Snake-oil, cool-aide and y2k. Focus

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It’s been a long while since I’ve written anything on this blog.  I’ve contented myself writing on other mediums, for other people, or just doing nothing watching this virtual world pass on by, but here I am in a cafe, drinking coffee, using their wifi whilst waiting for my son, so I could either read the resumes waiting for me, check facebook, glance over twitter, read the paper or just write… why the hell not it’s been a while.

Here’s the thing, there’s more than enough out there being written to need my 2cents to cloud already murky waters, but what the hell, I was here first!

I’ve been reading over some of my old blog posts of late trying to see if my thoughts have changed at all over the years.  The fact that I haven’t strayed too far from that old path is interesting.  With all the “new” stuff happening in the Recruiting world, the new technologies, the “importance of social”, (you know all that “stuff” that’s in your LinkedIn feed) the core stuff is still the same.

Recruitment is about people.  Finding people (or getting them to find you), engaging people (yes I used the term… sorry, but I have to use the terms the current crop of Recruiters understand), ensuring /convincing them the role is for them, as is the company, closing the deal ensuring the money the time the benefits all match, that the person starts! Rinse and repeat for as long as you want to keep working.

Maybe I’m just grumpy or jealous, OK no maybe about it.

Once upon a time Recruitment was simple.  Recruiters were, well, Recruiters.  The good the bad and the ugly. (I’ve been all 3 I’m sure) But they were the necessary evil that everyone had a war story about.  Clients hated, but put up with, candidates hated, until you found them the perfect job and we were the long lost poor cousins/distant relative of the gods of HR… all hail HR! (oops I reverted).  We could call ourselves Consultants, (people would let us get away with that) and everything was clear.

There was a minority of people in the industry who actually loved what they did (apart from the potential obscene amount of money you could make if you were good/lucky) but there were more who either a) just needed a job that paid well b) had no idea what they were doing or why c) jumped on a well paying bandwagon, remember the growth of the industry around Y2K (google it kids.. good time… oh yeah… good times) d) using as a stepping stone in to HR… But hey, as a candidate or a client/business, you kinda knew where you stood.

Look at the landscape now.  So many sub industries, it’s hard to find which tall tale to believe or which snake oil to buy.  The frontier of the entrepreneur! Have an idea, turn it into a “talent” thingy, count the cash right?  Use terms like “engagement”, “cloud”, “disrupt”, “uber” (I just threw up a little in my mouth), “social recruitment” or “mobile” and you’re on a winner.  Have a cool UI, relate it to  someone else’s popular Social media winner “facebook” “Instagram” “twitter” “snapchat” etc away you go.   Don’t get me wrong, I love bright new shiny stuff as much as the next geek, but I am sure getting lost in the vendor world!

I have a fear that Recruitment may end up in a space like IT did after the Y2K. (if you haven’t looked it up yet kids.. here’s your chance)  Those of us who lived through it, can remember the boom and the bust.  The bubble bursting all over us, the bandwagon stalling and life pretty much sucking.  Essentially, lots of money was poured into IT, firstly to fix the y2k bug (and GST if you were in Australia), and secondly because it became a cool thing to do, the stories were compelling.  Beyond the pure business and essential things like the y2k and GST, money was everywhere.  The fears of the world with the y2k bug did not eventuate, no planes dropped from the sky, buildings kept functioning, hospitals kept running, it was business as usual.  Companies looked at this and started calling “bullshit” on all the other IT led initiatives.  The belief killed the idea that the “geeks shall inherit the earth” and fostered an idea that “They weren’t the font of all knowledge giving you the great competitive advantage” they were just very naughty people. 🙂 (paraphrasing)  Questions were asked as to the real business benefit, terms like “bullshit” and “prove it” started surfacing and the money disappeared. (until the next bubble arrived, let’s face it, apart from the people, IT is pretty sexy)

This is our future.  People are jumping on the bandwagon, the idea fostered by businesses that finding great people is the biggest challenge you’ll have.  I hear this coming from all over the world.  I’ll call bullshit here too.  It’s industry specific, surely.  There isn’t a talent shortage everywhere.. right?  But that doesn’t sell, sorry.

Here’s my message to all vendors out there.  Find a measurable solution too a core business goal and you’ll get my money, other wise, keep moving, don’t sell me on “potential” I won’t buy.

What I am liking is the face that some places have figured out the end goal of all this.  HIRING! Getting the right people into the business.  These people are building metrics with this in mind.  Look, I love a great funnel diagram, but meaningful numbers from “attraction” all the way through to “Hire” would be great thanks.  I was talking to my great friend Kelly recently (and if you don’t know her, well sucks to be you!) and we were talking about LinkedIn’s latest poll or whatever it was, (sorry I get lost in which cool aide flavour LinkedIn is peddling at any one time) and they were talking about the number on issue for people was “quality of hire”.  Funnily, no one has worked out an effective way to measure that, well, nothing that stands up to long term scrutiny anyways (please show me I’m wrong)

So, Recruiters, keep Recruiting (yes talking to people and drinking coffee, OK that’s just my job description), but remember the goal.  It’s not Facebook likes or LinkedIn followers, it’s not how many people are talking about you or aren’t, it’s how many people you can hire that your company (or client) deem as great (and that, as far as I can see is in the eye of the beholder!).  Dress it up all you like, that’s your core metric.

Phew, that rant went on for a while, thanks if you got this far, the caffeine obviously kicked in as I was waiting for my lad.

I have one last question for you though? Am I wrong?

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Posted on February 12, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dan,
    I think the y2k event was IT’s greatest failure ever. Sure the planes were going to fall down, to land on a bed of collapsed hospitals and enterprises, but we fixed it and fixed it good (not including some corner shops in the upper Zimbabwe). Instead of basking in the glory and taking the high ground, we let it go and just cringed away counting the cash. Since then we have businesses that embark on projects in bite sized pieces, none bigger than the sponsoring CxO could swallow and point fingers.

    We’ve nailed gravity waves dammit, there’s 3d printing in any grumpy old bastard’s shed* and nearly ubiquitous web, so where’s the grand visions and industry wide focus and drive?

    *my off grid paradise.

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