the amount of dividend or “payouts” that can be provisioned to the Directors of the company. This seems reasonable but is unlikely to occur, given the complex nature of the UK tax regime. What is feasible is that off-payroll workers should at least be required to disclose employment status if inside.

Celebrating Pride Month

So every year, during the month of June, the LGBT community celebrates in a number of different ways. Across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBT people have had around the world. Why was June chosen? Because it's when the Stonewall Riots took place, way back in 1969. I believe it's important to show solidarity, so if you are hosting any cool Pride Month events and you want me to attend, make sure you invite me too! 

In terms of matters of policy, today of all days is probably the most important because the ILO in it's centenary (100th) year, yesterday, after much deliberation and negotiation, passed a landmark convention to ensure workers across the world have protections against violence and harassment. According to the new labour standard, violence and harassment at work “constitute a human rights violation or abuse”

Open Innovation as Process in Organization

So, I read the blog update on Seth's website today and it completely blew me away. It reminded me of my studies in Organization when we covered fluidity and the philosophy of meaning. One of the main reasons I opted to study at Essex and not Cranfield was because I knew I could get a good foundation in the interpretive understanding of business.

Robert Chia's work springs to mind as does Kenneth Gergen to name but a few quality references. How does this apply to Open Innovation? Think collective interpretivism.

I'd be happy to talk you through my way of operating and the philosophy I apply to open innovation in terms of staffing technology.

Hit me up!

Honest Thoughts on Employer Branding

So, earlier this evening, I was lucky enough to have been invited (by Todd) to listen in on this very fascinating Zoom chat with Liz and Cameron from Hinge and Everyone.Social, respectively.

The webinar was a taster session followed by a Q&A. It was a privilage to learn directly from Cameron how exactly Employer Branding (EB) can successfully convert brand value into long term sustained growth through employee retention, and more precisely through the use of social and leadership profiling, internal collaboration and what they referred to as employee advocacy, a very new concept to me, but something I feel still resonates mostly with the Human Resource function.

The chat was very inspirational and came with some fascinatingly cool insights on EB and lots of accompanying examples. As I suspected,  EB does bring the relative domains of talent acquisition together with marketing and HR in a sort of exception to the rule of thumb that I posted about a few days ago.

Upcoming Events: Tableau London

For all the newly accomplished Data Scientists out there, Tableau London - arguably one of the most impressive companies to offer a comprehensive Data Viz product - are hosting a private breakfast demo at Tableau HQ in London, which should be a cool taster session of the latest Tableau version and its exciting new features, followed by a separate networking session. 

I was literally shown a very eye-opening visualisation demo last time I attended, where Tableau mapped the cell phone usage of a random individual and tracked their most common habits using nothing more than their freely available cell phone data, much to the amusement of the attendees in the session. 

The Learning Never Stops

Also published on Medium

I recently wrote a post about breakthrough improvements, and subsequently discovered there is a good Medium article on Prof. Christensen's long held perception of the Chinese electric vehicle industry versus that of Tesla and other American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, and it reminded me of a conversation I had about learning at University with Flavia Richardson.

I might be reflecting on 12 odd years worth of learning here when I say this, but its important to stay in touch with the bigger picture. The text below is a decade old, hence its safe to say the entire textbook is outdated. As researchers, authors and inventors, we have to be weary of falling behind the context of contemporary real world pragmatics.

Fast-forward twelve years, and the text on Operations Management has a new approach and hence the learning material from Prof. Christensen has been expanded. The course module I took at the time on my BSc at Essex, "Management, Innovation & New Technology" taught by Prof. Chris Land, who is now at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge, derived the rather questionable interpretation of disruptive innovation as per Prof. Christensen's research. We also expanded into it and covered topics on innovation, which can be contextualised and made comparable to the social interpretive context of innovation (Wiebe Bijker, 1995). 

The concept of what Dr. Land refered to as interpretive flexibility was used by these authors to convey the social recognition of technological innovation. Definitely something that should be remembered when we write long Medium posts on how to conduct innovation or strategy in a particular sector, as I am attempting to do. I'm speaking mostly to myself here. Would love to connect with Chris Land again if you are out there.

There should be Love Island for Venture-Backed Startups

So, I finally caught up with the antics of the Islanders and it's safe to say that all is definitely fair in love and war. The intensity between Yewanders (spellcheck corrected that, and I am not bothered) and the guy she's with, Daniel, is interesting to see.

I actually absorbed an entire episode (the one with the eyes on the prize challenge) before bedtime. First time I ever watched something like it. It felt a bit like there were hidden tactics at play though, I could sense the game plans in effect. A lot was left unsaid.

But yeah, as a result of observing the Islanders at work, or should I say at play, I felt it was appropriate to disclose a long held affection to the blog. No not for a person but for a startup. It's for one of the baddest startups in the game. Yeah, they are one of a kind but no, it's not the one you think it is.

Which startup is it?

Well, it's Lilium of course.

You heard it here first guys and girls, me and Lilium's recruitment lead are talking. Yes in real life. No joke.

Taking Innovation Strategy Design Seriously

Product leads who may be currently overseeing advances in what could very well be one of the most widely-recognised subsectors in tech - recruitment automation - will probably find this post to be a fun contribution to entertain whilst evaluating immediate proposals for real-world innovation.

We begin with a brief anecdote on the landscape for staffing software. I recently had a very interesting conversation on Skype with a very well-rounded Software Sales Guy, a gentleman by the name of Alexey and a team member of the infamous Magora Systems, a very prominent web development company in Russia, based in London. While on the call, Alexey mentioned a few names, which led me towards the discovery of Mya Systems, a recruitment AI platform founded in San Francisco that had recently raised somewhere in the region of $32.4m in total funding to date. It’s safe to say I was blown away by those numbers, I had already been made aware of Allyo, an end-to-end recruitment platform also founded in San Francisco, from my own research but was still very skeptical about the proposition the two platforms held. After the call I did some research.

It was only until a few weeks after when I plucked up the courage to request a live demo from Allyo that I was able to understand the true levels behind these end-to-end recruitment automation products. I was astonished. Not only does Allyo act to capture real candidate engagement metrics through its ATS, but Allyo also consists of a very powerful chatbot feature. I immediately deleted pretty much all the content I had just up until recently posted on LinkedIn related to end-to-end recruiting and proceeded to embark on a discovery process. My mind had expanded, albeit marginally, anyway. What lay in store for the me was a deep and conscious change of narrative with respect to my engagements in recruitment, such that my job title also changed, from Executive Recruiter to  what it is now, Innovation Consultant.

The reason I took aim at innovation so emphatically and still do so ‘til this day was not just because of my background — I have some prior knowledge gained in innovation strategy from University — but due to the existence of a deep conviction I have held for years about products in this space (recruitment technology), a conviction that I have repeatedly come across on various social channels whilst preparing to write this digest. The line usually reads as follows, "we must find joy in the process of execution, not just in the end product". How right the author of that particular sentence was. Value is never derived solely through outcomes, and great outcomes are seldom achieved but through due process.

Mya and Allyo, like many other very ambitious startups I have encountered since the conversation I had with Alexey, being situated in San Francisco and having propositions, which while being similar are also unique to themselves and are also largely influenced by what Gillian Tett famously referred to as “silos". Siloed conversations had by these founders among one another, and even with other innovation consultants should have at their disposal the ability to both tether and correlate ideas with one another for the purpose of operational development.

By applying this thinking to what my former tutors used to call consumer decision-making (let’s take the means-end chain model by Pieters (1995) as an example here), so we can arrive at a value theory. What could that value judgement be? Well, means-end theory advocates the view that as end consumers, recruiters and talent professionals know exactly what they want, and instinctively perceive the attributes and properties of new technology they encounter as having a series of consequences which impact on deeply held values. We have very little way of knowing what those values are. That’s why great products often do not resonate, and other products make it all the way.

This theory hit me like ton of bricks initially because (hear me out) the step-by-step approaches to “breakthrough” improvements as followed by many a PM are arguably much much more valuable than one which targets the outcomes of repeated, but unguided, hard work and effort i.e. brainstorming and other similar improvement techniques. Hence, what exactly is in our control?

The cohort of recruitment startups, which our team at Impact in Business are in simultaneous liaison with, use open innovation as an opportunity for a futuristic consultation process. They each know open innovation is as powerful as breakthrough improvements that can be achieved through contemporary business models, but do not have the time or budget to dabble into the knowledge on dense theory or received perceptions on the various wisdoms of textbook innovation. Rather, the founders and product managers we speak with are seeking to hone in on what the professionals refer to as an emergent strategy, one built through experience and, most importantly, incremental trial and contructive evaluation. Underpinned by product innovation plans and processes that are firstly quantifiable and secondly reducible.

Our journey towards open innovation began with an inquisitive mind, I hope as a reader and potential inventor, you take the same journey and are enlightened as I was.

Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Events: Sept - Oct 2019

Over the next few months, London will play host to a triple entendre of premier recruitment conferences:
Each will take place in London over the course of the next three or four months. Here's a brief run through what I am expecting from these three events.

Taking place across two days (10th  — 11th September 2019), Engage is set to offer  senior and seasoned recruiters and their teams with valuable insights into major trends in the market over the next 12 months, the ability to network, learn and build their businesses and of course, receive industry-wide recognition for their work.

Just a quick recap of the 2018 event; the Engage 18 line-up was marketed very effectively on the website and also on social media. A good friend, Joanna Abeyie was recognised with a prestigious Bullhorn recruitment leadership award for her work with Hyden.

The charismatic CEO of Bullhorn, Art Papas, was joined by Olympic and World medallist marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, and Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg who took to the stage for a series of highly anticipated fireside conversations, ironically only but a few days after I had started a new role last August with a now ex-colleague and fellow Manchester City supporter, Tim Bramley, a recruiter at Regal Executive Search, situated in Redondo Beach.

Regal are proficient users of Bullhorn's proprietary ATS and are regular consumers of the fascinatingly detailed blogs and articles and training documentation. From what I know they also try to attend the Boston Engage event.

So, as it happens, Bullhorn recently had a similar event in Boston for its booming US business line, which took place just last week. You may recognise the illustrious deep-purple coloured marketing effect, a colour which has become almost synonymous with the headline Bullhorn event. This year’s event is expected to be twice as nice and includes keynote speeches from Karren Brady, the famous Apprentice co-host and football chair person, Ann Swain of APSCo, James Osbourne of the Recruitment Network and Kevin Green, the outgoing Chair of the REC, all very familiar faces in the recruitment world.

The D&I Leaders Summit will be held on October 2nd 2019, and comes with quite a unique expectation because of its status as a diversity event. As the foremost diversity and inclusion event organiser in the country with a very broad network of keynote speakers and attendees, it will be a great opportunity to connect with potential mentors and advisors. From my contact with the organisers, there are 160 places available for the event which has only started its promotional campaign. Definitely one to watch out for on social media.

Finally, the In-House Recruitment Live exhibition event which is scheduled for the 10th September 2019, and is marketed as a gathering of a thousand "industry disruptors and visionaries" is an opportunity to meet with ground-breaking brands and thought leaders.

If you or your company would like to speak more about sponsoring my attendance to any of the conferences, exhibitions and events coming up over the next few months please get in touch with me via e-mail. I can be reached on am@ibrecruitment.com.

Neoliberalism and Gender Equality in Britain

Something for the women on Father's Day. A great piece of weekend reading for those interested in the struggles of the female gender in the workplace. Found in the French Journal of British Studies (2018). Ties in well with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 100th anniversary, which occured this year (April 2019).

Spoiler Alert: The paper has a few very reasonable findings, one which demonstrates empirically that there is a growing centralisation of childcare provisions, austerity measures, and state intervention in Britain which has created a male breadwinner society that has caused working-class mothers and women of age with young families to be predominantly forced into inadequate, low quality, part-time jobs.

The ILO have since published a comprehensive Action Plan for Gender Equality (2018-2021) for its internal staff as well as for UN management across all its offices (New York, Paris. Geneva).

It is definitely worth a read if your organisation has more than 250 staff and you are considering laying out the provisions for better Gender Pay Gap reporting.

Happy Father's Day!