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A short history of the Recruitment Universe, by Andy Hill, self-confessed CERN Geek

Posted by Kazz Kumar

28-Feb-2013 07:30:00

First impressions as we arrived at CERN – It’s not a space station. No people in white radiation suits, whizzing by on Segway's. No ED-209’s, threatening us with Gatling guns if we failed to comply. This was not a surprise, more of a disappointment, but as a long time admirer of CERN, I was excited to be able to attend the CRSS 2013 Recruitment & Direct Sourcing event and geek out simultaneously.


Whilst I would consider myself something of scientific aficionado with a penchant for evolution, cosmology and particle physics, I don't really know anything about these subjects beyond Brian Cox’s fundamentals delivered to us over TV dinner (The Wonders of Life); the seminal book by Bill Bryson (Short History of Nearly Everything), and Michio Kaku (a futurist, physicist and one of the founders of String Theory i.e. the theory of everything).

Even for an enthusiastic Luddite such as myself, one can only be inspired and excited by the work of CERN. The irony is not lost on Richard (Mr Essex, Broadbean’s Corporate Director) and I that we travel to CRSS 2013 as experts in our field, with an armoury of knowledge that CERN and other companies attending the event can benefit from. Our field is direct online recruitment/talent acquisition, which may lack the glamour of hunting for the Higgs Boson, but online recruitment is one of the fundamental 'particles' of human organisation and endeavour. It is a microcosm within a microcosm within the macrocosm of business and thus an interesting comparative to the challenge that CERN face in discovering and documenting the unknown secrets of the universe, by smashing sub-atomic particles together.


One of CERN's great challenges is to contribute empirical data towards a grand theory of everything, elegantly tying up mathematics, physics, chemistry, cosmology and philosophy into a comprehensive explanation of the existence of the multiverse (assuming that our universe is just one of many) and all the forces that reside within it.

One of the great challenges of direct recruitment/sourcing is to use available data and experience to piece together all of the variables, or ‘particles’ (in order to keep things metaphoric) that comprise the ‘hireverse’ (I just choked on my fondue) into a successful methodology – technology (e.g. ATS, multi-posting), recruiters, training, job boards, social/professional media, aggregators, talent pools, career sites, candidate experience, source tracking, ROI, reports – it boggles the mind.

It raised the question in my mind - is there a grand theory of everything that can be applied to direct recruitment? Is there a universal formula for success that one can apply to acquiring talent for your business? Tempting and relevant as it is to take this opportunity to use this opportunity to start wildly shouting "BROADBEAN", a good theory of everything needs to be inclusive and all encompassing.

The closest credible theory to explaining everything in the world of physics is currently String Theory. In a preposterously large nutshell, String Theory suggests that within eleven dimensional hyperspace (3D is so last eon); the sub atomic particles that comprise the fabric of everything we know are differentiated by their resonance of their 'strings'. Play a certain note and the particle will become a lepton, quark or neutrino (all of which are great names for energy drinks) or one of many other particles and fulfill a specific function. The universe as we know it is the symphony of these strings, the music of existence. It is a beautiful and poetic notion.

CRSS 2013 was a forum for some of the very best ‘physicruiters’ (OK shoot me) to discuss success, failure and the challenges faced in their respective direct sourcing environments, elegantly set in the Georges Charpak conference room, where similar discussions have taken place on some of the universes most profound mysteries. The presentations from Connie Gibney (LinkedIn), Katie McNab (PepsiCo), James Purvis (CERN), Manual Monge (Nestle), Colin Minto (G4S), Josh Smith & Nigel Bicknell (Guardian Jobs) & Adrian Bangerter (University of Neuchatel) were all informative, inspiring and eye opening in equal measures. It is this sharing of knowledge and experience amongst the delegates which is helping to bring everyone closer to a grand theory for success in direct recruitment.

robert cailliau

The 30 minute rant from Robert Cailliau, former CERN Computing Engineer of 32 years was a wondrous break from anything to do with recruitment and everyone in the room marvelled at his sharp insights on why Google, Facebook and Apple’s IOS are very naughty. He built an Android application in 15 minutes. Certified genius and rock star. The true highlight of my day was standing next to this guy who co-invented the internet in the loo! (Difficult sentence structure, I’m sure he was somewhere else when he invented it, but who knows?)

The other notable highlight was the guided tour of the Conference Centre and Atlas, the largest of the four particle detectors. Photo's & video to follow shortly.

Topics: Broadbean , technology , CERN