I was thinking about journalism and it reminded me of recruitment because….

No, really – I know the above is a running joke about how recruiters can utilise any situation for self-promotion, but in this case, I think it’s almost right.

The first track I dived into after arriving in Manchester was Lisa Scales’ Community building chat. I was keen to contribute and learn from this track due to our experience at Sift Media in building and engaging our members.

I wasn’t the only one with a journalism focus there – Keith Robinson, founder of Personnel Today was also in attendance. As a group we spent a lot of time trying to define what a community was. What, we asked ourselves, was the difference between an audience or readership of a magazine and a community? Is the audience of a magazine a community because they have reading Scenic Railways of the West in common? Perhaps they are, but are they an engaged, interacting community of the sort we have on HRzone? For me, engagement and autonomy to join or leave the group is important.

For the purposes of recruitment, community is important because a database of CVs is not an engaged, interactive community. However, a talent pool should be a community. Alan Whitford cemented this in his talent puddle track, which although I attended the session with the same title at #truLondon, was of course a completely different experience because there were different people in the room.

A talent pool should be people you are in regular contact with, explained Alan. To us our communitites are in regular contact with us and each other, brought together by shared interests and expertise. The key, as in customer relationships, as in HR, as in journalism and recruitment is engagement.

Another thing which engaged us was Gen Y. Again. We still can’t stop arguing about it. I can’t even make my mind up about it. Is it a state of mind? Is it a generational issue? One day we’ll have to have a show down and decide who is right – or learn to live with it. Being one of a handful of Gen Ys at the event, I joined Lucian from BraveNewTalent for his track and again, the conversation was lively. I think I did conclude however that although almost everyone dislikes the clear-cut year-based definitions and generalisations brought about by the theory, the idea that gen Y is different continues to be highly prevalent.

However there were more HR based tracks in Manchester to discover. I was fascinated to hear about the work Sodexo are doing with diversity and engagement. I hope to bring some more detail on this in due course. I was also delighted to meet Amanda Hite – @sexythinker on Twitter. She had a lot to add on talent as well as personality!

Speaking of talent, we rather hijacked it and alongside Graduates Yorkshire started on the meaty subject of the UK skills gap – and how our schools and universities are not addressing it. That’s a story for another day, however, I will say that we seem to be reaching a point where almost everyone recognises it’s not fit for purpose. Add to the mix that employers all want employees to ‘hit the ground running’ rather than being prepared to train.

Our own track, the HRzone was well populated with lots of recruiters and ex-HR practictioners as well as current HR professionals. The only problem perhaps was that we rasied more questions than we had answers for. The future of HR, or, does HR even have a future, was debated – should HR change its name? Should HR be part of operations? Should HR merge with marketing? After all, a lot of HR’s work is about brand communication…

Does recuitment and HR realise how co-dependent they are – after all, they are playing on the same side, although you might not always know it! And how can HR be more business-focused and strategic when there is reportedly no real strategic training widely undertaken?

Indeed, is there a fundamental problem with the type of people HR attracts which stands in the way of HR being taken more seriously by the business? We also discussed women in the role and it seems there is a glass ceiling in HR and on boards where HR, which has greater numbers of women working in it than other business sectors, is held back in a way marketing, for example, is not. Is it because of the same glass ceiling which faces women in all sectors? We could have continued the questioning all day. Maybe that’s the real problem…

We did also discuss the future of recruitment. I understand the message is that job boards will not die. Recruiters need to get over this apparently…

I wish you’d all been there to debate it with us, but you can have a say here and even better, join a future #tru event. I can’t wait for the next one.

Big thanks to Bill Boorman for all his work in organising it and inviting me to host a track.

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